I have been discarded by my ex’s family

Our agony aunt, Mary Fenwick, offers advice to help you


I have been discarded by my ex’s family

I have a 12-year-old daughter with my ex-husband, who I divorced seven years ago. I had managed to keep a positive relationship with my ex-husband’s parents until recently, when they did something that suggested they actually don’t care about me at all. My parents died when I was young, so my ex’s family became my family for almost 20 years. I find it so painful that I have been discarded. How do I move on? Alison

This sounds like an iceberg issue, where the facts of whatever specifically happened with your in-laws are attached to a lot of deep feelings below the surface. However much it might be a cultural fashion to complain about our in-laws today, you have felt that yours were connected to your own parents on some level that may or may not have been explicit, and this has given them a lot of power over your happiness.

Rather than moving on, or moving away, could you do a graceful side-step (which may be temporary) to focus on your daughter? You have clearly done a wonderful job of maintaining these connections, if your daughter was only five when you got divorced.

That sense of continuity can often be enormously valuable for young children in these situations, and you can teach your daughter that one misunderstanding does not undo 20 years of goodwill.

It’s also a fashion to describe someone you were in a relationship with as an ‘ex’, but I don’t find that a useful concept when children are involved. Your daughter does not have an ex-father, and your in-laws do not have an ex-granddaughter.

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email mary@psychologies.co.uk, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line

Photograph: iStock

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