Every Tuesday I do something shocking, scandalous and highly unorthodox by modern standards. When I tell people about this dirty little thing I do I usually get a weird glazed over look, followed by a slight head tilt, awkward pause and then a response of… “really?”.
I am sure you’re wondering what my dark and dirty little secret is. Cue the ominous music and steady yourself for this ladies… every Tuesday I sit down and have dinner with my former in-laws. Yes, that’s right, the people who brought my cheating ex-husband into this world.
We have an odd thing in common, my former in-laws and I. My former husband walked out on them too.
Mrs. Bitchy McHomewrecker, who was still just plain old Bitchy McHomewrecker at the time and not yet married to my ex (since we were still married and all), forbade them to have any contact with me or they would never get to see their adult son or their new grandchild she was carrying. The odd part of that is that at the time my former in-laws and I were not particularly close. Unknowingly she brought us closer together, what an ironic gift.
My former in-laws stood up for right and wrong, as good people do. As an unfair result my ex has not spoken to them in two years. The collateral damage of my divorce and husbands affair reached far beyond me and that is what pains me the most. Ex-husbands are replaceable but children are not, even grown ones.
We always think of the spouse, the children and even the family pets when we think about those getting through divorce and moving on to separate lives. When I was going through mine I read book after book looking to dissect the situation, to understand the psychology of the drama at hand. I was looking to the “experts” for guidance. What I read told me how to deal with my ex, my child, the family pets, new boyfriends and girlfriends, finances, packing my kids bag for weekend visitations, holidays, legal strategies and communicating with my ex as if it were a business relationship. Never once did these books tell me what to do about the ex’s parents and their roll in my new life.
So I decided without a book written by highly educated experts, or a family therapist, or a lawyer telling me what to do… I decided to love them.
That’s my dirty little secret. I know it might make me a freak like the bearded lady at the circus, but I do. And we dine, around the” family” dinner table, every Tuesday evening.
We were not especially close during my marriage and what started out as a weekly tradition that I did for the sake of my daughter has turned into so much more for me. I have grown to love and respect them endlessly. They cheer for me and root me on and that is a gift I cherish. It is a gift I did not expect as an outcome of my divorce. We don’t do everything the same way and don’t share the same opinions on everything and lord knows I don’t cook or clean as well as my ex-mother-in-law (which I was reminded of frequently by my ex-husband). And that’s ok. They are my daughter’s grandparents and I couldn’t have wished for better grandparents for her. I may have picked a shitty husband but I nailed it in the grandparent department. They give my heart peace when I see my daughter with them and watching this interaction weekly has in an odd way healed my own heart.
Our in-law relationship has changed since I was married to their son but we are connected by our all consuming love for my daughter. She’s the tie that binds. Children benefit from grandparents (even the crazy ones that drive you nuts) and keeping that bond and relationship alive after a divorce is so very important for our children. Though your marital bond may be broken, the love for your child’s extended family does not have to be.
In our divorce my ex may have gotten the expensive kick ass stainless steel coffee maker (that I picked out) , the car and the Bitchy McHomewrecker... but I got the most important things. I got to keep what I loved most, family.