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Too close to his ex in-laws

My husband is close to his ex wife’s family and it makes me feel so insecure. Should I just suck it up?

I can understand your discomfort, says our elder. But remember: He chose you.

Dear EWC

I have been together with my husband for eight years. He remained close with his ex father-in-law mainly because they worked together. Recently, he passed away suddenly from a heart attack. Due to the pandemic a proper funeral could not be held, but I am sure my husband’s ex wife and ex in-laws will have something at a later date to celebrate his life. My husband is going to want to attend and he’s going to want me to go with him. I can join him as he pays his respects and reconnects with his ex wife and ex in-laws. I am sure a lot of them will be very happy to see him as my husband is a very likable guy and he always did get along with his ex wife’s family. Also, he and his ex wife have made peace since their struggles together.

However, I know the kind of person I am (not proud of it) and I know I am going to feel very uncomfortable. When the time comes I am thinking of asking him to attend without me. I can envision what it would be like and I don’t want to hear my husband and his ex wife and ex in-laws talk endlessly while going down memory lane and sharing happy memories together. I was not part of his life during that time and it just makes me feel uncomfortable. I have no problem with him going without me (I am not that insecure), but I can’t help how I feel about me tagging along with him. He and his ex-wife have no children so they are not really involved with each other anymore. I know my husband’s family is not very close with her, but they keep in touch through Facebook.

I simply hate being a second wife. That’s why this bothers me. I have tried reading self help articles because I hate feeling this way. I know it’s unnecessary and unhealthy. I want to be a better person, but at the end of the day I always seem to resort back to how I truly feel deep down. Sometimes I think the best thing for me to do would be to avoid any situations that may lead to me feeling uncomfortable. What are your thoughts? Should I suck it up and attend with my husband or tell him I would rather not because I would feel uncomfortable being around his ex family?

Folk replies

I understand your discomfort. Attending a funeral and/or memorial service is uncomfortable for many people, but it is especially uncomfortable for a person in your position who did not know the deceased and doesn’t know any of his mourners. In fact, the only reason for you to even consider attending your husband’s ex father-in-law’s memorial service is that your husband wants you there. Just because your husband wants you there though doesn’t mean that you have to put your own feelings aside and attend the service with him. If your husband were devastated by the loss of his ex father-in-law and needed your emotional support that would be one thing. But as this is clearly not the case, I do not see any reason for you to force yourself to attend. In as much as your husband worked with his ex-father-in-law for years though, it makes sense for him to show up to pay his respects.

I agree with you about the likelihood of this event turning out to be a trip down memory lane. A memorial service, after all, is intended to celebrate the life of the deceased. And inasmuch as you were never part of that life the way your husband was, it doesn’t make much sense for you to be there. Or to feel bad or insecure or guilty about not going.
That said, I sympathize with you about hating that your husband was married before. No little girl grows up, after all, dreaming about being a second wife. And let’s face it: emotionally, being the second wife can be tough. You and your husband have been together for eight years; the two of you have a marriage of your own entirely separate from his previous life. But to some extent, you are still being defined by what he did before he met you — which is so not fair. Why, for example, aren’t you just “the wife” instead of the “second wife”?

But here’s the thing: You are married to the man you love. Does it really matter that he’s been married before? Even after his first bad experience with marriage, after all, he chose to marry you. So what does that say to you about how much he loves you and wants to be with you? I know it’s hard, but you have to try to shake off your insecurities about his ex-family. You are his present and his future. So try to stop thinking of yourself as your husband’s second wife, and try to start thinking of yourself as his last wife instead.

Letter #: 458570
Category: Marriage

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