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I'm meeting my FIL's common law wife tomorrow


rainbird2
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She is common law because they have been living together for over 10 years now.  They never married after his divorce from my MIL.

 

I was the one who found out about their affair very soon after DH and I were married.  And, yes, it was I who broke the news to the family.  (That was a little on the traumatic side, especially for an idealistic new bride.)

 

It has been over 10 years, and everyone else in the family has met her except for me and for my children.  (DH and I live across the country and haven't visited our family since having children.  The grandparents come visit us.)  I thought I was over everything that happened, but now that she is coming to my home, I don't know what to think anymore.  I just don't have a very high opinion of her since she was "The Other Woman", and I feel bad about this.  I keep saying to myself that I am a fallen creature as much as she is, but man, it's been really hard these last couple of days for me not to judge.  Their affair really hit me hard. 

 

Anyway, I would love some words of wisdom, Bible passages, whatever you've got, on forgiveness and compassion.  He's her wife now.  The past is in the past.  I think this would be easier if I had a good relationship with my FIL.  But since I was the one who messed up his game...well, you know...I'm not his favorite person in the world. :cool:

 

 

Thanks.

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That is tough. But my simple advice is to treat this as an opportunity to get to know her and have the best relationship possible. You have a clean slate and a great chance here - if communication breaks down or hurt feelings persist let the blame not rest on you or your conduct.

 

Pray for her and your entire family, that you can be compassionate and friendly and loving and have a tender heart toward her. The relationship exists whether you are in favor of it or not, and she answers to God, not you. Rest easy in that and focus on how you can be her family member and friend, how you can bless her. Leave any hurt feelings or history at the door.

 

We have some family members like this (on my husband's side) and I've had to make a concerted effort to not take their offenses on myself. I have NO history with the family and no dog in any old fight. So I treat them as any close friend or family member and assum the very best. Think the very best. Aim for real and genuine interactions. And I NEVER bring up the past drama. It's not mine to manage! That's between them, the wronged family members, and their maker. And quite frankly we ALL have sins and skeletons. I keep that in mind and these things together give me grace enough for the day :)

 

God is GOOD. Reflect that goodness in your own gentleness and conduct. Strive for it at the deepest level of your heart.

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What makes her his wife now, if they're not married?  "Common law marriage" is not the same as "shacking up," even if the shacking up has been going on for ten years and is being conducted by grandparents.

 

I'd be tempted to put them in separate bedrooms since they're not married.   :p Possibly, that is not the advice you're looking for.

 

I don't mean to make light of your situation.  I DO understand having a parent with an unsuitable girlfriend/live-in/wife; believe me, I get it.  I don't have any advice, though.  I mostly ignored the unsuitable in my own life.  She was eventually replaced by someone who is eminently suitable. Good luck; I hope the visit is at least short.

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Please take what I am about to say as merely a coping mechanism and aid for you to stay emotionally distant, because it sounds like disapproval or judgement, and I absolutely do not intend it as such. Tell yourself that this matter really is not your business or your place to approve/ disapprove. It is their lives, not yours, and as others have said, G_d will judge. I have used this technique several times in similar situations, and it has helped. :grouphug:

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If they aren't married they wouldn't be sleeping together in my home.

 

Beyond that I would try to treat her with kindness in the same way you treat anyone with kindest even if they are living contrary to your morals.

 

My best friend and I were married to our first husbands five weeks apart when we were 18. Her husband was like a brother to me. We were all,very close. I trusted him, I respected him. Then ten years into their marriage he turned into a serial cheater and it devastated me. It has been 18 years since my friend finally left him. He eventually straightened his life out, married the last Other Woman and these days lots of people dont even know the history.

 

It took a long time for me to let go of my anger and bad feelings toward both of them. She is my FB friend now and when I see either of them we are very friendly. I remember one time about 3 years after my friend divorced him, he followed me to the parking lot and told me he missed me and he wished things could go back to how they were between us. I said, "well I have lost the urge to bash your head in with a baseball bat but I doubt things will ever be the same". He laughed and said fair enough.

 

My friend got over the situation before I did and that helped me. How does your MIL feel? Is she still angry and bitter?

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One thing to think about:  Are you more offended by her than by your FIL?  Why?  He was the one who was married and cheated and broke his vows, not her.  Does thinking about the discrepancy temper your feelings at all?    If she's more offensive to you, why?  Why does the woman trigger your emotions and defenses more than FIL?

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One thing to think about: Are you more offended by her than by your FIL? Why? He was the one who was married and cheated and broke his vows, not her. Does thinking about the discrepancy temper your feelings at all? If she's more offensive to you, why? Why does the woman trigger your emotions and defenses more than FIL?

Good point. I was much more angry at him.

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If they aren't married they wouldn't be sleeping together in my home.

 

I think this would be a a great way to create and continue hard feelings in the family. If the OP is trying to get over the hurt and anger and find a way to have a decent relationship with these people, treating them like naughty, immoral children is not the way to go, imo. 

 

One thing to think about:  Are you more offended by her than by your FIL?  Why?  He was the one who was married and cheated and broke his vows, not her.  Does thinking about the discrepancy temper your feelings at all?    If she's more offensive to you, why?  Why does the woman trigger your emotions and defenses more than FIL?

 

My uncle had an affair and went on to divorce my aunt (uncle is my mother's brother) and marry the woman. I was very, very angry with him for a long time. I finally realized, years on, that my cousin, my mother, my grandparents, and my step-cousins (whose mother had wrecked her marriage to their father by having an affair with my uncle) had all been able to forgive and move on, and at that point it just seemed silly to continue with my anger. Because really, it wasn't about me at all. It was about the fact that both my uncle and the woman he eventually married were very unhappy in the previous marriages and dealt with it poorly. Who among us has not dealt with something poorly? I realized I needed to just let it go, and I am glad I did.

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I think this would be a a great way to create and continue hard feelings in the family. If the OP is trying to get over the hurt and anger and find a way to have a decent relationship with these people, treating them like naughty, immoral children is not the way to go, imo.

 

 

My uncle had an affair and went on to divorce my aunt (uncle is my mother's brother) and marry the woman. I was very, very angry with him for a long time. I finally realized, years on, that my cousin, my mother, my grandparents, and my step-cousins (whose mother had wrecked her marriage to their father by having an affair with my uncle) had all been able to forgive and move on, and at that point it just seemed silly to continue with my anger. Because really, it wasn't about me at all. It was about the fact that both my uncle and the woman he eventually married were very unhappy in the previous marriages and dealt with it poorly. Who among us has not dealt with something poorly? I realized I needed to just let it go, and I am glad I did.

I wouldn't let any unmarried people sleep together in my house. I wouldn't be singling out my FIL and the girlfriend. Everyone else might handle their life differently but that is how I would handle it.

 

I too seemed to be the last one to get over stuff. I am working on that. I am still angry at my aunt from a horrible thing she did to my parents and me 13 years ago. My anger is for my mom more than me....but my mom has long ago forgiven her.

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I wouldn't let any unmarried people sleep together in my house. I wouldn't be singling out my FIL and the girlfriend. Everyone else might handle their life differently but that is how I would handle it.

 

I know you wouldn't. We've discussed it before. I just think that it would be in direct opposition to the OP's stated goal of trying to foster forgiveness and compassion and would make things harder for her, not easier.

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I have a BIL/sort of SIL who sound a lot like your FIL/sort of MIL. They've been together for 20 years and, for all intents and purposes, sort of SIL is part of our family. IMHO, the best course of action is to just roll with it and be friendly and a good host. You won't have to see them for long, make your time together pleasant. If your kids are old enough to figure out that they're not actually married, you can discuss what consequences that has for them. If they don't notice, don't bring it up. If they lived near you, my advice might be different but for a long distance relationship it's easy to just put on your happy face when you see them.

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They aren't "unmarried people" if they live in a state where common law marriages are legally recognized, regardless of your personal feelings about it. 

 

Try to remember that this isn't about you and never was. Holding onto anger and a decade-long grudge over what happened does no one any good, including yourself. 

Edited by Word Nerd
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I too find it curious that your resentment seems to be primarily directed at her--I mean, yes, I think it is despicable for a woman to sleep with a married man, but HE was the one who broke his marriage vows; that is even more despicable and the primary blame for the broken marriage lies with him.

 

Are you perhaps harboring a secret fear that some woman will come along and steal your own husband from you?

 

I do understand that this may just be a matter of you having never processed your feelings about this woman because you were able to mostly let her be out of sight out of mind, while you have likely had more interactions with FIL and have had to work out a mental compromise/establish a mode of relating to him. I hope that the visit goes well.

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I just want to throw this out there.

For years my stepmother told us terrible things about the woman her father, our grandfather, had an affair with and later married. We were raised to despise her.

 

She's a lovely woman. My stepmother's hatred of this woman almost screwed us (children) out of a relationship with her and my step-grandfather. She screwed up, he screwed up, but really - they are good people when you get down to it. Their screw-up was a major one, but they are/were (step-grandfather passed not long ago) genuinely otherwise great people.

 

Don't let this fester. Please.

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I wouldn't let any unmarried people sleep together in my house. I wouldn't be singling out my FIL and the girlfriend. Everyone else might handle their life differently but that is how I would handle it.

 

 

I find this fascinating.  It gets down to who and what defines marriage.   Does it have to be your definition of marriage?  A legal document?  For example, I have many friends in another culture who don't have legal documents saying that they are married, but in their communities they are recognized as such.   If they visited your home would they meet your requirements to sleep in the same room?   What would happen if you went to the home of someone who doesn't believe divorced people are able to be married to another partner?  Would you be able to sleep in the same room as your husband? Would you be offended if you were not invited to? (btw I am asking this in all seriousness. This is such an interesting topic to me.)

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She is common law because they have been living together for over 10 years now.  They never married after his divorce from my MIL.

 

I was the one who found out about their affair very soon after DH and I were married.  And, yes, it was I who broke the news to the family.  (That was a little on the traumatic side, especially for an idealistic new bride.)

 

It has been over 10 years, and everyone else in the family has met her except for me and for my children.  (DH and I live across the country and haven't visited our family since having children.  The grandparents come visit us.)  I thought I was over everything that happened, but now that she is coming to my home, I don't know what to think anymore.  I just don't have a very high opinion of her since she was "The Other Woman", and I feel bad about this.  I keep saying to myself that I am a fallen creature as much as she is, but man, it's been really hard these last couple of days for me not to judge.  Their affair really hit me hard. 

 

Anyway, I would love some words of wisdom, Bible passages, whatever you've got, on forgiveness and compassion.  He's her wife now.  The past is in the past.  I think this would be easier if I had a good relationship with my FIL.  But since I was the one who messed up his game...well, you know...I'm not his favorite person in the world. :cool:

 

 

Thanks.

 

wow. you sound like you think you were the injured party.  you are NOT the one who was sinned against - that would be your mother-in-law, and her children.  they've moved on.  why won't you?  

 

why are you holding this woman's past actions against her - but NOT your fil's?  he was the one who started the affair, and if he hadn't been willing to have one - there wouldn't have been one.  it's likely she didn't even know he was married when they started fooling around. - but he did . . . . what are you gaining by holding onto your hard feelings? do you think it will bring your security in your own marriage?  that your dh won't dare to stray if you stay angry at his father's mistress?

 

 

 

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A lot of the advice seems unhelpful if her goal is to repair these relationships.

 

I would treat both of them kindly and check myself about any resentments I was harboring. I wouldn't focus on whether or not they're legally married. They made those decisions as adults and are happy with them. Let it go. I would work hard not to expect their anger (I find that's a self-fulfilling prophesy most of the time) and to act like you love them and like you're all a happy family. I know that's not the "truth" - but sometimes we make a truth by acting like it's true. And, in this case, it doesn't hurt anything.

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I find this fascinating.  It gets down to who and what defines marriage.   Does it have to be your definition of marriage?  A legal document?  For example, I have many friends in another culture who don't have legal documents saying that they are married, but in their communities they are recognized as such.   If they visited your home would they meet your requirements to sleep in the same room?   What would happen if you went to the home of someone who doesn't believe divorced people are able to be married to another partner?  Would you be able to sleep in the same room as your husband? Would you be offended if you were not invited to? (btw I am asking this in all seriousness. This is such an interesting topic to me.)

 

 

If I had a friend who believed divorced people shouldn't be allowed to be remarried (highly unlikely but hey lets go with it) and the didn't want me and dh to sleep together in their home we would get a hotel.

 

As far as how other cultures define marriage kind of pointless to discuss because I am in THIS culture which defines marriage as a legal document issued by the state.

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At this point, I'd try to set aside negative feelings and genuinely open your heart to the possibility of getting to know her as a person, rather than as a person who had an affair with a married man. She can't change the past now. 

 

 

Yes this is true and it is how I feel.  I think my thoughts on it are getting lost in my point about not letting unmarried people sleep together in my house. That is a separate issue from an affair 10 years ago.

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Your FIL cheated on his wife. That was between the two of them. What happened in their marriage was between them. He made the choice to be with another woman. He wasn't kidnapped and raped. He left his marriage, for whatever reason. He made that choice, not the other woman. (Aside: no one knows what happens in a marriage except those two people. What looks idyllic to outsiders can be hell to the people who are actually in the relationship.)

 

Calling her his "common law wife" the way it was said reads like you're calling her his two dollar floozy. As Word said, if they live in a state with common law marriage, then they are married and would have to legally dissolve the marriage to leave it. But who knows. Maybe they got married with a license and all that but didn't send you an announcement or the registry info. ;) At any rate, this is his life partner of 10 years. He's not picking up random women at the bar and bringing them home to hook up in your guest room.

 

Focusing your disgust and ire on the other woman is displaced and unhealthy for you. You were never the wronged party. Why do you think it bothers you so much? Because you saw and told? I think you've redirected a bunch of feelings onto a "safe person" that you figured you'd never have to see or deal with, but this demonization of her isn't fair. Though she might be, on her own, a total nutjob. Give her the chance to show you who she really is. Or at least be neutral and give your husband and children the chance. It's his father and their grandfather.

 

I hope time passes quickly for you!

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As far as how other cultures define marriage kind of pointless to discuss because I am in THIS culture which defines marriage as a legal document issued by the state.

 

Except that in states that recognize common-law marriage, there is no document, but the people are still married.

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wow. you sound like you think you were the injured party.  you are NOT the one who was sinned against - that would be your mother-in-law, and her children.  they've moved on.  why won't you?  

 

why are you holding this woman's past actions against her - but NOT your fil's?  he was the one who started the affair, and if he hadn't been willing to have one - there wouldn't have been one.  it's likely she didn't even know he was married when they started fooling around. - but he did . . . . what are you gaining by holding onto your hard feelings? do you think it will bring your security in your own marriage?  that your dh won't dare to stray if you stay angry at his father's mistress?

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of the advice seems unhelpful if her goal is to repair these relationships.

 

I would treat both of them kindly and check myself about any resentments I was harboring. I wouldn't focus on whether or not they're legally married. They made those decisions as adults and are happy with them. Let it go. I would work hard not to expect their anger (I find that's a self-fulfilling prophesy most of the time) and to act like you love them and like you're all a happy family. I know that's not the "truth" - but sometimes we make a truth by acting like it's true. And, in this case, it doesn't hurt anything.

 

 

:iagree:  It's been TEN years! What is the point of harboring resentment for that long*? It helps no one and harms many (including the person holding on to anger). Ten years is water under the bridge. Instead of keeping your children from knowing their grandfather and your dh from having at least a somewhat normal relationship with his father, let it go. Your anger, resentment, and/or refusal to accept what has been true for a decade is not good for you or anyone else.

 

*Full disclosure - My mother was someone who held grudges, and I saw how it affected her and those around her. I have chosen to take an attitude that is quite opposite. I realize this is related to your religious beliefs, but they're your beliefs, not theirs. As gardenmom who is Christian (in case my atheism cancels out my advice) said, you are not the one who was sinned against. Those who were did the Christian thing by forgiving and moving on. Try to do the same, if nothing else for the sake of your dh and children.

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OP, take a deep breath and get ready for guests.  Treat them like you'd treat any guests.  Act as though you have the relationship you want, and that will help to create it.

 

It sounds like it's time to let go of this hurt.  Ten years is a long time to hold onto pain.  They've moved on.  Everyone else has.  Why should you hold onto this?  It's only hurting you, and your family.

 

Very gently, I think calling her his common law wife isn't helpful.  She's his wife.  It doesn't really matter how she became his wife, does it?  Through common law or a ceremony - the end result is the same.  

 

I hope you have a good visit, and that it's the beginning of a better relationship for all of you.

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Yes this is true and it is how I feel. I think my thoughts on it are getting lost in my point about not letting unmarried people sleep together in my house. That is a separate issue from an affair 10 years ago.

Isn't a common law marriage as legally valid as if they'd held a church or courthouse ceremony?

 

Also, it seems like the FIL and his lady have been together as long as the OP and her husband. The wedding day doesn't make a committed relationship or change how people really feel about one another. A decade of life together is far more significant. This apprehension would make more sense if it were nine years ago, but now? Carrying a torch this long for someone else's failed marriage seems unhealthy and overly involved to me.

Edited by KungFuPanda
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You're gonna have to play the game of fake it till you make it. This woman didn't harm you, nor did she set out to harm you. You have no real grievance against her, especially not if the actual injured party has moved on.

 

You don't need to forgive either one of them, I suppose, although it'd probably be emotionally healthier if you do. All you really need to do is act civil to a guest in your home. If the whole rest of the family can manage it then she's probably a perfectly nice person other than one lapse in judgment and you can suck it up for a couple of days. Civil means you don't refer to her to her face or his, or where they might catch wind of it, as "the other woman" or "his common-law wife" but by name or simply as "his wife, Hubby's stepmother". You don't make a snide point about putting them in separate rooms. You don't bring up that ugly incident from the past, even if you're dying to. You treat them as though they got married in the conventional way and you're just peachy keen! Kill 'em with kindness, I always say.

 

Something else to think about. Either your father-in-law is simply a serial philanderer, or his first marriage was already pretty much over when he took up with this woman, for reasons that may not be public knowledge. People don't usually decide to just walk away from a healthy marriage just for funzies. Given that he's stayed with her over the past decade, this is very likely the case. If this is so, would it have been smarter to get a divorce before fooling around? Yes, certainly. Would it have been more ethical? Undoubtedly. Sadly, humans don't always take the smartest, most ethical, all-around-best approach to life.

Edited by Tanaqui
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I was the one who found out about their affair very soon after DH and I were married.  And, yes, it was I who broke the news to the family.  (That was a little on the traumatic side, especially for an idealistic new bride.)

 

 

OP, I just reread  your post.  This part stood out to me.  I'm not sure why it fell to you to break the news to the family.  I think, in your shoes, I'd have discussed this with DH and let him do the breaking of the news.  Not because of any sort of submissive wife issues, because we are equals, but because it's his family, and he has the shared history and love to do it and still maintain comfortable relationships afterward.  It feels like you were put into a bad situation and set up for a bad relationship.  I hope this visit leads to better times for all of you.

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Maybe a slightly different take, but I wouldn't be thrilled about having people (any people) I hadn't seen in ten years in my home.  Yeah, I know, I'll never win a hospitality award.  I'd much rather they get a hotel room.  I like my space and I barely want my immediate family in it 24-7, much less people I'm barely acquainted with (or if you don't like that word choice, struggling to relate to, or don't talk to regularly.....etc.)

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Maybe a slightly different take, but I wouldn't be thrilled about having people (any people) I hadn't seen in ten years in my home.  Yeah, I know, I'll never win a hospitality award.  I'd much rather they get a hotel room.  I like my space and I barely want my immediate family in it 24-7, much less people I'm barely acquainted with (or if you don't like that word choice, struggling to relate to, or don't talk to regularly.....etc.)

 

That is a valid perspective, but at this point I think it's probably too late for the OP to change plans without looking really unforgiving, even if she legitimately felt the same way you do.

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:iagree:  It's been TEN years! What is the point of harboring resentment for that long*? It helps no one and harms many (including the person holding on to anger).

 

ESPECIALLY the person holding onto the anger!

 

Ten years is water under the bridge. Instead of keeping your children from knowing their grandfather and your dh from having at least a somewhat normal relationship with his father, let it go. Your anger, resentment, and/or refusal to accept what has been true for a decade is not good for you or anyone else.

 

*Full disclosure - My mother was someone who held grudges, and I saw how it affected her and those around her. I have chosen to take an attitude that is quite opposite. I realize this is related to your religious beliefs, but they're your beliefs, not theirs. As gardenmom who is Christian (in case my atheism cancels out my advice) said, you are not the one who was sinned against. Those who were did the Christian thing by forgiving and moving on. Try to do the same, if nothing else for the sake of your dh and children.

 

:iagree:  my non-practicing christian grandmother could hold a grudge so long - she didn't remember WHY she was angry, only that she was.  she did it to hold that person in her debt. it doesn't work. 

 

  as an adult, I eventually kept my young children away from her for their own well-being.

 

OP - don't go down that road - it only leads to misery. turn back now.

 

forgiveness really isn't about the other person - it's about US. it's about really trusting God and leaving it up to Him.  then let go of that which will harden our hearts.   

 

Have you read about how to cultivate a Christlike heart within yourself?  or the hows and whys of forgivenss?

 

I would suggest you start by stop referring to her as his common law wife.**  the way you used it sounds saracastic with implications of being derogatory.  a PP suggested the term "partner" and in this case, I think it would be more appropriate.

 

** -yes - I know some states consider it a legal term.  I do not consider that pertinent in this case.

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 I just don't have a very high opinion of her since she was "The Other Woman", and I feel bad about this.  I keep saying to myself that I am a fallen creature as much as she is, but man, it's been really hard these last couple of days for me not to judge.  Their affair really hit me hard. 

 

Anyway, I would love some words of wisdom, Bible passages, whatever you've got, on forgiveness and compassion.  He's her wife now.  The past is in the past.  I think this would be easier if I had a good relationship with my FIL.  But since I was the one who messed up his game...well, you know...I'm not his favorite person in the world

 

 

 

In rereading your post it seems like you really do want to get past this and let go. As Tanaqui said, it might be a matter of faking it until you make it.

 

Even though you might not be his favorite person, their desire and willingness to visit sounds like he too might be ready to let the past be in the past. I doubt it's you wants to visit, but wants to see his son and meet his grandkids. That's okay.. If the two of you are both willing to be civil to each other and try again (his game is probably no longer messed up) then that's a good thing.

 

I think you can do this. 

Edited by Lady Florida
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That is tough. But my simple advice is to treat this as an opportunity to get to know her and have the best relationship possible. You have a clean slate and a great chance here - if communication breaks down or hurt feelings persist let the blame not rest on you or your conduct.

 

Pray for her and your entire family, that you can be compassionate and friendly and loving and have a tender heart toward her. The relationship exists whether you are in favor of it or not, and she answers to God, not you. Rest easy in that and focus on how you can be her family member and friend, how you can bless her. Leave any hurt feelings or history at the door.

 

We have some family members like this (on my husband's side) and I've had to make a concerted effort to not take their offenses on myself. I have NO history with the family and no dog in any old fight. So I treat them as any close friend or family member and assum the very best. Think the very best. Aim for real and genuine interactions. And I NEVER bring up the past drama. It's not mine to manage! That's between them, the wronged family members, and their maker. And quite frankly we ALL have sins and skeletons. I keep that in mind and these things together give me grace enough for the day :)

 

God is GOOD. Reflect that goodness in your own gentleness and conduct. Strive for it at the deepest level of your heart.

 

Arctic Mama, thank you for this.  I really cannot thank you enough.  I'm going to come back and read your response again this weekend.

 

My biggest prayer is that they eventually do get married and the kids can call her Grams or something. :)  It has been the weirdest relationship between the two of them.  My FIL has come to visit us about 5 - 6 times in the last 10 years.  He has never has brought her here, and he never mentions her to us.  She will sometimes sign a Christmas card, or we'll see her in the background on Skpe, but that has been her only existence.  He doesn't even call her his wife (I do when talking about her with other family members), but he refers to her as his "Partner." 

 

It would be really nice to have her as an official part of his life.  Maybe FIL bringing her to visit this time around is a way for her to be in the picture officially?  I don't know.  It's all really weird.

 

Anyway, I have some verses I'm reading before they come and I will be praying for a peaceful visit.  I really do want this to go smoothly.

 

...and I will do some clarification to my OP in another post.  I just wanted to thank Arctic Mama for her compassionate post...

 

 

 

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I just have a minute...I'm frantically cleaning and I have to get my chocolate mousse done to set in the fridge!!

 

Just to clarify...

 

I put "Common Law Wife" in the title/OP because that is how I can justify calling her his wife.  They never married, but she is still his wife.  I never call her "Common Law Wife" to anyone...that would be kind of weird, lol.  :)  I refer to her as his Wife, even though he refers to her as his Partner.  I apologize if I offended anyone with the term.  I have never asked FIL what he would like us to refer to her as...perhaps I should.  Partner is what my DH calls his business associates, so that title just seems so strange to me.

 

DH and I would like for them to get married, but, they are adults and can choose any lifestyle that pleases them.  We have never told FIL that we wish they would get married.  That is none of our business.  What is our business, however, is what we see as permissible under our own authority (our God) and how we explain that to our children.  So, anyone not married will not be able to sleep in our home in the same room.  DH kindly asked them to stay at a hotel.

 

I hope I did not give the impression that I am bitter and holding on to a grudge.  And I totally know that it takes two to tango.  FIL was my only father figure growing up, so his choices hurt me more than her decision to be with a married man.  It is just all coming back to me since she is coming to visit, and I'm having a little bit of a panic here.  :)  I'm OK, really...I just don't want to have some Homer Simpson moment and say something silly...or resentful.  I think this would have been easier if they had just got married.

 

One more thing, the affair had been going on for years.  I don't want to get into details, but it was all really sad and ugly in the end.  There are family members who still do not talk with FIL.

 

Hope that clarifies things a bit.  Gotta go defrost steaks. 

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I do understand that this may just be a matter of you having never processed your feelings about this woman because you were able to mostly let her be out of sight out of mind, while you have likely had more interactions with FIL and have had to work out a mental compromise/establish a mode of relating to him. I hope that the visit goes well.

 

This!

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My biggest prayer is that they eventually do get married and the kids can call her Grams or something. :)

​they are an established couple, even if not a traditionally legal one.  ask her now - before they come - what she would like the children to call her.  it would be a very gracious action that could go along way to mending fences.

 

 

 It has been the weirdest relationship between the two of them.  My FIL has come to visit us about 5 - 6 times in the last 10 years.  He has never has brought her here, and he never mentions her to us. 

 

are aware of your feelings of the lack of legal relationship?  even if you don't go around saying what you think - the message can clearly come across in more subtle ways.

 

  He doesn't even call her his wife (I do when talking about her with other family members), but he refers to her as his "Partner." 

 

 he's acknowledging the lack of legal relationship - iow: he knows the difference.  how do other family members refer to her?  as his wife? or his partner?

 

 

again - be gracious. because of everything that came before - you may have to work really hard to make them both, but her especially, feel welcome.  you're overcoming a hurdle.  as has been said: fake it 'til you make it.  forget about how they got together, and get to know her as a person.  treat her as you would wish to be treated.

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If it's that uncomfortable, I'd just encourage them to get a hotel.  It's not like they *have* to stay with you.  They could just have this preference for hotels.  It could be they want a hotel so they can take the grandkids swimming.  ;)

 

And fwiw, I would let unmarried people of a certain age stay at my home (together) out of respect.  But to me, that's more like the respect you give distant people.  Grandparents are role models.  I think you could go either way on that issue.  I don't think your kids will be confused on what you believe over the long run, and I think respect is appropriate.  We've actually had that issue come up (unmarried), and that was our decision.  But once you add in grandparents and the affair, I'd just go WOW, you know there's this hotel 5 minutes up the road that has a WATER PARK a part of it and I know the grandkids would LOVE it if you stayed there... 

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I may be a dissenting and likely not helpful voice, but IMO if you feel a certain way about her because of actions she did, those feelings may be valid for you. I would think also those feelings would extend to FIL too. It may be easier to just say to DH you're not comfortable meeting them and excuse yourself. Or don't sweat trying too hard on a relationship. Maybe just test the waters. Also, if he calls her his partner instead of wife, I think that says something. Common law marriages are not in the majority of states in the U.S. Only a few states have them.

 

None of us are in your position, and I'm wondering if it's possible that the people who have forgiven them feel differently about the original adultery. (For instance they didn't like the MIL or felt lack of concern about affairs or whatever).

 

My best helpful advice is to think (even if it's a bad visit): this too shall pass. GL!

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I may be a dissenting and likely not helpful voice, but IMO if you feel a certain way about her because of actions she did, those feelings may be valid for you. I would think also those feelings would extend to FIL too. It may be easier to just say to DH you're not comfortable meeting them and excuse yourself. Or don't sweat trying too hard on a relationship. Maybe just test the waters. Also, if he calls her his partner instead of wife, I think that says something. Common law marriages are not in the majority of states in the U.S. Only a few states have them.

 

None of us are in your position, and I'm wondering if it's possible that the people who have forgiven them feel differently about the original adultery. (For instance they didn't like the MIL or felt lack of concern about affairs or whatever).

 

My best helpful advice is to think (even if it's a bad visit): this too shall pass. GL!

Very true. The main requirement is that the couple holds themselves to the world as married. Calling someone a "partner" does not do that. Also true that a small minority of states even have common law marriage on the books now. It's no longer difficult to get married which was the basis behind the law.

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Time for an update!

 

Everything went really well.  I was prepared to shake her hand when I met her, but she extended a hug to me, so I reciprocated.  She looks a lot like my own mother! 

 

The kids absolutely adore her.  She is a really fun person, and just played and talked with the kids the entire visit.  She really is a simple, upbeat, happy person...totally opposite of my MIL, lol!  Funny, I tried to put positive spin on their affair by saying to myself, "The new wife saved my FIL from jumping off a bridge.  She gave him a reason to keep living."  I don't think being married to my MIL was too pleasant for him!

 

I have a tendency to over analyze everything, so their relationship really got me thinking.  :)  I can see why FIL likes her.  She is just easy going and fun to be around.  Not complicated, never complains and always happy...just a simple, sweet woman.  She's no beauty queen, but I don't think that really matters to him as much as I thought it would.  I could tell that she was a nice, uncomplicated companion to FIL, always encouraging and fun to be around.

 

We never discussed the past.  I think we all have agreed to let it be water under the bridge.

 

Well, I'm glad that is done.  Thanks again for your replies, everyone!

 

 

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Oh, and FIL was pleased, and I probably moved up a few notches on his nice list.  :)  I cooked him a killer steak and made him his favorite dessert, chocolate mousse.  The kids entertained him with some chamber music, and everyone was very well behaved.  He was very proud of his grandkids.  :)

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