celebrating holidays and step families - FamilyEducation
celebrating holidays and step families
10/30/2009 at 13:26 PM

How many families with stepchildren blend the ex-wives/husbands into the holiday celebrations? Does it just depend on the family in most cases?

Before my husband and I were married, his ex-wife always came to immediate family holiday get-togethers like Christmas, Thanksgiving or his son's birthday parties even though they had been separated or divorced for a few years.
Now that we are married, is it wrong of me to ask that she not be at the Christmas/Thanksgiving gatherings anymore (which are at our home)?

Planning this year's birthday party for his son has been a fiasco because his ex wouldn't communicate with him for whatever reason so it turned out we scheduled the party on a day she cannot get off work. She's very mad about this and the fact that we have not planned the party the way she wants it done and has chewed my husband out about it more than once in the last week. She is not helping pay for this party in any way and it is hosted at our home (this was her request a long time ago). Is it right of me to ask in the future that if she wants him to have a birthday party on her terms, she can plan it and throw it but we'll do something else with him for his birthday?

thanks for your advice.

Yes, you are right on all counts. You have the right to plan and have this party for your step-son and any holiday get-togethers at your home without your husband's ex being included. In my situation, we do not include my husband's ex in anything we plan or at our home. Before we met, they were all one big happy family with my husband's then g/f, doing all kinds of things together or at one another's homes. I just do not feel comfortable with that and made it clear from the start. Sometimes when there are family functions, such as when his nephews got married, I stay at home or make other plans. When his sister-in-law had a big holiday party and included the ex, I chose not to go. It is all in what you are willing to tolerate or are willing not to attend with your husband and stepson. It is well worth it to me to miss the party or function to not have to be there with my husband's ex.

Thanks 2xstepmom. You are a big help. :) I feel like the more we blur the lines, the more we end up having confrontations with her. There is a reason they are not married anymore...and the more we try to include her or plan things like birthday parties with her, the more frustrating the whole holiday/event becomes. We end up having too many nights that are ruined because of arguments my husband has with her...he has his hands full just trying to talk to her about their son's schooling, etc. I mean, there will be times that we will mix--some school events, plays he's in--but it seems the less we mix, the easier it is to deal with the times we must be around each other. This past summer my mother-in-law asked my husband and I in front of her grandson (my stepson) if we wanted to go on the beach vacation. Her idea was that my husband's ex could spend the week at the beach with her and her grandson and then my husband and I could come up on the weekend when we were no working. It felt like such a smack in the face that she would ask that and ask in front of my husband's son...what were we suppose to say? Luckily my husband supported me 100% (I told her later I didn't want to go if the ex wife was at all involved) even though it upset my mother in law. I do not understand why the ex would want to be such a part of her ex-family anymore, either. I would think she would want to move on.

I have some in-laws I wouldn't miss if I never saw them again, but I have come to love most of them. I hope that many of them have developed love for me. I miss my sister-in-law's first husband, even though he broke her heart. We had some good times when we were all struggling through those early years together. It might help you if you realized that her relationships with your in-laws do not threaten your marriage. It might even be that your in-laws will come to value you, if you'll stop being so defensive about her position in the family. I also think that if you are hosting celebrations and you can find it within you to be gracious, you will look like a very powerful and mature person.

Please don't read it as she is never involved in anything. She will always be there and be involved in some aspects of our life, that is a part of being married to him. Even though I am generally well-regarded among my in-laws-I think??-I guess everyone has their boundaries, too, right? A definite boundary of mine is sharing a vacation with my husband's ex-wife! They can go on vacation together (ex and mother in law)--I really could careless about that! My biggest concern is that when she is included in the planning and festivities of holidays and the like, there is a much greater likelihood that she'll make something more difficult than it has to be, then she fights and yells at my husband about it and then the whole thing becomes stressful and less enjoyable. So mainly I was just gauging what others are doing, what is crossing the line on my end, etc. ? I just want to say "Next year, she does her thing, we do ours if she is going to treat us that way" but I want to make sure I am considering anything I may not have initially thought of.

You are much more gracious than I already since you have no problem with the ex going on vacation with your in-laws. That would bother me a lot, but that is me and you have every right to your own feelings. Having been married 3X, I have been through many different ex and in-law experiences. The 1st ex is the father of my children, his wife is a good person with her own ex situations so we have had very few negatives. We have worked things out in a positive manner for the past 23 years with few exceptions, though it has become even more positive since my interfering m-i-l passed away 9 yrs ago. My second marriage, to the love of my life, sadly ended due to very negative ex-wife, step-daughters and in-laws situations. In hindsight, things could have worked out much better if I had known enough to set clear boundaries from the beginning. The situation was much like the one you describe, with my ex m-i-l creating many of the negatives by doing things like inviting the ex on vacations and snubbing me many times. My ex would not ever stand up to his mother or ex-wife so situations were never positively resolved. In the 12 years I was then single, I made up my mind to set clear boundaries from the start if I ever married again and have done so with this marriage. Sometimes it does hurt that my husband's ex is invited to functions and parties. I feel like you do that it is sometimes insulting, especially since I have heard that my husband's family was never all that fond of his ex. I have had to realize that these people have their own agenda and we cannot allow their thoughtlessness to come between me and my husband. They are making the decisions, not him or me, and as long as he takes my feelings into consideration and does not put his ex before me, I am able to live with the situation. I sincerely hope you and your husband are able to be successful in setting clear boundaries and you are able to work your situation out in as positive a manner as possible for your family.