I’ve always had a good relationship with my mother in law, better than the relationship with my own mother. I’ve always thought she was more there for me and I was the daughter she never had. She loved my daughter and became instant Nana to her before my husband and I ever even got married. She’s catholic turned southern baptist and at times seems to be extremely judgmental but I’ve always taken that with a grain of salt and ignored the things she says that I don’t agree with. Early on she never told me how to raise my girls, unlike my mother who was always trying to put her two cents in on how I should be raising them. I got into multiple arguments with my mother for butting into my life and at one point cut her out of our lives for a period of time because of it. But my relationship with my mother is definitely a story for a different time.
When I found out about my husband’s affair I knew he was getting advice from both of his parents. They are both on their third marriages so to me these are not the two people that should be giving any advice. I had reached out early on to my husband’s second stepmother to ask her about my father in law and why my husband would be going to him for advice when they weren’t particularly close. She mentioned affairs and how upset he was when his wife (my mother in law) left him and took his son out of state. I assumed being so distraught by the discovery of my husband’s affair that I thought it was my father in law that had an affair. I remember in those early weeks yelling at my husband that he didn’t need to be taking marriage advice from his father.
Talking to my husband months later after the dust has settled and the affair was over he told me he remembered meeting his second step father and going to McDonald’s with his mom and him. My husband was 5. He remembers moving 13 hours away from his Dad to go live with this man and his mom. This man physically, mentally and emotionally abused my husband for years. They have since reconciled and have become close, but my husband’s younger years were very hard for him and it breaks my heart. My mother in law shipped my husband off to live with his father and step mother when he became a teenager to get him away from all of it. Well in a teenager’s mind they feel you are just wanting to get rid of them; the problem. My husband moved back when they divorced.
I recently spoke to a friend who knows this family very well. She’s been around for a long time and worked with my husband and the stepfather and her sister dated my husband when he was in his early 20’s. She recalled that my husband’s step father had a recorded phone call of my mother in law and another man when they were married. Here I was blaming my father in law for my husband seeing infidelity and thinking it’s okay and it was in actuality my mother in law.
No wonder my mother in law never said anything to my husband the day after he came home from that training trip and went to her house and told her he met someone else and wanted to divorce me. She didn’t say a damn thing. Not “what the hell are you thinking?!?!”, nothing. She couldn’t say a damn thing because she knew she was guilty of the same thing. And the fact she didn’t want to get on her son’s bad side. She was going to eventually be okay with his decision even though it was going to destroy mine and her granddaughter’s lives. I used to think her guilt was because of what she allowed to happen to him at the hands of that man. That she never came to defend him; her own son. No, her guilt must come from that and the fact that she had an affair with that man she thought was going to be good to her son and in fact it destroyed his spirit.
I fell in love in spite of the things I knew happened to him. Maybe I felt I could heal him, help him open up and heal from those wounds that are so deep. He’s never opened up. Something happened to him that he’s told me that if he ever tells anyone that he’ll never be the same.
I can’t look at my mother in law the same way anymore. She has no idea that I know. I have lost respect for her. She’s the reason my husband thought it was okay to have an affair. That is what he saw her do. She showed him that if you’re feeling unhappy that is what you do; have an affair.
I’m still not sure of what I want from my marriage. I’m afraid that I’m staying for my girls, for the familiarity, for the stability. I love him, but that love has changed. I will never blindly love him like I once did. I’m afraid that once our girls are grown and move out that there will be nothing left to bind us. I’m also afraid that these are the reasons he chose to stay with me and that he feels the same way I do.