By Greg Price, BounceBack Editorial Staff
When we begin dating someone and things get a little more serious, we meet the friends and family who have escorted our partner throughout life. Sometimes we make a strong connection with these friends and family members, and sometimes those relationships become so close that they become independent from our original connection to our partner.
While the phrase "in-laws" tends to have a negative connotation and the assumption is that most people don't get along with their in-laws, it's not always the case. Many people consider their second family to be as close, and in some instances, even closer than their immediate family. Husbands' mothers can become best friends with their daughters-in-laws, and many people without siblings of their own can look to their new brothers- and sisters-in-law for the family bonding they never had.
Even in a non-marraige situation, it's common for people to forge strong relationships with the families of their serious boyfriend or girlfriend.
But what happens to these connections with your in-laws when your relationship or marriage ends? And especially if it ends on a miserable note? Divorce is a painful process, no matter how amicable and judiciously-friendly states like New York have made it. And in many cases, when you divorce, you're not only divorcing and losing your spouse, but also their friends and family members with whom you've developed these deep-seeded ties.
So the question is, do we let those relationships shrivel up like our marriages, or do we try to stay connected for as long as possible?
There are many sides to this discussion, but the number one issue is loyalty. It's difficult to escape the fact that you never would have become best friends with a brother-in-law or sister-in-law had it not been for your spouse. Keeping that relationship going will test loyalties on the family front, particularly if the divorce was a messy one.
After a divorce, support from friends and family can make the difference between a year-long depression or a six-month bounce back. We need that physical and mental encouragement to get through the lulls in the day originally filled by our spouse. But it becomes nearly impossible to get that encouragement if you have come to consider your spouse's family as your own. How can you reach out to them for support when they also need and want to support your ex-spouse? And remember, it's not only tough for you - it's probably just as difficult for your in-laws who love you, but know their ultimate loyalty will probably lie with your ex.
A divorce sends shock waves that can affect nearly every member of the family, especially if they have developed a strong rapport with you. Father-in-laws can embrace a son-in-law like the son they never had, and despite the nightmares that ensue like we see in “Everybody Loves Raymond,” women can have lasting relationships with their mothers-in-law. We know that a divorce always affects the children of the parents who are divorcing, but we sometimes forget that family goes beyond the immediate definition, and many people can be affected and presented with a tough situation moving forward, on both sides.
So what do you think, BounceBack community? Should you keep your friendships with your in-laws going after a divorce, even though it could cause family strife? We want to know your thoughts.