My Mother-In-Law Told Me To Divorce Her Daughter

Advice can come from those you least expect.

  • Greyson Ferguson

Written on Aug 19, 2022

serious man thinking ShotPrime Studio / Shutterstock

“You need to divorce her.”

The line, delivered by my mother-in-law, didn’t just hang in the air. It became the air. It consumed it. Thick and suffocating.

Tears in my eyes already made it difficult to drive. Her line fogged out the rest of my vision.

I didn’t know what I wanted to hear when I picked up the phone.

I didn’t know what I needed to say in return.

So I continued to drive.

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Changes They Are A’ Comin’

I ran out of the house, leaving my heart and soul smashed on the kitchen floor. I wouldn’t be needing them. And yet phantom heart pain exists, even when no longer there.

When stumbling upon a text message from my soon-to-be-wife’s lover weeks before the wedding, I ran from the apartment. I ran from the scene of a crime, the blood of my stabbed heart invisible yet everywhere. It was my mother-in-law that helped talk me through the situation.

Not to continue on with the wedding — but to do what I needed to do. And whatever that was, nobody in her family would think poorly of me.


I talked more frequently with her. I confided in her. More so than my own mother, for whom I told nothing.

A mother will always love her child. A mother will also turn on anyone and anything that harms her child. If I told my own mother she would not forgive me. The connection between her and my eventual wife would be a rope bridge against a rising storm. At least I knew my mother-in-law would always love her daughter.

At the time, I wanted my relationship to last. I wanted us to make it. Maybe because I truly loved her. Maybe because I was afraid of starting over, of losing my emotional investment and having it turn to dust in my hands. She knew my father before he died. If I had to move on, any future relationship would go without ever knowing the man who helped raise me.

I told myself many reasons why I needed things to work. Nourishing my soul with deceptive crumbs quickly left it ravaged and starved.


But I continued with the relationship. I continued on. Perhaps I could replace the crumbs of lies and deception with something meaningful. Something tangible. I made myself believe. The glass slipper could still fit with a little wishful thinking and enough breaks.

The thing is, make-believe doesn’t work in real life.

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And glass slippers don’t fit without cutting off some heels and toes.

Passing The End

We went through with the wedding. But no amount of fake facades and decorations could transform our pumpkin into a chariot.

Two weeks later, I discovered she had continued with her affairs.


Two weeks later, I once again found myself driving away from the apartment. Leaving. Going nowhere and anywhere all at the same time.

Why I thought things would change I don’t know. I wanted to believe everything would be okay so I convinced myself of lies.

When lying to oneself, all else is lost, because no other line of thought can make it through. I blockaded out the idea of truths and likely realities. And in the end, it went the way it always was going to end.

Driving in the car, eyes fogged, the phone rang. My mother-in-law.

Maybe she asked how I was doing. Maybe she skipped the pleasantries. I don’t remember.

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But one line she delivered has stuck with me. I can still hear it. I can hear the tone and the venom behind it. The sharp fangs were not for me, but for her daughter.

“You need to divorce her.”

I had lied to myself for months. My mother-in-law spoke the truth.

Eventually, we did divorce. I spilled everything to my own mother. As I knew would happen, my mom’s jaw clenched, her eyes narrowed, and the idea she had of my wife irrevocably changed.


At the divorce hearing, my mother showed up (I told her not to). My mom said something to my then ex-wife after leaving the courthouse. I don’t know what she said, but with my ex in tears, my mother blew her a kiss and walked to her car.

Mothers will always defend their own children.

My ex’s mother eventually would do the same. Silencing contact with me. Moving on, looking down on me. Because mothers will always love their own children.

And for the shortest period of time, the woman who was my mother by marriage gave me advice I wouldn’t give myself.

Sometimes it’s necessary to listen to your heart. Other times, it’s vital to listen to others. Because while sometimes I can dream of living in a fantasy, it’s important to have the words of others grounded in reality.


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Greyson Ferguson writes about travel and relationships here and in other places. He also makes videos and podcasts. Follow him on Twitter.