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Stepmum's perspective please: AIBU?

(23 Posts)
GrumpyDullard Wed 14-Dec-16 19:50:46

I'm taking exH's mum to a natural health practitioner for her various ailments which her GP cannot sort out. ExH and his DW recently moved over 4 hours away from his mum, so they can't help, whereas I live round the corner (with the 2DCs exH and I share). I'm driving because exMiL can't drive at the moment. I emailed exH to tell him about the appointment (and that I was driving his mum and paying for it) a few days ago

ExH emailed me today, seemingly surprised about the arrangement and asking that I let him know if I am doing something like this because his DW will be pissed off if she finds out and thinks he has kept it from her.

His email was quite civil but this has royally pissed me off for a number of reasons:
1. I'm being nice and doing him a favour by looking after his poor old mum.
2. I did bloody tell him!
3. What business is it of his what I do with his mum?
4. Why does his DW give a shit?

I've forwarded him the email where I told him I'd arranged the appointment and was taking his mum, and I've said I won't bother telling him about anything I do in future, if I am going to get grief about it anyway.

I guess it may be pertinent that exMIL is not at all happy that her DIL took her son away (as she sees it) because previously he has always lived nearby. ExH and his DW have no DCs together (yet).

So, from a stepmum's perspective, would you care if your DH's ex took your MiL to an appointment and your DH didn't tell you? And AIBU to continue having a close and friendly relationship with my exMIL (who is, obviously, my DCs' grandmother)?


littleoysterslittleoysters Wed 14-Dec-16 19:58:52

As a Stepmum and second wife I would care about you taking her but I would care if he knew and he hadn't told me. I'd care about anything current with his ExW that he hadn't told me about. I think what you are doing is nice.

BertieBeats Wed 14-Dec-16 20:09:46

Wouldn't care about partners ex wife taking his mother to an appointment considering the circumstances (her living nearer, for example) BUT I would be slightly peeved that he hadn't told me. Would make me wonder what else he hasn't told me.

HesNotAMessiah Wed 14-Dec-16 20:13:32

My kids stayed with my ex full time when we split, my mum used to come to visit them and stayed with my ex. Mum lives 400 odd miles away, a lot further than a four hour drive.

They had known each other for 20 odd years by the time we divorced, and she came to visit the kids rather than me. As an adult I can make my own arrangements to see my mum and she saw it as visiting her grand children and their mother, regardless of her legal status within the family.

I would only find out after the arrangements were made, but that didn't bug me.

Not had a medical issue to sort, I went to my mums when she had a knee replacement, mum came to ex's when she had a major operation because the kids had left home and were unavailable.

Your ex might feel he should be the one to look after his mum but as for his new partner being annoyed, the only thing she should be annoyed about is his lack of care for his mother!

My family have been very welcoming to my new partner, but they have not just written off my ex. They were as much her family as mine when we were married and I know how awkward the split must have been but she is the mother of my kids who are family, which makes her extended family too.

I expect it does all depend on the length of ties, nature of split etc but I don't think you're doing anything other than the right thing and your ex should be grateful and open with his new partner. She doesn't really have a say unless she is prepared to step in.

Lunar1 Wed 14-Dec-16 20:22:38

I'm not a step mum. If I were you I'd think of it as doing your children's grandma a favour rather than as a favour to your ex.

Your arrangements with another capable adult have nothing to do with your ex and his wife.

GrumpyDullard Wed 14-Dec-16 20:42:37

Thanks very much for your replies. It makes sense that, as littleoysters and Bertie have said, it's not the arrangement that has upset exH's DW but the fact he didn't tell her. Of course, seeing as I had told him and he didn't pass that on, what am I to do about it?
I haven't even met the ex's DW, although I'd be happy to do so (I don't know which of them doesn't want us to meet, but I assume it's him) so I can't contact her directly. Maybe it really is best that I never tell him anything again and then he can't forget to tell his DW.

ZouBisou Wed 14-Dec-16 20:46:40

I'd have absolutely no problem with this, you are not being unreasonable at all. I don't think I'd even care whether DP told me or not.

PurpleDaisies Wed 14-Dec-16 20:49:40

What's a "natural health practitioner"?

GrumpyDullard Wed 14-Dec-16 21:17:16

Thanks, ZouBisou

PurpleDaisies - it's "alternative medicine."

This is a total tangent but... Personally, I don't believe in it but exMIL has a load of symptoms that real medicine can't treat and I'm hoping the placebo effect will make her feel better. Mainly, it's an opportunity for someone "in authority" to spend some time with her, treat her with kindness and make her feel she is being taken seriously. At least, it can't do any harm (and is giving her GP a break!)

WannaBe Wed 14-Dec-16 22:36:34

Your relationship with your ex mil has nothing to do with his current wife. If she has an issue with not being told things then that issue is with her husband and nobody else.

I wouldn't see it as doing a favour for your ex, I would see it as a favour for the MIL. In fact I have previously done favours for my ex mil, have helped her with technical issues re computer, and recently gave her DS' old mobile phone which was actually mine - so that she had an upgraded phone. My ILs are lovely people and my feelings towards them are separate from anything I might feel towards my ex, and I owe his DP nothing. Not meant in a nasty way but any issue a new partner has with that is theirs.

WannaBe Wed 14-Dec-16 22:37:22

And no, I wouldn't tell him. You're not answerable to him, not even when it involves his mother.

GrumpyDullard Thu 15-Dec-16 07:46:28

Thanks WannaBe. I realise it sounded as if I was doing this as a favour to my ex, but I didn't mean it like that: I'm doing it because I care about exMiL and feel sorry for her. I just meant it is in ex's interests that someone looks after his mum as he's not around.

In future, I will leave it up to ex's mum to let exH know what we're doing (if she wants to). It was a mistake of exH to bring his DW's feelings into it, and suggest that I should care what she thinks. I shall ignore what he says and carry on.

mrssapphirebright Thu 15-Dec-16 10:17:43

As a second wife i would be more concerned that my MIL thought i had 'taken her son away' - especially if she was mean to me and seemingly ass over his first wife.

From a personal perspective my MIL wants nothing to do with me (dh's second wife) and is still very close to his ex wife - even though she has behaved appaulingly. I would not begrudge you as the ex wife for helping her out, i'd be more pissed off if MIL's attitude was a problem.

I will often help out my ex MIL as she is old and frail and i love her to bits, i don't do it to help my exh out (he takes good care of her anyway), but to maintain a relationship with her. My dh doesn't mind that i help her out.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Fri 16-Dec-16 00:07:52

OP your relationship with your ExMIL is completely your own. Whether you tell your ExH is up to you. You haven't done anything wrong and should continue to have a relationship with her in any way you like.

Your ExH should tell his DW if he knows, but again that's totally up to him, and I'm not even sure why he felt the need to have a conversation or feel anything about it?

That said, your ExMIL is probably hurting her son and his wife by so obviously preferring you to her, and may well be carrying on a relationship with you partly to make a point. But as long as you aren't deliberately stirring anything, and it doesn't sound like you are, then that is again something that ExH and his DW can feel cross at MIL about - but not you!

OnceMoreIntoTheBleach Fri 16-Dec-16 08:10:15

I think this is a tricky one. I don't think you have done anything wrong at all OP. If there were no DCs involved, I suppose it would be expected that you 'step aside' from the DIL role as she had a different DIL now. However, you are friends and nobody has the right to tell you who you can and can't be friends with, so you'd still be well within your rights even with no dc.

The fact is you will always be the mother of her grandchildren, so always connected.

The fact that they life far away and you are near makes it even more reasonable for you to help.

But I can see that on an emotional level, the 'new versus previous DIL' issue is probably the root of the issue.

But to reiterate - I don't think you are doing anything wrong.

Maybe you could just let your ex know that you understand that issue but that the facts of the matter make it a sensible approach and you're not trying to step on toes, just being helpful.

GrumpyDullard Fri 16-Dec-16 21:42:35

Thanks for your further comments.
I think it is highly likely that exH's DW thinks MiL doesn't like her and I am the favoured one and I can see how that would hurt.
I know from bitter experience that exMiL doesn't make it easy and probably makes it very clear to new DiL that she doesn't particularly like her. Many years ago, when exH told her that we were getting married, instead of being happy, she broke down in tears and said "But he's all I've got!" It took several years before we were on good terms.
Since my last email to exH saying it was up to his mum to let him know what we are doing from now on, he's sent numerous friendly and fairly lengthy emails telling me all about his mum's ailments and what he's doing to sort her out. I think he realises his email - complaining about me taking his mum to the acupuncturist - was out of order and this is his way of apologising.
So, I'll just try to be friendly while staying out of things as much as possible.

Bananasinpyjamas1 Fri 16-Dec-16 21:47:33

Ahh, I see perhaps why ExHs DW is peeved. he's sent numerous friendly and fairly lengthy emails telling me all about his mum's ailments and what he's doing to sort her out. !

I understand that this isn't your fault OP if he is sending these. One, short, friendly email is one thing. But numerous is very excluding of his DW, esp as it is about his mother, a close relationship, that she is barred from. MIL has indeed opened the door to conflict!

GrumpyDullard Fri 16-Dec-16 22:31:56

I hadn't given that a thought to be honest, Bananas. I'd even suspected that his DW had put him up to it to try and smooth things over, but who knows?! He certainly isn't usually one for numerous and/or lengthy emails. I haven't responded to any of them yet (there have been 3 - that may not really qualify as "numerous" but they were all on the same subject and quite long) but will have to say something as his last one says he's decided to visit his mum for a few days to try to sort things out.

I will try to stay out of it as much as possible but I do care about exMiL. Her health has taken a serious downturn since exH moved away. It may be largely psychosomatic and the GP can't find anything wrong, but she is looking very frail and has had a couple of falls. She's certainly thoroughly unhappy. I think I omitted to mention that she is the full-time carer for my exFiL who is in a wheelchair. She has a pretty miserable life. ExH is her only DC so she feels very alone and unsupported now he's moved so far away. I wish I could do more, really, but I have 3DCs, one of whom is a baby.

GrumpyDullard Fri 16-Dec-16 22:33:19

Missed out a bit.. He's decided to visit his mum for a few days and would like to see the children.

4bouncingofthewalls Sun 01-Jan-17 16:35:31

No keep being friends with the grandma honestly as the DC grow up with there dad far away they're going to feel a little abandoned 😬keep them close to his family. It's so nice still being friends with EXs family!

In the way of appointments tell him it's his fault if he doesn't tell his wife and I'd be annoyed if he didn't tell me but due to the circumstances I wouldn't mind you taking her to appointments.

MatildaWormwoodRoolsOK Wed 04-Jan-17 13:15:08

As a SM, no I wouldn't have a problem with this at all - instead, I would think it very kind and generous of you. However, I would feel guilty that I wasn't the one taking her to the appointment. Might XH and his new P be feeling a bit bad that they aren't looking after his mother enough?

MNisajokeright Sun 29-Jan-17 21:52:39

Sounds to me mine second wife is feeling second best, especially given she hasn't/can't/isn't willing to provide MIL with grandkids, therefore you are favoured. That's not a great place for the new wife to be in and I'm sure MIL makes this hard as you've said she's not the best MIL, though that does make me wonder at your motives for helping her, especially when in your own words you don't think it'll make any difference to her illnesses! Maybe the circumstances of your separation play a part if you were the reason for the breakdown of the relationship maybe new wife wonders why MIL still holds you in high regard. IMO second wives often get bad press from all in laws even if they aren't responsible for the primary relationship ending. I think once you split you should step back from a relationship with your exILs. They are not your responsibility.

cappy123 Sun 29-Jan-17 23:20:09

Are you really sure your exP's DW was really that upset, or is that just what he's told you?

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