Relationship Connection: My brother-in-law’s divorce is dividing my marriage

Question

My husband’s brother and his wife recently separated after 20 years of marriage and 3 children. My brother-in-law has already moved on and has told the family within weeks of his divorce being final he will be marrying his new girlfriend. Here is my concern:

My husband and I are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their divorce. I am still mourning the loss of my sister-in-law from our family and my heart is breaking for her and their children. My husband, on the other hand, is 100 percent on his brother’s side and supporting him all the way. This situation is putting a wedge between my husband and me and also between my husband’s family and me because I am the only one in our family who thinks my brother-in-law is moving way too fast and that what he is doing is wrong.

How do we not let this family divorce negatively affect our own marriage? Any advice you can give would be appreciated.

Answer

Spending a bunch of time focusing on the wreckage of your brother- and sister-in-law’s impending divorce is like rubbernecking an automobile accident and rear-ending the car in front of you. Your focus needs to be fixed on what’s ahead for you and your marriage instead of getting distracted by something you can’t undo.

Divorces create split loyalties in families, churches, neighborhoods, and pretty much anywhere there are humans. There is nothing wrong with you relating more to your sister-in-law’s experience in the same way your husband connects more naturally with his brother. In the same way you both have opinions and differences in a variety of areas, you can let this be another place where you agree to disagree.

There is nothing wrong with reaching out to each of them to offer support and love. You don’t have to get sucked into taking sides and fighting their fights. Neither of you should dictate relationship you each have with these family members.

I recognize this is easier said than done, however, for the sake of your marriage, it’s critical for both of you to make a commitment to one another that you won’t let this come between you. Instead of focusing on who is more at fault for the divorce, try talking to one another about the sadness and pain you feel watching this family break up. That’s the real tragedy causing you both so much suffering. Sometimes we talk about peripheral issues to keep us from having to feel the reality of the situation.

This is a good time for both of you to take inventory of your own marriage. Have you both created the relationship you wanted? Are there areas that need improvement? Can you learn from the mistakes of others? Recognize how fragile marriage can be if left unattended and use this as a motivator to strengthen and reinforce your own marriage.

Instead of spending your evenings sifting through the wreckage of their marriage, or worse, avoiding each other because of your opposite perspectives on the matter, make a conscious effort to spend more time together and build a stronger marriage. There are countless ways you can breathe new life into your marriage to reassure each other that you’ll do everything you can to put the other first.

Your brother and sister-in-law have a long road ahead of them as they navigate divorce, remarriage, and blended families. You can still love and support them without getting entangled in their mess. You will both have strong opinions about the multitude of decisions they will be making in the coming years. You’ll most likely share these opinions with one another, but, at the end of the day, what matters most is your ability to turn toward your own marriage to protect it.

Stay connected!

 

Geoff will be holding a 2-day couples workshop on April 25-26 to help couples deepen their connection and strengthen their marriages in a fun and interactive setting. This workshop is limited to 10 couples.

hold-me-tight-book

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Facebook: facebook.com/GeoffSteurerMFT

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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12 Comments

  • Polygamists? April 16, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Just wondering if he had a girlfriend on the side while he was married? Was his wife okay with that? Did she, being in Utah, encourage him have another woman or two or three, depending on what heavenly status he was trying to achieve? If not the case, then I pity the woman he’s going to marry immediately after divorcing his current wife, for she will surely hear about how bad his ex-wife was and deal with the other baggage he’s going to dump on her. What’s his hurry to marry? Does he need someone to cook, clean and serve him?

    • Applejack April 18, 2014 at 4:01 am

      I think Geoff offered very good advice this time. She and her hubby need to make a commitment to each other that they will not let his brother’s divorce split them up as well. They need, now more then most other times, to support each other no matter whose “side” they are on.

  • DogMama April 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    I think the questioner’s subconscious (or possibly even conscious) concern over her husband choosing his brother’s side is the fact that it’s an indicator of his true character as a man and as a partner that is very telling of how he’d act toward her in the event of a breakup. And for the record, I’d say she’s right to be concerned.

  • Thinks your an Idiot April 16, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Really Polygamists? That is the absolute dumbest question to ask someone. Just because they live in Utah. Are you retarded? Utah doesn’t really have alot of Polygamist. Its Towns close to Utahs border that do. Obviously your uneducated to that fact.

    • Polygamists April 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Heard a story about some wifey bringing home another woman, I guess as a gift to her hubby. She felt he should have a second woman. Does stuff like that only happens in the weirdo religious mindset of St George? Dang! Wish my woman was like that. I’d buy her flowers!

  • Aldultery April 16, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Which one was first guilty in adultery? Hear it happens all the time around here.

  • Craig April 17, 2014 at 6:27 am

    First of all, you may not agree with what your brother in law is doing but it doesn’t make it wrong. Furthermore, it is not your business. Secondly, just because they divorced, that does not mean it’s the end of your relationship with your sister in law. Move on.

  • Hatalli April 17, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Oh for heaven sakes, woman, GET A LIFE! Are you so bored with your own existence that you have to get your drama from your in laws?
    The fact is, that it is none of your business, in any way, shape or form. You had best start looking at your own marriage. You had also best start looking at your own personal shortcomings. Believe me, you have plenty of them, as do we all.
    Get your nose out of your in-laws business, and get it back into your own life, where it belongs. It’s no wonder your poor husband is in disagreement with you here!
    Perhaps you need to take a long hard look at the kind of relationship you have built with your own family, and particularly with your in-laws. It seems like every family has to have at least one family member who is a pain in the butt. And frankly, it appears that, in this family, it is you.
    Now go do something to improve your life, and your family’s situation, instead of concentrating on all the negative crap.

    • Hatalii April 17, 2014 at 11:43 am

      Hope I’m better at giving a bit of advice than I am of typing. . .duh

  • Steve D. April 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    here’s what you do to get a handle on Yo-b-niz, get on up out of everyone else’s b-niz. Really though, how many people only function as long has they can say they are functioning better than someone else? and if for some reason you have to pick a side, always always side with family. So your husband’s brother is a jerk, let it go because he’s family as long as your with you husband, and your husband’s mother-in-law, is probably a… but still he aught-ta have her back as long as you’re married, because your mom is his family. Also, you both should mind your own business.

  • Drama Queen April 17, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Sheeeet! Doesn’t she have better things to think about, such as kids, grandkids, her dogs and maybe church. These are the things 99.999999% of the women talk about

  • POLYG NATIONALITY April 17, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Let me answer the first comment 1-yes I is, 2-yes he do men don’t leave without another woman, 3-no she wasn’t 4-no she didn’t 5-how u know what he tell new woman 6-if he don’t hurry he would be slow 7-yes what’s your phone number? Please don’t attach you photo I can only imagine my little POLYG ?
    Dog momma when your husband left did he have another woman?
    Adultery the answer is guilty. And yes it happens around here all the time been a lot of move ins last 30 years they bring in their adulterous ways. How’s your sister anyway.
    Craig just a stupid answer.
    Hatalii instead of long hard look she may prefer hard long look. If you have negative crap it can be a pain in the butt. No your advice sucks too.
    Stevedz youbaz iz a stupibz. Howbz isbz yourbz mombz. Dumbz questionz.
    Drama Queen no she don’t. Are you worried about what’s she’s thinking about? Are you teaching us about 99.999999% of what women talk about. 99.999999% of men and women not only think, but are happy, beautiful, smart, great, positive, and are good in the sack( ask a friend what that means) by the way what do you other .111111111% think.
    You oughta stay busy with this group of move ins Dr.

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