Sunday, November 12, 2006
Thinking, thinking....
day three dubbo zoo 063

How do I tell the kids they're about to lose a beloved aunty to my equally beloved brother's separation?

I don't have to do it yet.

But the decision is final, so the telling will have to come some time.

And I'd really like some ideas of how to go about it, other than: "It doesn't mean she doesn't love all of you very much".

You know, and I know, that no matter how much she loves them, she's very unlikely to keep contact once the formalities are done. No matter how much we might all want it to be so.

My niece from my first marriage (neice-in-law?), who I'd known since she was just out of nappies, was the 12yo bridesmaid at my second wedding.

It was all very friendly but, as it turned out, it was close to the last time any of us spoke again. For my ex-sister-in-law and I, the second wedding was like a very late bell to sound the alarm that more than one relationship ended when my marriage to her brother died.


Is it that experience which makes me so pessimistic about keeping in touch with my brother's (soon to be ex) partner? Could I be too gloomy? After all, I've known her for 16 years and she's one of the few people who came to both my weddings. We have lived through in-jokes and tragedies and birthdays and funerals and dogs (hers) and children (mine) together.

When my mother died, this sister-in-law (I have two) was the only one in the family to realise how enormous was the loss to the Pea Princess. She'd seen how much my mum and daughter doted on each other, and she made an effort to fill the gap a little. No one else got it.

I've been focused thus far on just getting my brother through this. He's a brilliant human being and I adore him. And, much as I love her, I will back him to the hilt because he believes this is the right thing for him to do. He does not make this choice lightly, or selfishly.

Inside, though, I am weeping already for all the other relationships that are about to end.

Three little ones, in particular.

Advice, gratuitous or otherwise, is welcome.



Blogger Stomper Girl said...

That is such a hard one, I feel for you.
My experience of these things is that although what you predict may be ultimately true, you may find the passage of it to be not quite as stark. You obviously have bonds with your outgoing SIL so might not there be some effort to redefine your relationship? In which case it may work and you get to keep her as a friend, or she may just fade from your life a bit more gently, which could be less traumatic all round.
Doesn't really help you with how you explain the whole thing to the kids though... sorry no clues there, just sympathy. And a conviction that you will do a good job because you sound like the sort of person who thinks these things through clearly.

Blogger Em said...

I've no advice ... just wanted to say I'm sorry. It can't be easy.

Thank you both, you're lovely.

But, crikey, there must be someone out there who's divorced an aunty recently?

Blogger Blue Moon Girl said...

I have no real advice. I just send my sympathy. Sorry, Bec. I agree with Stomper Girl, maybe there's a way to redefine things? At least if she's going to leave your life, maybe it could happen gradually? Or have you considered talking to her about things? She sounds like a good friend and a good person. Or even talking to your brother?

Sorry Bec. That is a tough one. My husband has an aunt who got a divorce ages ago and has since remarried. This aunt still invites the 1st husband to family events and such because everyone still likes him and his company (plus they had a child together). Maybe that will happen here? I am ever the optimist!

Blogger mad muthas said...

no advice, i'm afraid bec - just a big hug to the lot of you. sooo hard on everyone! xox

I think it will be a gradual thing. Certainly judging by my last experience, contact slowed down over a couple of years, revived when I asked ex-niece to be bridesmaid and then dropped off after that - when two families looked around and quietly decided: "this is a bit silly now".

But this SIL can be an intensely practical creature too - intensely. I'll talk to her, of coruse, but she's hurting badly just now and knows my brother's been confiding in me, so I'm not rushing anything.

The two of them started out as good friends, and have always been, first and foremost, good friends (that's part of the problem) so there is a lot of hope that part of their relationship will continue.

You're all wonderful to be so nice about my bleating here. It's not the biggest problem the world has to face...

Blogger Jane Henry said...

Aah, Bec, so been there. I have sat between my bil his ex and his new wife for YEARS. It was all fine till recently when I discovered that ex sil has been v manipulative so situation currently dicy but am hoping it will improve.

AM sure in your case your sil is sensible person and won't want to lose your friendship. I don't think it does have to die because the marriage did. She married your brother, not you.

Good friends of mine are divorcing at the moment and we are managing to retain relationships with both. It is tricky but so long as you make the rule no bitching about the other it can work, and sometimes you can smooth the pass of understanding...

Good luck
Love Janexxx

Blogger meggie said...

Bec, have not been there, in the SIL way, but my son had been with his partner for 17 years. When they parted, it was like a death to me, & I grieved over it badly. We were good friends with his partner, & she was part of our family,- I was so fond of her.
Our Granddaughter was upset- DIL had been part of her life from birth, but she just seemed to accept it. She was a little older than your children.
Son & Ex have remained good friends, & there are times I know they have both wished to 'go back'. I dont think it will happen though- son says he would hate to lose her & feels if they parted again it would be final. They have been apart for 4 years now, & we have had no conact with her, & I still miss her.

Not much help to you, but I do think children seem to have an understanding somehow, of these things.

Blogger velcro said...

not an aunt, but my MIL's partner. He was very close to my son who called him "Grumpy...". When they split up in January we were very worried that when my MIL would visit he would wonder where his Grumpy.. was and would get upset. He didn't and has never asked.
He also lost an uncle due to end of relationship but was only a tiny baby then and had no clue who anyone was.
I know your 3 are older than the FB but you might find that they accept what is going on especially if she bows out of their lives slowly.
good luck though, not a fun thing to have to explain.

Blogger My float said...

You know Bec, you give me such great advice all the time and I just have nothing to give to you about this situation. I feel for the kids; losing someone is never easy no matter what the circumstances are.

Lots of love...

Blogger My float said...

You know Bec, you give me such great advice all the time and I just have nothing to give to you about this situation. I feel for the kids; losing someone is never easy no matter what the circumstances are.

Lots of love...

Anonymous shula said...

Oh God. You too?

Being hard in the middle of a similar situation right now, I can say, without fear of contradiction, that I haven't a clue.

Though I would venture the advice, that to be reactive, rather than proactive, is working for me. ie. deal with it as it comes, don't try to nut it out. And use your downtime to do something else entirely ie. don't dwell.

Sorry, mate, that's the best I can offer.

The kids will adjust, it's what kids do. Especially if you're cool about it, and people around them don't go 'bakark!' more than is absolutely necessary.


"bakark" - that's the BEST word for it I have ever seen (and heard, in my head).

Thank you!

Anonymous Shula said...

Good, isn't it?

So was Super Chicken. Whatever did happen to that show?

Anonymous Shula said...

ps. Made you laugh.

You did!

Thank you. :)

Blogger Kim said...

I'm going to use my most eloquent voice to simply say, "well that sucks".

I guess the thing is, this time around, that when the two families look around and go, "Well this seems a bit silly now", with the benefit of hindsight you will be able to say, "No, no its not" and plough ahead.

The hardest part is the now - two people hurting, two people confiding, one Bec in the middle. The best way to deal with that? Is to give it a cursory nod and move on. A good line (internally as much as if it needs to be voiced) is "some things you want to say/have said are quite damaging to my relationship with my brother, so I'm going to need you to either say them directly to him or to another friend, but not to me."

Because you know, once the parametres are set, the way forward seems a whole lot clearer and easier to negotiate.

(as Kim's 2 cents clang on the floor)

Blogger MsCellania said...

Or how about giving a hug and saying "I'm so sad for both of you. And can't we start fresh, starting now? And can't you still be a very important part of our family?"

Then get our your calendars and start picking a visit or two - you going to see her as well as her coming to your home.

Gee, it all sounds so simple ON PAPER.... (!)

Yes, I can do all that for me... it's the kid stuff that adds grey hairs.

Adaptable, true; problem is, we don't really have much family to spare and I hate them losing one of the few actively caring members we do have!!

But thanks one and all. I could picture you chatting away about this - tea or G&T in hand - as you reclined on the faded red velvet sofas of the Ladies Lounge!

Blogger Joke said...

The best I can do is say that if you don't want to lose her, then don't. Just realize that it will take ceaseless effort. Once the bonds of family-by-marriage go "Pfft!" all you have left is the desire to keep intact whatever may be salvaged.

Yes, it sucks. Yes, it will be murderously arduous, and inconvenient, and awkward.

Is her relationship to the children worth the eternally relentless difficulty, inconvenience and awkwardness?


Blogger Joke said...

P.S. If the answer to the above is anything on the "yes" side, then you explain to the children that things are going to change somewhat. Aunt X will still be Aunt X, and still loves you, blahblahblah...but now they must make a bit of an adjustment and expend a touch more effort to keep X as an aunt.

Blogger My float said...

So, I was thinking about this last night. And perhaps the thing to do is have a family conference, sit them down and talk very simply about the fact that their aunt and uncle are not going to be living together any more. And then ask for questions and play it by ear.


Blogger Suse said...

There is that saying "you can choose your friends but you can't choose your family".

You two (you and the nearly ex SIL) can choose to remain in each others' lives if it's important to you. As someone else said, it's important to set the parameters so there's no bitching about other people.

The children will adapt. As long as every one acknowledges that yes it's terribly sad they've split up, but you will still be able to see her, etc etc. It won't be the same, but it will be something. If you want it to be.

(stepping off the soapbox now, trying not to trip on the bottom step)

Blogger h&b said...

No good advice from me, sorry.
I'd say the relationship could last .. but then, the ex- is your brother, so yeah, it's probably destined to fade away :(

That picture of your "Risky Business" daughter is *divine* !!

Thanks h&b, that pic's in the "print and frame - one day!" folder...

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