Updates: “Trying to Keep the Family Harmony” Responds

updatesIt’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing now. Today we hear from “Trying to Keep the Family Harmony” who wondered how best to disinvite her stepdaughter’s husband from their family vacation after they announced, just days before the trip, that they were separating. Keep reading to see how the family vacation went in light of the recent drama.

We have returned from our family vacation in Florida. If you recall, we had planned a family vacation including our adult children and two grandchildren. Two weeks before the vacation my step-daughter left her husband and two children. There were a flurry of phone calls, of which one was a call to my step-son-in-law to disinvite him. I used many of your suggested words and had a great conversation where he understood why it would be better for him not to come with us. However, the very next day my step-daughter, “Marie,” said it was fine with her if he came after all – as long as we didn’t post any family pictures on social media. (The implied message, I believe, was so the new boyfriend wouldn’t see her husband on the trip.) I agreed as I just wanted to spend family time together.

On the very first night Marie posted a family picture on social media which began a flurry of angry texts from the new boyfriend. After that I was not aware of any contact from the boyfriend. By the next day Marie and her husband seemed cozier than ever. In fact, it soon felt like they were on a second honeymoon. The family trip I had imagined became a reality. It was a fabulous trip!

Upon return Marie moved back into their house – only to move out again the very next day, back to the boyfriend.

Since our return we have had little contact as we have all returned to work and have busy schedules. I keep encouraging my husband to call Marie to keep in touch. He is so angry he refuses to call. We live three hours away from Marie and the grandchildren, so it will probably be summer before we can see them again. There seems to be so much drama in their relationship, and I am trying to stay out of the drama while being supportive for the grandkids.

Oh, wow, those poor kids. It’s one thing for Marie to behave this way when she has only herself and her husband, who is a grown adult, to consider. But it’s incredibly irresponsible and reckless to behave like this when it involves kids who can’t create boundaries, let alone make any sense of what’s going on. I hope, for their sake, Marie’s husband can priortize the kids’ well-being since it’s obvious Marie cannot. And I hope for all of your sakes that the husband continues allowing you and your husband to be involved in the kids’ lives. Good luck.


If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

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  1. LW, consider sending cards and/or little gifts to the grandkids on a regular basis, even if you can’t see them until summer. That little bit of love in the mail will mean so much to them. Or Skype calls, if your son-in-law is on board with that. Just being a stable presence in their lives, a source of unconditional love, will help them get through this.

    1. RedRoverRedRover says:

      Awesome suggestion.

    2. Stillrunning says:

      Great suggestion. Getting something in the mail is still a treat. One thing I did to stay in touch with my grandson was to find out what series he was reading (Percy Jackson, Diary of a Wimpy Kid) and send him the books on a regular basis from Amazon.

  2. bittergaymark says:

    Marie is one manipulative mess. She posted that picture just to cause drama with the new beau, I’d bet a million dollars on that.

    1. Yep. Then used her husband to get back at the BF by “moving back home” and then dumped him (again) once the BF did whatever she wanted to “win her back.” And fuck what her kids feel being caught up in the middle of this. What a nightmare of a woman. I sincerely hope her soon-to-be-ex has learned from this experience and cuts her off for good.

      1. From your lips to god’s ears. The husband needs to stop buying in to her bullshit.

  3. I wonder if Marie has some kind of psychological issues ?
    She does not seem normal.

    1. Juliecatharine says:

      She sounds like a train wreck in the midst of a midlife crisis. I don’t blame her father for being furious; she’s inflicting pain and absurd drama on her husband and children. I wouldn’t doubt that there are psychological issues at play here but that doesn’t excuse what she’s doing.

  4. for_cutie says:

    I hope the LW is strongly cautioned against doing a family trip like this ever again. Sure it was a “fabulous trip” for her. But those children – who just lost their mother – got her back only to lose her again. How traumatic for them! It is not fair or right to try and make happy family memories during a time of turmoil, it builds false hope and sets the children up for rejection, again. And why? So the LW can struggle to build a tradition built upon a false pretense (a big happy family, hooray!). It all seems so selfish and short-sighted. These children deserve better.

  5. Monkeysmommy says:

    Damn. I said it last time and I’ll say it again- STOP pushing your husband at his twat waffle of a daughter. He is angry at her, disgusted with her, and he’s right!! Why are you trying so hard to protect her???? The kids are with HIM. Be nice to HIM. Marie has shown you what a nasty, awful person she is. Believe her.

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