I started cohabiting with my mother-in-law after my divorce


  • In 2004, my ex-husband introduced me to his mother. She didn’t like me right away.
  • We had a child and got married against her wishes. We had a contentious relationship with her for years.
  • After the divorce, my ex-mother-in-law and I reconciled. Now we are closer than ever.

In April 2018, my two kids and I were just coming home from a weekend getaway when there was a knock on the door. “You have been served.” A man handed me the Manila file and said, “Sorry,” before disappearing into the night.

Even though my ex-husband had moved on suddenly five months ago—and we hadn’t seen or heard from him in more than three months at the time—we clung to hope that he’d remember our vows and one day come home.

But in those moments, as I read through the thick pile of documents, I couldn’t think of it.

Time froze into a thick ice wall of pain, and my children, who witnessed the event, froze as well. After 14 years together and 11 years of marriage, we experienced a miscarriage, moving out of state, and everything in between. Despite life’s trials, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to each other and our family. Or so I thought.

I never imagined we would have a problem too big to solve. However, as I stood in the doorway trying to make sense of everything, I felt the whole world collapse on top of me, burying me alive.

Through a torrent of tears and my children’s constant wailing of confusion, I called the first person who came to my mind, despite our challenging pasts: The mother of the ex-husband.

It didn’t matter how she felt about me over the years or how I felt about her. It doesn’t matter how many times we fail to understand each other or how different our views are on many things. My mother, who lived in a far state, couldn’t get there fast enough, and by all accounts, She became my ex-momalso.

She was also diligent and helped me in the beginning

To my surprise, it came right away. She helped comfort my children, comfort me, and advise me on how best to deal with the sudden loss of our family unit – the biggest part of my identity – with the sure assurance that everything will be fine.

K A seasoned absoluteShe reminded me to keep my focus on the most important victims, the children, and to do so with the same strength I had when I surrendered my life to her son. Yet our loyalties remained divided: hers to her son and mine to our lost family unit. Our communication fizzled out just as the divorce took on a sinister life of its own.

Fast-forward through an uncomfortable spring when court dates were flooding in from lawyers I couldn’t afford, and an agonizing summer when I had no job prospects and had to call homeless shelters and food banks to survive, while my ex-husband came and went “as he agreed to.” This further deepens the wounds.

By the fall, my ex-husband had secured visitation rights while he was staying with his father, but after a few months, he had moved in with his mother. She then realizes she can only pick on him but it still hurts.

We reconnected because of my kids

In February 2020, our controversial divorce was finalized. By the time I met my current husband, I found out that my ex-husband had moved out of his mother’s house and into his girlfriend’s house. Coming out took a toll on my ex-husband and his mother, and unbeknownst to me, I lost touch with our kids – something I dealt with very hard.

This was an opportunity to start over, to get to know each other in a real way without interference. What began with an offer to see the children soon turned into more visits, conversations and indulgences. Without the restraint of a protective mother caring for her son versus a devoted, misunderstood wife who tried to do the same, the fog cleared, and we could finally see each other clearly.

When I think about everything that happened, the ways that forced us apart or intersected in ways we couldn’t navigate, I’m reminded of the love I have for my children — specifically my son — and how, on a fundamental level, she understood my ex-mother-in-law more than ever.

Now, nearly 20 years after we first met, she and I are closer than ever. We celebrate the holidays and sympathize with the actions of the past while looking forward to the future. What’s more, she accepted my new husband, too.

I think that without the divorce, this relationship would not have developed. There are still days when I mourn the loss of those 14 years I spent with my ex-husband and all the ways our family would have grown. But in the aftermath of the loss, I found something I had never had with my ex-mother-in-law; The thing I’ve wanted all along is acceptance. Despite the broken road, I am so grateful that we made it to the other side.


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