Q&A: losing your former in-laws

Anonymous, who is a mother of two little kids and is thiiiiiis close to being completely legally divorced, writes:

"Is it strange that I really am mourning the loss of my relationship with my Inlaws more than I am mourning the loss of any happy relationship with my soon to be ex-spouse?"

I say no. Not at all strange.

For a lot of us who are divorced or in the process of divorce or splitting up or realizing we can't go on, there's a moment when you realize your (ex-)spouse was never really, truly, a friend to you. As much as you told yourself s/he was at the time, or wanted it to be so, you can often look back and realize the other person was at worst cruel or at best disengaged in a way a real friend wouldn't have been. But it's hard to see that when you're in it. There's a constant tug-of-war between what you want to be, and what your spouse wants to be, and it often gets really blurred and the façade and the reality intrude on each other.

But in-laws seem to be more obviously either friend or foe. Either they are truly supportive and want you to be part of the family, or they make it obvious that you don't measure up. If they've been actively hostile, losing them in a divorce can relieve a lot of stress. But if you luck into the supportive kind, it can be like losing your own family if you lose them when you split up.

I wish that former in-laws could all realize that they still need to have a relationship with the parents of their grandchildren. No matter what those parents have done or what they perceive those parents to have done (barring abusive or illegal things), they still have a connection to each other. It's better for children to have their parents and grandparents communicating and being as kind to each other as possible.

But you can't force other people to do the right thing. You can only behave yourself in a way that invites openness and care. And if your former in-laws are determined not to continue a caring relationship with you, then you need to circle your own emotional wagons and do what you need to to heal yourself while still allowing your children to enjoy their grandparents.

Any thoughts? Has anyone else felt this way about losing former in-laws? How did you make it through?