I’ve written over 500 articles since I started this column. Turns out, I had a lot to say and am still talking, but now my readers are contributing. I first introduced letters from readers in my 17th article. Until then, I was spouting off my opinions. The emails began coming by the fourth or fifth week of my column debuting. Most of them weren’t questions. At first people were just commenting on my column. Once the questions began and I saw that some topics were trending, that’s when I decided to publish and answer those emails.
I’m mentioning this now because I know for a fact that I have addressed the topic you will read below, but I can’t find the article. I try to think of cute eye-catching titles for each column. Sometimes the title has everything to do with the content of the article and sometimes it has nothing to do with it; but it’s an inside joke I have with myself.
Well, I have outsmarted myself this time, because I can’t find the article I wrote about regarding this topic. But I do know that it wasn’t published in the last two years, so I will revisit the topic with an email I recently received. My apologies if this week’s column will bore some of you; I can’t be witty and original every week for over six years. I’m human!
Baruch Hashem, I’m married and a mother. I’m not writing for me or for my children (yet). I’m writing about my own mother and my father-in-law. My husband and I don’t know what to think, so I’m asking for advice or insight you may have. Our parents are getting married.
Let me explain. My father passed away a number of years ago. My mother wasn’t then and isn’t now what is considered “old.” She’s in her upper 50s. She’s energetic, social, and active. She’s everything you can imagine I would write, but I’ll save the space and not write it. She has dated men over the years. A couple of them were serious and I thought it may lead to a second marriage, which I am in favor of because I don’t want my mother alone and sad. My husband’s parents divorced when he was a teenager. They were able to co-parent and can act civil to one another, but that’s about it. His mom remarried years ago.
My father-in-law asked my husband if it would be okay to date my mother when he first wanted to ask her out. He wanted to make sure he and I wouldn’t feel weird about it. We both said it was fine because we both couldn’t see the shidduch happening, but we both didn’t want to deny our parents a chance of finding out if it was possible. They’ve known each other for years and were both single. But now it’s happening. My father-in-law is a good man, with a good personality, big heart. I love him, and he will now be my stepfather. As one of my kids said, “ick factor.”
I’m an only child and my husband has one sister who lives in California. She was taken aback at first, but has since embraced the whole situation. I think she accepts it because my mother and father-in-law live in my neighborhood, and we are the ones that are going to be dealing with this on an everyday basis. She’ll get the occasional visit from them.
I love it that my mother has found someone who makes her happy. I love my father-in-law. I just never saw the two of them together and now that they are, it feels weird. I’m not concerned about what people may say; my kids are, though. All my husband and I want are our parents to be happy. We were wondering if you had any advice or words of encouragement for us.
Soon to be our own Step-Spouses
Thank you for the letter, S.S.
Firstly, let me say mazal tov. I think it’s wonderful when people can find love later in life after a spouse has passed away or after a divorce. It’s hard to go from a couple to a single. And no one wants to spend their twilight/golden years alone.
Secondly, I understand what your child means with the “ick factor.” But that’s your child. You are your mother’s child, and your husband is your father-in-law’s child. Both mature adults. As mature adult parents, you can explain to your children that while it may seem “ick,” it really isn’t. I don’t know how old your children are. Are they nine or 15? Children don’t understand the realities of life. They think couples get married and live happily ever after, having children along the way. After the death of a spouse or a divorce, the months and years get to be lonely. People need companionship; it’s part of our DNA, as mentioned several times by me and others. Your mother and father-in-law found someone they love that they want to spend the rest of their life with. Just because someone is in a grandfather or grandmother stage in life doesn’t mean they stop being people or needing love or that they are robots programmed only to bake cookies, babysit, and give piggyback rides.
Many times, when a parent remarries, the children don’t have a real insight into who the new spouse is and may have questions. At least you and your husband don’t have to go through that phase.
When I originally wrote about this topic, I wrote that my parents had friends where this exact situation had happened. The couple was married for decades, had children, then one day their widowed parents decided to date, and the dating led to a marriage. This is similar to your story in that their children were married to each other with children when they decided to date and marry.
I also know of a case that’s similar, yet different. My friend has a cousin who married her stepbrother. The cousin’s father married her stepmother when she was 16. She didn’t grow up in the same house with her stepbrother. She lived with her mother most of the time. Through the marriage of her father, she met her stepbrother. They started to go out after she turned 19, after both of them returned from the year in Israel. It is now many years and children later. My friend said that at first people think it’s inappropriate and wrong that the parents allowed this to happen, but considering that they were older, didn’t grow up together in the same house, they “get over” it.
Imagine how your mother and father-in-law feel. Yes, they are probably elated that they found each other in this way, but I’m sure they thought about how it will sound when they tell people how they met or who made the shidduch. But it’s more important for them to be happy than to care what others are thinking or saying about them. And I am sure people, mature people, will understand.
I’m happy to hear that you and your husband aren’t horrified or disgusted. You both want what’s best for your parents and it seems that they have decided they are best for each other. Support and love them. It may take time adjusting to your father-in-law’s new role as your stepfather and for your husband to think of your mother as his stepmother – but think about it, can you both complain or make jokes about your in-laws to each other anymore? You’re both related equally. LOL!
Hatzlachah to you all.