Husband’s Family Ignores His Not-So-New Wife

By Amy Dickinson | December 23rd, 2022

Eight years of marriage, and she might as well not exist

Woman wiping his eyes from crying after quarrel with her husband at home. Photo by Ljupco. For Ask Amy article on a husband's family who ignores his new wife

After eight years of an otherwise happy second marriage, his family ignores his wife, refusing to acknowledge she exists – and he goes along with it. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson advises “Left Out” in this edition of “Ask Amy.”

Dear Amy:

My husband and I recently celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary. We were both widowed and in our early-50s when we met and married. We were thrilled to find each other and to have the opportunity to live again and to be happy.

I have two children who are very supportive. They want me to be happy.

His daughter is a problem, however. She did not want him to remarry.

We went to counseling early on and the counselor advised my husband to talk to his daughter and explain that he needs a companion.

To this day, she will not allow him to tell his grandchildren that he is married to me. He goes to see the children (without me), although not as often as he would like. He tells me I’m not welcome.

I’ve caught him in several lies. He says he’s lying to protect me.

I’m excluded from everything. I’ve never seen any of his extended family members. Even on Christmas cards, all of his extended family leave me out and only put his name on the cards.

I believe the stress is starting to take a toll on my health. It’s difficult to fathom that anyone could be so disrespected – and for such a long time.

I hope your advice will help me to figure out what to do.

– Left Out

Dear Left Out:

In many ways, marriage – especially later in life – offers an enchanting opportunity to renew, redo, and refresh your emotional life.

Maturity and authenticity should inoculate you from some of the traps and pitfalls of youth. Unfortunately, this is not the case in your marriage.It is challenging to wrap my head around your husband’s choice to basically lead a double life for these last eight years.

You state that your husband’s daughter is “the problem.”

I disagree. He is the problem, and you are the problem.

This family has created a cycle of deceit. Their family system runs on it. They are completely comfortable pretending that you don’t exist.

Unfortunately, you are also pretending that you don’t exist, and that’s why this double life is taking a toll on you.

I assume that when you first got married, you believed that your husband would eventually treat you like a partner, and that these family relationships would gradually work themselves out.

Your husband has never treated you like a partner. He is spineless, deceptive, and is letting his daughter run your marriage. Given that she doesn’t even know you, she’s not the right person for the job. I assume that your own children are sad and embarrassed for you.

This situation is intolerable, so perhaps you should stop tolerating it. A counselor would help you to think through your next steps.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a family that ignores the wife to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2022 by Amy Dickinson

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