Ex In-law or Out-law?

Let’s just call this an adventure in the family you choose.  How shifting your perception on how society says you’re supposed to behave, versus what feels right to you.  When you marry, you choose a partner who becomes your family.  Subsequently, his/her family becomes a part of your life.  What happens when you divorce?  Do you become Ex In-Laws or choose to become “Out-Laws”?

The Concept of Out-Laws

The Out-Laws who started it all – my mom and her “Out-law” (my father’s mother, or mom’s ex mother-in-law)

I’d like to introduce to you my concept of Out-Laws.  Not the criminal one of movies, but one where life is more fun and not filled with anger/sadness/revenge/hate.  Unfortunately, too many divorces become ugly and messy.  One loses all sorts of things in divorce.  But if you and your (ex) partner can manage not to make it harsh by making friends and family take sides, everyone wins. If you had a close or even really friendly relationship with certain members of your ex’s family, why not keep them as part of your ‘chosen’ family?  It requires a shift in the dynamic of how you interact.  The results can be an expansion of a wonderful community.

The first time I came across this concept was through the relationship my mom had with her ex-mother-in-law.  Grammy was always fun, and enjoyed doing all sorts of things.  She and my mother had in common the ability to laugh easily, and when together there was so much joy.  I believe that without the tension of my dad around, they bonded even more.  I learned later in life that my mom and Grammy may have even gone on a “girls weekend out” escapade!  They called each other “Out-laws” because it was more enjoyable than using the negative “ex”.  I believe my life was enriched the times I could visit my Grammy with my mom, to hear stories and to participate in their delight. 

Applying the concept – in my life

This generation does have it easier than in the past where divorces were treated as war.  Instead, the emphasis now is communication.  When I split from my husband, we made sure to put the children first.  We also agreed not to make others uncomfortable in our presence.  Our issues were ours, and we did as best as we could not to make it ugly, or war-like. Because of this, I was able to build a closer relationship with my ex’s sister-in-law and his brother, as well as continue being a sort-of God mother to my niece (my ex’s other brother’s daughter) who is fairly close in age to my sons.  These were the seeds to the close relationships I have now with many of my ex’s family (or, in another view, the family of my children).

My ex brother-in-law (who has a daughter with my name!), My ex-niece, her cousin (also, my son) and my ex-husband’s other brother’s ex-wife (aka my niece’s mother). Trying to explain all the relationships gets confusing. I like just saying these are my Out-laws (and son)

It took several years of transitioning before we started calling ourselves “Out-laws”.  It’s an easy word to describe a complicated situation.  There are more stories of my connections, bonds and adventures with all my Out-laws than needs to be shared here.  But I know I have benefited from having the love of this chosen family, and enjoyed how it’s grown. 

Can you be an Out-law?

Getting divorced can be a tricky, complicated thing.  Becoming an Out-law may take longer than being an ex-in-law.  Here are some tips that may be useful (and if it doesn’t apply to you, please share with someone else who could benefit!)

  1. If you have kids, make an agreement to put them first.  They need to be with their Aunts, Uncles, cousins, grandparents from both sides.  Research shows it can help make them feel safe in the world if they feel connected to family.
  2. These relationships don’t suit everyone. Remember, this is “chosen” family for a reason.
  3. Don’t bring negative issues into your Out-law relationships.  Your ex is still their family member. 
  4. Be respectful of your ex, and his/her relationship with your Out-law.  This can be challenging in certain situations, but in the end- it is about respecting yourself. 
  5. Set boundaries for how people interact with you, your ex or kids may be needed. In a way, this is a form of being respectful (Note: watch out for that co-dependent behavior of trying to be “controlling.” If you feel this happening, it’s a sign of something you need to do personal work around).
  6. Start new rituals, if needed.  Allow primary family to enjoy key holidays, and create your own unique way of hanging out with your Out-laws.
  7. Build the Out-law relationships on what you have in common, other than just your ex.  Share jokes, hobbies or even try new things together (adventures!)
  8. Communicate.  This has multiple levels to it, so do what feels right.  I’m grateful that technology makes it so much easier.  My mom appreciates being connected to my cousins in ways not available 30-40 years ago.
  9. Understand that others may not understand. If possible, gently explain.  If not, just keep being a good example.
  10. Remember TTT.  Things Take Time.  Give space to allow relationships to grow organically. 

Out-law Adventure

Divorce is its own kind of adventure, often with many hard lessons to be learned.  Hopefully, by introducing this concept of “Out-laws” we can shift some of the negatives into positives.  What do you think?  Is this something you already do, will try or share with others?  Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Current Category

All Categories

Curiosity sparked is key for your adventure mindset.  Learn all sorts of new things in these posts – and use them to inspire your own adventures!

Into chocolate, and want to try this yummy familiar food in new ways? Check out these blog posts

Self Care is not selfish! When it comes to learning to play and have fun, taking care of you in different ways makes you, and life, more joyful

Be inspired by these guest bloggers who have created their adventure attitudes and transformations in their unique ways.

Sometimes to shift your outlook on life, you need to shift your perspective by traveling somewhere unfamiliar, or seeing familiar places in new ways.  It was while I was in another country that I realized – everywhere is someone’s backyard!  I’ve also become a big fan of traveling to one place that is wildly different each year – an event in the Nevada desert called “Burning Man”

Are you dreaming of tiny house adventures?  Start here.  I’ve worked at a tiny house builder, and am renovating a 1975 Airstream to be my home for my digital nomad life.

Your Adventure Mindset Mentor

Stacey Newman Weldon You need more fun & spontaneity in your life, and aren’t sure of next steps or the path to follow.  Let’s connect! You could choose a free 15 minute chat, various courses, or even select one-to-one coaching.

Learn more here:

Recent Posts

Piet Hein, Dutch Pirate’s Epic Plunder Of Silver And Chocolate

The allure of pirate tales often centers around hidden treasures, daring exploits, and legendary figures. Yet, the Dutch privateer Piet Hein remains a lesser-known name, overshadowed by the more...

Dog Tales, an Unleashed Collection of True Stories

Dog Tales, An Unleashed Collection of True Stories is a collection of 33 stories about dogs and their humans.  One of those stories is mine!  My essay is called "Dog Is My Co-Pilot" and is about a...

Pirate Blackbeard & His Chocolate Stories

Blackbeard’s Cacao Treasure Is your mental image of Blackbeard, the adventure-swashbuckler pirate from the early 1700s with a mythic-proportion level reputation for fierceness, based on Hollywood...

Adventure Wednesday’s Amazon Suggestions

Want to help support me as I endeavor to inspire you and others to go on adventures?  I have not put ads on my site (they can be so annoying! If I ever do, it will be done tastefully!).  I am an...

You may also like…


  1. Kate

    What a wonderful way to save what you can of relationships. I love how the kids well being is central. Definitely a worthwhile adventure.

    • Stacey Newman Weldon

      It is my hope that by spreading this concept that it’s ok to like family after a divorce, or for the ex family to like you – that there is more love than divisiveness…and yes, the kids thrive when there’s less negativity!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *