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Jerry Fulton was the first person I heard use the term "husband-in-law" to describe his ex-wife’s husband.

It is an apt term for Mike, too. He is as much a part of our family as any other member.

Why? Because he earned it.

My Husband-in-Law

I have to admit that I did not like Mike at first. It was not because of anything he did to me. It was simply that he was dating my soon-to-be ex-wife.

He was a mild mannered man from the east coast who found himself in Washington on a job the company he worked for had out here. I know little about how he and Laura met because that isn’t a topic we would have discussed. My relationship with her had devolved into something akin to cooperative animosity, and was only that close because of the children.

Mike is younger than Laura, and had no children of his own. A marriage to her meant that the children she already had would be the children in their marriage.

They married within a week or two of our divorce becoming final. We had been seperated for more than three years, and I, too, had been in other relationships during the seperation. Any thoughts I had of him swooping in to take her away from me were just my own shortcomings in idea form. Still, I wasn’t enthused about them marrying so quickly after our divorce. It was, though, none of my business.

As comforting as it may have been to be able to blame some of my problems during those tough times on him, he really never afforded me that opportunity. He was always respectful to me, he was always kind to our children, and he was always supportive of Laura. Our children loved him, which made it even more difficult for me to blame him for things that were not his fault.

I don’t think there was ever an event or point in our relationship that snapped my attitude toward him from one of resentment to one of respect. It was more just an evolution in my attitude as I watched this man who, at one point, invaded my family become part of my family.

He might, on occasion, call me to see if I faced a similar situation he was dealing with, and ask me how I handled it and how it turned out. Once or twice he has even asked me to talk to Laura to find out what he might do to make something they were dealing with come to a productive resolution.

He even called me crying one time when he thought he and Laura might have hit an irreconcilable end. He told me that he could deal with that if it were the case, but he was concerned that our children might not stay in touch with him since he was not their father. I assured him that our children consider him one of their dads, and that I would make certain that contact with them was available. Then I called Laura to remind her of his many qualities, of how special he had shown himself to be by accepting our children as his own, and to encourage her to work with him through whatever difficulty they were facing because, though he is human, he is also worth holding onto.

Fortunately, they were able to get past whatever issue they were dealing with then, and have managed to get through other issues that are common between married couples.

We don’t hang out a lot. We see each other at family functions, and I was able to take him to an NFL game a couple years ago when the company I work for gave me a couple of tickets. I wish it had been a game between my Seahawks and his Cowboys, but at least he got to root against the Redskins, which is kind of the same thing for a Cowboys’ fan!

Mike’s relationship in our family is as my ex-wife’s husband. He is not our children’s stepfather. He is their second dad. He is not our our grandchildren’s grandmother’s husband. He is their Papa Mike.

Our youngest daughter will be getting married this fall. I had wanted to interrupt the ceremony at the point I walk Erin down the aisle to go get him and have him take her other arm in recognition of him also being her dad. Unfortunately, somebody beat me to that punch, so now it would look like imitation. So, if it is not already an idea she has to have both her dads walk her down the aisle, it will be an idea I suggest to her.

Mike is not just my ex-wife’s husband, nor simply my children’s stepfather, and certainly not merely my grandchildren’s grandmother’s husband. He is a huge part of the family. He is my husband-in-law, and I am happy that he is and proud to call him that.

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