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Dear Doctor Love,
My husband and I have recently finalized our divorce and we are polite and non-combative with each other for the sake of our children, ages fifteen and seventeen. We share custody, but the kids can go to either house whenever they want. We both attend their sports events and other functions, but I don’t want to socialize with him if I can help it because the marriage ended when he cheated on me.
My parents admitted to me that they are inviting him to our annual family reunion and I am angry. His parents completely removed me from their lives and I expect my parents should support me and do the same with him. They say that he has been their son-in-law for almost twenty years and being the father of their grandchildren, they can’t just alienate him.
It will be very uncomfortable for me to see him in my parent’s house. Should they still treat him as part of the family or side with me in this?
The battle lines are obvious to you, but they may not be so clearly drawn to those around you.
It is a pity you feel they have taken sides against you by still including him in family events. Doing the math, it would seem that your parents would be in their late fifties or early sixties and at that age it is not so easy to just turn away from the past. They may not be comfortable being cold to a man they loved for many years, but that doesn’t mean they don’t feel your pain. They might be hoping you are strong enough to handle the situation, so they don’t have to make the decision to put him out of their lives.
You could demand that your parents uninvite him and make it easier for yourself but if you force them you will not like yourself much for it.
You could decline to attend and make your anger heard loud and clear. That won’t solve the problem and may cause a rift that will be difficult to mend.
Or you can dig deep and pull out every bit of poise you possess and go to the party.
Yes, it will be difficult for you to see him in an old familiar setting, and it will require a graciousness from you that may seem impossible to find in your heart but as you move further away from the emotional drain of the divorce, your turmoil will settle. Maybe you can make this the first step towards finding peace.