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Advice | Carolyn Hax: She doesn’t want her ex’s fiance at their kids’ events


Carolyn Hax is gone. The following first appeared on March 8, 2009.

Dear Caroline: A few years ago I initiated a divorce/divorce. Just a few months after I moved in, my husband started dating someone. It really upset me, and I spent the next year trying to recover from what I saw as his betrayal of our hopefully “friendly” divorce.

Now our divorce is final and I don’t want his fiancée to attend our children’s events. I want him to be present with me and show our kids that we can still be friends because the divorce has been very hard for them. It makes me uncomfortable to have this woman there. The children asked their father not to take her because it upset me, but he will not obey.

I refuse to attend when she’s around, and I’m tired of missing out on my own kids’ (three teens) activities!

Shouldn’t she be looking elsewhere? Just because they live together doesn’t mean she should be involved in family matters. How can I show them this?

Three is a crowd: Why is the burden on your ex to “show our kids we can still be friends”? Why can’t you model maturity, by accepting his new relationship?

You know – the relationship he started after you left him?

(We interrupt this advice to point out that keyboards hurt the forehead more than keyboards.)

Even if you’re the one who chose to leave, it can be shocking to feel erased and replaced. I get it. I also realize that you could have had an excellent reason to leave, such as neglect or other abuse. Initiating a divorce does not protect you from raw feelings.

Nevertheless, the day you left was the last day you had anything to say about his love life. And while reasonable people can argue about the timing and aggressiveness of introducing new partners to exes and kids, she’s actually under contract to be your kids’ stepmother. She’s family.

You make it clear that your children have asked their father not to bring his betrothed. I imagine you did that to demonstrate his insensitivity or stubbornness (and I’ll get to him in a minute).

However, your point has the unintended consequence of revealing that your children themselves have no objection to the betrothed: they are upset because you are upset. The divorce was – again, your words – “very hard on them”, but you put a lot of pressure on them by boycotting their events and forcing them to stand up for you. You push them to take sides, perhaps the most stressful thing you can ask of children in a divorce.

You probably think your ex is the one forcing the issue. But you and he now have your own household. If he agreed to leave his betrothed at home, then he would give you control of his household. Something I would advise against.

If you want to show your children something of value, show them a mother making a mature decision to take responsibility for her own life and choices. If you want an amicable divorce, be amicable. If you want to see your kids’ events, go to the events. If you want your children to heal, do your best to heal yourself. It’s time to stop handing out the blame.

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