Wedding Woes

Avoidance isn't working. Time to change tactics.

Dear Prudence,

I’ve been divorced from my ex-husband for nearly 10 years now, much longer than we were married. I feel happy and confident in my choice. Even periods when I’m single are happier than being married to someone pushy and selfish. But every time I visit my parents, they fantasize about us getting back together. This includes awkward family dinners where he’s invited unannounced and lots of teary complaints from my mom about wanting more grandkids. The one time I introduced a serious boyfriend to my parents, he was negatively compared with my ex and treated coldly. I now keep my dating life separate. My sisters are married to guys my parents like and don’t see the problem. My ex is on his third divorce now, and during his single periods he does seem to always think we’ll get back together. I’ve been polite but clear that I’m not interested.

I’ve mostly dealt with this whole thing by minimizing in-person visits to my parents and hanging up the phone every time the conversation touches the topic. It does seem to have trained my parents for virtual communication, but they’re still like this in person. My mom is about to have surgery, and my dad isn’t strong enough to provide physical care right now. As the only sibling without kids, I need to go down there for a month during her earliest recovery, and I don’t know how to plan for success. What should I be doing to minimize drama with my parents before I go?

—Happy Without Him

Re: Avoidance isn't working. Time to change tactics.

  • Man, LW is way more patient than I would be. I would have told them to stfu about it or else I’d be going no contact completely and then they’d never get to see any of us again. Being sad because you liked a former son in law is one thing, but treating a new person poorly in hopes your daughter will get back together with the ex? Hell no. 

  • Tell them you will not stay and help if there’s any talk of reuniting with your ex. If they can’t abide by that very reasonable request then tell them they better have a back up plan bc you’re walking out the first time it happens. Then follow through. 
  • I would find this more crazy/outlandish if I didn't have a friend who's family invited her ex-H around, even after she was remarried to her now H.   They didn't surprise her with having him at dinner, but it was still so icky.  He didn't need to come for dinner just because he was in town and he didn't need invites to graduations or open houses (yep, it happened).  Some people just cannot let go and it's such a WTF to me. 

    LW needs to start just leaving if ex-H is there.  It sounds like they're a plane ride away, so reserve hotel $$ when coming to visit. 

    I'm confused why LW's sisters being happily married to guys their parents like means they have zero empathy or some outrage on LW's behalf.   Apparently avoidance is a theme for LW's family. 

    It's BS that LW is the default care-taker because they're without children.  

    My advice to LW regarding helping post surgery would be to set a firm timeline on when they'll be available to assist and tell mom that under no circumstances should ex-H darken the doorstep while LW is there.  Also, LW should be telling their sisters they need to chip in.  

    But LW does need to also do some introspection and figure out why they've allowed themselves to become the family doormat.  
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