Ask Amy: Scorned husband needs a dose of cordial
Dear Amy: My wife of many years decided that she didn’t want to be married to me anymore. Turns out she had become involved with a bad influence from her past. They are now married.
During the divorce proceedings, they conspired to destroy me. She sought to remove me from our house, to terminate all of my parental rights, and lied repeatedly under oath. She even tried to get her hands on the kids’ education savings accounts, which she claimed were overfunded (even though she was already offered several million dollars from the marital estate).
Our kids are young adults now and will soon be having weddings, with grandchildren hopefully to follow.
I have never said a bad word to them about their mother and hopefully never will. Here’s my issue: I don’t want her husband at smaller family gatherings like a baptism, grandchildren’s birthday parties, etc. I can handle the large events (where there would be plenty of people and space), but not the smaller ones.
I will never shake the man’s hand or be cordial to him. I can’t imagine having to hold a conversation with this creep. Yet, I don’t want to sit home alone just because he’s there. I also don’t want other guests to feel awkward.
I realize that to give the kids an ultimatum (“him or me”) is not fair to them either.
I would very much appreciate your wise thoughts on this one.
— Reluctant Ex
Dear Reluctant: Understand that if you state, “It’s him or me,” you lose, no matter what your kids decide, because you will have surrendered your power and pride to someone who doesn’t deserve it.
I often suggest “cordiality” in this space because I believe that this is a concept that Americans don’t easily grasp. Speaking very broadly, we are visceral and revealing people. (This is our charm, and also our challenge.)