Dealing With Difficult Exes
Dear Annie: How do I convey to my adult married children that I do not like being around my ex for the holidays? My son lives several states away, and he invited my daughter and her family, my ex, and my wife and me for Thanksgiving together. This will be the first time in close to seven years that I will see both of my children together for a holiday.
My daughter has had Christmas at her home every year since my granddaughter was born. We are invited, but my ex is always there. I think holidays should be happy occasions, at a minimum, so maybe we could rotate years. But that does not happen. I am dreading Thanksgiving and being around her. She puts in digs at me or, in my opinion, wants to start a fight when everyone else is out of earshot. I consider her a lying, cheating, adulterous witch.
I want to spend time with my kids, just not with her around. My daughter-in-law and son-in-law have had disagreements with her in the past. My letter is long enough; I could go on and on. -- Avoiding Ex
Dear Avoiding Ex: The best way to convey to your adult children that you would not like to be around your ex for the holidays is to tell them that. But understand that might mean less time with your kids.
You really have two choices: Ignore the chatter and negativity that is your ex-wife for the sake of spending more (quantity) time, or spend less time -- but quality time -- with your kids without your ex making rude remarks.
Regardless of what you decide, she is going to be in your life. It's best to try to let go and forgive some of the anger you have toward her for her adultery. Not for her sake, but for yours.
Dear Annie: I broke up with the mother of my children two years ago. We have had a very rocky past. I treated her badly for the first couple of years, and we separated for two years after our first child was born. We got back together 18 months later.
We were together for seven years on our second stint, and we had another child. We eventually didn't work out when my job took me away and she refused to leave her mother.
Now I am treated like a criminal. I don't get to see them and am only allowed to talk to the youngest one, and that's only once a week. The mother refuses to work with me on a fair schedule, and the courts are so backed up it may be another six months before I can get a court date.
The mother isn't a good person, and I fear for the way my kids are being raised and what they are being told. I'm at a loss on what to do while I wait for the court date. -- Concerned Father
Dear Concerned: At least you're honest, admitting that your treatment of her was not good, so you can understand why she is keeping you away. But if you have really changed, why not write her a letter explaining what was going on in your life? Send her flowers; send the kids gifts. You might even try to have a calm, quiet conversation with her mother as well. Try courting them a little, rather than waiting for your day in court. If you are successful, you won't need it.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.