Dear Annie: In 1988, I had a wife and three beautiful children. Then my wife decided to be “liberated.” She wanted to spread her wings and be independent. She engaged me in a particularly acrimonious divorce and lived on child and spousal support until she discovered that being independent was not working for her. She remarried and moved my children hundreds of miles away, effectively excising them from my life, even though she admits I was a great father. Needless to say, I harbor considerable animosity toward her.
I’ve since remarried a wonderful woman. My children are grown and starting their own families. I recognize that I must endure the unpleasantness of having to see my ex at my children’s weddings, etc., but I never expected that my brother and sister would invite my ex to their own children’s weddings and other family functions.
I feel that because my ex divorced me, she is no longer a part of my family and should not be invited to attend family gatherings. I have made this point very clear to my siblings, along with the fact that seeing my ex causes me significant pain. Further, my new wife feels she’s being upstaged by my ex at these events. Yet, my siblings insist on including this woman.
Is it unrealistic for me to believe that when my ex divorced me, she also divorced my family? Am I expecting too much to ask that my siblings not embrace the woman who devastated my life? – Divorced in Oregon
Dear Oregon: Sorry to say, but what your siblings do is not something you can dictate. Their children may still consider this woman to be their aunt, and their relationship to her does not include the bitterness and rancor you are hanging onto.
Please let it go. Allowing your ex to rattle you after all these years gives her power over you. You don’t have to enjoy her company, but you can work on making her presence insignificant.