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Miss Manners: Kill – or at least irritate – ex with kindness

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have three children with two different fathers. My youngest daughter does not have anything to do with her father.

I do not have a good relationship with my ex-husband (father to the oldest two). I caught him with another woman in my bed when my baby was 2 months old. He is now married to her. There is bad blood between the woman and me; she has done a lot of mean things to me through the years.

I know I have to deal with them at family events that involve the oldest two children, and I am always nice, even though it is very stressful to me. I have had a really rough year this year: I had to put my parents in assisted living, as my mother has dementia and my stepfather is dying of cancer. I have also had some pretty serious health issues.

My youngest daughter is getting married. She invited the father of my oldest two children, not expecting they would actually accept. Now I have to be around them at the wedding when I am already upset and not at my best.

I don’t know how I can be nice this time. I feel they do not belong at her wedding.

I am unable to let go of my anger. I feel it was inappropriate for my daughter to invite them, first of all, without asking me how I felt about it. I also feel it was inappropriate for them to accept the invitation, since they well know how I feel. Is there any way to uninvite them?

GENTLE READER: While your daughter may have acted under a flawed and incorrect assumption (inviting people with the hope that they will not attend rarely works out in anyone’s favor), you cannot reasonably reverse it without incurring even more stress for everyone. You might have a talk with your daughter, however, about future events – and penance, in the form of running interference and limiting unpleasant interactions whenever possible.

Barring that, Miss Manners is afraid that you have no choice but to muster up any strength you have left to take a higher road and be at least nominally polite to the couple. Doing so, she points out, has the likely added benefit of infuriating the new wife. So that, at least, is fun.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am naturally sociable and have friends over to my home a lot. I enjoy it.

Before the appointed arrival time, I am usually in the bathroom getting ready, or busy in the kitchen with last-minute details. I have friends who mistakenly feel it a sign of enthusiasm to arrive early. My mother always said it was more rude to be five minutes early than 30 minutes late.

I love my friends, but wish they would not show up early. What should I do or say?

GENTLE READER: Get ready faster. If the sight of you still half-dressed with food unprepared does not discourage these guests, then Miss Manners suggests a later start time for them – and an earlier one for you.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.


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