Regardless of the reasons behind the split, the breakdown of a marriage is never easy and can often leave lasting scars, which means it’s not uncommon for former spouses to avoid any contact with each other after the a divorce has been finalised.
While this may make things easier on them, it can prove problematic when there are children, and even grandchildren, involved, and this is the situation that one woman has found herself in following her daughter’s recent engagement.
The anonymous woman penned an emotional letter to The Guardian’s relationships expert Eleanor Gordon-Smith in which she revealed that she is considering missing her own daughter’s wedding day, purely to avoid running into her former husband.
“My husband and I divorced 10 years ago,” she wrote. “It wasn’t bitter – he left me for another woman – but, in retrospect, my husband’s behaviour over our 30-year marriage has resulted in me holding no warm feelings in that direction.”
The woman went on to reveal that she has cut all contact with her former partner following their divorce, and last saw him at their daughter’s graduation ceremony, which she described as “not a happy occasion”.
She added: “Our daughter got engaged at Christmas and I am now faced with being ‘mother of the bride’ and I really don’t want any part of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter, we have a warm relationship and I really want her to have a memorable wedding. For the right reasons. But I’m not sure I can put on a brave face and face my ex, his new partner and all his family.
“Some people I’ve spoken to say that I’m being selfish. Others understand my reservations. How do I tiptoe through this potential minefield?”
Gordon-Smith responded by reminding the woman that the wedding day “is not about her” and stressed the need for the woman to consider how her actions may impact her daughter, on what should be one of the happiest days of her life.
“I know you’re hurt. But this is not, ultimately, about you. This is your daughter’s day,” she responded. “And the question about what you can face has to fall in line behind the questions about how you’ll affect her with your decision. That doesn’t give us the verdict right away; it doesn’t mean ‘just go’.
“It might mean you shouldn’t – maybe you’re not confident enough that this ex won’t push you to tears or to a fight, and the fact that you can’t rule that out means you shouldn’t go. But whatever you choose to do should be for her sake and with her input.
“You can let your daughter in on how you’re feeling. You can authorise her to be candid right back at you about whether she needs her mum there on her wedding day, or whether she’d be just as happy with a nice toaster. But you may just have to do what so many of us have done in the long and venerable tradition of feeling weird around an ex at a wedding: look good, stay away from the bar, and remember that you’re doing this for someone else.”
The expert also pointed out that, despite her protestations, the woman was indeed bitter about the actions of her ex-husband, adding: “How could you not be? Mistreatments can take years to bear fruit and when they do it is mighty sour.”