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Single Parents - Divorced Adults Group Message Board › Amicable relationship with less than amicable feelings....

Amicable relationship with less than amicable feelings....

A former member
Post #: 25
Here's the deal.
As I await the inevitable court case, my ex and I have agreed somewhat amicably on the terms of our marital settlement agreement and we try to remain civil when talking to each other though inevitably we disagree on something and close the conversation before it gets too ugly.
How do we deal with situations that involve extended members of the respective families.
My family of course is very protective of me and has anger issues with my wife's infidelity,{( and really who wouldn't) ok no ranting:)}.
My ex's family have circled the wagons accordingly and I wouldn't expect any different. There have however been some not so nice things said from both families in regards to the other and there are of course now some bad feelings.
Now comes the first test; my daughter is coming home from college on the 18th to celebrate her 20th birthday. My son will be in from Chicago for the occasion as well. She would like all the family members to attend a dinner at a local restaurant of her choosing but she has made it abundantly clear that no one say anything untoward. Yikes!!!
Sounds so much easier than it probably will be. My ex mother in law for instance upon hearing of her daughter's infidelity, immediately tried to justify it in her mind by stating to me that I must in fact have had plenty of affairs in all our years of marriage. Very hurtful words that she doesn't even understand has caused me to review our relationship over the years to see what I may have done to cause her to think such things about me. In the end I think she was just trying to reconcile the feelings of disbelief in her daughter's infidelity.
Doesn't make it easier on me when we will be sitting across the table trying to be civil. You may notice I run a little long in the tooth:) I'm not in the habit of holding back with my honesty. I'll have to at this event. Won't be paying for her dinner though:)
My family have said some hurtful things too and I'm sure tensions will be running high all around.
What to do? What to do? Any sage words out there to help me through the day? I know some of you have experienced something similar and I'd appreciate any pearls of wisdom you may have, Thanks
A former member
Post #: 131
Haven't experienced this, but would send out an email similar in tone to this one that everyone is expected to "be polite". It would be great if your daughter would send it and then everyone would probably feel more compelled to make her birthday wish come true! If I got an email from your kid and came to her party knowing the expectations, I would feel obligated to bite my tongue. Might not hang out all that long, but would definitely show up, let her know I cared, and get away as quick as possible. My kids are younger, but for these first few birthdays, we just aren't there yet. They understand and we always had a tradition of a family dinner on the actual birthday and a party on the nearest weekend. We have split it. They do the dinner with their dad and I am in charge of the party (which he never attended when we were married anyway, so makes sense for us). Of course he doesn't pay for the party. . . I am just wondering if 20 might not be old enough for her to grasp what horrible pain everyone is in and just forcing them to sit in the same room together this year is a really bad idea. Perhaps it would be wise to take a "planning" year so that her 21st can be a big kick-ass party with everyone in a much better place.
Optimistic C.
Madison, WI
Post #: 80
SARA, Sara, Sara... such sage advice.
My 2 cents, and we can certainly chat later around Whoonu Cal...

Taking a one year sabatical is a great idea but then your daughter misses out on a "nice" family dinner (cough!).
What could be better than that? Well, obviously TWO nice family dinners!

It seems to me Cal, that you need to protect yourself not only from your ex but also from her family, (and vice versa). I suspect that there will be just too many loose cannons at the table that it would end up being a battlefield and ruin a birthday celebration.
There is absolutely no reason for a 20 year old to expect you to go through that "song and dance" for her birthday.
If she does... take her to Chucky Cheese!

I suggest two dinners, at two restaurants, with two different guest lists.

A former member
Post #: 69
Good advice, Sara and Chris.

Been there (high conflict, bad-mouthing, lies, etc.). You have one path open to you: the high road. Taking the high road means (per Scott Peck) telling the truth that is useful. I.e., look at the whole situation to determine what should be said, and how, and what should be left alone.

Your daughter is old enough to understand that things are changing. She shouldn't be expected to understand anyone else's suffering, partly because of her age and her place in the family, and partly because she has enough of her own to deal with. And she doesn't need extended explanations unless she asks. You can just tell her that you'll celebrate her birthday and leave it at that. If she asks, What about Mom and the rest of the family? you can just tell her you don't know what her mom is planning. And let that be the truth. All you and her mom need to do is agree on when your respective celebrations will be.

As you travel the high road, let the gossip and rumors swirl around you. Get sucked into them and you'll drown; stay above them and you'll earn everyone's respect. Been there, done that.

In the end, all you have is your own integrity. Keep it strong and healthy.

With compassion for everyone in these tough times.....

user 6540411
Group Organizer
Madison, WI
Post #: 179
I'm going to go against the grain and express a different opinion, as I am wont to

My ex and I have a very amicable relationship now, and while that was not the case in the beginning, we did always agree to behave agreeably and not bad-mouth one another in front of the children. It is my very strong belief (his, as well) this is in the best interest of the children, and that it is the sniping, name calling and all around negativity that causes most of the pain for children (underage or adult) in divorce situations.

My ex and I have always celebrated birthdays and other occasions (Christmas, for instance) together with our children, even when our relationship was not so amicable. We just sucked it up and played nice for our kids so that they didn't have to feel so divided, even though their parents were no longer living together. Yes, the first few times were awkward, but now we actually have a very enjoyable time. My ex even joined the kids and me in celebrating my mom's birthday earlier this week.

Since it seems to be important to your daughter that her whole family be with her on her birthday, can the adults in this situation just agree to put differences aside for a few hours and just be polite? Keep the focus on the children, and maybe it won't actually be that bad.

Finally, while one obviously cannot control the behavior of others, I do believe very strongly that one's own attitude and demeanor has an effect on those around us. For example, a polite attitude demonstrated may yield a polite attitude in return. Just a thought...
A former member
Post #: 26
I'm looking forward to the council of the sages tonight, truly you all have so much more wisdom than I in these matters. I'm of course a little selfish, I'm looking forward to the adult company away from my children and family alike, some of whom aren't even children to speak of really..., I need a break from the rat race of well meaning friends and those who all think I should just pull up my bootstraps and their kind offers of grandmas' chicken soup recipes, and this young lady they know who really is so sweet and for the love of god all those darned thoughts that reel around all on their own without the aid of anyone or anything at all seemingly. A little run-on going on there. LOL. I dunno whuunu but I'm in man, save me a seat by the fire!
A former member
Post #: 27
I was just looking at the threads of recent messages, whew I've git a lot too say, thanks guys for putting up with me. I'm not sure if I talked this much in 25 years of marriage.
A former member
Post #: 21
OK, I'll weigh in. My gut reaction is that it is a little premature to expect everyone to get together in the same room and be civil so soon especially with the circumstance's surrounding your divorce. I don't know your family or your ex's but I'd expect emotions to still be running rather high right now. I vote for two separate dinners this year. Of course, eventually everyone will have to suck it up and be civil when in the same room but I suspect there will be more success with that a little later down the line when the flames have cooled.

I agree that it is much, much better for the children to set aside differences and enjoy the celebrations in your children's lives without rehashing old wounds but this is a bit too soon.
A former member
Post #: 28
You make a good case Linda. I still have a week so I'm still listening guys..
Madison, WI
Post #: 24
It should be possible for you and your ex to stay civil through a dinner for your daughter's sake, but extended family is much harder to control. I know your daughter wants a big family dinner, however a dinner and a lunch with the separate families would probably work out better.
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