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Should she take boyfriend to wedding where ex-husband will be?

Consider feelings in decision on taking new man to wedding

Q: I'm having an ethical dilemma related to my ex-husband. We've been divorced a year, separated for two. We were together more than five years. We were both very hurt by the breakup, but ultimately it was my decision to leave. There was no infidelity, no abuse. It was complicated but not vicious. Since the divorce, we've talked only about tax/financial issues. It was always amicable, but awkward.

This summer, my good friend from college is marrying my ex's oldest friend (they introduced us). It will be the first time I've seen my ex since the divorce, and his mother will be there. I have anxiety about not only seeing my ex and his mom (she can be quite curt), but also whether to bring my boyfriend.

We started dating months after the divorce, and it has gotten serious. My boyfriend is considerate and says he'll understand if I don't bring him. But I am torn. I feel like if I don't bring him, then I am putting my past relationship before my current one. Yet to bring him might be heartless, since I know it would hurt my ex and I don't want to cause him any more pain. Am I over-thinking this?

Neurotic divorcee

A: Possibly, but that's better than under-thinking it. The only things at stake here are people's feelings, and so choosing the path for this one event that's thoughtful and sensitive to the most people's feelings is your only real goal.

And with that discrete, narrow goal in mind, please feel free to jettison the concern that you're "putting my past relationship before my current one." This is one event, not the rest of your life.

If it sounds as if I'm advising you to leave your new boyfriend at home, I'm not (though he's either a good sport, eager not to go, both, or, ick, insincere and testing you, something else to consider). My advice is merely to simplify your decision by treating it as the one-off it is.

Envision seeing your ex for the first time since your divorce, and his mother, at the wedding of your mutual friends. What version of that scene is kindest to you, your current, your ex, his mom, and the bride and groom: being alone, or having your boyfriend there? That's the decision you make.

Seeming flirtation from married friend may be cry for help

Q: How would you react if a significant old flame, who is still a friend, but a married-to-someone-else friend, closed a message with, "I can't stop thinking about you"?

I just ignored it, but the same message involved an invitation to get together for "coffee, etc." (etc.?), so I'm wondering if friendship can be maintained. Perhaps this is some seven-year itch? And no, I never swim in the married end of the pool.

Anonymous

A: There's no risk of emotional affair, no appearance of one even, unless you were intrigued by his signoff. And if you were just alarmed, then consider his message was less a love note than a cry for help. I think it's likely that he is numb in his marriage, not ready to deal with that openly, and seeking sensory input elsewhere.

The best response from a true friend might be "What the heck was that?" to turn his attention right back to his marriage. "What about Jan?" you ask. And then you listen, and encourage him to talk to her, talk to a shrink, talk to his mommy, anyone but a desperate Plan B.

Should she take boyfriend to wedding where ex-husband will be? 07/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2011 2:31pm]
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