My story is like so many others on here but recently a good friend kinda gave me grief about the way I was interacting with OW, now new wife.
Background: was married for 29 years, two grown sons. Found out about the affair as my youngest was heading off to college.
Turns out Ex and OW reconnected at a high school reunion that I chose not to go to. Ex and I were high school sweethearts so I knew her from high school as well. Anyway, have been divorced for almost 9 years now. I was a mess during divorce as both my kids were gone and now I find out Ex was fooling around for God knows how long.
Fortunately, because my kids are grown, I don’t have to have much communication with Ex other than at family functions. He married OW immediately after we divorced and her divorce went through. Yes, she was married as well with 3 kids. My kids understand why we got divorced and their relationship with their dad has been strained to say the least. He pretty much told them early on that they had to accept her because she was in his life. I have pretty much have let them figure out their relationship with their dad on their own, as they are adults and will have to make their own decisions. I know they are very upset with their father for what he did but he is still in their lives.
When my youngest got married and Ex and new wife attended, I was civil to ex and we did make some small talk, but I have no interest in holding a conversation with her. She typically will seek me out at these type of events and try and engage with me. I smile politely and answer her briefly and then make my exit as soon as possible. I really have no interest in being “friends” or having meaningless small talk with her.
Recently, both ex and OW attended my son’s birthday party. Again, I spoke briefly to my ex making small talk, but avoided interacting with her. I was not rude, but I don’t think its necessary to engage with her either if I don’t have to. My friend who also attended the party later told me that she thought by my not engaging with her that it was making it more difficult for my sons. Again, I was not rude but I did not seek her out or try and welcome her like I did the other guests. I have always been civil and just smile and answer very briefly. I don’t want to be friends with her nor do I want to pretend that everything is just fine.
Am I handling this wrong? I think I should get an award for being civil and instead my friend was giving me grief for not acting like one big happy family. LOL
Dear Perfectly Sane Lady with Boundaries,
You’re not the asshole here. Your friend is the asshole. She is sniping at you from the sidelines, criticizing what she knows is a difficult, vulnerable moment in your life — having to interact with your ex and his affair partner/wifetress.
Had you done something actually regrettable — like force the OW to bob for apples in a bucket without apples — your friend might have cause to say something.
But you were a class act. All you did is politely smile, exchange greetings, and excuse yourself. Something people do at gatherings all the time in circumstances far less fraught. No one would say to Bob at the Sparkplug Convention, “Why don’t you give MORE of yourself, Bob? Why can’t you and Fred from the tool and dye be FRIENDS?”
This isn’t a fair example, Tracy. Bob and Fred don’t have adult children in common.
They have spark plugs in common and zero history of abuse.
You are not required to give MORE of yourself to someone who grievously harmed you. God, when will this friends-with-exes diktat die?
Being friends with your ex is not a sign of maturity, or being more evolved and self-aware — it means either: you’re eating a shit sandwich, OR you have the raw materials for friendship.
Meaning, this ex never abused you. This person respects and values you.
Look, even if your friend doesn’t believe infidelity is abuse (it is), why would she expect more engagement from you? People hold grudges for far less than fucked-my-husband-behind-my-back-for-years reasons. Has no one ever insulted your friend, or rubbed her wrong, and she’d rather not see that person? Is it such a leap of empathy to understand why the Other Woman isn’t your BFF?
My friend who also attended the party later told me that she thought by my not engaging with her that it was making it more difficult for my sons.
Really? I think your sons have every confidence in you, or they wouldn’t be inviting you to their family events. How dare she bludgeon you with the For The Children guilt cudgel! Your sons are ADULTS. You’ve left them to figure out their relationship with their dad (good job) and they’ve left you to figure out your relationship with your ex and OW (polite but distant, GOOD JOB).
Friend can butt out.
How would being a bit player in the OW’s impression management that she’s a Good Person and there are no hard feelings work in YOUR favor?
It wouldn’t. You break up two families, you live with some social awkwardness. Small price to pay, really.
If your friend wants to throw herself on that grenade, and go cozy up to the OW so OW doesn’t have a sadz, she’s welcome to. But she didn’t do that, she just guilt tripped you instead.
Why? You might have a good look at this relationship and see if your values align. Would being cozy with wifetress lessen your friend’s social anxiety? Let’s forget this is all a big bummer! Smiles everyone! Smiles!
In other words, your friend is fine with you eating a colossal shit sandwich, so long as she doesn’t have to experience small discomfort.
I think you handled these exchanges with dignity and class. You were gracious — and you moved on to other guests.
Now, be gracious and move on to other friends.