EX coming from out of state for my Daughters HS Graduation - How do I do this?

Kathleen - posted on 04/27/2015 ( 10 moms have responded )

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My Daughters Graduation is May 17 in Michigan. My EX husband lives in Texas and he is planning on coming to the Graduation with his new GF and her children (18 and 20). We have been separated/divorced for 18 years and I have been re-married for 8 years. My husband was also married before and has 2 daughters. I know his ex wife and we've been to many family events together. Although it is a strain, I still am calm and friendly with his ex wife no matter how awkward I feel inside. My EX Husband hasn't been around for most of my kids lives in fact he didn't attend my son's graduation last year so my husband hasn't had to meet or talk to him. My husband doesn't want to go to the graduation because my ex will be there because the whole idea makes him "uncomfortable". His unwillingness to be there and deal with it makes me pretty mad. I've had to deal with going to his oldest daughters high school graduation and then having someone say, "lets get a family pictures" MEANING my husband, the ex wife and the two kids... She also got a picture with the Ex Wifes 2nd Ex Husband, but I just stood on the sidelines watching the whole thing. I was never asked to be in a picture with her or interact at all - to me that was an insult.

Now for my daughters graduation, my kids want to have my ex husband come to our house and cook (he's a chef) instead of going out to eat after the graduation. I personally don't want to have my ex husband at my house, and my husband will find some excuse not to be there so there I'll be... stuck with the ex husband and the new girlfriend and her kids, whom I've never met.

Instead of doing this event at my house, I thought we could go to the local park and have a cook out, we could go to a restaurant and have a meal to celebrate. Do you have any other suggestions? I feel like I'm stuck in the middle and it's going to be SO uncomfortable... I love my children and I know this is really about them, especially my daughter since she is the one graduating and I will do what ever she wants, but even typing this now, I feel so anxious and uncomfortable about the impending ordeal... got any suggestions on how to deal with this without hurting anyone's feelings?

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Raye - posted on 04/27/2015

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When I got married the first time, I did not invite my dad. I only sent him an announcement. My mom walked me down the "isle". So, there's nothing wrong with that if your daughter wants you to walk with her on her wedding day.

I think your husband should be a little more sympathetic to you and your daughter. Okay he doesn't like crowds, whatever. But he has to realize that this whole thing is out of your comfort zone, too. It will probably be awkward for your ex and his GF and her kids as well. I bet there's a lot of nervousness going around. But family is about being there for one another. So, he needs to just suck it up. I'm a terrible introvert. I can usually only take about 2 hours at a party or with a group of people before I start getting antsy and want to leave. However, something like a park should give him opportunity to sneak off for a walk, catch his breath and recharge a little.

When you talk to your husband, be gentle. Tell him you understand his discomfort, and he has every right to feel that way. But family IS about being there for one another, and you and he can be there for one another and help each other through the anxiety of this uncomfortable situation. Hopefully he will be grateful to you, if you allow him to leave the graduation early and give him the job at the park. It shows you understand his physical and emotional limitations. And maybe he can compromise a little and stick around at the park a little longer. Men generally want to be problem solvers, so approach it as this would really be helping you out (and keeping your ex out of your house, so that should be your husband's goal, too).

I don't know why some guys have such a hard time with the ex. You have no desire to be with the ex, so there's no competition. If anything, he should be the proud peacock because he has you and the other guy doesn't. The other guy also has a second failed marriage, so that should raise your husband's ego a little, too. I'm not saying he should ACT superior to your ex, because that wouldn't be good. But there's nothing wrong with him FEELING superior to your ex.

A list of pictures would be great, so then everyone will know what's expected.

Ev - posted on 04/27/2015

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Congrats on your daughter graduating from high school. My son also graduates this year from high school but guess what? The step mother and her children plus the half siblings are going to be there. And this woman only gets along with me when she has to do so. I am polite and all and have had to be the last 9 years she was married to my ex husband. I also have been through a wedding with the older of my children with her there too. It was all awkward even though she and my ex are still married. I am actually in a picture with her and the entire family on my daughter's wedding day...just one picture and that was enough. So, I do understand how you feel about this being awkward.

First and foremost, this is your daughter's day. Its her graduation. You need to put aside your feelings for her sake so her graduation goes smoothly and just be polite and respectful to the new GF and her children. You did not mention why he did not make the son's graduation last year so I am not going to jump to conclusions unless there was something that happened to cause him to miss it suddenly....or not. My daughter's graduation was not a happy time for her because of her step mom for the most part making it hard on my daughter in choosing some things for the end of the year and graduation.

Second, Smile, smile, smile. Do not let them see this is bothering you.

Third, For the ex husband coming to the house to cook a meal for the celebration of the graduation, that is your house and your the one that should invite the idea and those you want in your house. Its also the house of your husband, and he should not be put on the spot to accept the idea.

Fourth, Your husband should understand that this is not about the adults in this whole thing but your daughter and he should be there for her and just get along with the others long enough to get through it. By saying he won't come, he is trying to deny that you have someone in your life ahead of him and that is not right. He needs to understand that maybe your daughter wants her father there.

Fifth, you do not have to sit next to them. There is no golden rule that says that you have to do this. Let them find their own seating and then if you want to do family pictures right after then do it. You could pick a place and meet after graduation for that.

Finally, As my son is getting ready for graduation, he has decided he wants me to take him to graduation and bring him home with me. He is glad that everyone is going to come that can. But I am not going to make a big deal out of his step mom and the step siblings being there. They are a part of the family in their way. Unlike his sister who had this step mom for only a couple of years in....things have changed somewhat over time.

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Kathleen - posted on 04/28/2015

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My kids are so easy going and understanding - they understand how their step father doesn't like crowds and my daughter told him that it was OK if he didn't want to be there. She is not upset - I was a single mom for almost 10 years and my kids and I have a very close relationship. My daughter would tell me if it bothered her. She knows that her step dad loves her which is more than I can say about her relationship with her biological father. I've told her that her Bio Dad loves her but she feels it's like he loves her on his schedule or when it's convenient for him.

After talking with my husband about everything, he is going to be at the graduation and he'll leave after he sees her accept her diploma and walk across the stage. Then after the graduation is over, we'll all get pics together.

I also talked with my kids, Husband and Ex Husband and we'll all go out to dinner after the graduation - Our family and his family. There will be between 9 and 13 people so my husband doesn't need to sit by my ex husband and they should be fine.

I'll give an update after the graduation day is over. Thanks all!

Michelle - posted on 04/27/2015

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Just a point of view from someone who has been a child in this situation:
My Mum's 3rd husband couldn't stand to be in the same room as my Dad, no reason for it other than he though they were having an affair every time they spoke to each other (they have 2 kids together so needed to discuss school etc).
It got to the stage that if my Dad was somewhere and her husband saw my Dad's car he wouldn't even enter the house. That is very upsetting to child that has divorced parents. As you grow up you have to think about who you invite to big events in your life because the adults are acting worse than children!!
My Mum's husband wasn't invited to my 1st wedding because of the way he was with my Dad (well, 1 of the reasons).
I would suggest that you talk to your husband and let him know how his actions are impacting the children. Does he want to be left out for their 21st or wedding because he feels "uncomfortable" around their Father?
It's very childish and I think the adults need to grow up and show the children that you don't all have to be best friends but you can tolerate each other. That's what we try and teach our children, so why not show it.

In regards to your ex cooking in your house, no I wouldn't do that. The park or restaurant is fine.

Kathleen - posted on 04/27/2015

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Darn right he should be a proud peacock! LOL! I love that :)

I hope having the cook out is the solution - and I hope the weather cooperates. Being in Michigan, we had snow last week!

I will sit down and talk with my husband and let him know my concerns, ideas, requests and see how it goes.

My daughters Graduation is May 17 and my husbands daughters graduation is May 31st - his ex-wife has already invited BOTH of us to the open house - She made it a point to tell my husband that I was invited as well...This is why I can't understand why he has such a problem with my ex husband when he hasn't even met him yet.

Thanks to everyone who's given me ideas - it's nice to know that I'm not the only one dealing with stuff like this too.

Kathleen - posted on 04/27/2015

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Hi Sarah,
Thanks for your input! I have to sit down and talk with my husband and kids to see what they think about the cookout at the park - I honestly don't think my husband will be at the graduation or the cook out very long. I told him he needs to be at the graduation but I can't make him go to the park or stay. I will talk with him in private about what I'd like him to do and he'll consider it - but if it's too much out of his comfort zone, forget it.

I like the idea of talking about what pictures to take before hand. I'll get a list together.

in regards to the Girlfriend and her kids, My kids have only met her once during spring break the last week of March, 2015. Her kids and my kids got together only one day during spring break and since they live in Texas, they don't really hang out at all. I'm not apposed to having my EX, the GF and her kids with my kids in a picture - No skin off my nose. BUT I'm absolutely NOT going to do the "Family" Picture with my EX and kids - if they want to do a family picture, then EVERYONE is in the picture, my husband, the EX, the kids, me and the GF and her Kids.

My daughter has told me that Her Step Dad is more of a dad to her than her biological dad, because her step dad has been in her life for 10 years and been there for her. Her biological dad loves her, but has always treated her brother as the golden child. You know what I mean? He can be a jerk, he can be nice, but he is never consistent with how he treats them. My daughter said to me that when she gets married, she wants ME to walk her down the aisle instead of her dad or step dad. That way she doesn't have to choose one over the other.

The difficult thing for my husband is he hasn't had to talk to or even meet my ex husband - Not once and I think he liked it that way. BUT he does have to understand that there will be times when everyone has to gather together and think of others instead of our own comfort.

Thanks for the input. I really do appreciate it!

Raye - posted on 04/27/2015

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I agree it's too much for your ex to cook a meal in your home. The park idea sounds good. Your husband should at least attend the graduation. He has been the father figure for your daughter, and should be there to support you as well. If he can only stay until she receives her diploma, then I guess that will have to do. Giving him the job of setting up at the park probably is a good solution in that circumstance.

Kathleen - posted on 04/27/2015

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Hi Evelyn,

Thanks for the reply - The excuse the Ex gave as to why he didn't attend my son's graduation last year was he didn't have the money to come - he lives in Texas close to both of his brothers who have money. IF he really wanted to be there, he would have found a way. He didn't even send a card or call him. He basically just ignored the event.

I will always be polite and respectful to anyone that the ex husband has with him. (he was married to the women he cheated on with me, and they recently were divorced) Since he lives across the country, I don't have to deal with him much - I haven't met the new girlfriend yet, but the kids like her. They said she's a lot nicer than his second wife.

I am also polite and respectful to my current Husband's ex wife as well. I will smile until my eyes pop out... I have never been the one to make waves in public. I will say something to my husband behind closed doors about things that bother me regarding our ex's ... LIKE The time his ex wife came to our house and showed him her new tramp stamp tattoo... Not a good day.

I definitely know this is my daughters day and I'll do everything in my power to make it a good one for her, that's why I posted to this forum and researched on line what the proper etiquette is for this situation. I like to be prepared.

NOW - with my husband. He has a problem with crowds. He will sit through the graduation just long enough to see my daughter walk across the stage and then he'll be gone. Not ONLY because of the crowds but also because he has a bad back and sitting that long on those bleachers doesn't work well. And you're right, we don't have to sit by each other. In fact at my husbands oldest's daughters graduation, the ex wife sat across the gym from us.

I can't see having my ex and the GF and her kids at my house for the EX to cook. That would be taking my husbands sanctuary away from him. I think the park Idea is good - it's neutral territory, they have places to sit, cook, eat, restrooms, etc. It's outside and pretty. The more I think about it the better it will be. In fact, when my husband leaves the graduation ceremony early, I could have him go to the park, start the grill and set everything up... it might work and everyone would be more comfortable in a neutral space.

Thanks for the insights and the information. I really appreciate it. Anymore suggestions?

Sarah - posted on 04/27/2015

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I think your idea of a cook out at the local park or even eating at a restaurant are both good ideas. I think it is a bit of a compromise for everyone. It is about your daughter, but at the same time all her wishes do not have to go exactly how she wants them. I think what is important is that the focus be on her and her achievements and graduation. There can be some boundaries set up so the day goes as well as it can. I think the boundary of not having a cook out at your home is good.....that is personal space and you have come up with other options that work well. I think even talking with your ex about family pictures ahead of time. Again keeping the focus on your daughter having the pictures relate that....so if she has had no contact with the girlfriend or the girlfriend's kids then keeping them out of the pictures sounds appropriate. If she has been around the girlfriend and her children then I do think it is appropriate for them to do a "family" picture as that is part of her life. If there has been no contact then I think dad and daughter pictures are appropriate. As for your husband not wanting to be around I would have a long talk to him about that. That to me is being childish and just like a little child throwing a tantrum because he did not get his way. It is not about him or even his comfort. It is about your daughter and the people in her life. Even if bio dad does not have much interaction with her this is still her dad and an important person in her life. He could be the biggest jerk in the world, but to her he is still her dad. That does not mean your husband is not a dad to her as well, but just like any step-mother would not replace you any step-father does not replace dad. Your husband needs to realize that this is the situation he married into and decided to take on, so in doing so this is also part of it. He needs to step up and act like an adult and keep the focus on your daughter and the special occasion that is and not make it about him.

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