DEAR AMY: My former wife and I divorced after 26 years of marriage. She has refused to communicate with me. We have twins in their late 20s — a daughter and a son. Although neither is married, each wants to eventually get married, and so I anticipate weddings. Our son graduates law school this spring. He may feel awkward about having both his parents attend his graduation. Last year, he went through a terrible crisis — the death of one of his best friends. It was terribly hard on him, yet his mom never talked to me about how we might help him. Such occasions — a grief-stricken child, and a grown child’s life event — call for parents to come together. I want to talk with my former wife about the upcoming graduation. What do you suggest?
Loves His Twins
DEAR LOVES: Ideally, you and your ex-wife would be able to discuss not just the huge events in your twins’ lives, but you would also be capable of simply checking in from time to time. However, your former wife is not willing to communicate with you, and so your twins are consigned to do the eternal dance of children of divorce, dealing with their parents separately and discreetly, as these young adults come to dread the tension initiated by big events.
If you want to try to communicate with your ex, you could send her an email titled “Graduation” in the subject line. Keep your email short, neutral and factual: Tell her what your plans are and ask her if she wants to coordinate.
She may not answer. I hope you’ll make a choice to simply be the easy, accommodating, warm and loving parent, regardless of your ex’s behavior. Always act cordially toward and about your ex. Never criticize her to your children. Take the high road. It’s not the easiest road, but it offers the best view.
DEAR AMY: My husband and I put together a nice outside sitting area each summer. Gradually, more and more of his friends started dropping over. They don’t work and live to get drunk every day. I don’t like being around this, or the cigarette smoke. It got so bad we hardly had a single day without at least one dropping over. After much wrangling, we finally agreed to one night a week for my husband to have his friends over in the nice weather. However one friend, “Dave,” started dropping by in the winter and would come inside to sit and drink. He has caused much trouble in the past with drunken behavior. They both promised me that he would only come over at the designated times, but that seems to have slipped away. I know if I give an inch he will take a mile. I hate coming home from work and seeing him sitting in my living room. My dad was an alcoholic, so I have issues. My husband is free to go to Dave’s house, but doesn’t. He doesn’t think it should be a big deal if Dave comes over when I’m not home. I almost left my husband when he didn’t limit his friends’ visits. I feel I have to firmly hold my ground, or it will start all over again. I would like to know if I am being unfair. I feel like my husband chooses his friend’s wishes over mine.
DEAR UPSET: This is your husband’s home, too. He should have the freedom to have friends over. However, if you are at work all day and he is not, he has many hours to use the home however he likes.
Given the way you describe this situation, it does not sound fair to you. I can imagine how challenging it would be to come home from work to a drunken lout (or two).
Your husband and “Dave” should respect your reasonable request to limit Dave’s visits.
DEAR AMY: In response to “Worried” and her boyfriend’s frequent white lies, I can relate. I grew up in a family where “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!” was practically our motto. My mom told little lies in front of us kids constantly, especially on the phone to her friends and work. My husband called me out on it when we first got married. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. It was learned behavior from my upbringing. I am grateful he brought it to my attention. Perhaps “Worried” should do the same with her boyfriend.
DEAR LIAR: Good advice!