The issue: Ny hubby wants to invite his ex and her husband, while I have no interest in inviting mine. I’d rather have neither side as I want this to be about us, as we deal with our exes daily in many other things. It’s not like he’s BFFs with his ex-wife at all. I’ve tried to talk to him about it, and he feels like, because they gave us a small gift, they need to be included, whereas I think he wants to include them because he doesn’t want to disappoint his kids in not having their mom there. When we discussed this, he ended up hearing me out but then said, “OK, let’s just celebrate with your family only. If we invite friends, then we need to invite the exes.”
I wanted to do this for us, not because I needed to celebrate with my family. If we invite his ex, then to be fair to my kids I’ll invite my ex as I wouldn’t want them to feel like I left their dad out. Now I just don’t want to do it at all. What are your thoughts? — Just for Us
My thoughts are that this party isn’t about you as much as you say/think it is. Your elopement was about you (and your kids). The party is about the small community around you who support you and your kids. I think it’s nice that your husband wants to include his ex and her husband, especially for the reason you believe he wants them to be there: for his kids to feel good about having their mother there. Having both exes (and all the parents of your children and step-children) in attendance also sends the message to the kids that they and their needs are important, that the adults are present to support them and to co-parent together harmoniously. To me, that seems as important to celebrate as anything else.
Your elopement was about you and your husband and your children. You chose to elope to focus on your small family unit and the life you were beginning together. Let the party be about the support around your family unit and about sending a clear message to your children about the priority you make them in your life. Having exes there — exes that you get along with and with whom you are co-parenting — seems a small price to pay to establish (or re-establish) inclusivity for the people who care for, love, and support your family the most. But if it truly does feel like too big a price to pay, then I agree that you should just skip the party. It sounds like having a party where you don’t invite exes is going to disappoint your stepchildren, your husband, and potentially your own kids, and I don’t see the point in starting your new marriage on that foot.
Your partner says he doesn’t want to “throw away” his stuff, but what about selling it or giving it away? Would he be open to that? If so, I would suggest taking a few days — maybe a week? — to help him go through the two rooms and attic full of stuff and pare things down to fit into one of those three spaces, and get rid of the rest (garage sale, Goodwill, posting on a freecycle-type site, giving away to family and friends). Then you’ll need to figure out what to do with the other two space so that he doesn’t start filling them up again. If you have too much space on your hands, maybe it’s time to downsize to a small home so that he’s not tempted to keep filling empty rooms with junk. It would also be less home for you to work on. (You might even consider moving to a rental home or a retirement home where maintenance is taken care of for you and you no longer have to worry or argue about work being delayed or not getting done.) If you think your partner may actually have a hoarding disorder — like he can’t control the impulse to hoard — you should encourage him to see a doctor. Hoarding is a disorder that can be treated, and it can also be the symptom of other treatable disorders.
If none of these steps work, you may want to consider moving into your own space.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.