Shortcuts: “My Boyfriend Is Going to His Sister’s Wedding Without Me”

It’s time again for Shortcuts. For every question, I’ll give my advice in just a few sentences because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great that being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go.

My boyfriend and I have three years of being together. His sister is getting married and she doesn’t want me to go to her wedding because she says I’m going to ruin it. We didn’t like each other in the past because of many conflicts she caused between my boyfriend and me. Now my boyfriend says he’s going without me to the wedding. How should I feel? — Uninvited

I guess you should feel relieved you don’t have to go to a wedding for someone you’ve had so much conflict with.

My boyfriend’s adult children still live with him. I moved in, and they hung up pictures of their deceased mother who died 12 years ago. My boyfriend said nothing to them and yelled at me for saying something about it. What do I do? — No Pics, Please

If you’re so threatened by a dead woman that you don’t think her kids should have photos of her up on the wall, and you resent that your boyfriend’s adult children still live with him, maybe your cohabiting isn’t the right step in your relationship right now.

My ex and I were together for eight years and we have three children together. He cheated on me throughout the relationship and ended up getting one of the other women pregnant. Her son and my son are one month apart in age; they are 12 years old now. The boy comes over and I watch him when my ex is supposed to. I can’t be angry with the child—-it’s not his fault. I go to family functions on my ex’s side, and for the first time, this past Easter, he invited the other woman over (I’m civil with her only because I’m tired of fighting and it makes me look bad). I was so pissed off that I didn’t go. (She still wants him and is in his face every chance she gets.) My ex said that I shouldn’t have an issue with it. He’s an arrogant SOB who only thinks of himself. So, am I wrong for being freaking mad he invited her? — No Longer with the Arrogant SOB

You have been broken up with your ex for eight years. Neither you nor this other woman are romantically involved with him, but you are both mothers of his children. Essentially, you are both extended family members of his family, and as such, if he’s going to invite to a family gathering one woman with whom he has a child but with whom he is no longer romantically involved, it doesn’t strike me as odd that he would invite another woman with whom he also shares a child but isn’t romantically involved with. I can understand how you may resent this woman who slept with your man while you were still together, and why you wouldn’t want to spend a holiday with her, but I think being “freaking mad” that you were both invited to a family gathering as mothers of half-siblings, eight years after your breakup, is perhaps misdirected energy. Skip the gathering, sure – but what you’re really mad about is being chronically cheated on through your entire relationship and now being tasked with watching a child who isn’t yours when your ex is supposed to. Your ex was never the man you wanted him to be and he never will be. His inviting both baby mamas to a family gathering is hardly the thing worth being mad about though.


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  1. LW1 – you want your bf to choose you over your sister. He isn’t. If this is unacceptable move on.

    LW2 -they put up pictures after you moved in? Ok, a little passive aggressive but you know what? She’s. Dead. If you don’t like that his kids live there, then don’t move in. If you set up a situation in which you make him choose between you and his kids… I don’t think it’s going to work out the way you want.

    LW3 – stop going to family functions. Drop off the kid. Say hello to everyone then leave. If you don’t want to watch the kid, then don’t watch the kid. Your ex is a selfish SOB – you’re right. But you don’t have to put up with his nonsense. You are doing this to make a point that you’re the more moral person -fine. You’re a better person. Either behave that way because you believe it’s the right thing to do and leave the emotions out of it, or stop doing it because it’s causing you grief. No one would fault you for not babysitting your ex’s kid with another woman. TBH – I don’t know why you’ve been roped into it at all.

  2. LW 2, you actually said something about it to his kids? That’s cold.

    1. I think the kids hung the pictures after the LW2 moved in. Passive aggressive taunting perhaps. But that is his family and his house and their choice.
      But yeah, the guy and kids are a package deal. The LW cannot expect to change that.

      1. dinoceros says:

        Seriously? Putting up pictures of your deceased mom in your home is passive-aggressive taunting? Ah, yes, the only reason they could possibly want the pictures to be up!

      2. If they are doing it only after LW moved in and not before (i.e. after their mother’s death), then yes, it is taunting.

      3. I also wouldn’t call that ‘taunting’ considering the hurt they must feel. Maybe they wanted to make a statement. Either way, the LW was out of line.

    2. 3 grownup kids living with their father get upset if their father starts dating 12 years after their mother’s death ? I guess they could not force him to become a monk and will try to sabotage every relationship he might have

      1. Yes, they probably got upset. Their mother died when they were young. Just because they’re adults now doesn’t mean the hurt’s gone. Wanting their own mom to be still recognized and not forgotten while someone else moves in is not taunting. If anything it tells us something about the communication between everyone.
        But we have no backstory here so I think you’re exaggerating slightly. The LW is still out of line and the boyfriend agrees!

      2. Yes, they probably are still hurting, but at a level dimmed by the passage of time. If they are financially dependent upon their father, which they obviously are to some degree if they are still living with him as adults, then it wouldn’t surprise me that their reaction stems not so much from lingering hurt at the loss of their mother as from fear of losing their turf, financial support from their father, and possibly much of their inheritance. Adult children fearing a second wife will sweep up their father’s estate is not uncommon.

      3. Whatever the reason for hanging up the pictures (and we’re all just guessing here), the LW has no business saying something about it. End of story.

  3. LW1: I would take the high road, in order to put the conflicts in the past. I would write her a congratulation card and offer her a gift, something not too expensive in her list of gifts.

    LW2: Back off, you will always be wrong confronting a deceased mother. Address the issues of the present: try to find better ways to live with this family. Don’t make the adult kids feel unwelcome . Accept the whole package and find ways for everybody in the household to feel respected.
    LW3: I understood that the LW wasn’t invited and the other woman was at this Easter Party. Anyway, I wouldn’t join anymore your ex’family functions because it makes it like a harem. You are an ex: reject it, you should be relieved not to join such boring family events which are not yours. Have your own! And stop mothering for your ex. You too seem still interested in him, or still hurt by him. Move on. Easy to say, but really, work on it.

    1. The LW3 was invited for easter. She has been going all these years. But this year, the other woman was also invited.
      LW does not want the baby mama, an affair, to be treated on equal terms with her who had been a wife and part of family.
      I think it is an emotional response rather than anything logical.

      1. She never says she was married. She was likely the longer duration gf of the two, but they each could have been with him for years and thought they were the primary gf.

      2. You could be right. I read ex as ex-husband (8 years, 3 kids).

  4. Ele4phant says:

    LW1 your boyfriend’s sister could be the biggest see you next Tuesday in the world, but she’s your boyfriend’s sister. She’s part of the package.

    If can’t stand the thought of her being part of the rest of your life, maybe this isn’t the right guy for you.

    Here’s the thing about marriage – it’s not just finding one person for compatible with, it’s about being at least okay with their family. Because you can’t isolate the person you love from all the other people they care about.

    If you already know you cannot stand one of your potential in-laws, do everyone a favor and move on.

    And also – you better be sure to keep your side of the street is clean. If you are contributing to the drama in any way (even if it’s responding to her provocations), well you’re just as much of a problem as she is.

  5. To be fair, LW#3 says they were TOGETHER for 8 years. She isn’t specific on how long he has been an ex. I do think the advance is still solid, but there’s a chance this is still a raw wound for her.

      1. It’s been a while, since both she and the other woman have kids by this guy who are ow 12. Unless this is her youngest child, she had at least one more kid with him after finding out about the cheating and kid with other woman. If this is her youngest child, then they likely separated when she learned of other woman and that would be at least 6 years ago.

  6. Does the ex still live with LW3? if not I’m not sure how she gets stuck watching the other kid. Also it is very weird to think that your the only ex allowed at family functions.

    1. I’ve actually seen this scenario play out in real life. An old acquaintance of mine has two boys, 6 months apart in age and he was/is not with either of their mothers. Both of the mothers were civil with each other and would watch the boys together from time to time. The boys went to the same school and their schedules overlapped quite a bit, so it just wound up being convenient for all parties involved. Honestly, I admire those women for their civility, but I think they had bonded over the fact that they’d been betrayed by the same jerk which helped.

  7. Bittergaymark says:

    LW1). Relieved. Relieved is how you should feel. Unless — of course! — you LOVE drama. Which, sadly, I rather suspect, you do.
    LW2). Look, if you TRULY can’t compete with the twelve years out of date hair and wardrobe of a long dead wife — well, then you need a serious fucking makeover.
    LW3). Drama drama drama. Give it a fucking rest. But truly— there is simply no need for you to babysit your Ex’s other kids. Really — there isn’t. This makes me suspect you rather like playing the martyr. Do you?

  8. LW3) I think it’s incredibly kind of you to watch your ex’s other son. I hope that means the two boys see each other as brothers and as family. I know people are telling you to stop, and if you truly hate it you should, but i think it’s a great thing you’re giving them by letting them spend a lot of time together.

  9. Wait–LW3 said she was with her ex for 8 years, not that they have been broken up for that long. However, she’s presumably known about this child long enough to feel comfortable babysitting him, and Wendy’s advice still stands. But I absolutely can understand why this made her mad at her ex all over again. Some wounds don’t vanish so easily and it’s harder to be the bigger person when those wounds are continually ripped open again. This guy sounds like a pretty shitty person and father, so I’m not surprised LW3 doesn’t always take his actions with grace–it’s a lot to ask of a person. Sorry your ex is such a douche, LW3, but as with anything in life you can only control your own actions, so focus on that and try to let the rest go.

  10. Pics of Mother thing? I just had a long chat with my Mum over a glass of wine, she lost her Mum at the age of 14, we don’t often talk about that but we did tonight and she still cries; she is now over 80. Let them have pictures of their mother. And catch yourself on a bit for thinking they shouldn’t.

  11. anonymousse says:

    It always amazes me that people get jealous of old pictures of dead partners., especially when there are children.

    How you deal with that gracefully is apologizing for your ridiculous comments.
    Ask them about their mother.
    “Tell me a funny story about your mom.”
    “Tell me about your mom. Where did she grow up? What was her family like?”
    “She has such beautiful eyes in this portrait.”
    She is their mother! It was incredibly wrong of you to say anything about them hanging up pictures of the woman they loved.

    Ask your bf about her, their relationship, how they met. Being a good partner is sharing the pain and joys you’ve had in your life. Being jealous of a dead woman is sad and embarrassing. You must have really low self esteem if you think displaying pictures of her is disrespectful to you in anyway.

  12. anonymousse says:

    LW3- don’t watch her son. Seriously. He should be spending that time with his father, right? Let him watch his child. You don’t have to be involved as much as you are. You’re allowed to step back and focus on what she best for you, and your own kids. Don’t go to family events with him. You know he’s no good. Seeing him in action isn’t ever going to make you feel good.

  13. dinoceros says:

    LW1: If you dislike her so much, why do you want to be at her wedding?
    LW2: Either grow up or don’t date someone who has a deceased wife and/or children.
    LW3: I empathize, but you’ve made the choice to stay with him for many years. If you think he’s that terrible and treats you so poorly, you could leave. It’s up to you.

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