Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Divorced parents meeting

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  • #1110892 Reply

    Hi all,
    I’m 30 and getting married in a few months. My parents have been divorced for 20+ years and don’t particularly get on but my mum has suggested that we get together for a coffee before the wedding so that my parents can meet each others’ long-term partners and also maybe clear the air a bit before my wedding. I think this is a good idea but I’m nervous about it and worried about what we’ll talk about! Any lighthearted but interested conversation topics or advice from others who have already been through this sort of thing would be gratefully received.
    Thank you!

    #1110894 Reply

    You’re likely to be more of an observer, hopefully not referee. If there are dreadful periods of silence, you can talk about plans for your marriage and gush about the person you are about to marry, although likely they will be with you. A focus upon your wedding is doubly good as a topic, because that is what is bringing your parents together briefly and reminds them of what they share in common and that they need to get along, at least briefly, for your sake. Ultimate no-no: don’t admonish them that they need to get along at the wedding and behave. That prompts thoughts of controversy and it should be the unspoken assumption that of course they can get along for a day or for a few days. The desire for this initial get-together indicates that they want to celebrate your wedding and have a happy day for all.

    #1110911 Reply

    Clear the air – what the fuck does that mean? I’m serious – what air needs clearing after 20 years? Do they need to meet one another’s partners – sure, in the same way that you introduce your cousin from Albuquerque to your fiance’s aunt from Kalamazoo. Judy.. this is Barbara. Barbara, Louisa’s mom and my ex wife, Judy.

    Here’s what is needed:
    1. Each parent and partner agrees to behave like a rational adult from the start of the weekend to the end of the weekend. If that means they control their drinking, then assign them a buddy who can slap the glass out of their hand.
    2. Each parent and partner is expected to have a set list of vague and inoffensive phrases to use when they are asked about anything to do with their former spouse. “I’m glad to see Joe is happy.” “I know Judy has been looking forward to this day, and it turned out great.”
    3. They are solely responsible for their behavior. If they can’t fucking manage one day after 20 years, then they shouldn’t come and they are letting you down. You. Their child who is getting married who shouldn’t have to deal with their nonsense after 20 years.

    Honestly, it sounds like your mom wants a chance to air out grievances. This is not Festivus.

    #1110912 Reply

    As a child of divorced parents who have a tense relationship, it’s not your job to make sure everyone is civil and conversation flows. It’s theirs. They could even do this whole meet and greet thing without you present.

    Any “clearing the air” should happen between just the two former spouses IMO. You as the child certainly shouldn’t have to listen to that and I’m not sure their partners would want/need to, either.

    I opt out of just about every occasion possible where my parents will be in the same room. Maybe I’m a big jerk, but I’d opt out of something like this, too. If this will disrupt your inner peace, it’s okay to bow out. You’re their child, not their buffer or their facilitator, and they should be able to figure it without your involvement.

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Copa.
    #1110915 Reply
    Miss MJ

    Fellow child of divorced parents. This isn’t really something you should be involved in, frankly. Your parents should be able to manage themselves as adults at your freaking wedding after 20 years of divorce. If they need to have An Official Meeting beforehand, that’s their business, but you’ve got enough to do, so I’d tell them to do it without you.
    And, I disagree with Ron on one point – since your parents apparently cannot trust themselves to behave at your wedding without demanding that you facilitating a pre-wedding meet and greet, you absolutely should tell them you expect them to 100% behave themselves and do whatever they deem necessary to make that happen.

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