No Matter How Thin You Slice It, There Are Always Two Sides To The Bologna

by admin on March 2, 2011

I am writing this on behalf of my boyfriend, let’s call him Pete, who experienced a series of grave etiquette mishaps. His best friend from college, Tom, who also served as Best Man at his wedding, announced his engagement two weeks before Pete ended his marriage. During the two weeks after the announcement, Tom asked Pete to be his best man and Pete accepted.

Over the next couple months, Pete moved out of the home he shared with his ex-wife. Tom was fully aware that Pete no longer lived there. But every time he came to town he insisted on visiting the divorced couple’s old home with his fiance. He would call Pete, from his ex wife’s home, and inquire as to why he was not present. Pete thought this was strange but carried on preparing to be Tom’s best man. Pete was also friends with both the groom and bride-to-be on Facebook. He could see very plainly that they were very enthusiastically planning their wedding. As the months passed, Pete heard less and less from Tom.

A couple months before the wedding, Pete received a call from his ex-wife. She received an invitation addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Pete. She wanted to know how they should go about responding. Pete was floored that nearly a year after ending his marriage his best friend would send an invitation for both him and his ex-wife to his old house. Pete was never invited otherwise. He also never heard anything further about being in the bridal party – let alone being the best man.

Pete, still wanting to honor his relationship with Tom, found the couple’s registry information online. He bought the couple a gift and wrote a very sincere note of congratulations which he signed by himself. He drove the three hours to the wedding ceremony. He dropped his gift off on the gift table at the reception. He said his hellos and gave his congratulations to the newlyweds and left. He didn’t stay at the reception because (a) he had not technically been invited and therefore had not RSVPed and (b) his ex-wife was there and insisted on interacting with him as if everything was OK.

A few months later, the bride’s facebook status said that she was relieved to have completed all of her thank you cards. Predictably, Pete never received one. He is unsure if they simply didn’t send one or if they sent it to his ex-wife. It was also possible that the couple, who is staunchly religious and clearly disapproved of Pete having left his wife, decided not to accept the gift. Whatever the case, Pete never heard anything about it.

About six months after the wedding, Tom called and invited Pete to a luncheon for his birthday (which also happens to be Pete’s birthday). Pete and I drove three hours to attend this luncheon. Upon arrival, we quickly realized that it was a not a luncheon but Tom, his new wife and his parents having lunch at a chain restaurant. The lunch was awkward but Pete tried to make the best of it. Tom and his wife spent a deal of time talking about the get together they’d had at their house the day before with a group of their friends. As we were leaving, Tom was getting something out of his trunk and there, amongst a bunch of crap, was the gift Pete left at their wedding.

Furthering our dismay, the couple invited their parents back to their house to hang out since they’d driven half an hour to be there. Tom told Pete that he would invite him back to spend more time with him, but that there wasn’t any parking at their house. Pete has been to the couple’s apartment multiple times and there was plenty of parking. Tom also mentioned that their apartment was too small for company which was strange given that they’d just had a gathering there the day before. If they didn’t want us to come, they had no reason to invite Pete to make a 6 hour, round trip, drive in the first place.

I feel like there is more to this story than meets the eye because the actions of Tom and his wife are those of people purposely shunning someone from their social circle in response to behavior they cannot reconcile or condone as appropriate.  Why?   Did Pete end his marriage to his ex-wife in order to be with his mistress?

OP, you wrote that Tom “invited Pete” to a luncheon with no mention or indication that the invitation was extended to you as well.   If you tagged along with Pete to a luncheon date you were not initially invited to attend, I can definitely see the hosts turning down the hospitality temperature to the freezing zone.

{ 67 comments… read them below or add one }

Bint March 3, 2011 at 11:46 am

I find Tom, his wife and Pete’s ex-wife’s behaviour rather creepy and unnatural.

If I were Pete’s ex-wife I’d be deeply insulted at Tom’s behaviour – ringing my ex, expecting to meet at my house etc. Or at the least, surprised/confused.

This is weird.

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Elizabeth March 3, 2011 at 12:38 pm

OP, thanks for answering my questions. While admin is right about knowing you will attend and inviting you are different (and could maybe explain that part), the rest of the story truly baffles me. It kind of sounds like Tom was meddling in Pete’s divorce. Honestly, he should have just washed his hands of Tom before the wedding. “I’m sorry, but I am going to have to back out of the wedding. I can’t preform my duties if I am brushed off. And I CANNOT be friends with someone who so blatantly disregards my feelings as you have during this painful time in my life. The fact that you continuously insist that I be around me ex shows me just how little you care. Have a good life and wonderful marriage, but leave me in peace.”

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Lola March 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm

It seems to me there were 2 discrete levels of etiquette violations going on here: Pete’s seem to have stemmed mainly from cluelessness, but Tom’s appear malicious with the intent to hurt and humiliate Pete and his significant others (both past* and present).

* If I were Pete’s ex-wife and got a wedding invitation a full year after divorce addressed to both of us (plus intervening visits to my home by my ex’s friends), my reaction would have been that of WTF move on already. That stuff is humiliating to both Pete and his ex.

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TheBardess March 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm

“He didn’t stay at the reception because… his ex-wife was there and insisted on interacting with him as if everything was OK.”

What was she supposed to do? Yell and scream and make a scene? Jump up on the table and yell insults at him? What exactly was so wrong about her being friendly and polite?

“Upon arrival, we quickly realized that it was a not a luncheon but Tom, his new wife and his parents having lunch at a chain restaurant.”

Wait, how is several people having lunch together not a luncheon? I’m confused…but honestly, everybody’s behavior in this story is just…off. I got a weird vibe from the whole thing.

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Beth March 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Strange behavior all around.
Except, IMO, the ex-wife at the wedding: “his ex-wife was there and insisted on interacting with him as if everything was OK.”
So…instead of ignoring/arguing and making it awkward for everyone else? How dare she!

I’m also puzzled by the problem with the luncheon. I’m not really sure why there’s a problem with lunch at a chain restaurant. It was also Tom’s birthday, so Pete could have sent his regrets and celebrated with his girlfriend.

My point: While the OP is taking the “how could they do this to my boyfriend??!” angle, I think she needs to realize that it’s not all about him. Yes, the others’ behavior is strange, but he is an active participant in all the weirdness.

And I would love to have more details about the wedding gift. As in, “In retrospect, it wasn’t *that* unusual they would keep the car emergency kit Pete gave them in the trunk”.

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karmabottle March 3, 2011 at 9:28 pm

“He would call Pete, from his ex wife’s home, and inquire as to why he was not present.
This sounds like nonsense to me. I don’t believe it.

“Pete was never invited otherwise.”
But….if his wife called to tell him that he’d gotten mail, then actually he *was* invited. He just decided not to RSVP because the invitation went to his old address.

“Tom was getting something out of his trunk and there, amongst a bunch of crap, was the gift Pete left at their wedding.”
This is about the only part of the story that sound plausible. I’ve known people to passively-aggressively leave gifts unopened for months at a time.

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RMMuir March 4, 2011 at 6:18 am

@The Bardess

It sounds like she insisted on making conversation with him like there was nothing wrong. He maybe just wanted to stay out her way? If it was a largish wedding party then they could easily have both spent some time there without needing to spend much time in each other’s company. It’s not like the only options were “interacting with him as if everything was OK” or “Yell and scream and make a scene”.

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Jillybean March 4, 2011 at 6:59 pm

I have to say I am truly baffled by all the people who think that sending an invitation to an address that you 100% positively KNOW without a shadow of a doubt is not the person’s home counts as inviting them to anything. If people want to argue that Pete didn’t need an invitation because he was the best man, I could buy that. But to address it to him and his ex-wife and sending it to an address he doesn’t live at is not an invitation, it’s an insult, and I’m shocked at the number of you that think it’s acceptable.

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Vicki March 6, 2011 at 7:55 am

We don’t know why Pete and his wife divorced: for all we can tell here, she was having an affair (but not with someone who wanted to move in with her when he left), or one of them had a drinking problem and the other got fed up with it.

There is so little communication here that I suspect this falls under “you were never really friends in the first place” rather than “this friendship was messed up by how people behaved during a divorce.” I wonder why Pete was asked to be best man. Reputation for organizing things well? Someone thought he would “look” right, when a much older or younger friend or relative would stand out. Avoiding a family fight by not choosing one brother over another?

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Kai March 8, 2011 at 7:21 am

So let me get this straight. A man and woman get divorced, man moves out, and woman seems to be friendly toward him and his friends. So somehow this means that he must be a cheat and the OP must be a homewrecker. And that all the rudeness on the part of Tom and his wife must be Pete’s fault for being a cheat.

I really don’t understand where this giant leap of assumption came from. There is nothing in this story that would suggest this. In fact I really do not know any woman that would be so forgiving as the ex-wife in this story if her marriage had broken up because her husband had cheated.

The man leaving does not instantly mean that his marriage break down is all his fault and that he must have cheated. Sometimes couples really do just become frustrated and unhappy and cannot get past that. Or maybe the wife had done something that hurt him and he couldn’t forgive her? We just don’t know. If this was switched, that is, if it was the exact same story but it was the wife who had left the marriage and the house and was being treated badly by friends, would anyone here be assuming that she had been having an affair?

As I read this story, it sounded to me like Pete left an unhappy marriage, and his friend Tom chose to interfere. Either he was so conservative that he doesn’t approve of divorce for any reason, or perhaps the idea of his friends divorce scared him about his own future. Or a combination. People do get like this. It sounds like he chose to keep trying to put the exes into contact again in hopes of making them reconcile, and it sounds like the ex-wife may have been in on this. Maybe she hadn’t yet let go of her marriage and would rather remain in the unhappy marriage than to be alone? And at first I too thought the idea of her making nice at the wedding didn’t sound horrible. But then we don’t know what was meant by that. Perhaps if the plan was indeed to make the exes reconcile, she may have been pretending a little TOO much about she and her ex being ‘friendly’. If that is the case, I can understand why he wouldn’t want to be there.

As for the OP, there is nothing to suggest that she knew anyone involved until after Pete’s divorce. Just because she is dating him now, does not mean she was dating him while he was still married. I think it’s rather unfair to accuse her of such without reason. There are plenty of people who have left unhappy marriages on their own accord, and later started dating someone else. So unless we are going to accuse EVERY person who has dated someone who was previously married, then we really shouldn’t make the accusation here.

According to the OP, Tom knew that she was coming to the luncheon, and would obviously have known Pete’s birthday, and known how long the drive would be. It sounds like he is petty and cruel and decided it would be fun to make Pete spend his entire birthday driving around just so Tom can rub it in his face that he isn’t wanted.

Pete could have stood up for himself better. But that doesn’t make any of what Tom, his wife and Pete’s ex-wife did any less cruel.

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Cindy March 8, 2011 at 9:35 am

This is my take on the situation:

Basics: Tom was friends with Pete and (ex) wife, since he was in their wedding
Tom probably did not know about Pete ending his marriage when he asked Pete to be his
best man
Tom and his fiance’ very much disapproved of Pete LEAVING HIS WIFE

Probable Resulting Thoughts:
Tom and his fiancé were sympathetic with Pete’s ex-wife, not Pete
Tom feeling regret over Best Man invite, and got out of it by gradually withdrawing from Pete
Tom and fiancé did not want to cut Pete out entirely, but would treat Pete as though he should be at home and married. (Not going to his current home, sending invite to him at ex-wife’s house, not inviting his gf to wedding.)

Pete’s Probable Thoughts (probably exacerbated by gf’s feelings):
Pete disgruntled that his girlfriend was not invited as his guest, his ex-wife was
Pete aggravated because people at reception might think he was still was with his wife, or wondering why he was so stupid for leaving someone who seemed so nice.

Luncheon:
Perhaps Tom felt a little guilty about how the situation went with Pete, and wanted to make it up by inviting him to lunch.
Perhaps Tom became aggravated that Pete brought his girlfriend to his luncheon when he knew Pete was aware that Tom and wife didn’t approve, nor did Tom invite her.

Side Question: Why were Pete and girlfriend so close to Tom’s trunk they could inspect its contents?

Only obvious faux pas:

Tom not explaining why he no longer wanted Pete as Best Man.
Lying to Pete about lack of parking space, when they should have said nothing. All they had to do was part company. On a side note, there is probable cause to think Pete would have been invited had he showed up at the luncheon without his girlfriend.

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the Not-so-Divine-Miss-M March 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm

“Tom and fiancé did not want to cut Pete out entirely, but would treat Pete as though he should be at home and married”

Oh, but this IS a faux pas! As close friends, we can/may risk looking our friends in the eyes and saying “we think you’re making a huge mistake” but if you’re so disgruntled with a friend’s life decisions, you either tell him straight up, cut him out completely or inform him that you don’t feel you can associate with him/her. Continuing as if nothing has changed is disrespectful, as if one would shape a friend’s behaviour by simply refusing to acknowledge any change thought indesirable.

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Cindy March 9, 2011 at 2:41 pm

To ‘the Not-so-Divine-Miss-M’–

Very true! I should have included that under the list of faux pas! Thanks for correcting my oversight :-)

Cindy

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RP March 22, 2011 at 11:22 am

I have to agree with the posters who think that Tom was meddling in Pete’s divorce from his wife. Insisting that they hang out with his ex in her home? Sending the invite to his ex-wife and addressed to them as a couple? Is it just me or are there “Parent Trap” vibes all over this?

I’m also similarly baffled that two people who are supposed to be friends can’t just talk to each other about what the deal is. Frankly, Pete should have put his foot down over going to his ex-wife’s house after the first time and asked him why they couldn’t meet elsewhere.

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ladycrim March 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm

My first thought was that Tom didn’t want to tell his fiancee that Pete was divorcing, for whatever reason (maybe he or she thought having a divorced best man was bad luck?), and was trying to pretend that nothing had happened. “Well, here we are at Pete and Jan’s house! What? Pete’s not home? That crazy guy, let me call him!”

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