Author Topic: Mentioning the past?  (Read 2507 times)

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Take2

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Mentioning the past?
« on: November 18, 2012, 04:07:57 PM »
BG: Ex and his wife and my new husband and I are all on pleasant terms. We aren't best buds, but we chat pleasantly at events we all attend for the kids, and we meet periodically to discuss kid issues that need addressed as a team.

Several times, I have had the odd situation that in discussing or mentioning anything that happened more than 4 years ago, ex and I were together. So anything I share will involve ex and I as a couple. We were married 10 years, dated for 3, and have only been apart 3, so really the vast majority of my adult life was as part of that couple.

When I am away from ex, as I generally am, I just leave him out of the story and say "when I lived in X place, Y was my favorite part," or "one time on vacation, Z happened to me." But when ex is there, I can't pretend that it happened to just me. I can't say "I" when talking about parenting the kids, it will offend him. But I feel weird mentioning things that happened to US with his new wife there, like she might think I am laying claim to him or trying to make her feel bad. I am not. I just feel my hands are tied for chit-chat if I have to  ignore 13 years of my life and the entire babyhood of both of my kids.

This weekend, new wife was telling me she saw a celebrity. I said "that is so cool. The most famous person I ever saw was B when ex and I were in C." Then ex chimed in and we discussed. I seemed OK, but I felt awkward.

So, is it rude to mention? Like if we are at an event and a mother says "Oh, Z has always loved to run since he was a baby," I might reply "I know how you feel, we had to get a leash for R because she never stopped running."

Roe

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 04:12:11 PM »
I don't see how saying "I saw B when I was in C" is rude.  I mean, I'm sure she knows you were both together at that point.  But there's really no need to bring it up unless it is important to the discussion and in your example, it wasn't.

ETA: It wasn't rude in the "leash" example.  It makes sense, after all, you are both parents to the same children.  But I wouldn't continue saying "we" if it's not important to the discussion.

GSNW

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 05:33:04 PM »
It seems to me like you're being careful in these situations, and I don't see anything wrong with you mentioning things that happened when you and your ex were still a couple.  The fact that you guys are all on good terms seems to compound the likelihood that you are not causing offense.  If there were tensions then I would say those comments could be seen as a snarky remark, but it's just chit-chat and friendly talk, yes?  I guess what I'm saying is that the tone of the relationship seems to mean that the interpretation of your stories is that they are just benevolent comments.  And kudos to you guys for getting along so well!

Take2

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 05:46:04 PM »
It's a thin veneer, I am hopeful that the careful niceness can grow to real niceness over time, though. I don't want to jeopardize that.

I feel like I am rude either way. If I speak in the singular about things that happened with ex, it could hurt ex's feelings. Especially if it involves the kids, as he is sensitive about being around less and possibly getting excluded as the non-custodial parent. If I talk about it as we, then that just feels disrespectful to his wife. Plus, it feels rude to other bystanders because it is confusing and brings up an uncomfortable truth that I used to be married to that guy there and am now married to this other guy here.

NutMeg

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 06:25:05 PM »
I think the kids are probably a more obvious reminder that the two of you were together. She seems to be able to deal with it, so I wouldn't worry about mentioning situations that happened while you were still with your ex. Just be matter of fact about it.
"You're hostages! This is a life-and-death situation here. Start acting like it! We're your captors. We're armed. There's rules. There's a whole school of etiquette to this!" - Dr. Daniel Jackson                

Winterlight

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 06:51:27 PM »
If it's germane to the conversation then I'd mention it.
If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.
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LifeOnPluto

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 09:47:36 PM »
Take2, it sounds like you're handling things really well. I personally would be doing the same as you - trying not to "reminisce" about the times we were a couple.

I think the right way to say it is: "When I was in ABC city, I saw XYZ" rather than "When we were in ABC city, Ex and I saw XYZ. Do you remember that, Ex? It was just after we'd had dinner at that lovely Italian restaurant, and I wore the blue dress. The one you really liked on me. etc."

Take2

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2012, 10:57:30 PM »
When I have mentioned things, I have always been very matter of fact. And truthfully, I have no gooey memories of romantic moments and no wistfullness, so that helps.  It is just that if the topic of skydiving or parasailing or stomping grapes or moving to my current city comes up, my relevant experience is also HIS relevant experience. It would seem weird for me to say in front of him "I went skydiving" when we both know we went together with his Grandma. It would similarly seem weird for him to say he went parasailing since we both know we went parasailing at my good friend's destination wedding. Since we both want to join in the small-talk, we will both be talking about the same event. As time goes by and I skydive/parasail/stomp grapes again with my now (and forever)-husband, I will just mention the more recent experience.

Being divorced has brought me a lot of delicate etiquette details I never would have imagined before!

rashea

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2012, 11:09:25 AM »
This is probably something it might be worth bringing up with him. Ask how he'd like you to handle it. State that, "I don't want to make it sound like you weren't there, but I don't want to hurt new-wife either." He's possibly even feeling the same way.
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TootsNYC

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2012, 01:04:24 PM »

This weekend, new wife was telling me she saw a celebrity. I said "that is so cool. The most famous person I ever saw was B when ex and I were in C." Then ex chimed in and we discussed. I seemed OK, but I felt awkward.

So, is it rude to mention? Like if we are at an event and a mother says "Oh, Z has always loved to run since he was a baby," I might reply "I know how you feel, we had to get a leash for R because she never stopped running."

Maybe you should experiment with *not* contributing your personal anecdote when the ex's new wife is there?

Especially when it's not a parenting thing. With the baby leash, "we" doesn't necessarily mean your ex; it could mean "me, and the baby, and the baby's dad, and the grandparents--the entire family unit." You all ended up involved in getting that leash. So w/ parenting, the "we" isn't as weird.

But the seeing a celebrity--you could probably just not mention it.

I found myself deciding to do that in some situation in which I was sort of worried about "stealing someone's spotlight." And when I did it a few times, I realized that the conversation wasn't missing anything important after all.

And you could mention it to your ex, if only to clue him in that  you're not disregarding him but are trying to be considerate of his wife.

Hmmmmm

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Re: Mentioning the past?
« Reply #10 on: November 19, 2012, 04:52:23 PM »
BG: Ex and his wife and my new husband and I are all on pleasant terms. We aren't best buds, but we chat pleasantly at events we all attend for the kids, and we meet periodically to discuss kid issues that need addressed as a team.

Several times, I have had the odd situation that in discussing or mentioning anything that happened more than 4 years ago, ex and I were together. So anything I share will involve ex and I as a couple. We were married 10 years, dated for 3, and have only been apart 3, so really the vast majority of my adult life was as part of that couple.

When I am away from ex, as I generally am, I just leave him out of the story and say "when I lived in X place, Y was my favorite part," or "one time on vacation, Z happened to me." But when ex is there, I can't pretend that it happened to just me. I can't say "I" when talking about parenting the kids, it will offend him. But I feel weird mentioning things that happened to US with his new wife there, like she might think I am laying claim to him or trying to make her feel bad. I am not. I just feel my hands are tied for chit-chat if I have to  ignore 13 years of my life and the entire babyhood of both of my kids.

This weekend, new wife was telling me she saw a celebrity. I said "that is so cool. The most famous person I ever saw was B when ex and I were in C." Then ex chimed in and we discussed. I seemed OK, but I felt awkward.

So, is it rude to mention? Like if we are at an event and a mother says "Oh, Z has always loved to run since he was a baby," I might reply "I know how you feel, we had to get a leash for R because she never stopped running."

In neither of the examples you gave do I feel that it was necessary to mention your Ex.  In the first, it would have been just as accurate to say "I saw B when I was in C."  Then Ex can say "Oh I remember that" if he wants to bring up it occured when the two of you were together. 

Even in your second example, it would have been just a normal to say "I had to use a leash with R". 

You independently saw the person, it didn't take the two of you and I'm assuming the two of you weren't holding the leash at the same time. 

The only time I think it might have been required to mention your Ex would be to say something like "I met B when Ex accidently hit him when we were visiting C."  or "Ex and I spent a lot of time deciding on the school for the kids."