Author Topic: Post-separation invitation etiquette  (Read 5462 times)

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Hazelthyme

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Post-separation invitation etiquette
« on: December 26, 2012, 12:15:53 PM »
The scenario: Ann and Betty have been best friends throughout their adult lives. Betty stood up for Ann at Ann's wedding and vice-versa, each was at the hospital for the birth of the other's child, and so on. Each gets along well with the other's husband, and the two husbands get along with each other, so the two families socialize often, and spend birthdays and holidays together.

Sadly, Betty and her husband Bill are now separated, and in the process of divorcing. The split is as amicable as possible, and while one party made the final decision and initiated the separation, it isn't really anyone's fault. Bill has now started dating and become fairly seriously involved with someone else (Carol), although they are not presently living together. (Note that while Bill and Carol's relationship did begin soon after Bill and Betty separated, Bill was never unfaithful to Betty, and neither Carol nor any other third party had anything to do with the separation.) Ann and Betty continue to see each other regularly, both with and without their children and Ann's husband (Al). While Ann and Al socialized with Bill on several occasions immediately after he and Betty separated, they have not seen him socially since he and Carol began dating, and have never met Carol.

A milestone event for Ann and Al's daughter is approaching (think along the lines of first Communion, bat mitzvah, graduation, etc.), and they're planning a party to celebrate. What would be the most polite course of action?
 1) Invite both Bill and Betty separately, but not invite Carol -- after all, she and Bill are not presently engaged or living together, so they're not really an official social unit.
 2) Invite Betty, and invite Bill and Carol, as it's clear their relationship is a serious, exclusive one and they consider themselves a social unit. However, Carol should politely decline (concluding that a good-sized party with Betty and a number of Al and Ann's relatives in attendance isn't the best time to get to know Ann and Al) and urge Bill to attend without her if he wants.
 3) Invite Betty, and invite Bill and Carol. Since Bill and Carol were both invited, they can attend or not, as their schedules and interests allow.

What would you do if you were Ann? If you were Carol?

-HB

WillyNilly

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2012, 12:23:56 PM »
If I were Ann, I'd ask Betty what she'd prefer.  The two women are the original friendship and to date the strongest friendship and while friendly relations have been maintained with Bill, the friendship has changed a bit, whereas the friendship with Betty hasn't, so to me Ann & Betty's friendship and therefore Betty's comfort at Ann's family affairs, should be the first thing considered.

bonyk

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2012, 12:25:19 PM »
If I were Ann, I'd ask Betty what she'd prefer.  The two women are the original friendship and to date the strongest friendship and while friendly relations have been maintained with Bill, the friendship has changed a bit, whereas the friendship with Betty hasn't, so to me Ann & Betty's friendship and therefore Betty's comfort at Ann's family affairs, should be the first thing considered.

This is what I was going to say.

TurtleDove

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2012, 12:26:41 PM »
Since everyone is amicable and there are children between Betty and Bill, I would invite Betty and Bill/Carol.  Situations like this can be awkward, but reasonable adults should be able to deal, IMHO.  My serious BF has been at events also attended by my daughter's father, and I have attended events for my BF's kids also attended by his ex and her husband. I think they were both nervous the first time meeting, but they found common ground and recognize it isn't about them.  They're not BFFs or anything, but there is no sense in pretending the other does not exist or pretending the past didn't happpen. 

cheyne

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2012, 01:01:03 PM »
I would ask Betty how she feels first.  If Betty has no issues with Carol being invited, then Ann & Al have the option* of inviting her.  If Betty states that she doesn't want Carol invited, Carol shouldn't be.  There is no "social unit" rule here, Bill can't be a social unit with Carol as he is still married to Betty.

*Ann and Al may not want to invite Carol to the milestone event since they have not met her previously.  Ann & Al may want to get to know (or at least meet) Carol in a more intimate setting before hosting her at a large event for one of their children.


rose red

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2012, 01:09:44 PM »
2) Invite Betty, and invite Bill and Carol, as it's clear their relationship is a serious, exclusive one and they consider themselves a social unit. However, Carol should politely decline (concluding that a good-sized party with Betty and a number of Al and Ann's relatives in attendance isn't the best time to get to know Ann and Al) and urge Bill to attend without her if he wants.

I wouldn't do this one.  Either invite Carol or don't, but don't invite her hoping she'll play her part and decline like she "should." 

bah12

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2012, 01:57:41 PM »
Since this is a milestone celebration for Anne's child, then the relationship with the child should be considered.  If Bill and Betty both have a relationship with the child, then both should be invited.  As for Carol, that depends...would Anne allow Betty to bring a date if she wanted?  Are others not living together/not engaged also allowed to bring dates?  Bill should get the same respect as everyone else. 

Betty and Bill are adults and seem to be treating their separation as classy adults.  If I were Anne, I would assume that they both will continue to act like civilized adults and invite both of them plus guests (if the party allows).


Mikayla

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2012, 02:58:25 PM »
Who old is the daughter?  I'm asking because I'm not sure I think the social unit rule comes into play when the couple in question consists of the Guest of Honor's father and the father's girl friend.  She may not want a milestone celebration event marred by potential awkwardness, even if most of it is coming from herself. 

So I think Betty should talk to Ann about it before making any decisions.

lowspark

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2012, 03:25:56 PM »
If I were Ann, I'd ask Betty what she'd prefer.  The two women are the original friendship and to date the strongest friendship and while friendly relations have been maintained with Bill, the friendship has changed a bit, whereas the friendship with Betty hasn't, so to me Ann & Betty's friendship and therefore Betty's comfort at Ann's family affairs, should be the first thing considered.

Yup. That was my first thought too.

TurtleDove

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2012, 03:45:09 PM »
How is it known that Carol and Bill are fairly seriously involved?  I assume Betty is aware her STBX has a new girlfriend. I think it would be sad to essentially pick sides when Betty and Bill are themselves amicable.  I would be mildly offended if I were Betty and it was assumed that I couldn't face the fact my ex had moved on.

Poppea

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2012, 04:28:18 PM »
Bill and Betty are still MARRIED.  Therefore it is impossible for him to be part of a social unit with anyone else.  Invite Betty.  Ask her if its okay to invite Bill by himself.  Do not invite the girlfriend of a married man to the same party as his wife. 

NyaChan

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2012, 04:31:44 PM »
If I were Ann - ask Betty what she would prefer, but don't invite Carol with the hope that she will decline.  If she is invited, then she should be welcomed.

If I were Carol - if invited, I don't see why I should decline if I felt comfortable attending.  If Bill thinks that it won't cause trouble, then I would go. 

- note, we don't know if the OP is Ann, Betty, or Carol right?
« Last Edit: December 26, 2012, 04:33:46 PM by NyaChan »

TurtleDove

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2012, 04:39:49 PM »
Bill and Betty are still MARRIED.  Therefore it is impossible for him to be part of a social unit with anyone else.  Invite Betty.  Ask her if its okay to invite Bill by himself.  Do not invite the girlfriend of a married man to the same party as his wife.

I would agree with this if they were not separated and actively in the process of an amicable divorce, especially because Carol had nothing to do with the separation or divorce.  I would feel completely differently if Carol contributed to the breakup or if either Bill or Betty had hard feelings about the divorce.  From the information we have, it seems Bill and Betty are not bitter so I see no reason to make things awkward for people who like them both.  Personally, I would want to be trusted to handle situations as an adult, which to me means accepting that the marriage is over (even though the papers are not final) and being cordial and friendly to my ex-spouse and his new SO. Presumably, Betty's kids are around Carol so I see no reason why she would not want to be friendly with her.

Poppea

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2012, 05:23:33 PM »
Bill and Betty are still MARRIED.  Therefore it is impossible for him to be part of a social unit with anyone else.  Invite Betty.  Ask her if its okay to invite Bill by himself.  Do not invite the girlfriend of a married man to the same party as his wife.

I would agree with this if they were not separated and actively in the process of an amicable divorce, especially because Carol had nothing to do with the separation or divorce.  I would feel completely differently if Carol contributed to the breakup or if either Bill or Betty had hard feelings about the divorce.  From the information we have, it seems Bill and Betty are not bitter so I see no reason to make things awkward for people who like them both.  Personally, I would want to be trusted to handle situations as an adult, which to me means accepting that the marriage is over (even though the papers are not final) and being cordial and friendly to my ex-spouse and his new SO. Presumably, Betty's kids are around Carol so I see no reason why she would not want to be friendly with her.

I disagree.  No one really knows how Betty would feel if he say her husband with his girlfriend.  She might be okay with it or it might hurt her feelings greatly.  She might be okay with it one day but not the next.  Divorce, even an amicable one is a highly emotionally fraught time.

Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but marriage actually means something to me.  This is a family event.  I wouldn't want Betty's kids to have to deal with dad's girlfriend before the divorce was final nor would I want to have to explain to my kids that the lady holding hands with Mr. Smith is his new girlfriend even though the Smith's aren't divorced yet.  Either you are married or you aren't.  If you are still married you are absolutely not part of any other social unit.

Also wanted to add that it seems that the relationship is about Betty and her friend.  The husbands don't seem to have an independent relationship with each other.  It would never ever occur to me to invite Bruce and his new girlfriend to the party even if they were divorced. He doesn't sound that close to the hosts independent of Betty.  I would wager that the question is being asked on behalf of Carol who was not invited to the party.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2012, 05:30:36 PM by Anthera »

AllTheThings

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Re: Post-separation invitation etiquette
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2012, 05:39:05 PM »
Bill and Betty are still MARRIED.  Therefore it is impossible for him to be part of a social unit with anyone else.  Invite Betty.  Ask her if its okay to invite Bill by himself.  Do not invite the girlfriend of a married man to the same party as his wife.

I would agree with this if they were not separated and actively in the process of an amicable divorce, especially because Carol had nothing to do with the separation or divorce.  I would feel completely differently if Carol contributed to the breakup or if either Bill or Betty had hard feelings about the divorce.  From the information we have, it seems Bill and Betty are not bitter so I see no reason to make things awkward for people who like them both.  Personally, I would want to be trusted to handle situations as an adult, which to me means accepting that the marriage is over (even though the papers are not final) and being cordial and friendly to my ex-spouse and his new SO. Presumably, Betty's kids are around Carol so I see no reason why she would not want to be friendly with her.

I disagree.  No one really knows how Betty would feel if he say her husband with his girlfriend.  She might be okay with it or it might hurt her feelings greatly.  She might be okay with it one day but not the next.  Divorce, even an amicable one is a highly emotionally fraught time.

Maybe I'm a traditionalist, but marriage actually means something to me.  This is a family event.  I wouldn't want Betty's kids to have to deal with dad's girlfriend before the divorce was final nor would I want to have to explain to my kids that the lady holding hands with Mr. Smith is his new girlfriend even though the Smith's aren't divorced yet.  Either you are married or you aren't.  If you are still married you are absolutely not part of any other social unit.


I'm sure the marriage also meant something to Betty and Bill. I would invite Carol with Bill if Betty said it was okay. There doesn't seem to be any point in pretending that Betty and Bill are still in a relationship.