Author Topic: A divorce etiquette question  (Read 6010 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Jaelle

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1499
A divorce etiquette question
« on: February 05, 2013, 09:18:33 PM »
This is on behalf of a friend.

A close relative of hers is getting divorced. The relative and her soon-to-be-ex-spouse have three children, all under 10. Because of various issues, the five all still live under the same roof. Friend is uncertain how much longer that is expected to last ... or if the kids even know about the situation. From what she says, it's pretty tense in that house.  :-\

Her relative is expecting everyone in the family to invite the soon-to-be-ex-spouse to all family events that he would normally attend with the family. Tension and all. Those who question this are told it's for the good of the kids. Friend is doubtful of this, and resentful that this is expected. However, she said she also figures it's none of her business how they manage their relationship. So she wonders if she should grin and bear it and invite the guy (and all the underlying drama that involves) or somehow say, well, he's not family now, sorry. (Which sounds awful!)

How would you handle this if you were a family member?

I'll answer any questions I can, though I may have to refer to friend for most details. Thanks.
“She was already learning that if you ignore the rules people will, half the time, quietly rewrite them so that they don't apply to you.”
― Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21426
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2013, 09:34:17 PM »
I think that if the wife wanted everyone to act as if the couple was still married they probably should have kept the divorce a secret.    I think that maybe if I were a family member I would decrease the number of events any of them were invited to until this phase of the divorce had passed.

sparksals

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 17348
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2013, 10:20:24 PM »
They are still a social unit and not officially divorced.  How would the children feel to be excluded?  Until they are no longer a unit, then it is no one's business to judge.


SiotehCat

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3706
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2013, 10:38:11 PM »
My parents did something similar to this, but without the getting divorced part.

When I was a child, my parents decided they no longer wanted to be together. They continued to live together because they never wanted our family to be split up. I didn't find out until I was a teenager.

I don't know how many of our relatives knew. I'm glad that I got to grow up with both of my parents in the same house.

For the family in the OP, I don't see how it would be a big deal to continue to issue them invitations as a family.

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21426
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2013, 10:42:36 PM »
They are still a social unit and not officially divorced.  How would the children feel to be excluded?  Until they are no longer a unit, then it is no one's business to judge.

It sounds like they have been invited to judge but then are asked to continue to pretend that the situation is something that it isn't.  The family has been told all about the divorce, the tension, etc.  To me that sounds like they have been asked to take sides.  Now, in a lot of circumstances I wouldn't be shocked by that.  When you are feeling hurt/sad/angry you share the details with your loved ones and hope they will be on your side.  However, I think it is unfair to share the details and then expect them to act like the situation is somethign that it isn't, that they don't know about the tensions, etc.

johelenc1

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1858
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2013, 10:44:18 PM »
I think until someone moves out of the house, family members should continue to invite everyone.   I knew someone once who was "separated" under the same roof - mostly because they didn't have any money to move out.  It was 20 years ago.  They are still married.


sparksals

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 17348
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 10:45:03 PM »
There are children involved.   How would they feel if Dad was excluded when they don't know the family situation?  It doesn't matter if the family has been given heads up or not.  The kids matter most.  It sounds like this is why they are putting on the facade. 

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21426
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 10:49:02 PM »
There are children involved.   How would they feel if Dad was excluded when they don't know the family situation?  It doesn't matter if the family has been given heads up or not.  The kids matter most.  It sounds like this is why they are putting on the facade.

If there really is tension in the home they might feel relieved not having to pretend in front of the entire extended family that everything is hunkydorey.  Ideally the mom would not have told the family the situation was y if she wanted everyone to carry on as if it was x.  That is unfair to everyone else. 

sparksals

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 17348
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 10:52:25 PM »
So everyone else is more important than the kids.  Gotcha.

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21426
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2013, 10:57:54 PM »
So everyone else is more important than the kids.  Gotcha.

Never said that.  If the parents decide the best way to take care of the kids is to pretend the situation is X then why tell the rest of the family it is Y only to then ask them to then carry on as if it is X.  If they want the family to carry on as if it is X, why on earth wouldn't they just let the rest of the family believe it was X?

Gwywnnydd

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1648
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2013, 10:58:13 PM »
Two things come to mind for me.
First, he will continue to be their father, regardless of what his relationship with their mother turns out to be. Is he going to be shunned by half their family?
Second, it's entirely possible that the tension wont arise in 'public', around extended family. My ex and I were able to go to gatherings together for months after we decided the divorce was happening, and we were able to play nice.

Yvaine

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 8855
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 11:00:24 PM »
So everyone else is more important than the kids.  Gotcha.

I don't think that's necessary, nor was that what anyone was trying to say.

I don't know the particulars of the situation in the OP (for example, the OP mentions that she doesn't know whether the kids know about the split, so as a stranger I surely don't know!). But I'll use myself as an example. My parents fought incessantly from when I was about 10 till they finally separated when I was 16. It was a bad, bad situation. And then when they did separate, they pretended for about a year to not be separated. It made it kind of a dirty secret that I didn't feel comfortable sharing--because I knew, but also knew they weren't talking about it--and so I had trouble confiding in my friends about it. "The best thing for the kids" does not always equate to staying together or to pretending to stay together. I was relieved when they finally divorced.

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21426
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2013, 11:01:42 PM »
Two things come to mind for me.
First, he will continue to be their father, regardless of what his relationship with their mother turns out to be. Is he going to be shunned by half their family?
Second, it's entirely possible that the tension wont arise in 'public', around extended family. My ex and I were able to go to gatherings together for months after we decided the divorce was happening, and we were able to play nice.

I think in a lot of cases if Sue Smith and Jerry Jones divirce then the Smiths do not generally invite Jerry to the Smith family renunions, no.  I think it can be done but OP mentioned that there is tension in the home so inviting them bothe menas the tension comes with them.  In a case like yours people probalby did not feel tension.

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21426
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2013, 11:04:03 PM »
So everyone else is more important than the kids.  Gotcha.

I don't think that's necessary, nor was that what anyone was trying to say.

I don't know the particulars of the situation in the OP (for example, the OP mentions that she doesn't know whether the kids know about the split, so as a stranger I surely don't know!). But I'll use myself as an example. My parents fought incessantly from when I was about 10 till they finally separated when I was 16. It was a bad, bad situation. And then when they did separate, they pretended for about a year to not be separated. It made it kind of a dirty secret that I didn't feel comfortable sharing--because I knew, but also knew they weren't talking about it--and so I had trouble confiding in my friends about it. "The best thing for the kids" does not always equate to staying together or to pretending to stay together. I was relieved when they finally divorced.

Additionally, If I am expetced to treat people like they are married, I would find it a whole lot easrier to carry it off if they just didn't tell me they were getting divorced. 

WillyNilly

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 7490
  • Mmmmm, food
    • The World as I Taste It
Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2013, 11:09:20 PM »
So everyone else is more important than the kids.  Gotcha.

I don't think that's necessary, nor was that what anyone was trying to say.

I don't know the particulars of the situation in the OP (for example, the OP mentions that she doesn't know whether the kids know about the split, so as a stranger I surely don't know!). But I'll use myself as an example. My parents fought incessantly from when I was about 10 till they finally separated when I was 16. It was a bad, bad situation. And then when they did separate, they pretended for about a year to not be separated. It made it kind of a dirty secret that I didn't feel comfortable sharing--because I knew, but also knew they weren't talking about it--and so I had trouble confiding in my friends about it. "The best thing for the kids" does not always equate to staying together or to pretending to stay together. I was relieved when they finally divorced.

The best thing my parents ever did for our famiy was finally divorce.  Sometimes divorce for the sake of the kids is the better path they staying together and making a miserable home.


Back on topic, I think the family should judge events on a case by case basis and err on the side of inclusion, but not necessarily invite the STBX to everything.  Big family party withe 50+ people?  Invite STBX, he'll get lost in the crowd chatting on the other side of the room.  Sunday dinner with grandparents?  Ok to leave him out occasionally.