Well, I have returned from the adventure in family dynamics. The wedding was, after a minor dress mishap that delayed the ceremony for a little while, nothing out of the ordinary. Eldest son did not attend. Youngest son was in the wedding, as was new step-daughter. I got to visit with some relatives I haven't seen in years.
I saw Eldest son a couple days later, when he brought the baby to swim at another sister's pool. GF was not there. Eldest son and I had an opportunity to chat casually about things, and I told him that I could see both sides of the issue. He told me that he was unsure about his relationship
with GF, as he has had to turn down certain career opportunities, because she will not agree to leave the immediate area for any reason - even if it means he would making more than enough money to support the three of them and able to visit often, vs staying where they are, and being unemployed or working odd jobs with teenager wages, that have nothing to do with his degree or his being able to provide for his new family. He is feeling rather frustrated and a bit trapped.
I told him he needed to work it out if he can with her. It was important. But if they couldn't work it out, remember that wives and girlfriends may come and go, but moms - and daughters/children - are forever. He should not give up on his dreams, because that will only cause even more resentment toward GF later. AND just because "Mom" will always be "Mom," that DOES NOT give her (or him) the right to behave like an bacon-fed knave. He wants to take care of his little girl, but he can't do it the way he should be, if he continues turning down opportunities to make life better for all concerned. She's (GF) going to have to come to the party on a commitment to their new family as well. If not, sooner or later, he will have to make a decision, so that he can take care of his daughter - and any future children with whomever else (preferably a loving wife and supportive partner) - financially. He's not asking her to move to another part of the world and never see anyone again. I understand completely, having been through several corporate cross-country moves with my former husband. (My divorce was due to his infidelity, NOT our moving away from family.) You work it out and GO, because that's what's best for the family you've created together. (Unless the other spouse is a doctor or lawyer - or something of that nature - with an established practice, making even bigger bucks...which is not even close to being the case here.)
As to the former stepmother, it's nice that he has a relationship
with her. I too have good relationships
with the children of two former partners. HOWEVER, she is no longer a part of his father's life. (As I am no longer a part of their fathers' lives.) While it's great they've maintained a relationship
, her 'position' as a 'friend', does not trump that of blood relatives - especially parents and grandparents. She should not be invited to the exclusion of them - to anything - ever. If they all can't get along, then SHE is the one who should be excluded. Family comes first...and SHE is NOT family. Period. Any more than I am 'family' to my step-daughter now. And I said this with full disclosure that my former "step-daughter" (her father and I were never actually married, but we were together 11 years) AND her mother were coming the following day, to enjoy an afternoon and swim in the very pool in which we were dangling our feet as he and I talked.
It wasn't an explosive conversation. It really was just a casual observation - one adult to another - from someone who's had to deal with similar issues in my own marriage and most recent relationship
. I wasn't accusatory. It was very matter of fact, low key (despite how it may read here) and we actually shared some laughs about "crazy relatives." I'm sure he will do whatever he needs to do with the situation, to resolve it for the best of all concerned - but mostly for that little girl - whatever that may entail.
To answer the questions about my sister's ex-husband above: He has done anything and everything he could, to destroy the relationship
my sister has or could have with her sons. There has been soooo much ugliness on his part, for so many years, that if he died tomorrow, I would probably quietly get drunk to celebrate - much the same way I did, when I heard the news of my former MIL's passing a few weeks ago, 10 months following the passing of my former FIL. Etiquette approved? Probably not - even though nobody was around to see the celebration but me.