Relationship Connection: Facing my ex at our son’s wedding, what to do?

Question:

My oldest son is getting married in a few months and it will be the first time that I’ll have to be around my ex-husband and his new wife in public. I should mention that his new wife also happens to be the same woman he had an affair with when we were married. I didn’t want the divorce and I’m still struggling with the reality that I’m a single middle-aged woman. I can’t even begin to imagine how uncomfortable it’s going to be when I have to be in the reception line next to him and his new wife. I really don’t want to be in this situation, but I’m obviously going to support my son at his wedding. So, my reason for writing is to see if you have any thoughts about how to handle this day so I don’t completely lose it.

Answer:

One surefire way to make sure you don’t go crazy on your son’s wedding day is to remember that this day isn’t about you. It’s about your son and his bride. It’s their day to shine and the attention needs to be on them, not on you and your previous marriage.

I realize you’re going to feel self-conscious and upset at the painful fallout from your marital breakdown. However, this is your chance to step up and claim your rightful place as the mother of this family. Your role isn’t to be the wounded and disgruntled ex-wife. You are the mother of this son and you have an important role to play on his special day. No one else can or should take your place.

If your husband cheated on you and blew apart your marriage, then I actually feel more sorry for him than for you. He has to live with the fact that he betrayed you and took the cowardly way out by getting married to another woman instead of facing his mistake and repairing his marriage. I feel the same way toward your ex-husband as Buzz Lightyear felt toward Woody in Toy Story when he said, “You’re a sad, strange little man, and you have my pity.” You don’t carry around regret, which frees you to be available to be there for your son in a way your ex-husband can’t.

So, use that powerful love you feel for your son to really show up for him in a big way on his wedding day. Find out what you can do to help make his day great. Reach out to his fiancé and build a great relationship with her. Make them a part of your life and let them know you’re not only there for them on their big day, but also forever.

If you shrink into your own pain and self-pity on his wedding day, you will be perpetuating the loss and pain that not only you’ve experienced, but also the pain and loss your son has experienced. He doesn’t need to lose another parent.

You have done this thousands of times before as his mother when you’ve put your own needs aside and focused on what’s in his best interest.

Of course, you can be cordial to your ex-husband and his new wife. Treat them as politely as you would any guest. They are not your worry. As you stand up in your strength and live your truth as your son’s committed and loving mother, you will be more immune to the sad reality of your ex-husband. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You have tremendous purpose and an irreplaceable role that serves a critical purpose at this time in your son’s life.

Stay connected!

 

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

 

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

 

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright St. George News, StGeorgeUtah.com Inc., 2012, all rights reserved

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4 Comments

  • Murat August 28, 2012 at 9:34 am

    My advice for this woman is to slam pies into the faces of her ex-husband and his new wife. Kick him in the goods, screaming, “pig!”, and be sure to let his wife know that she is a wretched home-wrecker. If she does not do this or something on par with it, she will likely always have feelings of inferiority. It’s basic psychology.

  • Kellie Mzik August 28, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Also, she doesn’t have to stand next to them in the receiving line. Just because there are “traditional” ways of setting those up doesn’t mean it has to be that way this time. This is clearly not a traditional situation.

    For instance, the new wife should be gracious enough to NOT be in the receiving line, since this is not her child’s wedding.
    One way to do it is, instead of parents of the groom standing next to him and parents of the bride next to her, they could ask both moms to stand next to the bride and both dads to stand next to the groom.

    Be creative.

  • Gunther August 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Here’s and idea. Maybe the 3 adults could actually “act” like adults while their son is having his big day. Why would you want to ruin this big moment for him and his new wife all because the mom and her Ex can’t behave for a few hours. Sheeeeesh!

  • Liz June 19, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Mom will feel much better for having taken the high road and stay focused on the joyful wedding celebration. This is her son and his new wife and nothing can or should spoil that. Having said that, if this new wife was any kind of person, she would stay home from the wedding. If she was part of the affair that wrecked the groom’s parents’ marriage, she should have the grace to allow this day to proceed without her. What does she really have to add to the occasion? I have an ex with a new wife/old mistress – it is not easy. We all want to answer to our better angels and all we can do is try. It hurts especially when they remarry and you are single. I say buy a killer dress with great shoes, look beautiful and smile a lot and laugh. She has nothing on you, sister!

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