14 answers

Am I Wrong for Refusing to Socialize with My Ex-husband?

I have been divorced for 2 years, separated for about 2 1/2 and remarried for 1 1/2 years. My married children want to have birthday parties, and social events with my ex- husband and his family and me and my children. But they don't want me to bring my step children and they don't really want me to bring my new husband ether. But my ex-husband and his step children and new wife are invited. I have went to one event by myself and it was very uncomfortable. My ex-husband was very abusive to me and we have very little contact. I had a restraining order from him for 6 months at one time. I get physically and emotionally sick when I am around my ex-husband.
I love all of my family, new and old. I have told them that I will not go to social events with my ex-husband ever again and they say that I don't love them.

What can I do next?

More Answers

My X was also very abusive, I also had a long standing restraining order. There are a couple of points here to address. First your older kids grew up in a home where it was OK to treat you as a second class citizen, and to hurt you physically & emotionally. They are carring this on by inviting you to their homes on a contingency basis - Only if you do not bring your husband (who would not tollerate seeing you mistreated)Only without your kids & step kids... (which would only be acceptable if you do not make these kids behave & treat others with respect, including other kids). Your married children are trying to control you, and it needs to stop. This behavior is as much your fault as it is your X-Husbands and theirs... because of the years you allowed them to see you treated baddly. But now that they are grown you need to make them aware of the difference between healthy & unhealthy family behavior, or your grandkids will grow up to be the same and all of the future generations are at risk of perpetuating family violence.
Second - YOU have a choice to participate or to have separate family events and (as a mature, non-manipulative adult) to coordinate dates & times with your children so that events with you and your X do not conflict with each other. Afterall, the point is to spend time with your married kids and their spouses & children, not to be "right". Parenting (even of adult children) is an act of loving someone else & giving of yourself. You cannot give expecting anything in return as a parent... you have to give your love away with both hands open & expect nothing in return.
The third thing is the hardest... you need to find a way to let go of the fear and anger you have against your X - YES, I know he deserves it, yes I know he is scarry... but I also know that you are the one hurting- not him. It will continue to eat you up inside like acid, and influeneces the decisions you make & how you feel about yourself. As long as you are afraid of him to the point of being physically ill he is winning and you are still his victim. Go to therapy and learn how to feel stronger... You're worth it!
My X & I learned how to get along in social situations - His 2nd wife & I became quite friendly, and eventually it was not as big a chore to see him at family gatherings.
Good Luck,
~Y. R.

2 moms found this helpful

Unless your husband has personally done something extremely offensive, and your step-children too, they should be allowed and even invented as a token of respect for you. Your ex should not be allowed to treat you that way. If you even have to ask if you can bring these people with you, the answer should be no. They are choosing to isolate you, not the other way around, and that is a very abusive tactic to try to say you can't be with your family if you're with us.

1 mom found this helpful

I wish I could understand why this was happening to you (and explain it!), but I really don't understand their behavior. I am very curious as to why they don't want to invite your current husband and step children - do they have a bad relationship?
I guess my advice would be to have a conversation with your adult kids and say something about how uncomfortable it is for you to be there with their father & his new family when you're all alone. Stress the fact that you need some moral support when dealing with the ex/his family and that unless/until you can have your own husband with you that you won't be able to attend.
Are your adult children aware of how awful your relationship with the ex was? If they are - shame on them! If not, it might be time to come clean.
I really hope that you don't allow this man to stop you from visiting with and enjoying your family. Perhaps you could do your own bday parties, etc with your new family on different days?
Either way, good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with some of the other posters that it is odd your family isn't invited but his is. I would sit down with your children and explain to them that you are having trouble being around your ex without your new husband in the room. Support is a very important part of stressful situations. You need it and so do they. Find out why his new wife is invited and your husband is not. Not wanting to be around your ex is not about not loving your children with him. You can love your children but dislike their father.

Communication is the key.

1 mom found this helpful

I have to echo, you are married to your husband now, and he is your family. Your kids are yours and you will support them but not while alienating your spouse or your step kids. Invite them to your place (not the ex and his family) but your kids for a special celebration with you. if they insist on doing it this way tell them how much you truly love them and want to celebrate with them but if they insist on excluding your husband then they are in reality exclulding you because just as they were always your priority your new husband and his family are your priority too. they can use manipulation tactics but they only work if you give in. whatever they say. say I love you. and check out the book how to hug a porccupine.
you don't have to have interractions with the ex.you do deserve to feel safe.
if the kids say they feel safe with their dad, say and I am so thankful you do. and leave it at that. definitely check that book out though its helped me out in lots of toxic situations

1 mom found this helpful

I applaud you for finding happiness after a difficult situation. Still, because you have children together you will never be "free" from your ex-husband. I don't understand why they want him around if he was so abusive, there must be something they still love about him. It seems that for their sakes, you ought to force yourself to attend family events. Maybe you could slowly request to bring your new husband. As more time goes by you can ask to add the step children. As your family sees that you are committed to them, they will eventually accept the new people. Don't worry if it doesn't seem "fair." Just know that everyone is hurting in the situation. You have a beautiful life now, be willing to share your love and slowly I think they will respond. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My parents have been divorced since I was little. My mom (for understandable reasons) doesn't like to socialize with my dad. There are some events that only happen once, and they both deserve to be there (baptisms, baby blessings, etc). I generally invite both and their spouses, and then make sure my mom knows my dad will be there. For other events I try to only invite one or the other. I think you deserve the same consideration.
Have your children told you that your new husband & kids aren't invited, or have they just not included them in the invitation? Have you asked them? It may be that your husband just brings his family anyway. Talk to your kids, let them know how difficult this is for you. When they invite you to something, let them know it will be you and your husband; if it's a whole family even (kids too), tell them you will be bringing the kids. Be prepared to help pitch into whatever cost there may be for the kids, bringing 8 can definitely cause an increase in the budget, and that may be their concern (although I would hope they would say so, but ask them ... if I help with the cost is it okay for my kids to come too?)
Good luck! I hope you find a solution that makes it comfortable for everybody involved.

1 mom found this helpful

I think it's strange that your children will invite your ex husbands family and not yours. Maybe you'd be more comfortable with your family there as well. Have you talked to them about why your family isn't invited?

1 mom found this helpful

Maybe you need to sit with each person in your family that is giving you a hard time about this and explain how this makes you feel. You need to keep it short and to the point since you do not have the luxury to bash your ex-husband to his kids. Just say, you love them VERY much but your history with your ex-husband is too painful and you need to withdrawal from social events with him. Explain that you will always be kind to him and his new family but you just cannot spend too much time. Re-iterate that this has NOTHING to do with them and you hope they understand.

In going this direction however, it is your obligation to be sure to throw birthday parties, events, etc. so you have that special time with them also.

All this being said, you have to realize that kids of all ages do not understand and are somewhat irrational in situations. That is why they stay with their parents until they are adults. You may not be able to get them to understand. Your only other option would be to put your personal feelings aside, realize that it is your ex-husband that is a problem, not you. In this case you just suck it up, make your appearance for an hour or so to each event and leave!

You are in such a hard situation, and you just need to remember that you cannot make everyone happy, you just need to be sure to make yourself happy. Sometimes that means sacrificing yourself for the sake of your children or stepping away. You are the only one that can make that decision, and do just that, MAKE IT YOUR DECISION. You know what is best in your heart.

Good luck, I feel for you!

1 mom found this helpful

I think that your kids are being insensitive and selfish. I am from divorced parents (emotionally abusive), so I am speaking from that position. Yes, I expected them to be at my wedding, childrens' birthday parties, etc. and to be civil to each other. I would never say that one could bring stepXXX, and another couldn't. That isn't fair or right. Either they both can, or both can't. (My dad remarried, my mom hasn't, and if my dad's wife doesn't come, it is her thing, we have never NOT invited her.) We don't ask them to visit just to visit, it is always for an event and if we lived locally I would even be willing to do double duty.
We have asked for everyone to be together for holidays so that we can see everyone when we travel so far - when my DAD has refused, we have offered a non-holiday day, but he usually refuses that too.
I would let your kids know what you are willing to do and what you aren't willing to do. Are you willing to attend alone, if you husband was also alone? Are you willing to attend as long as everyone is there? What events are you willing to attend, and which would you appreciate a separate event for. If they say that you don't love them, let them know how you really feel and that you are willing to work with them, but you shouldn't be treated as they have treated you in the past.

1 mom found this helpful

Wow - I think your children are being incredibely selfish! You do not have to be around someone that was and continues to be abusive towards you! It is really unfair of them to expect that of you! Stand your ground.... the first step in showing love to someone else is loving yourself first! Have the respect for yourself to not let your children manipulate or guilt you into doing something that makes you ill. You deserve better, and it sounds like you have found better in your new husband!

1 mom found this helpful

It is very hard for the people put in this situation.
My in laws are divorced. My MIL claims to have been abused by FIL but it was the other way around because she is minipulative to me hubby and my kids. It is very hard when they have to be together. They play nice but then she either causes a sceen or does something afterward to make things difficult.
So we just try to do holidays with the at seperate times. It is hard but we try to make it work. She makes it very hard because she wants EVERY hoilday and she says the hoilday doesn't count if she doesn't see us on the acutal hoilday, but you can make it work.
You should not feel cornered but also you want to celebrate with your Grandchildren. See if there is someway to work it out. I am sorry you had to go through what you did.

1 mom found this helpful

I agree w/ everyone else, but have to add that if I were a 24-year-old entertaining, I would be overwhelmed by the idea that inviting my mom meant inviting 15 people (you, your husband and all the kids). And alternating dad and mom means hosting twice as many gatherings . . . Maybe they are just being pragmatic and are then trying to reflect their guilt about it back on you by saying, ' you don't love us.' Draw your line and stick with it about being with your ex, but you may have to 'go the extra mile' to help them when they offer to entertain you and yours.

1 mom found this helpful

Of course you love them, and yes, you ARE wrong to not go to the events. You don't have to go to the social events, but birthdays and weddings, proms, etc, those are important.

On the flip side, your children are wrong to not invite their step-dad and step-sisters/brothers. I would go and bring them as well.

Remember that family get-togethers, are NEVER the place for drama. That's not why you're getting together.

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