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Ex-Husband and Our Son

Ex-Husband and Our Son


Dear Rachel,

I am presently divorced from my son's father and our son will be getting married very soon. According to my son, my ex-husband will not come to the wedding if I come. What suggestions do you have to make this day peaceful? I do not want to cause a scene.

Philadelphia, PA

Dear S.L,

It sounds like you are not the one causing a scene, but rather your ex-husband is. And unfortunately, he is trying to hurt you through hurting your son.

There is no reason why your son should have to choose as to which parent can be at his wedding. And there is no reason why you both can’t be there. If this is a threat that your ex is making, it needs to be understood that the only people that will lose through this is him and your son. Your son will not be able to have his father at his wedding. And he will not witness his son getting married. It is a lose-lose situation.

He is clearly hoping that by making this threat you will feel so guilty of ruining the wedding, or causing a scene as you mention, that you will choose not to come. However, you are not attending the wedding to spite your ex-husband, you are attending the wedding because this is your son and you love him. And if you do not attend, even with the best intentions of appeasing your ex, you will simultaneously be causing pain to your son, the last thing you want to do.

I would suggest making it very clear to your son that you very much hope that his father will attend and how sorry you are that he needs to deal with such conflict as he prepares for his own wedding. You must ensure that you do not speak ill of your ex, and that you do not involve your son in the situation. All you need to clarify is that you will be there out of love for your son and not out of hatred for your ex.

It appears that talking to your ex is probably out of the question. What I would say though is that hopefully there is someone that he will listen to and respect who you could speak to. Maybe even his parents or a sibling? I think most people will understand that his threat is aimed at the wrong person and is terribly unfair to his son. Perhaps if he can understand that he is hurting his son he will change his mind and attend as well.

If ultimately you are concerned however that if he does attend that he will cause a scene, that he could have an outburst, then maybe as a last resort you can offer a compromise. It could be that if the two of you absolutely cannot be in the same place at the same time, that you prearrange that at a certain point you will leave the hall and his father can be there without you. Do not, however, offer to miss the service or anything that is important to you. Remember, you are not the one making the threat. You are not doing anything against your ex. You are only doing something for your son. AnLd I am sure that your son wants nothing more than to have his mother at his wedding. And hopefully his father will also come to understand that this is the case, and that likewise, he should also want to be there, and for the right reasons, to celebrate a joyous occasion, not to cause pain and anger.

I wish you much hatzlacha in this situation and also a huge mazel tov on your son’s wedding,


"Dear Rachel" is a bi-weekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sara Esther Crispe.

Sara Esther Crispe, a writer, inspirational speaker and mother of four, is the Co-Director of Interinclusion, a non-profit multi-layered educational initiative celebrating the convergence between contemporary arts and sciences and timeless Jewish wisdom. Prior to that she was the editor of and wrote the popular weekly blog, Musing for Meaning. To book Sara Esther for a speaking engagement, please click here.
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Anonymous Melbourne June 17, 2013

Restraining Orders My son is getting marrried in 6 months. I am in the middle of ending a 42 year marriage. My son hates his father and does not want him under the chuppah,

I fear my husband and am wondering if taking out restraining orders is a good way to keep my almost-ex-husband away from the chuppah, That way, I take the pressure of the decision away from my son, and my husband can just sit in the front row.

Would love some debate on this - and how to word the invitation as I likely will not have my Gett by then, Reply

Anonymous toronto, on February 3, 2011

sons wedding Please explain to me why the son has to be the parent and the parent be the child. Father are dads but in name only, mothers are for life. Tell the dad to get over himself and stop being the eye of the dtorm instead of being the calm of the storm. Reading this I feel the dad is a bully and folks he will continue to be a bully. People do not change. It is his choice let him have it. He will ne the loser and he will make life hard for every one else is he is there. Call his bluff tell him he is responsible for his actions only and he has a decision to make. Your son will love you but you must stand up now and not let your ex bully you or your son any more. If he stays away enjoy the wedding do not be sad for someone who has such a small heart. Teach your son love and truth and it is ok to stand up for what you believe in . To the ex get over yourself and stop being a JERK Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 19, 2011

Ex-Husband and Our Son Did you ask your son about his father's behavior? Did he try to talk to his father himeself? It's HIS wedding, and it's heartbreaking when parents are divorced and can't get along on civilized terms.

Tell your ex-husband: "He's OUR son, and the last thing I want is for you to ruin his wedding! I'm attending, but if you don't want to come, that's your choice."

If he STILL refuses to attend his son's wedding, that's his choice. Your son may be heartbroken, but he has you to rely on! Reply

Andrew Brisbane, QLD November 12, 2007

I'm sure if there was a restraining order they would have mentioned it and heh, even if there was, so what break the law, a restraining order is only as strong as the two people who instituted it. It really is just some way of treating adults like 5 year olds and saying "You sit in THAT corner and you sit in that one" It's the wedding of your child, it's important. Reply

Sarah w bld, mi usa November 12, 2007

Did anyone think that perhaps there is a restraining order keeping the exes apart? It would then be illegal for both to be at the same place at the same time. In which case, the innocent party should attend the wedding guilt free. The abuser should remind him/herself that this is part of the punishment for prior behavior. If both are at fault (it does happen) then the child should pick half the wedding for one parent, and that parent should leave and then the other can arrive. Lousy solution to lousy problem. Reply

Andrew Brisbane, QLD October 19, 2007

My Experience My dad did the same thing. He didn't show to my wedding. Ever since it happened I haven't felt the same kind of bond to my father as he obviously prioritised his fear of seeing my mother over his need to attend my wedding.

I would suggest writing your ex-husband a letter telling him you like him and respect him in whatever ways you honestly can and asking him to resolve the issue. He's only afraid about meeting you so that means you do have the power to do something since all the focus is about you.

You shouldn't have to but perhaps as a kind and generous act to your son you can resolve the problem. Reply

Mrs. Scholl Newtown Sa, PA April 26, 2006

Wedding It is a blessing that your son wants to and is willingly getting married. Mazel Tov.! Try to work something out without getting your son in the middle. He has enough to worry about. Reply

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