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,