It’s an exciting, special day for your family member. He is graduating and a lot of your relatives and your ex-husband’s relatives are coming together to celebrate this day. The sun is shining bright, the room is getting crowded and you’ve saved some good seats.
In walks your Ex with the new wife and his step kids! You fluff up your hair, straighten your dress and paste on the “oh hi, I’m being nice because I don’t want to ruin this special day” smile as they smile and sit down in the seats you saved. You want to tell them, go sit somewhere else, I don’t want you in my personal space or in the same room. But you look towards the stage praying that they will start the ceremony soon so you can try to ignore your Ex and his smiling family.
It’s times like these that test your level of maturity in handling family situations after divorce. But one thing you have to understand, it takes time. Everyone heals, let’s go and moves on at different times. Some people only need months or a year or two, while others need ten or twenty years to finally cut that cord you been holding onto hoping things will work out. But no matter how much time you need, if you have children and other family members that you both keep in touch with, eventually there will be a time when a family event will take place and both you and your Ex husband will want to attend.
Here are 5 tips that may help dealing with family gatherings after divorce enjoyable and end with you keeping your sanity:
1. Never let someone dictate where or when you celebrate with your family. Just because your relationship has changed or stopped with your Ex, this doesn’t mean you should stop coming to functions where you both will be in the same room. This is especially true if you have children or grandchildren together. Put your issues with your Ex and his new family aside and focus on the celebration. Try not to cause tension by being civil to everyone, even if you can only stay for a short time. Don’t put the kids and other family members and friends through two separate birthday parties, graduations or prom gatherings unless you have the time and money.
2. Keep the conversations and interactions with your Ex civil.
3. If when you see your Ex you still feel like spitting in his face and punching him in the stomach, you are not ready for this stage yet. When attending family and friend events, expect to see your Ex and maybe even have to speak to him. If you choose not to talk to him, that’s fine. But don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder looking like you ready to fight. You show your post-divorce maturity when you are able to talk to your Ex in public and in a civilized manner, whether it be a simple hello and or goodbye, or talking about the event itself. Never make it about personal issues whether yours or his, but keep it general.
4. Always keep in mind that the reason you are at this event is to help celebrate a special day. Remember, it’s not about you or what happened between you and your Ex. Keep a smile on your face. Mingle around and if you start to feel upset or tense, excuse yourself and hide in the bathroom, your car or somewhere away from the crowd for a few seconds, take a deep breath and say to yourself: this is not about me, it’s about whoever is being celebrated. Then go back out and show everyone how strong, confident, mature and special you are!
5. Remember, you are not in competition with your ex. I know when those special family events come up and you decide to go, you know your ex and possibly his girlfriend or wife may be there. This is not the time to start loudly bragging on your new promotion at work, your new place or car or even your new man unless someone asks you. But don’t play the “one up on you” game with your ex or even his new girlfriend or wife. I know it may be tempting, but it will make you look like you are trying extra hard to make them jealous, or envious of you. But in the end, you will look like the “still bitter” ex-wife who can’t let go and move on.
So remember, family gatherings are not about you, your ex-spouse or his new wife. They are about celebrating the special day for that family member. Enjoy the event and your life!