I was divorced six years ago after a 23-year marriage. I still hate pretending that it’s just fine when I have to be in the same room as my ex.
I’d married for love, believed in my vows, and expected we’d raise our two children to adulthood while still married.
Although there were periodic stresses in the relationship, I believed they could be eased through counselling, but he refused to go.
For me, keeping the family intact, healthy, and financially okay, was our shared responsibility. I worked steadily and expected him to do the same.
But he decided to leave his good job for a lesser one. It left me working harder to afford the same activities and opportunities for our kids.
Soon, he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. He insisted there was no one else. A couple of years later, a new woman moved in with him. She’s a nice person. I have no quarrel with her.
I eventually found a nice new partner too. And now there are times when, for our adult children’s sake, we all gather for a dinner or celebration.
I hate that my ex instantly swoops forward when he sees me and gives me a big false hug. As if he didn’t leave me and end the marriage.
If I hold back, it makes me look like “the bad guy.” As if I was the one who turned our family life upside down.
Our kids are adults with their own young children now, but they like to see that hug that shows “Mommy and Daddy” together. They see me tense up, but ignore it. I have to be false for them to feel good about their parent’s occasional (phony) hug.
Am I a bad person for not wanting to hug my ex? I’m happy with my current partner, we have a good relationship. I’m not a bitter divorced woman stuck in the past.
How can I stop the hug scene without having everyone angry at me for exposing it’s a lie?
Hate The Hug
You’re still resenting how the divorce came about because you were prepared to do anything possible for the marriage to last. But he wasn’t willing, and it takes two to grow a lasting marriage.
The reality is that although you may’ve both been equally wanting the same future when you married, over the years he changed some of his views and needs, and you two were no longer compatible.
Even if he hadn’t insisted on a divorce, the marriage was not flourishing. In fact, it may’ve affected your children more negatively had you stayed married to each other, but mentally and emotionally far apart.
Now, you should not have to endure physical contact you dislike. You’re willing to be in his company for your kids’ sakes, and you like his wife. That’s all that’s needed for those occasions.
Consider these possibilities for changing the scene: 1) informing your adult children that you delight in getting together, but think everyone should hug their own partner and their kids; 2) telling your ex (and his wife, so she hears it accurately from you) that you’re happy to get together, but you’ve all moved on beyond that hug from the past; OR 3) knowing all the parties, you realize any comment will be taken the wrong way and it’s best to just whisper to him “I don’t want to hug,” and pull away.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the man training for a body-building competition despite that one required supplement might interfere with his wife’s desire to get pregnant (January 1):
Reader – “He appears very selfish and, more worrisome, he’s willing to have his partner take drugs to enhance her fertility so he can do what he wants. Unless she has her own fertility issues, these meds could be very harmful, something he doesn’t seem to have considered, or else has disregarded.
“I think it’d be a huge mistake for her to continue in this marriage.”
Ellie – A woman desiring to get pregnant should not go on hormone injections ONLY to accommodate another’s goal which can be delayed.
She should discuss with her doctor what it means to her fertility and to her health if he insists on taking the supplement that isn’t conducive to a healthy sperm count for conception. If her husband persists in this goal now, yes, she should re-examine their relationship.
Tip of the day:
Hate your ex’s phony hugs? Choose a way to gently change this scene at family gatherings.