Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: I married my high school sweetheart when we were both 25 — not because we were soul mates or even particularly happy together, but because we were imagination-lacking, codependent and afraid to let go. We stayed married for three years before I filed for divorce, with his agreement that it was the right thing to do. While it was painful at first, we have wound up more or less friends again, and share a social circle.
He is getting married again in four weeks, and I'm invited to the wedding. First marriage for the new bride. I've been perusing their wedding website, and, maybe this is my glass of wine talking, but I'm having a hard time with all the quotes and hashtags that reference "forever." She is so happy they will be together "forever."
Don't get me wrong, I hope their marriage works out, but that language seems ridiculous considering that he has been married before, believing that it would be "forever," and it wasn't. This is leading me to rethink attending their wedding — I'm afraid I might scoff my way through the ceiling. Any ideas to reshape my thinking?
Carolyn says: Oh, but it's so easy — you guys thought it was forever, but you were "imagination-lacking, codependent and afraid to let go" (now there's a sign to have tastefully lettered and mounted over my sink), and this time the couple are mature and clear-eyed and in loooove enough for a lifetime. Yeah, yeah.
But do you really want to live in a world where hope never triumphs over experience? I don't. But if you do, or if you don't but you're not feeling it, and/or if you present even the slightest scoff risk, then maybe it's time to back out. Doing so four weeks out is not the most polite move ever, but it beats the day before, and it beats eye-rolling the bride.
She and her ex "have wound up more or less friends again," but the letter suggests "less" is winning out. Skipping the wedding seems like a mercy.
Re: Ex's Wedding
Don't go. I have a few friends who have attended the wedding of an ex and it always turned out to be a bad idea. Not necessarily because they did something dramatic and embarrassing there, but because my friends came away feeling like crap. The nature of a wedding is just not designed to leave an ex feeling good about attending.
I'm getting married soon. Three of my four bridesmaids are my fiancé's exes. Last weekend I was my best friend's maid of honor. My date was my fiancé, her ex-boyfriend. They're good friends. It was a beautiful wedding and we were honored and joyous to be there.
I think the writer shouldn't go if she's not feeling it, but it's by no means a universal rule that you shouldn't attend an ex's wedding. If you're actual friends — not just amicable former partners — you should go if you want to, without worrying that you'll come away feeling like crap.
Carolyn says: You're right — and, may I say, gloriously entangled, disentangled and re-entangledish. Thanks.
E-mail Carolyn Hax at firstname.lastname@example.org, or chat with her at 11 a.m. Friday at washingtonpost.com.