Ex-etiquette: Illness doesn't alter the facts

  • Article by: Jann Blackstone
  • MCT
  • February 12, 2013 - 2:03 PM

Q: My ex and I have been divorced for six years. He had an affair and married her. We have two adult children. About a year ago he called, asked me out for lunch and told me he had made a horrible mistake and wanted to get me back. I did not say yes or no. I just left. I still don’t know if I would ever go back to him. Yesterday I found out he was very ill and in the hospital. I’m wondering if I should go see him. What’s good ex-etiquette?

A: First, make sure you aren’t having any made-for-TV-movie fantasies about walking into an ex’s hospital room and both realizing that you are each other’s true love. Remember, this man is married to someone else. If you go to see him, good ex-etiquette dictates it should be with his wife’s knowledge.

If indeed he did make a mistake, good ex-etiquette suggests that he tell his wife first, they deal with their issues and then he pursues a reconciliation with you. Instead, he took you out to lunch behind his wife’s back. The implication was that she had no idea. Doesn’t sound like he’s changed much. It doesn’t make it OK because you were his first wife.

The other item of concern is that you did not reply when he asked you to consider reconciliation. Your response may have seemed to say no, but not addressing it left it a possibility in both your minds. Now he is ill and you may want to throw caution to the wind, walk into his hospital room and tell him all is forgotten. Be careful, because he gets better does not mean he will change. Under the circumstances, you may want to consider a card.

(Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, Reach her at

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