After a friend gets a divorce, it is hard to know whether you should invite her ex-husband to your parties or not. It is not as cut-and-dry as most people make it. Quite a few factors have to be considered before making your final decision. The feelings of your friend is not always the most important thing that you need to think about either. Though that should remain one of the top priorities in deciding, other questions come into play. You might want to jump on the bandwagon of standing behind your friend one hundred percent but as Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D, puts it “What some people don’t realize is that after things calm down and everyone starts to (hopefully) get along again, the divisiveness can come back to bite you.”
Is Your Husband Friends With Him?
If you have developed a “couple friendship” with the two over them over the course of their marriage, things can get complicated after they divorce. If your husband has remained friends with the guy, you can very well ask him to stop. (Even if you really feel like you want to.) No matter who was right, or wronged, in the separation, a man’s loyalty to his buddy is no different than yours to your girlfriend. If your husband wants to invite your friend’s ex-husband to a party, and there is no good reason not to do so, you are kinda stuck with grinning and bearing it.
Are Your Children Friends With His Children?
Kids no more than adults give them credit for and may feel injustice even more keenly. If this is a party that children are allowed at, how are his kids going to feel if their dad isn’t allowed? (See now where your friend’s feelings are not always at the top of the priority list?) One of the top priorities in a divorce to make sure that the children do turn against either parent and are not told that they should. This includes subtle ways of taking sides in front of them, such as invitations to your home.
What Are You Celebrating?
In your panic about not knowing whether or not to invite your friend’s ex-husband to a party, you may have overlooked the most obvious question. For example, if your husband is throwing his annual Super Bowl party and all you and your girlfriend use to do is hang out in the kitchen and make nachos, his friends are the priority on the guest list. Why not talk to your husband about creating a new tradition that day and have a girls day out during the big game? You and your girlfriends can go somewhere else and whoop it up. On the other hand, if you are having a baby shower for another friend where couples are coming, you might be doing your friend’s ex-husband a favor by not inviting him to the party.
What Rules Should There Be When Inviting a Divorced Couple to a Party?
If you have decided to send out invitations to both of them, make sure to lay some ground rules. This is especially essential after a recent divorce. For example, make a “no-date” rule at first. Any new boyfriend or girlfriend should understand that, for the sake of moving forward, they do not need to come to every get-together with mutual friends until some time has passed. If they do not understand that they are either very jealous, controlling or want to flaunt themselves in the ex’s face. Any of those traits should tell you to be prepared for future drama. If it is important to your friends that you include their new significant others in things, make plans for something separate, such as a double date in the near future.
After carefully considering all of the pros and cons of inviting your friend’s ex-husband to a party, it’s time to talk to your friend about it. Make sure to explain your reasons fully on why you feel it is important to not take sides and then accept her decision on whether she’ll be attending or not if he is there. Continue to be there for her, even if she gets mad at you. She’ll appreciate your strength in the future.
Psychology Today; After You’ve Divided Up The Stuff, What About The Friends?;Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D; 2010