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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
This topic is one very close to my heart as my youngest daughter is due to get married very soon. Her Dad and I separated over 17 years ago so we have had plenty of time to ‘let go of the past’ to use a cliché, however it is exactly this sort of occasion that can resurrect all sorts of emotions in ex-partners which they have long since buried.
I think if you’re prepared for this re-emergence and any remaining flickers of anger/resentment/sadness/sentimentality don’t catch you unawares, divorcees can handle the day fairly well. If you don’t recognise that these feelings could emerge however, you might be left with unhappy memories of your child’s wedding day. So how can any difficult emotions be managed?
If you have an understanding new partner then maybe you can ask them to support you by keeping an eye on you, asking if you’re ok and removing you from any potentially difficult situations. Difficult though it might be with some very acrimonious break ups, it is best if new partners try not to get involved in any emotionally charged situations on the day. Better that they remain in the background keeping a watchful eye in case things look like they are going to get challenging and if they do, be ready to step in to diffuse the situation rather than exacerbate it. If you don’t have a new partner, hopefully there will another person at the wedding who you trust enough to share your feelings. This might be a close friend, a relative or one of your other children, whoever it is just let them know if you feel you need their support and make best use of them.
I think the most important thing for separated parents to remember on these occasions is that your child, be they the bride or the groom, wants this to be a lovely day for all to remember and enjoy. No doubt they will have agonised over the seating plan – I know my daughter has – looked at all possibilities for someone feeling upset or resentful and tried their hardest to ensure they have got everything right and covered every eventuality. Sometimes however, the unexpected happens; an unfortunate remark is made or someone’s reminiscences trigger an unwanted memory, this is when separated parents need to remember why they are there – for their child.
So swallow any bitterness down, bite back that acerbic response, put on a smile and take the dignified approach, you will look back on the day and feel much better about yourself if you do. Not only that, you are likely to invite more respect from family members and other guests and your child will love you all the more for it.
I am cautiously optimistic about my daughter’s wedding day and hope that I can take my own advice and rise above any awkward situations – I may just send a copy of this to the ex though – just in case!