My ex-mother-in-law just passed away. I have been divorced for seven years and have been dating the same man for the past four years. My boyfriend met my ex-mother-in-law and sees my ex-husband often since we share custody of our children. He would like to attend the services with me. Is this appropriate, or will people say, “I cannot believe she showed up with her boyfriend?” I am on great terms with my ex-husband’s entire family, and everyone knows I am dating this man.
— Trying to pay respects
Funerals are about the deceased, not about the living — a point both you and your boyfriend should perhaps remind yourselves of. Does your boyfriend wish to attend because of a genuine fondness for your ex-mother-in-law or because he wants to be a comfort to you? Are you asking because it is easier for you to attend a “family function” — loosely defined, of course — on someone’s arm rather than having to enter and endure on your own? Once you consider your motives, the answer should become immediately clear. Do the right thing for the right reason, and you can’t go wrong.
* * *|
I am in the middle of a nasty custody battle with my ex-husband. My best friend is going away on vacation with her children and husband for two weeks and informed me that she will be unreachable. She has been my bedrock through my divorce, and I need her to be there for me during the proceedings. Our friendship is balanced, and I have always been there for her when she was in crisis. If I thought she needed me, it would never occur to me to say that I was unreachable.
— Friend in absentia
There are any number of explanations for your friend’s decision, including the possibility that she does not want to burden you with her problems at a time when she knows you are beset with so many of your own. Or simply that she is in urgent need of a vacation. If she has been a dear friend in the past, and it sounds like she has, give her the benefit of the doubt. And instead of misplacing your anger toward her, why not ask (plaintively, if you think that will do the trick) if there might be a lifeline she could dangle in case you were truly desperate. If you agreed to respect her boundaries, perhaps she would agree to carry her cell phone for emergencies.
Write to “Ask Wendy” at 954 Lexington Avenue #189, New York, N.Y. 10021 or at email@example.com.