Friday 17 November 2017

Dear Mary: Ex-wife doesn't want my new lover at daughter's graduation

Illustration: Tom Halliday
Illustration: Tom Halliday

Mary O’Conor

Q Perhaps you can help. I am now in my mid-50s and divorced for a few years. I won't go into the details, but I am relieved that I am divorced and after getting my new life organised I started going out to clubs and bars and friends had dinner parties to introduce me to other women.

I was incredibly intimidated for a long time as I feel my ex-wife bullied me for most of our life together and I did not want to get into another relationship like that again. But about a year ago I met this younger woman, on the train of all places.

Just as we were pulling into a station there was a lot of jostling with passengers getting off and suddenly I noticed this woman on the platform in total shock and white as a sheet. The train pulled out but she stood there as though she had been turned to stone. I went over to her and discovered that a pickpocket had opened her bag and taken her purse with all her credit cards, all her cash (over €200 -- she was just about to lodge it in the bank) and a few very precious personal items that she would never be able to replace.

She could hardly speak so I brought her to a nearby cafe and bought her a cappuccino and talked to her. It was probably about 15 minutes before she could open up with me and tell me exactly what had happened and what she had lost. She was so helpless and in tears so I brought her to my office which is nearby and helped her cancel all her credit cards. By this time, it was lunchtime, so we went back to the cafe shared a pizza and talked until 3 pm.

Then I insisted on getting a taxi to bring her home and got her contact details so that I could follow up to make sure that she was OK. I called her every day for a week and then she asked me to go to her apartment for supper. In no time at all we were inseparable and we have now found a great house and next week we are going to move in together. I am over the moon. She is nothing like my ex-wife, and my kids adore her almost as much as I do.

My problem is that my eldest daughter will be graduating from university in the spring and I told her that I was going to give her a big party and she is busy making up an invitation list. But when my ex-wife heard about this she insisted on being invited -- and told me, my daughter and everybody in sight that my partner will not be there -- or she will create havoc.

I am paying, and I want my daughter to be part of my new life -- which includes my new partner. How do I solve this problem?

A Your story just goes to show that you never know when you are going to meet somebody who will become significant in your life and it very often happens when we are least expecting it.

It seems that your ex-wife is having difficulty with accepting a new person in your life and it is probably particularly difficult for her as your girlfriend is a much younger woman.

You don't mention if your ex has a new relationship -- it usually makes things much simpler if both parties have a partner, particularly for things like weddings, christenings and, in this case, graduations.

You have two options as to how you deal with this problem. You can allow your ex-wife to have her way and not have your partner -- who will by then be living with you -- at the party. Or you can insist that she is there and be prepared for fireworks.

You must know your ex pretty well by now and would therefore know whether she would, in fact, be prepared to carry out her threats. But above all, the graduation party is your gift to your daughter in recognition of all her hard work and achievements and so she is the one whom you should consult.

She has already built a relationship with your girlfriend, and in the normal course of events would no doubt welcome her, but it really is her call. If she decides that the risk of her mother destroying her party is too great and she wants an evening where she is not on edge, then so be it.

However, if that is her decision then you should take your ex wife aside early on in the evening and tell her that this is the last time that she will call the shots regarding your girlfriend, and that you had only agreed to avoid spoiling the celebrations for your daughter.

Maintain your dignity at all costs -- you will feel great afterwards.


I found out new boyfriend's dad is in prison

Q I met this great guy a few weeks ago. We hit it off immediately and we have been having a ball. My girl- friends are all madly jealous. He's handsome, tall, athletic, has a great personality and what seems to be a great job.

A couple of nights ago he said that he wanted to tell me something about his family that I wouldn't like but then he clammed up again and wouldn't tell me any more.

So when I went home I Googled him and discovered that his dad is in prison for a white-collar crime. I got the shock of my life.

I can't really tell anyone about this. I don't want to tell my family -- my girlfriends would spread the word in seconds and I am really besotted with him and want to stand by him.

But do I tell him I know already -- or will he be furious that I looked him up online?

Please help.

A Nowadays, Google is one of the first resources that we use to get information. I imagine that this man was about to confide in you and then lost his nerve, but he must have known that you would Google him -- especially after putting you on your guard that he was about to reveal something.

I feel that the most honest thing is to admit to him that you looked him up and what you discovered, and then wait to hear the whole story.

It will be very difficult for him, especially as the relationship is so new. Nobody wants to have their parents shown in a bad light to a new partner and I can only imagine what it must be like for him having to share all of this with you.

It certainly is an unusual predicament and one that you would not expect to encounter so early in a relationship, but you will have to bear in mind that it is the father who committed the crime, not the son.

If the relationship progresses -- and it is certainly very early days -- you will have to be prepared for things to be said about your boyfriend and his father.

As we all know, Ireland is a very small country and we specialise in enjoying the misfortune of others. The Germans even have a word for it -- schadenfreude -- but I often think that there must be an Irish word for it because we do it so well!

You will be guided in all this by how your feelings develop -- it may be that in a couple of months' time you are still madly in love or it may all be over. What happened with his father is only a small part of the bigger picture for the two of you.


You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at or write c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately

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