My brother has asked my ex-husband to his 60th birthday.

by Lillian
(New Zealand)

After a marriage of 16years, my ex and I have been apart now for almost 30years, he has remarried and I have not. During that time relations have been strained to say the least. We have 2 daughters and 4 grandchildren. One daughter was married 8years ago and we weren't even seated at the same table - because he contributed towards the costs of the wedding he and his second wife sat at the 'bride's' table, while I was seated at a table out to the side. He has also written to both our daughters saying that he doesn't want to be in the same room as 'that woman', meaning me, and has been a regular 'no-show' at grandchildren's birthday parties, school and pre-school functions etc., and we've never shared family Christmases. When his mother died almost a year ago, I was intending to attend her funeral, although he had attended neither of my parents' funerals. However, He asked our daughters to tell me not to come, one refused but the other rang me and asked this. I decided I didn't really want to be there if I wasn't wanted, so didn't go.

Now my younger brother is coming back to New Zealand from Australia (where he works) for his 60th birthday next month, and once more I've been told (once more by the same daughter) that my ex has been invited and would quite like to go. I told her I'd contact him directly but haven't done so yet. In the meantime I've had my sister texting me to ask how many from 'our' family are coming, to which I replied that it would be better if my brother contacted me directly. He phoned me 2days ago saying his daughter wanted numbers for catering purposes, and that he'd heard I was 'being difficult'. When I told him that I was hurt that he asked my ex without even thinking to run it by me first, he replied 'It's my 60th and I'll ask who I like' and 'if you don't want to come, that's your choice'. He then resorted to saying 'don't be ridiculous', and that I would just have to get over it.
As far as I know, my brother and my ex haven't seen one another at all since our separation and divorce.

My questions are:
1) Is it bad form to ask a sibling's ex to a function such as this? and

2) If you do want to do this, is it better to at least let the concerned sibling know? (Not to ask permission, just to give them prior warning).

Thank you for any help you may be able to give me.

Yours sincerely,

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Invitation & Divided Loyalties
by: Ms P Etiquette

Dear Lillian,

What a shame that you and your ex-husband are still experiencing a strained relationship after so many years. The stress this causes the family is also unfortunate.

Given your family's history of divided loyalties the answers to your questions are limited. First, your brother may ask anyone he wishes to his party. If someone is uncomfortable with the guest list, there is the option of not attending. Your second question is tricky. If there are loving feelings among siblings, one could expect the guest list be revealed in advance to help avoid embarrassment. However, your family sounds a bit divided on the subject, so you probably cannot expect that courtesy. And I doubt it makes sense to expect your brother to protect you in this situation.

Practical etiquette asks you to make decisions for yourself that will cause the least ill feelings among those involved, even if you feel wronged. As an aside I would like to add that a good round of family therapy might be helpful as well.

Good luck,
Ms Practical Etiquette

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