Q: My ex is in the hospital. He’s very sick and has asked to see me. We broke up four years ago because I could not get along with his oldest child. I probably should not have moved in when I did. His son and I never did get along, and the situation got so bad, either I had to go or his child had to go, and since I knew that would never happen, I moved out. I still love my ex. I always will. Ironically, it is his oldest, who is now 22, who contacted me. Should I visit my ex in the hospital? What’s good ex-etiquette?
A: Before I answer your specific question, I would like to address the reason for the breakup — you said you did not get along with your ex’s oldest child, but you moved in anyway. Competition is quite common when attempting to combine families. Everyone is jockeying for a position and if relationships are not solidified prior to moving in, it’s unlikely such a move will help. No one said you had to stop seeing him, but moving in with him when you openly did not get along with his teenage child was a recipe for disaster. It set everyone up for failure.
So often parents are ready to move on, but their children are not. Children don’t have the distraction of that new love and are often still mourning their parent’s breakup while mom or dad is moving in someone new. When the child and the new partner find themselves at odds, mom or dad can’t figure out why the child is being so difficult. The parent simply went too fast. The child had not healed from the trauma of the breakup and was not ready to accept a new parent figure. They hate that the new person is there, resent their authority, resent the parent for moving too quickly, and eventually what happened happens … you break up.
Now, regarding your question — should you visit your ex in the hospital? I am sure there is a lot of history here I don’t know about because the answer doesn’t seem that difficult to me. Of course, I could be adding a little Hallmark to the scenario, but I think you are telling me that the man you have loved for four years is in the hospital and wants to see you. The roadblock that created the problem originally seems to have been removed — the child who is now an adult is facilitating the meeting.
Therefore, I would say, of course, go. At the very least your presence might bring your ex comfort and at the very most, he could recover and you might reconcile. If you do consider reconciliation, be proactive this time when forming a relationship with his children. There’s a fine art to becoming a bonusfamily. It works best when they invite you to join the club. That takes time and preparation — and that’s good ex-etiquette.
Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, bonusfamilies.com. ©2020 Jann Blackstone Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.