The Reunion and the Boyfriend | What’s in a Name? | Bride Jewel Thief

The Reunion and the Boyfriend

Dear Micah,

My X remarried a woman (Ms. L) who was having an affair with him while they were both still married. They moved to Washington state. My son also lives up there. Last Oct. my youngest daughter moved up there for economic reasons and to be with her brother and father. My son is getting married in 2 months and paternal and maternal families will be present. Mr. X wants to have a reunion with his side of the family to introduce son’s fiancee. My daughter asked her father if she can bring her boyfriend (who is in the army and will be deployed in Feb.). Her stepmother asked her if this is permanent because the reunion is family. My X has a wonderful family. My daughter’s grandfather will be there. He is around 80. He held her in his arms when she was a newborn. How dare this in-law feel that she has the right to exclude my daughter’s boyfriend? This young man is serving our country. I forgot to mention that Mr. X and grandfather are former marines. This may be the only time that my daughter has to see her grandfather. She is in love with her boyfriend. Who knows what the future will hold for my daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend? I think she should bring him. What should she say to stepmother with grace and dignity?



Dear Mom,

The “grace and dignity” part is the only aspect of this question I am having trouble with.  I WANT to advise your daughter to laugh in her stepmom’s face and say something clever like, “I know very well how important family is to you.  You hadn’t even let go of your own before you were snatching up mine!” But I know that being snarky to Mrs. L. won’t solve anything.  I am a little confused as to how things were left.  You said she asked her dad the question originally, then you told me what the stepmother replied, but you never told me what their answer was.  I am assuming Dad deferred to the stepmonster–pardon me–stepmother, and she inserted her little family only stipulation, and your daughter was left with the impression that her boyfriend was not welcome at the party.

I have to say that I find their reactions pretty ridiculous.  What possible harm could come from this man escorting your daughter to their family reunion?  Are they afraid that he’ll learn their secrets or steal their silver?  He’s one man.  It’s not like he’ll invite a bunch of his friends and then no one will be able to tell who’s family and who is a stranger.  I have been to reunions where relatives brought dates.  I have been to reunions where I was the date.  Her request wasn’t unheard of.

Stepmom is clearly posturing in an attempt to demonstrate her power to your daughter.  It’s a total, “I’m the matriarch of this family now and I have the final say in this” kind of thing.  It’s petty and rude.  I personally think that your daughter needn’t even have asked whether she could bring her boyfriend; she should have just brought him.  This is a family reunion and she is part of that family.  She is the one that shares a bloodline with these people, not the stepmom.  But your daughter didn’t do that, she respectfully asked if she could bring him and they implied “No.”

So here is my advice as to how to bring this matter back up again with that grace and dignity you asked for.  Tell your daughter to contact her stepmother again and say something along these lines: “I’ve been thinking about what you said, about how I shouldn’t bring my boyfriend unless he’s going to be a permanent thing.  I understand what you meant–no one wants a reunion full of strangers–but I think I am going to bring him after all.  We are pretty serious.  I have no idea if it’s permanent or not, but then again, is marriage even permanent these days? (A subtle little jab at her which can be omitted if the stepmother is being polite).  I really want him to meet Grandfather, and I think he’ll fit in pretty well since we are a military family.  If, God forbid, something ever happened to Grandfather before my boyfriend returns from his tour of duty, and if we do get married one day, I’d like him to have known my grandfather.  So I think I am going to bring him as my date after all.”

That is a matter-of-fact way of politely standing her ground and getting the point across that she is a grown woman and does not have to ask permission to bring a date to her family party. Next, before Stepmom has time to react, argue, or protest, tell your daughter to move the conversation along by adding, “So what would you like me to bring to the party?  Plates? Cups? Chips? Congealed salad?  If there’s anything I can do to help you with the party, just let me know.”  End it there and see how that goes.  If Stepmom is just determined to win this thing and force the issue, I would advise your daughter to politely disengage from the conversation and let it go.  She should then take the request up with her father privately.

Honestly, I cannot see any reason why Dad would object, but that doesn’t mean he won’t.  He may be afraid of crossing his shrewish wife.  So, your daughter probably isn’t going to be successful in getting Dad on her side, but she should give it a try–he may surprise her.  Ultimately, Dad is only going to go out just so far out on a limb with his wife.  Your daughter may not get the support she would want from him.  In the end, it’s really such a trivial request.  All your daughter wants to do is bring a date to her reunion for Pete’s sake!  It’s just not that big of a deal and it would be so petty to tell her no.  However, IF your ex and his wife ARE that trivial and petty, then I’m afraid your daughter will have to decide what is more important: seeing her family again or taking a stand and boycotting the reunion.


What’s in a Name?

Dear Micah,

I’ve got a question about last names.  Don’t you think that when a person divorces, the ex-wife should give up the husband’s name?  It bothers me a lot and causes me some amount of confusion that my husband’s ex-wife still uses his last name even though they had no kids and got divorced years ago.

The Only Mrs. V.


Dear Mrs. V.,

True, you are the current Mrs. V., and unless your husband is a polygamist, you are the only Mrs. V.,  and you bring up a very interesting point.  There are countless women out there still holding onto their ex-‘s last name and many of them have good reason.  I think that if there are small children involved, it’s almost necessary for a woman to share the same last name with her children to cut down on confusion with teachers, doctors, etc.  On the other hand, there are a great many remarried women out there who share their new husband’s name while their children from a previous marriage have Daddy’s last name, and they aren’t facing any perilous challenges.

So to be honest, I don’t know how to answer this question correctly, or if there is even a correct answer.  When my partner and I decided to have a child, I changed my last name to match his to cut down on confusion for our child–but we are also a couple that is together, not estranged.  If we broke up, I’d probably start using my own name again.  So I can see many sides to this argument.  I suppose I only have a definite opinion on the matter in the cases of divorce after a short marriage that produced no offspring.  I can see no reason at all for a woman to hold onto a man’s last name if they share no children and were only married a short while.  I’d define “a short while” as being anywhere under five years.  After five years, maybe people only know her socially and professionally by her ex-husband’s last name and she’d need to stick with it.  But anyone married just a year or two who divorces and has no children really has no reason to clutch on to that last name unless they still have a thing for their ex and are trying to remain tied to him in some way.

I know of a woman who was married 25 years to a man, had several children, and was tied to this man and his name in every way–the day after she divorced him, she went back to her maiden name even though she hadn’t used it since she was 18.  I think your husband’s ex-wife is still using his name because perhaps that name affords her some sort of implied respect or affluence.  Is your husband from a well-known family?  If so, then her motivation would be that she receives some amount of notability by implying she is a member of this family.  If your husband’s name isn’t a well-known one, then she may be using it as a method to demonstrate to the world that she was there first.  He had another love once before you and she was it–and she wants the world to know that.

Or maybe we’re reading too much into this and she has just never thought about going down to the courthouse and changing it back to her maiden name.  It might be something that is on her perpetual to-do list, but she just hasn’t gotten around to it.  A certain amount of trouble is involved in changing one’s name.  She’ll have to go downtown to the courthouse and fill out some papers, pay a small fee (about $15, I think) and then stand in line to have it processed.  Then, she’ll have to contact all of her credit card companies and have the cards changed, not to mention her banking info and checks.  Plus, if she ever had her name changed on her social security card, she’ll have to contact the Capital and go through their process.  It can be daunting.  Maybe that’s the reason she hasn’t done it.

Regardless, in your specific case I agree that this woman should drop her married name and resume using her own last name.  I think it’s the best thing for her in order to start life fresh.  That can’t happen if she is reminded of the past every time she signs her name.  However, even if she does eventually drop your husband’s last name, she will always remain a factor from his past.  You won’t be eradicating her.  You may feel better once she no longer shares your name, but the old adage still holds true…”A rose by any other name still smells like it’s somebody’s first wife.”


The Runaway Bride is a Jewel Thief

Dear Micah,

My ex-fiancee ended our relationship cause she decided she wasn’t ready for marriage and she didn’t want to relocate with me when I moved out of state.  The problem is I am still waiting on her to return the engagement ring.  At first she said she’d return it.  Then she kept making excuses about being busy.  Then she just flat out said she was keeping it because I “gave” it to her.  How do I get my ring back?



Dear John,

You really dodged a bullet from this bitch, didn’t you?  She is not entitled to that ring.  That ring was a sign of a promise to marry and she broke the promise–therefore she doesn’t get to just keep the ring.  Imagine the fortune she could amass by just getting engaged and collecting the rings.  I think you should take her to small claims court and sue her to get the ring back.  Be forewarned, she may have sold it and spent the money.  That sounds about like something a fine upstanding woman like she would do.

Before you sue her, make one last appeal to her, and possibly to her friends or family if you know them well enough.  I cannot fathom how anyone could argue that she is entitled to the ring.  Surely they’d all be on your side IF the way your relationship ended was truly her doing as you said it was.  If you still cannot get the ring, sue her.  Do not let her get away with this, it’s just wrong and she needs to learn that lesson.  She had every right to change her mind on the marriage, but she shouldn’t get to keep any loot as a parting gift.  This isn’t a game show.

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