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Ex using emotional blackmail

Dear Abby: I'm in a real pickle. My ex-wife, "Gloria," and I have been divorced for eight years, but have managed to remain civil to each other.

Last year, my daughter had a big birthday party to which I wanted to bring a date. Gloria decided that she would not attend because it would be "hurtful" to see me with another woman. After my daughter called me in tears, I canceled my date and went to the party alone.

Now my daughter is about to be married and I want to bring a date to the ceremony. Again, Gloria has announced that she will forgo the pleasure of seeing our daughter get married "so I can have my way and prove to the world I'm able to get a date." My daughter is caught in the middle and wants us both there.

I foresee a host of problems in the future if Gloria's behavior continues. My girlfriend is understanding, but I wish I could include her in family activities, especially one-of-a kind events like weddings. Your thoughts, Abby?

-- Arizona Dad in Conflict

Dear Arizona Dad: Clearly you have gotten on with your life and Gloria hasn't. Eight years is a long time, and by now your ex should have adjusted to the fact that you have separate lives. I, too, foresee a host of problems in the future if you and your daughter continue to succumb to her emotional blackmail.

One solution would be for Gloria to bring a companion of her own to the wedding. Another would be for you to sit with your ex during the ceremony and with your girlfriend at the reception. But for Gloria to say that you only want your girlfriend with you at family events "so you can show the world you can get a date" is hostile.

If you don't assert yourself and end your ex's game-playing, what will wind up happening is you having to alternate celebrating milestone events in your daughter's and eventual grandchildren's lives.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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