DEAR MISS MANNERS: Times are financially stressful for me these days. I am living from paycheck to paycheck, and while I am making progress, it takes all that I have to keep up with my current financial responsibilities and debt.
To compound matters, I've recently been asked to participate in a commitment ceremony by my ex-wife and her partner. They joyfully refer to the ceremony as a wedding, and I am truly happy for them. I support their enormously important commitment to stand by one another; however, I'm really kind of uncomfortable being asked to participate.
Although our divorce was recent (a little over a year) and amicable, it was brought about by significant trust and financial issues I had with my ex-wife, and I'm not sure I've fully resolved them. As amicable as we were able to remain, it was also emotionally tumultuous.
I still care about her, and really want her to be happy, but I think I'd have been happier to just be invited as a guest or to decline to attend altogether. I agreed to attend, because she is still my friend and we do have a history together.
Now I find myself in the role of "best man/mister of honor" which is gracious on her part but surprising to me, given all we'd been through. Because none of her family can or will attend the ceremony, I think she honored me as I was, at one time, an important part of her family.
Do I decline to participate, or is it more appropriate to table my discomfort and support my ex-wife, my friend, regardless of our history?
I really want to do the right thing, but I'm torn between lingering feelings and financial stress. I'm trying pretty hard to be honorable and a person of etiquette.
GENTLE READER: Much as Miss Manners approves of amiability in partings, she finds the question of a former spouse's attending -- much less participating in -- a similar subsequent event to be creepy.
Surely it must be hard (whether from sadness or amusement) for such a person to listen to vows of permanency without remembering when the same person said the same things before. At any rate, hinting so ("I wish you happiness, but the ceremony would awake too many memories for me") is flattering.
Sending your former wife this sentimental message, along with your very best wishes for her happiness, will leave you free to stay home and worry about the financial mess in which she left you.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the protocol for sending flowers when a family member is hospitalized then sent home because nothing more can be done for the patient?
The intent is that our office would send flowers, but with the recent update, is it still appropriate? May we add, the patient has since been sent home.
GENTLE READER: Why are you hesitating about sending flowers to his home, since you know that he is there? Isn't that what you were planning to do when he was hospitalized?
Please rid Miss Manners of the ghastly feeling that you plan to spring for only one order of flowers and are thinking whether it wouldn't look better to send them to the funeral than to try to cheer him now. Fewer flowers twice would be more gracious than more when he is gone.