DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’m looking for the most important advice of my life. My fiance insists on having his ex-wife attend our wedding ceremony and banquet. He even insists on paying for her hotel and seating her among family members.

I feel very uncomfortable by the thought of her presence in my wedding and tried to explain to him my feelings. He says that since his two daughters (6 and 4 years old) are part of our court, and since we will be leaving on our honeymoon trip, the mother should be there to take care of the girls.

This does not convince me, since the girls have spent vacations with my in-laws-to-be often, without the mother’s presence. I had come to the point of accepting her bringing the girls to the city (they have traveled under airplane care before), and even agreed on paying her hotel room so she can get the girls after the wedding.

But he insists on including her in the wedding. We agreed on listening to your advice before we call the whole thing off.

GENTLE READER: Generally when a bride refers to a wedding detail as being of crucial importance, Miss Manners smiles indulgently. But in this case, she believes you are right. If you cannot accept the idea that the mother of your fiance’s children will be part of your life, call off the wedding.

This is not to say that Miss Manners supports the idea of former spouses attending subsequent weddings. It must be hard on the ex-spouse to hear those same supposedly permanent vows being repeated, although in some cases, perhaps the difficulty may be to stifle bitter laughter.

But in this case, both former spouses have decided, presumably for the sake of those small children, to keep being part of the extended family. That does not make the former wife your rival, but you should recognize that in any case, she is someone with whom you would be expected to maintain a cordial relationship.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it proper to date someone who is separated but not yet divorced?

GENTLE READER: No. However, Miss Manners can tell you that it is not improper for friends of whatever combination of genders to see each other socially.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a very favorite ring that was a gift from my husband early in our marriage. Due to arthritis in my fingers, I can no longer wear the ring and the setting does not allow sizing.

I would like to give it as a Christmas gift to my daughter-in-law (whom I adore) of seven years and am wondering if it would be “tacky” if my note indicated that I wanted her to have it now, and then the ring to be passed on to her daughter (now only 5 months old) when she reaches 21.

GENTLE READER: This is, indeed, a lovely present, but Miss Manners would like to loosen the string attached to it, just a bit. It would be more gracious to say that you hope that someday she would pass it on to her daughter.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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