Dear Amy: My ex-wife and I have two beautiful, well-adjusted daughters, both in graduate school. The girls were in middle school when we separated and I began a long-distance relationship, going strong now for several years. My ex and I had some hostility early on, mostly from her end, although admittedly I did not always handle things well.
The stars have finally aligned and my soul mate is moving to my town soon. We plan to buy a house together and will probably get married eventually.
My ex and I are now civil and occasionally friendly toward one another. She has always been a great mom. The girls are undoubtedly closer to her than me, but our relationships are solid.
Although my girlfriend is the love of my life, in some circles I suspect she is still considered "the home wrecker."
I was slow to introduce her to my daughters, but they gradually got to know and like her. Going forward I anticipate some major things like graduations and weddings will take place, and I can't very well leave my girlfriend at home. I understand that my daughters' wishes take precedence and my concerns are secondary, but is it reasonable to assume that both my girlfriend and I would be invited to events? Should I discuss this with my daughters?
How do I handle the inevitable meeting of my girlfriend and my ex?
— Concerned dad
You are overthinking this by a mile.
If this woman moves to your town, moves in with you and becomes your life partner, then she should be included in all family events to which you are invited.
Your daughters should not exclude her, and I suspect that this exclusion might not occur to them unless you introduced the concept.
In advance of this big move, you should call your ex-wife to say to her, "I realize these last few years have occasionally been tough for you and I think you've done an amazing job. Thank you for that. I want to let you know that 'Laura' is going to move here soon. We're planning to live together and I wanted you to hear this from me before you heard it from anyone else."
In the course of your conversation, you should ask for her advice and help with how to tell the girls. She may be helpful in this regard. If not, you'll just have to be straightforward and mature about it. Do not ask anyone's permission. This is your life.