Can we sit at the big table?

Really silly family situation I’m anticipating, and wondered how you would deal.

We’re having dinner at my in-laws. My dtr’s family will be there as well.

Background. My FIL was a bigamist. My wife found out about his 2d family when she was 22-ish. He’s living with his 2d wife - not my wife’s mother. We’re not really close with either of them. Even keeping up appearances can get kinda ridiculous. But without going too into it, you can imagine there are all kinds of past resentments and such.

Okay, so we’re making this one attempt to have dinner with the 4 generations. They live in a quite large home. He is quite wealthy, tho not what I would consider mega rich. We were last there in January to celebrate the FIL’s birthday, along with my wife’s 2 sisters and BIL. 8 adults. The dining room table was set up really nicely. But we were served off of paper plates with plastic utensils on a little table crammed in a dark corner of their cavernous kitchen. The dining table was set up for his OTHER family who was coming over the next day. Actually it was so extreme that it almost more amusing as much as anything else.

So I’m really interested to see if we get to sit in the dining room and eat off the china tonight. In your opinion, if I go there and am seated at the kitchen table and served off paper plates, should I say anything? If so, what?

Wow. I’ve read the OP a few times. It’ll take a while to digest. Unique situation!!
ETA: I know all kinds of people. Felons, drug addicts, communists, etc. Never met a bigamist!!

So there were empty places at the dining table while you sat on a card table in the corner?

My stepdad was a bigamist. Pretty much an all-round bad person. When it all came out, I just felt sorry for the kid in the other family who had such a crap dad.

Dinsdale, I wouldn’t say a word, but I am curious to see how it goes!

Good-bye springs to mind.

But then I re-read this. So on the previous occasion ALL the people who were eating dinner that night were ALL eating in the cramped corner of the kitchen because there was a big event the next night, right? FIL ate with you in the kitchen? In the interest of family harmony, I’d cut him some slack and decide to believe that he’d invited you to dinner the night before a long standing engagement and he got holy hell for it. “Six months we’ve been planning this, I hire a maid service to get it clean the day before and THAT’s the day you decide to invite family you never see? Have you lost your mind? NO. Call them and cancel. No? Then you’re not getting ANYTHING dirty, got it??!!”

A better idea would have been for him to say “We’re having some work done in the kitchen this week, so I’d like to take you out to dinner instead.” But not everyone thinks that through first.
It doesn’t sound like you were being sent to the kid’s table because of who you are, but that everyone was sitting in the same circumstances because the timing was bad.
I’d say go with an open mind and prepare to be gracious. If they shuffle you back into the kitchen while others are seated in the dining room, THEN you’ve got a reason to say “Nope. Not in this lifetime.” And Good-bye.

OK, how I would deal. I would use this as the opportunity I’ve always dreamed of to pursue a career in motion pictures. I’d hire an amateur filmmaker and explain his/her presence with some jibber jabber about genealogy/love of family/whatever.

Bring plenty of wine and use it as a social lubricant. Begin just asking people their names, what they do for a living, etc. Ask who made what. Close ups of the broccoli casserole. Record plenty of cutlery clinking sounds. Gradually work up to, “so the . . . you are married to Tina and Susan”?

Dinner With A Bigamist, a short documentary, would launch me into the limelight.
Yeah, that’s how I would deal. No offense to the OP or others.

Yeah - absolutely more ridiculous than you could imagine.
And yeah, my wife has more than once said she should “write a book.”
I’ll let you know how it goes.

Yet you turned out great.

Bigamy?? WTF??

I’m a divorced guy. Happily divorced. I just don’t understand why bigamy. I love my gf and we’ve talked about marriage for its practical benefits, yet in general I don’t really understand marriage, let alone two simultaneous marriages?? What am I missing?

ETA: maybe I should step away from this. I’m just gob smacked. Was it because “back then” sex outside of marriage was difficult? I can totally understand cheating. I get that. But marriage for christs sake?

If I had to be at that dinner I’d probably prefer the kitchen. The circumstances where I’d be there would involve some wild horses though.

It’s not just that they are treating you as the “second-class family,” and it’s not that they don’t care that you know exactly where you stand with them, it’s that they are actually throwing it in your faces.

Fuck that noise. I would just stay home. And never speak to any of these people ever again.

Me? I would get a friend to pose as your wife’s other husband for the night, borrow a couple of small kids and take them too, go to dinner, enjoy the food and be perfectly cordial. I’d be vague about who belongs to whom.

If there were further occasions, I’d bring different small kids and bring an extra woman.

I don’t have a family, so Family Ties are not important to me, or at least, not a given. Appearances aren’t important to me either. I’d skip the dinner all together.

Or if you feel you must put in an appearance, show up just for dessert. Or stop by for cocktails and leave when it’s dinnertime.

I can’t think of one good reason to witness or be a party to this mess. <shrug> But that’s just me.

No, but thanks. :smiley:

How does all this bigamy work? Do the two wives know about each other? Do they live in the same town and run into each other at the supermarket checkout line?

It’s one thing if the Husband is a traveling salesman and is out of town for weeks and has a girl on the side. But if you’ve got two wives, how do you explain why you’re gone for half the time, unless you really are a traveling salesman, in which case when do you have time to do your job? Unless you really are gone half the time, but each wife thinks you’re gone 3/4ths of the time?

How do people have the energy for all of this? After I commute to work, work all day, commute back home I’ve only got a few hours to stretch out before I have to get up and do it all over again. If I had a mistress I’d never see my kids. The logistics are mind boggling–even if I’m not keeping it secret.

Heading out shortly. Fill you in later - and answer any questions about THIS instance of bigamy. Maybe Dung and me (I agree, she turned out great) can tag team it?

I agree, that is rather mind boggling.

mrAru when he was on the Spadefish out of Norfolk Va had a guy in his crew who was a bigamist [they also had a guy take off and decide to never show up to work again … fascinating boat!] This bigamist more or less told the wife that lived in Newport News that he went and did duty during the week so he could have the weekends off with her, and the one in Norfolk that he did duty on the weekends so he could have the nights during the week with her. Then he turned around and abandoned both of them when he was shipped off to California. To make things more fun, his service record listed him as single, so he never reported either marriage to the Navy. sigh

A local paper had a story about Mark Zuckerberg visiting the ND oil fields, which has thousands of two-weeks on/two-weeks off workers in the oil boom. The best part is the quote:

I story I’ve told here before was my (now deceased) aunt getting married in the 1940’s with a lavish church wedding, getting off the train on the honeymoon in Portland, and meeting her husband’s “other” family. She got back on the train, had the marriage annulled, and no one talked about it again.

Keep us informed on how this works. It sounds like how some step-families work.

Does anyone here remember the story about the firefighter who died on 9/11, and not only did he somehow manage to do exactly this, but neither of his “wives” (both had children; IDR if he legally married either one of them) knew of the other nor had any idea he was unfaithful, until they both showed up to claim survivor’s benefits? AFAIK, he has never been publicly identified.


Something similar happened a few years ago with one of the Chilean miners, only in this case, they were standing in line at the family visitation tent and found out they were both “married” to the same man. :smack:

Hey! We rated the big table! Neck bones for dinner - yum!

Putting up with this BS is always exhausting. Check back in tomorrow.

Conversely, I wonder how many of the women back home had boyfriends who found out that she had an SO living in the oil fields. :o