I'm going through a tough divorce, after 25 years of a challenging marriage, and then discovering a seven-year affair six months ago. It's been very difficult for my two sons, who still don't want contact with their father.
They've been humiliated and disappointed, and already had a difficult relationship with him. He's an alcoholic and a bully. My sons' teenage years were very tough due to his extreme parenting style and poor modelling.
They're in their early-20s now. The affair started when they were "spirited" teens, and when I was struggling with very poor health. He couldn't handle that I was focused elsewhere... he's been diagnosed as a narcissist by a family counsellor.
I'm struggling with guilt for not leaving him long ago (he did have a positive side).
He's determined to move on with this woman. She knows very little about him (it was a long distance affair, several weekends a year in hotels with no one else around, lavish spending, and constant email, text, and phone contact).
I've only seen him face to face twice in six months and it was upsetting each time. He's completely indifferent to me (voice, tone, choice of words), and it upsets me so much I don't sleep or eat for days.
Am I crazy for deciding to never see him again, except for divorce negotiations? We can do any other business by email.
The boys can decide how to deal with their father. What do I tell my father who has early dementia and short term memory problems? If I tell him, he'll fret, and then forget, and I'll have to keep telling him.
You're not crazy, but somewhat unrealistic. There'll be events - weddings, births, and funerals - that could involve both of you. His "indifference" is a shield, because he's a man who indulges his own wants and doesn't consider how it affects others.
You need your own emotional shield, so you can give yourself a healthy perspective. You admittedly stayed for some positive reasons. Moving forward now is the only healthy choice for you.
Counselling can help you look to the present and future for improving your life, rather than regretting the past. Once you do that effectively, it won't matter if you occasionally see your ex. Your father will understand a simple "he's gone," and sense when you've positively accepted that reality.
My husband retired from his job and pursued his old hobby of music. He takes guitar and piano classes and plays music with a small group of other retired people. He's quite skilled at those instruments and really enjoys the lessons and jam sessions, but he's not pursuing it as a second career or even an occasional paying gig.
So I don't understand why he gets very defensive and even angry if I ever comment on which music I like better or less so. He's normally easy-going but I can't say a word about music now or he explodes. Is this an aging thing?
It's his passion, and a new area of self-image, so tread delicately.... which is what his reaction is actually telling you.
If by "aging" you mean he's showing signs of becoming a curmudgeonly old man, no. You're hurting his feelings and he's annoyed. This is about his embracing change, and having pride in what he's doing. Back off your comments. Unless you join him in studying more about music and speak from being informed. But even then, be diplomatic. It's his art.
My boyfriend of seven years unexpectedly broke up with me a week ago. However, we have since talked and are on a "break." I have left it up to him to contact me, but how do I move forward? How long is a reasonable break?
A break should be as long as it takes for the person who initiated it - him - to know why they needed it. And to tell the other person.
It should also be as long as it takes for the other party - you - to also consider just what you want from this relationship and what you're willing to accept/change when you hear the reasons for the break.
Meanwhile, you move forward by understanding that this isn't just an exercise. It's a serious opportunity for both of you to think about what the relationship needs for you two to reconnect and last together.
Tip of the day:
Moving forward in your own life - plus therapy - takes the trauma out of occasionally seeing your ex.