A good friend discovered her husband’s long been living a secret life. They’ve since parted, and she’s left with four kids in post-secondary school.
He’s since embraced his true identity and she’s had to pick up the pieces of her once “peaceful” life.
He pays for nothing; they've yet to see lawyers, but, shockingly, there aren’t support groups for former spouses.
There’s loads of help for people coming out of the closet, but none for spouses. Any suggestions? I’m hoping she gets legal assistance.
Being supportive is helpful, but being overtly judgmental less so.
The immediate issue is her need for financial help. The father’s responsibilities regarding helping children with post-secondary education, and/or living support until they’re employed, don’t get erased.
So encourage her seeking legal assistance to secure his financial involvement.
As for the emotional impact on her, yes, a support group would be very helpful.
I’m assuming she or you have already contacted local gay associations, and also searched the Internet for such support groups for former spouses.
I’m hoping readers can send in any information on where these might be found.
Meanwhile, she should get individual counselling to handle her (likely) anger and hurt, plus loss of self-confidence.
However, having friends’ fuel her anger with negativity about how he disturbed her “peaceful” life is counter-productive.
Clearly, his “secret” life must’ve been a mental/emotional torment. Even if you cannot summon any sympathy for him, do remember that four young adults – his children – are also hurting and don’t need their mother more worked up against their father by her friends.
I’ve endured embarrassment, lies about porn, and belittlement from my spouse. I believed in him and his pleas for forgiveness because we have four children.
I’ve never told anyone - not friends, family, or children. They only see me as a heartless person who doesn't care about their friend/son/ father.
For many years, I haven’t wanted anything to do with him.
We’ve been to counselling repeatedly, but it doesn't work. I’ve never loved him, though he says he loves me. But actions speak louder.
He became comfortable with me being a cook, cleaning lady, problem solver, handyman and, worse, a "service” provider.
I continued to stay with him because the children needed me, but it’s an awful and lonely existence.
Everyday he comes home and behaves as though I’m invisible. He doesn't talk to me about anything. Yet outwardly, he’s always polite, caring, loyal, and has a great sense of humour. He’s loved and respected by everyone except me.
Anyone in similar circumstances should trust their instincts and leave before the situation becomes vile.
Living in Misery
Though you’ve told your story in order to reach out to others who write and/or read this column, I’m reaching out to you.
No one has to consciously accept a life of misery, when many other choices – though seeming difficult – do exist.
Children see through lies. An environment where they think their mother is “heartless” and uncaring about their father isn’t healthy for them, either.
Get counselling on your own, where you can probe ways to improve your life.
It’s not always the big step of leaving that’s the only choice. Re-claiming your self-worth helps you make smaller but important changes – taking a course, pursuing an interest, getting fit – makes a bigger difference than you imagine.
These steps can prepare you for the bigger decision, as to when to consider other options.
FEEDBACK Regarding the difficult mother (July 20):
Reader #1 – “I, too, sought your advice on how to deal with my own hypercritical, negative mother, several years ago. (She called me a fat slob, and made it clear to anyone who knew us that I was a wreck in her eyes, and she was being very charitable to me by buying clothes for my kids.)
“My solution was to limit our time with my mother. As soon as she'd start being negative, the kids and I would leave.
“I've realized I can't "fix" her, and my kids know that's just how Nana acts, and don't take her comments to heart.
“It's distressing when a mother-daughter relationship becomes so painful, but at the end of the day we can't control other people's actions, only our own reactions to them.”
Reader #2 – “My late mother-in-law used those tactics. What finally worked was humour, saying, “Congratulations, you found this week's deliberate mistake.”
Tip of the day:
Friends of people in crisis need your support but not added fuel to their anger.