I’m a man, 52, divorced, remarried, father of two, still being blamed by my ex-wife for her unhappy life.
We met in first-year university, both smart. We got good jobs; everything was great. Then she got pregnant and became constantly negative.
She returned to work after maternity leave but felt she was being sidelined from advancement because she was now a mother.
She openly resented my promotion which involved travel.
I was home most weekends and tried to make family time special for us all. But she dwelt on resentments.
Couple years later, I met someone at work who made me feel good again. I knew I’d spend the rest of my life with her.
When I told my wife that I was moving out, but would co-parent and financially split everything we owned, she disbelieved the amounts, despite her own lawyer having signed off on accuracy.
She still says I “cheated” her and our daughter, in favour of the son I later had with my new wife.
At 24, our daughter’s prospered despite the negativity she heard at home. She’s finished her degree, got a decent job and lives with a very good guy. I see her regularly.
I’d contributed to her tuition and living fees equally with her mother, but she still complains that I “could’ve done more.”
How long do I have to put up with my ex-wife’s nasty comments? Can I cut ties?
Sick of Blame/Bitterness
Your ex has carried her anger/hurt/blame for many years, despite any fairness you showed.
While naturally upsetting to you these many years later, the blow to her was much worse when you announced a break-up. Add to that shock, her being rejected for someone else.
She was left alone with a youngster, while you travelled and had a new partner at home.
Remember that, some 20 years ago, career opportunities were undoubtedly denied her as a then-single mother, while you could advance in your job.
It should be no surprise that she found that nasty difference tough to swallow.
Time usually heals, and it would’ve been mentally/emotionally healthier for your ex if she’d sought that release from anger.
But that didn’t happen. Life tasted sour when she had to deal with you. So sad for your daughter to see.
Equally sad for her, however, would be you “never” dealing with your ex-wife again.
Your daughter may marry, have children. Will you stay absent on a grandchild’s birthday if her mother attends?
That would only spread bad feelings to everyone.
Don’t end all contact. Rise above her occasional jabs. You chose and found a happier life. She felt constrained by single/working motherhood and divorce.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who’s "not sure how to handle (her husband’s) need to always be “right” (October 7):
Reader – “The focus was on how to fix the man, but the wife wrote of their discussions "I tend to come back to the topic, he shuts down for a while."
“So, she dredges up her point again after he’s assumed that the matter’s settled.
“This behaviour is a recurring complaint from some men, that women often stew about things and bring up their dissatisfaction again.
“Rather than her husband "needing to be right,” I think he wants her to "give it a rest."
Ellie - Good point. But gender isn’t the driving factor. I’ve also heard from husbands who say their wives think they’re “always right.”
The deeper problem is that both aren’t having “discussions” but are repeatedly sparring for control.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding this letter-writer’s wish to connect with a husband who wrote of his wife’s mood swings (September 30):
“I'm a medical professional and married father of young children.
“Otherwise “normal,” my wife has seven to ten days each month when she becomes nasty, emotionally-labile, negative and mean-spirited.
“Like many, I want to keep the family together and do love her.
“She’s on antidepressants but they don't mitigate the dark cycles.
“I’ve slotted this to be PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder).
“I’d love to connect with your writer to share my experiences as sometimes it can be quite isolating to feel that you’re going through this alone.
“Would you be able to connect us?”
Ellie - I cannot. This column promises assured anonymity so that, no matter why they’re seeking relationship advice, letter-writers won’t be identified.
Instead, search a website for women experiencing PMDD and their partners, to connect with a support group.
Tip of the day:
Longstanding bitterness post-divorce mostly hurts the person maintaining it.