I met my soon-to-be boyfriend when he was delivering pizzas. He got the message when I’d ordered from his service for three days in a row.
We fell in love, and I urged him to go back to school so he could later get a better-paying job. He studied music and became a private piano/guitar teacher and was quite good at it.
We got married. But he decided against my suggestion of expanding to a business that managed music teachers and created franchises.
I realized he was never going to be able to support a family on his own.
So, I started a business producing custom invitations for big-splash weddings which also led to event planning for corporations.
I earned enough to buy us a house suitable for us and the two children. It was a busy, productive time and I thought we were set for years ahead.
But, 18 months later, I discovered that my husband had been teaching more than music at the home of a divorced woman.
We’re divorced now, supposedly co-parenting, but my ex hasn’t changed. He’s late for picking up the kids and for returning them, also changes arrangements at the last minute.
He knows these delays affect my commitments to the few clients I still have during this pandemic.
He’s always angry with me, though I’m the one who begged for marriage counselling together, which he refused.
He also blames me for “choosing” a job track for each of us that’s producing far less income since COVID-19 appeared.
I still wanted our marriage to work. He just wanted it to end.
How can couples at permanent odds help their children still feel loved by us both? How likely are their future relationships to be fraught with fighting when that’s what they mostly see from us?
Divorced and Worried
This is the hardest part of divorce and can take years to resolve, if ever... unless you both work your hardest at changing the optics.
It IS possible to give children a better understanding of your divorce instead of a bitter one.
Essential: Starting from now, do not badmouth your ex to anyone (it gets back to children) nor argue with him in front of them.
He’s no longer yours to change or improve.
If he argues with you in front of the kids, say you’ll talk to him later about it. No lecture, no making yourself look “better” than him.
Even though you’re divorced, you can better understand what it means to your kids, through talking to a mediator or therapist on your own. Just one visit and a suggested reading list, can take your own approach to a new, informed level.
They’ll see the change in you, so will he. But don’t explain this unless asked. Let him calm down from his former anger/resentment to find out over time that you’re no longer adversaries.
Your children can only benefit.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding a man abused in early teens, who felt it formed his sex orientation as a gay male:
“It's my understanding that sexual orientation is not “formed” as a result of abuse.
“He may’ve rationalised his beliefs this way to try to reconcile cognitive dissonance, but that belief apparently led to further confusion.
“People seem to fall in love with (or are physically attracted to) a specific person, not a particular gender.
“Gender fluidity would seem to be healthy, as long as it doesn’t come with yet another label plus heavy censure or guilt.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who’s third wife, whom he “adores,” rarely allows sex, will sometimes say “I love you,” but is unaffectionate (September 24):
Reader – “Amazing that two middle-aged people, each with two marriages behind them, could be so thick about embarking on a third.
“He's "never felt love like this"? She wanted to keep the marriage secret, was and is cold/unromantic. There was no physical intimacy before the union, sex occurred only twice since and now there are separate beds, no hugs or kisses.
“These are alarm bells. Where did she get the idea that it was appropriate to enter into marriage without informing her partner that she had little-to-no interest in any kind of physical relationship?
“How about honesty?”
Ellie - She’s described the abusive trauma of her childhood and two brutal marriages. If he’d offer deeper understanding and emotional support, she’d more likely gain physical trust in him.
Tip of the day:
Divorce hurts kids. Both parents must try hard to help heal them.