My ex of 30 years had always alienated and coercively/financially controlled me.
My family and friends didn’t know any details, e.g. my ex threatened to separate during my father’s funeral because I wanted to go in the limo to the gravesite with my siblings.
Years later, when confronted about being controlling, she responded, "You let yourself be controlled."
Indeed, being a co-dependent and peacekeeper, I appeared to be happy. Yet I knew our relationship involved me always giving in.
I dedicated myself to raising my three kids (often working two jobs so their mother could resign from a good-paying job to stay home with them).
Later, I fell in love with another woman and left their mother who receives half my pay for spousal support and child support for one still at university.
Now the kids (all in their 20s) refuse to have anything to do with me.
False information was shared with them plus confidential details between myself and my ex.
I know they’re hurt and believe I’m the sole cause. But six years later, after repeated attempts to connect with them, I’m feeling they’ll never see me again. What do I do?
Controlling a partner often has a cyclical effect. In your case, your ex-wife was the controller, you were the accommodator, which confirmed her ability to control you.
That’s in the past but she’s also controlled the story of your split.
In their 20s they don’t want any further details about your required payments, or your falling in love with someone else.
It’s unfair to you, but you have to work with what exists.
Reach out periodically through emails/letters – not with long explanations about who did what to whom – and separately tell each that you care about them.
Send birthday/holiday cards, ask about them and what’s happening in their lives, without too much about you.
Occasionally say you miss each one. Ask, from time to time, to meet. If you get the chance, apologize for their being hurt by your leaving.
Do NOT tell your children the story of being controlled etc. as it’s just asking them to choose sides, yet again.
Remember, it’s the contact and hope of a future relationship that you want.
Dear Readers – Regarding the married woman who wonders if her onetime act of cheating “defines” her (August 19):
Ellie – Some readers took my response to mean that I always believe that it’s okay to cheat and not confess.
Not so. Often, a repeatedly sneaky/lying cheater eventually gets found out anyway. Confessing is honest.
But the situation for a woman or a man who has a one-off sexual encounter (no affair) usually involves different circumstances.
If it’s excess alcohol/drugs, or being away alone, those are circumstances that’ll repeat. So the person must confess to deal with their own addiction or lifestyle issues.
This particular woman felt ignored, lonely, and unhappily married to a man with no time for her or for sex.
A random man was attracted to her, there was a brief encounter in his hotel, she’d never see him again, but feared what it meant.
I strongly believe the husband and wife needed marital counselling, for reasons that already existed, rather than focus first on this event.
There’s a huge likelihood that she’d end up confessing during the therapy process, as her way of telling her husband how lonely and sexually unsatisfied she was.
Counselling was the best forum for the couple to discover whether they could re-connect or should separate.
I recently went over to help my off-on friend of 20 years to move, but the couple were still sorting things.
I started stuffing clothes and bedding into bags but they complained the whole time. They then raised my not communicating with my siblings.
My response was that at least I'm not always fighting with them. This person has always been confrontational.
I asked if they wanted to come to my cottage that weekend and get away from the chaos. They said no. I said, Call me when you get settled.
It's been three weeks and they haven't called yet, though he used to call me daily.
Should I call them considering how they treated me?
Hanging On The Line
When a relationship’s a tug-of-war, it’s too frustrating and unsatisfying. Maybe the couple’s too stressed by the move.
See other friends for now and/or attend community events so you’re not alone.
Tip of the day:
Despite purposeful alienation of you, a parent, don’t give up reaching out to your children.