How do I recover from a “mistake” my ex-wife says she made by abruptly leaving our home and marriage for another man, then asking to return six months later because her boyfriend dumped her?
She’s been living with this guy since she left. Our teenaged son and daughter were deeply hurt but started trying to accept the situation. They now feel only anger at her. My daughter has asked me, “Was everything in our family a lie?”
I’m not sure counselling will help us because I don’t trust my wife any more. Your thoughts?
In this case, start with suggesting individual counselling to the teenagers. Frame it as a way of talking out the situation, each privately, and stress the opportunity as being for them only, not to side with you or their mother.
You’d also benefit if you can open up your mind to discussing with a counsellor your view of your relationship with your wife, especially in the years leading up to the separation.
This may help you better understand her, though it won’t necessarily move you to accept her back.
However, when the actions are stripped of anger and judgment, you’ll be better able to support your children through their ongoing emotional responses. You’ll also more easily decide what you see for the future, for each of you.
Readers’ Commentary “I’ve discovered that I was completely wrong about something because I based my opinion only on my own personal experience.
“I’ve preferred working from home for the past 14 months due to the pandemic. However, when my current employer called everyone back to in-person work, I tried to negotiate working from home until I got my first vaccine shot. My employer refused, so I quit.
“Recently, the original employer there called me and we discussed a gradual transition from working at home to full-time in-person. Human Resources became involved.
“The woman from HR informed me they’d had a huge turnover in employees. I blamed it on COVID-19 and she quickly corrected me saying that the turnover was due to all the workplace affairs that were exposed and blew-up!
“I was gobsmacked! I thought wives and girlfriends were jumping to conclusions and being biased against certain women based on their age and appearance, just as I personally had been accused wrongly through the office rumour mill.
“I even left two jobs because of those rumours. Now, I’m sorry I rushed to judgement. I wasn’t aware of how prevalent office affairs are.
“While it hurts to be accused falsely as I was, I’ll do better in future to be more aware of certain workplace situations, communications, and their optics. And I’ll try to present myself more carefully.”
Ellie - Those repeated wrongful accusations of you as a home-wrecking husband-thief must be dismissed from both false rumours and anything on your employment records.
While judging women in the workplace by their age and appearance is patently unfair, acting on it through demotions and dismissals contravenes human rights in the workplace.
There’s also the court of public opinion that affects attitudes and reactions.
Now, that you do know differently about some real incidents of office affairs - if the woman from HR wasn’t just exaggerating for effect - you’re still free to express your personality and apparel tastes in the office, within the bounds of common sense.
Meanwhile, remember that all of those young women’s office affairs that did happen, were partnered by cheating husbands.
FEEDBACK Regarding the grandmother who feels unloved by her five-year-old granddaughter (April 28):
Reader – “Take the high road. Be the caring adult with this young child. What does her granddaughter enjoy (age-appropriate video games, puzzles, music)? Enjoy them with her.
“Indulge her educational desires, but maintain boundaries as she’s simply testing boundaries you’ll let her cross.
“The other “generous” grandparents will always be manipulated. In years to come the granddaughter will greatly appreciate your love and boundaries too.
“A similar story: My friend was undergoing divorce. Her rebellious daughter (early teens) wanted to live with her father, because he allowed anything.
“Six months later the daughter “woke up” and willingly moved back with her mother, including following ALL household rules. The daughter’s now enrolled in university and on the road to being a productive adult.
“Keep the faith and do not compromise on the big issues, such as rudeness.”
Tip of the day:
Individual counselling support for teenagers as well as the parents during family upheaval, can help all involved.