My ex-husband wants to be my friend. We divorced fairly amicably five years ago. I’ve been remarried for three years to my soul-mate and believe I’ll love him for all the years ahead. My ex also remarried two years ago.
So, why is he taking time to visit with me whenever he arrives to take out our daughter? And why does he bring along his wife?
I don’t hate him. But I had strong reasons for divorcing. We were on separate tracks, not connecting emotionally or physically for the last four years before we split. Our daughter was our only strong bond.
His wife has never had children. She’s pleasant to her step-daughter, whom she calls “my young pal.” It’s cute, but my daughter says it’s just “odd” and that it embarrasses her. She’s 11.
I also think it’s odd that his wife wants to be in my company, but it’s better than having a hostile relationship which could hurt our daughter.
I’m 43 now, my ex is 46. We’ll probably be co-parenting for another 10 years.
Do you think it’s possible to re-shape our relationship as divorced “friends?” Or did our past differences and divorce make that impossible?
Ex-Husband Wants Friendship
Nothing’s impossible when sensible, thoughtful adults agree to make it happen.
You’re not the first divorced people to consider this alternative to icy avoidance of each other.
Re-frame the position in each other’s life as now-extended “family” - not close relatives, but respectful parenting partners.
Accept his wife’s efforts to maintain a pleasant atmosphere between you. Help your daughter see how lucky she is to have a family who want her to be comfortable with all.
Even if it takes some adjustment and letting-go of divorce-related barriers, a family-style attitude that works, is healthier for everyone involved.
I love my husband and know that he loves me. But he rarely says the complimentary things that would make me feel noticed and appreciated more.
His work is very consuming so he’ll often be exhausted from a week of long meetings online. He can’t just ignore our two children because they’re immediately all over him whenever possible.
But it seems that he doesn’t feel he has to notice me beyond a quick kiss on the cheek.
We do have sex, mostly on the weekend, but he never says how great I am in bed (which I always try to be) or how much he loves me.
Even when we go out with our friends, he’ll barely notice my new haircut or nice outfit. I sometimes feel like an accessory to his life rather than his main interest along with the children.
I’m tired of showing him how hurt I am. What should I do?
Ask him for a “meeting” with you and say it’s important. Do this at a time when the children aren’t around.
Tell him you love him but feel unnoticed, which hurts you. Say that you appreciate how hard he works but it leaves you feeling like an “accessory” instead of a loved partner.
Explain that little things matter - noticing how you look, appreciating your cooking, and your lovemaking too.
One consideration: This isn’t only about blaming him.
If feeling insecure is part of your personal history, speaking to a therapist about previous letdowns (e.g., from a parent, boyfriend), may bring new insights.
They could help you and your husband better understand the benefits of spoken support between loving partners.
FEEDBACK Regarding the wife who stayed in a long disappointing and loveless marriage until she’s left sad, unhappy and disappointed in herself (August 3):
Reader – “Years ago, I went to counselling with my husband, who had suddenly left me, then returned. During one of our counselling sessions, the psychologist turned to me and said, “Run.” I did.
“I never regretted it but I had needed the validation.”
Ellie - I’m pretty sure that the comment from the professional psychologist back then, if made during a joint husband-wife session, would, today, be considered “inappropriate” timing.
I say this, because it indicates the possibility of abuse, whether mentally, emotionally, and/or physically. This statement left time and room for further abuse directed at you by your husband, if that was an issue in your relationship.
Perhaps the counsellor felt the “Run” message was worth the risk. Fortunately, you didn’t hesitate, and ran.
Tip of the day:
Children of divorce benefit in security/comfort if parents become “divorce friends” who can attend family gatherings.