I can’t shake the pain of my ex-wife’s infidelity.
She left me for a former good friend, then gas lighted me to her family and mutual friends to justify her decision to break up our family.
Today, I have a girlfriend I love being with and I feel stronger. But I also feel like I’m suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) whenever I think about the situation or have to communicate with her about our two children.
How to Handle
The communication’s essential for your relationship with your children. Ignore everything else in those necessary conversations except the when and where of being with your kids.
The infidelity is past, your betraying friend deserves her, and time will alter some people’s attitudes as they see you living well and happy.
If you suspect PTSD, and you dwell in depression, get counselling, and medication if a doctor advises it.
Focus on the now and the future - children who need you, a lover, and the emotional strength and social wisdom gained from a major (albeit unwanted) life experience.
Readers’ Commentary Regarding why some couples resort to “grandparent alienation:”
Reader – “I'm trying to have a healthy relationship with my parents and give my children the gift of a healthy relationship with their grandparents.
“But I sometimes limit and sometimes bar my parents’ contact with my children, as do my siblings:
“This is because my parents argue with each other, in front of us and the children, whenever we see them.
“My parents make derogatory comments, use "teasing" and negative cultural commentary.
“I’ve asked them privately to respect when my kids stray from their expectations of "how boys should be."
“While my parents are certainly entitled to their opinions and beliefs, we’ve explained that we want our kids to experience love and acceptance from family about who they are.
“Comments like, "Why do you let him keep his hair long, people will think he’s a homosexual," and to my son, " Are you a girl? girly-girl.... "
“The kids get hurt, uncomfortable and don't know what to say because it was Grandma\Grandpa.
“Yes, these are opportunities for discussion with the kids, acknowledging where their grandparents are coming from, and learning from the situation. BUT there’s a limit.
“With less frequent and shorter visits these "comments" and "jokes" are kept to a manageable level.
“My parents were abusive. I’ve never reported anything or confronted them. I’ve had therapy to learn healthy boundaries and be mindful of how this impacts my own relationships - especially how I parent my children.
“I don't leave my kids alone with my parents because I don't trust them to respect our parenting style.
“We don’t use physical force or shame. They did and still would. When alone with my siblings' children, they did, despite being asked not to and discussing alternatives.
“So we don't give them this opportunity now. My job as parent is to keep my kids safe - period.
“Here’s my advice to grandparents who "can't understand why:"
- Don't back your children into a corner if they’re not publicly forthcoming about why they don't let you have full access to grandkids. You might not be able to handle brutal honesty.
- We love you and are trying to show our kids the best of you... we’re also trying to do what's best for them. You want this too.
- Things change and acceptance of differences is huge (in relating to grandchildren).
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who was used as a “beard” by her husband while he spent years enjoying a gay lifestyle (October 29):
Reader – “I disagree with Ellie's tip-of- the-day that forgiveness is only possible if there are positive changes for a better future.
“Forgiveness is always possible. One forgives for one's own sake and emotional health.
“Reconciliation is only possible if there are positive changes for a better future.”
Ellie - I admire your positive belief in the ever-present possibility of forgiveness, and agree that one’s own emotional health is the best reason for it.
I’d even say you were correct if we were having an existential debate.
But in the real details of this woman’s life, her belief that her husband’s duplicity contributed to her serious health issues, plus her deep pain at feeling that she was “used” for many years, makes forgiveness something that she feels she cannot grant him or herself.
Tip of the day:
Heal from divorce through focusing on your kids, the gift of new love, and seeking help if needed.