I’m a woman unused to divorce as it’s possibility never occurred to me during my 15 years of marriage. Now my friends say I should’ve known that my travelling salesman husband had many opportunities to cheat.
I found that out when a woman answered the phone in his hotel suite and told me, “He’s not here right now, but I am and you’re not.”
Two years later, I’m still trying to figure out my life. We share custody of our two daughters, 11 and 13. He’s often late to pick them up, and doesn’t phone to alert them.
I’m left with their upset reactions, sometimes blaming me for the divorce and saying that he’s late because he doesn’t like seeing me. It’s very hurtful.
He’s even made plans to be away with his girlfriend and her two sons and our daughters, without telling me, even though it’s during Christmas!
He didn’t ask me first whether I had plans for that time. Now the girls are excited and I have no choice but to be home alone.
I’m very upset! How do I handle being divorced without letting my ex alienate me from my children??
At Wit’s End!
Talk to your divorce lawyer or hire one. You need legal help defining your custody agreement. Learn your rights as a co-parent and how to insist on them.
Scheduling of major holidays should be done well ahead and agreeable to both parties. You should never be ignored while he feels free to make unilateral decisions that affect you.
You don’t have to be alone. Use the coming Christmas period to spend time with people you enjoy being around, friends and family who are supportive, and catching up with old friends.
Once strengthened, don’t drill your daughters when they return about the details of their trip. But do listen and show natural, motherly interest.
If one or both daughters continue to blame you for the divorce, gently answer that it takes two to marry and two to drift apart. Tell them you would’ve wished not to divorce but that’s the reality today and just like them, you’re trying to accept it and adjust.
Say that you’ll always love them and that’s what matters most to you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the “doubly abused” cousin (September 30):
Reader – “A director of a special high-school for juvenile sexual offenders once told me that virtually all of these kids were first abused themselves. Their behavior was rooted in the trauma they’d experienced. They acted out the things that happened to them.
“The doubly-abused cousin sounds like those boys the director described. If this is so, her denial is tied to inability to cope with her emotions about her own abuse. Though understanding this doesn’t improve her relationships with family members, it may help her work through her own emotions about her cousin’s behaviour.”
Reader #2 – “The letter-writer made the mistake of confronting her cousin and family BEFORE seeking counselling.
“I had sought counselling before confronting my now ex-wife (minor physical abuse). So, I was prepared for the denial.
“I wonder, did the letter-writer seek any medical help at the time?
“I did need some minor medical attention, so I was able to obtain a copy of the medical report. Still the denial continued.
“Unfortunately for the letter writer, she’s now permanently damaged the relationship with her cousin’s family.
“Hopefully, the more that sexual abuse gets reported, the more willingly the abused will seek medical attention immediately.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the woman with a hidden sexual past (Oct 2):
“I too had previous partners and told my then-boyfriend everything.
“It caused many fights, but I had a sense of relief that he knew everything.
“I married him.
“It didn’t help. His insecurities were always there. Even after years of being together and married. He’d cause a fight whenever I’d go out with friends or leave for a work trip. He assumed that I’d return to my previous “habits.” I never did.
“We’re no longer married. His insecurities were a big part of our divorce.
“It’s not worth the stress, or fear that something would happen to me in the event his insecurities became violent.
“A good man will love you as you are, past and all. I know that for sure now.
“I agree with Ellie: Stand up to him now. If he doesn’t trust you, find someone who will!”
Tip of the day:
Children of divorce need support adjusting, and constant assurance of being loved by both parents.