I’m the second wife of a man I love dearly, married for 24 years. We’re from different countries and religions but respect each other’s faiths and get along very well. We talk through any problems and usually compromise or find that the difference of opinion doesn’t matter much.
One more sensitive topic is that of my husband’s daughter. She lives in the country where his parents moved when he was in his late-teens. He later married a woman he met there, they had a daughter together, and later divorced.
She’s married now and has three children, making my husband a grandfather. We haven’t had children together so this is the only daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren he’ll ever have. Sadly, he never hears from any of them.
I suspect the daughter’s coldness began after the parents’ divorce, supported by his ex’s angry attitude toward him.
When he moved his company here for better earnings to maintain financial support for his daughter and afford regular long-distance visits, his ex must’ve regularly maligned his character.
Even as a child, she’d act coldly when he arrived to spend time with her. Years later, married and a mother herself, she withdrew farther, never introducing him to his grandchildren, now middle and older teens. He only sees photos of them that his own relatives send.
I feel so sad for him. He’s a good man who’s been wonderful to my nieces and nephews whom we’ve visited in my country. But I know he yearns to meet and connect with his grandchildren. How can I help him?
Divorced and Denied
Your support of his good character is as important as your love. Unfortunately, divorce sometimes leaves a permanent stain of negativity on a person’s reputation when the break-up is heavily acrimonious, particularly on one side.
The daughter, caught young in the storm of nasty insults about her father, had to believe her mother in order to know peace after he left. She was given no chance to learn otherwise.
Yet one or more of his grandchildren may one day be curious enough to make contact with him. Even health issues can create an interest regarding their genetic relationship to this man they’ve never met.
He can try an occasional email outreach, always expressing the desire to one day meet or at least communicate with them.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the column discussing collaborative lawyers and separation (June 15):
“Having recently gone through the separation grinder, I can personally attest that "collaborative" is not the miracle solution it’s marketed as.
“Specifically, it fails utterly if the couple do not share a common work ethic and similar incomes (at least in my case). But it MAY work if the couple is CLOSE to an agreement from the start.
“Had I known then what I know now, I would’ve gone directly to the mediation/arbitration route.
“That path has both parties present their positions to the Mediator/Arbitrator. With their lawyers present and advising each party, the Mediator works towards a solution for perhaps half a day. If no solution’s found, the same Mediator/Arbitrator will arbitrate a binding solution.
“This route should be seriously considered before putting time/money into the collaborative process. It took me 2 1/2 years to get to the end. One day of mediation resolved the separation.
“I did try the collaborative approach first, at my wife's suggestion. It was a devastating disaster and expensive.
“A quote from my lawyer: “It seems the Mediator has talked some sense into her.”
Reader #2 – “I agree that a couple with children at home (under 18, and dependent) must collaborate for the children’s welfare.
“However, my ex-husband and I thought we could “avoid the high costs, and settle it peaceably” by using our lawyer. I was advised otherwise. A wise friend said, “Ten years from now you’re going to be angry if you can’t afford to do certain things you assumed you would.”
“And an accountant advised, “get a lawyer who’s good with numbers.”
“I discovered that our mutual/family lawyer wanted to help us settle quickly, and avoid court costs... at my expense. The good-with-numbers lawyer showed me what was legally mine to claim - a significant difference.
“Both parents must be aware of the family law for their home province, and decide on an equitable division. A lawyer for each parent is essential to speak for their clients. (The trifecta of divorce: lawyer, accountant and psychologist).”
Tip of the day:
Parental alienation can also affect grandparents when an angry ex-partner divides child from parent.