How does someone just “leave” their family? I’m talking about walking out the door without telling the children that he’s not coming back?
He did this without telling me that he’d met someone else months ago and had secretly planned to leave. We’d been married for 16 years. Our daughter was 14, our son, 12. They were stunned when I told them, “Daddy’s moved to another house.”
He didn’t call for three weeks, and when he did, they were too upset to say anything but “why?” My son was convinced it was his fault because he’d snuck out past bedtime one evening to sit outside with a friend the week before his father left.
He called me after six months and asked if I’d consider trying to get back together. We went for marriage counselling and got separate counselling for the kids. They didn’t trust their father at first, but things started to feel better… until October of 2019.
That’s when he suddenly said he’d found his true match. He said we’d married too young to last through all the changes of time. He actually complained that the children were still distant with him.
That’s where it stands. He’s living with a woman who has no children. I’ve had a hard time moving on, but it’s about being alone, about my children’s ongoing hurt, about the pandemic.
I want to be positive as you advise and re-charge my life with interests in creative pursuits like painting and in mind-body activities like yoga.
But how do I help myself and my children to truly heal from this awful period of feeling “discarded” by a husband and father?
Left Behind Twice
He’s in your past now, even though your children are still affected by his double rejection.
For you to move forward, you need to invest in your own transition. Pursuing new interests, such as the ones you describe, will engage your concentration but it’s also a time to learn your own inner strengths.
During a lockdown when most activities are done online, you’ll connect with new people who meet you as you are not as a woman who married too young, or whose husband left.
Start with your own healing through choosing someone to talk to who has experience in counseling and with whom you’re comfortable.
Look at the field of relationship professionals - psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, counsellors, coaches - and take time deciding what feels right for you. Then book an online appointment. After two sessions, if you don’t feel it’s the right fit, say so.
Once you’re engaged in a productive counselling relationship, pass the information about how it’s working for you, onto your children. They may show disinterest, but the option to consider seeking help will at least be in the air. Good luck for your new future!
Reader’s Commentary On “2021 and Beyond:”
“I don’t need much. I don’t need to have anything but hope. I think about hope a lot. I look outside and find beauty in so much nature that I feel overwhelmed.
“I’ve had my hope challenged but I find it again in the resilience of my children. I find it again in kind interactions with strangers, in the caring of those who mask to take care of others, who stay at home to take care of others, who are giving of themselves and denying their own needs to take care of others.
“It’s my definition of hope that’s changed.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the lady who’s just discovered her partner’s having an affair (January 13):
Reader – “You suggested she let the information settle in, that she consider counselling and appeal to her partner, before worrying about the financial ramifications.
“However, knowing what you’re legally entitled to and what you’re likely to face in a legal proceeding, is at least as important. The confidence which information can provide can be helpful, especially if the relationship doesn’t work out.”
Ellie – I agree with the importance of getting informed legally when a marital split is evident.
But I advise against rushing into a lawyer’s office at the moment of discovering a partner’s infidelity when shock and fury can prompt a headstrong rush to divorce.
Since this woman wants to stay together with her partner and states that she’s willing to make changes to benefit the relationship, I recommended couples’ counselling before seeing a lawyer.
Tip of the day:
Post-divorce: Pursue new (online) interests, meet people through them, get counselling, love who you’ve become.