I’m a man facing a terrible decision I never thought I’d consider: Do I leave my children in order to have true love?
I’m 43, married for 11 years, we have two kids ages nine and seven. I love my wife as a dear friend and partner, but over the years we’ve grown in different ways. She’s a good mother, devoted to me and the children. She has no other interests.
I’ve expanded my interests and knowledge. Meanwhile, though I tried to not let it happen (nothing physical has occurred) I’ve found a deeper love than I ever dreamed possible.
She’s a woman I’ve known as an acquaintance. I’ve admired and respected her over the years. She’s divorced (long ago) and we’ve acknowledged that we both share this profound connection.
But the thought of leaving my children is killing me. What should I do?
Leave for Love?
No one should ever find this life-changing decision easy. But you’ve made it even tougher by thinking in stark contrasts.
Unless you believe that, if separated, your wife would take the children and run far (which has occurred in some extreme situations), this decision isn’t about abandoning your children.
I’m not promoting divorce here. Anyone contemplating it should first be trying to do whatever’s needed to work on the marriage – i.e. counselling together, making changes in current behaviours where possible, more communication and intimacy, etc.
And anyone who’s experienced marital break-up, knows there are difficulties ahead.
But in reasonably normal cases, both parents share child custody, each has a home-base where the kids spend close to equal amounts of time with each parent, and there are vacation periods with children, for each side.
It’s not perfect, but in many families today, it works.
Yes, most kids would initially prefer that it never happens, and some have pretty strong anger and adjustment issues.
But with mature adults trying to make the new arrangements go smoothly and consistently, most families survive in their new form.
One thing that’s central to it working out, is the nature of the new “step-parent.”
It’s hugely important that you feel assured that the woman you love and might eventually live with, likes children, understands that they may initially act out against her, and is a self-confident but compassionate woman who understands their pain/anger and won’t overreact.
The decision is now back to you.
Obviously, if you just can’t make it, then you’re not ready for all that it requires of you, beyond just being in love.
I dated a man once, three years ago. I found him attractive and interesting but due to a still-painful loss, I wasn’t a great date.
We became friends on Facebook and he again suggested a date. I was involved by then. But more recently, while I’ve been single, he’s invited me out five times.
I always accepted eagerly, yet he’s cancelled every time. It’s either a change in his work schedule, a sudden out-of-town meeting, or he’s not feeling well.
I’d like to have another chance to be with him and see how it goes, but how do I deal with all these cancellations?
Curious & Annoyed
Time for a different response: To his next date request, say, “Sure, but it’s Now or Never.”
Be clear that you believe his past reasons for cancelling, but it’s happened too often. Say that if you’re both truly interested in getting better acquainted, it has to start. Period.
My ex-husband and I divorced nine years ago. The young woman, 22 years his junior, was 17 when their flirtation began, 18 when the sexual affair started.
I tried to stop this relationship. Friends and family told him it was wrong.
I was very verbal to both of them about destroying a marriage that I was trying desperately to save.
After three years, she then met a lovely, young man and is now a mother.
I now believe my ex had groomed her for their affair, and I wonder if he’d also groomed me – age 16 when we met. He was 20.
I feel I owe her an apology for not protecting her more. Do I reach out and also say that I don't blame her?
Yes. Apologize for not seeing the connection in his pattern of luring/grooming a younger impressionable female. Wish her well. You’ll both feel better.
Tip of the day:
Divorce is tough on everyone involved. Parents and children can adjust but it takes time, effort, maturity, compassion for all.