I have an 18 and 16 year old who are very bright and aware of my wife's affair and our impending divorce. We are still married and my wife has moved out of the house and is now living in a two bedroom condo with her lover. She told my teenagers that they are just "roommates" and they will not do anything sexually (again) until the divorce is final. My kids essentially laughed at this. In addition, she wants to coparent though she left the house, has had minimal contact with the kids, and I took over ALL the house responsibilities (laundry, food, etc.). We are doing a collaborative divorce so we have a "coach" involved. Personally, I don't believe in divorce in that we never worked on the marriage (therapy, marriage retreat, etc.). I feel if couples exhaust their possibilities then divorce should be pursued but in my instance she essentially blind sided us. The question I have is, do others feel that divorce is an easy solution to a difficult problem. I know my wife's affair won't last since it is based on need and not true self-discovery. In the meantime, I don't want my teenagers to learn from her that an affair and divorce are acceptable behaviors to marriage conflicts. Marriage takes much work and I want them to learn to work in their relationships. Any thoughts or am I crazy (as my wife thinks I am!).
I am sorry this has happened to you. I think many people would agree that divorce should only be considered after therapy and all else fails. Your willingness to work things out with your wife after such a horrible betrayal is admirable and you should be commended for that. Having said all that I know you realize that you can only control your half of the equation and even though you feel strongly that divorce isn't the answer if your wife wants a divorce then it is inevitable. I understand your concern for your children. This will no doubt hurt them but I think that they are old enough that thier sense of right/wrong and their values have already been instilled long before your wife's affair. It's important now for you to just listen to them and answer their questions honestly but tactfully. How you treated their Mom when you were married and how you treat her now will go along way in showing them how to treat future partners. I wish you the best of luck and I do understand your concerns, you seem like a very sensitive man and a good and caring Dad and that will be a great benefit to your children as they go through this process with you.
Thank you for the supportive comments! I haven't received many of those lately. What do you think about the idea that I don't have to make the relationship with our kids "easier." She made her decisions so why should I enable her to resolve her differences with the kids. I have teenagers and I have always treated them with respect. If they choose to avoid her should I discourage that and encourage them to improve their relationship with her. I realize that I want them to have a "healthy" relationship with their mother but I don't approve (nor do the kids) of her choices. I wouldn't want my daughter (or son) to do what she has done in our relationship.
If you are asking me what I think I will tell you that I think you must be very introspective and be very, very clear on your motivations if you choose to not encourage or even actively discourage your childrens' relationship with their Mom. As I mentioned earlier I think at their current ages your children have a pretty good idea that what their Mother has done is inapproprate. They will be angry and rightfully so but hopefully their relationship with Mom will not be permanately damaged, I doubt you want them to have a damaged relationship with her, right? So, I think that you should tell them it is okay for them to be angry but that the problems in your marriage have nothing to do with them and they should know that their Mom loves them. They should understand that they don't need to take sides and that when they choose to be with Mom that you will not be hurt. Even if it's not your intention your kids may feel that they are being unloyal to you if they choose to spend time with Mom and I don't think you want that. So, I guess I am saying that you need to be careful and not fan their anger. Get them counseling if need be. Good luck, Snowedin.
As a second wife married to a divorced man - who neither wanted nor encouraged the divorce I have some input based on my husbands experience.
They had four kids - two stayed with him and two went to live with their mother. Similar situation to yours. My husband detests his wife and what she has done - would chant around a fire filled with chicken feathers and frogs eyes if he could. But he has always encouraged the relationship between the kids and their mother. Made them call on her birthday and mother's day - sent her school pictures. When she would call forced them to talk to her. She NEVER returned the favor with the two that lived with her.
What goes around comes around. The two that lived with him will always remember what he did and how he raised them. Your girls will also. It's the only mother they will ever have. Good luck.
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