Dear Readers: One thing evident from writing this column is that there are many different ways to be “family.” Following is one such example:
Reader’s commentary: “People don’t have to hate each other just because they can’t/don’t want to be married anymore. I have a unique situation.
“My husband and I were way too young and not ready for marriage. We had a daughter, divorced, my ex remarried and there was no contact between them until she was in her teens.
“Sure, there were bumps along the way, but now my daughter is in her mid-30s, a mom herself, and they’re in a good spot. One day when she was going there for dinner, I was asked to come. I thought it might be weird but went anyway.
“Turns out I still like my ex although I’d never want to be married to him.
“I also like his wife and we have interests in common. I started also visiting without my daughter. I’ve stayed for weekends and his wife (now my friend) and I travel each year together.
“My sons and grandkids have been welcomed into the family, and also spent time with them. Their son is like an extension of my family. I consider him another son.
“You don’t have to be blood to be family. More people should be less judgmental and open up their minds and hearts. You never know what you might find.”
Ellie: While I’m sure it’s not for everyone, it’s heartening to know that children of divorce can become the architects of new, enjoyable family relationships, simply by thinking, “why not?” The father in this story is married to an open-minded wife, and his ex-wife took a chance, first for her daughter’s sake… and then for the company of a new long-term friend.
Reader’s commentary regarding affairs with married people:
“Please let these women and men know how hurtful they are when they decide they’re in love with another person’s husband or wife.
“I’ve just gone through this and am beyond hurt. Counselling isn’t helping as the pain’s still there and the person’s in my community. The damage these people cause a family isn’t easily repairable by counselling, and isn’t forgotten over time.
“Children’s birthdays, Christmas, Easter, school pageants, even watching a movie with mom and dad for a family time together, no longer happens for the children as they did before.
“What about their sports teams, swimming, dancing/art/music classes, that is, if you can afford them after you’re alone. One parent’s likely not attending and sharing your child’s special interests.
“Child custody can get really nasty though everyone assures if you enter into it amicably, it’ll be positive.
“Well, it doesn’t work that way because this new partner wants it all, and the fool who left you can’t or won’t say no.
“I want these women or men to understand the damage they’ve done, and that it stays with the children forever. You’re remembered forever as a home-wrecker.
“If you can’t live with that, take your suitcase and go home.”
Ellie: Your pain is real but know that time does help with healing, if you let it.
Counselling can’t undo what happened, but it can provide coping methods to keep going… e.g., avoiding gossips’ “reports,” getting outside for fresh air and activity, and providing your children with the same warmth/love from you as before.
If the cheating spouse is so thoughtless and absent regarding the children, moving on without him/her, can lead you to a better future.
Dear Ellie: My husband and I are in our late 30s with two children, ages eight and ten. We’ve learned to handle the pandemic’s periodic restrictions, and also stayed good partners throughout. But unfortunately, we lost our closest couple as friends.
When they learned we were fully vaccinated, they insisted we were “taken in” by medical hype, refused to get vaccinated themselves, and didn’t accept that we could then only “visit” online, FaceTime, etc.
They dismissed our concerns about Covid-19, despite knowing my mother is health-compromised and I couldn’t risk her getting sick through me. We now don’t hear from them at all.
Should I try to re-connect so when there’s herd immunity we can be friends again?
True friends would try to keep in touch online, rather than dismiss your valid concerns. Despite their right to their opinions, there’s no respect for your choices, or your past closeness with them.
Ellie’s tip of the day
“Family-positive” attitudes can renew healthy relationships between divorced parents and children.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.