Question: Will my ex-husband ever regret leaving me and my two kids for his younger co-worker? This was something I had never seen coming. I thought we were happy. Ours was his second marriage. His first marriage only lasted 13 months – he was young. About six months after the end of this first marriage, we met and dated for two years and then we married.
We were together for 20 years. Now he has been with this co-worker for 13 years and finally just married her last year. This is now his third wife. I am just so angry at how he could leave his two boys and then move out of the house and move into her house the following night; and raise her pre-teen boy after his new partner kicked her husband out. I don’t understand how somebody can do this. I really hope one day my ex-husband wakes up and realises what he did, because this has caused havoc amongst myself, my boys and my family whom he was close with. I really hope that he had lots of regret. I hope that he married her because he felt possibly that he had to after all these years. The hurt and pain he caused us, and I do not want to be alone.
I feel I need for him to justify a good reason for leaving us.
Answer: You sound as though you are in a lot of pain – the hurt of rejection is huge, but it is even more when you are suffering for two young boys as well. You want your partner to realise the impact his decision has had so that he will feel regret, but if you rely on this to heal your pain you may be attaching your healing to a man who has shown no signs of awareness of the impacts of his behaviour.
It takes a long time to accept a separation and to work through the consequences
You say that he was with his co-worker for 13 years so some of this must have happened during your marriage and while he became a father. This is a man who seems unable to commit and so perhaps you might begin the process of finally disconnecting your well-being from him or from hoping he will feel regret.
This is not an easy process, yet it will focus you on making your own life better, and that of your children, rather than on waiting for recognition to sink in with your ex. It takes a long time to accept a separation and to work through the consequences, but we know that people can have happy productive lives following the ending of a relationship. This is not to negate your sense of betrayal, but your anger might fuel an on-going, intense relationship with someone you should be hell-bent on disassociating from. Take this one stage at a time. For example, allow yourself one slot of time a day to concentrate all your anger and hurt into. Any other time your mind goes to him tell yourself that you must put it aside until the allotted time. This will give you more control over what your mind is doing and with time you might shorten this time slot. You should also dedicate a period every day to fostering your own wellbeing.
It is okay to feel that you are acting for a while, as this is often a precursor to your heart connecting with your actions
This can be anything that makes you feel good and be determined that your mind will not allow thoughts of him to tarnish this period. You might include your boys in this as they might learn how to manage their own sense of betrayal and hurt from watching you focus on what is good for you rather on wishing punishment on your ex. Boys often try to protect their loved ones from pain so they might be tempted not to tell you of what they are going through. However, they will need to express themselves fully if they are to navigate a healthy way through this crisis. You might look into a support service that may be helpful to them – Crosscare Teen Counselling provides a professional counselling service to adolescents and their families in the greater Dublin area. The HSE website is also a good guide to services around the country for families in trouble.
However, your boys will need to be supported in their relationship with their father and this will require a supreme effort on your behalf to speak and act with reason about your ex in their presence. To do this in an authentic way requires that you genuinely develop a life of your own that is full and rich and varied. Can you begin to develop connections with others where you might share interests or concerns – the more passionate you feel, the easier it will be to make these connections. So, try only to engage with a few groups and use your family to help you decide which ones, you might also ask your boys as they are likely to know more about you than you might think. Gradually you will move from feeling that your new life is fake to a place where it is real.
It is okay to feel that you are acting for a while, as this is often a precursor to your heart connecting with your actions. Decide now to your life is worth a lot more than focusing on your ex waking up to the consequences of his actions, this will take time but will rise to a much better outcome for you.