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Over the Christmas holidays my parents informed me that they were in counseling. This week, my dad sent my brother and I an email stating that his intention is to separate from my mom. I'm feeling all kinds of confusion, anger, sorrow, anger, disillusionment, anger....

 

Dad is coming to my place tomorrow night to talk to me about this. So far both of my parents have told me that the issue is that my dad feels they have grown apart over the years, no longer have anything beyond their family in common and there is no reason to stay married. The old "I love you but I'm not in love with you" line. My mom is still hoping for reconciliation.

 

I would appreciate some btdt advice on how to handle this situation. I don't even really know what to say to him tomorrow. I don't want to get in the middle of things but I definitely have some thoughts and questions.

 

I will say that my family is pretty free of drama so I don't expect this to get ugly or anything but I don't want to look back with regret in 5 years about thing I did or didn't do or say.

 

If this does happen, the next bridge to cross will be telling my children, who are extremely close to their grandparents and really haven't yet been touched by divorce in any way.

 

This whole situation just seems unbelievable and has really wreaked havoc on me this week.

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:grouphug:

 

my parents divorced after 40 years of marriage.

 

its just hard, very hard. i wish i'd talked more about how it would impact everyone, not just them. it likely wouldn't have mattered, as it turned out that "grown apart" in his case was a euphemism for "met someone else at work". sigh.....

 

your poor mom :(

 

and poor you, too :grouphug:.

 

ann

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I am hesitant to offer too much advice because I don't think ther is much anyone can say that will make you feel better about this. I would encourage you to try to stay in communication with both parents. My dh's mother left his father about 10 years ago. They kept it a secret for several years and in the end that was way more damaging to him than the divorce itself. There was also infidelity on her part. To this day his relationship with his mom is very strained. Had there been open communication during the process they might have been able to work through the hurt to a better relationship today.

 

I said all of that to say try to focus on what you can control and continuing to show support without taking sides, passing judgement or implying with you agree with the decision. If it were me I would probably thank him for informing you, tell him that you love him very much and always will but that you think this is a poor decision and that love isn't a feeling and that you hope he reconsiders.

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If it were me I would probably thank him for informing you, tell him that you love him very much and always will but that you think this is a poor decision and that love isn't a feeling and that you hope he reconsiders.

 

If it were me, I would think it really isn't any of my business, unless I was being asked for advice. Our parents were grown ups before we were ever born, and I have an old-fashioned habit of giving my elders the benefit of the doubt. I found it very ugly to see my husbands daughters scolding him or telling them all about their feelings and needs, etc. A 50 year old whose wife dumped him gets to remarry and have a wanted baby if he wants to, no matter how much a 21 year old child is disgusted by it.

 

Just as parents need to let their children go, grown children have to let their parents change. We'd like our childhood home and parents to remain frozen in amber so we can visit and remember the joy of childhood. But we can't hold our parents to that dream if they don't want it.

 

Some people part in their 50s and 60s because they start seeing their friends pop off, and it crosses their mind that they aren't getting a second life to live. They are getting creakier and see death ahead of them, and to sit in a stilted house with someone you don't love seems like an insult to their last years.

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:grouphug:

 

my parents divorced after 40 years of marriage.

 

its just hard, very hard. i wish i'd talked more about how it would impact everyone, not just them. it likely wouldn't have mattered, as it turned out that "grown apart" in his case was a euphemism for "met someone else at work". sigh.....

 

your poor mom :(

 

and poor you, too :grouphug:.

 

ann

 

My parents have been married 37 years.

 

I'm hoping he's being honest about the reason, though I suspect he figures that he will remarry and live happily ever after.

 

I feel awful for my mom and also terribly proud. She is taking the high road, being steadfast in her love and encouraging us kids not to be too hard on my dad.

 

I do plan to spend some time talking about how the impact of this will ripple out. Into our family. I get the feeling that he has some unrealistic ideas about what it would actually look like. For example, he thinks we'll still all get together at Christmas rather than having separate gatherings :confused:

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I am hesitant to offer too much advice because I don't think ther is much anyone can say that will make you feel better about this. I would encourage you to try to stay in communication with both parents. My dh's mother left his father about 10 years ago. They kept it a secret for several years and in the end that was way more damaging to him than the divorce itself. There was also infidelity on her part. To this day his relationship with his mom is very strained. Had there been open communication during the process they might have been able to work through the hurt to a better relationship today.

 

I said all of that to say try to focus on what you can control and continuing to show support without taking sides, passing judgement or implying with you agree with the decision. If it were me I would probably thank him for informing you, tell him that you love him very much and always will but that you think this is a poor decision and that love isn't a feeling and that you hope he reconsiders.

 

I think the communication is fairly open although I'm not sure where the boundaries should be about how much I should know. I certainly have no idea how I will explain it to my kids.

 

I'm not sure how to support him. In his email he asked for our love and support through this transition and I replied that I do and will always love him but this is not something I support. I guess that also means I'm taking my mom's side?

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If it were me, I would think it really isn't any of my business, unless I was being asked for advice. Our parents were grown ups before we were ever born, and I have an old-fashioned habit of giving my elders the benefit of the doubt. I found it very ugly to see my husbands daughters scolding him or telling them all about their feelings and needs, etc. A 50 year old whose wife dumped him gets to remarry and have a wanted baby if he wants to, no matter how much a 21 year old child is disgusted by it.

 

Just as parents need to let their children go, grown children have to let their parents change. We'd like our childhood home and parents to remain frozen in amber so we can visit and remember the joy of childhood. But we can't hold our parents to that dream if they don't want it.

 

Some people part in their 50s and 60s because they start seeing their friends pop off, and it crosses their mind that they aren't getting a second life to live. They are getting creakier and see death ahead of them, and to sit in a stilted house with someone you don't love seems like an insult to their last years.

 

I'm sorry for the hurt it sounds like you experienced in your situation :grouphug:

 

I appreciate what you are saying about minding my own business but it really feels like it is my business to some extent and that is where I'm struggling to define those boundaries. Added to the fact that my dad has asked to come and talk to me about it (it is a 2 hour drive). I think he wants to hear what I have to say? I don't want to be ugly about it at all but the reality is that he needs to think beyond himself here as well and be aware of the impact this would have.

 

I agree with the sentiment that love is not just a feeling and to me just up and leaving without making an effort to recultivate a relationship is an insult to a 37 year marriage. Not to mention that it absolutely doesn't fit the value system that he raised me with. I'm quite confident that if my duh were to do to me what he is doing to my mom he would have some different thoughts and feelings about it.

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My parents have been married 37 years.

 

I'm hoping he's being honest about the reason, though I suspect he figures that he will remarry and live happily ever after.

 

I feel awful for my mom and also terribly proud. She is taking the high road, being steadfast in her love and encouraging us kids not to be too hard on my dad.

 

I do plan to spend some time talking about how the impact of this will ripple out. Into our family. I get the feeling that he has some unrealistic ideas about what it would actually look like. For example, he thinks we'll still all get together at Christmas rather than having separate gatherings :confused:

 

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

Oh, how I remember dealing with this. My parents divorced after 30 years of marriage. This was 10 years ago. I am still trying to find the best ways to cope!

 

For me, it came out of the blue. I never had the slightest indication of any problem. It was also my father who wanted the divorce. He is a church pastor which for some reason made it even worse. My mother did in fact lose everything, her social position "pastor's wife", her friends, her home (the parsonage), her social activities, etc. And of course, even though to this DAY he denies it had anything to do with another woman...years later he married the woman we all suspected he was attached to (maybe only emotionally but still attached.) I was very close to my father and I think my parents assumed that would continue. However all my anger (and I was VERY angry) was at my father. I don't think I spoke to him for about 5 years (other than the bare minimum to be civil.) It took me until last year to forgive him and in the end I did it more because I was so tired of being angry all the time.

 

Anyways, my mom has re-established a life for herself. Of course, my father remarried. I cannot deal with the new wife - that may take another ten years!

 

The ONLY thing I am proud of in this whole thing is that I never stepped between my father and my children. They have always had a very close relationship and still do. Feel free to PM me if you need a shoulder!

 

:grouphug:

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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

Oh, how I remember dealing with this. My parents divorced after 30 years of marriage. This was 10 years ago. I am still trying to find the best ways to cope!

 

For me, it came out of the blue. I never had the slightest indication of any problem. It was also my father who wanted the divorce. He is a church pastor which for some reason made it even worse. My mother did in fact lose everything, her social position "pastor's wife", her friends, her home (the parsonage), her social activities, etc. And of course, even though to this DAY he denies it had anything to do with another woman...years later he married the woman we all suspected he was attached to (maybe only emotionally but still attached.) I was very close to my father and I think my parents assumed that would continue. However all my anger (and I was VERY angry) was at my father. I don't think I spoke to him for about 5 years (other than the bare minimum to be civil.) It took me until last year to forgive him and in the end I did it more because I was so tired of being angry all the time.

 

Anyways, my mom has re-established a life for herself. Of course, my father remarried. I cannot deal with the new wife - that may take another ten years!

 

The ONLY thing I am proud of in this whole thing is that I never stepped between my father and my children. They have always had a very close relationship and still do. Feel free to PM me if you need a shoulder!

 

:grouphug:

 

I'm so afraid that it will take years for me to get past this as well.

 

I will say that I knew my parents had grown apart and things weren't perfect but I certainly didn't think it was beyond hope. My mom, brother and I are all in shock (though Mom has known for a couple of months now). This seems very out of character for my dad and what's even more troubling to me is that up until now he hasn't talked to anyone about it - none of his friends or family. It seems like he just doesn't want to hear anything contradicting what he wants to do.

 

I don't want to be angry with him but I honestly don't know how not to be. I get that both parents contributed to the state of the marriage but it is still him who is refusing to even try and wanting to leave despite my mom's desire to stay together. I have talked to hom since but I definitely am avoiding him to some extent.

 

How did you explain things to your kids? I don't want them to be angry with him but I don't want my mom to take the fall for it in their eyes either.

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I think the communication is fairly open although I'm not sure where the boundaries should be about how much I should know. I certainly have no idea how I will explain it to my kids.

 

I'm not sure how to support him. In his email he asked for our love and support through this transition and I replied that I do and will always love him but this is not something I support. I guess that also means I'm taking my mom's side?

 

I don't think that's taking your mom's side at all. I think it was a perfectly reasonable and acceptable response. I love you but think you're making a horrible decision is the truth and it's okay. Saying I will never forgive you or speak to you again would be taking your mom's side....even if that's what you might feel like saying you didn't. I don't think he can expect much more than that.

 

I also don't think it's impossible for them to reconcile. If there are no third parties involved it often doesn't take long to realize that living by oneself after 37 years of a spouse/companion isn't all it's cracked up to be.

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I also don't think it's impossible for them to reconcile. If there are no third parties involved it often doesn't take long to realize that living by oneself after 37 years of a spouse/companion isn't all it's cracked up to be.

 

I agree with this. If there isn't another woman (emotional affair/"friends" or more) I'd recommend Imago therapy if he's ever willing to try. They have week-end events that can do a lot of good for seriously damaged relationships. Gottman therapy is good too. It's not doable if the person has fallen for someone else but that relationship may not turn out to be all they expected anyway.

 

I'm really sorry. I don't think loving your father means supporting a decision that hurts so many including, I believe, himself. :grouphug:

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I don't think that's taking your mom's side at all. I think it was a perfectly reasonable and acceptable response. I love you but think you're making a horrible decision is the truth and it's okay. Saying I will never forgive you or speak to you again would be taking your mom's side....even if that's what you might feel like saying you didn't. I don't think he can expect much more than that.

 

I also don't think it's impossible for them to reconcile. If there are no third parties involved it often doesn't take long to realize that living by oneself after 37 years of a spouse/companion isn't all it's cracked up to be.

 

I guess it feels like I'm saying my mom is right in wanting to stay together and he wrong - that feels like taking sides. Obviously he is unhappy and unfulfilled, for which I truly am empathetic, but imo the marriage deserves a chance. There have been many years of a gradual drifting apart to where he feels it is too far gone but this is literally the first time he has spoken any if this aloud or let my mom know the extent of his dissatisfaction.

 

Tbh, I don't know what he expects of me. I guess I'll find out in our conversation tomorrow night.

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I agree with this. If there isn't another woman (emotional affair/"friends" or more) I'd recommend Imago therapy if he's ever willing to try. They have week-end events that can do a lot of good for seriously damaged relationships. Gottman therapy is good too. It's not doable if the person has fallen for someone else but that relationship may not turn out to be all they expected anyway.

 

I'm really sorry. I don't think loving your father means supporting a decision that hurts so many including, I believe, himself. :grouphug:

 

I hope you are right about reconciling. I truly don't think there is any affair happening but certainly a sense of the grass being greener.

 

I'll look into the therapy you mentioned.

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I don't want to be angry with him but I honestly don't know how not to be. I get that both parents contributed to the state of the marriage but it is still him who is refusing to even try and wanting to leave despite my mom's desire to stay together. I have talked to hom since but I definitely am avoiding him to some extent.

 

While I think deciding whether or not to divorce is your parents' decision, I do think you have the right to be upset and/or angry -- and that has nothing to do with taking sides.

 

I think the best thing you can do when you see your father is to genuinely listen to what he has to say about the situation, and try not to be judgmental until after he has explained his reasoning and answered your questions. He isn't really obligated to give you all of his reasons, but it sounds like he will try, because he's still interested in things like getting together for holidays.

 

I know your mom doesn't want the divorce, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she is right and your dad is wrong. You may not know all of the behind-the-scenes dynamics of your parents' marriage, and just because your mom doesn't want a divorce doesn't negate your father's needs.

 

I don't want to sound like I'm making light of the situation, or that I'm pro-divorce, but I'm thinking more along the lines of both of your parents possibly having very valid reasons for feeling the way that they do. I don't know how old they are, but if your father is feeling unhappy in the marriage, he may not want to picture spending his remaining years with a woman he no longer loves. He may still like your mom, and he may still have feelings for her, but maybe he needs more than that.

 

And now I'll say the thing I know you won't want to hear -- There's at least a decent possibility that your father has already met someone else. We have had many clients get divorced, and every time the man initiated the separation, it was because he'd met someone else. (It was sometimes the case with the wives as well, but it seemed like most of the husbands were willing to remain in a so-so or unhappy marriage rather than risk being alone.) I truly hope that's not the case with your father, but it wouldn't be an unusual circumstance -- and your mom may already know about it if there's another woman involved.

 

Anyway, I'm so sorry you have to go through this. I would never wish this on anyone. My parents were together for 64 years, and were always very happy together, so I don't have any experience with what's happening to you, but I can only imagine how heartbreaking this is, especially because one parent wants a divorce and the other wants to work things out.

 

My best advice to you is to be a sounding board for both parents, but if possible, to also let them know that you love both of them and that you don't want to take sides. (It can be very difficult, especially if the divorce turns ugly, and at some point you may favor one parent over the other, but for now, try to stay on good terms with both of them if you can.)

 

One last thing -- I know I said to try not to take sides, but if there is even a miniscule chance that your father is seeing someone else, please be sure your mom has a good attorney and that she knows her rights and is protecting her interests. Even a formerly trustworthy husband can change pretty quickly if another woman is whispering in his ear that he should get more than his fair share of the marital property.

 

And again, I'm so sorry. :grouphug:

 

PS. If your father has a sense of "the grass being greener," is it because several of his friends are divorced and have convinced him that they're having a great time? If that's the case, there may not be another woman involved.

Edited by Catwoman
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:grouphug:

 

my parents divorced after 40 years of marriage.

 

its just hard, very hard. i wish i'd talked more about how it would impact everyone, not just them. it likely wouldn't have mattered, as it turned out that "grown apart" in his case was a euphemism for "met someone else at work". sigh.....

 

your poor mom :(

 

and poor you, too :grouphug:.

 

ann

 

That was my first thought too when I heard the phrase grown apart. Usually the partner is either already having a relationship with someone else or has someone they intend to become involved with very soon.

 

I am sorry you are having to go through this.

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I appreciate what you are saying about minding my own business but it really feels like it is my business to some extent and that is where I'm struggling to define those boundaries.

 

Honestly, I think the boundaries are as far away from you as you can push them.

 

Added to the fact that my dad has asked to come and talk to me about it (it is a 2 hour drive). I think he wants to hear what I have to say?

 

I'd guess he wants to hear you say "Well I'm very sad to hear this, but I quite understand that you need to do what you need to do. No hard feelings, but please do try to be civilised when attending my children's birthday parties." And he'll say "Of course! I wouldn't dream of hurting them! and he'll do whatever he'll do with no thought that it could hurt them. Really, it will be your job to minimise the hurt because he probably won't do it. Not maliciously, just because he's in his own head space and feels responsible only for himself. Which he is, really.

 

I don't want to be ugly about it at all but the reality is that he needs to think beyond himself here as well and be aware of the impact this would have.

 

Noooo, you need him to do that. The reality is he can do whatever he likes however much it alienates everyone else, and he mightn't care enough not to. Newly divorced men are not known for nurturing the grieving relatives.

 

I agree with the sentiment that love is not just a feeling and to me just up and leaving without making an effort to recultivate a relationship is an insult to a 37 year marriage.

 

:grouphug: It's not meant as an insult. It's more like a midlife crisis he thinks he can't help.

 

Obviously he is unhappy and unfulfilled, for which I truly am empathetic, but imo the marriage deserves a chance.

 

Sucky as it is for you all, a marriage is not more important than the people in it. Perhaps you have religious reasons to feel otherwise, but I don't think a person has a right to stay married (reasonable expectation, sure, but not a right), or to have their parents stay married. People do have the right to leave marriages if they want to and they don't require permission.

 

I guess it feels like I'm saying my mom is right in wanting to stay together and he wrong - that feels like taking sides.

 

I might think your mum is wrong for wanting to stay with someone who doesn't want to stay with her, but I have my own baggage in my view of the world. :tongue_smilie: You are quite entitled to your opinion. Let's not have any of this post-modern "everyone can be right" rubble in a time of desperation! You can hold whatever opinions you like. You have the right to rant to your husband. You have the right to rant here. You have the right to tell your children you don't believe in divorce except under X circumstances. You are allowed to have a stance.

 

It becomes "taking sides" in a destructive way if you pass on one's private business to the other, prohibit him from even mentioning a new partner, etc. One can disapprove without punishing, kwim?

 

Anyway, good luck negotiating it all. Transitions are so awkward!!

 

:grouphug:

Rosie

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1. I don't understand what he means by you will

all get together at Christmas.

He means with his ex wife (your mom) and his

new wife (and possibly your mom's new husband?)

 

2. I know a lady who is 60 who went through a really

bad divorce. She remarried last year and is super

happy. Maybe your parents will be super happy afterwards

too.

 

3. Just make sure you make time for your kids to still

see/be in touch with the grandparents. That way they

are not affected.

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I got the same sad news around Thanksgiving -married almost 42years. My parents are in a slightly different position...have both been in counseling for a couple years. I guess I was just in denial over the extent of their problems. My dad has health issues that have led to full disability and they're both just having a tough time dealing with the sickness. My mom has been there for him through thick and thin and he for her, but I think they're just worn to the end of their ability to cope with each other. They both came from damaged families and there's so much history that I'm not even aware of that's causing more difficulties.

 

What I did though was to give them advice and I begged them to give it a little more time, and they are. But in the process I told my father some of my honest observations and that hurt his feelings quite more than I intended. Though I have apologized I can tell he's still upset about it and now I feel as though I hold some of the blame for any problems. So my advice is to be very careful with actually giving advice or opinions. Ask questions, but watch out with doing much more. I'm learning there's not much that's uglier than the pain two people, who've been in love and have been together this long, can cause eachother. It's not something you/I want to get in the middle of.

 

And I offer my sincere sorrow and understanding for your pain and confusion...right there with you.

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My uncle did the same thing to my aunt some years ago. Many years of marriage and five children, while she stood and supported him through every career and move.... I'm going to differ from many other posters and say that it is a selfish and senseless thing to do. My uncle ended up marrying a woman who was probably already in the picture during the divorce while watching it rip his children apart.

 

I would have no problem telling my father my strong feelings about it and letting him know how deeply it would affect my (and my dc's) opinion of him.

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If it were me, I would think it really isn't any of my business, unless I was being asked for advice. Our parents were grown ups before we were ever born, and I have an old-fashioned habit of giving my elders the benefit of the doubt. I found it very ugly to see my husbands daughters scolding him or telling them all about their feelings and needs, etc. A 50 year old whose wife dumped him gets to remarry and have a wanted baby if he wants to, no matter how much a 21 year old child is disgusted by it.

 

Just as parents need to let their children go, grown children have to let their parents change. We'd like our childhood home and parents to remain frozen in amber so we can visit and remember the joy of childhood. But we can't hold our parents to that dream if they don't want it.

 

Some people part in their 50s and 60s because they start seeing their friends pop off, and it crosses their mind that they aren't getting a second life to live. They are getting creakier and see death ahead of them, and to sit in a stilted house with someone you don't love seems like an insult to their last years.

 

:iagree:

 

Unless my parents specifically asked if I thought they were doing the right thing, I would hold my tongue. They are adults. I don't like people forcing unsolicited opinions on my choices either. If I ask you what your opinion is then fine, but if I don't, then giving it is crossing boundaries.

 

And I am speaking from experience as my parents divorced after 30 years of marriage. Telling them who is making the right choice and who is making the wrong one sets you up as choosing sides and that never goes well. They both need to know that you love them no matter what and you and your kids will still be a part of their life.

 

 

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

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Just wanted to add...the fact that you are even willing/able to go and meet with him means you are light years ahead of where I was after I heard the news (and it was also right after Christmas when they told us.)

 

It took me years just to have a conversation with my father, and I still cannot go into the deep end. I have moved on with it and am willing to go forward and create a new relationship with him but I am not able to go back and revisit the where/why/how of the divorce. Especially since he is now remarried. Not. going. to. happen.

 

So, kudos to you for being mature enough to meet with him. But don't get dragged in, don't give advice, don't become a go between.

 

Good luck.

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Hugs :grouphug:

 

Let him talk. Give him all the time to talk he needs, do not interrupt even if he says the wrong thing. Then it is your time.

 

Ask the tough question, not because you re wanting to scold or place blame but ask aboutvhat elephant in the room...have you ever been unfaithful and is there another woman...He is coming to you so I am guessing he wants a discussion, otherwise he would just get the divorce and expect you to accept it.

 

By this time you will probably discern where the problem rests...be direct, be honest, be loving. Just bc you call someone out on being selfish and breaking a vow does not mean you are being mean, being truthful is loving. You need to get it out or you may let those conversations that did not take place eat you up.

 

If you pray, be in constant prayer over the discussion, pray the Holy Spirit intercedes where our human frailties popup..

 

Peace be with you.

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:grouphug:

 

I do plan to spend some time talking about how the impact of this will ripple out. Into our family. I get the feeling that he has some unrealistic ideas about what it would actually look like. For example, he thinks we'll still all get together at Christmas rather than having separate gatherings :confused:

First, it really isn't about you and how it will affect you and your family. Your parents are adults. This is their marriage.

And you actually may have family gatherings.

My parents had a very ugly and violent divorce when I was younger. Now, 30 years later, I am always amazed when we have family gatherings and they are friendly towards each other. My stepdad even went fishing with my dad a few years ago.

My in-laws got divorced ten years ago after 40 years of marriage. They did remain friendly, through the divorce and to present.

 

Unless my parents specifically asked if I thought they were doing the right thing, I would hold my tongue. They are adults. I don't like people forcing unsolicited opinions on my choices either. If I ask you what your opinion is then fine, but if I don't, then giving it is crossing boundaries.
:iagree:
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My only suggestion is to ask them if they have read The Five Love Languages. Other than that - stay out of it.

It is completely up to them, and nothing you say or do will have any positive impact. I'm sure they've thought about it a lot more than their kids have.

:grouphug::grouphug:

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I have not BTDT from the adult child side. But, I would like to offer some feedback to the post.

 

You are going to hurt and grieve. Even if they reconcile, your world has been shaken. You will feel that, regardless of where the divorce lands on your scale of "valid." Those feelings, created by the situation of your parents, are yours; your parent (and especially Dad) are not responsible for them. They are valid, understandable, and deep feelings - but not his to deal with.

 

Your parents will each have their own complicated feelings. How much to share with you also be complicated, and difficult. Your Dad is likely to want you to at least "understand," but if he's even remotely emotionally healthy, he won't want to give you too much information so that you are put in an inappropriate role.

 

Also, remember that even if he is the one who is initiating and driving this, he is also hurting. It may be hard to see or understand that, but he's hurting also.

 

You might want to practice or rehearse a boundaried, loving paragraph:

 

"Dad, there are a lot of big feelings involved here. Yours, Moms, the kids. The big feelings are going to go on for a while. If I withdraw a bit from you in order to take care of my feelings, please understand. I want you and Mom to be happy; preferably happily together. I am terribly sad that doesn't seem to be the case."

 

Now, speaking as a divorced woman, I would like to say you are talking as an adult to other adults - and your parents. I'd encourage you to consciously avoid as much as you can judgment about the divorce or the persons in it. It's very likely you'll never now the whole story.

 

I'm sorry you are hurting.

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Over the Christmas holidays my parents informed me that they were in counseling. This week, my dad sent my brother and I an email stating that his intention is to separate from my mom. I'm feeling all kinds of confusion, anger, sorrow, anger, disillusionment, anger....

 

Dad is coming to my place tomorrow night to talk to me about this. So far both of my parents have told me that the issue is that my dad feels they have grown apart over the years, no longer have anything beyond their family in common and there is no reason to stay married. The old "I love you but I'm not in love with you" line. My mom is still hoping for reconciliation.

 

I would appreciate some btdt advice on how to handle this situation. I don't even really know what to say to him tomorrow. I don't want to get in the middle of things but I definitely have some thoughts and questions.

 

I will say that my family is pretty free of drama so I don't expect this to get ugly or anything but I don't want to look back with regret in 5 years about thing I did or didn't do or say.

 

If this does happen, the next bridge to cross will be telling my children, who are extremely close to their grandparents and really haven't yet been touched by divorce in any way.

 

This whole situation just seems unbelievable and has really wreaked havoc on me this week.

 

First, I would say how sorry I am to hear this. It's a very tough situation to be in. You're an adult but you're still your parents children. Going forward, it's okay to be upset about the situation and should they divorce, mourn the end of the marriage.

 

Second, before your father speaks his piece, I would lay some ground rules. You are not his sounding board or his therapist. He will probably be tempted to tell you things about his marriage that you don't need to hear. Both my parents wanted to tattle on each other, but my siblings and I made it clear that this was unacceptable. This rule was a very firm, bright line (no mention, whatsoever) and for a period of time, we cut off contact from one parent because the rule wasn't respected. Just because you're an adult doesn't mean he gets to share adult thoughts with you.

 

Chances are, your father has thought about doing this for along time. You don't and can't know the entire history of your parents' marriage. I wouldn't expect a full account of his reasoning. Honestly, I wouldn't want to hear it. As pp said, he has probably met someone and just doesn't want to tell you. In my experience, when the men initiated the divorce, there was someone waiting in the wings.

 

If you want to share your feelings, I would be very general about them. Your father probably knows you're upset and disappointed. There isn't any need to list everything. I did tell my parents that I wished they could work things out and get back together. I also told them I thought it was a tragedy their long marriage was coming to an end. But I didn't tell them they could work it out, and I didn't threaten withholding of affection.

 

Finally, if your parents divorce and they find other partners, treat the new people cordially and with courtesy. Even though I haven't always liked the people my parents dated, I tried to be polite and welcoming. We still run into many odd situations. When my father's mother was declining, my mother was upset because she wasn't immediately called. I had to remind her she wasn't part of my father's family any more.

 

I was and forever will be grateful my parents didn't divorce when I was younger. Although not perfect, they were very loving and affectionate towards each other when I was growing up.

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My parents have been married 37 years.

 

I'm hoping he's being honest about the reason, though I suspect he figures that he will remarry and live happily ever after.

 

I feel awful for my mom and also terribly proud. She is taking the high road, being steadfast in her love and encouraging us kids not to be too hard on my dad.

 

I do plan to spend some time talking about how the impact of this will ripple out. Into our family. I get the feeling that he has some unrealistic ideas about what it would actually look like. For example, he thinks we'll still all get together at Christmas rather than having separate gatherings :confused:

 

My mom and dad have been divorced for about 25 years. Every Christmas and every summer they both come and stay at my house for a week - together. My sister and her dh and ds come, too. I am really thankful that we're able to enjoy time together. It's also great for my kids. When we get talking about when my sister and I were kids we have both of our parents contributing their memories.

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I have not BTDT from the adult child side. But, I would like to offer some feedback to the post.

 

You are going to hurt and grieve. Even if they reconcile, your world has been shaken. You will feel that, regardless of where the divorce lands on your scale of "valid." Those feelings, created by the situation of your parents, are yours; your parent (and especially Dad) are not responsible for them. They are valid, understandable, and deep feelings - but not his to deal with.

 

Your parents will each have their own complicated feelings. How much to share with you also be complicated, and difficult. Your Dad is likely to want you to at least "understand," but if he's even remotely emotionally healthy, he won't want to give you too much information so that you are put in an inappropriate role.

 

Also, remember that even if he is the one who is initiating and driving this, he is also hurting. It may be hard to see or understand that, but he's hurting also.

 

You might want to practice or rehearse a boundaried, loving paragraph:

 

"Dad, there are a lot of big feelings involved here. Yours, Moms, the kids. The big feelings are going to go on for a while. If I withdraw a bit from you in order to take care of my feelings, please understand. I want you and Mom to be happy; preferably happily together. I am terribly sad that doesn't seem to be the case."

 

Now, speaking as a divorced woman, I would like to say you are talking as an adult to other adults - and your parents. I'd encourage you to consciously avoid as much as you can judgment about the divorce or the persons in it. It's very likely you'll never now the whole story.

 

I'm sorry you are hurting.

 

Such thoughtful, balanced advice! :iagree: My parents separated after 20+ years....I remember my father calling me and telling me....it was right after I'd returned from my honeymoon. Yuck. Their relationship was always rocky so it wasn't a HUGE suprise but the timing was lousy. I hope your parents can maintain civility as it will make everything easier. My mother is a bitter, angry and hateful woman because she sees herself as a victim and my father is the devil incarnate. It makes any family event problematic as she won't come to even a wedding or graduation if he's in the same room. My only advice to add to Joann's great insight here is to try not to do anything that will further divide them and make for discomfort for them and the rest of the family in the years to come. This is no fun and I feel for you. BTDT. So sorry it's happening.

Edited by JVA
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I didn't read all the responses, so here goes. My parents divorced after 35 years. My mom was completely justified in divorcing dad, he had been unfaithful for probably 32 of those years.

 

Even feeling happy for my mom that she did not have to put up with dad anymore the divorce has been awful. Ruined holidays, makes the grandchildren and children unhappy, dad remarried the mistress who was the final straw and mom has married two losers since then.

 

If I were you I'd tell your dad to straighten his @$$ up.

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Also think about yourself and your family. You and your hubby may want to discuss how you feel about a new man or woman suddenly becoming "grandma or grandpa". My hubby has a huge problem with it and his parents can not give him the space or time before suddenly some person we've never seen before is hugging our kids, gushing over how they love their "new" grand kids. And while that can be perfectly fine in a lot of cases, it can be bad in others. We met his latest step dad over a mother's day a few years ago and we didn't even know she had been dating anyone. Exploring those possibilities before they come up and maybe working through some of it first could be helpful. ( far better than this:001_huh: in the heat of the moment. My hubby never does well in that moment :glare: and deeply resents his parents for springing new parents on him without telling him)

 

Second, I greatly encourage setting ground rules on meeting the new family your parents will bring to the table. When you are in your 40's, suddenly taking in complete strangers and loving them like your brother is hard and dealing with upset parents when you don't instantly throw open your arms and cry out "my long lost brother" is stressful. If you feel this may be a difficult issue for you, let your parents know how you feel about that and how you would like to handle that.

Lots of my hubby 's resentment could have been avoided if he and his parents had just agreed to some basic rules that would make both sides comfortable in these situations.

 

:grouphug: this is hard when it happens and I think particularly hard when everyone is older and it's not as easy to forge those relationships like when you are kids. But communicating is the key and being honest with each other will help iron out things.

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I forgot suggestions for your kids.

 

Be age appropriately honest:

 

"Adults sometimes get divorced. It's an adult issue, but it affects you. You might feel confused, scared, and wonder why there are so many conversations and hurt feelings. You may even wonder if us (your mom and dad) will get divorced. It's ok to feel confused, and scared. Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa love you."

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I don't know that I have anything of use to offer other than a :grouphug:. My parents divorced after 30 years. It wasn't really a surprise as they had never seemed to have gotten along, but it still hurt. In the months that followed, my dad did some really awful things and I haven't talked to him in about three years.

 

You are free to be angry, hurt, disappointed, etc. But it's unlikely that you'll be able to say anything to change his mind. Good luck to you, I know how much you're hurting.

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hear him out and just be kind. My parents divorced after 23 years of marriage and it was hard on my dad. He wanted things to stay the same but mom was miserable. If counseling hasn't given him hope of it getting better and no one is willing to change it up to make it better for both people then all you can do is be supportive. Listen, hug and let them figure it out. :grouphug:

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When I was in high school, my parents separated after 24 years of marriage. My dad hit a midlife thing and had formed what I was told was just an emotional attachment to a woman (no physical affair, just a relationship that made him ask, "What if? Is what I have what I want for the rest of my life?" etc.). He and my mom had also grown apart; they were not angry with each other, just not friends anymore. Dad left for most of my senior year.

 

In the end, he sucked it up and came back. I'm proud of him for that (although it wasn't a smooth transition back). I didn't know, and still don't, a lot of the details. I don't know if they were in counseling even. What I do know is that he weighed the options, tried living on his own for awhile, and he chose to stay true to his commitment after all. They just celebrated their 50th anniversary this past year, and they're happy together. They're not all ooshy-gooshy wah-wah, but then again they never were that type. They have a common appreciation for their marriage, for their kids (us) and their grandkids, and they have established a lifestyle they both like. I do see their birthday and anniversary cards to each other from time to time, and by what they write, they sincerely love each other again. Their anniversary parties were so joyful and fun.

 

I know each situation is different so telling stories may do no good. I happen to be of the opinion that you do have a voice, that you can say what you're thinking. If it was your neighbors or the parents of your friend, maybe not. But this is your parents and it does involve you to a degree (more than anyone else). I was only 17, but my mom came to me some for both a shoulder and some words of hope/advice. My hope if I were in your situation would be that my dad would maybe take some time on his own, but not seek divorce immediately. Live separately (but still married, and -- hopefully!! -- still faithful) and see what it's really like. To me, this would show some honor for all those years given previously.

 

I hope it turns out well.

Edited by milovaný
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No advice, but I do agree with this:

I happen to be of the opinion that you do have a voice, that you can say what you're thinking. If it was your neighbors or the parents of your friend, maybe not. But this is your parents and it does involve you to a degree (more than anyone else).

This is your family of origin that is falling apart right now. In my opinion, it is your business, whether your parents like it or not.

 

Assuming abuse is not the problem, I'd encourage both to work on repairing their relationship. Your words may be the nudge your dad needs.

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While I think deciding whether or not to divorce is your parents' decision, I do think you have the right to be upset and/or angry -- and that has nothing to do with taking sides.

 

I think the best thing you can do when you see your father is to genuinely listen to what he has to say about the situation, and try not to be judgmental until after he has explained his reasoning and answered your questions. He isn't really obligated to give you all of his reasons, but it sounds like he will try, because he's still interested in things like getting together for holidays.

 

I definitely intend to listen and give him a chance to say his piece. I do want to understand (though I'm afraid no amount of explaining will get me to that place of complete understanding). I do have questions. I don't want to know all the nitty gritty and I don't think he intends to divulge all of that either. There are some things that, even as an adult, I don't want to know about their relationship.

 

I know your mom doesn't want the divorce, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she is right and your dad is wrong. You may not know all of the behind-the-scenes dynamics of your parents' marriage, and just because your mom doesn't want a divorce doesn't negate your father's needs.

 

I know that my mom isn't "right" but I feel he's being unfair in suddenly announcing that he's leaving and not giving her a chance to make things better. She didn't know how unhappy he was.

 

I don't want to sound like I'm making light of the situation, or that I'm pro-divorce, but I'm thinking more along the lines of both of your parents possibly having very valid reasons for feeling the way that they do. I don't know how old they are, but if your father is feeling unhappy in the marriage, he may not want to picture spending his remaining years with a woman he no longer loves. He may still like your mom, and he may still have feelings for her, but maybe he needs more than that.

 

You are right on the money here with regards to him not wanting to picture the rest of his life in an unhappy marriage. His mom died 3 years ago and it was very, very difficult for him. She spent her remaining weeks in a hospital bed, in my parents' home, dying a slow and painful death from cancer. My dad hasn't been the same since. He has a foreboding sense of the clock ticking on his own life and I think he is depressed to some degree and not dealing well with his grief.

 

And now I'll say the thing I know you won't want to hear -- There's at least a decent possibility that your father has already met someone else. We have had many clients get divorced, and every time the man initiated the separation, it was because he'd met someone else. (It was sometimes the case with the wives as well, but it seemed like most of the husbands were willing to remain in a so-so or unhappy marriage rather than risk being alone.) I truly hope that's not the case with your father, but it wouldn't be an unusual circumstance -- and your mom may already know about it if there's another woman involved.

 

Again, I don't think there is someone else but I also don't imagine that he thinks he'll be alone forever.

 

Anyway, I'm so sorry you have to go through this. I would never wish this on anyone. My parents were together for 64 years, and were always very happy together, so I don't have any experience with what's happening to you, but I can only imagine how heartbreaking this is, especially because one parent wants a divorce and the other wants to work things out.

 

My best advice to you is to be a sounding board for both parents, but if possible, to also let them know that you love both of them and that you don't want to take sides. (It can be very difficult, especially if the divorce turns ugly, and at some point you may favor one parent over the other, but for now, try to stay on good terms with both of them if you can.)

 

One last thing -- I know I said to try not to take sides, but if there is even a miniscule chance that your father is seeing someone else, please be sure your mom has a good attorney and that she knows her rights and is protecting her interests. Even a formerly trustworthy husband can change pretty quickly if another woman is whispering in his ear that he should get more than his fair share of the marital property.

 

My brother and I have been talking about this. Mom is not, by nature, a "fighter" and we're concerned that she won't defend her own rights if it gets to the legal proceedings of divorce. I'm trying to stay on top of that. I've encouraged her to start sending me some money that I can put in a savings account for her but she doesn't want to do that. She is retired and they are middle-class so I think suddenly supporting 2 households would be very difficult on their income. Mom really doesn't want to have to go back to work.

 

And again, I'm so sorry. :grouphug:

 

PS. If your father has a sense of "the grass being greener," is it because several of his friends are divorced and have convinced him that they're having a great time? If that's the case, there may not be another woman involved.

 

I don't know that he has friends who are convincing him of anything - just that he is unhappy where he is now and imagines that life would be better if he weren't in this situation.

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I'd guess he wants to hear you say "Well I'm very sad to hear this, but I quite understand that you need to do what you need to do. No hard feelings, but please do try to be civilised when attending my children's birthday parties." And he'll say "Of course! I wouldn't dream of hurting them! and he'll do whatever he'll do with no thought that it could hurt them. Really, it will be your job to minimise the hurt because he probably won't do it. Not maliciously, just because he's in his own head space and feels responsible only for himself. Which he is, really.

 

I think there is some truth here. He is known for being more logical than emotional and at this point seems to honestly believe that as long as everyone is still at the birthday parties and family functions this won't hurt the grandkids. Ha.

 

 

:grouphug: It's not meant as an insult. It's more like a midlife crisis he thinks he can't help.

 

You are right here too with calling it a mid-life crisis.

 

 

Sucky as it is for you all, a marriage is not more important than the people in it. Perhaps you have religious reasons to feel otherwise, but I don't think a person has a right to stay married (reasonable expectation, sure, but not a right), or to have their parents stay married. People do have the right to leave marriages if they want to and they don't require permission.

 

Yes, people do have the right to leave a marriage but I don't think they have a right to assume that everyone will just love and support them through it and that there won't be a ripple effect of hurt feelings throughout the entire family.

 

 

It becomes "taking sides" in a destructive way if you pass on one's private business to the other, prohibit him from even mentioning a new partner, etc. One can disapprove without punishing, kwim?

 

This I definitely intend to stay away from. I don't want to punish but already just don't feel like talking to him on the phone, etc, about normal things because my hurt and anger are getting in the way. That's not to punish him, that's just how I'm feeling. I'm concerned that he might think though that I'm taking sides and trying to punish him. My mom is also constantly telling me that he loves me and is worried about our relationship and asking me to continue to love and respect him.

 

Anyway, good luck negotiating it all. Transitions are so awkward!!

 

:grouphug:

Rosie

 

Thank you for your words and understanding.

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1. I don't understand what he means by you will

all get together at Christmas.

He means with his ex wife (your mom) and his

new wife (and possibly your mom's new husband?)

 

2. I know a lady who is 60 who went through a really

bad divorce. She remarried last year and is super

happy. Maybe your parents will be super happy afterwards

too.

 

3. Just make sure you make time for your kids to still

see/be in touch with the grandparents. That way they

are not affected.

 

 

I'm not sure that he's imagining new partners? He definitely thinks he and mom and the rest of the family will still get together. Apparantly he has told Mom he'd like to get together every once in a while for dinner with her to keep in touch....???

 

I will continue to include the grandparents in my kids' lives but I don't think that will mean that they aren't affected.

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My mom has made at least 1 decision that I wish I had voiced my opinion over. I don't know what I would say exactly but I would try to speak your mind, but only once.

 

I like that advice - especially the "only once" part. I don't want to start whining about the same things over and over again.

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My parents divorced after 27 years of marriage. My only advice would be to not get caught in the middle and DO NOT be the go-between. My parents still try to put me in that position and it is NOT fun!

 

:grouphug:

 

 

That's my fear as well. I know for sure that my dad doesn't want to do this. Mom doesn't want to either but also seems uncertain about where to draw the boundaries. She and I are very close and typically talk at least a few times a week so it's hard for her not to talk to me about it. She's not being malicious or trying to turn my opinion of my dad (if anything she continues to defend him and encourage me not to be angry) but she is expressing her own hurt and confusion to me. At times it has been a little bit uncomfortable but generally it's been handled well up to this point, I think. The only thing I'm not sure of is whether or not my dad realizes how much she is saying to me or whether he would care.

 

If anyone is making me a "go-between" it's my brother. He's calling all the time asking about my conversations with my parents and wanting me to update him after tonights conversation with Dad so he can be "prepared" when Dad meets with him on Sunday.

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I got the same sad news around Thanksgiving -married almost 42years. My parents are in a slightly different position...have both been in counseling for a couple years. I guess I was just in denial over the extent of their problems. My dad has health issues that have led to full disability and they're both just having a tough time dealing with the sickness. My mom has been there for him through thick and thin and he for her, but I think they're just worn to the end of their ability to cope with each other. They both came from damaged families and there's so much history that I'm not even aware of that's causing more difficulties.

 

What I did though was to give them advice and I begged them to give it a little more time, and they are. But in the process I told my father some of my honest observations and that hurt his feelings quite more than I intended. Though I have apologized I can tell he's still upset about it and now I feel as though I hold some of the blame for any problems. So my advice is to be very careful with actually giving advice or opinions. Ask questions, but watch out with doing much more. I'm learning there's not much that's uglier than the pain two people, who've been in love and have been together this long, can cause eachother. It's not something you/I want to get in the middle of.

 

And I offer my sincere sorrow and understanding for your pain and confusion...right there with you.

 

Thank you for your empathy. I'm also concerned about voicing opinions that in the past I've kept to myself and hurting my Dad's feelings. I don't want him to suddenly find out that I think x,y and z about him and have him surprised and hurt by that. And yet....??? I've asked my dh to sit in on the conversation with me because I think he will help me if I start to get too emotional and into dangerous territory.

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My uncle did the same thing to my aunt some years ago. Many years of marriage and five children, while she stood and supported him through every career and move.... I'm going to differ from many other posters and say that it is a selfish and senseless thing to do. My uncle ended up marrying a woman who was probably already in the picture during the divorce while watching it rip his children apart.

 

I would have no problem telling my father my strong feelings about it and letting him know how deeply it would affect my (and my dc's) opinion of him.

 

It does affect my opinion of him, and that's a big part of where I'm struggling. I already feel like I've lost some respect for him and I've always held him is such high esteem. I would like to express that in as kind a way as I can manage.

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:iagree:

 

Unless my parents specifically asked if I thought they were doing the right thing, I would hold my tongue. They are adults. I don't like people forcing unsolicited opinions on my choices either. If I ask you what your opinion is then fine, but if I don't, then giving it is crossing boundaries.

 

And I am speaking from experience as my parents divorced after 30 years of marriage. Telling them who is making the right choice and who is making the wrong one sets you up as choosing sides and that never goes well. They both need to know that you love them no matter what and you and your kids will still be a part of their life.

 

 

:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

 

I guess we'll see what his purpose is in the conversation tonight. I know that he respects me and I kind of think he wants my opinion but on the other hand he seems to have made up his mind already so I'm not sure what he's looking to get out of this meeting. I asked and his response was that he wants to talk about it.

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Just wanted to add...the fact that you are even willing/able to go and meet with him means you are light years ahead of where I was after I heard the news (and it was also right after Christmas when they told us.)

 

It took me years just to have a conversation with my father, and I still cannot go into the deep end. I have moved on with it and am willing to go forward and create a new relationship with him but I am not able to go back and revisit the where/why/how of the divorce. Especially since he is now remarried. Not. going. to. happen.

 

So, kudos to you for being mature enough to meet with him. But don't get dragged in, don't give advice, don't become a go between.

 

Good luck.

 

Thank you.

 

Honestly, I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend none of this is going on and have nothing to do with any of it. But I know that I will regret it later if I don't face this.

 

I really think my parents are trying very hard not to drag us kids in but to give us space to feel what we're feeling. It is awkward.

 

I absolutely don't see myself becoming a go-between. Dad actually asked Mom if she'd like to come tonight as well and she declined. She called and told me that she thought it was important for Dad and I to be able to speak freely without her there.

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Hugs :grouphug:

 

Let him talk. Give him all the time to talk he needs, do not interrupt even if he says the wrong thing. Then it is your time.

 

Ask the tough question, not because you re wanting to scold or place blame but ask aboutvhat elephant in the room...have you ever been unfaithful and is there another woman...He is coming to you so I am guessing he wants a discussion, otherwise he would just get the divorce and expect you to accept it.

 

By this time you will probably discern where the problem rests...be direct, be honest, be loving. Just bc you call someone out on being selfish and breaking a vow does not mean you are being mean, being truthful is loving. You need to get it out or you may let those conversations that did not take place eat you up.

 

If you pray, be in constant prayer over the discussion, pray the Holy Spirit intercedes where our human frailties popup..

 

Peace be with you.

 

This sums up so clearly how I'm feeling about all of this. I am praying and would love to know that others are praying as well. Thank you.

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