I’d put this somewhere in the list of top 10 worst parts of being divorced, but somehow it’s the first one I’ve bothered to write about.
My ex-wife has been seeing a guy.
I can’t say I’m not surprised. I mean, one of the points she mused about in my presence was how she didn’t understand why she moved from one relationship to another all the time. Little cues like this should have set off more alarm bells than they did.
At most I was suspicious, more some times than others. I mostly just ignored the feelings coming from my gut because “she’s my wife, I trust her fully”. She’s just trying to figure her stuff out. Give her space, because that’s what she says she needs. I refused to believe/accept that something nefarious was occurring.
I used to think, who else can you trust more than your spouse? Your parents? Your siblings? I realize now that everyone is human, and everyone has just as much potential to let you down if we’re being 100% honest. Trust really is a calculation of how willing you are to accept getting hurt if/when those people fail you.
I tell myself often that it’s her life, and I am no longer beholden/responsible to her and the things she chooses to do have nothing to do with me.
But… boy is it difficult to hear my daughter talk about him. I’d say it’s at least one casual mention, minimum, per stay with me that I hear something about him. Obviously it’s not the fault of my wonderful, innocent, amazing 5 year old daughter. She’s just telling me about her world and things she’s learned about Mom’s “new friend” while hanging out, which seems to be occurring more frequently.
Once again, it’s her life and the only way it can impact me is how it impacts my daughter.
As far as I can tell, my daughter has no idea that mom’s “friend” is more than just a friend. She doesn’t know that mom treated her dad poorly for a year, that she was dishonest for who knows how long before that, or that she made some really shitty choices and this guy participated in them. All she knows is that Mom and Dad are divorced, that we will never live together again, and that we both love her no matter what.
I think the toughest part of this new dynamic for me is that I have to put on a brave face, smile, and participate in the conversation while not asking questions that will elicit more talk of “him”.
Personally, I absolutely consider this guy to be an awful human being, whom I will probably carry a very strong hatred for for the unforeseeable future. I firmly believe that someone who has so little morality is a fundamentally bad person, period. However, I will never share any of these feelings with my daughter because none of this has to do with her. This is all between me and her mother.
If I had any kind of advice for someone in a similar situation it’s this. I’ve created a sort of mantra that rattles around in my head when I struggle with feelings, both old and new. It goes something like this…
You can’t control anything anyone else does. Focus on you and don’t worry about what she does. Be the best possible father you can, and don’t let those outside influences work their way into your relationship with your daughter. Work on improving yourself and learn from any mistakes you made in that past relationship. It’s not my problem anymore… Nothing she does is my responsibility anymore…
Unless it affects my kid. Who knows what happens then?
As a small caveat…
I’m sure there have been times where my ex-wife has experienced some negative feelings that were caused by my actions. I have started dating again, and my daughter has spent a little time with my “friend”. twice. I’ve never asked my ex or my daughter if they’ve had conversations about my “friend”, but I assume they have.