NEW! Google Custom Search

Loading

Help for Friend in Divorce

AnnL's picture

One of my co-workers is going through a divorce from her husband of 14 years.  :-(  They have 3 kids--9,4, and 3.  She works parttime and other than that her life is, in her words, defined by her kids.  I think they have, at least for the separation agreement, worked out finances OK, so she's not concerned about that, but she's pretty much been a single parent for 9 years.  Her husband is in the process of moving out and wants the kids for Father's Day weekend.  :-(  She is really upset about this--she's never been apart from the kids, doesn't know what she's going to do without them for the whole weekend, never mind the fact that she doesn't want them around his girlfriend.  :-(  She was hoping he would start with just taking them for a day, not a whole weekend overnight. 


I'm hoping that some of you Moms that have gone through this can give me suggestions of how to help her out.  She obviously needs to define herself beyond the kids, but that's easy to say.  I am going to offer to go to a movie with her Father's Day weekend, just to give her something to do to try to keep her mind off the kids.  Does anyone know of any books that might help her through this?


 


AnnL
Transitions Farm
Gardening, cooking, and riding
in Central Mass.

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

Jillsifer's picture

(post #47890, reply #1 of 12)

Having walked that road, I can't recommend any particular books--they all seem to be written by happily married psychologists who think anger and hurt are about as serious as an ingrown toenail.


The only thing that worked for me was to stay frenetically busy doing whatever I could to make the time go by. I can absolutely promise that it gets easier with time, and if she can hang on to a friend or a group of friends while the kids are gone, it WILL be easier.


Also (and this will sound REAL neurotic but it helped me immeasurably and did NOT embitter anyone, nor did it set Gillen up for feeling like he had to choose between his Dad and me), she might want to plan some sort of special dinner or fabulous treat for when they get home. When G first started spending whole days or overnights with his Dad, I made DAMN sure he had something fabulous (okay, BETTER) to look forward to at home.


Feel free to give her my e-mail address. I've been there. It hurts like hell, and she's probably feeling cheated, neglected, used, swindled and all the rest --and THEN to hand over her precious babies probably feels like a triple injustice.


There's absolutely no arguing with these emotions--they're as real as can be. But she CAN get through them.


Big hugs and prayers for her, and thanks to you for being a dear friend when she really needs one.



PS: Husbands who hire girlfriends BEFORE they have the courage to end their marriages are creeps, jerks and swine. Especially if kids are involved. I stick my tongue out at him, and I hope the tramp knows she's now the proud owner of a man who's willing to cheat on his wife.


Edited 5/30/2007 12:47 pm by Jillsifer


Edited 5/30/2007 12:49 pm by Jillsifer

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

-- Washington Irving

TracyK's picture

(post #47890, reply #2 of 12)

Ann, I am sorry to hear that. :-(


One of my best friends is a marriage and family therapist, I can ask her if there are any books she'd recommend.


CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

Gretchen's picture

(post #47890, reply #3 of 12)

As a grandmother who has been through it and watches it week by week, the best thing they can both do for the children is to get along in front of them, at least, and never attack the other. It isn't the children's "problem" and most especially their fault.  There are some good children's books and that might be a real necessity, on several age levels.


Our son's custody is approximately half time--week-ends and then 10 days about every third/fourth week--and vice versa.  The judge that granted their custody agreement said he had never seen one like it.  When he was littler (this is about 3+ years) he would ask if he was going home to daddy's or to mommy's, etc.


I think your friend is going to have to really have to begin to think hard long term because the week-ends may be when he has them the most, assuming they are going to school where the mother lives. And it is going to begin soon. What custody agreement do they have?  She can't just "hope" for the overnights, etc.  It needs to be worked out and settled.


We had another thread about divorce. Mediation can be a real boon for all.


As for not wanting them to be near the GF--in the case of other friends, the GF was the redeeming quality of the visits.  And our son has remarried and the stepmother is the apple of DGS's eye--and vice versa.  His stepfather is also a nice person to DGS although he will never be more to me than passing by. But he is that much because he cares for DGS.


You say she's been a "single parent" for 9 years. How does that work out--the babies were to save the marriage?


It is heart wrenching to watch, especially for the little ones to have to figure out two homes (and they need to be homes). The parents really must communicate about all this even through their anger and hurt.


I'm sure there are books about divorce, but I think this person may need some counseling as to her own strengths.  And I assume they have had some counseling somewhere along the line.


I am, of course, sorry this is happening. She is lucky to have you as a caring friend.


Gretchen
Gretchen
AnnL's picture

(post #47890, reply #4 of 12)

Her husband really has not participated much in the raising of the kids or in doing things around the house.  Besides the girlfriends (this is just the most recent one and the final straw for my friend) there's his job and he has hobbies that take him on the road for tournaments, etc., so he's just not around much.  Even when they go away on vacation, he'll go off and leave her to manage 3 kids in the hotel swimming pool.  :-(


The kids were not to "save" the marriage, she always wanted kids.


Yes, she knows the kids will have to be gone and they do have a custody arrangement, at least for the separation, that the lawyers have worked out.  I'm not sure of all the details, but I know it's every other weekend.  I assume he also gets some holidays and vacation.  She was just hoping he would ease into it so they could all adjust.  She's not even sure he knows how to operate an oven, let alone figure out what the kids will eat.


I believe they are trying to remain civil for the kids, which is good.  He's actually agreed to a rather generous financial agreement so that she and the kids will be able to stay in the house. 


AnnL
Transitions Farm
Gardening, cooking, and riding
in Central Mass.

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

wonka's picture

(post #47890, reply #5 of 12)

I second what Gretchen says. They need to get along despite their feelings about each other. The thing that I admired the most about my husband was that he, and his ex-wife, went to great lengths to keep up communication and made their daughter their priority. We have, in the past as she's now 19, done birthday parties, halloween, concerts etc... all together for many years because that is what Daria needed from us. She has grown to be a smart well ajusted adult that we are all very proud of.

AnnL's picture

(post #47890, reply #6 of 12)

That's great when people can do that and not pit the kids against each other.  It's hard but so much better for all involved.

AnnL
Transitions Farm
Gardening, cooking, and riding
in Central Mass.

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

fitzcindy's picture

(post #47890, reply #7 of 12)

You've gotten some great advice here.  I too have been there, done that; still being and doing....If she can afford it, I would suggest that she see a therapist for a little while.  I can't tell you how much this helped me look at things in a different perspective.  I remember her telling me that one day it would not seem so terrible when the kids were with my ex and I remember thinking, fat chance.  But she was right.  I still don't like it that they are with the girlfriend when they are with him but eventually you see that there is not much you can do about it.  When she is ready, she'll get some interests outside of her children and that will make things better for her. 


It is crucial that she keep a decent relationship with their dad in front of the kids and not speak badly about him.  This will pay big dividends in the future and will minimize the ill effects of this lousy situation.


2 years ago I was her....my whole life was my kids and my husband.  Today, I'm halfway through my Masters degree and will be a Marriage and Family Therapist next year.  In hindsight I can see that my ex's actions and the breakup of my marriage was the best thing to happen to me....and my kids are great too.


I'd be happy to talk or email with your friend....just let me know.

AnnL's picture

(post #47890, reply #8 of 12)

Thanks, Cindy.  It's good to hear how well you're doing!!  :-)  I know this is the best thing for her, but she's not at that point, yet.  Hopefully, she'll get there.

AnnL
Transitions Farm
Gardening, cooking, and riding
in Central Mass.

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

Rhea's picture

(post #47890, reply #9 of 12)

Hi Ann,


I am currently with a great guy, divorce was just final in Spring, seperated for 4 years...there was no fooling around, and while this situation may be different,


 I can only tell you that your co-worker my need to loosen the reigns just abit...I do feel that the kids should be with their Dad on Father's Day....I always thought of this day as a day for me-the child to make my Dad feel extra special. While your friend may think of him as far from special,...he is still their Father. My BF's divorce was not a walk in the park, but he and the ex tried their best to always put the kids first. BF often sayed that he learned that it was not about being right...it was about DOING right....


 Someone here mentioned that visitations need to be hammered out-this is a must....it is the only way to prevent-or atleast try to prevent future issues about where the kids go, and when.


Sometimes someone may make a horrible or less than perfect mate and still be capable of being a great parent...let's hope her ex can do just that. Thinking on the positive, she may just find that he steps up to the plate.


As for that other new girlfriend...erring on the positive, she may also bring alot of great things to the situation,....this is a tough one....my BF has three kids and in the beginning I felt so out of the loop....trying to fit into this blended situation....and while my BF seems to be nothing like your friend's ex,....your friend hopefully will be suprised that if this new girl in his life has a positive influence on him, he will become a better person, and more importantly a better Father.


I do think that every child should have the right to spend time with each parent froma divorced family(of course  serious other issues may prevent that...)......while my BF's situation for his divorce was very different, when he gets his kids he jam-packs a week into 2 1/2 days....it breaks my heart because the youngest little boy keeps saying he wants to live with his Dad because  "it would be better"


I do hope her situation works out well....hard to see someone go through this.....but your idea to spend time with her is a GREAT one!!!


I can't even afford the lifestyle I don't want...

I can't even afford the lifestyle I don't want...

cookiewiz's picture

(post #47890, reply #10 of 12)

Divorce is always tough, especially when small children are involved. My first husband was going through a divorce when we met. I had to do a lot of growing up too.He was in the Navy and we were staioned where I could not find a job,and so that he could pay child support, I went to live with his parents,until we could get base housing. It turns out I took the first job that came my way...turns out I was working with the "hated Ex wife" The first day I went in, and said we need to talk...which we did. We wanted what was best for their little girl,and if it meant sucking it up and being nice to the ex so be it. Turns out we became very good friends. The one thing I told her was I do not care what you say about him...he is my husband, so please don't bring him up. I have to believe the things he says, I am married to him... So we left him out of our relationship. His ex wife and I became good friends, and his daughter ...I could not have loved any more than if I had carried her myself. Unfortunately when we split up...she was furious with her father, because she lost her "mom" (me) I stayed in touch with her for many years,and we some how lost touch from one move or another..as it turns out all the nasty things the ex tried to tell me were true...But Brandy bless her heart was always the most important part of the equation. We all had her best intrests at heart. Some times you have to swallow your pride and be the bigger of the two people where your kids are concerned. 

jaq's picture

(post #47890, reply #11 of 12)

I agree with some of Gretchen's points. To focus on your friend, doing some counseling might help her gain support through this horrible time, and help her to find strengths she didn't know she had. One of my good friends got divorced this year, and she looked to me (used to work in the field) to help her find a therapist. I also helped when she was thinking about going on anti-depressants. There is nothing shameful about doing whatever she needs to in order to get through this. I practice what I preach- done therapy several times, and anti-depressants when I needed them too!

chiquiNO's picture

(post #47890, reply #12 of 12)

www.rejoicemarriageministeries.org

Chiqui from way down yonder in New Orleans