Dear Neil: I’m 36 years-old. I’ve been divorced for a year and a half and have a six year-old son. My 34 year-old ex-husband is in the throes of a whirlwind courtship and is about to marry a gorgeous 19 year-old girl. I’m having trouble dealing with his new relationship.
It’s not that I want to win my ex-husband back or that I want to re-marry him. It’s just that I’m resentful of the fact that he has managed to get everything he wants—the great job, the perfect relationship—and I am here on the sidelines with all the problems of being a divorced mother with no romantic prospects in sight. He constantly tells me intimate details of his relationship with the 19 year-old. What do I need to do in order to reach the point in which no matter what he does or says to me I am completely unaffected?
Floundering in Denver
Dear Floundering: It sounds as if you ex-husband is angry at you, and is expressing that anger by offering you intimate details of his relationship with his fiancée, which is designed to rub your face in the fact that he has something you don’t.
The way out of this dilemma is to make your life as good as you can. What goals do you have for yourself? What are you doing to further those goals? What would be a great job for you? What could you be doing to move one step closer to obtaining such a job? What would strengthen or improve your relationships with family, friends and co-workers? What are you doing about meeting men? What else could you be doing?
When you get your own life running more positively, you won’t be feeling so bad about your ex-husband getting his life on track. By the way, ask him to not talk to you about his relationship with his fiancée. If he slips up, politely but firmly cut him off. You can still have a cordial relationship with her without wanting to hear intimate details of their relationship.
Dear Neil: My husband and I split up five years ago after 26 years of marriage. He is still with the woman he left me for, but I want another chance with him. In the last five years I’ve come to terms with a lifetime of grief and pain, and I’m much happier than I was. I just want the chance to behave differently, and feel I can offer real love now. Any suggestions?
Still Hoping in Wellington, New Zealand
Dear Still Hoping: Five years separation is a long time, and especially if your ex-husband has been with the same woman that whole time. I’m trying to suggest you may not be able to achieve what you’re hoping for here.
Here’s what you can do. Invite your ex-husband to get together to talk. During this meeting, tell him of your personal journey back to health and greater happiness. Then let him know you are interested in reconciling and recreating a loving relationship with him.
Your chances are not high, but that old adage about risking nothing gains nothing sure seems to apply in this case.