February 24, 2024
Ask Amy: Navigating Family Dynamics and Divorce



Dear Amy:

“Leonard” and I have been married for 47 years.

We have raised three kind, independent children with lives of their own.

We have both changed from the lusty and adventurous people of our younger days to what we are now.

I lead a life filled with faith, friends, and love of travel. He is an angry, volatile, unpredictable and overreactive man.

He has cut dozens of people out of his life when he perceives an offense — often over ridiculous things.

Whenever I have called him on it, he only digs in. He has NEVER apologized to me or anyone else. Never.

I have always said that if he ever cuts any of our children out of his life, I am out of here.

Well, he blew up at my daughter-in-law and said some horrible things. The result: My husband and son have not spoken to each other for over a year. He has not seen the grandchildren. My heart is broken.

I have talked to counselors, friends, and priests about it.

Everyone asks me if I am safe. He has never been violent with me, but his words hurt more than anything.

I know that my husband needs help, but I cannot make him get it. I am so sad. I walk on eggshells most because I don’t know what will set him off.

I spend a lot of time with my kids, sisters, and friends.

They know I am sad.

I run our household and handle all the finances, meals, etc.

He spends his days outside, alone, working on his projects. He shares very little with me. I feel so sorry for him.

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I know I have to make some changes because we are both miserable.

— In a Bad Place

Dear In a Bad Place:

You told your husband that if he ever cut off one of your children, you would be “out of here.”

Your friends and family members are so concerned about you that they ask if you are safe.

You are miserable.

I think it’s time for you to be out of there. You have good relationships with your children. Your friendships are active and intact. I assume that if you approached almost anyone in your circle and asked if you could stay with them while you work on your own next steps, they would be happy to offer you temporary housing (and possibly be relieved for you).

If you don’t want to divorce your husband because of issues related to your faith practice or your combined finances, then stay legally married and treat him with compassion by telling him, “I wish the best for you. I invite you to the table, but I will only live with you if you are willing to make some big changes for the sake of our family.”

Before making any longer-term moves, it is vital that you receive professional legal and financial advice concerning your property, your finances, and future.

Dear Amy:

My ex-husband and I have been divorced for five years. We both have other partners. We share custody with our two children and successfully co-parent.

The only problem I have with him is when he insists on showing up at our kids’ soccer and softball games (sometimes with his girlfriend), on the days when I have custody.

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In my opinion, these days when I have custody are for me to share with my children, and he should respect that.

What do you think?

— Stressed

Dear Stressed:

Let’s reframe this. Your custodial days are not for you, but for your children. The focus should be on parenting them and making sure their needs are met (to the best of your ability).

And so — wouldn’t it be best for your children to have multiple people cheering them on from the sidelines? And wouldn’t it be best for them to see their parents cordially getting along?

Your co-parenting plan is not equivalent to having a restraining order. You should both show up for school events, if you are able.

It sounds as if you and your ex are mainly doing a good job regarding your kids. Don’t blow it now.

Dear Amy:

“Appalled Parents” were rightfully very upset when their young child’s grandparents babysat and gave the boy peanut butter, even though they knew he had a peanut allergy.

These parents really should not have peanut butter in their home. Anyone — including a sitter — could have offered it to the child.

— Mildly Allergic

Dear Allergic:

I agree. I should have pointed this out in my response.

 

 

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2024 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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