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Letters About Divorce

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Topic: By What Name?

TE Wrote:

My son has a step-son. What should his step-son call his step-father's parents?

B Responded:

The bottom line here is that the step-son has inherited~~additional~~grandparents and the grandparents, you, have inherited an~~additional~~grandchild. Miss Manners says it best by saying that stepparents, etc., are additions, rather than replacements, to original relatives. As usual, I think she says that well; I agree.

What I have observed being practiced by other nuclear families is that step-children, who are minors, usually call grandparents by the name all other grandchildren in the family call them. If the step-children are older, not minors, then it would be what is more comfortable to you both which would simply be to call you by name as other friends and family do.

Questions about Divorce

Topic: Betrayed By Family

CW Wrote:

I divorced a man who was unfaithful, drank, was mentally and physically abusive and who has been charged with child abuse since the divorce.

I have since remarried and I am happy but this 'ex' has never let me be. He is in arrears for child support, writes nasty letters to me and generally harrasses me.

Recently a family member of mine was getting married and insisted that my son come to the stag party. I finally said he could, but that my husband (recent) would be coming with him.

When my husband and son got there, they found that my 'ex' was there, too. I feel betrayed by my family. After all that the 'ex' has done to me then to invite him to the party is like condoning and vindicating everything he has done to me and my children.

Everyone is mad at me now because I got angry about this. I can't get over all of this as it was done behind my back and all the family knew but me and my immediate family. Can you help me feel better about this?

B Responded:

I, too, think your family made a big mistake. It was unwise to do this in this manner without giving you the facts so you and your family could make your own decisions about attending. Your feelings do count and those of your children and current spouse. Family should 'stick' together.

Yet, after saying that, don't be too hard on your family. Do remember that you made the mistake of marrying the 'ex' in the beginning and your family will also make mistakes as new situations come up. Divorce, its residue and all that goes with it, causes new situations and complications that 'everyone' must learn to deal with. Simply learn from the mistakes and go on.

Think of all the positive things. You are happy now. You have a good husband. You have a 'family.' Families and individual family members make mistakes...always will...we love them inspite of their mistakes.

You have every right to let your family know how you feel, but you can't control their behavior; control your own and don't over-react. It was a new lesson learned and you have too many blessings now to let this 'ex' cause grief once again and to allow him to expand that grief he causes you to include your entire family.

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Topic: Should We Be One Family And Friends?

HT Wrote:

I have been divorced for many years. My children were small at the time of the divorce. I kept the children and went back to school to be able to support them. I received no help from my 'ex.'

The 'ex' had nothing to do with the kids until they were adults, married with children of their own. He then entered their lives.

What I have now had a problem with is my daughter-in-law has become close with my ex-husband's live in, who he was involved with during our marriage. She feels I should let the past be forgotten and agree to family gatherings where we all can be together as a family, including my ex-husband and his girlfriend.

There is just no way I can do this. I don't want to be anywhere my ex-husband and his girlfriend are. Do you think I am wrong?

B Responded:

The word divorce means to 'separate' or to 'sever.' It also means 'any marked or total separation.' That's an official definition of divorce from the dictionary.

You divorced him (severed the relationship or made a total separation); the children did not have a choice and did not divorce him. Your adult children and their wives have their friends; you have yours. You don't choose their friends and they shouldn't choose yours. It's that simple to me.

You did what was right in raising your children, educating yourself when times were at their worst. I feel certain you know what you can tolerate and what you can't, so go with your own feelings. If you feel uncomfortable with such an idea, then don't do it.

There will be times when you will have to attend 'public' things (graduations, etc.) where they will also attend. That's entirely different. Don't let your 'ex' or his girlfriend cause you to miss out on special events for those you love because they are there too.

To pretend, however, to be one happy family and friends of some sort at all other times seems ludicrous to me. It sounds like that if you had wanted that type of situation, then you wouldn't have divorced him, and a cozy threesome it could have been. You didn't choose it then and don't now. I see nothing wrong with this then or now.

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Topic: Where Are All The Men?

CB Wrote:

What am I doing wrong? I'm young, divorced for five years from an abusive husband, and I have two kids. I work with all women and I go to church where there are no singles. I do not know any men at all.

What am I doing wrong?

B Responded:

Don't be so hard on yourself! Wallow in self-pity for another five minutes and then start taking action.

You do have to make opportunities for yourself by meeting people and getting out of the house and places where only women can be found, and then take advantage of those opportunities.

If your city has a singles group, then join. Not to meet men, but to get out and do a few things both for yourself and perhaps through whatever projects the singles group is doing for others. If your city doesn't have a singles group, then find out where the nearest one is, and go, period!

Change churches, if necessary. Go to a larger church nearby where they do have classes for singles and get active in church projects for both men and women. Don't forget the internet either. Many people have met this way and become dear friends, if not dear marrieds. Keep making opportunities for yourself to continually be with people.

My experience has been that when you stop looking for someone, and you start looking for things to do with others that 'you' enjoy, then 'you will' meet someone. It's always the friend you met through Cousin Sally, or the brother of a good friend or a new friend. It may not happen today, but you have plenty of tomorrows, so there is always hope for tomorrow. It could be the day!

The bottom line is that if you start finding things and people 'you' enjoy then you may forget this loneliness. You might even decide that you like your independence; if not, then you'll always be meeting people until 'Mr. Right' finally comes along.

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Topic: Dying Ex-Wife

AG Wrote:

My problem is my husband's ex-wife. My husband and I have been married for 16 wonderful years and have one child. He was married to his ex-wife for ten years and they had no children. It was an ugly divorce and there was an eight-month court battle over property alone.

Obviously, they are not on friendly terms. She also hates me. She and my husband have not spoken for 17 years.

Through a mutual friend, we have found out that she has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We are wondering what we should do if she dies. What is his role in his past family? Should he go to the hospital? What should we do?

B Responded:

You have only 'heard' that it is terminal and that may not be correct. There may be a chance that this may not be as serious as that or that it will go into remission or her condition could change. Miracles do happen and health conditions change.

While your intentions may be good about thinking it is time to contact her, it may 'not' be good for 'her' for numerous reasons. This has to be considered first. You don't want her to misinterpret your intentions.

Personally, I think of death and dealing with death as a private type thing. The funeral is the public event where others go to deal with the death. If she were to die, then it would be appropriate for your husband to decide if he would be helping others, and himself, by attending and showing his respect.

It appears that right now the only thing you can do is remember her in your prayers. Perhaps she may decide it is time to make peace between all of you, but it sounds as if she may have a lot of other things on her mind. Unless hearing from her, I wouldn't do anything at this time.

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Topic: Ex-Husbands?

TR Wrote:

My ex-husband has been diagnosed as a manic depressive. He has been in school for 20 years and lives in a dormitory. He has asked to stay with me until he recuperates and until he can find a job.

He drags me down emotionally and physically. I want to help him get on his feet but not at the expense of my family. How can I help him without letting him live with me?

B Responded:

If you are no longer married, then it is inappropriate for him to live with you, as I see it, for many reasons, including your reputation. He is not your child. He is your ex-husband. This would not be an option for me to consider and I'm wondering why it is for you.

If you feel a responsibility for him or feel you must be generous to him, then I would suggest other relatives or friends of his to call to find suitable housing possibilities or you could lend him some money to assist him temporarily. With his plans so vague, I would be very careful here as he may never recuperate or find a job. What will you do then? It is easier to limit this and establish the rules now while he is looking for his solutions to his troubles.

Smile-the world smiles with you

Topic: Give Up?

BK Wrote:

I got married last year and this is my second marriage. I have two children from my first marriage. Last weekend my husband and I had an argument. He told me that he keeps on asking himself why he ever got married in the first place. What should I do?

B Responded:

Just keep in mind that you were arguing and things are always said that each does not mean. It would be a good idea to try to stop saying things that you may feel at the moment but don't seriously mean.

The first five years, and sometimes longer, are the hardest in a second marriage. There are troubles that first marriages simply don't have to face.

Don't take this remark too seriously, but only an indication of his frustrations. You will both be very frustrated from time to time, but continue loving him, making your house a happy home and don't argue about things that really make no difference. Keep working on being a family with less arguing and give this marriage time.

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