I get upset seeing my soon to be ex

I get upset seeing my soon to be ex

My husband and I are getting a divorce.  My children found him cheating on me.  He wants to be involved with them in activities like soccer. I have a hard time seeing him.  I get upset and cry and feel like crap.  How can I see him without this happening.  The kids really don’t care if they ever see him again.  He devastated them.  I have three girls, 14, 13 and 11.  They tolerate him when they see him, but I’m the one who gets upset.  signed, suewizrn, age 49

Dear suewizrn, I can understand your feelings and upset in this matter.  It is very hard to see a partner that has betrayed you and the relationship in such a way.  Anytime you learn that your spouse has been unfaithful then there will be a great deal of anger, sadness, and hurt.  It is always such a shock when this happens and it is especially hurtful when the children see such things first hand. Your feelings are normal and understandable in this circumstance.  Here are some things for you to consider:

1.  Your husband’s behavior defines him not you.  He is the one that has caused the breakup of your marriage and the disrespect of his children.  His pay back for such behavior is going to be on going because there are always consequences for one’s actions.  With that said, it is important that from this moment on that you not bad mouth or put your husband down to or in front of the children.  They are old enough to know what he did is very wrong and they are forming their own opinions.  It will only do more damage to them if you continue to talk poorly about their father in front of them.  Allow them their feelings but don’t contribute to them in anyway.  They will follow your lead and the better you do with healing, forgiving and then moving forward the better they will do.  Children will always mirror what they sense and feel from the same sex parent.  You have great influence over them.

2.  Set some boundaries with your husband and stick to them.  For instance: if he wants to participate in seeing the girls in some of their activities the two of you can take turns and not be at the same event together.  You can decide which events you absolutely want to be a part of and then tell him which ones he can be a part of.  As long as one parent is present to support the girls in their activities they will be fine.  You could set this boundary by way of letter or email if you don’t want to talk to or see him in person.  Since children pick up on the stress and tension between parents they will be more relaxed if the two of you aren’t together at events or gatherings for awhile.  Ease the tension yourself by taking turns instead of putting yourself in this upsetting position.  Please see our article on setting boundaries.

3. Write any and all of your feelings down in a journal.  Don’t hold back – write down what you are really thinking and feeling.  Use the hate language, curse words, or any way you want to express yourself and how you are feeling.  Just write all of it down.  This journal is for your eyes only and it can be destroyed once you have released all of your thoughts and feelings on this matter.  Once you get over the anger and hurt you can then work on forgiveness and learn how to move forward.  Please read the following articles that I feel can help you along the way:  UnfaithfulForgiveness, and Divorce and the aftermath.  We recommend some great books on those subjects that I feel you will find helpful. 

4.  Now let’s take care of you.  Once you have written down all of your thoughts and feelings consider if you still feel you need some more help then see a counselor.  You can get a recommendation from your family Doctor, Church leader, or social services.  A good counselor can help you work through all of your feelings.  Don’t allow your husband’s actions to define you or your self-worth.  His actions are a reflection of him and his values and they are not a refection of you at all.  We have some great articles on self-esteem that I would like for you to read so you can start taking action on building yourself back up which will allow for you to start moving forward and letting go of your hurt and sadness.  

For now limit the times you have to see your husband.  Take turns at attending your children’s events and don’t put your children in a position of taking sides or divided loyalty.  They will make up their own minds and they don’t need any extra stress or pressure at their events.  Take care of yourself.  The better you take care of yourself the easier it will be to move forward. Give yourself time to grieve.  A divorce is like a death in the family and there is a grieving process that takes place and then the healing will begin.  Please read our article on grief and the grieving process. The good news is that there is life after divorce and it can be a very good life.  I promise you that you will be happy again. 

Please understand you have free will.  This advice is given only in the realm of personal growth and self-help. This is not to be considered a substitute for therapy or professional counseling.  We wish you well.