Life Advice



Family Dynamics After Divorce

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: I'm a recently divorced mom with three adult children. My husband was physically and emotionally abusive throughout our marriage. He originally left me and my three young children when they were just toddlers, but we eventually reconciled. However, when the kids were in college, he sent me divorce papers. I begged him to reconsider, and he eventually reneged.

Several years later, after two of our children were married, he again filed for divorce and moved out and purchased a new home without me. The divorce was very acrimonious. As of this date, despite the judgment against him, he has failed to pay alimony and still owes a significant amount of assets from the original settlement. Because of this, as well as the significant amount of debt that he left in my name, I haven't been able to properly settle down.

Meanwhile, he appears to be living happily ever after and has even remarried. My two sons don't want anything to do with him, but my daughter continues to communicate with him. She has even hosted him at her house. I can't believe she would want anything to do with him after all of the terrible things he has done. Now she has mentioned that he will be visiting and bringing along his new wife to see her and her two young children. I have tried to explain to her how hurtful it is to me that she is letting this new woman into her life, but she doesn't seem to understand.

How can I convince her to change her mind? How can I persuade her to tell her dad that his new wife is not welcome, if I can't convince her to cut off communication with her dad entirely? -- Devastated Mom


Dear Devastated Mom: Your ex-husband does not sound like a very nice man, but he is still the father of your children. He is half of each of them. Expecting your kids to fully "side" with you and cut off communication with their dad and stepmom is not in their best interest. It might be in your best interest because you are understandably hurt and you want him to feel hurt as well, by having his children shut him out. But in the end, that does not bring lasting peace or happiness for you and certainly not for your children. Continue to try through legal means to get the money that you are owed from the divorce. At the same time, don't make your daughter feel guilty for wanting a relationship with her father. That is not fair to her.


"How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?" is out now! Annie Lane's second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to



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