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Are Trust and Respect Possible After a Divorce? Are They Even Desirable?

Cheryl Lavin on

Dear Cheryl: It's been a month since my divorce, a divorce caused by my ex-husband's cheating.

I barely talk to him, which is generally good. When we do talk, it's usually about our daughter. But we have said many nasty things to each other in the past. He started all of this to get under my skin. He keeps telling me how happy he is with his girlfriend, the happiest he's ever been and that he knows I'm miserable. He is so wrong.

He also says that we have no respect for each other and that there's no trust between us. If he's so happy, why does he care?

Here's my question: Under these circumstances, are respect and trust possible? I know this. I will not bend over backwards to please him like I did before. IT'S NOT OVER TILL IT'S OVER AND THIS AIN'T OVER

Dear INOTIOATAO: A divorce decree is just a piece of paper. It ends a marriage, but not all the bitter, angry feelings that led up to it and all the one-upmanship that often follows it. Some people have an overwhelming need to prove that they've made out better in the divorce. Your ex sounds like one of those people.

Is there anyone that you and your ex trust and respect? Preferably someone from his side of the family? Maybe his brother or brother-in-law or best friend? Or a family priest or pastor?

 

If so, ask that person to set up a meeting between the three of you. Tell him you're afraid that the nastiness between the two of you will affect your daughter and you want to work out a relationship that puts her first. You're two people with one goal -- a happy, healthy child with as few divorce-caused scars as possible.

At the meeting, suggest some ground rules for all future conversations. 1. The focus will be 100% on your daughter. 2. No personal information will be shared unless it absolutely affects her. 3. The past is off limits.

If there's no one who your ex agrees to meet with, then tell him you'll pay for a session with a therapist so you can work out these issues.

Trust and respect may never be possible, but a non-poisonous relationship should be. Good luck and stay in touch.

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