Dear Annie: My husband and I lived with a very dysfunctional situation for several years. His children from a prior marriage were encouraged by their mother to tell falsehoods about our home life. She was planning to leave the state and needed full custody in order to take them, and she ultimately accomplished this.
We went to counseling and considered legal action, but realized that even if we won, we no longer agreed on how to parent these kids. The constant discord did some damage to our marriage. My husband put up with a lot of nastiness as long as the kids would see him. I tried to help, but couldn’t tolerate their continuing dishonesty and disrespect. Slowly, my husband rebuilt a relationship with them, but in doing so, he allowed me to be viewed as the enemy. I stopped being included in family plans.
Now his ex-wife and grown children treat my husband as if he is single. The holidays are fine, since the grown children spend them with their mother, and my husband spends his with our little family. However, he attends his children’s graduations, weddings and birthdays without me.
I love my husband. He is happy with us and lets us know. Most of all, he thanks us for allowing him to be a normal parent. He has his adult children in his life and sees them once or twice a year, but the situation is becoming increasingly untenable to me. Where do we go from here? – The Second Wife
Dear Second: Actually, the line was drawn some time ago: Your husband attends his grown children’s functions without you. This is not ideal, but it also doesn’t have to be cause for constant misery. It would show tremendous grace for you to tell your husband to go and spend time with his adult children, without any residual bitterness on your part. It’s only once or twice a year, and we suspect he would be enormously grateful.