Dear Annie: How do I talk to my adult children about divorcing their mother? I’ve been a good father and tried hard to be a good husband, but I knew early on that the rushed decision to marry was a mistake. I considered divorce 17 years ago and went to counseling, but my wife said I was the one with the problem, and things didn’t change. I have had a number of indiscretions seeking companionship and intimacy.
When my wife said she would turn my children against me, I became depressed and had thoughts of suicide. She has said she will make my life hell if I leave her. But, Annie, we have no life as a couple, and I often wish God would take me. My children are tremendously important, but I feel manipulated by them with their threats of keeping the grandchildren from seeing me if I divorce their mother. I plan to stay in the marriage a little longer for the sake of my youngest child, who will graduate next year, but I don’t know how much more I can take.
My wife and I are both at fault for this broken marriage. I am guilty of many things and have apologized. My children know their mother is difficult to live with. I want them to understand that the marriage is beyond repair and divorce could be a way to heal. I am angry that my wife isn’t thinking of the children when she bad-mouths me to them. What can I do? – Fearful in the Dakotas
Dear Fearful: Most children, no matter the age, are upset when their parents divorce. And it is unfortunate that many spouses try to alienate the other parent from the children. When you decide to file, get your children together for a discussion. Explain that you love them all deeply and have no intention of enumerating their mother’s faults or your own and assessing blame. Things just haven’t worked out, and you are both unhappy. No matter how difficult the situation becomes, it is important that you don’t give up communicating with your children. We also recommend the National Center for Fathering (fathers.com).
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