One reason why divorce is painful is the feeling of rejection, rejection by your partner who’s chosen to pay more attention to something else. That something else can be a multitude of things, drugs, alcohol, a sport or pastime, work, even your children. When there are third parties involved, I believe the rejection can be more painful because the choice appears more blatant. My current guest, Terry (who writes the blog, Scribblings of a Soccer Mom) discovered her husband was having an affair and the woman involved was a friend of theirs. What makes the situation even harder for Terry is that her ex is now married to her friend, making her stepmother to her children. Here’s how Terry’s come to accept the situation:
We weren’t best friends, her husband was the office mate of my husband, but our families would do things together as well. She was also one of the few people that I did know down here. When it all blew up, it was very unnerving, because I was going to her about unhappiness, not realizing that my husband and her had started something together. It was a slightly double betrayal.
When I realized that he and I were separating and we were just done, that they were going to wind up being together and my kids were going to be around her all the time, I knew if I said anything bad about her or him, I would only hurt my children. What I thought wouldn’t bother them, clearly. They really couldn’t care less what I thought of them, but if I said,
“Your dad’s bad or your dad cheated with her,”
or anything like that, then I think I would only hurt my kids, so I just didn’t do it.
There are still times when I hate her a little bit, but it doesn’t come through too much, I don’t think ever, to her. We’ve never talked about it except right afterwards when she apologized and I said,
“Yeah, well that’s nice.”
That was the only time we ever talked about it. If we’re at the soccer field together I can talk to her, and I do but we don’t hang out together, anymore.
The Divorce Coach Says
Terry has been divorced now for three years and is remarried. Clearly, she no longer loves her husband and although the passage of time does help, I think the pain of having been treated this way remains for a long time. I can empathize with Terry to a degree – two of my dating relationships from before I was married ended when these boyfriends became involved with friends. The first relationship didn’t really bother me since I knew we had little in common and it wasn’t going to last very long. The second relationship however was a very painful breakup.
When Terry realized she’d be hurting her children if she spoke bad about her ex or her friend, she was again making a choice about how she wanted to behave and the sort of environment she wanted for her children. But before she could get to this point, she had to accept that her marriage was over and that her friend was going to be a more permanent fixture. A critical component of that was being pain-free and healthy. Terry’s acceptance of her former friend is, I think, a critical component to the successful co-parenting partnership Terry has managed to forged.
Another of my guests, Carolyn, lost her husband to her best friend – Carolyn was devastated and even considered their proposal for a poly-amorous relationship. Carolyn’s agreed to a follow up interview and I’m looking forward to hearing her perspective now that more than eighteen months as passed since our interview.