My Ex wants to be friends again. She left very suddenly two years ago and hasn’t seen our teenaged daughters until recently. She told me she misses me but doesn’t want to be married anymore. I have been torn up trying to do my job and look after our kids. I am so angry but our daughters have missed their mother. They want to see her. How can I ever put what has happened behind me?
Your daughters are very fortunate. Keeping family life together after a trauma like that requires enormous strength. You did what was important for your children.
There can be any number of reasons why a spouse suddenly leaves. You don’t mention why she left. Her leaving so abruptly seriously erodes any trust your family might have had and that is something that needs to be discussed with your daughters.
Your daughters are old enough to make their own decisions in this situation. They are willing to see her but there is always the possibility she may disappear abruptly again. As long as they are mindful of that possibility then be supportive. She is their mother. Without being intrusive, check in with them to make sure that they are comfortable with their visits.
What you decide about a friendship is within your control. You have options. What will make you most comfortable? You can be cordial for the sake of your daughters. Does she want you as a confidant at the level of relationship you had when married? It is your decision how much you are willing to invest in the relationship.
As well, friendship is a two way street. Can you see your former wife as a trusted friend? You need to determine how you feel about being friends and what that would entail. Was their balance in your relationship prior to the breakup?
Whatever you decide should be clearly explained. Define the level of friendship you are willing to commit. Remember that often we don’t ‘hear’ everything that is said to us in the first go round. It may take awhile for both of you to grasp how this new level of knowing each other will work.
The other option is that you do not have to be friends with her. You can be cordial for the sake of your daughters. Somewhere down the road you might feel it is possible to have a stronger friendship. Leave that option open.
Anything is possible in today’s world but the most important aspect of all of this is whether it works for you. You make the choice about what feels right for you.
For now, support your daughters, and allow then to rebuild their relationship with their mother. Look after yourself.
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ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.