Life after Divorce – What I Would Say To My Deceitful Ex-Husband, 20 Years Later

What I Would Say To My Deceitful Ex-Husband
Linda Simpson
Linda Simpson
Writer and Speaker

It was a novel suggestion. What would I say to my former spouse if given the opportunity?

We haven’t spoken in nearly two decades. Twenty five years of marriage is so far behind me now that most of my life has been without him.

The hurt he left behind surfaces occasionally with me and our sons. We long ago learned to deal with it and push it back in the shadows where it belongs. I wonder if he knows of that paternal legacy.

I used to think he was my bridge over troubled water. Now I realize that notion was reversed. His demons far exceeded mine.

There was a time when I missed him so much I ached. That feeling left me years ago and never returned. My biggest battle today is suppressing regret for time lost in a marriage that was doomed from the very beginning.

Our oldest son saw the demise of the family before we did. He told me that when he was barely a teenager it was already evident. We may have been fooling ourselves but not him.

Childhood sweethearts can be both a boon and a bane. In our situation is was the latter. He skilfully exploited my innocence. I grew up after he left, a painful but invigorating process.

This is what I would say if given the opportunity. Our conversation would include the following anecdote, questions, and observations.

Last summer, our oldest grandchild, all of seven years old, asked ” What happened? Why don’t you live together?” I hope someday he asks you the same question and that you have the grace to answer the question honestly. Not wink and toss it off as a joke as you are wont to do or dismiss it as all just “water under the bridge.”

This time you got a pass on your behaviour thanks to our son who fielded the question rather skilfully. No mention of your trademark deception and dishonesty. Seven years old is too young to know the truth. But someday he will know the answer.

Our sons are our greatest asset together. They are dedicated to their families. I worried about that because of the example you had set as a husband and father. Did your parenting choices ever concern you? For many years they were fatherless.

I would ask you about the phenomenon that a father can walk away from a family and turn a corner and not look back. We are not the only family to experience this type of abandonment. I don’t understand how men, mostly, can have little family contact for years on end. A Facebook connection with the odd puerile quip is hardly parenting.

I would ask you about how you lived a lie every day of our marriage. I get stuck on that fact I must confess. Over 20 years later and it still gets me. Every memory of our life together from high school forward is couched with the fact it was all a lie. Every profession of love, everything you ever said or did was framed by your lies.

I would tell you one of the best decisions I ever made was reclaiming my maiden name. I have a colleague to thank for the change. He refused to address me by my married name after the divorce details emerged. So almost by default I went back to my ‘maiden’ name and for 20 odd years I am grateful every single day I did that. It is a name worthy of that honour.

I would tell you I miss sharing this time of life with children and a gaggle of grandchildren. At least with -the you- the fatherly pastiche you wore so well. All of that is framed with the possibility you never really cared about any of it. Our life together might be nothing more to you than photo ops, well placed good deeds and empty words of sincerity to cover your secrets.

I would observe, that, as is often the case in divorce, you ended up much more financially secure than I did. However, my freedom from you is priceless.

I would ask you those questions and then doubt your answers. Would you just tell me what you think I want to hear, something you do very well or would you be honest? I am not sure what an honest answer sounds like coming from you.

I used to think ours was a great love until I found the real deal. I used to be afraid of you but I am not anymore. I still want to know the name of the silent partner in our marriage that you have refused to reveal.

And thus the conversation would end in an egregious manner, just like our marriage.

More than 20 years of silence is a lifetime. Perhaps it is all water under the bridge.

About Linda

A committed writer and speaker with stories to share based on many life lessons. I found a voice and style that matches my spirit. The hope is that these articles inspire reflection and conversation.

After a rewarding teaching career that spanned 40+ years, writing became my next step. Many years spent as a guidance education trainer gave me a unique perspective on the lives of children. Divorce twenty years ago provided first- hand knowledge of that life altering experience. As a very single parent, I am devoted to my wonderful family.

Every day I knock on the sky and believe impossible things before breakfast. It is all shared with the reader.


  1. Thank you, Linda, for so eloquently describing MY life, almost to the exact detail. I am still trying to get out of my 35 year relationship with a completely fraudulent – it turns out – husband and I am grappling with balancing letting go and not losing out any more financially than I inevitably will, and with facing up to the facts, the truth, with honesty and with my children, while trying to respect their need to make their father who they need him to be. I take strength and courage from your calm, your honesty and the hope you give me for my future.

    • Hi Cheryl

      I am so pleased my words touched you and gave you hope. I know exactly how you are feeling at this moment.

      There are so many issues to consider, finances, your family, and your future.

      The one bit of advice I would suggest right now is that you start keeping a journal. My journal was my salvation. When family and friends’ eyes glazed over, it never got tired of ‘hearing’ the same things over and over again. Writing about it helped bring clarity to my thinking.

      One of the issues I had such difficulty with is the lack of choice I was given. He knew who he was and what he was doing but I was never given the option to decide if I wanted to be party to his charade. I believed what he said and that was my big mistake. Being deceived in a marriage is an enormous hurdle but you will make it.

      My sons survived and thrived and I am so grateful for that. Create meaningful family times without him so they can see that life goes on ..maybe in a different configuration but it does go on. There can be fun and laughter. And don’t feel guilty about that fun and laughter without him. His choices brought you here.

      I can hear conviction and clarity of thinking in your email. That is a big first step.

      Please keep in touch and if I can be of help , don’t hesitate to write.

      take care


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