I ran into a woman the other day, who has been divorced for several years and has three young children. We asked each other the usual questions you ask when you haven’t seen someone in awhile: “How are things,” “How are the kids?” “How’s the job?” “How’s the love life?” and of course, “How are things with your ex?”
Her answer to that question was shocking. She told me that her ex moved to another state, got married, had two children with his new wife, and has not spoken to or seen their children in a couple of years. He has also not paid a dime in child support.
While my gut reaction was to feel very sad for the kids and the woman, something else occurred to me: What is the new wife thinking? Here’s what I mean by that. Could you honestly love, marry and have children with a man who had no contact with his children from his previous marriage? I mean really. Doesn’t that say everything you need to know about the guy? What is lovable about a person who abandoned his children, both emotionally and financially? How could ANY man or woman leave their children? It’s baffling to me.
Now, please keep in mind that I realize I only heard the ex-wife’s side of the story, and that I know nothing else about nor have never met her ex-husband. I get it. That said, facts are facts. This man is GONE. His children didn’t get to spend Halloween with their father last night. They never get to spend ANY time with him. They are growing up without one of the two most important people in a childhood. It is truly heartbreaking.
I bet if I asked the guy, “Why did you move out of state and leave your children hanging emotionally and financially?” he would answer, “My ex-wife made it impossible for me to stay. She has alienated our children from me.” He will play the victim and insist he was forced out.
While I do believe in parental alienation syndrome, (it is a real thing where moms or dads try to turn the kids against the other parent. It’s really sick) I just feel like if that happened to me, I would never give up trying to be in my kids’ lives, AND I would never, ever move out of state. AND, the child support thing? Fishy.
I was thinking, if I were this woman (with the three kids) would I rather be me or the new wife? The answer hands down is the ex-wife. Think about it. The new wife has her cute little family right now, but in the back of her mind, she will always know she is married to a man who left his family and didn’t look back (both emotionally and financially). Try living with that. Isn’t the guy’s guilt going to eventually catch up with him? When he realizes that he loves his kids more than he hates his ex-wife, will he regret what he did?
This isn’t the only case where I feel like I would choose being the ex -wife versus the new wife. How about people who got divorced because of cheating? Or addiction issues? Don’t you think your ex is going to act the same way with his or her new spouse? Do you think he or she is going to be different? If he/she is a cheater, they are a cheater. If he/she is an addict, they are an addict. Period. The new wife (or husband) is getting the exact same thing as you had, sometimes worse.
It remains to be seen whether or not my friend’s ex’s new marriage and family will survive. Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that his abandonment of his children will always be staring them in the face, every minute of every day. They will never be able to ignore the truth. And that will cause issues eventually. So so very sad.
So, a great way to coping with divorce is to ask yourself, “Would I rather be the ex-wife or the new wife?” If you are really honest with yourself, you’ll pick you. Why? Because what you have in front of you is very different than what the new wife (husband) has. You know what SHE/HE has. You had it. It didn’t work. And now, you have the potential for something or someone amazing to happen to you that could work. And that person will not have left his ex-wife and three kids in another state. That’s a pretty easy choice, isn’t it?
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially” for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she’s divorced.
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