Charity to ex-husband?


As Christians we are called to be charitable and to forgive others as Christ has forgiven us and died for our sins. I am in the midst of a sticky situation. My ex just got out of prison after serving almost 10 years (yes we are annulled) My - his - son won’t speak to him and won’t help him out. There are past grievances between these two. My ex has called me and clearly he’s in a bad way with no money, car or job. The consensus of my son and his wife is that my ex has brought these woes upon himself and has made his bed and therefore must lie in in. I am remarried and it’s not my place to help him out…or is it??? :confused:


To the extent that you are able and your current husband is willing, you should help your ex, out of charity. Your primary concern and obligation, however, is to your husband. You will have to be respectful of his wishes (as you are “one flesh” now, you cannot simply do as your heart alone dictates). I would talk to my priest.


Don’t do anything for him that he can do for himself, for HIS sake. He is not your child. But he might need a bit of help right at first. If you do help him, do it through a third party, like a counselor or priest, so he doesn’t know it was you. More will only make him weak and dependent on you.

Let him stand up on his own two feet. Do not take away his self respect. He may have to hit bottom before he can pull himself up. Let him succeed on his own.

You could pray for him, through a third party find him a halfway house or shelter at first, or give him some inexpensive or second hand clothes, a prepaid phone, so he can get a job, that kind of thing, if you want, for the first couple of weeks only.

Also, I don’t know why you are not married any longer or why he was in jail, but your help now tells him he can still do whatever it was, that it was really okay with you.

Enable his success without taking the power to succeed upon yourself and away from him. But beyond that, do not go. No money. Unless you want him begging at your door and manipulating you in the future because you taught him that he can’t do it without your help. Enable him to succeed on his own and to learn his lessons.


Your ex should not have called you. He needs to form a system of people around him who can help him grow up and be the man God intended him to be. What about his own family? Where are his parents? There must be support groups for ex-convicts and financial help available to facilitate a transition back into the free world. I encourage you to stay out of your ex-husband’s situation. I would also support your son’s decision to keep his distance from his father and I would not give money to your son to funnel to your ex. There are places that your ex-husband can go to get help. He really needs to figure this one out on his own. As kind and as good as I’m sure you are, you should steer clear from this man. He will find others to help him, no doubt. Let him figure this out on his own, no one can do this work for him. Do not short circuit his emotional growth by rescuing your ex. I would contact your parish priest, tell him the situation and ask the priest if your ex can call him for help. Then give your ex the priest’s name and phone number. A priest is in a far better place to help an ex-con than a married woman. Also, you can see if your ex really took your advice and called the priest for help, or if this man was just seeing how much you were good for. If he calls back, tell him that you can do no more for him. Make it clear that you are not available for emotional support. Please stay away from this man and do not engage in phone calls either. This cannot be good for you (don’t you see that you are already confused about this? It’s because your ex does not understand appropriate boundaries) or for your marriage. IT IS NOT YOUR PLACE TO HELP HIM OUT. And you are still a wonderful person. Tell your husband everything.


Celeste88, what does your (now) husband say?


He says that my son and his wife should help his father out, not me.

Unfortunately his/my son won’t and as far as my ex’s family, he has none. Both of his parents are dead, no brothers and sisters, no aunts or uncles.


The best way you can help him out is to see if you can help him find a place to work and if he needs an address and phone number, allow him to use yours if he has no other place to go. You are under no obligation to help him, but if you know of places that hire ex-felons, let him know. If he isn’t great with writing resumes, maybe help him with that. If he needs a reference and you can honestly give a good reference, do that. Being an ex-felon is a heavy cross. Yes, he did it to himself, but he served his time and unfortunately our society and most employers aren’tquick to forgive someone who spent time in prison. I have a few relatives who have been in prison (one is still in prison) and blue collared jobs are the only ones they were able to find for the rest of their lives. My relative who is in the prison system currently has many issues that need to be addressed when he gets out (since the system doesn’t help very much with psychological issues and rehab issues) and our family will have to foot the bill and open our doors to him. The depression he has when thinking about getting out and what he’ll not be able to do with his life is extremely heartbreaking for us. Society will continue to beat down your ex husband until the day he dies for the crime he served time for no matter how much of an upstanding citizen he may become. If you can do a small part, do it, but don’t do it at the expense of your marriage. Also, Chuck Colson has a prison ministry organization, maybe you can contact them and they can help you with better resources for your ex husband.


Please check into prison ministries. I know I have gotten calls from the Catholic Chaplain at a prison asking if we had one in our town (we do) so that a guy that was getting out did not contact his ex-wife and she wouldn’t feel obligated to help. I gave him the number and spared the prisoners ex-wife alot of grief. Anyway… our prison ministry “Jesus is the Way” has places for them to live, helps them get a job, provides counselling, gets them rides to work, etc…
Look into it! You should not go against what your husband wishes in this matter!


There have been good suggestions here. But I agree with your (current) husband that anything that requires contact directly with your ex-husband is your son’s responsibility, not yours.

I understand that your son and his wife do not want to be involved with your ex, especially if they have children.


he is still the son. I don’t think he should be required to give any financial aid since that could jeopardize his family. And he may not want to have physical contact. But I think he can certainly pass along any referrals to prison ministries, housing help, job leads, etc. And your son should be the one to refer your husband to a priest, (or speak to a priest about contacting your ex.)

Now you can certainly pass along info for your ex to your son. But I would make sure your current husband knows how much time you devote to this.

I would definitely pray for your ex. And I suggest you urge your son and his wife to do likewise.


I have worked with many women, not men, who are getting their lives back together after doing time in prison. There are a myriad of prison ministries/12 step groups/charitable organizations/ etc available. All require certain responsible behavior on the part of the person needing the help. If you have such a group near you, you could give your ex their number and then tell him that you will keep him in your prayers. Hopefully, someday, he will be able to make proper amends to his son so that that relationship can heal.

You and your husband are pretty good people…I am proud of you!


I really love Leslie’s (LSK) and BlestOne’s advice. I would only add that when you tell your ex you’ll keep him in your prayers and say good-bye, you put some finality in your tone. I don’t know how he got your phone number, but after you say that and hang up the phone, I would be careful to check the Caller ID before answering the phone. Don’t answer if you think it’s him, or if you don’t know the number. Don’t return his calls. You certainly don’t want him popping in to visit (especially when your husband isn’t home), and you don’t want him to think you are his support system. Make it clear to him through your silence.

You can’t require your son and his wife to do anything. They are obviously grown-ups. They have to find their own way in this. If they ask your opinion, you may give it, but otherwise, your son has to make up his own mind on this one.


Thanks for your advice all. I have been praying for him and last I heard he put in two job applications. I was quite surprised- shocked actually when he called me as I thought my phone number was unlisted…turns out my number was all over the internet!:eek: Please folks check your names in the yahoo people search to make sure your number is not listed , you may have to change your number if it is listed. I don’t know how the internet gets your number - I believe it comes from a person’s public records.


I agree with your husband on this one. You have no responsibilities to him. And in reality neither does your son have a financial obligation.




ps. there is such a thing as charitable boundries, and YOU dont have to get him capital, but you can do research on transitional living, jobs, and other things he’ll need…if his interest is still the life that got him into prison, then that is his bed. Oh and just talk t him about Jesus…he may not even hang around :wink:


You know, if the OP can research any options for her ex-husband, then so can he. This man must do the work required for his well-being and financial independence. He has the time and he should have the motivation. No one should short-circuit the work that he needs to do in order to get back on his feet. There are programs that can help this man. Let him get help from people who are trained to work with ex-cons. The OP needs to understand that boundaries must be clearly drawn or this man will never stop coming to her for help.


Unfortunately he has a history of being helped out by his mom when she was alive. She spent her last dime helping him out but she’s gone and he’s on his own now. Maybe she did him a disservice by always helping him out and not letting stand on his own two feet. But I have to ask myself if I was in the same predicament, out on my own, alone without money, job, etc, wouldn’t I want my son to help me out or at least have some contact with me. Didn’t Jesus forgive the thief on the cross or the prostitute who was going to be stoned?


Why was he in prison? If it was abuse, he’d be on his own with no contact from me.

Being forgiving does not equal being a doormat or a patsy. Don’t get suckered in. You do need to ask yourself why he was in prison (abuse? theft? burglary?) Protect yourself. Allow your son to protect himself and his family.

Give him the number and address of a shelter or a counseling service (he should probably have that from his prison counseling, too). The next step is his. He MUST take it on his own. Don’t be an enabler.


Dr. Popcak, in this excellent book, makes the differentiation about what people who have done harm to others need to do, and what those who have been harmed should expect of these harmers. You can find on eBay cheaper than buying it through Exceptional Marriages, if price is an issue.

I don’t know how old your son is, but if he’s a married man, he’s old enough to know his own mind in regards to this matter. To my mind, his father is trying to manipulate him through you.

And if his mother always helped him and is now deceased, it’s high time for him to learn how to help himself. Most libraries today offer Internet access for free, esp. to the homeless. Homeless shelters and halfway houses have Internet access. Libraries still have subscriptions to local papers, paper phone books, etc. Librarians are always willing to assist. It’s time your ex availed himself of your community’s well-spent taxes.


Celeste: If this is an issue for you after all of the good advice you’ve gotten, I would suggest that you consider counseling on this matter. Your ex-husband has far too much influence over you. While your sympathy is admirable, the fact that this issue is still a question in your mind indicates that you have not resolved your feelings towards this man. You are NOT his mother, his wife, or his friend. This is not appropriate. Stay away from him and let him figure this one out on his own. If he needs to, let him sleep on a park bench, if he cannot find a better living situation. If he can’t find a job, let him volunteer somewhere while he gets his life together. If he has no one in his life it’s because he hasn’t done the work necessary to maintain relationships. And he’s playing this for all it’s worth. He’s using you, again.

Jesus forgave the good thief, but he didn’t take him off of his cross, by that I mean that Jesus didn’t rescue the good thief from the consequences of his actions. Let your ex live his own life.Spend some time with your own husband. He is the one and only man that deserves the emotional attention that you are misdirecting to your ex.

Are you trying to prove that you are an exemplary Christian by showing the world that you have forgiven your ex and are in fact helping him? Sounds like pride to me. For most of us posting on this thread, it’s not even a question. Why is it for you?


Not only do you not have to help him, I don’t think you have any business helping him.

And he had absolutely no business asking you for help. You would be putting more of a strain on your relationship with your new husband and your son. You have an obligation to your husband and children. Not him. He gave that up long ago.

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