What to tell child before divorce


#1

Please pray for me, I have been a husband for 25 years to a woman who I love deeply. We have been blessed with an 11 year-old daughter. We also just converted to Catholicism this past Easter.

My wife recently told me she wants a divorce and I subsequently found-out that she is having an affair. I am devastated, but I do not want a divorce because I love her and I do not want the permanent damage to my daughter. I am trying my best to convince her to try to reconcile the marriage, but she is committed to the divorce and claims that she wants to marry this new man (who, by the way, has already been married three times – and the most recent one just ended a couple of months ago). She claims that she loves him and will marry him once I am out of the way.

Since we live in Florida, a no-fault state, I have no choice once she serves the papers to me. I must be legally divorced and I will lose at least 60% of my daughter’s life because my wife is an unrepentant adulterer.

I believe that part of the marital problem is that my daughter still sleeps in the bed with her mother. Although I have tried for many years to convince her that she needs to have the daughter to sleep in her own bed, my wife refused. This has caused me to sleep alone in another room for many years. I trusted the Lord that, once my daughter left my wife’s bed, I would be able to go back and become intimate with her once again. I faithfully waited for that day, but she decided to become intimate with another man.

I have two questions:

  1. What do I/we tell my daughter? She will be devastated! She does not ”know” anything about our problems, or the fact that my wife intends on serving me with the initial papers next week and plans on moving out (although she has noticed my wife’s cold heart and hateful stares). I have refused to move out, based on the fact that I want reconciliation and if I move out, my daughter would blame me for leaving.

  2. What (if anything) should I do about the ongoing nature of the adultery? She is communicating with him constantly (to the tune of 500 text messages/day while she is in our home and with my daughter). Even our friends wondered why she was constantly looking at her phone. I do not want my daughter to know of the affair and the message that will tell her about the commitment of marriage.


#2

Condolences,

This happened to my family, although I was the child.

The first thing to remember is that this is not the end of your life, your family or your daughters life. It is a shame that your wife is not setting a brilliant example for your daughter, but it is all the more reason you should set a great example - by being forgiving, understanding and tolerant.

If your wife is dead-set on going through with the divorce, you should not be bitter or resentful about it (hard though this is!); and you should try to be as supportive of your daughter in this time as is possible.

-Firstly; It is your home, you do not have to move out.
-Secondly; Your wife chose to remove herself from the family by her actions, if someone "must" go, the natural choice is her.
When this happened to my family my mother and her boyfriend moved in, and my Father out, I refused to stay in such a situation and moved out too (although I was slightly older at 14.
-Thirdly; Tell your daughter. It is bad enough that someone is betraying the family without you contributing to the problem by lying or trying to "protect" her - the honesty will hurt, but it will allow healing to occur. You do not want to let a problem fester unadressed.
-Fourthly; Try and allow / facilitate your daughters choices in the future; **if **a divorce happens try and support her whomsoever she chooses to live with - be that you or your wife.
-Fifthly; Try to resolve the issues - any relationship breakdown is a symptom of some underlying issue, which is at the heart of the problem.

Praying for you and your family.


#3

I am very sorry this is happening. And unfortunately, your daughter will be hurt no matter how you say it.

I have no words of wisdom. I just wanted to post to hopefully make you feel some support

CM


#4

I am dreadfully sorry for you. This is devastating.

Get yourself a copy of Helping Your Kids Cope with Divorce the Sandcastles Way by Gary Neuman. He has run a program for many years helping children deal with divorce and the book is full of good advice on what you will face today, tomorrow, and years from now with your daughter. I think, although I don’t remember for sure, that in fact there is advice addressing your particular situation in the book.

God bless you–I will pray for you.


#5

Very sorry for you man and no excuses for her cheating, but… your daughter sleeps with your wife and she’s 11? Really? That seems mildly, well, insane. Unless she has a severe disability that requires 24/7 care, there’s no reason for that whatsoever and I’m not surprised that the situation led to adultery on someone’s part.

Certainly your daughter is not to blame and you are absent of guilt as well as far as the sin goes, but how could you possibly just go along with that kind of arrangement? Had this post been shorter or have a different thrust in terms of questioning, I’d label it an obvious troll because living like that is positively ludicrous.


#6

[quote="Griefstruck, post:1, topic:201786"]
Please pray for me, I have been a husband for 25 years to a woman who I love deeply. We have been blessed with an 11 year-old daughter. We also just converted to Catholicism this past Easter.

My wife recently told me she wants a divorce and I subsequently found-out that she is having an affair. I am devastated, but I do not want a divorce because I love her and I do not want the permanent damage to my daughter. I am trying my best to convince her to try to reconcile the marriage, but she is committed to the divorce and claims that she wants to marry this new man (who, by the way, has already been married three times – and the most recent one just ended a couple of months ago). She claims that she loves him and will marry him once I am out of the way.

Since we live in Florida, a no-fault state, I have no choice once she serves the papers to me. I must be legally divorced and I will lose at least 60% of my daughter’s life because my wife is an unrepentant adulterer. Why don't you sue for custody?

I believe that part of the marital problem is that my daughter still sleeps in the bed with her mother. Perhaps you two should have seen a counselor about this, or the child's pediatrician as to why this is going on for so long.Although I have tried for many years to convince her that she needs to have the daughter to sleep in her own bed, my wife refused. This has caused me to sleep alone in another room for many years. I trusted the Lord that, once my daughter left my wife’s bed, I would be able to go back and become intimate with her once again. I faithfully waited for that day, but she decided to become intimate with another man.

I have two questions:

1) What do I/we tell my daughter? Your wife is the one that needs to tell her.....you aren't the one breaking the covanant. She will be devastated! Millions of other 11 yr olds share her devestation...doesn't make it right....but does make a reality. She does not ”know” anything about our problems, or the fact that my wife intends on serving me with the initial papers next week and plans on moving out (although she has noticed my wife's cold heart and hateful stares). Tell your wife, it is up to her to say something to the daughter and you refuse to do it. She is the one that will be removing her from the home, to go live with Mr. Stud, not you. You STAY PUT. **I have refused to move out, based on the fact that I want reconciliation and if I move out, my daughter would blame me for leaving.She broke the covenant, she needs to tell the daughter and move out, not you.**

2) What (if anything) should I do about the ongoing nature of the adultery? She is going to continue this affair, and has told you that much. Nothing much you can do. She is communicating with him constantly (to the tune of 500 text messages/day while she is in our home and with my daughter). Whose name is the cell phone in? If it is in your name and you are paying for it, cut it off. If it is hers, and she is paying for it, there is nothing you can do. Even our friends wondered why she was constantly looking at her phone. I do not want my daughter to know of the affair and the message that will tell her about the commitment of marriage.

[/quote]

You don't live in a fishbowl and neither does your daughter. Will this upset her, of course. Let it be clear, your wife needs to tell her. In the meantime, protect your assets and hire a lawyer...not for a divorce, but to protect your assets and persue getting custody of your daughter. If you lived in NC, you could sue HIM. Oh, yeah and win.


#7

I in no way mean to sound harsh here…but being in a quasi-similar situation myself I sometimes wonder…waiting patiently to her may have meant wishy-washy/no backbone. I have a husband who just sits and waits for me to make decisions, chart our course, etc. Not that you’re the same way, but it IS MADDENING for the wife!!! I want my husband to tell me/communicate strong, forceful emotions…but he is afraid. He grew up in an alcoholic household, where his mother just “blocked everything out.” So that’s what he does. He’s been depressed for decades. It’s to the point that I feel like I’m the mom to him and to my 3 boys as well.

I do not want to add insult to injury at all…but you may want to just simply be who you are, apart from “what you think is right.” EXPRESS your emotions to her. Sitting patiently by may have communicated to her “it doesn’t matter to me.” To at least be totally honest with her may pave the way to honest communications for the future, and IT WILL MODEL IT FOR YOUR CHILD.


#8

I assure you that I am not a troll; I have argued for many years with my wife about my daughter sleeping with her and she won’t budge. She gets mad a me whenever the subject is brought-up and states that all I want is to get in bed and have sex with her.


#9

Just want to mention, sometimes the person who is obstinate in adultery is not the best person to break the news of a separation to a child. Perhaps the parent who is not in adultery, who is godly, moral, consistent, steadfast and sacrificial for the betterment of the child, will be the parent who is better suited to the job, and won't try to sugar-coat it by way of explaining it's "the right thing for me to do, I need to be happy."


#10

But she is only 11 years old; she does not even “really” know what adultery is! Won’t that just confuse her even more?


#11

I was at that age when my parents split, my mother was with another man and my dad was oblivious to reality.

My advice is this. Explain to her that its not HER fault, its yours and your wife equally, this is an adult matter and will just confuse her. Yes I understand that she was the one who initiated this, but for sake of a frontal and adult responsibility take some blame yourself. I always did and still resent my father today for not taking the blame of the divorce. Where there is smoke, there is fire rings true here.

2nd, under no circumstance ever, not remotely, or closely speak in ill terms about her mother. If the mother does, so be it, but take the high ground.

3rd, do not make her property. Try to make every attempt to be in her life, try to get as much custody as you can. But its better to keep the child whole then split in half. Always make yourself available and be responsible and on time. This is a long term thing then a short term, she is going to grow up knowing that you are a good person and one who she can rely on.

Lastly, I am really hard to hear of this. I love my wife dearly and worship the ground she walks on, and this would be devastating to me. My thoughts and offerings are with you.


#12

Jermosh, you are so correct, I have lots of blame. I never committed adultery, but since I lost my job three years ago, I have not been the husband or father that I should have been. It took me two years to find a stable job and during that time I was depressed and grieving over the loss of my job. I have many other sins as well, but I have asked for God’s forgiveness and pray for reconciliation with my wife. She is determined to continue this adulterous affair and shows nothing but coldness to me. It makes it very difficult for me to wake-up every morning to make my daughter’s breakfast and lunch for the day while my wife stalks around giving me hateful stares.


#13

Of course, it is a very difficult situation. But you must explain to your daughter though your parents won't live together, they will love you both.


#14

It will get easy with time. I am talking from experience. 5 years ago I was a mess. But I thank God everyday. Be honest with your daughter but also reassure her that this is not her fault and not about her. Make it very clear to her that things between you and her mother are not working. That does not mean that you do not love her you do and that will never change. Never bad mouth the mother either as it creates other problems.

My kids were 8 and 5 when we split up and it was ugly and messy and the father had gotten another women pregnant and I just got very ugly and said ugly things to the kids about their father. That was wrong of me I should not have done that. But eventually with time I was honest with my kids and explained that this was not their fault and had nothing to do with them. Even though the father has left for another women and they are going to have a new brother or sister it does not change that he does love them.

Ok the issue of your daughter sleeping in the bed with her mother that is not on. After my divorce the kids slept with me for almost 2 years. But eventually I got fedup and insisted that they sleep in their own beds. It is not right for a kids aged 10 & 7 yrs to be sleeping with their parents. The reason been is that they feel insecure but they need to be independent. My ex used to sleep with my son in his room and I could not understand why he was doing that. He came up with excuses. So with a result my daughter slept with me and my son with him. The reason was he was busy calling and sending messages to the mistress at all hours of the night. Trying to show the girl that he was available at anytime and that he was not sleeping with his wife.

I know that there is two sides to a story. But your should try and reach an agreement with your wife and request that your daughter stay with you as it will be dramatising for her to see her mother sleeping in bed with another man except her father. That with time she may except but right now it will cause major damage. Divorce is not easy and it is a process especially when there are children involved.

I can gaurantee you that your wife is going to hit her head very hard. This relationship looks nice now and it is exciting but eventually you cannot base your happiness on someone else’s tears and heartache that does not work. And there must be a reason why he has been divorced and married so many times. I told my ex that one day he is going cry his heart out as he looks very nice on the outside but once you are in there it is very hard to get out and repair the damage. Now today after 5 years he wants to make things right it is too late. He had his chance.

So hang in there be strong continue to pray. Things will get better with time. You are not alone there are lots of people out there that have been through the same things as you or even worse and have made it and survived.


#15

You only have blame insofar as you didn’t take control of a ridiculous situation years ago. Kids shouldn’t be sleeping with their parents past nursing ages (if at all) and I don’t care what anyone says about “the family bed,” we don’t live in the Middle Ages anymore and we don’t have one room homes either. Kids need to grow up and become independent; even in times and places where homes only have or had one room, I’m sure adolescent children aren’t snuggling up next to mom and dad. They probably get a mat a few feet away, but that’s enough in terms of independence based on the economic situation.

Once your daughter turned two I would have said that the situation was getting ridiculous and that you and your wife needed to get back to being, well, you and your wife. Children function best when there’s a good relationship between mom and dad and frankly, sex is a massive part of that. So when your wife “accused” you of only wanting back in the bed because of sex, I would have just said “Uh, well, yeah. You’re my wife and of course I desire you.”

But that’s all well in the past now and there’s not much you can do to change that. Frankly I’d just toss her out of the house though. If she wants to be adulterous there’s nothing you can do but she shouldn’t be near her daughter and you sure as heck shouldn’t be acquiescing to living under the same roof as a woman who has torn up your sacred marital contract and spit on it.


#16

I would stay off the issue of blame entirely, except to say to the daughter that the divorce is absolutely and without question not her fault. Tell her that you love her and will do everything you can to be with her as much as you possibly can, except that you will not attack her mother. Tell her that the most important thing is to try to find the way to handle the situation that is the most patient, the most kind, the most free of rudeness, and so on, because you love her and you love her mom, no matter what. Then act in a way that is as good as your word.

OP, what brought you to this point is water under the bridge. The thing now is to have the mind of Christ in this moment, to rely on God’s mercy in this moment, for all concerned. That is not going to be easy.

I’d highly recommend How to Forgive: A Step-By-Step Guide by John Monbourquette. You are in a situation where the guilt, regret, and anger could very easily get toxic. This book, written by a priest-psychologist, has some very helpful and realistic ideas about forgiving others, including those who have no interest in being forgiven, forgiving ourselves, and letting go of harm done to us in the past.


#17

1) You all need family counseling regardless of the divorce situation.

2) In the custody arrangement your dd does not need to be sleeping in the same bed with your wife an I am sure no judge will have a problem stipulating that.

3) Since she converted of her own free will does she understand that she is NOT free to marry until she has an anullment?


#18

I am sorry to say this but something is messed up with the wife sleeping with the child for this long. Its just not right man.

I think that you should have put your foot down years ago.

Something is just wrong in this house. There has to be more to this story. :confused:


#19

[quote="Griefstruck, post:12, topic:201786"]
Jermosh, you are so correct, I have lots of blame. I never committed adultery, but since I lost my job three years ago, I have not been the husband or father that I should have been. It took me two years to find a stable job and during that time I was depressed and grieving over the loss of my job. I have many other sins as well, but I have asked for God's forgiveness and pray for reconciliation with my wife. She is determined to continue this adulterous affair and shows nothing but coldness to me. It makes it very difficult for me to wake-up every morning to make my daughter's breakfast and lunch for the day while my wife stalks around giving me hateful stares.

[/quote]

As again I feel for you, but its good that you see some guilt on your own, its a good way to help you heal. Not that it excuses your wife's actions by any means, "through sickness and health" is a serious commitment that is part of the covenant of marriage.

Its sounds like it would be best for you to just severe this relationship completely and move on. She sounds like she is just getting bitter and you more depressed, the only result is your daughter will be harmed by it. Your family is still in my thoughts and offerings.


#20

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.