My husband has an unhealthy relationship with his ex-wife and I don’t know how to help him see it. She calls every other week to chat or ask for help with home repair. He says that she doesn’t have anyone else to turn to. He has never been anything but faithful to me and I know that he asked for the divorce, but I’m worried that she wants him back. I feel uncomfortable being so suspicious. This situation is causing a lot of tension between us.
The triangle is an amazing symbol. In cross-cultural anthropology, it represents dreams and visions. The religious translation is the divine trinity: virgin, mother, crone of the female principle or father, son, Holy Spirit of the male principle. The triangle can even represent female genitalia. The way we employ the triangle most often in our psychologized culture is to take refuge in one corner, establish our partner in the other corner and place a third person at the other end so that they are the focal point. What would happen if you removed your attention from your husband’s ex-wife and stopped drawing his attention to your insecurity about her? Would you be facing each other (instead of continually turned toward her) and remembering the genuine love that drew you together in the first place?
It may be that your husband’s ex-wife is needy or that she wants him back or that she really does need help and thinks she can’t afford to hire it. The problem is that your mind latches on to one of these thoughts and insists on it. You can’t know what her reality is unless you talk to her. I’m not suggesting that you do, I’m simply inviting you to stop believing that any thought you have is true just because it showed up in your head. Your husband’s visits to his ex are not causing tension in your marriage, your thoughts about the situation are causing tension in the marriage.
Play with the idea that his ex-wife is family, your family, too. Why not accompany him on his visits to her and join in on the chores? If that’s beyond your current capability, put some funds aside so you can hire a handyman the next time she calls.
I’m in a custody battle with my ex-husband. He has convinced my mother and sister to write letters to the judge saying that I am an unfit mother. I feel betrayed. I don’t abuse my kids. I just don’t adhere to an uptight lifestyle. My mother and sister have a joint birthday party coming up and I’m invited. I think that I could get them to change their minds and tell the judge that my ex coerced them to write the letters, but I’m also worried that I won’t be able to hide my anger. Should I go to the party?
Ay yi yi! The lifestyle that you described when we talked by phone is not a healthy environment for kids. Believing otherwise is a betrayal of your children and yourself. Since your mother and sister have expressed their feelings about your choices, informed you about the request for a letter and, after deciding to write it, told you of their decision, they did not betray you. Betrayal is choosing to deceive oneself or another—like your scheme to manipulate your mother, sister and the judge. Go to the party if you can accept that the invitation means you are loved and included and the choice to support the removal of the children from your home is for the children, not against you. Otherwise, stay home.