Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce - Page 2 - Talk About Marriage
Life After Divorce Divorce is complicated, and change is never easy to cope with. Use this section for help and advice on living life after a divorce.

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post #16 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 04:57 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

Sounds to me like mom is trying to push you out of your children's lives. I suggest you read up on parental alienation, and watch for signs she's doing that. Even if she's not actively alienating, if your time with your daughters is being limited beyond what is reasonable you need to file a petition with the courts. If your attorney is not aggressive in this regard you may need to retain one that is.

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post #17 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-19-2016, 07:46 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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My ex-wife has signs of BPD.... Are there any books or support groups in dealing with this kind of stuff?
Thomas, as you've already discovered, this TAM forum has numerous active members who want to support you -- based on their own experiences with BPDer ex-partners. In my case, for example, I lived with my BPDer exW for 15 years.

Another good source of support, to supplement your support here at TAM, is the Co-Parenting after the Split forum at BPDfamily.com. That forum consists of members, like you, who must deal with their BPDer ex-partners because they have shared custody of the children.

I suggest that, while you are at that website, you read two BPDfamily articles: Surviving a Breakup with Someone Suffering with BPD and Leaving a Partner with BPD. I also recommend these free online articles: Fathers Divorcing, and High Risk Parenting, and Pain of Breaking Up, and Divorcing a Narcissist.

As to a helpful book, I suggest you take a look at Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Although your divorce is already final, that book may contain useful tips on co-parenting and legal fighting. Before purchasing it, however, be sure to read some of the "Big River" reviews by people who have read it.

Finally, please keep in mind that -- if your exW is a BPDer -- it will be IMPOSSIBLE for you to build up a store of good will that you can later draw on during the hard times. Trying to do so would be as foolish as trying to build a lasting sandcastle beside the sea. The reason is that a BPDer's perception of reality is largely dictated by the intense feeling she is experiencing AT THIS VERY MOMENT. Hence, no matter what concessions and sacrifices you make today, any appreciation your exW feels will be washed aside by the next intense feeling flooding her mind.

I mention this because it is important that you establish firm boundaries on the co-parenting and be quick to enforce them using your attorney. Being generous or lenient likely will only reduce the contact time with your child and buy you no real concessions in the future. Again, it is impossible to build up a lasting store of good will with a BPDer.
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post #18 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 09:00 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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These things rarely get better. You need to move forceful and fast. Let them figure it out.
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Sounds to me like mom is trying to push you out of your children's lives. I suggest you read up on parental alienation, and watch for signs she's doing that. Even if she's not actively alienating, if your time with your daughters is being limited beyond what is reasonable you need to file a petition with the courts. If your attorney is not aggressive in this regard you may need to retain one that is.
You're absolutely right. I'm pleasantly surprised how quickly my lawyer is acting as soon as I gave her the go ahead. She's very good, and sharp. Says things straight and usually gives me an idea of how the other counsel will react, because she's dealt with them quite a bit in other cases. She recommended we still push for the date night tomorrow night that my ex-wife agreed to and then backed out of stating her husbands scheduled meeting with a colleague was on her calendar. The letter went out last night, haven't heard a response yet. I'm wondering if I should just show up at her door at 5pm and ring the bell... ready to take my daughter out. My guess is, unless her lawyer tells her she has to, she's going to try to prevent it in any way she can. Just more evidence to pile up against her.
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post #19 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 09:07 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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Thomas, as you've already discovered, this TAM forum has numerous active members who want to support you
Wow, thank you so much for this all of this information and resources!


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Finally, please keep in mind that -- if your exW is a BPDer -- it will be IMPOSSIBLE for you to build up a store of good will that you can later draw on during the hard times. Trying to do so would be as foolish as trying to build a lasting sandcastle beside the sea. The reason is that a BPDer's perception of reality is largely dictated by the intense feeling she is experiencing AT THIS VERY MOMENT. Hence, no matter what concessions and sacrifices you make today, any appreciation your exW feels will be washed aside by the next intense feeling flooding her mind.

I mention this because it is important that you establish firm boundaries on the co-parenting and be quick to enforce them using your attorney. Being generous or lenient likely will only reduce the contact time with your child and buy you no real concessions in the future. Again, it is impossible to build up a lasting store of good will with a BPDer.
This is exactly what I've been dealing with. I wish I had this knowledge earlier on in the processes, because I've been seesawing on this never ending chaos with her. Advice and conventional wisdom in how to co-parent and deal with divorce and children all points to working together... giving and taking. Accepting that both sides need to give and sometimes you have to be first. I've been completely taken advantage of by her because of this. I described it to my friend as... it's like I become anxious every time things are going well or she's nice. At random moments during those times she'll surprise you in the most nasty ways. I could never tell if it was something in her own environment that tipped her, or if she just needs the chaos... but she always is at her worst when I'm being cooperative and giving in in ways that I assumed would have been reciprocated. I learned the hard way to stop this cycle, the best I could, but just keeping her at arms length... not saying thank you, or that I appreciate things... to always be skeptical when she's being nice. Compassionate, yet consistently strict in my view of things. These resources will be so valuable, and enlightening... I'll check them out!
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post #20 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 09:28 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

What is the advice on how to tell your children, and at what ages, why you're divorced. My older daughter is very inquisitive, her mind works a lot like mine. She's always trying to get to the bottom of stuff, and she's sensitive but curious about why and how. She's a bit mature for her age (turning 8 soon) and she tends to piece things together very well through deductive reasoning. She's aware of how her mother is... she shells off at the other home, and she's voiced being frustrated at times at how her mom says one thing but does another. She's being taught to act and appear a certain way but to hide what she really thinks about situations. With me, she opens up, because we explore the world together. I love hearing her thoughts on stuff and answering everything she wants to know truthfully. In this I've provided a safe environment for her to be herself, and it shows in our relationship. I make a point to tell her I'll always tell her the truth, and that she can ask anything.

At times she's asked about why we are no longer married in round about ways, but she uses language that her mother feeds her. One time it really got to me, about a year ago, when she said "mom drove by the old house and said she really misses it... she said we had to sell it because you left. Is she lieing?" I told her "your mother feels a need to make excuses for why we divorced; it had nothing to do with you or your sister... She broke a very important promise that people make when they get married... That is why it's so important that I teach you to be honest with people, especially those that you love." My daughter then asked "what promise did she break?"... I said "well, when you're married someday you'll have a husband and he will put you first in his life, and you'll do the same for him. You should be the top priority in one another lives. Your mom decided to put another man ahead of daddy. She was breaking that rule of marriage. I gave her a second chance to stop putting someone else ahead of me, but after many months she said she couldn't ... so because of that she chose to no longer be married."

I didn't know if that was too much... I was upset at the vision of my ex (I could see her doing this) driving by our old house, which is in the back of a neighborhood so no reason this would be random... just to create a moment of emotional turmoil for her daughters as she expresses how sad she was that we no longer live in that house. It's sickening.

Last edited by Thomas0311; 12-20-2016 at 10:01 AM.
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post #21 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 10:29 AM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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At times she's asked about why we are no longer married in round about ways, but she uses language that her mother feeds her. One time it really got to me, about a year ago, when she said "mom drove by the old house and said she really misses it... she said we had to sell it because you left. Is she lieing?" I told her "your mother feels a need to make excuses for why we divorced; it had nothing to do with you or your sister... She broke a very important promise that people make when they get married... That is why it's so important that I teach you to be honest with people, especially those that you love." My daughter then asked "what promise did she break?"... I said "well, when you're married someday you'll have a husband and he will put you first in his life, and you'll do the same for him. You should be the top priority in one another lives. Your mom decided to put another man ahead of daddy. She was breaking that rule of marriage. I gave her a second chance to stop putting someone else ahead of me, but after many months she said she couldn't ... so because of that she chose to no longer be married."

I didn't know if that was too much... I was upset at the vision of my ex (I could see her doing this) driving by our old house, which is in the back of a neighborhood so no reason this would be random... just to create a moment of emotional turmoil for her daughters as she expresses how sad she was that we no longer live in that house. It's sickening.

The bold is pretty similar to what we told our son when my ex-husband and I divorced. Some variation of the following: "Married people aren't supposed to have other boyfriends or girlfriends. Daddy decided he wanted to keep having girlfriends. I wasn't okay with that, so we decided to get divorced."

My friend, who is a marriage and family therapist, explained our divorce to her own children (our families have always been close) in a very similar way. "Mr. Rowan had a girlfriend. That's not okay to do when you're married, but he didn't want to stop. So Mrs. Rowan didn't think they could be married anymore."

Simple, honest, not too much information, fairly neutral in tone (not hostile or accusatory) and understandable for kids their age. The kids can, and may eventually, ask for further details later. I think it's fine to give them factual information, but keep it basic and neutral, and avoid anger or alienating the other parent. Basically, don't add drama and don't overshare. I think you did fine.

You'll find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly upon our own point of view. - Obi Wan Kenobi
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post #22 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 11:54 AM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

Regarding your custody agreement, I think your lawyer dropped the ball. The agreement was signed when exW was behaving herself and not restricting access. NEVER assume that status quo will remain status quo. The first thing I learned when divorcing was that it is absolutely necessary to get specific when it comes to financials and child access just in case the other party changes their mind. The more specific you are, the less she can tamper with your parenting time without legal consequences. Vague language largely open to individual interpretation makes enforcement difficult.

For example, my friends agreement states the standard weekend visits (Fri 6pm- Sun 8pm). It also includes 1 phone call per night between 8-9 pm and 1 weekday evening (Wednesdays) between 4pm-8pm. This guarantees him a certain amount of interaction with his kids regardless of his ex's mood. If she violates the order, it's a clear violation. When using language like "reasonable" there is no clear violation because "reasonable" is a vague term open to interpretation. She can always claim she thought she was being reasonable.

Follow the evidence where it leads and question everything.
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post #23 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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Regarding your custody agreement, I think your lawyer dropped the ball. The agreement was signed when exW was behaving herself and not restricting access. NEVER assume that status quo will remain status quo. The first thing I learned when divorcing was that it is absolutely necessary to get specific when it comes to financials and child access just in case the other party changes their mind. The more specific you are, the less she can tamper with your parenting time without legal consequences. Vague language largely open to individual interpretation makes enforcement difficult.

For example, my friends agreement states the standard weekend visits (Fri 6pm- Sun 8pm). It also includes 1 phone call per night between 8-9 pm and 1 weekday evening (Wednesdays) between 4pm-8pm. This guarantees him a certain amount of interaction with his kids regardless of his ex's mood. If she violates the order, it's a clear violation. When using language like "reasonable" there is no clear violation because "reasonable" is a vague term open to interpretation. She can always claim she thought she was being reasonable.
I agree that life would be easier if things were more defined, however I think I won't have much trouble showing she's being "unreasonable"... our e-mails trails for the last 6 weeks have been me saying "hey, as we discussed Thursday works for a dinner date. I'll come pick her up at 5." and then she replies with "I'm sorry, but I checked my calendar and we are busy that evening, lets revisit this in January after the holiday season is over." to which I reply with "I'm also available days X, Y and Z... let me know what day works for you and I'll come get her at 5." to which she replies with "don't use my new marriage against me, I have a right to build a relationship with my daughters and their new step father. I'm sorry you'll have to wait till January to send another request." to which I reply "It seems unreasonable to say every date between now and January is tied up. I would think fostering a healthy and continuing relationship between your daughters and their father is a priority to you. Am I confused about anything here, how can we remedy this?" which at that point she just ignores my e-mail until the next cycle. This has gone on since early November. My lawyer said she's clearly being unreasonable. Our documents state that we must mediate before court action... so I'm guessing at a mediation table, she's going to have a difficult time explaining how she's not being unreasonable here. Am I wrong?
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post #24 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 12:10 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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I agree that life would be easier if things were more defined, however I think I won't have much trouble showing she's being "unreasonable"... our e-mails trails for the last 6 weeks have been me saying "hey, as we discussed Thursday works for a dinner date. I'll come pick her up at 5." and then she replies with "I'm sorry, but I checked my calendar and we are busy that evening, lets revisit this in January after the holiday season is over." to which I reply with "I'm also available days X, Y and Z... let me know what day works for you and I'll come get her at 5." to which she replies with "don't use my new marriage against me, I have a right to build a relationship with my daughters and their new step father. I'm sorry you'll have to wait till January to send another request." to which I reply "It seems unreasonable to say every date between now and January is tied up. I would think fostering a healthy and continuing relationship between your daughters and their father is a priority to you. Am I confused about anything here, how can we remedy this?" which at that point she just ignores my e-mail until the next cycle. This has gone on since early November. My lawyer said she's clearly being unreasonable. Our documents state that we must mediate before court action... so I'm guessing at a mediation table, she's going to have a difficult time explaining how she's not being unreasonable here. Am I wrong?
Do I think she is being unreasonable? Yes. She could simply let your daughter come with you for her Daddy Date while she and her H go to their planned outing with his colleague. She could reschedule for you. She could do a lot of things, but she's not.

Will a mediator see it as unreasonable? Will the judge? That largely depends on their individual world views, their mood that day, and a host of other factors. Just like the rest of us, lawyers, mediators, and judges are human. That is why being specific is so crucial.

ETA: If you want my gut assessment, I think she has been in the victim chair with her new H and social circle. You were a bad husband and father. I'd bet $$ she's telling them all that you were neglectful, if not abusive at least mentally and emotionally. You're not fit to be around the kids, blah blah blah. You being an active and involved father might cause people to suspect the truth and she can't have that, so... Trust me, get specifics in black and white signed by a judge. This will NOT get better.

Follow the evidence where it leads and question everything.

Last edited by MJJEAN; 12-20-2016 at 12:15 PM.
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post #25 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 01:03 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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Do I think she is being unreasonable? Yes. She could simply let your daughter come with you for her Daddy Date while she and her H go to their planned outing with his colleague. She could reschedule for you. She could do a lot of things, but she's not.

Will a mediator see it as unreasonable? Will the judge? That largely depends on their individual world views, their mood that day, and a host of other factors. Just like the rest of us, lawyers, mediators, and judges are human. That is why being specific is so crucial.

ETA: If you want my gut assessment, I think she has been in the victim chair with her new H and social circle. You were a bad husband and father. I'd bet $$ she's telling them all that you were neglectful, if not abusive at least mentally and emotionally. You're not fit to be around the kids, blah blah blah. You being an active and involved father might cause people to suspect the truth and she can't have that, so... Trust me, get specifics in black and white signed by a judge. This will NOT get better.
Your edit is a fear, and gut feeling, I have as well. I think it's why the new husband has noticeably removed himself from interacting with me, and why the e-mails (tone and language) now appears to be his, and not hers. She's not very intelligent, but he's much more strategic in how he operates... he may be buying into her victim mentality and (in his own way of feeling like he's helping) he's assisting her in undermining my ability to co-parent and be involved in my daughters lives. He may actually be much more dangerous than her, in this role... because of his history with his own son and past experience from legal encounters with his ex who he described as crazy and absent from his sons life.

My ex-wife did show signs of making up excuses for her affairs, she claimed two of them raped her, but that didn't make any sense because the facts show that she slept with one of the guys twice and took my daughter to meet him (when her mother couldn't babysit) one time after her alleged rape from him happened (no one would take their 1 year old daughter to meet a man who raped them... right?). She also claimed to be raped by her father, and ex boyfriend in college in the middle of our discussions right at the end about her affairs. She was using these to deflect from her own guilt... I guess. At the time I took her seriously, it seems cold to ever consider someone may be fabricating abuse, but now I think that is most likely what she was doing. I don't doubt she would do the same in regards to me and our relationship. As another point to this, I told her post divorce that if I ever became aware that her biological father was left alone with my daughters that I would report it to social services (with my understanding that she said he had raped her as a child)... her reaction to being told this was to go visit him the following weekend (he lived two hours away) and make sure to tell the girls to tell me they saw him "but were never alone with him"

Question. Did I make a wrong move in not laying out why we divorced to the new father? It's now five months into their marriage... would my situation and relationship with my daughters benefit from him knowing the details? I have a write-up that is very logical, posted to a forum years ago, that outlines exactly what I encountered, uncovered and saw, as it was occurring. The reason I've never sent this to him is that putting myself in his shoes... he's going to think A)I'm making this all up, and B) he's not going to want to believe any of it... this is his new wife.

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post #26 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 01:26 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

Your exW seems like a chronic liar as well as serial cheater. Considering her H's experience with his former spouse and your exW's tendencies to lie and play the victim, imagine what she may have told him about you that he believes! Of course he thinks he's helping her and the kids by interfering. You're the bad guy, remember?

Yes, I think you were wrong not to reveal the truth to him when you first met. Too late now, though, because you are right that he would think you were making it all up and he wouldn't believe such things of his poor, sweet, oft mistreated, wife.

Follow the evidence where it leads and question everything.
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post #27 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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Your exW seems like a chronic liar as well as serial cheater. Considering her H's experience with his former spouse and your exW's tendencies to lie and play the victim, imagine what she may have told him about you that he believes! Of course he thinks he's helping her and the kids by interfering. You're the bad guy, remember?

Yes, I think you were wrong not to reveal the truth to him when you first met. Too late now, though, because you are right that he would think you were making it all up and he wouldn't believe such things of his poor, sweet, oft mistreated, wife.
As a nuclear option I have her confession to the affairs on a recording (legal in my state to record one on one conversations with another party... something my lawyer recommended I do once I decided to separate). I was stupid not to use this in our divorce proceedings, but at the time I was looking to make things as easy as possible so as not to drag my daughters through an ugly contested divorce. Evidence to more of my concessions and being taken advantage of (I paid her spousal support for 2.5 years, thinking it would benefit my daughters and buy be favors... what a mistake - coincidentally she got married the month the payments stopped). Her own words (21 minute audio) surely couldn't be considered made up, but I wouldn't put it past her to try to say they were. In it I got her to remind me her social security number (for paperwork I was filling out on insurance). She admits to two of the affairs, and describes in detail her account of them (including physical encounters in detail), while she was thinking I was considering staying so long as she comes clean with everything. She suspects I have this audio, but doesn't know for sure. I've kept that private.

Last edited by Thomas0311; 12-20-2016 at 01:51 PM.
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post #28 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 01:54 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

You can only co-parent with someone who want to co-parent with you. She obviously doesn't want to do that.

When you go to mediation, it would be good to have the paperwork state specifics about when you have the girls, rather than at her whim. I also don't see why you can't at least try for more time with the girls. It can't hurt.

Her husband obviously sees himself as her protector. If you tell him anything negative about her, he's going to defend her and become even more hostile towards you. Do not say a word about what she's really like or your past with her. That ship has sailed.

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post #29 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-20-2016, 01:54 PM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

I'd keep that recording private still. A scared and cornered animal will viciously attack. Go with modifying visitation to include specifics. If that fails, then consider the nuclear option.

Follow the evidence where it leads and question everything.
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post #30 of 51 (permalink) Old 12-22-2016, 07:52 AM
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Re: Co-Parenting Challenges After Divorce

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What is the advice on how to tell your children, and at what ages, why you're divorced. My older daughter is very inquisitive, her mind works a lot like mine. She's always trying to get to the bottom of stuff, and she's sensitive but curious about why and how. She's a bit mature for her age (turning 8 soon) and she tends to piece things together very well through deductive reasoning. She's aware of how her mother is... she shells off at the other home, and she's voiced being frustrated at times at how her mom says one thing but does another. She's being taught to act and appear a certain way but to hide what she really thinks about situations. With me, she opens up, because we explore the world together. I love hearing her thoughts on stuff and answering everything she wants to know truthfully. In this I've provided a safe environment for her to be herself, and it shows in our relationship. I make a point to tell her I'll always tell her the truth, and that she can ask anything.

At times she's asked about why we are no longer married in round about ways, but she uses language that her mother feeds her. One time it really got to me, about a year ago, when she said "mom drove by the old house and said she really misses it... she said we had to sell it because you left. Is she lieing?" I told her "your mother feels a need to make excuses for why we divorced; it had nothing to do with you or your sister... She broke a very important promise that people make when they get married... That is why it's so important that I teach you to be honest with people, especially those that you love." My daughter then asked "what promise did she break?"... I said "well, when you're married someday you'll have a husband and he will put you first in his life, and you'll do the same for him. You should be the top priority in one another lives. Your mom decided to put another man ahead of daddy. She was breaking that rule of marriage. I gave her a second chance to stop putting someone else ahead of me, but after many months she said she couldn't ... so because of that she chose to no longer be married."

I didn't know if that was too much... I was upset at the vision of my ex (I could see her doing this) driving by our old house, which is in the back of a neighborhood so no reason this would be random... just to create a moment of emotional turmoil for her daughters as she expresses how sad she was that we no longer live in that house. It's sickening.
You did fine telling her that.

My H is kind of...off from normal, so things got confusing for our daughter many times. To make up for it, I spent a lot of time helping her to see that every person is different and have different issues from their own life that causes them to react differently. So when he does something that seems odd or hurtful, to remember it has nothing to do with her, it's just him doing his own reacting. It helped her still love him and also understand him better; most importantly, it helped her keep loving herself and not compromise herself to deal with him. She's now getting a PhD in psychological research, lol.
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