Rebuilding Your Marriage After An Affair Building a Stronger Marriage Out of Infidelity

Rebuilding Your Marriage After An Affair Building a Stronger Marriage Out of Infidelity

Of the kaleidoscope of challenges and stresses that strain a marriage—money problems, issues raising kids, making your relationship a priority when just dealing with the day to day of life drains most of your energy—infidelity is the one that goes straight to the core of attacking the binds of your marriage, trust and intimacy. Rebuilding your marriage and healing the wound of betrayal is possible and you come out on the other side with a stronger, more intimate bond. It’s been proven that infidelity doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. The opposite can happen.

Rebuilding Your Marriage

1. Come clean. The first step toward repairing the rift is to be honest. It’s likely going to be brutal to step up and admit that you have hurt your wife, but if you want to save your marriage, you need to have the courage to face the truth, no matter the anguish it will unleash on you both.

A study of married couples by UCLA and the University of Washington concluded the one proven road back to marital stability and satisfaction was: admitting the affair. The numbers don’t lie. At the end of the 5 year study, 43% of couples who confessed their unfaithfulness were divorced compared with 80% of the couples who hid their adultery when their spouse later discovered it. Honesty was the key distinction in whether the relationships survived.  In fact, when the cheater accepted accountability, the marriage could rebound to a happy union. At the conclusion of the study, couples who survived an affair experienced comparable levels of marital stability and satisfaction as the couples who experienced no adultery at all.

2. End the affair. Maintaining an illicit affair is just mindless, cruel, self serving and selfish. It does nothing positive for your marital relationship and, if anything, threatens the very existence of your marriage. Nothing is more devastating to a spouse than to find out her husband is having an affair. If you’re not suspected of having an affair, STOP. As much as there may be physical attraction and fleeting reward for you personally, it is destroying your marriage. The lies, the missed events, the tardy arrivals will ultimately tip off your spouse to your infidelity and your affair will be discovered if it hasn’t been already. Regardless of how discrete you think you may be, you will be found out, and you will destroy your relationship in the process. If there is any hope for rebuilding your marriage, the affair must end. Then and only then can real healing begin.

3. Give her space. If and when you break he news that you’ve been unfaithful your spouse will be devastated and she’ll be blitzed with a storm of raw emotions: shock, rage, betrayal, shame, depression, sadness. Temper your confession with compassion and understanding. As your wife rages and begins to attack you, be kind. Be gentle. Agree with her as much as humanly possible. She’s going through a very difficult time and arguing with her at this point is not in your best interests, not if you have any hope of rebuilding your marriage.  Getting through this torrent of emotions will not be easy. Seek therapy and marriage counseling if at all possible. As financially challenging as therapy and counseling may be, consider it a financial investment into your future with your wife. Getting into deeper issues, like why you strayed, is best done when you are in a safe, counseling environment. You likely didn’t cheat one day out of the blue. There were multiple factors that led to it. And you won’t recover from the infidelity overnight either. It’s a very process and one that will likely take four to five years to regain some relative normality. Take your time. Eventually you will both come to understand what incited you to begin the affair and how each of you had some level of responsibility for its inception. The good news is that your marriage can emerge rock solid and more gratifying once you grapple with and solve those deeper underlying issues.

4. Consult a marriage counselor. Should you and your wife decide to try and work through the affair and the damage it has caused in your relationship, it is highly advisable that you not try to work out your challenges alone. A marriage counselor or mediator would be an expert guide to get the two of you back on the road to reconciliation. There are likely multiple underlying issues that lead to the betrayal and each of you share some level of responsibility for the existence of those issues. Only a qualified counselor, clergyman  or mediator may help get you both to the core of those issues and give rational direction on how to resolve them. An affair is most likely a result of unhappiness that exists on both sides of the relationship. Discovering, facing and resolving the root of that discontent will lead to a healthier and more satisfying marriage than you had before the infidelity.

5. Rebuild trust. Trust is a delicate thing. It is a product of prolonged physical and emotional fidelity.  And while it would be a huge relief to be able to confess and move on right away, that’s just not in the realm of reality. Once your infidelity has been exposed, whether through your wife’s discovery or by your confession, her trust of you and your actions will be gone. Everything you do, everywhere you go, everyone you see or might see will be questioned, over and over again. Her trust in you and your intentions has been lost, gone, and it won’t return anytime soon.  If you’re patient, the seed of trust can grow again. but it’ll take time, patience and endurance on both your parts. Trust can build slowly, over years, by a long series of small commitments and verified successes, each event, each schedule, each meeting, each announcement planned, and each reality checked, challenged and found to be truthful. Through these seemingly endless commitments and successes, its possible to break through the hard, cold distrust of your actions and rebuild trust in your actions.

6. Forgive. While forgiveness may happen, forgetting won’t. But it doesn’t have to: only forgiving matters. Again, this won’t happen overnight, and you can’t impose any kind of definitive deadline on it. But with continued commitment to your marriage and your relationship it is possible to restore trust and intimacy in your marriage.  By facing the issues that led to your urge to stray together, your wife may see that while flawed (as we all are), you are worthy of forgiveness.  If she refuses to forgive, you have run up against a wall to healing and moving forward. Try and convince her to give therapy a shot as professional help may be needed to get over the barricade and back on track to reconciliation.

An affair doesn’t have to be the last chapter in your marriage. Your adultery can be a wake-up call that your marriage is in serious trouble and on a dangerous path to destruction. If you’re upfront and honest, willing to face the consequences and put in the work in rebuilding your marriage and  fix the problems, your honesty about your extramarital affair may prove to be a turning point toward a more satisfying relationship and a brighter future for both you and your spouse.

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Erectile Dysfunction In Your Post-Divorce Dating One man's odyssey with impotence, aging and loving

Erectile Dysfunction In Your Post-Divorce Dating One man's odyssey with impotence, aging and loving

On this late evening, women and crying babies are on my mind, which leads me to write about erectile dysfunction, a condition that many of us have and almost none of us talk about.

This was an almost perfect evening, abruptly interrupted by two facts:

  1. A two year old missing her mother is inconsolable after six hours and
  2. I can’t get it up easily anymore.

My Story Right Now

You may have guessed by this article that I am divorced. Maybe that’s part of the issue, still dealing with the stress of that. But it has been a long time since the divorce, and I’ve had many lovers in my efforts to build my life after divorce.

I had my current lover in my bed much earlier tonight when our focus was interrupted by my housemate’s daughter howling and wailing uncontrollably in the front room, as an exasperated babysitter tried fruitlessly to calm her.

Granted, it is certainly understandable to lose your attention in such a predicament, though it really just served as a reasonable excuse for me to mask the second issue, which was the real reason we hadn’t already conducted our coupling an hour or so earlier.

Few men really talk about erectile dysfunction, the condition formerly known as impotence. There are rampant commercials speaking to erectile dysfunction, but not really about erectile dysfunction. Various ideas are thrown about and quick fix solutions are only a doctor’s prescription or an easy diet change away. And if it lasts more than four hours, call your bookie. Seriously, though, at this point in my life I feel that at least three prior relationships were ruined because of this problem, and I stand at an invisible precipice with my current lover that is disconcerting.

A pattern is emerging, and it starts with my dick and the bad messaging in our society that I have somehow gotten into my psyche (and perhaps more importantly, permeating the psyches of potential long term mates) about my ‘performance’ abilities.

Is It New Or Been A Problem For Some Time

I’ll have it known, perhaps only for my own ego and edification, that I am a wonderful lover. I have years of training with dozens of women that have shown me the glories and wonders of the female form in many of its incarnations, and I have delighted in them all. I like slow, long, sensual exploration; I’m well versed in massage, have been told many times I’m a great kisser, and I have a lovely bag of tricks to unveil over time with a willing partner.

What I don’t seem to possess right now is a dick that responds by mere thought, not taking its sweet time to warm up to touch. I have tried various holistic approaches to overcoming this erectile dysfunction deficiency. Blackberries, salmon, avocados, oysters and almonds, while all tasty and healthy, also did nothing for me. Of course, trying these foods and hoping for results only confirmed what I already knew. For me, it’s not about blood flow or testosterone; it’s about feeling connected. No diet will change that.

Two Possible Problems with Erectile Dysfunction

Where the commercials apply their focus is on the blood flow issue. As men age, our blood vessels become weaker for a myriad of reasons, such as poor exercise, buildup of cholesterol or both. The medicines work to solve this issue. Sildenafil and Tadalafil are the most common ones available.

Sildenafil widens the blood vessels and lower the blood pressure. As a result, the hydraulics of our dicks work easier. The effect is somewhat short lived, about 4 hours, but that’s enough time to take care of business. And the onset can be as fast as 30 minutes.

Tadalafil was not originally targeted to help with erectile dysfunction, but through its enzyme inhibitor testing, a common side effect to this heart medicine was erections. The scientists recognized this as a helpful side effect and this medicine was released as a daily option, with its effects lasting about 24 hours, as opposed to Sildenafil’s 4 hour effect.

For many, applying these drugs to the blood flow side of the equation fits their need and they are happy. For some, though, like me, the problem is deeper.

Heart Driven Sex (and not the flow)

Unfortunately for me (and them), it seems we place a huge emphasis on an erect penis. Since I developed this basic problem, well over 20 years ago now (that my cock doesn’t jump to attention when my brain is horny), I have had numerous short-lived encounters, because there wasn’t a second date, or they expected me to act upon them when what I actually require of my partners is the opposite.

Do the pills help? Sure, but I’m not in it. I’ve just got a rod there for the job and that’s all.

I have heard this preference as a ‘feminine heart’ where the partner prefers to be acted upon rather than to act. See, here’s the thing; my Johnson actually works just fine, IF you turn me on. I masturbate on a regular enough basis to be certain I still possess a life below and I have had at least as many positive encounters over these past decades as negative ones. There is always something to be said for basic chemistry and compatibility, too.

Still, my best consistent lovers have had one thing in common; a tremendous patience and genuine deep affinity developed over time. And therein lies the rub…

Just Sex, Or Something More?

See, I certainly appear to be a normal guy and, in everything outside the bedroom, I am clearly a dude and a fairly dominant one at that. I exhibit tendencies of a man who knows himself and his world and is competent in it. I like to be in control in my environment.

So, it certainly leads that women I attract have expectations that my behavior in the bedroom should be aggressive, dominant and, well, manly. The problem is that most women in our culture are taught sex as an act of being dominated and penetrated and objectified, and over time develop exactly the opposite expectations that I have.

In blunt, simple terms; I want to make love to a women and most women I encounter just want to fuck. Truth told, I just don’t fuck that well anymore. There seems to be a disconnection between mind and body, along with the fact that I’m just not 19 anymore. While my mind is desperately fucking you like that wild animal I was in my youth, my Willie just isn’t whistling the same tune these days. I am slipping into late middle age and my desires have become much more intimate than physical. In fact, it would seem the physical aspect only responds when my spirit is properly nurtured. This really sucks when I’m with a new person and trying to find out if we groove.

I lose what I consider to be potential mates after my particular tendencies are unveiled, either in the first sexual encounter or soon thereafter, if chemistry somehow initially overcomes my usual disconnections. Frankly, this alone is enough for me to really want to go get those little blue pills. I do know that I can cheat and make erectile dysfunction vanish. I’m just not sure I want to, especially at something as important as creating good intimate relations with my partner.

Thing is, at a deeper level, I feel like perhaps erectile dysfunction is some sort of built in protection for aging men that our society doesn’t view correctly. I understand that if I cheat by taking artificial stimulants then I may be capable of performing even when I feel no connection. I’m fairly certain that is a bad way to start, since my partner is going to believe that I am responding to her when actually I am just going through the motions (pleasurable as they might be).

For Me, I Want More Than Sex

I have come to the realization that, at least for me, it’s not that it doesn’t work. It’s just that I don’t give a fuck how sexy you look anymore (well, I do, but not nearly as much as I once did; and the size of the hips of the women I consider attractive has generally expanded through age, as I did) as much as I really want to know if you’ll stick around. Finding a sexual partner in this world of hookup sites and instant messaging is really fairly easy; finding a suitable companion is not.

I was frustrated with all the push to just hook up when dating after divorce.

This makes a sort of evolutionary sense in later adult life. If an adult man chooses his latter life partners based on the same criteria he had as a youth, he would inevitably choose poorly. Erectile dysfunction (our accepted clinical definition) is the male equivalent of menopause in women. Our reproductive interest is waning, even if our mental capacity for even deeper intimacy continues to evolve. We have accumulated more experiences and therefore have even deeper biases for what we appreciate and what we recognize as unsustainable to long term healthy relations.

The Truth

Perhaps (and to my chagrin) the truth is that we aren’t supposed to be competitive in the mating arena in later life. If we do manage to find a partner at this stage it would be to help us not die alone, after all, and that hardly requires sexual prowess or the absence of erectile dysfunction. Of course, the other thing we have to offer is our companionship, which can be a real asset to a younger woman seeking to learn wisdom from us elderly statesmen. As an older man, this is far more interesting to me than finding someone to sleep with. I want someone to talk to, someone who will appreciate me whether my body works or not, since I have the wisdom of experience to know that a shared life is much more about intimacy than sex.

In base terms, men my age who aren’t already in long term relations face a difficult enough challenge in finding a suitable partner without having to also be concerned with performance. Yet, this is the criterion most women use. Well, young women. So, we have to overcome our disadvantage with artificial means just to compete in this society. I think it’s a mistake. We should be willing to wait for a partner who understands all this and embraces it. The irony is that I would spend the rest of my life savings on those little pills if I knew that my partner already accepted me without them.

That’s my issue in a nutshell, or at least a very large nutshell. For many of my friends, though, the problem is purely in the pumps and lines, like having older plumbing in your home that has clogged over time. After all, these pipes aren’t that large. And if we’re worried about clogging the big ones near the heart with our love of red meat over decades, it stands to reason that we likely clogged the little lines at the extreme ends of the system. Unfortunately, those are in our dicks. Fixing those pipes so you can connect with your lover is fantastic, nothing worth shame, and we should all stand behind the need!

The Solution

I’m not going to say that solutions to erectile dysfunction don’t exist or that I shouldn’t be using them to ensure I can always perform for a potential partner. I’m saying that perhaps we shouldn’t be in such a rush to jump into bed and that maybe the ‘problem’ with our penis is really an opportunity in disguise. I’m going to continue to see my dysfunction as a chance to find out where I really stand before entangling myself, simply because I can. I deserve a lover who makes me respond without having to resort to medication. I can’t know this without taking the risk of being honest about my condition up front. So, my decision is to accept this as part of who I am now, and to hold onto the belief that my next long term partner will appreciate me all the more for my willingness to take it slow.

Then again, my advice to you; maybe you should just go get those pills. I’m probably an idiot.

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Advice for Men on Thriving Financially After Divorce

Without a doubt, going through a divorce can turn your world upside down. Divorce can wreck havoc on your emotions, your health … and your finances. Going from two incomes to one will certainly affect your monthly household income and perhaps your quality of life. You will be paying all of the bills by yourself with your income alone. While none of that sounds appealing, there is some good news. Thriving financially after divorce is not only possible but its achievable. While it takes some adjustment and some effort, you can regain control of your life and finances and thrive financially. Here are a few tips to thriving financially as a divorced man.

Expect a Lifestyle Change and Adjust your Expectations of Thriving Financially

More often than not, your standard of living will drop for a year or more following a divorce. While it may seem obvious, many people who are going through a divorce do not prepare themselves financially or emotionally for the changes. If you expect and come to terms with how your life may look temporarily after divorce, you can be proactive and remain in control of your post-divorce finances. Try to remember that it isn’t permanent. You’ll be back on your feet and able to regain you previous financial lifestyle again in the future.

Create a Budget and Stick to It

Perhaps you already had a budget when you were married. If so, then you’ll simply need to adjust the numbers. But if you didn’t have to budget as a couple, you’ll need to create a budget now and stick to it. Budgets are a great tool for thriving financially no matter what your marital status, but they are even more important as a single man.

Creating a budget may sound like a daunting task, especially if you have never done one before or if your ex-wife was the keeper of the money in your marriage. But budgets don’t have to be complex. Effective budgets are actually quite simple. They simply balance the money you have coming in each month with how much you spend each month.

The first step is to make a list of all of your income following your divorce. Next, make a list of all of your known expenses (mortage or rent, utility payments, debt, insurance, car note etc). Remember to include items such as alimony and child support in either income or expenses as applicable to your unique situation. After you know how much money is coming in and how much money is leaving each month, you should know exactly how much is left over. The leftover money should be allocated to paying off debt, saving, retirement, your children’s education and entertainment expenses.

After you have your monthly budget created, all you have to do is simply stick to it. Unfortunately, this is often the toughest part. Remember to keep up with your budget each month and adjust as necessary until you find the right fit. Check your budget before making purchases to ensure you aren’t going over in any category.

Be Realistic about the House

When there are two incomes flowing in, you and your ex were able to afford the two story brick home on a cul-de-sac lot. But without her weekly paycheck, is it feasible to stay in the house by yourself? No matter how much you love your home or want to stay there for the kids, it may not be realistic to remain in the home if you want to thrive financially. Take a good hard look at the numbers and make a wise decision on who (if either of you) remain in the family home. It may make more sense to sell or rent the home and live somewhere a little less expensive. No matter how much equity you may have in the house, that equity will not pay the mortgage payment each month.

Pay Down your Debt

Paying off any debt that carried over from your divorce is an important piece of thriving financially as a newly single man. Debt (especially the lines with high interest) can drastically impact your ability to save and spend money. Debt can impact your financial freedom for many years.

If you have debt in your name, make a list of everything you owe along with the interest rate you pay on that line of debt. Look back at your budget to determine if you can cut back in certain areas in order to pay additional money towards your debt each month. Start by paying extra towards the debt with the highest interest rate and working your way down the list until all of your debt is paid off. It may not be as much fun as buying a new boat, but paying off your debt will drastically improve your lifestyle in the future.

Save for Retirement

When you were married, you probably had a good idea of how much you were saving for retired life together. Now that you’ve been through a divorce, it is time to reevaluate how you will fund your retirement without a spouse. Run the numbers yourself or ask a financial planner how much money you should be saving in order to retire at a comfortable level. While money may be tight following a divorce, it is important to put some amount away for retirement. You may have to start small, but even small amounts contributed to a retirement account will build interest over time. Resist the urge to get rid of retirement savings to make living more comfortable right now.

Don’t Make Impulsive Financial Decisions

Divorce can cause a lot of emotions to surface, and we all deal with those emotions a little differently. It is completely acceptable to be emotional, and it is okay to be hurt. It is okay to grieve. When it comes to dealing with these emotions, hold off on making any major financial decisions until you have dealt with the adjustment of being divorced. While it may feel good to switch jobs and move to a new city or purchase an expensive vehicle, big financial decisions such as these can leave your bank account in bad shape.

Instead of making hurried decisions after a divorce (especially those decisions affecting your financial well being), wait it out six to twelve months and make sure those changes are something that you still want.

Rewrite your Will

Although your will may be the last thing on your mind, your will is a financial document and needs to be updated post-divorce. While your goal is thriving financially after a divorce, you don’t want it all to be for nothing if you pass away. Make sure you have the correct beneficiary designated in your will on on your life insurance. You may be the sole support for your children, therefore these updates are critical. Don’t put them off for another day.

Moving On

A divorced man faces enormous emotional, psychological and financial changes even if he wanted to leave his partner. Divorce brings a lot of change, and thriving financially after a divorce may look a lot different than thriving financially as a married couple. If you are going through a divorce (or considering one), be sure to know your numbers and be proactive financially. If you follow these tips, you should be better prepared for life and money after divorce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crawling Back from Divorce Getting on With It and Starting Over

Crawling Back from Divorce Getting on With It and Starting Over

For a man, divorce is never easy. Crawling back from divorce and starting over to begin a new life offers an even greater challenge. I came to learn a lot about myself in the process, and here are a few things I’ve learned which might be helpful to any man going through a divorce.

  1. Divorce is a scar on the existing stability of society. It destroys families and leaves both marriage partners stunned, bewildered and confused for years afterwards. If you think a man is the only one feeling the heartache and trauma of a divorce, this is not true. She is feeling the same way. It may be disguised in a pout or a look of indifference if you happen to see her on the street or in a restaurant with her friends after the divorce, but she is feeling the effects of the divorce the same way you are. She will experience them in those sleepless nights when she is tossing and turning in bed wondering if she did the right thing in letting you go. She will mull over her decision for many years wondering if she did the right thing after the marriage finally ended. However, time heals everything as they say. Time is your best ally because it heals, and healing is what you need to regain the strength, confidence and vitality that was once a very intricate part of your life. Remember when there wasn’t a thing you thought you couldn’t do. That’s the kind of confidence you need to put back into your life after a divorce.
  2. Never marry a future prospective spouse out of pity, thinking you are the knight on the white charger who can come into her life to change it completely. It will never happen. Many men think they are the principle “Bread-Winner” and it is their responsibility to provide for the woman. They have a good job, financial stability, and a future allowing them the opportunity to move up the ladder in their job and become prosperous. Marriage isn’t all one sided when it comes to money. The woman needs to also share financial responsibility in the marriage. What that means is she needs to work, just like you, and bring in a suitable income so that both of you can have a better life living together. Gone are the days when women believe a man can support them entirely. That will not work. This is the 21st Century, and that sort of thinking went out the door with the Beatles and Rock ‘roll music. Also, and to me this is extremely important, please take time to get to know the person you eventually want to share your life with. Crawling back from divorce takes at least a full year, maybe longer to get to know her. How does she act when faced with a stressful situation? Who are her friends? Are they friends of yours, and will they spread gossip about you behind your back when problems arise in your relationship. Small town gossip, for example, has ruined many marriages where both partners are having difficulty but trying to reconcile their differences but keep getting bad advice from friends or other family members. And finally, how does she regard you after you’ve dated her for several months. Is the bond deepening? Or are you both losing interest? That’s why I believe it is so important to take time to get to know the other person before you jump into marriage. It will pay huge dividends in your future life, especially if you find your eventual soul-mate in the woman you are currently dating. She will be there for you…one to love and support you unconditionally in everything you do
  3. Keep a watchful eye out for any woman who checks you out by asking what you do and how much you earn. In most cases she’s looking for a sugar daddy, a means of financial security which she’s hoping you can provide without her having to contribute much financially during the relationship.
  4. Although this isn’t true in every case (there are exceptions), I’ve seen an attitude in many Western World women which strongly suggests they regard themselves as privileged or entitled. I don’t honestly know what it is, or how to describe it, but you can see it in an attitude, an upturned nose or a faint, disingenuous smile. We all must live in peace and harmony in this world but being around someone harboring a superior attitude is never good for any relationship. I’ve seen too many younger men being, so to speak, led around by the nose, by a spouse who wants to dominate and control everything in the man’s life. And, as a divorcee crawling back from divorce, we are particularly vulnerable to this type of woman. We’ll do nearly anything for love and to find love and acceptance, But, there is a proce to pay. As part of the human species, you have a right to be your own person. So, by all means, avoid this type of mindless, control freak very early in the dating process. You’ll be better off in the end if you do. Again, get to know the person you intend to marry very well before slipping a ring on her finger.

Crawling back from divorce

I now live in Bangkok, Thailand, happily married for the past 17 years to a Thai national. Very early in the relationship, I was friendly, polite, and cordial. I respected her right to live and be herself around me. Her mindset and attitude were typically Thai…filled with a quiet sense of control and calmness I’d never found in any other woman I had ever dated. Not once did she ever give the impression she was privileged or entitled to anything I had. What I offered she was grateful to receive, and let me know many times while we dated. Her parents were well off financially, but she wanted a man in her life she could form an “emotional bond” with and was not out looking for his money. We eventually had a child which helped strengthen the marriage. Most Thai women are kind, respectful, and supportive of their husbands…especially if they are married to a foreign man and have a child by him. I’m not saying this is the way to go (having a child) but in my case it worked out fine.

  1. If divorced, stay where you are for at least one full year before you more on. You need time to get settled financially and emotionally before leaving town, which I suggest you do to start a new life over somewhere else. If you leave too early, all those old tapes and emotional baggage about the divorce will follow you into your new environment…and you don’t want to do this to yourself. It will only lead to more feelings of angst and depression.

Please remember, you are not alone. There are many divorced men just like you out looking to begin a new life. It can and will happen for you. Play it cool and be more selective about the next woman you meet. If you learn from some of the things I’ve posted here, you can and will crawl back from divorce and start over again much wiser about the next woman entering your life.

When Is It OK to Tell Your Kids About The Ex? What You Can and Cannot Say

When Is It OK to Tell Your Kids About The Ex? What You Can and Cannot Say

Even writing the phrase ‘about the ex’ sends people scurrying for the exits, fearing expletive riddled diatribes and raging self-pity. But what about your kids, when they aren’t really kids anymore. As your sons and daughters head into their own adult lives, is there a point where it becomes okay to tell your kids about the ex?

There must have been some incredibly important reasons for you to go through the harrowing process of separation and ultimately divorce. But are there things that your kids need to know about their mum?

Young Kids vs Young Adults

You separated when your kids were younger, and honest discussions with them in those years reached the level of why they couldn’t have two packets of chips in their lunchbox like they did when mum packed it. Now that they are late teenagers, with boyfriends and girlfriends and part time work and all the things that makes up life pre-marriage, is there a time when it is okay to simply talk to them about the things that led to your separation?

Most professionals advise about the damage that we can do as parents if we fall into the trap of disparaging the ex in front of our kids. There is absolutely no doubt that one of the most important things we can do for your kids as they go through the divorce process with us is to bite our tongue and simply encourage them to have feelings of respect and admiration for their mother. Remember, they are already dealing with trying to find their feet in the lives of separated parents, two homes and readjustments.

There are a lot of things to be aware of as your young kids grow through the divorce and challenges that come with their age. There are many articles that provide good guides for what to do and what to say up to the age of 14. But, at that age your kids are beginning to desire more independence, they’re questioning parental authority, and they’re developing relationships outside the home which are even more important than their relationship with us. It is next to impossible to find advice on talking to your kids beyond the early teenage years.

But as they age they are no longer kids needing to be shared and managed between two separated parents. They are now young adults who are exposed to many adults in differing settings, and you and your ex are becoming less unique to them.

They are becoming young men, like you, and young ladies, like their mum. They are adults in secondary and post-secondary education and they are taught to think broadly, apply their understanding and their moral code to develop their own personal impressions and opinions on situations and events they experience. They will be developing opinions about the people who make up their lives, the things they like and dislike, and the things they need and detest.

You have very strong opinions about their mother which are undoubtedly a big part of why you are not together anymore.

Naturally, you want the best for your kids as they build their own lives. Don’t you need to tell your kids about the ex and what led to the divorce?

If you have a daughter would it be okay for her to never know anything of what it was that brought your love for her mother to end? Would you be happy for your son to choose the partner he will spend the rest of his life with without knowing anything of what it was that broke down the mrriage with his mother?

Tell Your Kids About the Ex

The kids probably spend a lot of their teenage years living with their mum. If anyone knows mum well, they do. They are now far more resilient and self assured than when they were the 7 or 8 years old when they just wished mum and dad still lived together. They now have seen many of their friends go through divorces with their parents, and discussing mom and dad’s divorce with these trusted friends is easier than with anyone else. These discussions likely have been going on for years, thus helping to forge their ‘critique’ of you as their dad and your ex as their mum.

So, if your son or daughter at 17 or 18 asks why you and your new partner don’t seem to argue as you did with their mum, or they raise an issue they have had with their mother, is it okay to be honest about their mum? Whenever there is an elephant in the room it is better to simply confront it than trying to beat around the bush?

So long as the discussion remains objective and has the right mix of honesty about yourself as well as about their mum then aren’t you arming your kids with knowledge that you likely didn’t have as you grew up in a generation when divorce was more rare?

Many articles point out that you may anger your children if you try to describe the process of separating as something like ‘mummy and I still love each other, just not in that way’. That’s because it minimizes your child’s maturity to form their own opinion.

Honesty is Always the Best Policy.

We have always been told that it’s best to tell the truth. It has always been drummed into us not to lie. In fact it is almost impossible to think of another area where telling the truth to your child is seen as anything but the best parenting practice.

It has become more acceptable to discuss sexuality with our kids. Thank goodness. And in the process we reinforce the importance of intimacy and feelings with the people that we choose to love and cherish in our lives.

We know we will have to comfort our kids hearts when their boyfriends and girlfriends have broken their hearts. Is it really so bad to admit that that was something missing from your marriage with their mother? Is it preferable to lie? Or won’t that go the same way as trying to tell them that you still love mummy? Your kids know you and they know when you are lying.

You have spent a lot of time talking about times past through rose-colored glasses only for the benefit of your young kids. If you have a strong relationship with your grown kids where you can speak openly and honestly about things such as your work relationships, your thoughts about the future, and your thoughts about the world, then speaking honestly about what wasn’t right about your marriage to their mum shouldn’t be taboo.

You can discuss how people change over time. It may have been a process of falling out of love with the woman you married as you discovered she was turning into someone you didn’t like. You can discuss the need to continue to develop as a person. You can talk about what it is like when someone stops listening. The kids would have similar stories in their lives already.

Part of parenting is helping your kids find the best parts of both yourself and your ex for them to emulate. In a strong marriage that endures, both partners are reinforced by the other such that pointing out each other’s strengths and weaknesses is a very normal part of life. Separation and divorce is oft times about two people who are no longer being reinforced by one another. And, as they go through the process they lose the opportunity to tell their kids the truth.

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