She left me dev­as­tated, how do I start again?

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - el­liead­vice.com

Q. I’m a 36-year-old fa­ther of two, di­vorc­ing af­ter seven years (mar­ried for the last three).

I’d sus­pected she was cheat­ing on me for 18 months.

Friends showed me pic­tures of her out with an­other guy (we live in a smaller town).

When­ever con­fronted, she’d get an­gry and de­fen­sive. Yet she’d sit on her phone tex­ting this guy.

She ended it af­ter a fight about her re­fus­ing to wear her wed­ding rings. I was dev­as­tated.

Her lover helped her move out when I was at work.

She took ev­ery­thing of the kids, and most of our fur­ni­ture.

She was taunt­ing me about it and in­sult­ing me for be­ing dev­as­tated. How do I move on from here? Our re­la­tion­ship was pic­ture-per­fect for the first five and a half years.

Now she’s fight­ing me for every cent she can get, as I have a good job and she’s been mostly un­em­ployed while we were to­gether.

I feel de­feated and hu­mil­i­ated, sell­ing my dream house and mov­ing into a smaller town­home condo, los­ing over one-quar­ter of my af­ter-tax in­come to child sup­port, and watch­ing this man with whom she cheated mov­ing into my role rais­ing my kids.

I called so many coun­sel­lors who never call me back. My friends and fam­ily are in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive, but it’s not al­ways enough.

A. You are not “bro­ken” but need to re­build your sense of who you are, one piece at a time.

Start with your kids, whose lives have been changed abruptly. They need to see you and know you’re all right, and you need to see them and know the same.

If ac­cess to them is a prob­lem from the start, get to a lawyer fast.

If not, you’ll still need a lawyer re­gard­ing all other di­vorce is­sues, but keep the fa­ther-child mat­ters as clear as pos­si­ble — in­sist on joint cus­tody, de­fined times to see them, hav­ing them stay with you, etc.

Child sup­port is an es­sen­tial part of your par­ent role that doesn’t change with di­vorce.

She may be ask­ing for un­re­al­is­tic amounts, but your lawyer and fi­nan­cial ad­viser will dis­cuss with you what’s rea­son­able for your in­come.

More im­por­tant, it’s about how you want your chil­dren to live, within what you can af­ford.

I em­pathize with you that be­trayal by a cheater feels dev­as­tat­ing. But her be­hav­iour de­means her, not you.

What you need from a coun­sel­lor is val­i­da­tion of your right to your pain but also your need for the will to re­gain con­fi­dence and get on with your life.

Seek a coun­sel­lor for those rea­sons, not just to vent anger (which may feel nec­es­sary ini­tially, but is only a start­ing point to heal­ing). I’m 19 he’s 36, my dad doesn’t ap­prove. What can I do?

Q. We met at a job I started. I’m 19, and he’s 36. We share many com­mon in­ter­ests.

We like each other a lot and want more.

I don’t look at the age dif­fer­ence, but at our con­nec­tion.

How­ever, my dad’s over­pro­tec­tive and won’t give the guy a chance, as­sum­ing that all he wants is sex, or me as a tro­phy.

I don’t want to lose my close fa­ther­daugh­ter re­la­tion­ship. The guy also doesn’t want to cause is­sues be­tween us. What should I do to get my dad to un­der­stand?

A. This man must to try to earn your fa­ther’s trust.

He has to show sin­cere long-term in­ter­est in you.

You need to con­vince your fa­ther that you still plan to fur­ther your ed­u­ca­tion and/or work life, and in­crease your in­de­pen­dence.

Take it slow; don’t sneak around. See what de­vel­ops.

DEAR EL­LIE

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