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My ex-husband and I were married for 20 years and have 3 children:  19, 18, and 14.  We had a very emotionally abusive relationship at times.  I was a stay at home mom and felt trapped for years and because I was financially comfortable.  I felt like I would rather deal with the garbage and be comfortable then do anything about it.  I poured my entire life into my kids - probably to a fault.  They were my priority.  Our marriage had essentially been over for years and last fall it completely fell apart.  Soon after splitting up, I was contacted by an old school friend and we began a friendship which quickly turned to more.  We began seeing eachother before my divorce was final but he lived in another state, so our time together was very limited.  My kids knew that my ex-husband and I had a very messed up marriage and were not surprised at all at the news of the divorce, by the way.  My ex-husband quickly informed my kids of my new relationship as soon as he got wind of it, even as we were in the midst of our divorce.  Therefore, my kids already had a bad taste in their mouths about my new relationship.  Soon after my divorce, I remarried my current husband.  My middle son quickly moved out and moved in with his dad and our relationship suffered.  My other two kids seemed to be ok at times with my new husband. My ex began dating and everything seemed to be ok for the most part.  To make a long story short, I'm not sure if I had a melt down of some sort or not relating to my son moving out or what but I quickly started feeling like I had done something horrible to my family.  I felt like I had betrayed my kids and started longing for my family to be reunited.  My husband realized I was having difficulty with all this and we began to argue about it.  Finally, one day over the summer, I left my husband and ran back to my ex.  I spent the entire summer living with my ex and my kids while continuing to talk to my husband.  I still love my husband very much, yet I still having feelings for my ex.  However, it has become apparent that there was a lot of damage done in the relationship with my ex and I feel possibly there is too much water under the bridge.  My husband had moved back out of state and I was staying with my ex.  I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster... one day I want to try to make it work with my ex and the next I miss my husband desperately. In the meantime, my ex and I decided maybe it would be best for me to move out and I made arrangements to do just that.  I also had my husband come back to the state I live in and he moved in before me.  I began laying the groundwork with my kids but I feel, again, that I am doing something horrible to them and that maybe I should just try to work things out with my ex, although I have stronger feelings with my husband.  My ex and I just have so much history and he has been my rock, my everything, for 20 years... its hard to let that go.  I am so confused.  I am tired of putting everyone through this emotional havoc I have created.  My husband is being very patient and understands I'm having a very difficult time leaving my family.  Do you have any advice for me?

Answer
Dear Nicole,

I am glad you are asking for advice. Self-examination is the key to growth and can help cut off mistakes before they happen.

Here's where I think you went wrong. (I am not saying that this is all your fault, but you are the one asking me the questions and the only thing you have control over is you).

* Putting your kids first. I know lots of women do this and feel it is their duty as a mother, but kids grow up. If you neglect your husband, will he still be there when they are gone? Will your relationship still be worth anything when they are gone? When you treat your marriage as a team, the two of you live together, support each other, grow together, and usually stay together. It's harder to stay connected when you take each other for granted.

* Neglecting yourself. You don't say this, but it sounds like you neglected yourself too. Since you and your husband weren't connected, you weren't getting any support or love from him. It's not your job for your kids to do that, but as they get older, they are more concerned with their own lives. Since you weren't caring for yourself, it made it a easy for someone else to come in, give you a little attention and you could be swept away by it.

* That can create a boomerang effect where you are willing to walk away from everything- your kids and your marriage- to get your needs met. This (obviously) creates resentment and feelings of betrayal. Since you care about your kids, this can cause guilt.

* When you start carrying on a new relationship before the old one is finished, you deny yourself the chance to heal and learn from the mistakes. Your new lover is attractive because he gives you what you were lacking. Unfortunately, what you tend to need during transition is not what you tend to need when you are stable, so the new relationship often feels like it no longer fits once the novelty wears off.

* When you start a relationship before your kids have a chance to accept that the marriage is over, they are going to take it out on the new person. That's why they don't like your man, but they didn't have a problem with your ex's girlfriend. You moved on too soon for them.

Anyway, there is a lot of dynamics that I could talk about that can highlight why things happened the way that they did and why you are feeling the way you are now. My advice is to take some time to get you know yourself, what you want, what you value, and how to live in ways that are healthy. Read some books. Talk to a counselor. If you don't learn from this, the mistakes will continue to pile up.

Sincerely,

Laura Giles

Adultery

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Laura Giles

Expertise

Marital, relationship, adultery, children out of wedlock, divorce, custody, visitation, support, co-parenting, mediation, counseling, group counseling, step-parenting, pre-marital, and reconciling issues

Experience

I teach parent education classes and a group for people who are trying to strengthen their relationships in addition to providing individual counseling. I am the author of "The Other Child: Children of Affairs."

Organizations
National Registry of Who's Who in Executive Professionals
National Guild of Hypnotists
National Association of Social Workers
Honorary chairman of the Business Advisory Council
Virginia Mediation Network

Publications
The Other Child: Children of Affairs, The Daily Herald (Chicago), New You, The Journal Gazette, Almeda Times-Star, Tacoma News Tribune, East West Woman. Tidewater Women, Dimensions

Education/Credentials
BS in Human Services Counseling- Old Dominion University
Master of Social Work- Norfolk State University Licensed clinical social worker

Awards and Honors
National Registry of Who's Who in Executive Professionals

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