In my “Love Essentially” column, published today in Sun-Times Medialocal publications, I give divorce advice to a woman who wrote “my husband left me” and “life is a mess.”
Dear Jackie, My husband left me in February. He told me he felt broken and didn’t know why. Now there’s another woman. I have two children and he’s already having them around her. He thinks it’s ok as long as he’s not showing her any affection. I think this is wrong. It’s a mess.
Of course it’s a mess! It’s completely understandable, so I first want to express how sorry I am that this is happening to you.
What is interesting about your letter is that almost in its entirety, it’s about your husband. “My husband left me,” “He told me he felt broken,” “He’s having them around her,” “He thinks it’s OK.”
Why is this about your husband? It’s been six months since he left you, so now it needs to be about you.
Most people whose spouses leave them don’t realize how much control they have over their own life. If your husband feels broken, you can’t fix him. If he is dating someone and bringing your kids around her, there’s nothing you can do about it, unless of course it poses a danger to your children, which it sounds like it doesn’t.
What you do have control over is yourself and your children.
As a result of his leaving, do you now feel broken? If so, reach out to friends and family for support, maybe make faith more a part of your life, start working out for stress relief, consider therapy as a means of support, and most importantly, love and nurture your children during the times you are with them. Hug them a lot. Make sure they know you are there for them and more than willing to talk.
I think it’s time for you to stop focusing on your husband and begin healing yourself, which takes a long time, but will happen if you seek support in the right ways and make good, smart decisions.
I’ve known and spoken with hundreds of men and women in your shoes, and I’ve seen some play the victim forever and fall apart, and others go on to grab the life that makes them truly happy. The choice really is yours.
Some things are out of your control, like your husband’s actions, for example. But you have control over the decisions you make, the choices that will shape your life from this point forward. I say that in a good way!
As for your husband, let him worry about fixing himself and dealing with his love life. What about your love life? When you are ready, start socializing and enjoying yourself, and be open to the idea of dating. There are men out there who aren’t broken, you know.
My advice might be hard to hear, but I’m trying to help you by encouraging you to get tough. This is probably the most difficult time in your life, so it’s also the time to use your all the strength you have in your core. It’s not easy, but if you believe in yourself and you make decisions that perpetuate self-love, you will heal from this. It’s a long journey and hard to imagine a happy ending, but a really great life is more probable than you think.
I will you the best and hope that life turns from “a mess,” to a peaceful, smooth, happy place.