Ask Amy: Grown children hurt by parents’ marital mischief

August 20, 2012

DEAR AMY: I am in the middle of a divorce that began because I had an inappropriate online relationship outside of my 22-year marriage. Within two days of discovering this, my husband filed for divorce.

Our daughters, both college-age but living at home, were hurt, disappointed and angry with me.

However, within a matter of weeks my husband began openly escorting a girlfriend in our small town. He asked me to leave our home and now entertains her there (even though we are still legally married).

People in town apparently knew of their affair, and the girlfriend is even talking marriage plans. Ultimately this is not a problem for me as we were both unhappy in our marriage, but the girls now feel betrayed by him.

One daughter said it was as if I punched them in the face, and while they were still reeling and struggling to stand, he threw the sucker punch and knocked them out.

They were clinging to him as their moral standard and feel he used them and manipulated their emotions to gain sympathy while secretly he was having his own affair. One daughter now claims to hate him.

How should I help these adult children through this? I’m seeing a counselor, but I can’t force adult children to a counselor. -- Devastated

DEAR DEVASTATED: You should urge your daughters toward counseling by saying that they need and deserve to have an objective person to talk to.

Do not criticize your husband to them, and do not try to present his point of view — they should be encouraged to communicate with him directly. They are learning the hardest way that no one is infallible; even beloved parents can be selfish, immature and disappointing.

I hope you have a lawyer and/or a mediator. The greatest positive impact on the kids will be if their parents are able to peacefully separate and divorce with as little drama and as much civility as you both can muster.

DEAR AMY: I have worked for a university for almost 15 years. During that time, the department I started in was acquired in a hostile takeover. Now I have one of the worst bosses known to mankind.

My issues with her were so bad that during the first two years, reviews could not be held alone. I insisted her boss (the nicest man ever) had to witness my reviews.

The other bosses in the department hate controversy! So during my seven years in this department, six colleagues have quit because of her — the majority without having a new job because she is so mean.

HR has a book of complaints from exit interviews about her, but since the complainants are leaving, problem solved (another left yesterday).

I need a job, but it physically makes me feel sick every time I see her. Any suggestions? -- Unhinged

DEAR UNHINGED: If HR already has a thick file on this person, you might be able to at least mitigate your current situation by calling a meeting with HR about this issue that is not an exit interview.

It’s a pretty dream, anyway — isn’t it?

You sound savvy enough to at least protect yourself and avoid this person whenever possible.

You should start your own job search. Universities can be great employers because they offer opportunities elsewhere in the system. With your longevity and track record, you should be able to land another job where going to work won’t make you physically sick.

DEAR AMY: Your advice to “Rejected in Chicago” describes the difference between having sex and intimacy, and is the most concise and insightful discussion of that topic that I have ever seen.

Your words are quite powerful precisely because “sex” and “intimacy,” which are so often used interchangeably, have dramatically different meanings and consequences.

My wife and I clipped the column out of the paper and will present it to our granddaughter when she is old enough. We have also given it to a friend who is a high school teacher for whatever use she and her colleagues can make of it. -- A Fan

DEAR FAN: I may need to clip that one out for my own kids. Thank you!

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Lifestyle