Dear Amy: I have been divorced for 10 years, after my ex-wife had an affair. She married the man she had the affair with. My ex and I share joint custody of our two daughters, ages 17 and 11. My ex and I have only communicated via text messaging for the past five years, and it is infrequent and only about the children.
Recently I found out through my children that their mother is getting divorced from her current husband. My youngest came downstairs crying and displayed a text from her mother’s soon-to-be-ex, which didn’t only throw mom under the bus, but completely napalmed her.
He told the children and her own mother (their grandmother) via text message that she has been having an affair with a co-worker and that she has done it before (with him). Now the kids are super-mad at their mother. How do I bring it up that I don’t want to get involved in her personal life, but what this guy did by using MY kids as cannon fodder was not cool …?!
— Perplexed in Phoenix
Perplexed: You should keep images of these texts, and instruct/urge your children to block their stepfather’s number from their phones immediately (you should keep his cell number on hand). Convey to the kids that no adult has the right to communicate with them in this way, that it is unacceptable, and that you feel extremely sorry that this has happened. You do not need to offer up any additional explanations.
Yes, the kids are angry with their mother, but the primary violation at this point was committed by the outraged person who is attempting to weaponize your children against their mother (and in the short term, it seems to have worked). You should reach out to your ex — personally or by phone (not text) — to let her know what has happened, if she doesn’t know already. The kids might be better off staying with you full time until the stepfather is out of the household.
If these allegations are true, your ex-wife has a terrible track record. Adultery is adult behavior, but your ex-wife’s adult choices have a potentially extremely destabilizing effect on her children.
I think you should also contact your lawyer to see what your longer-term options are, in terms of ensuring that your children reside in the most stable environment possible. Currently, their mother’s household doesn’t qualify.
Dear Amy: I’ve been attending the same small Protestant church for several years. I’ve gotten involved with committees, have served on the board, and have been a financial mainstay — helping the church to keep its doors open. My main motivation is to worship for an hour or two on Sunday, and to receive the sort of spiritual uplift that I seek through my faith practice.
Unfortunately, even though we’ve managed to keep the church running, welcoming a revolving door of disinterested ministers for the past several years, I sit in the pew on Sundays, my mind racing with church business and completely unable to focus on the service.
I’m seriously considering leaving this church and looking for another that will better meet my needs, but I feel very guilty. I’m wondering if you have any ideas or words of wisdom for me.
Tired: I believe this is a fairly common issue, which I assume crosses aisles and affects people from many different faith practices. Once you start to run an organization and become involved in its finances, personnel and building maintenance, it’s a challenge to detach from these worldly concerns and enjoy its mission.
It’s hard to access the divine when you’re wondering if last month’s light bill got paid. Pulling back on some of your duties, even temporarily, might help you to refocus.
Also — I suggest that you and some other congregants might want to form a study group. There are scores of multiweek programs designed to guide participants through various spiritual courses of study.
You might also want to worship at other churches. Even if you maintain your position and involvement with your church, occasionally attending services elsewhere — where you don’t know anyone — can be a rewarding and renewing experience.
Dear Amy: At least once a week I think you’re totally out to lunch. I wonder if your staff gets the blame for some of your more boneheaded responses?
Wiser: I sometimes wish I had a staff to blame, but alas — even if I’m occasionally out to lunch, I assure you that I’m dining alone.
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.
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