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 for the past five years, and it’s infrequent and just about the kids.
I recently found out through my children that their mother is divorcing her current husband.
My youngest son came downstairs in tears and showed a text from his mom’s soon-to-be ex, who not only threw mom under the bus, but doused her with napalm.
He told the children and his own mother (their grandmother) via text message that she had been having an affair with a co-worker and had done it before (with him). Now the kids are super mad at their mom.
How do I mention I don’t want to get involved in his personal life, but what this guy did using MY kids as cannon fodder was not cool…?!
– Stumped in Phoenix
Dear perplexed, you should save screenshots of these texts and instruct/urge your children to block your stepfather’s number from their phones immediately (you should have his cell number handy).
Reassure children that no adult has the right to communicate with them in this way, that it is unacceptable, and that you are sorry this has happened. You do not need to offer any further explanation.
Yes, the children are angry at their mother, but the main violation at this point was committed by the outraged person trying to arm their children against their mother (and in the short term, it seems to have worked).
You should contact your ex, in person or by phone (not text), to let them know what happened, if you don’t already know.
It is best for the children to stay with you full time until the stepparent leaves the house.
If these accusations are true, your ex-wife has a terrible 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 long-term options are, in terms of ensuring that your children reside in the most stable environment possible. Currently, your mother’s household does not qualify.
Dear Amy, I attended the same small Protestant church for several years. I have been involved in committees, served on the board, and been a financial pillar, helping the church keep its doors open.
My main motivation is to worship for an hour or two on Sundays and receive the kind of spiritual upliftment I seek through my faith practice.
Unfortunately, even though we have managed to keep the church going, welcoming a revolving door of selfless ministers over the past several years, I sit in the pew on Sundays, my mind racing with church business and he is completely unable to concentrate on the service.
I am seriously considering leaving this church and looking for another one that better meets my needs, but I feel so guilty.
I wonder if you have any thoughts or words of wisdom for me?
Dear Tired: I think this is a fairly common problem, one that I assume crosses the aisles and affects people of many different religious practices.
Once you start running an organization and become involved in its finances, personnel, and building maintenance, it is challenging to detach yourself from these mundane concerns in order to enjoy your mission.
It’s hard to access the divine when you wonder if last month’s electric bill was paid.
Removing some of your obligations, even temporarily, could help you refocus.
Also, I suggest that you and a few other parishioners want to form a study group. There are dozens of multi-week programs designed to guide participants through various courses of spiritual study.
You may also want to worship at other churches. Even if you maintain your position and involvement in your church, occasionally attending services in another location, where you don’t know anyone, can be a rewarding and renewing experience.
Dear Amy, I think at least once a week you go out for lunch. I wonder if her staff is to blame for some of her stupider responses.
Dear Wiser, Sometimes I wish I had a staff to blame, but unfortunately, even if I do occasionally go out for lunch, I assure you that I am dining alone.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @asking either Facebook.)