Divorce Fallout

27 Jun

Dear LetterBalm: My husband and I are getting a divorce after five years of marriage. He announced that he never loved me and regretted marrying me. This is a terrible shock and very painful, as you can imagine. He’s moved out of our home, and we’re trying to be civil for the sake of our three-year-old daughter. I want her to continue to love her dad and be happy in his company. But I worry that my pain is being perceived by her – already she’s asking why Dadda is not at home and why Momma is sad, when she caught me crying. I don’t want to talk about the breakup, but I need to make explanations she’ll understand. How can I begin to lay this important groundwork?

–Hurting a Lot

Ms. L.B. offers commiseration and admiration. At a time when no one would judge you for taking to your bed with the covers pulled tightly around you, you’re worried about your daughter. Fortunately, she’s too young to understand full disclosure. You already know you should continue to be accessible to her and to show as much normal routine as possible. Talk with her pediatrician and, if you can, book a consult with a child psychologist for the words to say when your daughter realizes mommy and daddy won’t be together ever again. Depending on expert opinion, you might have little reassuring talks during quiet mother-daughter moments, but not before bedtime:

  • My sweet girl, Dadda is living in a different house now, but he’s seeing you almost every day. And, you’ll spend lots of time, just the two of you, with him.
  • Momma and Dadda will always love you, no matter what.
  • Sometimes Momma feels sad, but she’s always happy when she’s with you.
  • Sometimes mommies and daddies decide to live in different homes. But you always have your own room in each house and you always have your mommy and your daddy.
  • You are a wonderful little girl, and Momma and Dadda are very lucky to have you. We’ll never, ever leave you.
  • We’ll always give you big hugs and kisses because you’re our best girl.

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