Kid Aversion

12 Nov

Dear LetterBalm: My wife and I were having affairs at the same time. I stopped seeing my lover when my wife got really suspicious. I thought she was seeing someone, but she denied it. When I found out for sure, I challenged her. She confessed her affair, including one time when she arranged to meet her lover on a business trip while I was home with our two kids. I got mad and told her about my relationship. Then she got furious and told me she just married me to have the children she really wanted. Needless to say, our marriage is over, and we are getting a divorce. My problem is, I don’t even want to see my kids now because every time I look at them, I get angry that my marriage was bogus. They’re only 6 and 4. What do I say to them?


Yikes. The House of Atreus in ancient Greek tragedy has nothing on you and your soon-to-be ex-wife. You are so hurt and angry that just looking at your children reminds you of the mess your marriage was. Keep repeating this: It’s not the kids’ fault; they are innocent. And, they continue to need loving and engaged parents. Ms. L.B. understands that you want to detach from the two living reminders of something that caused you such hurt — cue therapy for everybody, here – but you must be the adult, the dad. You certainly don’t want to replay your pain and resentment with them. You want to offer reassurance and love. Try this, and be prepared to answer questions age-appropriately:

Kids, you know we’re not going to be living all together in the same house anymore. But you’ll have your own bedroom in my house and in your mommy’s house, and you’ll be living back-and-forth with each of us. It won’t be the same as before, and we’ll all try really hard to get used to it. But your mommy and I want you to know that nothing about this is your fault. Your mommy and I will always love you. We will always be in your lives, when you go to school, when you are growing up, when you are sad and happy. Always remember that. And, always remember that you can ask me any question you want, and I’ll try to answer it. You are the two most special people in the world to me, and I’ll always be your daddy.


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