Second Wife Blues

3 Feb

Dear LetterBalm: After 24 years of marriage, my wife and I divorced. Our daughter was out of the house and on her own by then. Our marriage failed because my ex was unfaithful; I’ve never told my daughter this. Two years later, I met a woman 20 years younger than me. We fell in love and married last year. We’re very happy, except for one thing: My daughter wants nothing to do with my new wife. She doesn’t invite her to her home for my grandchildren’s birthday parties, holidays, etc., and she won’t come to our home or participate in any function where my wife is. Of course, this means I don’t participate, either. I want my daughter to know my wife as the good person she is. How can I do this?

–Sad Dad

In not telling your daughter why her parents divorced, you did the right thing, even if it has given you some heartache. She’s behaving badly and acting out emotionally, and it’s unfair to everyone. Ms. L.B. suggests that if you’re on cordial terms with your ex, ask her to intercede with your daughter on your behalf and help her accept your marriage. (Frankly, it’s the least she can do.) In the meantime, you want to reassure your daughter that she’s still important to you, even though you’ve remarried. Keep sending cards and gifts as you usually do and keep in contact with her, even if she’s frosty or unresponsive. You also might mail her a simple handwritten note thusly:

Dear Maddie,

These months of not seeing you, Frank and the kids have been so hard for me. I’ve missed our family times together. I hope you can come to understand that Nina is important in my life now and that she’s a good person. I hope you will come to know her.

You can be sure that no matter what, I will always love you. You’ll always be my dear daughter.

Love,

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