Dear Margo: Love Is Blind

My friend’s romantic life is affecting her children; should I say something? Margo Howard’s advice

Love Is Blind

Dear Margo: I have been friends with a woman for many years. A few years ago, she had an affair with a man in her office. When her husband found out, she ended the affair — for a while. Last year, she left her husband and began a new life with the other man. (I suspect he’d stayed in her life the whole time.)

Her children have always been great kids, but now they’re having difficulties in school and are disrespectful and unhappy. I think they don’t like the situation, but they also don’t like this new man. I don’t either. Should I express my concerns that her “new life” could be permanently affecting her children, as well as damaging her relationship with them? She seems to feel like the sun rises and sets with this guy. — Watching on the Sidelines

Dear Watch: I understand your wish to clue in your friend to the fact that her kids are acting out, but to quote that sage Woody Allen, “The heart wants what the heart wants,” and I seriously doubt your friend would choose to do anything about the situation … like remove the heartthrob. As far as I would go would be to tell her that you’ve noticed the children are not adapting well to the new order, and she might want to give them more time and listen to their complaints. Perhaps some family therapy would be helpful. That would definitely crystallize for her that it’s either this guy or her children. — Margo, supportively

Leaving the Nest, or Even a Country

Dear Margo: I’m a dual U.S./U.K. citizen in my late 20s, and I chose to move to America to pursue my career. My brother did the same. For a few years, it was fun, and I wasn’t thinking too far ahead, but my brother recently married, establishing real roots over here. My mother is American and would love to come to the States, but my father has such a host of health problems that it would be financially impossible for them to move here.

When we were home in England for Christmas, my brother came to me crying one night, upset that once again we were leaving them and saying that when the time comes for him and his wife to have children, our parents will only see them once, twice or three times a year at most.

So I guess my problem is this: I love my life over here. I have a good job, friends I love and a boyfriend I can see myself settling down with. Do I give it all up and move back to London? Family should be the most important thing, and I feel guilty I have not prioritized it. My parents have been nothing but supportive and loving my whole life. I know it is a parent’s duty to wave their children off into the world, but I don’t want to regret anything when they die. I also don’t want to give up a wonderful man and the life I’ve built here. — Confused and Guilty

Dear Con: Regarding “family being the most important thing,” you and your brother are family, and you’re here. Perhaps because I have a child living part time in London, I just see it as another city. I hope you will not give up the life you’ve made here. When you say your parents have been supportive and loving, my bet is that, while they miss seeing you more frequently, they are happy for you and your brother. Should your mother outlive your father, my bet is that she will wind up over here, as well. I hope you put this concern to rest and bag the guilt. — Margo, whole-heartedly

* * *

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2011 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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36 comments so far.

  1. avatar Amanda ECW says:

    To Confused and Guilty: Many people living in the states with their entire families still only see each other a few times a year as well. My husband and I see my folks and his folks about once a year each. It’s no guarantee that living in the same country=seeing each other more often. That you are concerned about this is an example that shows your parents have raised you well~follow your dreams and enjoy the visits you do have with them. Don’t stifle or limit yourself based on geography.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      LW2: There is lots of “I think, I feel, I assume… ” in your letter, and not nearly enough “I know for a fact that…”.

      It might hurt a little if and when “I think…” turns into “I thought…” as in “I thought she would take my suggestions on parenting, but she didn’t and ended our friendship.”

      LW1: I wonder if your brother is thinking about your future role as caretaker for your parents and is playing a guilt card of sorts, disguised as something else. This may or may not be the case, but I wouldn’t get manipulated into making an expensive and potentially upsetting move without thinking about it.

      But everyone is different, and you’re asking the wrong person to shoot holes in the idea of moving to London. If it were me I’d kiss the USA goodbye tomorrow and not look back.

      • avatar srfisher5 says:

        Ohh no, I can see why people are reading in to my letter (L2) and misinterpreting my comments about my brother – he is, like my dad, a very sensitive, kind hearted person and was crying because he also feels guilty about not being with our parents enough. He would never in a million years suggest I move home to be the primary caretaker. He was simply upset on his last night there and was explaining to me that he has the same feelings of sadness at the distance that I do.

        I should have written that part of the letter better.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        You’re in a position with established citizenship that would make a potential move to the UK a lot easier for yourself and for anyone else who wants to come along. Personally, I would be quite excited at the prospect of moving to a foreign country for awhile—and out of all the choices for Americans, perhaps only Canada would be an easier transition than England. It’s different enough to be exciting, and similar enough to be comfortable.

        It may be that your father’s time (or surprisingly, that of your mother) is limited. From personal experience, if it’s doable I would explore the option of moving to be closer to them. You can always come back if it doesn’t work out.

      • avatar lisakitty says:

        Why didn’t you post this as your own post and not as an “answer” to someone else’s comment?  I see nothing from your post that has anything to do with the post that you are “responding” to.  Amanda made great points that you didn’t even respond to… confused!

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        Why is it any of your business?

      • avatar Deeliteful says:

        David:

        I so enjoy your posts.

        Lisakitty:

        LW was responding to David Bolton’s post. Perhaps she didn’t want to respond to Amanda’s post.

  2. avatar toni says:

    The original quote is Emily Dickinson. The heart wants what the heart wants – or else it doesn’t care. Otherwise your answers are completely on the money. To LW1, don’t be too hopeful that your friend will suddenly come to her senses and value her children over this man. I hope you’ll be able to hang in there as a positive influence. They’ll need it.

  3. avatar Lisa Cornell says:

    LW#2 My son lives in Korea and in fact I haven’t seen him in a year and a half. He is my only child and I miss him terribly. That said, I am so happy he has found his own way in the world and that he loves his job, his friends and his life. It would be terribly selfish of me to wish him to come home. With skype, emails, facebook, etc, it is relatively easy to keep in touch. We talk every week, and send emails slightly more often. So, I get to “talk” to him two to three times a week. I think in my son’s case, he is more inclined to keep me in the loop and call and email because of the great distance involved. I know parents whose kids live in the neighborhood, who hear from their offspring less often.

    • avatar casino la fantastique says:

      What a nice sentiment. I live about six hundred miles from my hometown and my parents miss me to pieces, too (and I them), but they are happy that I’m happy in my adopted hometown and have never pressured me to “come home” or anything. Your son is lucky to have such a caring mom!

  4. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  So much for the proposition that *If I’m happy my children will be happy*.  No, not necessarily.  I’m not sure much will be gained by pointing out to your friend that her kids are in crisis except the resentment of your friend for interfering with her life, choices, and parenting.  Of course, if she confides in you about her children’s troublesome behavior, ask her if she thinks the change in her life might be impacting her children negatively.  She will probably deny it, even if she asks you opinion.  She will certainly deny it if your advice is unsolicited.  Tough situation for you to be in…watching otherwise decent kids having trouble.   

    LW#2:  Maybe I’m not reading your letter correctly…but is your brother, who is happily ensconced in the US, telling you to give up your happy life here,  so that he can enjoy his free of guilt?  A little unfair of him if that is the case.  You mention that your mother is from the US originally.  Did she  leave her family in the US to live in England and be with the man she loved.  I seriously doubt she would expect you to make a different choice and that both your parents, unless they are completely selfish beings, want you to be happy more than anything.  So, keep in touch and visit as often as you can, but don’t feel guilty for choosing to make a happy life for yourself.

  5. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#2: Buy your parents a computer with video capability and skype with them frequently. You’ll probably talk/video-see them more often than many families living in the US. Just because they live elsewhere doesn’t mean you can’t be close. Close doesn’t have to mean going to their house and seeing them in person. It’s more about sharing what is going on with each other and finding ways to connect.

    If you were to move back to the UK, then you wouldn’t be close to the rest of your family — your brother and his family. So you would give up one for the other? Think differently about connections.

  6. avatar americanabroad says:

    In regards to letter two: when the time comes, you’ll make it work. As previous people have mentioned, Skype, email and other similar programs (I personally like oovoo) have made the world a smaller (or at least more connected) place to live in than was possible even 10 years ago. While video calls and emails hardly make up for spending quality time with your family, it does go quite a long way to help.
    I am in a similar situation- I am an American who met (and married) a British man. It made more sense for his career to live in England (and mine could translate), so 7 years ago we made the big move. We’ve since had two girls, and while unfortunately they don’t get to see my Mom more than about 3 times a year, they do enthusiastically use video calls (in fact, my 3 year old is a bit too enthusiastic about it). Yes, it’s not the same as being there, but they do maintain a relationship and they both know their grandma. I do hear you, though, about the healthcare in the States and aging parents. Thankfully, my Mom is alright as she is at 67, but I’m fully aware that that won’t last, so we’re hoping to convince her to come over here on a more permanent basis eventually.
    I would say, in all honesty, that the thinking and worrying about the distance between you and your family is far worse than the actuality of living it day to day.

  7. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: I agree with Margo. And based on everything I’ve seen in life, usually a woman will NOT give up the new man in her life no matter how much her children might rightfully dislike/resent him. And many women I’ve known will definitely give him precedence and favor over the kids. That stinks. But I’ve seen it over and over; the kids come last. At least suggest to her that the kids are unhappy and not adjusting; to give them more time, listen to their complaints or concerns, etc. You’ll be doing the kids a favor as well, to speak up for them at least. Talk to her once, then try to let it go regardless of how she responds.

    L #2: Your brother is being very unfair to you. It can’t be Mum and Dad forever in one’s life; they’ll grow old and pass away eventually, as we all do. You’re happy and in love; stay there!

    • avatar Divaesque says:

      I absolutely do not agree that the kids’ feelings have to come first no matter what and dictate every single thing a woman does in life.  They are immensely important, of course, but it is not necessary to be eternally unhappy just because the kids don’t love your new man (assuming he is not an abuser).  However, mom DOES have to consider their feelings and address them.   Kids are an equal part of the family–they should not be the rulers of the family who get to make all the rules and dictate what the parents do. 

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        Wondering why, if the kids are so unhappy with the new man, they can not live with their father.  Why is the mother always to be the one to make them happy?  This way dad gets to blame her for all of the problems without taking on any of the responsibilities himself.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Cindy, I have seen it with my former SIL. Dumped her hubby and ran off with another guy, leaving him with the two kids.

      Years later, ex-hubby was diagnosed with a terminal illness. The kids – now one adult and one minor – moved in with Grandma. Amazing how, the day that the family came home from the funeral, ex-SIL showed up on the doorstep with cops in tow demanding custody of the minor. She uprooted him from his brother, his grandmother, his possessions, his school… all for the sake of his meager SSA benefit, due to run out less than six months later when he turned 18. The day he turned 18, he was back at Grandma’s. Both those kids despise her for what she did to their family, and then to the younger kid.

      Some women can bear children, but that does not make them mothers.

  8. avatar LuckySeven says:

    My grandparents lived one state away and we saw them once a year at the most (my mother’s parents were both dead before I was born. Your brother should just be glad your parents are still alive). Your brother made his bed when he married and set up a household in the States, knowing that his parents were still in England and, presumably, that your situation here was temporary.

    Sorry, but as my grandmother used to say: You can have anything you want, you just can’t have everything you want. Your brother is your extended family now; he has his own nuclear family. Flights to London are frequent and relatively inexpensive. If this is a priority for him, tell him to budget for travel expenses.

  9. avatar Artemesia says:

    Brother wants sis to move home so SHE and not he will be the nursemaid to the elderly parents when the time comes. I know a family like this. The brother lived in Scotland and his only contribution to helping his parents who lived in Portland was to criticize how his Portland sister carried out the task of coping with their elderly, mentally disturbed widowed mother.

    She should live the life she wants to live building travel to England into her plans. It isn’t very different than living in Chicago when your folks are in Seattle.

    • avatar srfisher5 says:

      (From LW2) – Though I guess I don’t technically need to defend my brother, please see my above reply to David Bolton about him, as I hate that there is a misinterpretation about him and his motives. He is a teddy bear who was upset about the distance, like I am. No malicious intent to destroy my happiness at all! (He’s way more of a caretaker in personality than I am anyway, though I can’t begin to imagine how we’ll make those decisions when the time comes.)

  10. avatar calgal says:

    If family is the most important thing, then give your relationship with your boyfriend the chance to turn into family. That is the job of young adults: to create a new family, even though it means moving away from their birth family. “A man shall leave his parents and cleave unto his wife…” You’re in the transition phase of a natural change of focus. Once you have your new family, as your brother has his, priorities will clarify.

  11. avatar lisakitty says:

    LW1: Here is what I would do.  I would take my friend out to drinks or tea, and tell her my concerns.  I would NOT vilify the new Mister Fantastic, just ask how the kids are doing through the divorce and tell her about your observations.  Be specific here.  Don’t say “Jane and Johnny seem unhappy.”  Say something more like “Jane was pretty short with me last week and mentioned she’s under a lot of stress at home”.  Offer to help.  Do you have kids the same age?  Have the kids over to your home to give THEM a break from the new lovebirds.  Normalcy is important for kids, having a safe place to go and talk will help all.

    Finally, if she refuses to acknowledge that the kids are acting up and are unhappy, and if she blows off your attempts to help, I think you loop in the father of the children.  But only after you have tried a couple of times to work with the mom.  This type of thing can affect custody and child support and you need to be VERY careful here.  But if the mother isn’t looking after the best interests of her children, it’s time to bring the father in to protect the children.  

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      “Say something more like “Jane was pretty short with me last week and mentioned she’s under a lot of stress at home.”

      You’re making the assumption this is true, and not that Jane is under a lot of stress at school, or that Jane doesn’t like the world and is a typical hateful teenager, etc. There are a myriad of reasons why her children could be unhappy—if indeed, they are unhappy.

      Part of the issue here is that LW doesn’t like the new man, and doesn’t like the circumstances under which New Man and Old Friend met. Throwing around phrases like “I don’t THINK they… ” and “COULD BE affecting…” are both dangerous and irresponsible. And if I was the mother, the first thing I would say to my friend is: “Did they tell you that they don’t like him or the situation? Why are you discussing the lives of my children without me present?”

      • avatar lisakitty says:

        David, my darling, you completely MISREAD my post.  Not a surprise, by the way, having read other of your posts.

        The point is, be specific.  The example given is just an example.  My point (which you totally missed, did you read the post, sweetie?) is that the LW should not deal in generalities, should NOT attack the boyfriend, and should only be concerned about the welfare of the children and approach it like that with her friend.

        Please reread my post, baby doll.  Kisses!   

             

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        Your cattiness is completely uncalled for—and by the way, don’t talk to me like I’m a child. If you want to disagree with what I’ve written—fine. Be an adult.

        Anyway—your suggestion that LW use specific observations is actually what she SHOULD NOT do—seeing how she has no evidence that New Guy is the reason why “everyone” is unhappy (except for maybe her own bias against New Guy). Whether or not you realize it, it’s important to understand that LW is very likely looking for a reason to vilify New Guy. She doesn’t like him. She doesn’t approve of the circumstances under which they met. She’s made the judgment that the kids are unhappy. She’s made the logical connection that he’s the reason why the kids are unhappy. She’s taken the time to write a letter stating as much to an advice column. Basically she’s not looking for an answer about WHAT to say, as much as HOW to say what she already believes is gospel.

        Again, all she is going to accomplish by pointing out these alleged specificities is 1) to make her friend defensive and 2) to make her friend wonder why LW is taking it upon herself to discuss her friend’s family problems without her being involved.

        LW can easily finesse the topic at hand by saying: “How are things going with you at home? Has it been difficult for the kids to make the transition with New Guy? The last couple of times I’ve been around [your daughter], she hasn’t appeared as happy as usual. Do you think she has something going on that [you] should be concerned about?”

        This has the effect of allowing the friend to choose whether or not to open up to her about the possibility of a problem involving the New Guy. Trying to force someone into a conversation that directly involves their parenting decisions is a recipe for disaster (and believe me, I’ve made that mistake). For all we know—the kids may not like school, or have bully problems, or money might be an issue. Just because the LW doesn’t like the New Guy—that doesn’t mean he is the source of the problem with the kids, or problems in general. For all we know—the response to LW’s question could be: “[my daughter] has been slacking off at school and we’ve really had to come down hard on her. In fact, I asked New Guy to make sure she gets all of her homework done, and we’ve had to ground her a couple of times because she hasn’t listened”? Then suddenly the “bad guy” is the one who is being responsible. Why not? It’s perfectly plausible. Not every step-parent is wicked.

        Since this woman is a friend and not someone who would normally have intimate contact with the children and her observations are exactly that—observations—she’s walking a very thin line here, between assisting and intruding. While no one wants to be the person who says after the fact: “I never liked him and I wish I had been able to tell you sooner,” no one wants Mrs. Kravitz in their life either. My opinion is that if she had concrete evidence that the kids were unhappy because of the New Guy, she would have written: “in discussions with the kids, they TOLD me that ______ is causing problems in the family.” This statement isn’t there. In my response to your post—if you’d like to do some re-reading yourself—I’m trying to make it clear that LW needs to steer clear of saying anything pre-emptive and leave her implications at home. By generalizing, she’s ASKING and not DEMANDING to be invited into a conversation about a concern that she sees—with the very real possibility that she’s the only one who sees it.

      • avatar A R says:

        “Her children have always been great kids, but now they’re having difficulties in school and are disrespectful and unhappy.

        My first thought was, “How do you know they are having difficulties in school? To whom are they being disrespectful? How can you tell they are unhappy?”

        Not that I don’t believe the LW, but what is she basing this on? Has her friend told her these things? If so, then *obviously* the friend knows something is wrong with her own kids. If the friend has not told her about these issues, then who did? A teacher friend? A neighbor? A mutual friend?

        My point is that if she got her info from the kids’ mom herself, there’s nothing to discuss. If she got it from another source, it may not be valid. I agree wholeheartedly with David that the real issue is that the LW does not approve of the guy and the affair (understandable). If you ask me, however, the LW is just looking for justification (using the kids as a segue way) to tell her friend that she sucks.

        The only thing this LW can do is keep her mouth shut and hope that one day her pal asks, “What do you think is wrong with Lucy and Jimmy? Gosh, they are so different lately.” Then it’s fair game to lay her opinions on the line.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      “…if she blows off your attempts to help, I think you loop in the father of the children. But only after you have tried a couple of times to work with the mom.”

      Wow, busybody much?

      • avatar butterfly55 says:

        busybody and also putting the father in a distant position from the children, if they are having problems he should already know about it and have the kids living with him, they do have 2 parents, not just a mother, why do people assume the mother should keep them with her(even if she “runs of with this person the firend doesn’t like” ;)

  12. avatar wlaccma says:

    She should stay here and begin a new life here if that is what she wants. Her parents have lived their life the way they chose and she should do the same. Moving away from both of our parents saved our marriage. We loved being on our own having new ideas, new places, new friends. Both of my children live far away. That is what life is like in the modern world. I love to visit my children and grandchildren and explore their interesting, beautiful areas where they live. I am in the middle of Mexico right now with the grandchildren. I never would have come here if my kids had not spread their wings.

  13. avatar lebucher says:

    I am the only one of 3 siblings that still lives close to my parents.  When, a few years ago, I mentioned a real itch to relocate out of this state and might have to if I had a job layoff (lots of that was happening then), I could not believe the strong push-back from both my mom and one sister… who both insisted I MUST stay here for her.
    This really took me aback as I did not realize I’d inherited the caretaker job simply by default of not moving away before they did.  I mean, I love my mom and all, and we’re close, but she is perfectly healthy now at age 79 and never asks me for help now… and geez if I had had a job loss, what did they expect me to do?  Stay here with no job?  Put my life on hold for the next 10-20 years while they continue their lives without being inconvenienced?  I’ve already avoided dating for the most part because if I felt ready to move I didn’t want that to hold me back…

    I realize this might sound selfish, but I feel like I have sacrificed enough for other people already, am tired of working all the time, and would like to start building a better life for ME.  And I’d like to have a love life again.

  14. avatar dcarpend says:

    LW2: If you marry your boyfriend, he not only becomes your family, he becomes your MOST IMPORTANT family, and he and any children you may have become your immediate family. They should rightly be your priority, even if that means staying in the US.

    If he really is the man for you, the man you can put first and build a family with, then not only do you not owe it to your parents to give that up, but you owe it to them not to. Do you really want to be the child who gives up the hope of a husband and family for Mom and Dad, only to grow more and more resentful as time passes, and the chance for that utterly desirable circumstance slips by?

    In healthy families, it is this for which parents raise their children — that they may find their own path of love. Don’t take that away from them.

  15. avatar Daniele says:

    Confused, ask Mom. She’s obviously learned how to deal with cross-continental family issues at some point in her life. She’s an American expat who’s spent most of her adult life in Britain, married to a Brit. Not only will she be able to give you some tips, but you’ll forge a closer relationship. Sure, it might cause her some pain to think about might-have-beens, but it might help her to recall what she gained by leaving her family behind to create a new family.

  16. avatar shannon rich says:

    LW2- I, too, have parents that live overseas. It was tough when I was raising my children, but no tougher than if they had lived across the country. With Skype, and the internet (wish I had had those when the kids were young!) it is so much better! My mother gets to see her great grandson often, and I talk with her every week. From what I am interpreting from your letter and following comments, your parents did a good job raising their kids, and I somehow doubt that they would want you to put your life on hold for them.

  17. avatar Jennifer juniper says:

    I can relate – I have the same situation with myself and my parents and I get the sense that they are much older than the LW’s are. I did come to the conclusion long ago though that living in the same country wasn’t necessarily the answer. Because unless we actually lived in the same city (which just wasn’t going to happen) we really would only probably see each other 3-4 times a year anyway. Honestly, at this point in your life, as painful as it can sometimes be, you’re supposed to creating your own life and not clinging to your nuclear family.
    I will say this though – it starts to become more of an issue when you’re older and your parents are older. You start thinking, ‘Gosh – they might not have much time left on this earth.’ Easy answers don’t suddenly appear at that point either but it would be worth planning NOW for a time when and somehow you are closer in proximity or you spend more extended periods of time with them.

  18. avatar wendykh says:

    It’s very likely the children would not like ANY man right now… or possibly ever. It’s not stated if the children know the history. It’s very possible they do not. I think the letter writer is basing her assumptions on her personal opinion of the situation which may have little to do with reality.

    In my experience, children don’t like their parents having relationships, period. Even in intact families. While they generally like their parents to get along and not fight, it’s for their benefit, and the parents are seen as servants for their needs (to take them places, provide, etc). Kids hate knowing their parents have an active sex life, and tend to largely see them as adult roommates. I don’t mean this in a bad way. I mean kids are incredibly self centred.

    The truth is her kids are not likely to ever be happy she’s dating, so they’ll have to deal with an adjustment period, whether it’s now or in 2 years or 10. I know one woman who kept her dating life on complete hold for 12 years until her son (who was adamantly opposed) was 18 and off at college. He threw an epic fit when she introduced her beau. He was disgusted she’d date. She was “divorced” and to be chaste now. It wasn’t “proper.” Strangely he had no such obsession over his father’s dating life (and most kids seem to be far more tolerant of dad dating than mom from my observations).

    The letter writer should Shut Up and mind her own business. Be there for the kids, express to the mom “it must be hard on them.” Do not tell her it’s all her fault for choosing to be happy. The truth is the kids will most likely get over it with time, like most kids do in these situations.

  19. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Mmmm: Re: L#1: I certainly wouldn’t have quoted Woody Allen on any matter relating to step-children…considering exactly what happened between him and his step-daughter. Just a little creepy for me, but then, I never considered Mr. Allen a “sage”.

    Other than that…the subject of L#1 had an affair with her current SO. Her children may well be aware of this (whether or not they’ve had it explained…children are far more observant, tuned into their parents and their environment than most people seem to be even slightly aware of or willing to accept). It may not sit terribly well with them that their mother has “started a new life” (does that mean co-habiting? That’s what “starting a new life with” means to me…not dating…and people do jump right in as of late) with The Other Man right after divorcing Dad. I am NOT condemning or judging the mother…but these situations can take a long time to resolve. We don’t know how acrimonious the divorce was, but if she said she’d stopped seeing him, then years later divorced her husband and moved him in, I’d say her ex may have been anywhere from bitter but unsurprised to devastated…and her kids as well. Not an easy situation at all.

    Now, LW1 doesn’t like Mr. SO. Ergo, everything that’s wrong in the “children’s lives” will be his fault, as will all potential, possible and even far-fetched calamities. WHY doesn’t she like Mr. SO? Is her friend so wrapped up in him and her “new life” that she doesn’t have as much time for LW1 as before? Is it because he “broke up a perfect marriage”? Be real, a perfect marriage does not succumb to an affair (also, nothing is “perfect” except to clueless outsiders). How does she know the children are miserable, and that it’s all due to him, and the new relationship? While I have no doubt that their mother’s decision to have a new partner, and “replace” their father, and change their living arrangements has caused confusion, trauma (that doesn’t mean the horribly scarring variety necessarily), anger and resentment…is LW1 perhaps inferring what she desires from second-hand information? Or is her friend telling her “O, the kids are having a hard time adjusting. And so-and-so is having a hard time in Algebra. And on another note, my son has been a little mouthy lately…but so are all of his friends”…and LW1 is piecing this all together and putting it right at Mr. SO’s doorstep?

    I keep going back to “I don’t either” (like the new man). We aren’t given a single reason why. It takes two to have an affair, two to keep it going…and the more responsible, accountable party in this case was the married wife with children. Who ostensibly ended the affair (but is suspected of continuing behind her husband’s back), then, years later, divorced him, apparently got custody of their children, and, I’m fairly certain from the phrase “started a new life”, set up housekeeping with her paramour. Blaming Mr. SO for everything seems specious. Disliking him with no good reason more so.

    LW1, butt out, keep your mouth shut, and leave it alone. In my opinion, your motivation is very likely selfish, your concern for the children based on your own inferences and somewhat insincere, and you’re attempting to serve your own needs…whatever they may be. You say your friend is happy. You don’t know if she carried on the affair, or tried to make her marriage work…but in the end it didn’t…and it was hers, not yours. If the children remain totally miserable, they will eventually have the option, if they don’t already (in most states, the age is 14), to choose which parent to reside with…unless there is an over-whelming reason to prevent this. Let it sort itself out…you’d be surprised how often a happy, satisfied, loved parent results, in the end, in happy, satisfied loved children.

    And I’m no damned Pollyanna. Just the child of miserably married-far-too-long and then beyond hideously acrimoniously divorced parents, twice divorced myself, and knowledgeable about this particular subject.