Trying to cope with divorce isn't easy, but gets even more difficult when you find out your ex is dating someone, which in my opinion usually happens about two minutes after the separation. Why?
People start looking for love again very soon after their split, most likely because they have been unhappy and lonely for so long, that to them, their separation began years ago. And when one of the people gets into a relationship, his or her soon-to-be ex is completely shocked, and often times angry. This makes the divorce more contentious, bringing out feelings of resentment, jealousy and confusion.
If the new relationship becomes significant, with kids being introduced to him or her, things can get complicated--as they did in this e-mail I received from a divorced woman:
My divorce was final 4 months ago and almost a year ago is when he told me he didn't love me anymore after 24 years of marriage and 3 kids. After he told me he wanted out is when I started noticing signs of "HER," a woman he met at work who is also going through a divorce.
We share custody of our youngest daughter (the other two are over 18) and she loves both of us, but her daddy maybe just a little bit more. She has also become very fond of "HER." She is younger, stylish ,blonde and crafty. They send funny text messages to each other, joke about my ex-husband and talk about her dog. Every time I think about her getting close to my daughter my stomach comes up in my mouth. It is like he has formed another family What is the best way to get over this?
My heart goes out to you. It isn't easy when your ex is in love and you are still single (assuming you are based on this email.) Even if you have no interest in getting back together with him and have no romantic feelings at all, the situation leaves a person feeling alone, lonely, isolated, and like he won something. It kind of makes you wonder where the justice is, which can lead to feelings of bitterness, unhappiness, anger and self-pity.
The first thing I am going to tell you is that your youngest daughter does not love her father more than you. She just doesn't. Little girls have an infatuation with their dads, almost like a crush. Trust me when I tell you I bet you are your daughter's rock. She depends on you. She considers you her best friend, I'm sure. All daughters treat their dads like kings and their moms terribly at times, no matter if their parents are still married or not. Just keep being the best mom you can possibly be, and keep being there for her.
Let's move on to "her." First of all, it isn't easy to do, but try to be happy that your daughter likes "her." Wouldn't you rather see your little girl at ease with someone rather than if the woman was a total bitch to her? "She" will never ever ever ever take your place, but rather she will be an additional source of support to your daughter, another resource for her to lean on if she needs help. You probably hate hearing this, but it's a good thing. Also, remember that it is early. Your daughter is infatuated with "her" right now, just like your ex husband is. Give it time. Things about her will start bugging your daughter, just like they will your ex husband. But I'll even go so far as to say you shouldn't want that. Your daughter is suffering because of your divorce, so let her be at peace with the woman her father is choosing to have a relationship with.
I guess what I'm saying is, there's enough of your daughter for everyone to enjoy. She can have a nice relationship with "her," with your ex, and with you--which I personally can say without knowing anything that I'm sure yours will prove to be much more meaningful than the one with "her" long term.
One other really important component to this is YOU. Let's take the focus off of "her" and work on YOU. Are you dating? Don't you feel like you deserve to be in a healthy, happy romantic relationship? Even if you're not ready today, don't you think someday you will want to form your own family which will of course include your kids, but also could include Mr. Right?
I will wish you the best, and leave you with this: You cannot control your ex-husband's new relationship, his new family, and his new friends. You can't control what "she" and your daughter talk about, what they do together, and how much they like or don't like each other. But, you can control YOU, and the relationships you have with your children. What I'm saying is, have more confidence in the fact that you're the mother, and that your kids love you. No one can (or is trying) take that away from you, especially "her."
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.