By Alma Gill
After 26 years of marriage, last year my husband had an affair, divorced me and married his mistress. We have two adult daughters and two grandchildren. One of our daughters is very close to her father and insists that, despite what has happened, we must all spend special holidays together as a family. She insists the both of us – her parents – come to the family Christmas dinner at her house and remain civil to each other. I am completely devastated by my divorce, and I don’t think my daughter understands the position she’s putting me in. How do I get her to understand?
Hello Mrs. Bowman,
If I recall correctly, life’s commandment goes something like this: Honor thy mother and father, not thy son and daughter. When and how exactly were these roles reversed?
Experiencing adultery and divorce is devastating, and to compound the pain and humiliation, your husband married his mistress. I’m stunned that somewhere in your daughter’s Hallmark Family Holiday, she thinks that you should graciously sit across the table from this woman and break bread. Ahhh, I think not.
That request is unconscionable and absolutely insane. At least this year it is. Who knows what future years may bring. Is your daughter really that spoiled to think that providing grandchildren, a turkey and trimmings on a Christmas tree trumps the embarrassment and resentment your broken heart endures? Really!? Who taught her that? If it was you, now’s your chance to make it right.
Tell her, clearly, and in no uncertain terms, that you will not attend a holiday dinner with her father and her new stepmother. She doesn’t need any further explanation; she knows why.
Because of her father’s choice to leave the family, here’s my suggestion: Her father and his new wife can host a Christmas Eve brunch for his adult children and grandchildren. You will attend the Christmas Day dinner at your daughter’s house. If one year she’d like to flip the switch, that’s fine with you, but all three of you, at this time, will not celebrate together as a family.
Let me remind you that you are not alone. Many celebrities, athletes, military personnel, out of-state college students and service industry professionals are unable to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Day with family. Listen to your heart and determine what your soul will bear. Right now you’re resting in the slumber of a broken heart. You’ll wake up one day. Your spirit grieves for now, but it will grow; I promise. None of us should ever live to lay claim to a love that can’t requite. Just as you wouldn’t wear a pair of shoes that hurt your feet, your heart deserves the same consideration.
Rid yourself from mind- meddling. You know what that is, when you just can’t stop thinking about how it could have been. What could have been is what it’s not. Stay in the reality. You’ll move through it much quicker. I’m sure you thought you and your husband would be married forever and live happily ever after. That didn’t happen. Life doesn’t always offer us a fair playing field. Put one foot in front of the other and make the best of the rest of your life. This isn’t about how to make things comfortable for your daughter. The focus and consideration should be on you.
I’d also suggest you connect with a DivorceCare Group. Pick up a copy of “Peace From Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through” by Iyanla Vanzant. Another really good read that will fill your spirit is “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On” by Stormie Omartian.
Help yourself to help yourself. Most of life’s storms require more than a raincoat and umbrella. This is one of them.
Alma Gill’s newsroom experience spans more than 25 years, including various roles at USA Today, Newsday and the Washington Post. Email questions to: email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook at “Ask Alma” and twitter @almaaskalma.