CrippledLamb
Something that has kept my relationship with my WS in major limbo is the fact that we have 3 children and there is a pride issue on both parts of our parenting. On the cheater's side- the belief that breaking up the marriage is better for the kids than fighting for the marriage with the knowledge that mom and dad are working on it. The value that mom does her best to call the kids and talk for a few minutes daily and keeps them overnight when work or other activities don't interfere is there and is both commendable as "something" and frustrating because it doesn't seem like much effort.
On the other side, I place value on giving the marriage a chance without the AP in the picture (or perception of him in the picture). Somehow differentiating trust between spouses and trust as people doesn't seem to compute to me. I see myself as the more responsible parent - a pride thing I'm sure. Having major inconsistency regarding availability to your children, to me, makes a parent untrustworthy and that's harmful any way I look at it.
Does anyone have any strategies for separating the affair/abandoning the marriage trauma from the inconsistent parenting trauma?
Although it feels like I am just complaining, I hope to figure out a way to be able to believe my WS at least wants to try being the parent that she says she already is.  I find that prior to the affair, I was very capable of compartmentalizing, but it's like my compartments are all broken and distrust/grief is leaking throughout my mind. I now have major difficulty even acknowledging the efforts of my WS in both parenting and subsequently my healing as a person.
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TimT
CrippledLamb wrote:
...Although it feels like I am just complaining, I hope to figure out a way to be able to believe my WS at least wants to try being the parent that she says she already is.  I find that prior to the affair, I was very capable of compartmentalizing, but it's like my compartments are all broken and distrust/grief is leaking throughout my mind. I now have major difficulty even acknowledging the efforts of my WS in both parenting and subsequently my healing as a person.


It would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to remain purely objective regarding any encounter or involvement with someone who caused so much pain. But your willingness to recognize that and seek to find a way through it is commendable. Your children will benefit from that intent.

Without knowing the kind of connection your wife USE to have with your children, it's difficult to judge how much has changed since the affair, but it's not uncommon for relational shifts to take place. Parents become more distant, less involved, for a number of reasons. Self-absorption and shame are likely quite active.

Your desire to avoid overly critical thinking is commendable. As you manage to do it, you and your children will benefit. But it's hard to do!

I hope others who have been in your shoes will be able to offer some good, practical advice, but let me tell mention 3 quick things that came to mind...

1. Look for any evidence of your wife being a "good parent" (even if you're don't completely trust her motive) and consistently point them out to your children. These can even be said in off-handed comments: "Did you have a good talk with Mom? You know talking to you is important to her because she loves you so much."

Yes, perhaps there is much more she could/should be doing. Yes, maybe your kids will have questions like "If she loves me so much then why...?" But recognizing and VERBALIZING appreciation of any positive behavior will help you (attention on positive) and your children (parents showing respect to each other).

And if you ever feel like being REALLY vulnerable, you can compliment/encourage your wife regarding any positive effort she's making as well. If you believe she truly loves your children, then understand that there is likely a battle going on inside of her. I am not excusing or justifying her actions at all, but she may have more than enough shame to deal with. Sometimes small measures of grace can be much more powerful in moving a person toward healthier choices. That's my opinion. Easier said than done, I know.

2. Depending on what stage you are in affair recovery, it might be possible for you and your wife to seek counseling that focusses on co-parenting. Look for a counselor who is experienced and comfortable with this kind of situation, but you both can meet on the common ground of loving your children and figuring out the best way to be a parenting team (for the rest of your lives) even if you are not relationship partners.

3. There are books that give better advice. Here's an Amazon list of books about parenting after divorce, with help that applies to separation circumstances as well.
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CrippledLamb
Ok, I may be beating a dead horse here, but I'm looking for some advice to see if I'm really being unreasonable.
My WS and I have no custody agreement while separated (I get that I should have one in place to prevent these problems). Custody is basically geared around who's going to be handling daycare the following day-so we have a verbal agreement that on Day a, b, c, d I have them overnight, on day x, y, z, she has them. Both of our jobs create exceptions to whether we can keep the kids on our nights. 

The problem here is: because my WS is still heavily engaged in her relationship with the AP (the AP works with her) and she has repeatedly used work as an excuse to get rid of the kids during a fling with him, I don't ever believe her when she says she has to work outside of her normal. Obviously a trust thing. I know there's about a 50% chance that I'm being told the truth, but it's also out in the open that she's with the AP. Normally, I'll take the kids and tell her "have fun." I've refused to take the kids before and felt guilty and I've also given in to the temptation of proving she's lying about going to work (almost always the case when I check).  I'm at the point of hopelessness for rebuilding any trust, but I want a boundary there to show that I'm not her doormat anymore. What do I do?
-Take the kids and call her out?
-Take the kids and shut up?
-Refuse to take the kids and feel guilty/wait for retaliation?
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Kalmarjan
CrippledLamb wrote:
Ok, I may be beating a dead horse here, but I'm looking for some advice to see if I'm really being unreasonable.
My WS and I have no custody agreement while separated (I get that I should have one in place to prevent these problems). Custody is basically geared around who's going to be handling daycare the following day-so we have a verbal agreement that on Day a, b, c, d I have them overnight, on day x, y, z, she has them. Both of our jobs create exceptions to whether we can keep the kids on our nights. 

The problem here is: because my WS is still heavily engaged in her relationship with the AP (the AP works with her) and she has repeatedly used work as an excuse to get rid of the kids during a fling with him, I don't ever believe her when she says she has to work outside of her normal. Obviously a trust thing. I know there's about a 50% chance that I'm being told the truth, but it's also out in the open that she's with the AP. Normally, I'll take the kids and tell her "have fun." I've refused to take the kids before and felt guilty and I've also given in to the temptation of proving she's lying about going to work (almost always the case when I check).  I'm at the point of hopelessness for rebuilding any trust, but I want a boundary there to show that I'm not her doormat anymore. What do I do?
-Take the kids and call her out?
-Take the kids and shut up?
-Refuse to take the kids and feel guilty/wait for retaliation?

This is tough. I'm gonna call you both out here... Please take with a grain of salt. I feel VERY strongly about what I'm about to say..

Your kids are NOT to be in the middle of this. It's completely not fair to them, because they are already in the midst of a sticky situation. They have no idea what's going on, and worse, they blame themselves for what's going on (at some level.)

You two need to think on the kids. What's best for them. Call her out (in a private, neutral place if you have to with a mediator) and get you to someone who will put into place a custody order or arrangement.

There simply is no excuse on either of your parts to bring children into the middle of this.

I'm not saying you are doing this on purpose, but by thinking that you would do this or that, and "wait" for retaliation is pretty much using those kids as a pawn.

You NEED to be upfront about this, and let her know that you all need to reconcile this. You know what, if it get to a point where she is blowing off taking care of the kids to be with that guy, then let her know IN Advance that it's not acceptable to you that she does that. You won't enable it, and too bad for her.

Bottom line, let her know if you find out that she is ducking her responsibility for the children to be with that guy, then you will look to pursue the matter further. Period.

Oh, and document, document document. Document some more. Build up a case. There is no malice here, just what is best for your children.

And, in the end, sorry, but this is NOT about you and her. It's about the welfare of the kids.

As a child that was in tow of a mother that really only ever thought about herself (and going through two divorces as a kid, one ending in suicide) I get sick when I hear of people who start using their kids as pawns. It's just not fair.



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CrippledLamb
Thanks Kal-
I hear what you're saying. I probably came more for advice on this because I really still am clueless on how act around my kids regarding the whole situation. I have no experience or modeling whatsoever to go by regarding my situation. I have a couple friends who have been through messy divorces, but it's either with no kids involved, or quick-cut "dad's gone." I never learned and am beginning to have to learn the option of raising children outside of a 2 parent home.
I had resolved already to go with option 2: Keep the kids with me- and shut up. Actually for the reason that the other two options provide fuel to the affair fire. However, you did help me see the point that I am probably making the kids into pawns by doing anything else.  I don't want to, and I feel guilty about it anyway.
Thanks
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Kalmarjan
CrippledLamb wrote:
Thanks Kal-
I hear what you're saying. I probably came more for advice on this because I really still am clueless on how act around my kids regarding the whole situation. I have no experience or modeling whatsoever to go by regarding my situation. I have a couple friends who have been through messy divorces, but it's either with no kids involved, or quick-cut "dad's gone." I never learned and am beginning to have to learn the option of raising children outside of a 2 parent home.
I had resolved already to go with option 2: Keep the kids with me- and shut up. Actually for the reason that the other two options provide fuel to the affair fire. However, you did help me see the point that I am probably making the kids into pawns by doing anything else.  I don't want to, and I feel guilty about it anyway.
Thanks


Anytime.

Just remember this. When dealing with kids in the breakup, you always default to what is the best for the children. Period.

You need to start building your life and a stable home for your children.

My rules for my son to follow were these:

1) You're a kid. Be one.
2) you're job is to play, have fun, and follow rule #1
3) There will be some jobs for you to do. Like, go to school, do your homework, make the bed...

If it came to anything us adults were dealing with, my son was left out of it. It's not up to them to referree your drama, or help you feel better...
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