Ask Amy

 Dear Amy: After 21 years of marriage, my wife informed me that she would be filing for divorce.

We have two boys, ages 13 and 15, and they were devastated.

We live in a small town, so I have relocated nearby.

My day-to-day relationship with my sons has been disrupted at what I believe to be a crucial time.

Our park-style home on 2 acres will be gone.

Our financial future as a family was relatively secure, but that will change.

Our sons were doing very well in school and were, by all accounts, happy and well-adjusted.

My soon-to-be ex-wife refused any marital counseling, ignoring the three of us and insisting that she was doing what was “best” for us.

Amy, how can divorce be what’s best for a family?

Ironic, really, that she refused any marriage counseling. Now she has the boys and herself in counseling, and I could use it, I’m sure. — Devastated Dad

Dear Dad: When a divorce drops out of the blue, the future of the whole family changes shape. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is how to manage your own devastation while continuing to be a good father to your sons, who are also suffering.

I urge you to keep a solid relationship with your children. Talk with them, ask open-ended questions and do your best to be present in their lives, attending school events and spending as much time with them as possible.

Because they are living with their mother, you should not express your negative opinion or frustration toward her.

Thoughtful counseling by a competent therapist will be good for the boys, and you should receive it too.

You should ask your estranged wife if you could attend a session with her without the boys present — mediation will help you be the parents your children deserve to have at a very challenging time.

If you two can manage to have a decent relationship, your sons will definitely benefit.

Dear Amy: What do you do when the guy you think you will marry breaks up with you, finds a new, much younger girlfriend within two weeks, and six months later (just as you are getting on with your life) gives you “fair warning” that he and she are moving to your street, two blocks away?

My ex-boyfriend did this. Now it is inevitable that I will run into the happy couple in my neighborhood. — Confused

Dear Confused: None of us can control who or what moves into the neighborhood.

You could exact some neighborly revenge by getting on with your life, living well and not paying him the slightest amount of attention.

If you run into this couple, you should be cordial.

Cordiality is a much-underused tool for conveying a polite, non-specific and sometimes devastating disinterest in someone.

 

Send questions to askamy@tribune.com or to Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

About Chris Elkins

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