His Ex-Wife Lies
Q: I divorced my first wife eight years ago after a 25-year marriage (I'm 56 now). She had no interest in sex even at the beginning due to childhood abuse by her father. I met another woman after I left my first wife and remarried and this has been a happy marriage. My youngest child, a daughter, is very friendly with me and my new wife and seems to have accepted the situation quite well. I know that my ex has told her lies about me, but she learned the truth for herself.
My oldest child, a son, is a minister married to a woman working on her doctorate in psychology. For some time after the divorce, which I'm sure pained him, he would speak to me, but for the past year he hasn't responded to phone calls or letters from me. He was always very close to his mother, who is a very bitter person despite the fact that I gave her a relatively huge settlement. I would like to have a relationship with him but aside from calling each week and leaving messages for him and writing letters, I can't find a way to do it. He lives on the opposite end of the country from me and my health will not permit me to travel much.
Should I just give up? I feel a sense of loss. I have very good reason to believe that my son is not my biological son. I have never mentioned that I know this and have never played favorites with the children and consider this man to be my son. The only way he could know this would be if his mother had told him and that would have meant admitting she had an affair after we had been married for almost six years. I love my son and want us to be close, as he is not responsible for the actions of his mother. How do I get him back? -- Martin
Dr. Susan: It's quite possible that your son has been talking to his psychology-student wife about his life, and something came up (your ex's lies?) that caused him to decide to cut off contact with you. I'm not saying it was his wife's doing, but perhaps there is some relationship between their psychological awareness and his change of heart toward you. Anyway, have you asked your daughter to try to get through to him for you? Since everyone is an adult now, it won't do any harm to suggest she try to mediate between you. If she won't or if that doesn't work, you aren't left with many options for breaking through his determination to cut you off. You could send him a checklist asking if he positively wanted you to stop trying to contact him, or whether he was willing to have you continue checking in with him now and then, or if, just once, he would tell you what's in his mind so you can get some kind of closure. If you know what your ex has been lying to him about, then tell him your side of the story. You may have to let go, however, if, despite all your efforts, your son feels he can only be loyal to his mother by dropping you entirely. Very sad.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.