DEAR AMY: I am in the middle of a divorce that began because I had an inappropriate online relationship outside of my 22-year marriage. Within two days of discovering this, my husband filed for divorce. Our daughters, both college-age but living at home, were hurt, disappointed and angry with me.
However, within a matter of weeks my husband began openly escorting a girlfriend in our small town. He asked me to leave our home and now entertains her there (even though we are still legally married). People in town apparently knew of their affair, and the girlfriend is even talking marriage plans. Ultimately, this is not a problem for me as we were both unhappy in our marriage, but the girls now feel betrayed by him. One daughter said it was as if I punched them in the face, and while they were still reeling and struggling to stand, he threw the sucker punch and knocked them out. They were clinging to him as their moral standard and feel he used them and manipulated their emotions to gain sympathy while secretly having his own affair. One daughter now claims to hate him. How should I help these adult children through this? I'm seeing a counselor, but I can't force adult children to see a counselor.Devastated
DEAR DEVASTATED: Urge your daughters toward counseling by saying that they need and deserve to have an objective person to talk to.
Do not criticize your husband to them, and do not try to present his point of view -- they should be encouraged to communicate with him directly. They are learning the hardest way that no one is infallible; even beloved parents can be selfish, immature and disappointing.
I hope you have a lawyer and/or a mediator. The greatest positive impact on the kids will be if their parents are able to peacefully separate and divorce with as little drama and as much civility as you both can muster.