Dear Annie: Eight years ago, my husband of 28 years divorced me, after I had discovered evidence on my computer of him having multiple affairs. Before our divorce was final, my soon-to-be ex visited a mail-order bride overseas and brought her back to our home. He wanted to bring her to my oldest’s wedding, but my oldest said no. My ex has since married and moved out of state, and three of our four children have moved far away to the East and West Coasts, except for the oldest, who, with his wife, lives an hour away from me.
I am on disability and living in income-based housing, and I do not have a car. My youngest three keep in fairly regular contact with me, via phone and Facebook and also, once every few years, for in-person visits. I used to be in fairly regular contact with my oldest, driving to their place once every six months or so for dinner. Gradually, our communication became less and less until he stopped returning my voicemail messages. (I stopped trying about two years ago.) For a while, every three months or so, I’d message him a short private note via Facebook Messenger, but I stopped that, too, because he didn’t respond. I have since learned that he does not communicate with his siblings either. Last I heard from them was a postcard with their new address about a year ago.
I see on Facebook that he and his wife regularly see her parents. They are quite well-to-do and have get-togethers with their children and families in timeshares around the state.
I do love them and am hoping they allow me to be in the picture if/when they have children. I just don’t know what, if anything, I should do. — Mom Missing Her Son
Dear Mom: There are few things more painful to a mother than being alienated from her child. Since you didn’t mention a fight or a falling out, it is definitely concerning that your oldest son has cut off contact with you and with his three siblings. My hunch is that he has not recovered from his father’s infidelity and attempt to bring a mail-order bride to his wedding.
I would write your son a letter at his new address and explain that you are willing to do whatever it takes to mend the family that your ex-husband has damaged so much. Explain that you and your other three children miss him terribly and want to be a part of his life.
Dear Annie: Seven years ago, after 37 years of marriage, my husband had an affair. It lasted five months, and then I found out. We fell apart emotionally and lived separately for 2 1/2 years. It was the most painful thing I ever experienced. It was awful.
I was going to move on, but I also wanted to save my marriage if it was possible. Well, we did reconcile, and it has been really good between us for the most part. My husband is loving and supportive. I think we both appreciate that we almost lost something precious, and we both say that we thank God for each other and for being together.
The problem is, my mind will go back to the trauma of that terrible time and dwell on it. I don’t bring it up, but it will sometimes be the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of at night. I did go for therapy while going through all that trauma, but I still seem to hold on to the hurt and, at times, ruminate. Is this common? How do people get past this problem? I am grateful for our relationship, and I don’t want to ruin it. — Still Recovering
Dear Still Recovering: To answer your question, yes, it is incredibly common to continue ruminating on trauma even after the traumatic event has passed. It’s great that you went to therapy after learning about the affair, but recovering from such a betrayal requires a lot of work from both you and your husband. There is more work to be done, so I suggest you go back to therapy at least until these obsessive thoughts subside.
And I’d like to call upon any readers who have managed to save their relationships after infidelity: How did you do it? What helped you the most?
“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]