Advice – I feel bitterness over my ex-wife’s happiness.

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/u/annoymousdad14726 on /r/relationship_advice writes…

“It all started 5 years ago. Our relationship had been going downhill for some time, I’ll leave it at that. We were living together, but our sex life was nonexistent and we barely talked as their always seemed to be some tension building from previous arguments. One day, my wife suddenly told me she was planning on filing for divorce. I was shocked. I knew she was just as miserable as I was, but if anything, my wife was always the one who was going to ‘wait out’ the marriage or hope for a revival in our relationship.

The divorce was finalized rather quickly, we got joint custody of our four kids and everything was handled rather professionally. It wasn’t until a few months later that I learned that my ex had a new man. I happened to know the new guy because he was one of my oldest sons friends. At the time I found out they were dating, my wife was 43 years old and he was 18.

This is where is gets even more weird and disturbing. He graduated high school in 2015 and proposed to her a week later. They got married in September of that same year. Since then, they have had three daughters together. She is now 47 and he is 23. We continue to share joint custody of our 4 kids.

My younger two children talk very highly of the guy and it sucks because I cannot talk bad about him or question their line of thinking or else I could be taken back to court by my ex. My older two kids are more neutral on the whole situation. My older daughter doesn’t seem his as a ‘father figure’ but more as a friend. My oldest son graduated a year after his ‘stepdad’ and moved out immediately. I have been able to have raw conversations with him about everything since he is no longer a minor. He has told me that it disturbs him, but that the new guy truly cares and loves his mother.

It makes me disgusted to know their mother and this guy are brainwashing MY children into thinking he is this saint who came in to fill the role of stepdad/husband to my ex. I’ve thought about going back to court, but my attorney has advised me that we will likely get no where and it will do me more harm than good.

Fair to say life has sucked for me the past few years. I myself have not had an actual girlfriend since the split. I see my ex and the new guy every week I drop my kids off for parental exchange. My ex seems so happy nowadays and part of it makes me miss being married to her and having our family all under one roof.

It sucks being the miserable loner parent while my wife and her new flame are the fun and happy couple. I wish it had never come to this but there’s not much I can do now. I know it sounds terrible but I often hope their relationship fails just so my ex can get a taste of what I’ve felt for the past 5 years while she’s been out having the time of her life.

How do I stop feeling down about myself? Am I supposed to just accept that my wife married a guy that much younger than her and just be ok with it? Do I have a right to be angry?”

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Dear Annoymousdad14726,

There is a lot of pain in this post. It is steeped in bitter resentment towards your ex-wife for the end of your marriage. It is spiked with disdain for their new relationship. And it is brimming with misunderstanding and discontent. I really feel for your deep pain and sense of longing for part of the fatherhood and partnership that you’ve lost in the divorce process. Divorce has so clearly shaped your life and continues to define your motivation and intention going forward.

Let’s get the two most difficult discussions out of the way.

One. It does not matter what kind of relationship your ex-wife has with her new husband. Yeah. It is really weird that your kids’ stepfather is your oldest kid’s friend. The age gap alone would have raised some eyebrows. And the obvious undertones and circumstances surrounding how your ex-wife’s new husband entered her life and your kids’ lives is not very pleasant to look at. However, this relationships is not yours to pass judgment on. Your ex-wife is an adult and she can choose to follow through in any relationships she wants. Even if you personally feel that this is a mistake for your kids, it’s a decision your ex-wife and her new husband made organically and conscientiously. It has been five years since they’ve met and the feedback you’ve gathered from your shared children have all indicated that while they also feel that it’s weird your ex-wife’s new husband is doing a great job. All the evidence is there to support that they make a good team. Five years is a long time to come to accept that their relationship is as legitimate as any can be, regardless of happenstance or age gap.

Also. Your ex-wife and her new husband are not brainwashing your kid. Like your lawyer said, there is no basis here to believe that there is any sort of foul play going on. Your ex-wife’s new husband came into a really difficult situation and have clearly displayed maturity beyond his age that he can be a capable father figure to your kids. Some of your kids are now adults and can make decisions for themselves on whether they want to continue pursuing a relationship with their new stepfather. Please understand that some of these projections that you are placing upon your ex-wife and her new husbands stem from your innate insecurity, jealousy, and bitterness that stem from long before the divorce.

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Others have already suggested therapy, and that is an advice I would echo here as well. There is an immense amount of pain, regret, and resentment that have been festering beneath the surface for the past five years following your divorce. Understand that you were a participant in the dissolution of your marriage and accept that there were plenty of blames and flaws to go around. Instead of choosing to focus on whether or not your kids are being raised correctly in your ex-wife’s care, why not focus a bit more on being the best dad you can be to your own kids? Choose to be happy for your wife’s happiness instead. It is hard enough to find one other person to trust to raise your kids with. Your ex-wife was lucky to find another. There is too much life and our time on this brilliant planet is far too short for us to engage with malicious intent.

When was the last time you sat down with a cup of tea and thought about your own place in this wild, crazy world?

Good luck.

Tea Time with Tomato is an informative relationship and sex advice column for both monogamous and polyamorous folks. By submitting your post, you agree to let me use your story in part or in full. You also agree to let me edit or elaborate for clarity.

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