Are Trust and Respect Possible After a Divorce? Are They Even Desirable?

By Cheryl Lavin

July 5, 2019 4 min read

Dear Cheryl: It's been a month since my divorce, a divorce caused by my ex-husband's cheating.

I barely talk to him, which is generally good. When we do talk, it's usually about our daughter. But we have said many nasty things to each other in the past. He started all of this to get under my skin. He keeps telling me how happy he is with his girlfriend, the happiest he's ever been and that he knows I'm miserable. He is so wrong.

He also says that we have no respect for each other and that there's no trust between us. If he's so happy, why does he care?

Here's my question: Under these circumstances, are respect and trust possible? I know this: I will not bend over backward to please him like I did before. — It's Not Over Till It's Over, and This Ain't Over

Dear It's Not Over: A divorce decree is just a piece of paper. It ends a marriage, but not all the bitter, angry feelings that led up to it and all the one-upmanship that often follows it. Some people have an overwhelming need to prove that they've made out better in the divorce. Your ex sounds like one of those people.

Is there anyone that you and your ex trust and respect, preferably someone from his side of the family? Maybe his brother or brother-in-law or best friend? A family priest or pastor?

If so, ask that person to set up a meeting between the three of you. Tell your ex you're afraid that the nastiness between the two of you will affect your daughter and you want to work out a relationship that puts her first. You're two people with one goal: a happy, healthy child with as few divorce-caused scars as possible.

At the meeting, suggest some ground rules for all future conversations:

1. The focus will be 100% on your daughter.

2. No personal information will be shared unless it absolutely affects her.

3. The past is off-limits.

If there's no one whom your ex agrees to meet with, then tell him you'll pay for a session with a therapist so you can work out these issues.

Trust and respect may never be possible, but a non-poisonous relationship should be.

Dear Cheryl: My husband was married for 13 years and had two daughters. His wife cheated on him with his best friend and then left him. I was married for 15 years and had two children. My husband and I dated for two years before we married.

We tried to be cordial with his ex-wife when we got together, and I easily bonded with his kids. After she saw the bond I was forming with them, she pulled out all stops to make sure they hated me.

Now, after 10 years of marriage, my husband has no relationship with his adult kids, all because of a jealous ex-wife. My ex-husband and I are cordial, but we got divorced for a reason.

Why continue the charade if you've divorced? Cut the ties and move on. — Done Is Done

Dear Done Is Done: If your husband has accepted not having a relationship with his children, so be it. But miracles can happen, and I always believe it's worth one last try. His children have had a lifetime to see how manipulative their mother is. Maybe, just maybe, they're willing to open their minds and hearts to their father's point of view.

Got a problem or a question? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."

Photo credit: Free-Photos at Pixabay

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