Mark wrote: “After living with my wife for thirty years, I simply could not continue. Make no mistake, I have plenty of my own flaws—and I’m working on those—but Martha had no interest in doing anything about our stagnant and distant relationship. And for years she’s been miserable—like a black fog of gloom—from morning to night, but she refused to even talk about it. I needed a partner—even a companion—so I couldn’t do this anymore.
“With the help of loving friends, I’m doing all right as far as the divorce. I feel understood and supported. But I feel entirely blind-sided by what’s happening with my adult kids. They’re sending me texts with messages that feel like body blows:
‘Dad, you’ve made your whole life a complete lie.’
‘I’ve lost all respect for you.’
‘You’re running off to play around like a child, while you leave Mom alone and penniless.’
‘I never thought I would say these words, but I’m ashamed of you.’
‘I never want to see you or hear from you for the rest of my life. Bye.’
“It’s obvious that Martha is talking to them. No, it’s more like she’s carefully training them to support her in an insane crusade to destroy me. She never had any interest in working on herself or our marriage, but now suddenly she has the energy to devote all her attention on hurting me. When I go to church, I get evil looks from EVERYBODY who has ever known Martha. It’s obvious that she’s talking about me to everybody she’s ever heard of.
“I’m not liking this. I want to stop it. At the very least, I want to tell my kids that they’ve got it all wrong. I want to tell them that I’m offering Martha half of everything I have, and she and her lawyer just keep demanding more and more. I don’t think they’ll be satisfied until they’ve drained all my blood and skinned me alive. I feel helpless. What can I do?”
Gossip is much like tar. If you touch it, handle it, try to control it, or have contact with it in any way, you’ll get it on your hands and inhale the stink of it up your nose. Solution? Don’t handle it, and don’t let it bother you.
If you attempt to refute your wife’s gossiping all over the known world, you will be exhausted, you’ll fail to neutralize her efforts, and you’ll look desperate. Am I suggesting that you simply do nothing? About the gossip, yes, but there’s still plenty you can do:
- Continue to text or email your kids, telling them that you’re thinking of them or loving them.
- Invite them to lunch, dinner, or whatever with you.
In short, love them as you always have. Don’t bring up the divorce. Let them work through their grief, anger, and resentment—as they must. In the great majority of cases, they will eventually notice that you’re genuinely peaceful and happy, and your wife’s obvious bitterness will stand out all the more by contrast.
You divorced Martha so you could be happier. Don’t ruin that possibility by getting mired in the conflicts that everybody else is inviting you to attend.
Learn how to peacefully deal with divorce.
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