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OPINION | DEAR ABBY: Mother feels betrayed when son wants to live with ex

by Abigail Van Buren | May 31, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.

DEAR ABBY: My ex-husband and I have two sons together who are 14 and 16. I have always kept things amicable for the kids' sake, but it came at a high price. I took a lot less in the divorce than I was legally entitled to because he threatened that we "would not have a good relationship." I didn't want the kids to suffer and, since they were going to live with me, I thought that was the most important thing, so I caved.

The kids have no idea what I gave up in order to keep the peace. We've always spoken kindly about each other in front of them. Now that one of my sons is older, he wants to live with his dad because he feels he missed out on that relationship growing up.

How do I not feel resentful that he wants to live with the person who was so emotionally abusive during our marriage and divorce? I sacrificed a lot for this harmony, and now it almost feels like I did it for nothing. Part of me wants to tell my son how he acted, but I know that wouldn't be right. Any suggestions? -- KEPT THE PEACE IN ILLINOIS

DEAR KEPT THE PEACE: Yes. I "suggest" you continue taking the high road and resist the urge to trash your ex. Don't resent your son's decision, because he may have no idea how his father treated you. Your son is likely to get not only an eyeful but also an earful while he stays with his dad. Leopards don't usually change their spots, and emotionally abusive people tend to act out with anyone they perceive to be defenseless. Remain in close contact with your son. If the pattern holds true, he may be back before you know it.


DEAR ABBY: Ten years ago, one of my oldest/dearest friends, "Wanda," got a divorce. Her husband, "Tex," cheated on her and left her. Tex happens to be my husband's oldest/dearest friend. We met at their wedding. Tex is now being remarried (to the woman he cheated on my friend with), and my husband and I are invited to the wedding. Wanda says I "cannot go to that wedding" and that she would never do this to me if the situation were reversed. She's still extremely angry at her ex.

My husband wants to go, and he wants me there with him (it is out of state). He says we are a "package deal." I am now stuck in the middle. Do I end a 37-year friendship and go to the wedding? Or do I disappoint my husband? He has always been there for me and goes to all my events with my friends. -- TORN IN NEW YORK

DEAR TORN: Remind Wanda that Tex is your husband's oldest friend, and your husband intends to attend that wedding. Tell her that as much as you sympathize with her feelings, your husband wants you there with him because "We are a package deal," and you do not intend to disappoint him. She should not be using you in an attempt to punish her cheating ex-husband, which would probably be lost on him anyway. It's time for her to grow up, live her own life and move on.


DEAR READERS: Along with the millions of Americans who are observing this Memorial Day, I add my prayer of thanks for those courageous men and women who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country. May they rest in peace. -- LOVE, ABBY

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