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Wife's Ex-Husband Dies


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Forgive me if this topic is out of place here. I am struggling to find insight into my current life situation and would appreciate help.

A few weeks ago my wife lost her ex-husband- he was 62, she is 41. My wife and I have been married for 5 years, together for 10. I am 48. I have 2 children 17 from my previous marriage and we now have a 4 year old

We started an affair while she was still living with him and I with my spouse at the time. In other words it was and is complicated.

HEr reaction to his death has shocked me. The depth of upset due to guilt, regret, etc.

She has reframed her time with him to be perfect. She now sees that he taught her so much about music, art etc. He had lots of money so travel was big, dining out etc.

She left him for me because she wanted a whole life - family, equality etc - things she could not get from him.

In her grief she has described the years with hime as the best years - when she felt young and beautiful etc. Thi implication is that thos e things are not true of me or us. She even has implied that she wonders about her choice to be with me etc Was it the right one....

To add to the complication - even after she "left him" there were many occasions when they got together - most of which sh lied to me about. In other words she had a great deal of trouble letting go - even after he asked her to leave after discovering our affair.

Before we married I too had another affair - largely driven to hurt her I feel and to prove that I was able to as she was with him

I am agry about her reaction to her death. I see the sadness that he is dead of leukemia at such an early age. Yet because he told nobody including his own children and forbid a funeral, I feel it exposes him as being the hurtful and selfish person he was.

My wife though sees him like a father almost and is expecting me to help her grieve in some way. I can't. I have tried to be supportive - by letting her cry, giving her time suggesting she reach out to his mother and old friends. None of this seems to matter.

I do not grieve him but it feels like I am grieving the sad reality of our relationship. The loss of any beleive I had that we had something special or worthy.

I find I am so angry with her and myself for the mess that is our lives. We have a child and she had in many ways been a good step mother to my children. She has also been difficult because she competed with my childrens mother for affection and because she over time has become less of the partner I thought she was - from her financial contributions to her physical ones.

Its all a bit of a mess right now I see in my writing. What to do ?



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It is perfectly fine for you to post here or in loss of spouse section, whichever you feel more comfortable with. Loss of spouse section might get more hits and would warrant response from those who have the experience in life to respond to you, so you might want a moderator to move this to that section, but it's entirely up to you.

I am sorry for all of the turmoil you find yourself in...and for what your wife is going through. You said so much, and I'd like to attempt to adequately address it, because each and every thing is important and deserves good response.

As you ascertained, your wife undoubtedly has guilt for how your relationship started and for having left her husband...never mind that she had valid reasons for her feeling as she did when she made those decisions. Death is an odd thing...people often turn the late person, be it a husband, a parent, a friend, or even an ex...into a saint. The trouble with that is, as you well know, you can't compete with a saint...personally, I wouldn't even try to. That DOESN'T mean you give up on your relationship, but rather you allow her all of her feelings and continue to be the person she wanted and needed and loved so long ago. This is going to take concerted effort and patience and understanding on your part, are you up to the task? The fact that she has been a good stepmom to your children and a good mom to your four year old gives plenty of good reason for making every effort to make your marriage the best it can be...that and all of the years you have invested in the relationship to date. I'm sure you're already figured out that having a retribution affair does not solve anything, but rather throws more kinks into the equation and makes it all the more difficult to progress in your relationship. It'd be good to reassure her of your love for her and her value to you...renew your commitment to her in a way that she can understand it.

Right now her brain is probably all fogged up...it gets that way while grieving. She may have divorced him years ago, but she is grieving the husband (however fatherly he may have been) she left all those years ago. In each person resides good, strength, and weaknesses. It is the good and the strength she is remembering and grieving right now...it is the weaknesses she focused on when she left him. One might think if one has an ex that you could just skip the whole grieving thing, but that's not how it works...it has to be processed in order to be dealt with and there's no way around it, no way to circumvent it but to go straight through it...shoving it or burying it doesn't work. She may need a grief counselor to help her work through it. I can assure you that the way exists for her to get through this and your marriage to not only remain intact but for the two of you to grow closer through this experience. What she is experiencing is often referred to as "complicated grief" and can be more difficult to work through. Please don't be daunted by this but present yourself up to the task of being supportive of her. She is not responsible for her feelings and likely doesn't know how to deal with them...a grief counselor can help her through this, I highly recommend her getting one as soon as possible. You may also want to seek counseling to help guide you through the seemingly murky waters of being a supportive mate in a complicated situation. Please don't give up, this can be gotten through. All of your feelings are every bit as valid as your wife's. It's understandable...we all want to be loved as if we are the only one that exists...some people have that, but the fact is, most of us have a past, a past life with others, exes, etc. and memories and triggers to deal with. The important thing to remember is not to let those memories and triggers and another life and another time rob us from what we currently have and can appreciate in our PRESENT LIFE. Would it be possible for her to come to this site and post her story and enlist help? There's a lot of people here with experience dealing with grief.

Right now probably isn't the time to bring up her disappointments to you, but there's a time and a place for everything. Perhaps try to focus on one thing at a time and stay in the here and now rather than letting things build up one on top of another until it's too much for her or you to deal with. Try to stick to the issue at hand and get through that and when it's the right time, the other things can be dealt with. JMHO

Blending families is always a challenge even under the best of circumstances. She undoubtedly cares for your older children very much and would like to BE their mom. It's easy to have insecurity in that situation. The focus should be on the children and what is good for them, not whose children they are or what credit is due the parent/s. Ahh, that is a lesson that can take a while to learn. It helps for EACH parent/stepparent to view themselves in a supportive role to the children...not one of ownership. They ARE separate entities, separate and apart from their parents, and that will be more prevalent as they develop and mature.

Please feel free to come back here any time, it is good to express your feelings for you need to be heard and your feelings need to be recognized as valid and legitimate concerns.

My best to you...

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I am living the same scenario except the ex-wife has not passed yet but in hospice care due to a losing battle with cancer. I have been through hell and back with this man (not proud to say but same situation as you). We finally got to a place where we decided to move forward and eloped 3 weeks ago. The same day we returned home, he was told that they were placing his ex-wife (divorced almost 7 years) in hospice as there was nothing left to try. When her cancer returned several years ago, I often encouraged him to have "that" conversation with her to resolve any unresolved issues, make amends and find out what her plans and wishes were for the children since it was inevitable this day would come. Unfortunately, this conversation never took place and now her condition has deteriorated so much that it is impossible to have. While I realize his kids should be his first priority and he needs to do everything he can for them during this difficult time, it is hard to know how to cope with a husband who has removed his wedding ring and is now living off and on at her home to care for her. He is a great father and being there for his kids is definitely something he needs to due, however, for he has kept them from being there because he doesn't want them to see her like and it is my understanding she feels the same way. I am completely at a loss on what to say, what to do, what's okay to feel, what I need to do to be supportive. I am there to listen and I am understanding when he doesn't come home, but like you, the amount of feeling and emotion he is showing has shocked me as they were never able to hold a conversation of more than a few words without it going sideways. I too want to be there for the kids, but I have been shunned on that front too. No matter what I say right now, it is wrong. There are no self-help books that deal with this situation, but it is a complete struggle with myself. I am at the point where I am a complete basket case and never know from one day to the next if my husband is coming home.

It's definitely complicated...

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It's definitely complicated,

Wow, that is a lot to deal with! It's odd the attachments one has with an ex. When my fiance, Jim, and I were together, his mom took a turn for the worse and he started staying with her 24/7 to take care of her. His mom never wanted to meet me even though we were engaged for a year. I was not allowed over there, but his ex-wife was. I found that completely unacceptable, I wanted to be there for him and I understood he didn't have time for me, but come on, surely he could have let me bring him a meal (he missed some because he couldn't get away and his daughter flaked out on bringing him food)! Surely he could have let me spend an hour a week with him...he had two grown daughters who could have spelled him. But no, I was shut out completely and then he shocked me by breaking up with me via Fed Ex at my office! No explanation, just "sorry it didn't work out". ??? He'd told me once that if his ex was dying in the hospital, he would want to be there for her, I understand that, they were a family, they raised kids together, they were married 30 years...but still, he divorced her, she'd cheated on him, they were never close, could never carry on a meaningful conversation, and had nothing in common except for their children. I might add, in the 30 years they were married, his mom didn't like her. Go figure, any of it!

Anyway, I hope you can have the patience to see this through, I think it'll be very rough for you meanwhile, but if you can hang in there, your husband just may feel deep love and gratitude for your patience and supportiveness...one can only hope.

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Thank-you for this thoughtful response. It was very calming and reassuring. Life is complicated and my wife and I made it more so by our actions in the past. Sadly we have let so many things rob us of the present.

She is working through it - though has turned mostly away from me to do so. I will attempt to be the better person in the weeks to come. The future is the goal as we can't change the past.

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Just continue to show loving actions to her on a consistent basis...it's pretty hard to resist love, she'll respond eventually. Our church has "The Love Dare" going for married couples right now and it's amazing the responses that have occurred through it! Good luck to you, hang in there!

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