Dear Ex-Husband,

There have been so many moments over the last 3 weeks that I have wanted to call your home to speak to our daughter. I feel like no matter what I do, I will lose and feel even worse than I already feel.

It’s been 6 years since our divorce, yet the anger and animosity is still so strong and I can’t seem to figure out why. The constant emails telling me why our marriage failed, or what kind of horrible mother I was and/or that I still am, seem to be counterproductive in moving forward. We both have remarried. I have another child. Why am I still getting blamed for something that ended up being the very best thing for ALL involved? I never wanted a divorce but I’m so glad I have my husband and my child from my new marriage, but I still feel awful that my daughter’s world was turned upside down and that our marriage didn’t work. I am still in therapy trying to sort out why I have the internal feelings about myself that I do and what I have found is that I continue to let you control my feelings by letting your anger get into my head. It’s hard to not let it effect me though when it’s daily/weekly/monthly for YEARS on end. And it’s not just you, it’s your new wife. How in the world does she even get a voice in our marriage or the failure of it? Wasn’t our divorce a blessing for her? Shouldn’t she be thrilled that we divorced so that you could have met her, married her and started a new life with her? So why is our failed marriage such a concern for her? My husband doesn’t dwell on what happened between you and I nor does he care to cry over the details day in and day out.

It hurts me that you keep our daughter from communicating with me while she is with you during the summer. I feel like telling you that it hurts me gives you more reason to keep doing it. When I act like it doesn’t bother me, I’m a bad mom and I don’t care for our daughter and easily forget about her. I haven’t decided what hurts more, calling and getting the answering machine and no return call OR not calling at all because I don’t want to rock the boat. I want to respect your time with her but I also feel that I at least should be allowed the court ordered reasonable access of at least every few days. When you refuse us to have contact with each other, it makes me feel like you are just doing it to hurt me and to control the time I have with her when it’s ‘your’ time. I’ve never done that to you. You could have access at all times. During the school year, you never go a week without seeing or talking to our daughter. In fact, it is never more than 4 days at a time and you could visit her daily during lunch if you choose to do so. During the summer, you have lots of days and weekends and never go a week without seeing or talking to her but I have to go an entire 45 days with no contact at all. In my opinion it’s not fair. I WANT to talk to our daughter. I miss her. I don’t even know how to tell you this without you laughing at me. I even went to court to insure that this would never happen again. That I would never be cut off from her for that long again. You agreed to reasonable contact yet as soon as she is with you, you cut me out and refuse to allow me the contact that I was awarded by a judge. Two therapists testified that our daughter made it clear she wants to keep in touch with both of her parents at all times. I gave you joint custody and joint rights so that our time was equal because you promised that during the summer, you would not discourage or hinder a positive, on going relationship between our daughter and me. You promised!! In front of a judge. You lied! I have not been allowed to speak to our daughter in weeks. And although you may think that I am the only one hurting, think again. Our daughter expressed her concern that this would happen again and you promised that it wouldn’t. I don’t understand.

Even though you are doing this to me, I will never do this to you. It would be such great vindication for me to deny you access in August when it is my turn to have possession uninterrupted for the entire month but I know that our daughter would suffer and would miss you too much. The only person I would hurt is her!! I won’t risk ruining my relationship with my daughter by acting this way.

The one thing therapy has taught me is to forgive and move on. I forgive you for the things you continue to do to me even though what you do is mean and hateful. The most powerful thing I can do TO you is to forgive you and pray for you. I pray that you one day stop this anger you have for me and embrace our divorce for what it is/was. The end of one chapter and the beginning of another. I am so blessed to have this little girl in my life and I am blessed to share her with you and your family. I am blessed to have met someone who makes me happy and that keeps me on an even keel. I am blessed to have this baby boy and all the things that he represents in my family. I pray that you can one day too find the blessings in your life that make you the man you are today, and not dwell on the things that made you the man you were many years ago.

I know it hasn’t always been easy on any of us. It’s been a rocky road finding our places in life, parenting separately of one little child. She is just that — one little child. Can’t we find a way to equally share her? Everyone says ‘only 9 more years’ but I see the bigger picture. Only a lifetime left of being the mother and father to a girl who will one day graduate, then graduate again and maybe again. One who will marry and possibly bring us grandchildren that we will then have to share. The only difference then is SHE will be in control of our dynamics and how we interact with each other and how we share in her life. I don’t want her having to pick and choose who is there and who isn’t. We have to just suck it up and be her parents, together.

Yes this is a very hard time for me. I miss her. I wonder each day how she is doing. I don’t doubt she is cared for, it’s not about that. I’m sure she is safe and healthy and possibly very happy. I just want to hear her little voice say ‘hi mom!’. I don’t like being cut out. And I can promise you this — I will never cut you out. I never have and I never will. I hope one day you will heal from whatever pain causes you to behave in this way. I always thought of you as a mature, level headed man but I’m slowly realizing, you are not. I don’t know what you are but your anger is hurting me and one day it’s going to hurt your relationship with your only child. I hope you fix that before it’s too late. I miss her, I love her and because I know how strong of a bond we share, I know that when she goes to bed each night without hearing from me or talking to me, she knows how I feel about her and that in just a few more weeks, she will be back home, where she is able to love both of her parents without having to sacrifice the other.

Her Mom

~ by Jacquelyn Fletcher on July 6, 2011.

17 Responses to “Dear Ex-Husband,”

  1. What an articulate well written letter with valid reasonable points from someone who has obviously worked hard emotionally to be where you are, good on you! You should send this letter to your EX.

  2. I am so impressed with your maturity. I have to say, you are at a point where many can’t or refuse to get to. You love your child more than you hate your ex, and that has allowed you to get to where you are now. I commend you and pray for your peace while your not in contact with your dear daughter.

  3. I’ll echo the others above who read my mind, what an articulate and mature letter. It’s obvious who has the best interests of the child at heart here. I am a stepmom, and we deal with the phone call issue too….despite that fact that my husband goes above and beyond to allow the kids’ mom to talk to them every day that we have them, he will often go days without speaking to them on her time. It’s so frustrating, so disheartening, so discouraging. How hard is it to pick up the phone when it rings? To let your children call their beloved parent back for 5 minutes? It shouldn’t be any skin off their nose, but apparently it is for your ex and for my husband’s ex. Sometimes my husband has been tempted to give her a taste of her own medicine and not answer, or call back, but he always says he’d rather do the right thing just for the sake of it being the right thing. He has a clear conscience.

    Like someone said above, you clearly have reached that mature place where you love your child more than you hate your ex. I hope for your sake and your daughter’s that your ex and his wife get there as well. Until then, kudos to you. I only wish my stepkids’ mom was more like you!

  4. Thank you all! I really do try. I suffer from an impulsive disorder and that’s no joke. I jump too quickly without thinking. I have been in therapy for years and I have completely turned my life around. It’s not just a recent change. It’s just still not accepted by my daughter’s father. I think things through and I don’t lunge when I’m ‘attacked’. I don’t take the bait anymore and that probably was the hardest part of growing. I used to (about 4-5 years ago) respond to every email, every phone call yelling and hateful but once I quit doing that, I gained control of the situation. When I made myself stop and put it aside for a day, I learned to come back fresh and not so upset by whatever he said to me. But it seems to ignite his fire even more when I do not react or respond. The behavior gets worse. I know this has to be anger but I’m not sure from what. Our divorce ended quietly, it just errupted about a year after. He moved on first. I had to recover from the entire seperation thing and learn to deal with no longer being ‘mom’ and accepting my new title of ‘joint conservator’. It’s very difficult to share my daughter. I want to be there for everything but I just accept it. It’s so hard though. She does activities at her dad’s like swim club, she did a bike race and ran in a fundraiser– I want to see her accomplish those things! How exciting! But I am not invited or told about them. It just hurts; when she is not with me, she is not my daughter. That hurts so much!! . I miss her like crazy. I can’t even explain it. It’s like an absence is in our home. It’s quiet and we are bored lol Friends call and want to have a play date or we go on vacation and she isn’t with us, it just sucks but unfortunately I didnt get a very good summer possession plan, it’s set out to benefit the non custodial parent and that’s ok. It’s just hard to go on about your life when you KNOW someone is missing and to tell them WHAT they are missing will only hurt them… So everything becomes a secret until it’s over. If I could talk to her, I don’t even know what I would say because I don’t want to ask too many questions or seem like I am prying. Awww I just want to say I love you. And I just can’t wait to give her the biggest hug in the world!!

  5. I’m echoing the above, and also asking if he is in violation of a written custody order? If this was my ex, and my order stated that I could talk to my child during her father’s time, I would let your lawyer know, and send him certified mail, asking him for contact.

  6. Agreed! Most letters on here should not be sent but this one could be. You may take out the ‘I always thought of you as a mature……’, but even if you did not I think it is still accaptable.
    Good luck to you in raising her to adulthood. Its a big job and all the more difficult when a portion of their lives are spent away from your home. 😦

  7. Would you be this distressed and focused on contacting your daughter if she were staying at her grandparent’s or on a holiday camp?

    The comparison you make between her father’s behaviour and your own indicate that you are still engaging in a contest of proving who is the better person or parent.

    I believe we should not confuse children or accidentally cause loyalty tests by continuing contact with the child while living in the other household. Obviously birthday phone calls would be the exception to the rule. Children find it difficult to handle feelings of ambivalence and aren’t mature enough psychologically to avoid an allegiance to one parent if set-up to do so by conflict and bitter feelings.

    You aren’t entitled to be a constant in your daughter’s life anymore, that’s a loss that goes hand in hand with separation and divorce. And you must not interfere with her attachments to other adults even though your attachment to her is so strong. I think this is why good mothers have this problem with contacting their kids when living/visiting the other household, because it is impossible to stop-start caring and loving them.

    So, I suggest you find some way to occupy yourself and calm yourself when you are separated from your daughter, and allow her the freedom to be with her father 100% when she’s there and enjoy that when she’s with you it is also 100%. Notice how you feel when she’s at sleepovers with her friends, because I have found that my feeling of wanting to stay in contact happens at those times too and I try to see not contacting my children as an important part of letting them be individuals, to show I trust them and can let them go as they grow older. It is not the job of my children to meet the demands of my feelings when I am missing them_that’s my job.

    All the same, it is very hard to stop being a devoted mother, I do understand. Devoted fathers don’t seem to have such a problem with this issue of breaking contact, so perhaps there’s a gender difference or different way of managing it?

    I have three children aged 12, 12 and 14 years and three stepchildren aged 3, 5 and 6.

  8. Oh Pru – you must not read well — I don’t contact. I want contact — I do not have contact. I have not spoken to my child in 3 weeks. I have attempted to call twice in a 21 day period….

    You are correct. I do not have constant contact during sleepovers, nights at grandparents, OR weekends with her dad — but NEVER has she spent 3 solid weeks with a friend or a grandparent … 3 more weeks to go… Aw I guess I’ll go get myself ‘busy’ doing something … So that my daughter can become an independent adult.

    I don’t know where you get the competition thing … I don’t believe we are in competition, I don’t feel in competition at all. Maybe in the very beginning of our divorce but that has been many years and I am pleased where I am in my life and confident with my decisions. No need to compete. We have the same thing, a beautiful daughter..

    Thank you everyone — I have mostly great days. The day I wrote this letter was a bad day for me. Sometimes I just get down when I miss her so… But I have a million good days to 1 bad day — I think I am entitled to miss my child. I won’t be sendIng it though. Letting him know my feelings gives him more power to hurt me.

    How absolutely hurtful for someone to write that ‘i’ve lost a right to be a constant in my child’s life’. Why? Because her father left me and all of a sudden I have given up MY rights as her mother?? Texas Family Code states I have right to continuing and on going contact at all times. My court order states that I have rights to constant contact. I don’t want to be a burden to my ex and his family so I do not push myself on them by exercising my rights. My daughter wants constant contact with both parents. We saw two therapists and she stated this to them alone. they agreed, with her age and her relationship with both families, she should NOT go 45 days without contact with either parent or family. What is hardest is my toddler does not understand where she is. Those are probably the hardest days.

    Pru — have you ever gone 45 days without talking to your child? Not your teenager or an adult child but a CHILD?? I’m wondering really.. Am I that off base to miss my child? 3 weeks!?. knowing that I am facing another 3 weeks… Of course if I had lost custody or had done something wrong for me to be legally kept from my child, I could understand that but I Havent done anything… I am being respectful and staying out of the way, what would a little 5 minute phone call once a week hurt??

    My attorney has already filed an enforcement order.. Thanks for the kind words. That’s why I love this site..

  9. Pru, I would politely suggest reading the comment guidelines.

  10. No, I do agree with you OP, it is just that the reality of shared care or parallel parenting across two households changes the way a parent can be with a child. It doesn’t change a mother’s instincts and it doesn’t change a child’s needs, nor your love for her or the strength of your bond. It’s not fair. Legal entitlements do not see us tucking our children into bed every night – instead our children’s time is divided and allocated to two parents depending on how much division the children can handle at whatever age they are. That is reality as difficult as it is. I am sorry it is absolutely hurtful to write, but you are living proof of the absolute hurt of it. Sometimes it helps me to confront things in this way, I am sorry it didn’t help you to read it.

    Her father, ideally, should be responding to his daughter’s needs, and it seems intuitive that a 9 yo (?) would want to (and need to) keep in touch with her mother regularly, and perhaps other significant people too, like a grandmother or best friend from school. Especially over 6 weeks!

    You are definitely not off-base to miss your child, you are normal and a good mother. If I were in your shoes, I would need to use every means of distraction to make the time pass during her absence and really work on avoiding angry moods and depression. I have only spent 4 weeks parted from my children at that age, so I can relate a little to your situation even though I’m in a different country living under different laws.

    When my husband’s children, my stepchildren, stay with us they speak to their mother every week (or on the spot if one of them asks). Surprisingly they don’t often ask, they aren’t conscious of time passing like adults and I also suspect that it’s ‘out of sight out of mind’ at work. Our experience of what happens during and following phone calls might be of interest although it’s a bit off topic & I’m not suggesting this of OP:

    The children usually talk about whatever they were doing or eating immediately before the phone call, but their mum repeatedly tells them how much she misses them and that they will be coming home soon, and she’ll usually go through a list of things they have been missing or will be catching up on their return. You can probably imagine how the hour or two after those phone calls goes at my place, it’s so unsettling. It does make us wonder whether the phone calls do more harm than good… but where is the wisdom of Solomon in all of these dilemmas?!

    I have had further thoughts about your daughter’s situation at the moment: do you think your daughter’s father preventing her from calling or discouraging her from expressing her wish to call you? Could her silence be self imposed, could she be keeping the peace in some way?

    I hope you get a resolution soon. All the best. I also think this site is such a comfort, to know others are going through it all too. It helps me make sense of my often big or ugly feelings.

  11. Thank you for understanding and for explaining your feelings. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to come back and see any responses because I don’t feel like I can handle them sometimes if they are negative.

    I know my ex husband is still very much using our daughter to hurt me. He pays a lot in child support which has nothing to do with me. It’s 20% of his income. Period. I can’t do anything about it. I have asked to have it lowered to maybe bring us some peace and the state would not allow it. I know mostly it has to do with just hurting me and he is winning. I don’t like the person that I used to be when I would get angry or when I would react in a negative way so I have changed that. I like the person I am that just accepts the way things are and I cry myself to sleep and I hold on to my memories and the sound of her giggle knowing that in a few weeks she will be home and I can talk to her all I want to.

    I am sure she is fine! Out of sight out of mind — however I know that she misses her dad when she is with me and likes to call him. He doesn’t answer and it hurts her and she often will ask, do you think he is working and will call me back? She is 10 and is very much a preteen who likes to memorize phone numbers and likes to call grandparents/aunts/cousins especially her dad so I have a hard time believing she is just so busy and having such a blast that I’ve never once crossed her mind. Although it’s possible and I accept that. In my opinion, with a 6 week period I would think that the right thing to do would be for her father to foster a positive relationship and encourage such between my daughter and me…I feel what he is doing is parental alienation which is illegal here and against our court ordered parenting plan.

    I did send him a short email (not this letter) but one asking if I could set up a time to call and have 5 minutes on the phone with her. He told me to get a life. So I am … I’m not going to ask again, I will see her when she gets home. I just miss her. I can’t describe it in any other way.

    Thanks again for explaining.

  12. I am so sorry for your situation! As a parent, I cannot imagine going for weeks without talking to my child! As a step-parent, I cannot imagine allowing it to happen! I hope things improve for you and your child. It’s hard to imagine a good or healthy reason for this, as you said, your child has certainly thought of you many times over the past few weeks!
    In our blended family, we are fortunate for this not to be the case. My spouse and I each have primary residential custody of our children and daily communication with non-residential parents is an absolute, non-negotiable for us. It is not difficult to make a phone call or video-chat, and is so important to the kids. I wish that my spouse’s ex would afford my spouse, more importantly, their children the same privacy that my spouse and I give them at our house. I do peek in for a minute usually during video chats – I genuinely love them and not doing so would be absurd, but the other parent almost always makes an appearance or can be heard whispering to SC the moment that I do. As a SP, I do not want to negatively impact my spouse’s relationship with the children, and realize that this contact is very important. The situation could be much worse, I know. I’m grateful for our blessings. Just wish we could all treat one another with the respect we all want and deserve – and that we all give to everyone else in our lives. I’m certainly guilty of not doing so, making huge mistakes where the blending business is concerned. This is hard, hope we can all mature enough to stop making it harder than necessary. We would all have a lot more of ourselves to devote to our children.

  13. Is he restricting her from using the phone? At 9 a child should be able to make a phone call should she want to talk to you. If he is restricting her from doing that, IMO, there should be a harsh penalty.

    I too agree that most girls her age would think about calling their mom in this long of a time – my girls even when they have stayed a few days with a friend call me and they are around her age.

  14. Thank you ‘me’. I’ve made plenty of mistakes! I know that no one is perfect and we all just learn as we go. I have found that not dwelling over the ‘blended’ part so much makes for a much happier me which makes for a much happier family. But there are some things that are so hurtful.

    Cassee – yes they took her ‘court ordered’ cell phone and put it away and she was not allowed to use it. I did confront my ex and he said he didn’t say she couldn’t use it, he simply put it ‘away’ while she wasn’t using it. He says she never asked to use the phone. She says she asked many nights and was told not right now then was told it was too late. I have contacted my attorney and he said he wants to file a contempt charge ASAP but we have done this before and I don’t really want to start fighting in court again. We just finalized our last ‘fight’ in June. Sometimes I just give in to them and let them do whatever because I don’t have the energy anymore nor the finances. My daughter won’t go back until school starts. She actually is home but only because she became so home sick she couldn’t stop throwing up. Then they say she was just manipulating them to get her way. I told him I thought she had a stomach bug but she told me that she would just cry and cry at night and then throw up. I think she would just get too hot, maybe hyperventilate and then throw up. This isn’t ‘normal’ she doesn’t normally throw up over just anything. She actually sees her therapist this week so I’m hoping she will get to feeling better. She is real clingy and isn’t sleeping. She has called her dad three nights in a row and left messages. I think he is mad at her and so he is ignoring her now. Its so sad. He thinks she is manipulating or disrespectful if she Loves me when she is with him. I know what kind of manipulation kids in these types of situations can do but honestly she is not to that point yet. By all accounts, my daughter is very sweet and very loving to everyone. Teachers and parents of friends are always telling me how sweet and kind she is. She is kind of shy and doesn’t always speak up for herself. We are working on that though with the therapist. She is very much a pleaser and is never in trouble. I don’t have discipline problems with her at all. I find it hard to believe that she turns in to a manipulative brat when with her dad. HE is someone she very much wants to please. She wants his approval and his love and she doesn’t get it unconditionally. I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong and if I am I’ll admit it. But if they weren’t making her so miserable she would still be with them for the next two weeks and they could be enjoying their time together. Instead she is home with me and he is missing out on his time because of his anger and hostility towards me and my daughter’s love for me. I have told him before that this is NOT a loyalty game. She needs to be able to love us both with no strings attached and he has told me to my face, ‘I just can’t accept that’. It’s awful.
    He married me. He asked me to marry him. He wanted a baby. This baby. He wanted to be a dad. We didn’t work out. It’s not the end of the world. He is moved on. I just don’t understand. When did being her daddy become a chore for him? Or an obligation? They used to be so close but I’m thinking he may have ruined that this time. The things she has told me are horrifying but what can I do? Really nothing. Except love her. Encourage her relationship with him and just pray one day, it will change.

  15. I am so sorry for both of you! That sounds awful! Very immature and manipulative on his part! I hope he changes his behavior and acts more empathetically towards both of you.
    I can understand your hesitation with battling it out in court. One one hand, you should be able to stand up for your rights as her Mom; on the other, putting yourself (or your daughter) through that is bound to take it’s toll. Not to mention that no court order can force him to mature.
    Of course she was homesick! His placing blame on the child really seems crazy. I hope things improve for you.

  16. Dear OP, oh how I feel for you and your daughter but most especially for your ex who is so unfortunately clueless (surely) to the damage he is doing. Please continue to do what you are doing, love your daughter, keep taking her to the therapist and encourage her to talk talk talk about how she is feeling whilst always re-assuring her that her daddy loves her and that any of his bad behaviour is not a reflection on her nor has it anything to do with her, keep forgiving your ex as you are doing (kudos to you) and teach your daughter to forgive and accept him. Tell your dauther that no matter where she is you are always with her even when she is prevented from talking to you. And that it doesn’t change anything just because you are unable to speak to her. Teach her to be strong in your absence from one another (you should not have to do this!). Help teach her to ask her dad assertively when she wants to speak to you. You are amazing OP. Keep doing what you are doing. You are a fantastic mother.

  17. Thank you both. I really do appreciate the support.

    I just received an email that he would like to try a short weekend next weekend since they had made plans for her the last weekend with him. She says she wants to go! I’m so happy she is willing to go and it didn’t take a long talk or trying to get her to see the good in going.

    My attorney filed a contempt order or what he called an enforcement but what he ended up doing was sending *dad’s* attorney a letter stating the concern and to comply from now on or we will have no choice but to seek intervention from the courts.

    You see, he has been on supervised visits for a couple of years because of this same type of thing. This was his first long visitation since his access was reinstated. I do not want to do that to my daughter again. It was what was best for her at the time because of her age. Now that she is older and is actively seeing a therapist, I do agree that setting her up with another social worker and having her sit for one hour every couple of weeks to ‘talk’ to her dad instead of getting to be a part of his family for a weekend, is not the best for her right now. Even though she was home sick and she did have miserable nights, she had great days and I think sometimes that outweighs the bad… However, with that said, if this continues on even after the demand letter, I won’t have a choice but for now, I want to see how things go. Maybe if he sees we are serious about taking him back to court and costing him even more money, he will just follow the court order and straighten up. I am hopeful since he emailed to see if she could come back for a weekend. He could have demanded the next week and a half but instead it seems like he realizes that an entire week might not have been good for her, right now. If I was threatened with court, I would stop immediately whatever I was doing just because I don’t think I can afford it right now. We have spent $40k in legal fees. Granted he was ordered to pay a portion of those fees, he hasnt so I’m still responsible to pay. I don’t want to go to court again, it’s so exhausting.

    Thanks again for listening. Each day we all grow and learn and each test gets a little easier to pass.

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