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Dr. G.
Dr. G., Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1485
Experience:  Licensed Psychologist.
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Hi, my wife decided to separate 6 months ago and moved to an

Customer Question

Hi, my wife decided to separate 6 months ago and moved to an apartment stating it was only for 3 months and that she needed space. This was 6 months ago and we had continued a relationship until 3 weeks ago when she said she had had enough of the marriage. Two days after I was told this, I discovered she had a lover.
We have a 3.5 year old daughter who spends 50% of the time with her mother and 50% of the time with me.
My daughter told me that my wife's lover sleeps over a lot.

My question is, what kind of effect can this have on my daughter and what symptoms should I look out for that would tell me if this has a negative effect on her?

Thanks for your time.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Shawn Ware-Avant replied 6 years ago.
HiCustomer Thanks for using Just Answer. Instead of waiting, the important thing is to help her with the adjustment. No matter how you piece it together, the separation of her parents will be difficult for her and each child will respond behaviorally in different ways. It is important that she 1) understand that it was not her fault; 2) that this is a new situation that everyone will have to adjust to and 3) that you will always be Daddy and your wife will always be Mommy. If she asks,... about anything... you should answer, but in a way that supports her love and loyalty for her mother and in a way that is appropriate and that she understands. The worst thing you can do is to ask her, directly or indirectly, to take sides. Help her to know how much you love her, how special she is to you and be as consistent and reliable as you can. Each of these things will help her to feel safe, adjust and create her own healthy understanding of the changes that are occurring, and that should minimize the negative affects. Hope this helps... blessings to each of you!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for your answer. I appreciate what you are saying, however, I am looking for specifics with relation to any particular effects the new relationship would have so soon after mommy and daddy were together. I imagine that there would be a message of "it's ok to be with many men" or causing her to be clingy and afraid to be alone etc...
I am seeing some things and I'd like to know what I would look for or see if she was not coping or not understanding. My wife is a very strong and largely insensitive woman. That's the way she chooses to be for whatever reason. I do know, though, that she is NOT very supportive and would rather do the tough love thing. This is not what I believe in and I was concerned with my daughter's apparent need for Daddy or Mommy to be always with her (except when she's playing with other kids)
Expert:  Shawn Ware-Avant replied 6 years ago.
HiCustomer Your daughter is fortunate to have a father as proactive and supportive as you are. I hope I can offer some additional information which will help you minimize any anxieties you may have relative to her adjustment to the separation. This in and of itself will help her tremendously (smile). If you are already noticing changes in her behavior, that's what you should look for (grin). Each child manifests their feelings, behaviorally, in unique ways. Parents who are in tuned with their children notice subtle changes that others may not. Separation anxiety is not uncommon in situations like this. It is quite a jump to go from both parents being present, to only being with one or the other, alternately for brief periods of time. It is a loss of consistency and predictability to her routine that will impact her the most during this time. It is not unusual for parenting STYLES to differ within an intact family, this is exacerbated when a couple separates. What is most important in a healthy parent-child relationship is consistency in the style. If you are more nurturing and emotionally supportive than your wife, your daughter will benefit most from continuing to be able to predict your response to "X" action. (i.e., if I don't do my homework, Dad will not yell, but will punish me by [blank]) or Mom, will yell, and punish me by [blank]). If at least ONE of you is receptive to talking to her about her perceptions, fears, anxieties she will benefit. The hardest thing most co-parenting relationships experience after break ups like this, is wanting to somehow control how the other person's parenting and unfortunately, more often than not it results in the child feeling confused and out of control because of the lack of consistency in either parenting style. Stick with what you know has worked well with her, and even if your wife is not able to provide her the same consistency, it will assist your daughter greatly. It is unfortunate that your wife can not offer your daughter the sincerity and support you are seeking to provide so early in this process. Good for you for being willing to advocate for her well being. If you feel that it might be helpful for her to have a neutral person with whom she can confide, Play Therapy is a treatment modality children respond to wonderfully. You can get more information and find resources in your area by visiting www.a4pt.org . Hope this provides better assistance!
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I again appreciate your response, however, again, you are NOT answering the question.
Expert:  Dr. G. replied 6 years ago.
Specific behaviors to look for include: isolating or excessive clinging, temper tantrums, fears, not eating, losing sleep, aggressiveness, and physical aggression.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for that. How about the effect of having a new man stay over only weeks after daddy is no longer doing that? What is the message that she may be getting and how would that affect her?
Expert:  Dr. G. replied 6 years ago.
The message is that there is no stability in this world if her parents can't stay together. This could affect her self-esteem, trust in others, and bonding/attachment with others.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
This is getting a little frustrating. I simply want to hear what effect the NEW GUY SLEEPING OVER has. Not the separation. Not the stability. Thanks. I need to put a case together IF THIS specific thing would have a detrimental effect and what this would be.
Expert:  Dr. G. replied 6 years ago.
I am opting out.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
It seems specifics is not an acceptable expectation when dealing with professionals in this field.

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