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Jen Helant
Jen Helant, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1124
Experience:  I have a degree in psychology and worked with many couples. I am happily married and have been for 10 years.
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I am trying to get some clarity on my situation. My divorce

Resolved Question:

I am trying to get some clarity on my situation. My divorce should be final any day now, and I just got off the phone with my 21 year old daughter. She is worried about money now that she is graduating college, and had always expected me to help her.

But over the last year, I left my ex-wife over 28 years and am now living outside the U.S. with a 25 year old woman (which I know makes the whole thing even harder on my daughter.)

When I left my ex-wife, our networth was about $3.5 millioin, $2.8 million of which is in two properties -- a country home and a Manhattan apartment. Not only did I give all of this to my ex-wife, I am legally obligated to pay my ex-wife about $8000 per month for the next 10 years as alimony. I agreed to this lopside settlement out of guilt. And now, I'm just angry about it.

So in addition to my daughter wanting money, she wants me to at least email my ex (who I have not communicated with in about 4 months) to see how she is doing. I have no desire to do so. I feel nothing toward her except anger. Over these last months, I have seen with clarity that I stayed in my marriage for all those years out of obligation. I remember, even as early as the 8th year of marriage, thinking that if my ex-wife would leave me or die it would be a great relief. And I understand I guess only now with my new (very soon to be wife -- the day the divorce decree is signed) that my old life was dysfunctional.

So I am mostly looking for a way to deal with my daughter. I understand her desire for me to express concern for my ex-wife, but I feel none at all. I would probably be wishing her dead so my support payments could stop, were it not for the fact that this would deprive my daughter of her mother.

Hopefully you can give me some insight.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Jen Helant replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

I am sorry what happened to you and I understand how guilt made you make decisions in the divorce that you may have not otherwise wanted. It is terrible that you lived all those years feeling like you did and I am glad you were able to get out of that situation and be happy now.

Your daughter wants you to care for her mom as she does. Unfortunately that is not how things are in a divorce. She does not understand this. I do not feel you have an obligation to email or contact your ex in any way. I also don't think your current fiancee would even be happy about that. You have your own relationship with your daughter as her mother does. This should definitely continue regardless of the divorce. The best thing you can do is to express to your daughter that you feel it is best you do not contact her mother. If she insists you may need to be a little firm and say you appreciate her caring about her mom, but you are an adult and need to make your own decisions and you would like her to not be involved in that. Let your daughter know how much you care and love her and that this will not change regardless if you contact her mom or not.

About money your daughter is a woman now and may need to start depending on herself for money. However, it is your decision just as it is her mothers as to how much you each would like to help her financially. If you can afford to help your daughter and you want to then you should, but if you have no desire or can not then really there is no obligation. You did your part as a father and she may need to do for herself now. You can help teach her how to handle money and etc from your experience. Help does not necessarily need to be financially, but can be by emotional support and teaching.

I am not an attorney, but I did want you to know that I heard on the news today that laws on alimony have either changed or will change and you can actually go back into a divorce to change things. You may want to research this or speak to a divorce attorney since this change in law may help you tremendously.

I truly wish you the best and all the happiness you finally deserve. If I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to ask.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

My new life is SOOOOOO different than my old one. I realize every day how much of my old life I was unhappy with, but I learned how to cope. And to stay out of guilt.


 


But of course, when I speak to my daughter, there is a tendency to fall into old patterns and to be instantly transported to my old life. So while on one level I was feeling the old guilt, I also was thinking that the fact that my daughter is asking me for money when I tell her that 80% of my money already goes to my ex-wife (it was supposed to be 30% based on last year's salary, but my business took a major turn for the worse and unfortunately lawyers have advised me it may be near impossible to change my alimony obligation) my daughter still asks for the money, and says "hey, I'm trying to root for you here -- everyone in my old life considers me a monster for having run away to another country with a younger woman."


 


And while I do feel the pangs of guilt, another part of me is getting angry with my daughter. I take full responsibility for raising a somewhat spoiled, selfish child, and maybe it just is feeling a little uncomfortable because of the newness of the situation to let myself feel the anger instead of the usual guilt.


 


My gut tells me in part that if I don't come up with money for her, my daughter will have less of an interest in talking with me. I know that with teenagers the saying goes they only call when they need money. But maybe it is moreso with my daughter.


 


Perhaps I am just afraid that if I treat my daughter more appropriately, she will cut off ties with me. (She did cut off ties and said it was easier if she thought of me as dead for about the first 8 months since I left.)


 


It is just hard sticking to my gut when everybody in my old life thinks that I am so totally, totally wrong. (Not just my ex and daughter, but my entire old circle of friends. The word is that I am crazy, and a monster.)


 


What do you think?

Expert:  Jen Helant replied 1 year ago.
I understand where you are coming from. I do not know why they think you are a monster. If it is solely based on the fact you moved and have a younger woman I do not agree. This does not make you a monster. You actually did everything you were supposed to do. You gave your ex practically everything and provided for your daughter her whole life. You have done more than your part. Even though they do not approve of your new relationship that is not for them to decide. If you feel your new relationship is mutual for the right reasons then you are just living your new life. You are even here right now concerned about how to handle this. I don't think someone with the definition of monster would even be doing this right now.

I understand how easy it is to give into your daughter out of fear she will not talk with you. However, it is not healthy to keep the relationship going for the wrong reasons and this goes for any relationship. It is best to be open and honest as well as true to yourself in order for guilt to not take over. Guilt makes you feel like you are helping others and doing what is right, but it is only hurting yourself and eventually will hurt them in the long run as well.

I think your daughter stopped talking to you because she was hurt by the divorce. I think the money is a separate issue. I would be firm, but at the same time do your part in contacting her and etc. Then go from there. Even if you are upset by her being spoiled it is never too late to do your part in helping change this now. Yes it will be more difficult, but we all grow and learn. We then need to do what we can to fix our mistakes and try to be better in life. There is nothing wrong with that. Try not to let the guilt or anger control you rather set that aside in order to think rationally looking at your situation from the outside. Even if your daughter does stop talking to you I think it would not be forever. She will learn and grow as well. However, I would continue to do your part in the relationship that way she does not try to reverse things and put extra guilt on you.

From my understanding this new alimony law is completely new. You may want to consider taking a peek! :)

All the best to you,
Jen
Jen Helant, Counselor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1124
Experience: I have a degree in psychology and worked with many couples. I am happily married and have been for 10 years.
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