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Dad refuses to co-parent for the sake of teen daughter's mental health; 'My ex-wife's betrayal BROKE ME.' AITA? 2 BIG UPDATES OVER 10 MONTHS

Dad refuses to co-parent for the sake of teen daughter's mental health; 'My ex-wife's betrayal BROKE ME.' AITA? 2 BIG UPDATES OVER 10 MONTHS


When this man is worried he can't coparent for the sake of his daughter's mental health, he asks the internet:

"My daughter(15) almost had a breakdown in fear of asking me to be in the same room as my cheating ex-wife. We have not spoken to each other in 6 years. AITA?"

My ex-wife (37F) cheated on me (37M)6 years ago and when I discovered her in a 4 month affair with a married man. We share a 15 year old daughter together and co-parent exclusively through my sisters, or email.

I found out because AP wife sent me all of the pictures and videos that they took cheating on us with on his phone. She literally told me "her body, her rules."

Before presenting her with the evidence I had, I had given her a chance to come clean. However, she gaslighted me. Even swore on our daughter's "life". I told her if you had any integrity, or respect for me at all you would tell me the truth right now.

She held firm that I was crazy and making wild accusations with no facts. So I then present the facts. When confronted with the evidence.

She broke down and look me in my face and said She is a piece sh*t and knew her betrayal was beyond disrespectful and ultimately something I would never forgive. I told her going forward under no circumstances except health, safety, and the life or death of our daughter should she contact me. We divorced soon after.

Fast forward 6 years later.... Last month my daughter asked would I attend a dinner that she was cooking to prepare for her baking/cooking competition. I of course agreed, but the kicker was her mother/my ex wife would be there too. She knows why we divorced and accepts my NC with her mother.

Mind u I haven’t seen or spoken to my exwife in close to 6 years. At the dinner some of my former in-laws and exwife were there and we’ll as my sisters and myself. My daughter food was delicious and everything went smooth.

One week after the dinner I received a phone call from my exwife that I obviously answered because I thought something was wrong with our daughter.

Nothing was wrong with our daughter but exwife wanted to sincerely apologize for her actions in the past and the damage she did to break up our family. She said that our daughter almost had a break down with the fear of her asking me to be in the same place as her and that our current dynamic is not healthy.

She wanted to know was there any way to healthy coexist for future events with our daughter. I did not interrupt her and let her finish what she had to say. When she finished talking, I responded by saying “No” and discontinued the call.

Here is where I need advice, my sister told me my exwife is truly ashamed and sorry for breaking up the family and just wants a healthy environment for our daughter.

Sister tells me to move on and to think about our daughter mental health. I reminded my sister that what value am I to my daughter life if I am unhappy. Exwife does not make me happy.

So Reddit I need an unbias opinions, Should I forgive my exwife and move on to build a better coparenting relationship with my wife for my daughter sake. AITA?

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

agraar writes:

YTA you were told this on the other thread you have since deleted. Grow up and be a better parent. Still curious to find out how your current GF feels about your intense emotions over this ..NGL

OP responds:

Thank you for your opinion. My current GF is amazing and she understands my position on my exwife. She does actually feels just the way I do.

My GF used to share a mutual friend with my exwife and even her friend says no one trusts the exwife anymore, and none of her friends husbands like her. She is universally disliked. The few friends she does have are also divorced, and kind of the outcast type.

faaaitb writes:

Your current situation may be working for you, but not your daughter, and your daughter just hasn’t said anything because she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Talk to your daughter and ask her to be honest, and then go from there.

But it seems like you are holding onto an unhealthy amount of hatred for your ex-wife after all of this time. Listen to your sister when she tells you to just move on and think about your daughter.

OP responds:

I have not confirm what my exwife said is true yet with my daughter. We alternate weeks. One week on One Week off. my daughter will be here tomorrow morning. My daughter has no problem voicing her concerns or advocating for herself. I feel like there is something more to this.

raagga8 writes:

As a child of divorce, I can say that it is VERY stressful when dealing with parents who can’t stand each other. I don’t think you have to forgive your ex or even create some new friendly relationship with her, but at the very least being more open about communication just with general stuff about your daughter and showing her (you’re daughter)

that she shouldn’t be afraid to want both of her parents at important engagements like her dinner. In short, you don’t ever have to forgive your ex, but you do have to move on for the sake of your daughter.

And now, OP's first major update:

I spoke to my (15f) daughter yesterday and what she had to say was an eye opener. She told me that she knows that I love her and would do anything for her so she doesn't want to abuse my love for her from me by making me do things I normally would not otherwise do.

She says her mom is struggling with "sadness" sometimes and tells her all the time that "Your father" is not ever going to move past hating me which makes it hard for everyone else to stop judging her for her past as well. Apparently my exwife is venting her grievances with our daughter because she has so few friends.

Ex-wife lost majority all of our childhood friends, as we all grew up together. None of the husbands want their wife's hanging out with her due to the fact she used girls' night as an excuse to be with AP and some of the wives knowingly and some unknowingly covered for her.

This caused a lot of drama. It is a common belief that some of the other wives were cheating as well, but no other proof can be found. Since my divorce with the ex, the other wives have essentially removed her from the group to save their marriages.

Daughter also explained to me that she missed our family being together if she was being honest but understands that me and her mother love her.

She then asked me about forgiveness, and then about "unforgiveness"- things people cannot be forgiven for. I told her that is ultimately a standard you have to set for yourself. It comes from the morality and values you have within yourself.

I explained that sometimes you can dislike the actions, but not dislike the person. AND sometimes you cannot unassociate the actions from the person. example: Joffrey Baratheon from GOT. (She Hates Him with a passion).

I said her mother is someone who actions I cannot unassociate with her. I said it doesn't mean she is a bad mom, it just means she is someone who I cannot disassociate with her actions.

As a result, me and her relationship can never be the same. I then told her just because someone says sorry that it doesn't means that everything is ok. Unfortunately some actions have consequences, and in her mother's case her actions are apart of who she is as a person.

Daughter than asks me if I have ever forgiven someone who has hurt me before, and I said yes. I have forgiven alot of people. Forgiveness is a very important quality to have as a person.

Ultimately, we had a very good conversation last night and said me and her mom will always be there for her when she has big life events.I will be talking to my exwife soon about her comments to our daughter.

Readers weighed in on this first update:

aaaa8 writes:

Your daughter seems like a very mature and thoughtful person, and it sounds like you have great communication with her. His daughter probably told him what he wanted to hear.

As someone from parents with the almost exact story it’s EXTREMELY stressful to have two parents who cannot have a conversation. I’m in my 20s now but growing up was very painful and damaging. I wish my parents would have grown up and put their love for me first but their hate came first.

hahahu#33 writes:

Tbh from the previous post I got very weird vibes and all this hatred is really unsettling to say the least. OP hate his ex more than he loves his daughter.

And now, OP's second major update 10 months later:

So, after my last post I decided to schedule an appointment with a 2 separate Therapist who specializes in Marriage and Family counselling after divorce.

I saw these 2 therapists over the course of 5 months. I did 5 sessions with each Therapist one women and one male. In the sessions, I went over all my issues I dealt with my ex-wife and the current dynamics we have in a place now.

I showed both therapist my reddit post and wanted truly 2 non-bias opinions from 2 professionals of the opposite sex. The advice they both gave me provided the contrast I needed to make necessary changes if any in my life.

The first thing I did was invite my ex-wife to join me in 3 planned therapy consultations in which I would pay for. The goals were simple.

First, create avenue for my ex-wife to start speaking with a professional instead of our daughter about our issues. Second, give her closure (not forgiveness) but an opportunity to give her any answers she may need to recovery and be a better mother and person to our shared child.

Last, build and commit to a plan that we will follow on how we will deal with parenting our daughter and behave at shared life events. She accepted my offer.

First SessionThe first session was all about sharing our POV on the current state of our lives, and what we both want for our daughter. I shared that I am currently enjoying my life as my professional and personal life are flourishing in the sense that I have achieved balance, joy, and core life goals and accomplishments are being met.

For my daughter, I shared that my goal is to ensure that she is happy, enjoys her childhood, loved, and understands the value of self-respect and commitment to core values.

I always share with her that everyone loves to believe that they are exceptions to the rules, but sometimes following the rules are what makes a person exceptional.

Having a clear sense of what is right and wrong and behaving in that fashion is very important to who you are. I shared my biggest regret in life would be if my daughter turned out like how her mother used to be 7-8 years ago. (it was brutal saying this in the session. But I truly believe and fear this.)

Ex-Wife then shares the current state of her life. She is very passionate about her career, (Interior -Exterior Designer) she quite literally turns houses into homes.

She shares that she is currently working on herself because her past few relationships ended poorly because of her baggage from our marriage and divorce has made her very afraid of commitment.

She also wants our daughter to be happy, loved, and a hard worker. She responded to my comment about me being afraid of my daughter turning out like how she was 7 years ago.

She said her pride was hurt by that comment, but years of therapy help her realize she must accept that her actions of the past have warranted that kind of comment from me.

She said she knows our daughter does not want to be like her because our daughter has asked her many times besides cheating on dad, what is the real reason why he will never forgive you. She said people cheat and get divorce all the time and they are still friends.

However, Dad truly thinks you are bad person, but a good Mom. For years she thought I was poisoning our daughter against her, but quickly realized that was just her own guilt eating her away. The session ended quickly after that.

Second Session This session my Ex-wife asked a lot of questions. I mean a lot. Nevertheless, I answered all of them honestly and bluntly. The 3 main questions she asked were the following.

1. How did I heal from the wounds that she caused, and what advice could I give her as she is still trying to heal from the wounds, she caused herself.

I explained that the damage she caused wasn’t like a stab or a cut wound that you could stitched back together. I said her damage was more like she amputated a limb from my body. My recovery wasn’t focused on healing, but rather on how to walk, lift, or learn how to eat with my feet because I no longer had hands.

I recovered from what she did by reteaching myself how to not be defined by my disability (become a victim), but more importantly gaining strength from it. I ended by saying I am still recovering, there is no healing this wound, the leg is gone. I said my advice to her would be do not amputate your next partner.

Stop focusing on healing and starting prioritizing recovering from the damage you caused. Some things can not be fixed, but they can sometimes be replaced, or provide life lesson on how to behave in the future.

2. How can she replace what she has broken? I reply by giving an analogy when a woman has a miscarriage, she doesn’t replace the child she has lost when she has another baby.

She values the life of the child she has because she knows what it is like to lose a child or not have a child at all. She doesn’t replace what she has lost, she has to use her previous lost as a vehicle to find love in what she has now.

I reiterated that she cannot replace or fix this. Her actions are permanent and cannot be undone. She must recover and use her experience to be better next time.

3. Is there anything she could do to allow us to be friends again? I replied by saying No. However, her being a great mother to our daughter and showing her how to recover from making the mistakes she made in her past would go a long way in making sure our shared interest is met.

I explained there is no scenario in which I can give you forgiveness, because it is not a gift I can give. This gift must come from yourself. I cannot be responsible for your happiness or forgiveness.

4. Would you allow me to keep trying? I respond sure. Last Session In the last session we made to major agreements.

We came to an agreement that I would allow her to contact me outside of emergency if she agreed to not speak about our relationship with our daughter. Please let her be a kid. She can call me directly if she wants to coordinate vacations, holidays, or gifts.

I will agree to do one counseling session a year with her until our daughter is married or graduates from college. The goal is the session is to build a stronger co-parent relationship and ensure we are not letting our past ruin share experiences with our daughter.

Overall, it has been 3 months since our last session, and I believe that I did what was in the most important immediate need for child which was ensure she does not feel she is responsible for me and her mother’s happiness when it come to her life.

She is back to being a now 16-year-old teenager, worrying about boys, clothes, and social status. Which I am perfectly happy to deal with.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for him?

Sources: Reddit
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