Man Allows Ex-Wife to Steal his Self-Respect

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DEAR MIDLIFE BACHELOR: My wife left me in 2008 because she wanted to date other people, even though we have one kid together – he’s four years old. The divorce was final earlier this year, and all she has done since leaving me was sleep around for a while, then she settled in with a boyfriend and actually got engaged to him before our divorce was even final. I’ve been in love with her the entire time, and I keep hoping that she’ll come back to me but it hasn’t happened.

So this past June, she and her fiance got into a big fight, and he tossed her engagement ring out somewhere and they broke up. Since then she has been staying with me and our son at least several times each week … sometimes every night during the week. But nothing went on between us – she would always tell me no anytime I tried anything with her. I keep asking myself why would she stay with me so much if she isn’t interested? I know she loves our son but honestly I spend a lot more time with him than she does and I have primary custody of him


so she only sees him every other weekend (when she doesn’t stay with me).

Anyway, as I said she’s been staying over a lot since their breakup in June, and I keep thinking that maybe I’m gonna get my whole family back … but then she just told me that this former fiance guy is on an extended fishing trip, and will be back in a week … and that she is going to go back with him when he returns. She tells me this after staying the night with me, and hanging out all day.

I’m currently unemployed, behind on my mortgage, and my heart seems like it is continually being torn out again and again. I’ve tried dating a little here and there but I still love my ex-wife. I really want my whole family back. How can I get her back? What do you think I should do?

MIDLIFE BACHELOR ANSWER: Your story is among the more heart-wrenching I’ve heard here in a while. I am very sorry to hear that you are going through this. I’ll give you the best advice that I can.

First of all, based on what you said – I think the absolute last thing you should ever do is take her back. I don’t think you should even let her stay with you anymore … because all it is doing is messing your head up. She left you because she didn’t want to be married. She probably stays with you because she feels guilty about leaving her family (you and your son) behind – especially given that you have custody of your child. Staying with you is a comfortable thing for her to do – but it has no meaning in her mind, like it does in yours. She doesn’t want to be with you – she wants to screw around. Leave her in your rearview mirror as fast as possible. Set some new ground rules immediately – no overnight stays at your house, no unannounced visits, nothing other than what the court ordered in your divorce.

Right now you are essentially permitting her to walk all over you. In the process, you are torturing yourself. And by staying emotionally committed to her, you are denying yourself the opportunity to find happiness with another woman. I’d say it is probable and likely that the large amount of emotional baggage you are carrying as a consequence of everything that has happened thus far is going to be very difficult for you to deal with. You need professional counseling – and there is no shame in that.

You need to get your head together, and your self-respect back. Know that all of this is happening because you allow it to – so change the rules effective immediately, and begin the process of recovery. Only you can do this. Make these changes not only for the benefit of yourself BUT ALSO for the benefit of your son. He’s probably too young to fully understand everything that is going on at this moment – but over the next few years as he gets older, what do you want him to think is normal? Do you want him to think it is normal for a Mom to stay at Dad’s sometimes, to have a Dad that loves Mom but Mom lives elsewhere with her boyfriend, and fights with him? Or that Mom stays with Dad sometimes, but sleeps around with a bunch of boyfriends – while Dad pines over her? Put yourself in your son’s shoes … pretend he understands everything that is going on … and then make the necessary changes right now so that he is raised with the value system you feel is best. This is up to you – not your ex-wife … because you have primary custody.

If I sound harsh here, I do apologize. It is just extremely clear to me what you need to do. Make an appointment with a psychologist right away – getting counseling should be your first step. Don’t take my word for anything – I’m just some guy on the internet … talk to a professional counselor.

After you’ve taken the necessary steps to get things back on track, and then when you feel like you might want to start dating again – that is when you should return here to There is a lot of good dating advice here for those who have been off the market for a while. Here are the sections of Midlife Dating Advice to check out (again AFTER you’ve gotten through your current situation, and are ready to date):

Fundamental Truths about Women and Midlife Dating Today
Midlife Bachelor Personal Makeover
Develop a Strategy for Midlife Bachelor Success
Reaching Personal Equilibrium

I also encourage you to join our Midlife Forum – as there are a lot of good men and women there who have gone through marriages, divorces, dating, relationships, etc. – and it might be good to know what they think about something, plus you can also help the community grow by contributing what you are learning. It is all about increasing our collective knowledge base.

The Midlife Forum on

Good luck – let me know how things go, brother.

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About the Author

Midlife Bachelor chronicles lifestyle, dating, and relationship experiences and advice to avoid a midlife crisis. Readers like you are often beyond young adulthood in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s that want to understand how dating, sex, relationships, and love fit in with our lifestyles.