"He Dotes On His Son and Ignores Me"

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His Turn

"Beth and I never argued about anything when we were dating," said Jack, 39. "When I was stressed out or upset because I'd had a fight with my ex-wife, Beth always knew how to calm me down. And when I felt sad about being apart from Andy, she'd cheer me up by helping me plan activities for his next visit.

"Since we've been married, though, she's become much less supportive. She's always criticizing me for how I treat Andy and complaining about his behavior. I hate the way she picks fights about his visits because those weekends mean the world to me. I wish Andy lived with us full-time instead of only 10 nights a month.

"So what if I devote myself to my kid on the days he's here? True, I don't spend a lot of time with Beth, Kate and Ben on those weekends, but I make up for it by being a devoted father and husband the rest of the month. My wife wants to do stuff as a family, but given the age difference among our kids, that's not realistic. And she complains that I give Andy presents, but I don't see any harm. It's not as though we're broke!

"What hurts me most is how tough Beth is with Andy. Would it be so hard to fuss over him a little bit and treat him like a special guest? At heart Andy is a good kid who's stuck in an impossible situation. Yes, he has withdrawn from Beth, but come on, he's 12 now. She shouldn't expect him to be the same cuddly little boy he was when he was 5. It's true that my ex-wife has made things worse. For some reason she drilled it into Andy's head that Beth was the cause of our breakup even though I didn't meet her until after we'd separated. I'm angry at my ex's behavior and I've called her on it repeatedly. The fact is, my ex has always been a moody and self-centered woman -- that's a big part of why we broke up.

"I wasn't looking for another relationship when I met Beth, but after a friend set us up, I couldn't resist. I waited six months to introduce her to Andy, and when I did, they totally hit it off! Beth was crazy about him, and he loved her. I figured that would continue.

"Obviously that hasn't. But Beth's approach to the situation is only making things worse. Okay, I was wrong to go to the movies with Andy without letting her know. But I was so excited to see him that I lost track of time and forgot to call. I apologized to Beth, but she just won't let it go.

"Apart from our issues with Andy, Beth and I really get along well. So when she suggested that we see a marriage counselor, I agreed. I love my wife and want a happy family life just as much as she does."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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