What It’s Like Having A Parent Who’s Divorced Several Times

June 19, 2018  |  
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My father has only been divorced twice but, honestly, I think the only reason he isn’t tying the knot with his current partner is because he knows that would just end in divorce, too. I respect him for accepting his shortcomings in that way. But, it still doesn’t change the fact that he has three women hanging around his life (between his first wife, my mother who was his second wife, and this current partner) who are still, somehow—either financially, geographically, or through half siblings—a part of my life. It’s a bit chaotic. I’m one of the lucky ones though. I have friends with parents who have been divorced three or four times…! Simply having your original set of parents divorce almost seems easy—it’s a lesser evil you wish you could return to—when you have a parent who has been divorced several times. And is still at it. Here is what it’s like having a parent who has divorced several times.

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You have several ex parents

You have a lot of people out in the world who, at one point, filled a parental role in your life. They took a great interest in your life—they invested in you and cared for you—because they thought they’d be in your life forever. That care doesn’t just go away because of divorce papers. So you have a few ex step parents you keep in touch with.

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Your relationship with the exes is unclear

It’s unclear, however, how involved you are supposed to remain with your ex stepparents. I mean, you developed a relationship with them for your parent who married them. It would be unfair for your parent to expect you to abandon that relationship, due to their mistakes. But sometimes, that’s what your parent kind of wants…

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There is fallout with other family

You may have ex step siblings because of these multiple marriages. There are other people with whom you made a great effort to become close and familial. How you’re supposed to interact with them moving forward is also a bit complicated.

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You meet the new partners of ex stepparents

Since you do stay in touch with some ex stepparents, and those ex stepparents move onto new partners, you wind up knowing the new partners of your mom or dad’s ex. It feels…disloyal. But, you’re not the one who created any of this chaos.

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You’ve gone “home” to a lot of houses

Over the years, for holidays and special events, you’ve called a lot of places “home.” Your parent has moved around quite a bit, between the houses she shared with her ex spouses, and the apartments she lived in between spouses.

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You fight to have faith in marriage

You can become upset with your parent for ruining the magic of marriage for you. You may not even be married yet, and your parent has already tarnished the idea of marriage for you time and time again.

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You parent your parent a lot

Divorce makes a person very weak, vulnerable, and truly a mess. Your parent has relied on you for comfort and stability through her various divorces. It’s happened so often that, you feel more like a parent to your parent than the other way around.

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You see her friends growing wary

You see your parent’s friends growing wary of all of her divorces. You can see that they don’t really want to attend one more wedding, or pretend to be excited about the planning of one more bridal shower.

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You’re in a weird club with your half siblings

You may have picked up a few half siblings along the way between your parent’s many marriages. Now, you’re all a part of this weird club you don’t want to be in, while you watch your shared parent move from new partner to new partner.

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You worry you’ll wind up like that

You can’t help but worry that this…addiction?…mental instability?…will be passed onto you. Will you be incapable of staying in one marriage, as well? Do you not even know it, because the issues run so deep that you can’t see them?

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Your inheritance is spread everywhere

Your inheritance? What inheritance? There have been so many alimony payments gone back and forth, prenups, expired prenups, and splitting and re-splitting of assets that you can’t possibly imagine what your inheritance looks like now.

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You think, “Why marry again?”

When your parent gets engaged, yet again, you almost want to scream, “Why even get married again? What’s the point? Do you just enjoy tons of paperwork that goes into marriage and inevitable divorce?”

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Sometimes, you get angry

You can’t help but become really angry with your parent sometimes. Even though the heart wants what the heart wants and people can’t help their feelings and etc…sometimes, you just think, “Don’t you see how your choices have made my life a really confusing mess?”

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Explaining your family history is complicated

You fear having to explain your family to new friends or romantic partners. You have ex stepparents, ex step siblings, half siblings, ex step grand parents….

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You get very anxious when they fight

Any time your parent so much as hints at the fact that her current marriage isn’t going well, all of your walls go up. You panic. She doesn’t exactly have a history of making things work.

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