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Reconciliation requires both parties to agree

answered 05:00 AM EST, Mon July 16, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
I am a recovering alcoholic who is reborn in Christ. I have an ex wife and I treated her very badly during our marriage. I was physically, sexually and emotionally abusive. I was totally out of control and now I am very ashamed at what I did, and since I can only remember a fraction of those years I am sure she went through more than I can remember. I would like to reconcile with her. I do not expect her to ever forgive me or take me back, but I want to somehow express to her how sorry I am and that I am a changed man. I would like to help her get closure on any issues that she might be dealing with from our time together. We have one child together and she is now 6 and I have not seen her since she was a baby. I would like to clear away the wreck of the past so that we can start fresh together again, at least as people who can work together as parents. I have always offered financial support but I would like to now be able to offer more than just that as a father. Is couples counseling the right kind of counseling to go to to achieve what I am looking for. I want it to be Christian in orientation. She currently won’t speak to me but I think my ex wife would be convincible to give it a try since I pay more than what is required in alimony and child support.

Penny Bell Says...

Penny Bell P. Bell
Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, M. College of Clinical Counsellors ACA, M. College of Supervisors ACA, Reg. Supervisor CCAA.

Firstly, I apologise for taking so long to reply to your question – I have been out of the country and have just returned.

 I’m glad you have become aware of your behaviour toward your ex-wife and your part in the relationship breakdown.  Unfortunately your desire to reconcile with your wife can only be fulfilled if she is in agreement.  I don’t know what the legal situation is as far as visitation rights or access with your  daughter, but perhaps there is an avenue there for you to pursue.  I’m not sure that your ex-wife will be amenable to entering counselling with you on the strength of your alimony payments – again, if she is not in agreement, this reunion will not take place.  As well, if she has been subject to violence or bullying in her relationship with you, any hint of coercion or manipulation on your part would most likely send her running away rather than toward you.  She has a right to make her own decision regarding whether or not she wishes to be interacting with you on any level at all, and that is her civil and legal right and hers only to make.

In the event that your ex-wife agrees to entering into counselling with you, most relationship counsellors are able to help with communication between individuals, families or groups where relationships have broken down, and this may be the way to go.  Otherwise, mediation, where you may be able to come to an agreement with the help of a mediator as to how you can begin a relationship with your daughter. In the event that neither of those can be accessed, then family court remains, but given your history I imagine there would have to be a clear case that you have reformed.

Congratulations on your sobriety, and I wish you all the best.

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Page last updated Jul 16, 2012

Penny Bell - Master of Counselling, Grad Dip Counselling, Adv. Dip. Counselling & Family Therapy, M. College of Clinical Counsellors ACA, M. College of Supervisors ACA, Reg. Supervisor CCAA.
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