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Developing a Friendship with Ex, Grown Daughters Will Not Speak to Me

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Recently I have been developing a friendship with my ex husband. It was a rocky marriage. Divorced 15 years ago. He has received counseling for being a peeping tom 17 years ago. Yes he peeped at my daughters. In case you need to know, he never touched them, he watched from afar. They are now in their 30’s. They hate him. He has mellowed and is regretful. He has said he is sorry to them twice and would get on his knees if he thought it would help. Two months ago we started ‘hanging out’, going places. I did not tell them because I was just seeing him and not asking them to engage in any form of relationship because I knew they would not want to. About two months ago they figured out that we had gone out of town for the night. They sent me terrible texts and threatened not to speak to me again if I didn’t not stop seeing him. I have continued to do things with him because we are so happy together. He seems to have truly changed. I understand that time will only tell. We are not getting married or even including them in the time we spend together. Neither of us remarried after we split up many years ago. We have both been very lonely, not the type to jump into relationships. So now I am torn up inside. I will be miserable if I cannot keep my friendship with him but my stomach stays in knots because I have now been excluded from my family. I am miserable without my family but would be without him as well.

Should I do as my daughter want and stop seeing him? I do understand he did a terrible thing.

Thank you for any advise you can give.

Developing a Friendship with Ex, Grown Daughters Will Not Speak to Me

Answered by on -


While I admire your capacity for forgiveness there are dynamics within your family that require you to see the reconnection from their perspective in order to maintain the balance.

If you think of the family like a mobile hanging from the ceiling each person in the family is affected by what everyone else does. When your husband checked out, it was like putting a 10 pound weight on him that profoundly threw off the family dynamics. When you divorced him it was like cutting that weight, and your family, out of the balance.

Over time, everyone has adjusted to each other without him being a factor. Reconnecting with him, almost by definition, will throw the balance off again. Your daughter’s request for you to not see him is their attempt at bringing the family back into balance as it was. Since you’ve reconnected with him there is an on going problem with the dynamics. The struggle now his is how to honor your need to reconnect while honoring both your daughter’s.

I highly recommend you and your daughters make an appointment with the family therapist. Here’s a link to a highly regarded association. It will help you find someone in your area. I believe this is very important. To just stop seeing him because of your daughters request alone without a mediated discussion may create more difficulties for you downstream.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Developing a Friendship with Ex, Grown Daughters Will Not Speak to Me

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Developing a Friendship with Ex, Grown Daughters Will Not Speak to Me. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 7, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 5 Sep 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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