Dear Annie: Forgiveness and boundaries

Dear Annie: I am 70 years old and blessed with two well-settled and caring grown children (one son and one daughter), who have each been blessed with two kids of their own, making me a grandma of 4 under 4; for which I’m very excited and grateful. Every day of my life, it gives me positive energy.

My marriage of 36 years fell apart six years ago. My ex-husband started having issues with our kids as they were teenagers, and the family conflicts became worse. My ex seemed to change his whole personality in his middle age. The best father in the world (which is what we considered him) used to work tirelessly to care for the family and, of course, helped our children with their education, their personal lives, etc.

Unfortunately, he has slowly evolved over the course of 10 years into a controlling, short-tempered and somewhat abusive man. Our children, once they were grown, and I tried our best to get help, to not to break the family. Our efforts were met with anger on his end.

I’m very old-fashioned and spiritual, and I didn’t want to leave him. Finally, when he got into gambling, wasting our hard-earned money, I had to legally split after much therapy and counseling for myself. Our adult children, already married and settled by this time, supported me all the way. In fact, my daughter even let me live with her in her newly built home, adding a suite for my privacy, and I feel so blessed in this regard, too.

I know he is not involved in any other relationship, and I am not either; I am not interested in dating at all at this time. He just became more angry at all of us -- somewhat making himself believe that we didn’t care for him. I prayed so hard for his conversion and reconciliation so he could meet his adorable grandchildren. It hurts me so much that the little angels don’t know all these stories about their grandfather, and now the oldest has started asking questions.

My son and daughter are not interested in having him come visit. When they had reached out in the past, he did not seem to care, and he has refused to go to counseling or even take advice from his own family. We think he has a personality disorder and is in total denial.

Please advise me, at this time, should I leave the stubborn grandpa alone or continue to attempt reconciliation? So far, my children want nothing to do with him, and I can only push them so much. I have been able to forgive my husband 100%, and I understand that I can only pray and wish for him to open his eyes one day. I have told him this many times. Forgiveness is very powerful and gives me peace, knowing I tried my best.


He is also 70 years old, lives by himself, is in pretty good health and is doing OK financially (no more hard gambling now, and he retired, too). -

- Brokenhearted Grandma

Dear Brokenhearted Grandma: It’s evident that you love your family, including your ex-husband, despite the challenges you’ve faced.

While forgiveness is a powerful tool for finding peace, it’s also important to recognize the boundaries you need for your own well-being and that of your family. Your children have made their feelings known regarding their relationship with him, and pushing them further may only strain your relationship with them.

At this point, continuing to pray for your ex-husband’s well-being and reconciliation may be the most you can do. His refusal to seek counseling or acknowledge the family’s concerns suggests he may not be ready to confront his behavior.

Focus on cherishing the precious moments with your family and finding joy in the love and support they offer.

Annie Lane

Annie Lane offers common-sense solutions to everyday problems. She's firm, funny and sympathetic, echoing the style of her biggest inspiration, Ann Landers. She lives outside Manhattan with her husband, two kids and two dogs. When not writing, she devotes her time to play dates and Play-Doh. Write her: