We were in our early 20s when we married. I was an exchange student and fell madly in love with my Frenchman from Paris.

We were both emotional and high-strung, with a lot of love for each other until we started having kids. He became withdrawn and rejected me for time and sex. I felt I was unattractive to him, though I worked hard to get into shape after each child.

Three years ago I filed for divorce.

A year later I thought I found the man of my dreams. Charming, handsome, successful. He said I was the only woman he would consider marrying, since he was not the marrying type. I said I was the committed type and wanted a stable, loving relationship. He promised to give it to me, though he had cheated on his wife, which ended their marriage.

Within months I realized he had a daily drinking and marijuana problem. He assured me he was not an addict because he was successful at his job. I accepted his reasoning. Six months in we accidentally got pregnant. I was determined to keep the baby and he was determined to father her.

Toward the end of the pregnancy I found him on adult websites seeking casual sex or seeking relationships with women he met in bars. I ended it for good.

A year later I reconciled with my ex-husband, who treats me better now. He is a good husband and dad. I love him.

My issue is a stupid fantasy that permeates my brain. How could I have been so stupid to believe my rebound man? Why do I still care about him though I know life with him would be horrible?

My husband deserves better than his wife brooding over the man who does not deserve her attention. It just hurts seeing our beautiful 18-month-old living a great life, but on limited time with her dad because of his decisions.

~ Rebecca

Rebecca, a divorced woman with kids may feel desperation, even if she’s unaware of it. That may blind her to the nature of a man she dates. If she has a child by that man, the child will be a daily reminder of him, even when she has moved on. Her thoughts may be not so much a reminder of the man as a reminder of what she hoped for from the new relationship.

Your relationship was not about love and you didn’t really love him, because the more you found out about him, the more he diminished in your eyes. You thought he was a dream. He was a nightmare. Like the victim of a Ponzi scheme, you want to rewrite history so you don’t feel so bad.

You still want the love part that you thought you had found because you don’t have it with your current husband. You had that youthful crazy thing with him the first time around. You thought that crazy level of emotion was love.

We often get letters from people who thought they could settle for less than love and now find they can’t.

Your 18-month-old does not need a father who is a drunken womanizer. Claiming he is not an addict because he holds a job is nonsense. Virtually every drunk and addict is functioning in the sense they put their pants on in the morning. The panhandling skid row bum is functioning. He is getting some food, dressing himself, out there in the world, existing.

The effects on a child whose parent is a drunk or addict are devastating and usually permanent. The only phrase that describes it is child abuse. No daddy is better than a daddy like him.

When neither partner in a marriage finds someone suitable after they divorce, they sometimes remarry. It doesn’t mean there weren’t good reasons for the divorce. The remarriage has more to do with being practical and settling.

~ Wayne & Tamara

Column for the week of July 21, 2014

Send letters to: [email protected] , or Direct Answers, PO Box 964, Springfield MO 65801.

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