DEAR ABBY: I am a divorced mother of four. I have been single for three years, since my ex chose an affair over our marriage. I am successful and manage my home and finances.
I am, however, struggling with pressure from my ex to get back together. He had several affairs during the 13 years we were married. The pain and self-loathing were unbearable for me. He hasn't changed. Yet he tells our 14-year-old son, "Jackson," that he still loves me and "wants only to be with me." He also told Jackson that he doesn't know why I have chosen to keep our family broken up.
I moved hundreds of miles to get away from this stress. I have a great job and a lovely home. My son stays mad at me, though. He has chosen to live with his dad, and when he visits he demands explanations for why I am not with them. It breaks my heart. I genuinely do not know what to tell him.
His father has already told him about the affairs, but says I should forgive him. Ironically, I do forgive him. I want my ex to have a beautiful life -- without me. What can a mother say to her son to help him understand that some things just won't mend? -- MOVED ON IN ALABAMA
DEAR MOVED ON: You would be doing your son a favor to tell him the truth. As it stands, he thinks that a husband having affairs is nothing serious because that's what his father has told him.
Now it's time to tell Jackson that his father didn't do this just once, he did it repeatedly. Explain that you tried forgiving him, and it only caused you more heartache. Tell your son you love him and you're sorry he's angry at you, but it's clear that his father isn't going to change. And that you would rather remain single than let him touch your body -- or your heart -- again.
If you do, it may teach Jackson that not all women will accept this kind of treatment and endlessly forgive. If you don't, he may follow his father's example and turn out just like dear old dad.