Dear Jodi
  Jodi Gonsalves
Dear Jodi
July 2015

Jodi Gonsalves graduated from the University of the West Indies, Faculty of Medical Sciences in 2008 with a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology and from Florida A& M University, Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.A. in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts, Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts, Spanish (Summa cum laude).

She is currently in private practice at No. 38 Hunter Street, Woodbrook, Trinidad and Tobago.


Jodi advises a woman about how to deal with her ex.


Dear Jodi,


I am a 38 year old female. After a very bitter divorce 3 years ago, my ex-husband and I have finally come to a place where we are civil to each other and I know that he loves our daughter dearly. I would like to eventually meet someone and possibly even get married again but how do I deal with the issues of my explaining my ex’s involvement in my life to the new person and then my daughter’s feelings about the new person in my life?




Petit Valley,






Dear Melissa,


First of all, I would like to commend you for surviving the painful and overwhelming ordeal of going through a divorce and reaching to some point of forgiveness and ability to interact respectfully with your ex-husband. When you meet someone with whom you can see yourself settling down, proceed with caution as this person isn’t only entering your life but potentially your daughter's as well. Get to know him as well as you can; get feedback from his family, friends, co-workers and community members.


Then, bring up the idea to your daughter as to how she would feel about you dating someone, reassuring her that her feelings and opinions are part of the decision making. Cautiously and in time, introduce them to each other in an environment that’s comfortable for your daughter, if and when she seems open to the idea. Pay close attention to her reaction and ask her about him afterwards. Before this step occurs however, observe the responses of and get feedback from your own close family and true friends based on their interactions with him. How this person treats those you love, especially your daughter, will give you important information for you to know if you truly want to spend the rest of your life with him.


A word of caution must be added - be very careful about allowing him to spend nights over and to be alone with your daughter. Although it’s unpleasant to think about, sexual abuse is rampant, especially in our country, and happens often in least expected situations. It’s crucial that you discuss good/bad touch with your daughter and monitor and protect her when introducing a new male into her life.


It is also important for your ex-husband to know in advance if you are introducing another male figure into her life. Having a deep discussion with him about it is necessary when you feel comfortable that your new partner is indeed stable, trustworthy and committed to you and your daughter. It would be advisable that you start the process by going to a professional- a psychologist or therapist who utilizes Family Therapy - just for a couple of sessions to get some guidance based on your specific situation.


Furthermore, allow your daughter to go for a few sessions so that you can get some professional feedback about how she genuinely feels. You will also get assistance on parenting strategies you can use at home to help her to heal some of her disappointment or pain knowing that her parents are not getting back together (which is a natural response for most children). On your side, remember to have many open discussions with your child- set aside time for her and you alone at least once a week so that she knows she is still a priority in your life.


Your new partner can then attend a couple sessions with you, so that you can have the chance to explain to him your ex’s involvement in your life under the guidance of the professional. You need to hear and validate his concerns- and set very appropriate and clear boundaries. For example, discussing matters with your ex on the phone may be acceptable for your new partner but he may firmly state that he doesn’t feel comfortable when you have long conversations late at night with your ex, or meet alone to talk when you can meet at your home.  Remember that certain issues will have no compromise- come up with a list of what that may look like for you- since your daughter’s well being is of primary importance in the matter. However, it will be very important to make the attempt for these two men in your daughter’s life to have a polite relationship.


If possible, there may even be a session with all of you present together. Your therapist will know if this is possible or not based on your particular situation. You will all have the opportunity to voice your concerns and have your needs met in a safe and supportive environment. I sincerely hope that these guidelines help you to feel less anxious and more relaxed regarding this future situation. All the best to you Melissa!


The information given in this column is for general guidance only and is not meant to provide advice or professional assistance. If you are dealing with a serious personal issue, you are strongly advised to schedule an appointment and visit with a qualified psychologist or counsellor. 


Do you have a question for Jodi? Email your question to and state "Attention Jodi" in the subject line. Please note that there is no guarantee that your question will be answered since only certain questions will be selected for publication. If your question is selected, only your first name and the town and country of your address will be published (e.g. Jane from St. James, Trinidad and Tobago). If you would prefer that only your initial or a pseudonym be used, place indicate this in your email. 



By: Jodi Gonsalves | Dear Jodi | July 2015