Toward the later years of my marriage I found myself questioning just how disconnected I was from the “reality” that Then-Husband seemed to dwell in. This included things such as whether it was fair to expect him to take on more of the household chores while I was working and he was not, how much justification I needed to give him whenever I wanted to have some free time, and how much latitude and “understanding” I needed to give him because he was ________ (fill in the blank: depressed, tired, suffering from seasonal allergies, afraid of getting an upset stomach, under pressure at work, under pressure to find work, etc.). Eventually we even had the discussion in marriage counseling that just because he said he would do something was not sufficient reason for me to expect him to do it… Yes, really.
I eventually reconciled myself to the fact that I could not continue to live in his reality and, armed with the support of select family and friends (as well as someone I paid to listen to me while I cried on her couch once a week), I went on the “divorce diet,” losing 210 lbs of Husband.
Obviously I continue to deal with him with regard to the children, and apart from the occasional flare-ups or more frequent minor annoyances, those interactions typically go somewhat smoothly. But last week I learned that unbeknownst to me, he had added the Girlfriend to the list of people authorized to pick up the girls from daycare, and she had started picking the kids up on his parenting days.
Legally he is not required by our court order to notify me of such a change. I would also generally trust his judgment with regard to the type of person he would consider up to that type of responsibility. However I never anticipated that he would actually make such a change, allowing someone else to take short-term responsibility for the kids, without at least informing me. Apart from being livid that he didn’t tell me, the discovery sent me down the path of, “Am I unreasonable to expect him to tell me?” It was unpleasantly similar to questions I’d asked myself from 2004 through 2009.
I considered this all weekend and ultimately decided that unreasonable or not (feel free to weigh in), that was my expectation, and I was going to make that clear. So we had a phone conversation Sunday night which went pretty much the way I expected it to, but did end in agreements about what kinds of changes each parent expects to be notified of. I suppose that is a success.
The whole situation illustrated rather baldly to me that I am going to have to deal with him over and over for the rest of my life. I will NEVER be rid of him. Ever. Yes, I knew this already, but still…
On a positive note, having that conversation with him reminded me of so many reasons why I am happier without him. Another reminder was how ugly he was ugly to me when I — carefully, because I’ve had plenty of practice! — asked him to bring a forgotten item to daycare the next morning (because Princess M needed it for that day and I didn’t have a spare). After he was gone, M said, “Mommy, that was like when you and Daddy were married, when he did this,” and mimicked what he’d done with his arms while he was berating me at the door.
There are two sides to every story and you are only getting mine. But at least the things I decided I couldn’t tolerate in a marriage are not happening any more, and at least my kids don’t have to grow up thinking based on my behavior that that’s how marriage works.
Now I understand from him that he and the Girlfriend are planning to become engaged. She seems to be an intelligent, professionally successful and motivated woman. She also seems to be good with kids; my girls like her a lot. I see her business cards out at the kids’ daycare now so I assume she is drumming up business in this area, perhaps in preparation for moving. I fluctuate between feeling completely perplexed as to what she sees in him as a partner, wondering how much he has managed to turn around in his life or how much he has her fooled, and sorry for her if he has not in fact changed. I suppose she isn’t any dumber than I am, and it did take me years to understand what was going on. So I try not to judge her.
Everyone can change, though, and I actually hope that he has changed, or that at the very least she can manage life with him better than I was able to. I don’t want for my kids to have to go through another divorce or, worse, live through more of what I divorced him to avoid in the first place.