Been almost 2 years since the divorce. It took me a long time to get over things - maybe too long in the eyes of some, maybe about average in the eyes of others. I have to admit that I'll probably never REALLY be over the D - I think the emotional scars will be there for the rest of my life. But I've taken time to heal and move on and while I may not understand why things happened the way they did, I chalk it up to the fact that neither me nor my XW had the skill set to deal with each other in a way that the other needed.
A few months ago, I found myself reflecting back on the whole experience to a friend, saying "I know deep down that the marriage could have been saved if my XW had been willing to talk about the problems rather than stonewalling and seeking out OM." It took me a long time to learn the ridiculousness of that statement - put another way, it would have worked if my XW had been someone else. But she wasn't. She's the type of person who stonewalls and has affairs rather than try to work through any problems. And more importantly, she'll always place herself and her own ambitions over everything else.
Now, don't get me wrong. I pretty much failed as a husband - I didn't help around the house enough, I didn't make her feel loved, I didn't initiate enough activites, etc. - complaints I think many have heard. So she had good reason to shut down. But I think we all want a second chance and sometimes our companion is willing to grant that, sometimes not. If my XW had been someone else, I know that second chance would have repaired the damage, because I hadn't been in a good space (depressed) and needed to be jarred back into action and I'm wholeheartedly willing to address the problems and work towards solutions. But that wasn't the case - she said nothing and didn't offer a second chance. And who's to say she wasn't right? I think she was operating in a way that was most true to herself. And her approach is probably what makes her most happy - maybe not ultimately but certainly in the short-term. Granted, I don't think those kinds of choices will ever provide the basis of a lasting relationship, but she may not be the kind of person that really wants a long term relationship. She's happy focusing on herself and not really thinking about what I call the collateral damage. I know, that sounds a bit snippy, but to be honest, society values long-term relationships over flings, so when you enter a relationship, you expect a little more effort. And I value long-term relationships over short-term, so her approach is both alien and unacceptable to me.
In any case, I've finally posted because here it is, almost 2 years post-D. I wouldn't say I'm back on top, but I've moved on. I currently work on a freelance project with my XW, at her urging, and that arrangement is fine. I think she's very skilled at what she does. But I also find that I have no respect for her as a human being, whatsoever. I think she's a user and a fake - someone who values surface acquaintances over deeper friendships. Other co-workers remark that they find her always on the defensive, acting like any disagreement is a personal attack. That said, I'm perfectly able to divide work and personal life, and to be cordial and businesslike, although clearly my personal knowledge of her bleeds over.
What's odd is that my XW seems to press the boundaries. Not much, but enough that it makes me uncomfortable. I don't know if this means I'm not over things or what, but I find myself reacting. Yet when I think about it, her actions aren't beyond those of an acquaintance. When we have business travel, she wants to coordinate travel plans. On holidays and birthdays, she gives me a small gift. When we meet, she touches on personal subjects that have involved both of us, but not overly so.
I'm not trying to suggest I think she wants to get back together. I don't think she does at all. Nor would I want to. I do, however, find my coping mechanisms from the last 2 years getting in the way. If I look at our interactions in the light of other business acquaintances, I don't see anything out of the ordinary. Certainly I travel with business associates and I get gifts from co-workers and talk about past experiences with my casual friends. But because she and I share an emotional history, I find myself placing more importance on her invocation of those memories and I end up feeling like I need to overreact to compensate. In other words, if a co-worker gave me a gift on my birthday, I'd get them a gift on their birthday. Reciprocation. But my XW giving me a gift on my birthday, with a note that acknowledged the gift was related to a past experience (hence she knew I'd like it), makes me want to throw up a higher, more secure wall. I wont reciprocate. I won't travel with her. I won't acknowledge a shared past, because that means admitting to emotions that might be a bit too raw, still.
I guess it's all about relationship management. I decided to write her off, but she still is clinging on - more so than I would have imagined. And that confuses me, because she's the one who didn't want this.
So why am I posting? I guess because I want feedback on how to act. There's all this advice about forgiving for your own good, taking the high road, parting as friends if it can be managed, etc. There's also being true to your core values, your N.U.T.S., in somewhat common parlance, which might mean not valuing this kind of shallowness. So I guess I'm looking for input on situations where you've both moved on, but you want to make sure you've both moved on. Is gift-giving normal? Is acknowledging and fostering past connections a good idea? Should you really treat an X the way you would treat a co-worker or even a friend, or does a past history change that relationship enough to forever alter things? In other words, what does friendship with the ex, especially when you don't share children, really mean?
First things first, I hope you had a great birthday! Well as far as relationships with our ex spouses...it can still be tricky. I will hit 2 years in July. After the D, he gave me a Christmas present. Not from the kids but something he knew I would like, from him. I felt the need to reciprocate only so as not to be rude.(Thank goodness the kids do tell me things sometimes!)
This past holiday it was just a gift from the kids and I think I sent a bag of mint M&M's from me. So we are both are getting more and more detached and somehow on occasion can actually have a conversation. Not anything about relationships you know, but about our beloved Jayhawks and things along those lines. Maybe it helps that he is engaged and will probably get married this fall.
Anyway, I would keep your boundaries. You have a work relationship and really there isn't any reason to bring the past into it. If the gifts make you feel uncomfortable, you will need to tell her that at some point. Maybe she still sees you as you were. I really don't know.
I would also ask yourself if you want to be friends with her. I back you either way but is it something you really want. I know people that years after, when the hurt has faded, can be friends but it is rare.
So are you going to meet us in the middle of July in Tucson? Nothing like being in the heat in summer, but what the heck as long as there is a pool! We are looking at july 15-18 at the moment.
Me-53(and learning!) S24, S21, D18, D17 Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming. Dory
You have a great way of writing down your thoughts.
I like that your coworkers notice some of your XW's character flaws. It probably helps to allow you to know that it was not just you.
One of the ladies I dated and keep in contact with is co-owner of her business with her XH (antibody production from chicken eggs). She pretty much runs it and he provides the scientific part. She told me that she has as little interaction with him as possible.
Putting myself in your situation, I dont think I would want to talk to or listen from my XW about past experiences together. I try to always discuss things in the present and future with her.
I suspect maybe one reason you had a harder time getting over things after the bomb and D is that you did not have children together. You and your wife probably did a lot of things together as just husband and wife. Having kids tends to take away that close bond. When my wife left, I still had my kids to keep me busy. I think that I can understand how much harder it would be emotionally for someone in your situation.
Are you ready for another relationship now? From seeing some of your facebook pictures and travels, you certainly have the opportunity.
@kat - I don't want to be rude either, which is why I struggle a bit. Don't want to be rude but don't want to be nice when someone doesn't deserve it. I don't really want to be friends. Like I said, I don't really respect her as a person anymore and after all her insistences that we share nothing in common, I see little to build a friendship on. I feel a bit like the entire marriage was a lie. Perhaps that's an overreaction to her overreaction, but the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth that hasn't really gone away. So no, I don't really think friendship is a likely possibility. Cordiality, yes, but not friendship.
Who on earth goes to Tucson in July - are you crazy? I'm going to Canada in July. I'll go to Tucson in October.
@Kalni - yes, her habit of always "sleeve-tugging" seems to me a way of relying on me somewhat. I'm not sure I understand it, but it's led me to build higher and higher walls and I think she's finally realized we have no connection. She doesn't try as much as she used to, although she still tries. I guess I struggle with whether my walls are creating bitterness - whether it might be better to let them down. She seems to be the courteous one, being pleasant and making friendship attempts. On the other hand, when you burn your hand, you don't reach back into the flame.
@Kerry - I guess it does help to know it's not just me. My XW recently went back to where we used to live and where many of our close friends reside in order to do some work. When I asked her how it went, she said she holed up in an acquaintance's house and didn't let anyone know she was there. She said this was because she needed the retreat, but I think it has more to do with the fact that she probably no longer knows how to relate to those people, or doesn't know how to reach out to them. In other words, the same thing that helped end our marriage. But maybe that's just me - I certainly couldn't imagine traveling to a city and not contacting the old friends that lived there.
It sounds like I'm similar to your friend - working with the X but wanting as little contact as possible. As I mentioned earlier, I sometimes worry if that is causing me to be unhealthy about the D, but I'm probably putting too much thought into it. My parents D'ed and my mom still complains about my dad and I just don't want to end up the same way.
I'm not sure if I'm ready for another R. I suppose it'll happen when it happens, but I have a hard time imagining living with another person after getting used to living on my own again. I also have had enough disturbing conversations with women - in which they seemed to put stock only in the love of attraction and not in long-term relationships - that I have a hard time imagining relationships as a viable possibility. But I'm sure that when I meet the right person, my fears will fly straight out the window. For now, though, I'm happy traveling my own route.
Ok, I would really love Tennessee in July but since I am not planning the DB get together I defer but next year, the mountains have my vote. Colorado would even be nice and not so far away. Oh mind wandering.
I think once people get burned they do have a hard time trusting again. However I do think it is difficult to turn away from what you grew up believing. Good relationships do exist and we can build them again.
How close are you going to make it to Missouri over your travels or are you not coming home?
Me-53(and learning!) S24, S21, D18, D17 Just keep swimming, Just keep swimming. Dory