ex-wife Archives - Relative Evolutions
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Sep 22, 2010 - divorce    2 Comments

What Do You Think?

Last century, during a previous career, I worked with a divorced guy whom I’ll call Tom.  Tom was in his late twenties and had married and divorced young (no kids).  He and his ex separated on decent terms.  They were friendly enough to remain each other’s “agent” in their respective career fields.

Tom was dating a divorcee whom I’ll call Kristen.  Kristen had a preschool-aged son and she was a familiar face around our office.  One day I answered the phone when she called for Tom.

“He’s with a client right now,” I told her.  “Can I have him call you back?”

“Yeah, that’s fine,” she said.  “How’s his day going?”

“He’s a popular guy today,” I said.  “Even the ex-wife was in to see him.”

“Oh,” Kristen said with a new tone in her voice.

I could tell I’d surprised her with that bit of information, but she did her best to appear normal.  We ended the conversation on a friendly note and I went about my business.

The following day, Tom came into the office and told me that he and Kristen had an argument regarding his contact with his ex-wife.  He informed me that he would no longer be conducting business with her as it made his girlfriend uncomfortable.

I apologized.  I had no idea that Kristen was unaware of Tom’s relationship with his ex.  (And why she should be upset about it?  The ex was remarried with children!) Tom understood that I was just making conversation and hadn’t intended to get him in trouble.

I haven’t spoken to Tom in about ten years.  The last I heard, he and Kristen were happily married.  I’m guessing he still doesn’t speak to his ex-wife.

I realize my disclosure was a bit of a faux pas.  I blame my parents and the It’s-OK-To-Be-Friends-With-Your-Ex Example they set for me.  It’s odd… if I had to choose the worst thing about my parents’ divorce, it would be that they failed to display the varied animosity that often lingers  years after the ink is dry.  I was ill-prepared to be sensitive to the feelings of others in similar situations.

Due to the fact that I’m a total Divorce Nerd, I’ve been re-examining this story for years.  Personally, I think Kristen displayed a lot of insecurity in how she handled the situation.  Especially considering the fact that she shared a child with her own ex and was therefore forever bound to a co-parenting relationship with him.  But then I’m weird and my idealistic views on this topic are hugely unpopular with a lot of people.

So I’m looking for any alternate opinions:

  • Should childless exes sever all ties for the sake of their future relationships? (Not unless it’s a safety issue)
  • Should one’s current partner have the power to dictate the status of the ex relationship? (Input perhaps.  Dictation, no.)
  • If a person is friendly with their ex, is it acceptable to keep it a secret from his/her current partner? (Isn’t that like lying?)
  • Should innocent bystanders commit to silence and refrain from casual discussion related to a divorce for fear that someone might be offended?  (Only if you have zero knowledge of your present company.)
Feb 11, 2010 - divorce, media    6 Comments

I’d Rather Be Me

Great article from The Faster Times:  The Elmira Gulch Chronicles, Or:  How Not To Be THAT Ex-Wife.

Deesha Philyaw (Co-Founder of Coparenting101.org) has written an amusing-but-true piece comparing THAT ex-wife to Elmira Gulch/The Wicked Witch of the West… starting at the beginning, with a justifiable anger-inducing incident… and snowballing all the way to Oz.

I could never understand THAT ex-wife… the one who is still raging years after the divorce… the mother who tells her children everything their father did wrong… the newlywed who uses her new husband like a pit bull against her ex (note: previous statement was made for illustration only.  I think APBTs are a great breed).  What good comes from that kind of behavior?

I’ve heard my mother say time and again, “I love him because he is the father of my children.”  Of course, she started saying this after the divorce… prior to that, my parents didn’t say much at all about each other.  The point is that the primary divorce I witnessed was a healthy one where the ex-partners respected each other and realized the universal truth:  if I could take it back, I wouldn’t have my kids. I cannot thank my parents enough for setting the example they did.

And so when I had my own divorce, I thought twice about playing the Victim Role.  I could’ve said a lot of atrocious things about my ex.  And we didn’t have kids, so there’s nobody to hurt, right?  Wrong.  I would have been hurting myself. What does it say about me if I tell people that I spent years of my life with a liar, cheater, thief, abuser, alcoholic, drug-addict, fill-in-the-blank?   Wouldn’t my audience eventually question my judgement?  (I hope I hang out with people smart enough to do just that.)

It was my decision not to play the victim that drove me to leave so much behind when I left.  Since I hadn’t been wronged, I didn’t deserve any compensation.  Forget the drapes and the brand-new sectional- I just wanted out.

And now that I’m having such a good time being me, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to put forth so much effort (and from what I can tell, it takes a LOT of effort) into being THAT ex-wife…