ex-wife Archives - Relative Evolutions
Tagged with "ex-wife Archives - Relative Evolutions"
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.)

It’s Complicated

No, I’m not talking about the movie.  This post is actually about a chair.  Well, more than a chair… it’s complicated…

Background:  For as long as I’ve been attending public events with Boyfriend, I’ve noticed this trend:  Drake and Josh will not acknowledge their “other” parent in public.  If Mom takes them to the event, Dad doesn’t exist.  And vice versa.  99% of the time they are with their mother and Boyfriend is ignored.  The kids know their parents had a stormy divorce and they don’t want to do anything that might stir up more conflict (because in that event, they suffer immensely).  Boyfriend and I have always remained silent about this.  Until yesterday.

Birthmom got married a couple weeks ago and returned from her honeymoon yesterday.  Yesterday, “our” weekend with the boys was scheduled to end at the approximate conclusion of Drake’s 3pm baseball game.  Birthmom and Boyfriend had made arrangements for Drake and Josh to leave the game with her.

Drake had to be at the game early to practice with his team.  We dropped him off on time and then ran home to gather some chairs and the boys’ belongings.  On the way to the game, Boyfriend gave Josh a few dollars to spend as he wished at the snack bar.  This offering met with a smile and a “thank you”.  When we arrived at the game, the boys’ mother was already there.

“Do you see your mom?” I asked Josh.  He nodded.
“Don’t you want to say hi?”
He shook his head and kept walking.
“But you haven’t seen her in over a week,” I said.
Boyfriend encouraged him, “Go ahead.  Say hello.  You can take your overnight bag to her.”

So away he ambled and that was the last we saw of him.  He was greeted enthusiastically by his mother, who wrapped her arms around him, pulling him onto her lap.  And there he stayed without so much as a glance in our direction.  After they took a trip to the snack bar, he migrated from her lap to the grass at her feet.  Next to me was the chair we’d brought for him- the kind of chair he requested.  I wondered if I should take it to him so he didn’t have to sit on the ground.  I wondered a lot of things:

  • She’s claimed him as “hers” now.  Is it wrong for me to venture over there?
  • Who am I to offer the chair?  I’m just the dad’s girlfriend.  Is it my place? Now that she’s officially married to her partner, does that make me even less significant?
  • Would she think I’m trying to get too close to her?
  • Would she think I’m trying to make a point that we brought a chair for him and she didn’t?
  • Would she think I’m trying to piss her off?
  • Would she view it as an act of aggression?
  • Would she see it as an opportunity to reach across party lines?
  • The divorce is over now.  She’s remarried.  It’s time we put an end to the kids’ loyalty conflict.
  • Maybe we should start sitting closer to Birthmom at these events.  It would make it easier for the kids to make eye contact and sneak a wave to their father.

Boyfriend was rather hurt by the incident and didn’t want to talk about it.  He busied himself with his photographic equipment and took magnificent pictures of the game.  I proceeded to get all cerebral about the chair and the issues it represented for hours.  Truly, it is time to tear down the wall and give the kids the freedom to interact with their family regardless of who is present.  Countless times over the past few years I’ve wanted to, in some fashion, extend my hand in a peace offering.  And yet every time I am stopped short by the knowledge that “they” don’t like “us”.  And I don’t want my gesture of goodwill to cause additional drama/trauma for Drake and Josh (or myself, admittedly as I carry several emotional scars from previous interactions).

Readers, as always, I welcome your thoughts on this topic.

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…