He once told me shortly after our split that he was surprised by my reaction to his infidelity and his ultimate choice to leave the marriage…
I figured things would just be like they were before I left, just going about our lives and taking care of the kids.
So the way things were…
The year before he left he was lying, avoiding coming home, detached, (obviously sleeping with someone else), traveling around the world with his work, and reinventing his image as this ‘young 20 something – though his age belied his 40 years’.
The year before he left I was taking care of the kids, finding a new house to live in, keeping on top of all the bills/ the vehicles, trying to find a job after 12 years of being a stay at home mom, trying to make connections with friends in a new place I never desired to live, and continuing to address (though much less frequently) the major chasm of disconnect that we shared.
For the several years before that last year, the one where he was getting all the attention he needed from a woman who found it acceptable to be the final straw dividing a family apart completely, it wasn’t much different. I had all the responsibility, save for earning the money required to support a family of five. I tried to count on him to be present. I asked for help. I asked for presence. I asked for HIM. I followed him (through 3 moves to different states) and supported him. I resented him. I was angry with him for abandoning me with all the responsibility while he traipsed around the world and left me holding the bag. There was no “TEAM” effort. There was ME holding HIM up and making it possible for him to do as he pleased.
SO…is it the same as it was before he left? Generally. He is still going about his life, I am still taking care of the kids 75-80% of the time, he is providing money (though now much less than when we were together obviously), I still take care of all the responsibilities I took care of when we were together. If something breaks, it’s on me to fix. If the car needs maintenance, it’s on me to provide. If the kids need discipline/support/a ride, it’s on me to enact.
What’s different? Now he has to pay his own bills (which is proving to be a challenge apparently, because I get blamed for his financial predicaments-even though he was able to walk away debt free when it all went down due to my financial savvy). Now he has to take care of his own life responsibilities of food and clothing (the kids tell me he never has food in the house-save for the energy/protein mix options). Now he doesn’t have regular sex unless he’s dating some other random woman that will overlook his infidelity (I’m sure that’s my fault too, so the women feel sorry for all he had to endure at my hand).
So things are generally the same for me…in a way that I never wanted my life to be. I still live in the state of loneliness…while putting my family first. Knowing that my kids are the most important to me doesn’t eliminate that desire I have always had to be cherished and loved by a partner along the path of life. It’s hard to shake. Holidays magnify the missing parts.
So when he goes about blaming me for his finances (for the third time in the past several months)…and when I respectfully ask him to keep his blame to himself…and I have to report the troubles the kids are having with residual feelings of being part of a divorced household (most recently experienced when he announced a new girlfriend he plans to introduce)…he then points the finger at me as though I helped to orchestrate this whole thing and am 50% to blame for what happened too…I get a little offended at his alteration of the past. The things I asked for and wanted from him were being part of a team. After not receiving those things, I wasn’t always pleasant. I was floundering under the weight of it all. I needed him. I lashed out from frustration. He wasn’t there.
I asked him for a partner, he asked me for a divorce.
You just wrote about my life.
Very familiar story. When I hear people talk about the breakdown of their marriages, what stands out to me is how commonly there is a breakdown of “team”, with one person essentially wanting to live like they are single while remaining part of a marriage. And then not “getting it” when this is a problem for the person who views the marriage through the lens of “team”.
I really think that there must be a fundamental difference between people in this way. Some people see themselves as both individuals as well as part of a team, while accepting and understanding that at times (especially with a young family) the team often has to take precedence.
Other people? They just want to be free, to live thier lives and do what they want how they want regardless of any responsibilities that they have to the team.
Yes…it’s sad. I think compounding the sadness is when one party misrepresents what exactly they want from the ‘team’. My ex always spoke of being a team player…it contradicted what his actions embodied. Starting over for him isn’t a big deal…trying to establish the embodiment of what I always wanted, now that’s near impossible. But as we’ve said…life’s a journey and I have to figure a way to make it work for me without reaching that ‘destination’.