With leaflets from apartment complexes scattered around, and a wife half-way out the door, it’s understandable that I might suspect there is something wrong with my life.
To date, other than very carefully sharing my story only with people who have access to the Internet, I have been reasonably cautious about who I tell. Part of the reason for this is the possibility of humilation for me or for my wife. If the whole locality knows she’s planning to leave me with the kids, she might be reviled and I don’t particularly want that for her (although it might eventually be unavoidable). If this somehow gets resolved without a divorce, not everyone need know about all of these problems.
When I told my mum recently, she was upset for me (she always sticks up for me, even when everyone–including me–can see that I’m in the wrong about something; she’s sweetly insane like that). I asked her to handle it sensitively. She agreed. Of course, she said. Then, because my dear mum has the memory of a goldfish, she promptly forgot that and fired off an e-mail to my wife. Except she sent it to me instead (fortunately). I called her the next day and explained that this was one very good reason why I didn’t tell her right away in the first place. I didn’t want my wife to feel pressure from her mother-in-law and anyone else I told, as it would probably make things worse rather than better. After I got her to faithfully promise to tattoo “No more e-mails” on her arm, I forgave her. I give it a 20% chance she will remember which e-mails she is not supposed to send. More than likely, I won’t get anymore either. Or she’ll send mine to my wife.
Tonight, another friend entered my ‘circle of trust’ and this one had particular insight. As a Ph.D. clinical psychologist, she has an advantage over the rest of us in terms of making guesses about what might happen next: what might be at the heart of this, how long before things might come to a head, how things might work out for me in the future, and so on. I didn’t ask her specific questions that would require me to discuss my relationship with my wife. She sees my wife regularly around the area and it seemed wrong. Besides, online and offline via this blog, I can be more open and have been given excellent advice already.
[[ As an interlude, my oldest daughter, Amélie, stopped by. She’s back from college/university, stays up all night Skyping with friends and sleeps when everyone is out at school or work. She wanted to tell me all about how she was exhausted. “Do tell,” says I, knowing that this was not likely to be a story that generated much sympathy on my part. She explained that she had been playing Sims 3 (a game where you live a virtual life, including jobs, families, etc.) and her player (a lady) had got married, had a baby, then had another baby (but had twins–oops) and now she had 3 young kids, not enough money, and was tired all the time. I didn’t bother reminding her that there was a time our real-life family included a new-born (Charlotte), a 23-month old (Brigitte), and a 5-year old (Amélie). I also decided not to show her the array of blogs where people in the real world struggle through exactly that problem, except they don’t get to pause the game to grab some food from the kitchen. ]]
My friend asked right away if the death of my wife’s father last year had affected her. Yes, I said, it has affected her deeply, although I don’t fully understand why. She asked about a few other things and before I knew it, I’d dumped more information on her than I originally intended. The good news I got is that sometimes these situations do resolve themselves. The bad news is that, if it doesn’t, there’s a fair chance — based on what little she knew about the circumstances — that I might survive the ordeal better than my wife. She said that it’s not uncommon for the party who leaves to regret it 18-24 months later, by which time the person left behind has moved on, and the resulting depression (for the leaving party) can be difficult to deal with, that person can be a basket case. “Not uncommon” doesn’t mean anything is certain, but still, it’s not a pretty picture.
Before time ran out and Starbucks had the temerity to close for the night, she commented that she thought my approach to this might might make it possible to have what is termed the ‘good divorce’ if it comes to that. Very interesting. Apparently the term comes from a book from some years ago. The key seems to be to remain on good terms with your partner as you work through a break-up (if a break-up happens). Again, very interesting…
Finally, today is/was my wedding anniversary. I was told no celebration at all was allowed in the circumstances. She later relented and asked if we might go out somewhere to talk. Then my Most Useless Daughter (who shall remain unnamed, but I realize her initials are apt) let me know that (a) she had a Band Concert, and (b) had been invited to a sleepover birthday party after the Band Concert. Grrr. It’s just The Best, the Very Best, when I find these things out too late to make arrangements for carpooling and so on. My wife got sufficiently annoyed that she canceled the private chat. Oh dear.