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Sunday, October 31, 2004

S sent an email asking “What would have been the one thing that could have convinced you to stay?”

<>To summarize the answer – If Wife had remained more or less the woman I married and not turned into a stranger after Child was born the marriage would still be alive and well. I loved that woman, wanted to spend my life with her. Everything she represented herself to be turned out to be the opposite of the reality when the chips were on the table and it was time to start living out the rest of our lives. I dislike the Stranger and miss my Wife. But Stranger was given the opportunity many times to change back to Wife and it never happened.

On a happier note, Happy Halloween! I had a great weekend with Child, out to costume parties, both of us dressed up, enjoying the Indian Summer weather and the leaves falling and the beauty of fall but most of all each others company. Trick-or-treated together until we almost dropped, then home to inspect the loot. Played some chess earlier today, went for a long walk together this morning ending at our favorite pizza joint. It would have been absolutely bucolic except that every few hours I had to bump into Wife. The good news is that I can see how the future will play out and parts of it look nice.

Wife and I had another talk about trying to keep things amicable. We are both still committed to making it work but we will see when it comes time to dividing the assets. But an encouraging sign today when she emailed me information on an apartment for sale. She seems invested in the process.

I have a date on Thursday night. Keep your fingers crossed.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Busy week and progress is being made. Two major events this week and lots of musing. Visited with the Divorce Lawyer in the middle of the week. Had a serious conversation with Wife, that she instigated, about the future where we both approached the discussion like rational adults. And for the first time in months I feel like at some point in my life I may be able to really smile again.

To summarize the situation, Child still does not know about the split, I spend every Saturday and Sunday at home, sleeping over on Saturday night (awkward!), and visit for dinner one night per week. The rest of the week I live at the apartment a couple of towns away and pretend to be on business trips when talking with Child on the phone. All the fiction is done at the request of Wife, but truth be told there is value in it to me, which has been proven out this week. I had hoped that by agreeing to live this fiction for a while, Wife may be able to see things for how they really are, which is what finally happened. More on this in a bit.

Visited Divorce Lawyer earlier this week who smells my money like a piranha smells a bleeding cow in the water. His advice – file right away, you lose financially by waiting, time-is-a-wasting, and oh by the way, there is a $10,000 retainer and total fees will be between $25k and $35k unless things get really ugly and then sky is the limit. And 2x when adding Wife’s lawyer to the mix. OUCH. And to add to the pain, when filing for divorce, Lawyer tells me that I have to come up with reasons for the divorce when I file. Given our situation, I will have to petition based on “Excessive Cruelty”, which means I will have to chronicle a half dozen or so examples from our relationship when Wife acted outrageously and then let Lawyer insert them into the filings so he can create a narrative arc. Though I have no interest in being married to Wife for even another minute, I don’t harbor any particular animus towards her and frankly this part of the process turns my stomach. Kind of makes me feel scummy to have to chronicle things that should stay in the marriage (or in an anonymous blog!) but not go into legal briefs which become part of the public record (Jack Ryan learned the hard way that these filings don’t stay private). But this is the crazy law of our state and I have no choice but to comply.

Wife has been asking to have a conversation with me for a couple of days and finally this afternoon we were able to carve out a half hour when child was watching TV and there were no other distractions. The entire conversation was respectful, rational and calm, though many tears were shed and much emotion expressed. She opened by telling me that the current situation was untenable and not sustainable, and then said that is was becoming clear to her that I am not showing any signs of coming back or that the marriage can be fixed. She then asked me how I would set things up if it were all up to me. I told her that I agreed, it is unlikely that the marriage could be saved and if it was up to me I would buy a two or three bedroom apartment within one or two miles of home, have a close and loving relationship with Child and a friendly and amicable relationship with ex-Wife. After a lot of talk about us, and some trust building around our approach to money and other family assets, we then started talking about lawyers and the costs associated with divorce. We reached a decision that we would look into mediated divorce, a lower cost and lower stress approach to divorce that has been growing in popularity particularly among people who are committed to going through the process in a way that is designed to minimize pain on the children and maximize respect for the needs of each of the adults involved. I have done some reading about this and will look into it in greater depth this week.

Prior to the conversation with Wife, I had already set an appointment with a real estate broker to look at apartments to buy (under advice of counsel). After the conversation I went to look at real estate and saw some nice places that would fit in my budget. Called my mother, had a nice dinner with her, talked at length about the situation. And for the first time in months, I see a way to get to the other side of this process and find a way to smile again. I hope that happens soon.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

<>Rhoda left some interesting comments to my post of October 3. They are good probing questions. To respond…

The “buddy” question… How to be your child’s parent when you are allotted limited time with them is the million-dollar question. While it is more important to me than ever to have a warm loving relationship with Child, I fully intend to be a parent while enjoying every second we get together. The balance between permissive/enabling “Buddy” and role model/teaching/loving “Parent” will be a constant struggle in the years to come. I intend to be a parent, but the easy route will always be there. Better to be conscious of the issue than to close the eyes and walk the easy path.

Am I divorced in my mind or am I long gone… No excuses, I am not moving back. I went for the trial separation for two reasons. (1) Because Wife asked that we view this as a trial and not a permanent step, and I will walk a mile barefoot through broken glass to accommodate her if it means easing the pain-to-come for Child; and (2) I have learned through hard experience that not all decisions taken in the heat of emotion are decisions that stand up to scrutiny over time, and as such, the trial separation serves as a cooling off period in which I can test the assumptions and evaluate things with the perspective of distance. However, as time has gone by, I am more certain than ever that the marriage is over. I have scheduled another appointment with my divorce lawyer, this time to move into the formal separation process. Meeting with Lawyer is on Tuesday, next steps to be documented as we craft the end game strategy.

Wife dating on Saturday nights… Yes that will a fun one to deal with. Child care will be taken care of in the way it is done now – either me, one of the grandmothers, or the baby sitter will be with Child. I am not looking forward to having my nose rubbed in this though. What am I going to do when she says goodbye and starts dating for real? No idea other than deal with it as I have had to deal with lots of other unpleasant things in my life. Then go out and get drunk.


Monday, October 11, 2004

I had drinks earlier this evening with a friend whose husband passed away in late August. Actually, to be more precise, he committed suicide. She found him hanging in the basement of their summerhouse and tried to revive him. My friend finds herself a widow at the age of 45. I can’t imagine the pain and swirl of emotions she is dealing with. Fortunately, they had (have) no children so on one level she can take the time to deal with all the crap, but on the other hand she doesn’t get the consolation and distractions that kids can provide.

They were married for about eight or nine years, and like just about everybody who is married, had their shares of troubles but managed to pull it together. They almost broke up several years ago but went through therapy and for all appearances they seemed to be reasonably happy together. He had recently suffered a significant business reversal which included a betrayal by trusted associates and was under legal pressure as a result of some malfeasance by the former partners, though the prosecutors who were after the business associates assured my friend that her husband’s hands were clean. Recurring bouts of depression compounded by the business failure lead to the most permanent of decisions.

<>Even though we were not that close (I am better friends with his wife) I still think of him several times each week, usually starting with some fond memory then immediately flipping over to anger and just generally being pissed at him, and I mean really pissed. How selfish and self involved the decision he made. And what pain he must have been in. What was he thinking?

I bring this up only because the day Wife and I arrived at the decision to separate we were on vacation and I had not checked email for nearly a week. After the discussion, I left for a few hours, went to the local library, logged on to email, and found out about his death. I called my friend to offer condolences and found out about the method of his passing. The two events have become inextricably linked in my mind.

I write this in the blog for no reason other than his death and the end of my marriage are intertwined, both sadden me deeply, and I keep searching for a deeper meaning to the whole thing and can’t find one.


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Here I am, about three solid weeks into the trial separation. Finally settling into the groove after a couple of weeks of craziness. I still sleep over the house once or twice a week, just did last night (Saturday night) to continue the fiction of marriage for Child and to live up to agreement with Wife that this is a trial separation. Random thoughts and reflections on the trial separation so far…

The only fully furnished sublet I could find that a human would actually live in and did not totally bust the budget is in a fancy suburban town about 20 – 25 minutes from where family lives. I hate the neavou-rich pretentious town where I am currently spending time. It is populated by aggressive and self-satisfied yuppies that try to run you down if you dare to cross the street on foot, and has town center where you can’t buy a slice of pizza or find a Laundromat but you have the option of getting your sushi from five Japanese restaurants. To make matters worse, I have a hefty commute into the city where I work and then add on travel back/forth to see family and take care of other obligations in town where I “live” has added a serious and unexpected burden to my life. I have a two-month commitment on the place where I am now but will need to move closer to “home” as soon as possible. I miss living in my suburban town and the extra traveling is taking a physical toll. Of course, this gets layered into my thinking about family. How easy it would be to move home, as Wife wants me to, pretend everything will be ok, so that I can have the creature comforts I miss?

The oddest part had been relationship with Child. As I am now seeing Child only on Saturday and Sunday before leaving for a “business trip” on Sunday evenings, with the odd weeknight stop over for dinner, I feel like the whole dynamic has changed between us. Of course a lot of it is in my head, but I now feel more like a buddy than a parent. Keep in mind that Child is 5 years old. We had a great time today, playing chess (Child started learning in Kindergarten last week and check-mated me three times today!), going for a hike and pizza lunch, working in the yard together, playing trains, etc. Before the separation, due to commuting time, business travel, and frankly, arranging my schedule to be home as little as possible so as to avoid Wife, I only was home before Childs bedtime maybe two weeknights and was usually gone before Child woke in the morning. In terms of net real time spent with Child, I am still at 50-75% of pre-separation, but I feel oddly disconnected from the role of “parent”. Just an observation, clearly I have to work on this and not let the dynamic become permanently skewed. To add to matters, Child is starting to understand that my being away a lot is not just a temporary phenomenon, and really laid the guilt on me this afternoon about not being around during the week. Shows the disconnect between my perception of self as a “buddy” and Childs view of me as parent who is wanted. Tough times indeed.

<> Lump update. It is gone, completely. Wife went to two doctors who are now ‘monitoring’ the situation. I wonder how much of it was psychosomatic or a conscious attempt at using guilt to try to save the failing marriage? We may never know.

That is all for now.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

Just a quick update before bed. Wife’s Lump has subsided to grain of rice size and She is relaxing about the whole thing. Wife has follow up doc’s appointments this week but the panic is gone.

I went home from the airport and spent the evening, sat on the couch with her. She seemed to appreciate it. We also spent a lot of time together this weekend as a family, with the exception of Saturday night…

Of course, the opportunity to stick foot in ones mouth always presents itself and somehow I managed. When I went home to be supportive, she started pressing me about my plans for this weekend (just passed) and I said I couldn’t be at home Saturday night. Of course Wife jumped all over this, assuming (correctly) that I had a date, which of course I denied. Bruised feelings all around but we survive. What a tangled web we weave…

Date was nice but no snap crackle pop of intense desire and passion so I probably will not see her again. But no matter, I still have the training wheels on and the only way to get back in the groove is to get back at it. So I will go out when I can and hope that something good comes of the effort.

I have also decided that I need to consult with the Divorce Attorney again. But that is for another post…


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