When is a relationship over? And why do I have to think about all this sh*t again?

I had a post in draft format prior to my date with Tony on Wednesday. It thanked everyone for their great advice and laid out a plan of what I was going to address (the ED) and how I was thinking about the other discussion I wanted to have.

At one point I said:

And the whole choice verses default thing I’m struggling with so much right now? 

I can’t push for an answer. He’s told me what he can. Which is he doesn’t want to date others, he likes what we have going, and he thinks we are doing well. His actions reinforce this. I know he likes me. Do I want to know more? Yes. Will he have an answer different from a few weeks ago? Probably not.

My core dilemma is this: 

How do I not let him “set the pace of everything” as one in my sisterhood wrote recently? How do I find the balance between chilling the hell out and being true to my actual needs and wants? When is talking myself out of those needs too much?

How do I make sure I don’t make the same mistakes again? 

There is no easy answer. No script. Even if I script my actions and words, I don’t know Tony’s.

Little did I know the conversation that night would go where it did.

Unsurprisingly, there were a host of opinions on what to do with the new information I’ve been given. The general consensus is it’s right to continue to be relaxed and understanding about it, and right to have an internal deadline for a decision. There is clearly a balance between not pushing him, being empathetic to the situation he is in, and taking care of my own needs. I am not going to wait forever like a woman waiting for an affair partner to leave his wife. Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.

Some suggested I give him space – as in a break – to sort it out. One suggested I break up with him now because his son’s happiness lies in the balance.

My post yesterday seemed bring up questions like: how do you know if you’ve tried hard enough in a marriage? Is it better to stay under one roof for the sake of the children, even if you are unhappy? How can we deal with the doubts and the guilt after a split, especially as it relates to your children?

It certainly made me think about my core belief that the longer you remain in limbo post-split, the harder it is for your children. I won’t repeat what I wrote in the comments of yesterday’s post, but there are things that Tony and his ex haven’t done which undoubtedly are increasing his child’s anxiety level.

I’m not sure if I ever wrote this, but during the three weeks between telling my son that we were splitting up, and the day I moved out, my son exhibited extreme OCD-like behaviors. Obsessive hand washing, among other things. It was absolutely displaced anxiety and we were prepared that it would manifest itself somehow. When I moved out, we ensured we got his room set up that weekend. We started our routine right away of week-on, week-off. Within a few weeks the OCD stuff ceased.

I also firmly believe it is better for a child to see positive and healthy relationships demonstrated by their parents. Sometimes this is when they are together, and sometimes this is when they are apart. I know some parents think the better choice is for them to stay together “for the children”, but they give little thought to the cold war that actually happens under the roof and the impact it has.

Newsflash: it can really f*ck your kids up. Will’s parents should have divorced decades before they actually did. What they modelled for their children was terrible and it’s taken Will and his sister years to figure out that’s not how healthy relationships work.

Yes, I know this can be a huge debate. It really depends on the marriage. But I have so many friends who in adulthood have said “if only my parents would just have split up, it would have been way better for me growing up”.

But that’s just my opinion. I haven’t shared this with Tony, and won’t unless he brings it up.

So what the hell am I going to do?

Nothing. At least nothing today.

Between now and the party I’m having at the end of the month, I may see him once or twice. Then I’m gone on a sunny vacation with my son, and the day after I return, he leaves until April 20th. We are getting some distance, even if it’s not deliberate.

I presume he’s going on his trip alone, but if he tells me he’s going with his ex and child (it’s to visit a member of his family) then I will tell him we are taking a break and he can check in with me when he’s back. I’m not about to sit and stew at home wondering if he’s making out with his ex-wife. Seriously.

Through all this I have also realized I’m a very good place mentally. As much as I like Tony (and I really do), I know that timing is everything. If he’s not ready, there is nothing I can do about it. If he needs to get back together with his ex, for whatever reason, then that’s what he needs to do. I do not see it as a rejection of me.

Don’t get me wrong. I will be sad if it ends. I will mourn the loss of the man with whom I have amazing physical and mental chemistry. I will miss him.

But I will be fine.

0 thoughts on “When is a relationship over? And why do I have to think about all this sh*t again?

  1. I think your mind is in the right place. It sounds like you have some clarity about him and the situation… and I think it’s great that he opened up and told you those things you wrote about in your previous post. It might not have all been the greatest news in the world, but it was his truth and that tells me he’s an upstanding guy. I think you are right to have a timeline, I think you’re right not to pressure him as yet. I like him too – as much as a complete stranger with only one person’s perspective can. I hope he is able to straightened out his “Junk” without losing a good woman and hope for a happier future. I suspect you will land on your feet no matter what. 🙂

  2. This post was expertly written. I don’t think I need to add anything or throw any things out for you to consider. It sounds like you’ve got a great handle on things and the best I can do is say that I’m proud of the way you are dealing with this and that I wish you the best of luck.

    • Thank you so much Beatnik. I do feel like I have this well in hand…but I might be a bit of a mess if / when I hear the words from him that are something along the lines of “I need to try again with my ex”. I know it will pass, but I don’t think it will be pretty in the immediate aftermath.

      • No it won’t be. Rejection is never easy. Even when done for reasons that are good or make sense (not saying this is true of your current situation). Here for you whatever does happen. Hugs.

  3. You seem more than fine – grounded, calm, and understanding.
    I’m catching up completely backwards, so I may have things out of a context. But, seriously, there’s not a drop of additional advice I’d give you – not that I’m typically teeming with wisdom anyway 🙂

  4. I think just the fact you were communicating at any level was a positive, regardless of the future outcome. How many relationships just flat out die without talking? Good luck and be prepared either way. It gets harder to hold onto to ourselves much less others as we get older.

  5. My parents divorced and I was happier for it. So yes, I think when relationships are toxic is totally better for the kids not to be subject to that.

    I think you’re on the right track honey. Keep doing what you feel is right and as long as you run with that and you’re happy with the decision that’s all that matters.

    X

  6. I think it is a fine line. On one hand, yes it is important for children to be raised by two parents. However if the relationship is toxic, then you could be doing more damage than good. No matter what, there is no “right” choice. Only the one you make and have to live with.

  7. I have such mixed feelings about his comments re: his wife. Spending more time with his son isn’t an issue as much as he makes it one. As in, he can schedule more time or set aside specific time and help his son understand that.

    Here’s what I do know: breaks don’t work. If he’s waffling, I’d much rather break it off than play this game where I’m on a seesaw waiting on him to decide he wants to “try again with her”

    I’m such a pessimist and I get skittish at the thought of a perm relationship because everyone leaves. I can’t handle that uncertainty, but you seem to be made of stiffer stuff than I.

  8. imho, he should take a break, be by himself and get his head on straight, it’s the biggest mistake I made after starting the divorce/separation proceedings with my first ex wife and led to my second ex wife,, I think overall, you’re handling things well *hugs*, and staying for the children, NEVER a good idea, being a divorced parent, I have two intelligent, well adjusted kids, because neither I nor either ex wife ever let our separation get in the way of the parenting, I’ve heard so many stories from children of friends who are now divorced, saying how they wished their parents had split earlier and then both parents would have been happier, and for the most part, I think that’s all most kids want for their parents, for them to be happy, because that makes us happy in turn.

  9. I wonder what damage I have done to my kids with 20 years of bad behavior (less for them). But sometimes I also see them adapting to change and growing stronger from it. One day I expect they will be able to tell me they see both parents happier. They motivate me to do better by them and I can understand the draw for any parent to maintain a family unit. Everyone deals with this in divorce and has their “capacity” to what they can manage in a bad marriage. He does need his own time but I am in admiration of you knowing you will be ok if his time and your time are not exactly synced and there has to be a break. You know I can’t imagine that yet so I love to read about the wisdom and courage it takes to knowingly move forward in uncertain circumstances with a definitive view.

  10. Ok first: you just sound so strong. You have clarity, and you know what you do and don’t want.

    Secondly: I appreciate your honest blog more and more…your self awareness is so refreshing to read.

    Regarding parents staying together for children: hmmm I don’t have kids so what do I know, but that sounds like a really bad idea. If parents aren’t happy, children aren’t happy. I would say find the love that you want to model for your children. My parents never even married in the first place. Thank God for that.

  11. I always say that every relationship is unique. In my case, I made a decision early on to stay in my marriage for the sake of my kids. Once I made that decision, I also focused on creating a stable, loving, dual parent household for them to grow up and be nurtured. Was it perfect? No. Did I make a lot of sacrifices and compromises, sometime to my detriment, yes. Do my kids realize this? Perhaps, but I would never tell them. My point is that Tony has to determine what he wants and it sounds like he wants to be free of his marriage, but he’s feeling the guilt of a good parent. I would suggest some counseling with a GOOD therapist. You are smart to give him some space. I think any pressure from you may cause him to make a hasty decision. Just keep doing, what you are doing. Good luck!

  12. Again, writing before reading so I don’t get distracted. I am firmly in the camp that you don’t
    “stay together for the children” I understand that in most cases it is traumatic for the children to go through, in the long run it is much MUCH better for them. In learning how relationships work, in seeing real happiness, not some masked charade played out by the people who are supposed to be their champions. Even if some of those who do attempt this route happen to successfully fool the children, they are even more shattered when the inevitable occurs, not only did they believe everything was fine, but you lied to them all that time, they probably don’t have a true idea about love, happiness or honesty.

    I know it was hard on my two, more so for my daughter, the ex pretty much always made my son feel second class, but I truly believe with every fiber of my being we (me and the kids) are far, far better off with the divorce. They were young, and it was hard but if I could do it all over, the only thing I would have changed would be a) not to marry him in the first place and b) ended it sooner.

    It sounds like you are in a pretty darn good place Ann, and your plan sounds good to me. (I bet you will see each other more than you guessed as well)

    • “Between now and the party I’m having at the end of the month, I may see him once or twice. Then I’m gone on a sunny vacation with my son, and the day after I return, he leaves until April 20th”

      That’s where I placed my bet Ann. I bet you have low balled this number. Once or twice between now and April 20th??

    • Thank you for this, Julie. It’s hard because I agree with you so much, and want to counsel him, but it will appear self-serving I fear. And he has to make his own decision, ultimately. I don’t want the guilt of hurting me or anything else to factor in. It won’t set us up well in the long run!

What do you think?