Dear future second wife of my ex-husband,
I can imagine what you must think of me, his first wife. I must be some hateful, spiteful, crazy shrew of a woman to push him away, to make him leave his family. I probably didn’t appreciate him, or make him feel loved or sexy, needed or wanted. I just didn’t understand him, and what he needed from me, needed from our relationship.
I was selfish and demanding. Plus, we had nothing in common. We grew apart.
It’s easy to assume you know the whole story, because he told it to you, and why would he lie? Or leave out any damaging details? He’s a stand up guy, honest and sincere. He always takes responsibility for his mistakes, his poor decisions…if he ever makes any, that is.
You find him smart, funny, interesting, attentive, generous, sexy, loving, thoughtful…the list goes on and on. And maybe, right now, he is all of those things and more for you. He treats you like a princess, like the center of his world. He wines and dines you, laughs at all of your jokes, and finds you beautiful and amazing. You are so lucky!
And maybe, at least for a little while or a bit more, he will be all of those things and you will be deliriously happy together.
But eventually, you settle into your routines like most married couples do. You get busy with life, maybe you even add a couple of kids to the picture, and why not? You’re young! Actually much younger than him, or me for that matter.
And ever so slowly those special moments between you two are fewer and far between.
He’s not as attentive, or as interested in you sexually or otherwise, and he doesn’t really seem to care what you think about anything, or need from him. He’s busy being “the guy”. He’s got his job and his buddies to keep him busy, too. He tunes out when you talk to him, maybe even checks his phone, or walks out of the room entirely while you are in mid-sentence.
How do I know? Because I’ve been there.
He was wonderful while we were dating and even the first couple years of our marriage. Smart, funny, interesting, attentive, generous, sexy, loving, thoughtful…all of those things and more. He treated me like a princess, like the center of his world. He wined and dined me, laughed at all of my jokes, and found me beautiful and amazing.
Sure, there were a few red flags, but nothing that my love couldn’t fix.
Even his mother told me “the way he treats his mother is the way he will treat his wife” I didn’t believe her, why would he? He was mean and cruel to his mother pretty often, I witnessed more than a few screaming matches between the two of them, with truly hateful insults towards her from him. But, surely, he would never treat me that way. I was the love of his life, his partner, his special one.
Plus, I would “never” let him treat me that way. And why would he?
But, time moves forward, and as your lives become more entwined, they also become more complicated. By then, you’ll have kids, a mortgage, car payments and you’ve most likely become a stay at home mom to raise your children while he continues to move up the corporate ladder. You don’t need to go back to work, he makes enough money.
You both agreed on that plan, for the success of your future together, remember?
Maybe you’ve even moved a time or two by now. Or maybe you’ve just stayed in place, in the same house with the same friends doing the same things, while he’s moving up the corporate ladder onto the next big promotion, the next important position that defines him, and that means he’s got to do the “corporate” thing. He will work all hours of the day and any day, even taking calls on weekends. He will leave by 6am and come home around 8pm, after the kids are in bed, so he can relax and watch TV before falling asleep on the couch.
He has to go to those thank you happy hours for his staff on a Wednesday night, and again on Thursday night. He has to go to the awards dinners for his team, to represent the management, but it’s a work thing so he won’t be taking you. And he has to go out with the guys he works with, the same guys he eats lunch with almost everyday, at least a few times each month to build relations and camaraderie. It’s important for his career.
You understand, don’t you?
You will eventually be married to the man I divorced. Yes, you will. Maybe not today, maybe not next year or five years from now, but eventually you will be. You’ve already met the man that I married, but now the other guy is back. And he’s not so wonderful, is he?
He’s not funny, at least not around you, and he doesn’t think you’re all that funny now either. He’s not very interesting, but you don’t interest him enough lately anyway. He’s also not as attentive, generous, sexy, loving or thoughtful. But, he’s still smart. He’s smarter than you, didn’t you know? He won’t tell you exactly, no. He’ll just embarrass you in front of his friends or your family, talk to you as if you have the IQ of a cucumber, and downplay your accomplishments – or better yet, take credit for them.
And, don’t worry, he can find a few more things he doesn’t like about you at any given moment.
You will be lonely, frustrated, sad, angry, exhausted…all of those things and more. You will find yourself questioning what you really saw in him to begin with, was it all just smoke and mirrors? Even if you realize that you’re not happy, are you unhappy enough to leave? Or have you invested too much time by now?
You’re older now, and you have kids to think about. And you haven’t worked in years.
You expected him to be a terrific husband, and a loving and involved father, with you as his partner and his special someone. Not a checked out, dismissive, cruel version of the guy you met.
Did he just change?
Sure, sometimes people change, it’s true. We all grow from our life experiences, and change as we get older. Some people even change for the better. And in the beginning, I tried to keep an open mind, and hope for the best, just like any other disappointed ex-wife. And I still wanted him to be that guy I met in the beginning again for our kids, after the divorce. Smart, funny, interesting, attentive, generous, loving, and thoughtful.
But he was too busy filling the void in his life with you. His new “special someone”.
He was too busy wooing you to be an attentive and supportive father, far too busy creating a life with you to even spend a full weekend with his kids. He had to wine and dine and impress the new “candidate” to fill the vacancy. Someone to handle the details of his life, someone to take care of him and his home now. She needed to be properly vetted and ready to take over as soon as the divorce was final, because he “doesn’t like to live alone”.
Didn’t he tell you that?
So, enjoy the ride while it’s exhilarating and exciting, filled with love and laughter and a safety harness. Get in all of those romantic dinners and date nights now, while you can.
The rest of the ride is a roller coaster with lots of twists and turns, no safety bar or harnesses allowed, and it always seem to be going downhill…