Two nights ago I dreamt my ex was starting a relationship with a diminutive, Asian woman. She smiled incessantly and didn’t speak. He happily introduced her to me. I didn’t want him, but I didn’t want to see this, either. Thanks, movie of the mind. I woke up crying, but it was really the middle of the night, and I fell back asleep again.
My ex seems like a dream himself. He never ever talks to me. Once, only once, he insisted on a person to person meeting. At his favorite dessert and coffee house, on his turf, he decided to tell me he was dating. He had obviously been told my his lawyer to let me know, as he had already informed my 17 year old. “She has such good boundaries, though, she probably didn’t tell you”.
He learned the term “boundaries” from me.
I asked him if he had anything important to tell me that had to do with the children or the finances. He stumbled around on a minor question about my daughter’s upcoming trip with her friends. I answered and then got up and left.
He’s drifting into the past, like a memory of high school, or living in California, or a road trip I took on a bus with a guitar on my back, one I never really learned to play. It’s strange. My friends who are divorced talk with their ex-spouses sometimes, sharing concerns or information. Not in this case. My ex left the country for ten days without leaving contact information with anyone but my daughter. When she had what could have been a serious accident on her horse, he couldn’t be found.
I thought we might co-parent, but the first time I consulted him, he told me it was my problem.
So I guess the important thing is to make sure your soon to be ex knows you are dating. Other than that, you might as well be dead.
I don’t understand these desperate stories of “it’s not working, but we need the sad goodbye sex”. Our sex life was dismal, infrequent at best, and unimaginative. There’s no need to revisit it. And honestly, having a lousy sex life is really much much worse for your relationship than I ever knew. I rationalized that other things were okay, other things were good, right? , and I couldn’t figure out a way to fix it. I now think lousy sex was at least half the nails in the coffin. And even with all the sex fixers out there, and I know them, couples therapists, sex therapists, relationship connection therapists, there was something never there. I did once hear a famous therapist say that some element of relationship is a mystery, that skills can be taught, and behaviors can be worked on, but there is a magic involved that can not be forced.
I wish I had listened to my still, small voice that said “no magic” even though there were plenty of positives going in. The sparkless partnership got covered over with vacations, children’s sports teams, career, and all the busy-ness of ordinary, of proper, family life. It’s more Mad Men- esque than I can stand to admit. There I am, Don Draper’s wife (although believe me, I would have had better sex if he had been Don Draper), with a veneer of career sensibility, but still with a chasm between us.
I could initiate more contact, but honestly, I don’t want to. I led the way all along, and when I couldn’t figure out what to do, he left. I suppose he was right, because the unsaid premise was I was the leader. He once said, “tell me what I have to do, and I’ll do it.”.
That might have been the problem. Sometimes you have to know what to do or at least be willing to guess.