Thursday, August 9, 2007

I Won't Rescue A Non-Existent Relationship has an article entitled "Improve Marriage Tips." Once upon a time in my formerly married life, I spent time looking for advice and ideas such as those contained in this article to improve my marriage, but found out that all the advice had underlying assumptions. For examples, relationship advice makes sense if you believe you marriage is salvageable, but not if your choice is salvage yourself or salvage your relationship. Or it does not work if your relationship is simply non-existent. My choice was really that my marriage was non-existent, but the sad part of my story is that I had to force this conclusion out of an ex whose cowardice made my life much more painful to reach the conclusion.

My marriage started to fade after my first son was born. My ex wanted kids, but was not into kids. My perspective is that he wanted kids like he wanted all the toys in his life--things there for his amusement. In fact, he collected things he wanted--power tools, a pick-up truck, computers, etc. He rarely spent time interacting with the kids, just patting them on the head in passing.

After having two children in two years and having to face a business that failed, my ex became extraordinarily disinterested in his home life. He lived in his office and came to bed long after I went to sleep. He spoke for hours on end to the people in his Everquest (EQ2) guild, and Everquest had become his daily lifeline. The only stable factor in his life was his job, and he constantly talked about quitting. He had all the hallmark signs of wanting to leave our marriage and find a new life. He just could not admit it to himself or to me.

Instead of being honest, my ex dragged his feet for months. I would ask him the typical "What's wrong?" questions and tell him that we (or he alone) should see a counselor. I tried to engage him at different levels like asking about Everquest. In the end, all I ever got was "I don't want to hurt you." After a 15 year relationship, this was all my ex had to say--like I was some china doll!

To add insult to injury, he started an affair with someone from his Everquest guild before even letting me know he had issues. He spent vast quantities of money (e.g., buying a custom gaming computer) on his girlfriend. He planned a couple weekend trips and made up weak excuses to cover his tracks. I constantly caught him lying and spending money, and he would create new lies. It was almost like he was an addict! Silly and naive me. I thought he would confront me first about our relationship issues and then try to start a new relationship after ending ours.

The advice sites that tell you to be honest and to forgive the transgressions of others mean well, but these rules do not apply when both parties are not on equal ground. The honesty factor to me is the most important advice because it is the basis of trust. Both parties in a relationship have to be honest for trust to exist. Forgiveness in my book is predicated by making amends--atoning for wrongs.

My ex is still not honest to this day about his relationship. Even though we are separated, he still tries to give big gifts to his girlfriend that come close to interfering with child support. (He does not even remember his sons' birthdays.) With no honesty, I have no trust in him. And what forgiveness? With my ex's constant lying and inability take make any amends, forgiveness is a long-term goal.

FYI. I personally think my ex went shopping for a girlfriend because he's the type of guy who could not survive emotionally on his own. He needs someone to constantly feed his ego. As he once told me, "Wife first, then kids." He's Mr. Fabulous, I have no issues, let me introduce you to my girlfriend who thinks I'm fabulous. He needs a woman who is insecure enough to cowtow to his ego in public and at most, berate him in private. We all need to have some self-importance and need a positive self-image, but at what price?

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