Saturday, January 8, 2011

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

In my last post, I said I was going to try to emotionally distance myself from my wife in order to begin the process of separating.

Well, she tolerated my "bad mood" for a few days and then started badgering me with questions like: "What's the matter with you?!!"

Because I didn't feel ready to talk, I resisted her questions for as long as I could. Eventually, of course, I gave in and we began our fourth major conversation in two months about our future together.

Conversation One happened in early November. It began when I asked Gabbie when she planned to be done with her loser 'friend' Charlie. It ended when she decided to move out, which was something she had repeatedly threatened to do over the previous two years.

Conversation Two happened a month later, in early December. Gabbie started that conversation by saying she had decided not to move out. The kids need her, she said. She thought we could make our mixed-orientation marriage work if we had a "best-friend" (aka sexless) marriage, and, if she got to keep Charlie.

Conversation Three happened on December 26th. I tried to explain to Gabbie that staying married for the sake of the kids was a bad choice. It was only delaying the inevitable and ensuring that we'd both be much older by the time the last kid left. I also tried to get her to understand that sex is an essential part of a partnership for me. She didn't get it. "It's just sex!" she snapped.

What bothered me most was that I viewed her decision to stay as being temporary and not related to any romantic interest in me. Her answer? "We don't know what will happen in the future. Besides, what's wrong with what we have now? Don't we enjoy spending time together?"

What she said was true and that made me doubt myself. The conversation ended when I gave up and said, "OK, you're right."

In the days that followed I tried, tried, tried to accept a best-friends marriage, or even to relax and enjoy each day as it came. But I failed miserably. Her solution, I felt in my gut, was the wrong answer. Yet I couldn't figure out what the right answer was either. Then, thanks to a comment from Austin, it became clear to me that my wife and I were scrambling to make an unworkable situation work.

The fourth conversation about the future of our marriage, which happened a few days ago, went on for quite a few hours. Early on I felt that I had successfully proven to her that our mutual good-intentions were indeed a path to hell. A number of financial examples from the past sealed the deal on that idea. But even as she seemed to agree that a best-friends marriage was a bad compromise, she still thought that splitting up was the wrong answer. She had three big objections.

First, she said we can't afford two households. My answer was that we would remain in the same house but still separate. "I can't do that! I can't be out with someone else and then come home and sleep in the same bed as you!"

I think I could easily live that way but she, apparently, cannot.

Her second objection was that she knows a multitude of women who are single and in their 40s or 50s. Most of them have no chance of ever finding a man. Why would she be any different?

I had to give her half of that point. In our area there are way more single women looking for men than vice versa. Of course, none of those women are as hot as Gabbie is. Besides, what about broke and homeless Charlie?

Gabbie's third objection to splitting up was very upsetting. She said, "How can I leave? All the kids will blame me. They'll all hate me."

She's right, they would blame her.

How can I ask my wife to 'let' her three children hate her because *I* can't live with a best-friends marriage? Does this mean that I have no choice but to come out to them?

I was about to ask Gabbie if that's what had to happen but instead she said that she was too tired to talk anymore. It was well past 1am. Before long, we both fell into a restless sleep.

I awoke about three hours later. As I replayed the conversation in my head, I felt like I was pushing her to leave. Yes, splitting up felt like the right thing to do, but I couldn't force her to leave.

If I didn't force her to leave, then what? Back down?

It took a long while, but I eventually fell back to sleep.

In the morning, it was slightly awkward. The conversation wasn't finished but we both had a lot to do in the morning; it was not a good time to talk. A big part of me wanted to tell her that we'd "make the best of it together" - but that would be giving in again.

We had been up about 45 minutes when out of the blue Gabbie said to me, "I'll move out. I'll find a small apartment."

Wow. That was not what I expected.


Gabbie made her decision to move out three days ago. In the first twelve hours that followed I felt really shitty, for a number of reasons. The biggest was that I worried that I had pushed her out.

But that night she made a few comments that seemed...slightly upbeat. The next day all of my guilt disappeared when, while saying good-bye to Charlie on the phone, she said, "Love ya" to him. I was two feet away from her and she knew it. She had never been that blatant before.

Apparently she honestly agrees that splitting up is for the best.

We've had no discussions about when she will actually move. Until she does, the whole idea is theoretical as far as I am concerned. And even if she does move, there's nothing that says she won't want to come back in a week, or a month. Eighteen years ago when I came out to her and I had my perfect boyfriend I had NO idea that we'd get back together within a few weeks.

And then there's the issue of my other wife, my mother-in-law. I suspect that a lot of the reason Gabbie decided not to move out in November was because her mother FORBADE her from doing so. We both know Mommy is going to flip out when Gabbie tells her. And, just as I have a near perfect record of giving in to Gabbie, she has a near perfect record of giving in to her mother.

Unquestionably, a monster battle of wills will take place. I don't have a lot of confidence that Gabbie will persevere, but we'll see.

Because the transition will take time and because I don't feel like anything is certain yet, I find that I am suddenly not at all interested in dating. For that to change, Gabbie will have to clearly have moved on. Only then will I be able to focus on someone other than her.

Still, it DOES feel good to finally make some progress, even it is very tentative.

As always, thanks for your support and kind comments.


  1. Whoa! Movement, just when you didn't expect it. Who knows maybe this time she will stand firm in the face of her mothers disapproval.

    If she doesn't move out, could you at least think of getting separate beds? I think the whole sleeping together isn't good for either one of you, limbo land, ya know?

  2. Well - at least something is happening. That's good.

    I hope the mother-in-law doesn't put a wrench in it. You sound much happier when there's a plan on the table. And keeping the status quo isn't a plan.

    About you not being in the mood to date - that's totally understandable. It's like not wanting to drive after a car accident. It takes time.

    I have to agree with Biki's suggestion of separate beds. That's been my situation for god know how long now. It really goes a long way in making both parties feel single.


  3. It will be very interesting to hear what happens with the mother-in-law. There's another 'parent' story there

  4. Cameron - I had not checked your site this weekend and man, what a huge lightening bolt this was. That she could so casually just say it and flaunt Charlie's "love" over the phone is so brazen. We know she can make these statements and back down but this sounds different. Sure, the extra rent for someone to move out adds to the household expenses, but imagine the freedom it gives you and your kids to have her actually do this. Maybe it is a dare but it is also a sign she is not there for you or the kids really.

    This is going to be a really rough period and she may reverse herself several times, but it is the beginning of a new era for you Cameron.

    You are a great guy and deserve to have this get resolved even if it is by this big surprise exit strategy by her. Best of luck and thanks for getting pushy with me when I get feeling hopeless...Remember the strong advice you can dish out so well to others and take a measure of that for yourself to get through this period - we are rooting for you.