Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Happened After My Wife Moved Back In

After Gabbie and I cleared out her apartment on Friday, December 14th, I was anxious about what might happen next.  Her move was meant to blindside her boyfriend Charlie and we didn't know how he'd react.  Surprisingly, he took the news in stride.

Although there wasn't a scrap of furniture left behind, he continued to sleep there, in a sleeping bag, for the rest of December.  Maybe because he's been homeless so many times before it wasn't a big deal for him.  Whatever.  I didn't care what happened to him, just so long as he wasn't a part of my life.

Moving back in with me and the kids dramatically improved Gabbie's spirits.  She was giddy for weeks.  In fact, she was so upbeat, and so much like her old self, that I became increasingly confident that the long nightmare with Charlie was finally over.  Not only did she stop spending time with him, but she also stopped going to the bar by herself and she stopped drinking altogether.  While I can't say "it was the best Christmas ever!" I can say, for me, it was the best Christmas in many years.

From the moment Gabbie moved back in, she and I spent every night together.  We cooked together, cleaned together, shopped together...we did almost everything a 'normal' married couple would do together...and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Some people have asked what it is that I love so much about Gabbie.  That's a reasonable question given how much time I've spent writing about her bad behavior.  There's no doubt that she continues to captivate me, in spite of all she's done, and in spite of my non-heterosexuality.  What's so special about her?

The simplest explanation I can offer is that spending time with Gabbie when she's at her best is an experience of pure joy.  She makes me feel like I've regained my sight after going blind or regained my hearing after going deaf.  The joy she brings me when she's "on" is absolute and indescribable.  Truly, like the sight-impaired or the hearing-impaired, I must be emotionally impaired because experiencing her happiness brings me a depth of inner fulfillment that I have rarely felt on my own.  Is it any surprise that I'm so patient with her?

The three happiest weeks I've had in years came to an end after Christmas.  The situation didn't blow up, but it did change.

My 13yo daughter, Rose, has a strong dislike of her mother.  It makes me sad to see her so filled with antipathy for someone who loves her so much, but for reasons that Rose can't clearly articulate, she despises Gabbie, and claims she always will.

As I said in the previous post, Rose was furious that I let Gabbie move back in.  Fortunately she wasn't so mad (or selfish) as to ruin Christmas by being openly hostile.  After Christmas, however, she was less restrained.  Unbeknownst to me, Gabbie started lobbying the kids to support the idea that we'd all continue to live together, permanently. My son was ok with that but my daughter was not.  When Gabbie mentioned the idea to Rose, she went ballistic and made it clear that she'd make us all miserable if that ever happened.

It was Gabbie who told me about her reaction.  She was devastated by Rose's anger.  But she also said she wasn't about to let a 13 year old girl run her life, "and I hope you're not going to let her run yours either."

Gabbie should have known better than to be so obviously manipulative.  If that was the best argument she could make for us to permanently live together, then she had no argument at all.

Annoyed by her feeble attempt to sway me, I asked Gabbie a pivotal question that was intended to reveal her true feelings:  "Do you want to live with me, or the kids, or all of us?"

"All of you, of course."

"What if I moved out and you kept the kids.  Would you like that?"

"Well, no."

"Oh, then I must be the person you want to live with so badly?"

"I want all of us to live together."

We went around in circles a few more times but eventually she admitted that she didn't want to live with just the kids, or just me.  What that meant was she didn't want to do much of the work of parenting, nor did she want to get back together with me.  What she wanted was the best of both worlds...to be single and free whenever she felt like it, and to have a family on-call to keep her company the rest of the time.

That was not an acceptable answer for me, but I didn't want to risk getting emotional about it by reacting immediately.  Instead, I decided to think about it some more, without any pressure from her or the kids.  I ended the conversation by giving her a non-committal answer: "You've only been back for a few weeks.  Let's see how the next month goes, especially with Rose."

It turned out that Rose was unyielding.  When I asked her why she was so opposed to letting her mom stay she said, "It's because of you, Dad.  As long as she's around you're not going to get on with your life."  She was right and I knew it...and thus Gabbie's fate was sealed.

Gabbie started looking for another apartment in mid-January.  In just a few days she got a lucky tip and secured a nice two bedroom in a great location - for $100 less per month than she and Charlie were paying for their tiny, dark studio.  She moved out again on January 27th.

Now that she's been gone for three weeks, I can report some progress on a few key issues:

First, we're over as couple.  For as much as I enjoyed December, and I know Gabbie did too, when she admitted that she had no desire to live with me, that was all I needed to know.  I'd rather be alone for the rest of my life than be trapped in a relationship of her convenience.  I'm a ridiculously loyal person, but the only people who deserve my loyalty are the ones who really want to be with me.

Second, Gabbie might have turned the corner with Charlie.  She claims she's done with him and that she's never going to let him live with her again, but I'm still skeptical.  He's been working out of the area for most of the year and has a place to sleep while he's on that job.  The real test will come when he's broke and homeless again when the job ends.  Will Gabbie let him 'crash' at her place?  We'll see.

Third, now that Gabbie is out of the house for good, I do feel more free to try dating men again.  I'm not exactly enthusiastic about the idea but I'm going to give it a try again soon.

Epilogue

I've been frequently criticized for being co-dependent and for doing a poor job of protecting my kids from Gabbie and Charlie's antics.  Every time I write about something bad that happens, I'm told to take a stand: to get a restraining order against Charlie and to take a 'tough love' approach with Gabbie.

For as much as I sincerely appreciate the advice, and I do, I've never felt that getting tough with Gabbie was the right thing to do.  And now that I have the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, I feel that my slow and patient approach has resulted in the best possible outcome for all of us.

I could have kicked Gabbie out three years ago and immediately filed for divorce.  I also could have turned the kids against her by exposing her bad behavior and her affair with Charlie.  Doing either or both of those things would have made for a faster resolution, but the speed and drama of it all would have been traumatizing for everyone, especially the kids.  While the patient approach has been a long and unpleasant slog, no one will be permanently scarred because of it.  Yes, the kids have all been hurt and disappointed by Gabbie's poor choices, but there's no way around that.  In all other ways, our familial relationships are as intact and positive as possible, and that means the long-term trauma has been minimized.  Looking back, I can't see how blowing up the family by taking an aggressive stance with Gabbie would have made for a better outcome.

In many situations I'm sure my co-dependent, patient approach would be a very poor choice.  But for this situation, it's always felt right.  I'm very happy that I can look back and not be ashamed of my behavior or regret any of the decisions I've made.  The journey hasn't been easy or perfect, but overall, it's worked out well.  So...in light of my much maligned co-dependent behavior, all I have to say is that I'm happy, because each step of the way, I feel like I did the right thing.

Many thanks to you all for your support over the years.

I don't know if I'm ever going to find a compatible man to enjoy life with, but I hope you'll accompany me on that journey as I blog about dating from time to time.  Even if I never meet anyone, I plan to continue blogging about bisexuality and mixed orientation marriages for the indefinite future.  Believe me, there are a lot of people out there who find those posts far more interesting than the ones about my life.

Thanks for reading.

Cameron

22 comments:

  1. Good on ya mate! Only you can know for sure what the right course is for you and your family. We're all bystanders with extremely limited facts doing the armchair Monday morning quarterback thing. As far as anything I might post, please, always feel free to take what you can use an disregard the rest.

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  2. Kudos to you and thank you for sharing this story.

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    1. Thanks for the kudos JF, I appreciate your support.

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  3. “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.” My world is so topsy-turvy at times, it is reassuring to read about others who are the same or have even crazier lives...that being said we (the readers) only know your world as you present it to us. Of course, we are always going to want what (we perceive) is best for you given the "limited facts" (as RIT so eloquently wrote) that we know. That being said, God bless the wisdom of your daughter Rose. She is right about you getting on with your life. I also truly believe that you will find someone else out there who will give you the inner fulfillment you find with Gabbie...but you must be open to it. I'll continue to root for you and thank you for letting us into your world. Your blog, by its nature, is episodic, moving from chapter to chapter, but life is a journey...keep your eyes open.

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    1. Mikey - You always write the nicest comments, thank you! These are powerful words "I also truly believe that you will find someone else out there who will give you the inner fulfillment you find with Gabbie" and I sure hope you're right. Am I open to that? I'm a work in progress. Thanks again for your support.

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  4. I have no desire at all to be ugly, but thank goodness Rose has better judgment than you do. As they say, out of the mouth of babes.

    I hope Rose has convinced you that you do need to move on with your life.

    Best wishes.

    Jack Scott

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    1. Lol, Jack. Rose would be glad to know she has a fan. BTW, she didn't convince me to move on. That's been my plan for a while now, and actually, last year I did. I was literally weeks away from introducing my bf to my kids. But then he panicked and that was that. Even if I never find a compatible man, I'm still moving on. Thanks for the best wishes!

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  5. I agree that the slow and patient was the best approach. Going to battle in family court would have been a total disaster -- for everyone. Most judges wouldn't think of taking a 13 yo girl away from her mother, it would have been an ugly uphill battle to portray Gabbie to the court as a drunken wench. You would have been left broke and bitter, and likely with a bad outcome.

    You kept the status quo for the kids, and that's a good thing. The kids will become more and more independent, and that will give you more time (in theory) for your own life.

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    1. Your opinion means a lot to me. You've been through a nasty experience and you know how bad things can be...for you to stay that I took the better path is tremendous validation. It's easy for everyone to be an armchair quarterback but you've played in this game and that makes all the difference. Thanks for your validation and support.

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  6. I think I saw your situation on this show on Oprah's OWN network before. The wife abandons her family because she wants her freedom and independence, then finds out it doesn't bring fulfillment to her so she returns to her family because she is "missing something" (mainly because she is having a tough financial times). She claims her return is to support her family but in reality, it was to make herself feel good and to have her family care for her; her husband allows her back even though the kids are reluctant. In the end, she feels trapped again with her constrained life and bails again.

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    1. Is it sick that I want to watch that story? Maybe I should watch it with Gabbie. THAT would be interesting. Do you have any idea what the title of the show was?

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    2. http://www.oprah.com/own-iyanla-fix-my-life/Iyanla-Fix-My-Mistake

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  7. I, for one, think your own personal story ("If do the right thing") is more interesting and more compelling than your (rather screwy) opinions about bisxuality and mixed-orientation marriages.

    Sorry, but I call them as I see them.

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    1. Yes, you do call them as you see them and I like that.

      When it comes to taking an interest in my personal story, you are, unfortunately, very much in the minority. Those posts are consistently the least read on this blog.

      As for my 'rather screwy' opinions, one of those is that you've consistently misinterpreted what I've said. Sexuality and relationships are tremendously complex. When I write something about those subjects, all I'm doing is challenging readers to think. My opinion is of no importance whatsoever. I just like to stir things up. :-) That's why I'm glad you stick around and give me a hard time.

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  8. I've been reading your blog since a long time and have never commented but one thing that I can say for sure is that you sound as bad and manipulative as what she is.
    I remember you posted something about how you succeed in manipulating your kids into disliking their mother,well massif congrats on achieving your goal!
    many people here are on your side, cheering you on, but I think they're utterly vile, they rejoice upon other people's misery,not to mention I'm sure they are misogynistic,like many closeted gay men who treat their wives like commodities.
    I wish your ex wife well,I hope she finds some peace in her life and finds a guy that treats her good, not a manipulative gay husband who used her as a cover up for his sexuality, and not with a drunk who will treat her like crap.
    Good luck gabbie!

    Ps. English is not my first language, but i'm pretty sure you can understand what i'm saying.

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    1. Your English is quite good. Much better than anything I'm sure I could attempt in your native language.

      I'm glad that Gabbie finally has a fan. She's a wonderful person in many ways. I wish I could do a better job of conveying her strengths but (apparently) the therapeutic aspects of venting about the bad stuff she does is more compelling for me.

      As far as whether I have manipulated my kids to dislike their mother, you are mistaken. I relentlessly defend her to them. No child should grow up disliking the mother that cares about them so deeply. If anything, I am too supportive of Gabbie. Many readers have strenuously argued that she'd be better off if I used a 'tough love' approach.

      Another thing I should mention is that Gabbie and I don't have "sides." I want her to be happy and to have great relationships with the kids and I believe she wants the same for me. It's unfortunate that we're at an impasse where I can't change my sexuality and she doesn't want to be married to a gay man, even one who finds it easy to be monogamously committed to her.

      One last thing you should know is that I came out to Gabbie more than 19 years ago BEFORE we had any children. Knowing who I was, she decided to get back together and to have three children with me. I don't, and have never, 'rejoiced' in her misery, nor have I treated her like a commodity. I'm very sorry if that is how you were treated, because you're right, that is more often the rule than the exception.

      I hope you can find happiness. As I know all to well, what's done is done and we can only move forward with life.

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  9. Your daughter is beautiful. In her simple statement she revealed that she loves you more than you love yourself. I would encourage you to listen to her advice. You do need to move on with your life and stop being a doormat for Gabbie.

    Nope, you might praise yourself for the slow & deliberate route but you dragged your family through hell in the process. Your children still love you despite your manipulative behavior and everything that you have put them through. You don't deserve your daughter but nobody deserves that kind of love.

    Please, please, seek therapy. Alanon is insufficient for the issues that you are presenting. Passive aggressive, manipulative, insecure--your issues are too profound and they are creating havoc in the lives that touch your own. You might want to discover the reasons that you behave the way that you do and change them.

    Please don't dismiss me as a hater. I'm actually thinking of you and those children in your care.

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    1. I don't think of you as a hater. Actually, this may be one of the most intriguing comments ever posted here. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I don't believe you've commented before? Or least, you haven't recently.

      About moving on - I'm doing that. More than anything, that's what this post is about.

      About dragging my family through hell - The road that leads to a family splitting up is never a good one. The decisions that parents face involve choosing the 'least bad' option. It's kind of like when your beloved pet reaches the end of his life. An adversarial divorce is equivalent to watching in horror as your dog is run over by a car; it's extremely traumatic. Whereas the slow 'hell' that you're talking about is like watching your dog gradually succumb to cancer and you ultimately having to put him down. The horrible result is the same, and both events are traumatic, but which is less damaging to children? Watching their dog die a violent, painful death, or, watching him slowly decline? Not everyone would agree which is best. I obviously prefer the slow route.

      I should also point out that RB, who commented above, has been through an adversarial divorce, one where custody of the children was fought over for years. Look at what he says above. There's no doubt in his mind that I took the least bad path.

      About therapy - It seems to me that most people are motivated to pursue therapy because they're unhappy and they want to find ways to move past their pain and deal with their lives more effectively. I don't feel that way. I'm not opposed to therapy but I literally have no idea what I'd answer when asked, "What do you want to accomplish here?"

      About my issues - I'm human and I have issues. I always will. I don't believe they are creating havoc. On the contrary, our lives are quite dull right now and they're likely to remain that way. Am I insecure? Of course. Am I manipulative? Not routinely, at least as far as I recognize. I'm certainly far less manipulative than Gabbie or her mother. The kids would much rather see them change their ways before I do. Am I passive aggressive? Definitely. But what's the alternative? Being openly aggressive? Sorry, but that's not me and it never will be.

      I'm not opposed to therapy but I'm not convinced that you're right or that it will make much of a difference.

      [Continued below...]

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    2. About how wonderful my daughter is - She is wonderful! But she's also a royal pain in the ass. She's many things. Some good and some not so good. She's imperfect and human just like me and you and Gabbie. As wonderful as she can be, sometimes her judgment is not exactly stellar. She's 13. Do you know what 13yo girls are like? Just to give you some insight, her big passion in life is to become famous. She wants us to move to Los Angeles so she can be discovered. When I tell her, "that's not easy" or "a lot of people have that same dream" she says she knows it's her destiny because Miley Cyrus did it. And Selena Gomez. And x, y and z (all Disney channel actors). When I tell her she really needs to get some experience by acting in school plays or by taking acting lessons, she completely rejects those ideas. "Losers act in plays and losers teach acting. If they were such great actors, they'd be famous." Rose knows she's destined for fame because once we arrive in LA, she'll go to a few auditions and that will be that - instant success!

      At this point I should mention that her personal hygiene is not exactly great. You'd think that if being famous was SO important she'd care more about her appearance...but you'd be wrong.

      I'm her Dad and I love her and I want her dreams to come true, but...showing up at an audition and expecting instant fame without putting a second of effort into it is completely ridiculous. So, Rose is just as I said: she's wonderful AND a royal pain in the ass, sometimes she's right and sometimes she's wrong, but in everything she does, she's pretty much a typical 13yo girl.

      Thanks for reading and for your challenging comment. I appreciate your concern and thoughtfulness.

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  10. This recent dear abby entry could be about you:

    DEAR ABBY: My ex-wife cheated on me five years ago. She ran off with a nonworking criminal type and has been bouncing from place to place with this bozo ever since.

    When they and their 3-year-old became homeless two weeks ago, all of a sudden she showed up at my door shoeless and with their son in a diaper. She said her boyfriend was abusive and asked to stay with me until she finds a place. I agreed under the provision that she not see this guy.

    I am a hard-working single father of two. I know my heart is two sizes too big for my own good sometimes, and I don't want to be taken advantage of. Abby, did I make the right choice? Or should I have told her she was not welcome and turned her and her son away?

    I really feel I shouldn't have to help her, and she should rely on her loser boyfriend -- who she has started seeing again. I need guidance and your expert advice. Am I an idiot? -- CONFUSED

    DEAR CONFUSED: You're not an idiot; you're a pushover. Your ex has already broken the agreement she made when you let her in. The situation is not going to get better; it will only become more complicated.

    You have helped her for two weeks. Now it's time to direct her to a shelter that can help her get her life back together and give her son a stable home. Your responsibility for her welfare ended when she left you for another man.

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  11. some harsh criticism in these comments! i'm glad you are taking it very graciously. i for one think what you have been doing for the sake of your family has been very reasonable, and now that your ex-wife has finally left what seems like for good you can get on with your life and not have any guilt about what choices you've made. i'm excited to hear about your adventures in dating.

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