My ex-husband initiated our divorce. While we both knew we’d fallen out of love with each other, he was the one who got the ball rolling. He knew we weren’t happy and was strong enough to do something for us that I just couldn’t do.
I was holding on with both hands for our kids — the thought of not seeing them every day was too painful for me to make a move. But when he suggested we separate, I let go as if I’d been hanging on the monkey bars over a swamp of alligators who had just swam away.
The weekend he moved out, I sat across from him, a large pizza separating us. When our kids had gotten up to pick out a dessert, I told him to move on and start dating if he felt ready.
He was a wonderful father, but not a great husband. I knew what I wanted in a partner and he wasn’t it. I longed to have a man in my life who was faithful. I wanted someone who was proud of my career and the fact I could make a mean chocolate cake. I wanted to be seen and heard for my strengths and not dismissed. Giving him this go-ahead was a way to help me move on.
Our last few years together, it was apparent my ex didn’t even like me. I wanted more for myself and I wanted more for him. He is my children’s father and I wanted him to be happy because it would only add to their happiness.
He added a dating site to his phone that evening. In a few weeks, he had a girlfriend. Within a few months, he told me he was in love and wanted the kids to meet her.
While it was hard for me at the time, I was supportive of his new relationship. I never made it hard for him. Like I said, it was, in many ways, a ticket for me to do the same. Plus, she clearly loved my kids very much and I thought (and still think) she is caring and patient.
He and his girlfriend have been together for a few years now. In the beginning of their relationship, I dated here and there, but never anything serious — I wasn’t ready, and I’ve wanted to focus on my kids and career.
But that changed last year when I met the man I had been waiting for. I was open to love again, and ready to make space for a new partner in my life.
After a few months of dating my boyfriend, I felt a change in my ex’s tone when we discussed our children. His curtness surprised me since he’d been encouraging me to invest in a new relationship. He’s always wanted to spend more time with the kids and take them on trips. While I never stood in the way of this, he knew it made me sad to be without them for extended periods of time. “You need to get out there and meet someone so you don’t struggle so much when they’re gone,” he’d say.
I wasn’t sad about being single; I just missed my kids. Plus, I was waiting for the right person.
When I found him, I didn’t go running to my ex to tell him I’d met the man I’d been waiting for. I did, however, give him the pertinent information. There are things we both deserve to know about the other adults that will be spending time with our children. He met him first, before I introduced him to our kids, something we had agreed to before separating.
He didn’t ask him any questions when they met, but mere minutes before he knew the kids were meeting him one Saturday evening, I got abrasive text messages from him: Who is this guy? Where does he live? Where does he work?
I answered his questions in a matter-of-fact-sort of way, but I was really irritated.
I’ve never told him that my new lover offered me a lot of things he didn’t. I certainly didn’t tell him about the mind-blowing sex or the fact he loved my fashion sense — something that always annoyed my ex. In fact, he once told me I stuck out like a sore thumb at a family gathering because I was over dressed.
I’ve never gushed or tried to make my ex feel jealous. But it’s as if he knows, and he’s pissed about it and taking it out on me during our interactions.
I told him he seems different around me. Where we used to be able to have friendly conversations about the kids, now he’s short with me. Where he used to be understanding, now he’s critical of my parenting decisions. He texts me unnecessarily when he knows I’m with my boyfriend.
Instead of handling certain situations when he’s with the kids like he used to, he acts as though he needs my input. Like the time I was away for a long weekend with my boyfriend and our youngest had a cold. He wasn’t sure if he should let him stay home from school and called me at 6:30 am instead of making the call himself.
Watching your partner move on is hard; I’ve been there. But I so badly want to scream at my ex-husband and remind him that he should put the energy into his current relationship and not make the same mistakes he made with me. Because if he hadn’t made those mistakes, neither of us would be in this place. I won’t though. I’ve moved on, and I need to focus on my new life.
If he continues to put so much emphasis on my new relationship instead of his own, he may just find himself in the same situation yet again.
I’m not perfect, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my relationship with my kids’ father. I’m sure I will continue to make mistakes in my new relationship as well, but being too jealous or too concerned about what he’s doing with his new life will not be one of them.
I can only hope that he will also come to the same conclusion sooner than later because I’m fed up with his new attitude, and whether he likes it or not, I’m going to be with this man regardless of what my ex-husband thinks about it.
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