Tell it like it is

Joey Garcia

My storybook second marriage turned sour after my three children (ages 22, 20 and 15) came to live with us. My husband has no children and attributed that fact to his ex’s career plans. When we dated, only the 20-year-old lived with me. All the kids are in school and the two oldest work part-time. Their father contributes nothing financially. Conflicts with my new husband varied from chores not being done to me not serving his dinner correctly. Only after I said I was leaving did he fess up and say he never wanted to be responsible for children. He attended counseling twice and only apologized for his behavior at the insistence of the therapist. I’m better off without him and I’m positive the kids are, but he’s acting like we’re staying together. I don’t want to hurt his feelings or encourage him. I am struggling financially and he’s offered me cash. P.S. We’re not sleeping together.

Euphemisms are so confusing. Do you mean that you’re not sleeping in the same bed or that you are not having sex? It’s important, because this style of communication is at the heart of your dilemma. Separate beds are an easy solution if one partner snores or works an odd schedule. But sex is an essential ingredient in marital intimacy unless abuse, addiction or adultery has entered the marriage. So which is more true: “We are not having sex” or “We no longer sleep in the same bed”?

Why am I pushing this issue? You and your husband are dishonest in your communication and “sleeping together” is one small example. Here are others:

First, he doesn’t want to upset the fairytale romance, so he fails to mention that he never wanted children. Fairytales are fantasies. Romance can be interwoven into the fabric of a relationship but it is not substantial enough to sustain a relationship.

Second, you have a teenager and two young adults that you refer to as children. Perhaps you even treat them as children, not expecting them to do chores or contribute to the household in ways that would contribute to the development of their maturity.

Third, your ex-husband does not contribute financially. Please add: “and I fail to pursue this matter through the courts because I am afraid of hurting his feelings.” Or use whatever similar language would reveal your complicity in the situation.

When teens and 20-somethings are in school and employed, our culture calls them “good kids.” Saying this may help you to feel more right than your husband, but it also causes you to miss his point: This is a lifestyle issue.

He doesn’t want to share his income to support other people’s children. He wants what he had with you before everyone else moved in. Now you must decide what you want. Worrying about hurting his feelings is trying to control his reaction to what you want to say. That means you may try to choose words intended to manipulate him. Instead, just tell the truth. If you do not wish to repair the relationship, say so directly, simply and lovingly. If you want him back but have a list of non-negotiables, state those requirements clearly.

Remember: This is not the end of the world. It’s your awakening to a new level of truth. With that notion in heart, be clear about the proffered cash. If your working 20-somethings have paid their monthly room and board and you’ve slashed your household budget to the bone and you’ve started receiving child-support payments from your ex-husband but you’re still short, borrow the money from your soon-to-be-former husband (or a friend) as long as the terms are in writing and signed by both of you.

Meditation of the week
“Only from the heart can you touch the sky,” wrote the Sufi poet known as Rumi. Ah, but you must be able to touch your heart first. So, are you stretching toward a heaven you trust exists when your fingers really need to be connected with Mother Earth, managing details, being in integrity about your commitments and not behaving as if where you are is more important than where you said you would be?

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