When my ex-wife and I reconnected 20 years after our divorce, I saw it as an opportunity to heal wounds from our four-year marriage. I let her move into my home so she could get away from her third husband, whom she claims was abusive and in jail. We had intimate relations for the first six months. Then, everything stopped, and now she has nothing to do with me emotionally or physically. My resentment of her borders on hatred because nothing from our past got resolved, but she refuses to get counseling. I feel like all she did was use me. She has no job, no car and does not contribute to the household. She is a roommate who does not pay rent. We do not sleep together. I would evict her, but I feel sorry for her because she has nowhere to go. I am about to turn 55 years old and don’t want to waste any more time on her. How do I evict her without drama?
That’s not the most important question, honey, this is: How can you prepare yourself to evict this woman despite your fear of more drama? The easy answer is to ruthlessly destroy the lies you tell yourself. How do I know your relationship with your thoughts is burdened by falsehoods? You wouldn’t be in this situation without a committed habit of deluding yourself. Consider this: The wounds from your marriage could have been more easily resolved in her absence, post-divorce, than together. That’s what good psychotherapy is for. It would have revealed that your connection is based in hot rushes of adrenaline, the result of intense sex, arguments that quickly escalate into fights and sudden emotional abandonment of each other. Hot sex, hot fights and fast dumps are three elements of infatuation, not love. No, I don’t mean that if you and a partner are well-matched sexually, it’s infatuation. I do mean, however, that sex was the only thing binding you together.
How do I know?
When sex vanished, there was nothing sacred or solid between you. In healthy relationships, the underlying friendship between the couple persists, even if sex is absent for a period of time.
You can take a big step toward honesty by dropping silly euphemisms. You were not “intimate,” you had sex with an ex. If it was real intimacy—the union of your minds, hearts, bodies and souls—you wouldn’t be complaining now. Nix the “sleeping together,” too. Mammals that trust one another sleep next to each other, that’s where the term comes from. You had sex with a partner you do not trust. Euphemisms perpetuate denial.
Another dose of reality: You seduced yourself back into a relationship pattern you thought you had divorced. Rather than wasting energy blaming yourself or your ex, pour that fuel into figuring out why you are trying to save her. Notice whether you bragged to friends about helping her out or if you imagined fate brought you together again. Weed out the lies. If you don’t, she will reside in your head long after she exits your home.
Now, about that eviction. If you shed expectations and are content to give her life’s basics, nothing needs to change. Alternatively, you can wake up from your habit of seeing her as incapable of self-care. If you see her as an equal, a person struggling now but ultimately ready to move on, consult an attorney or someone in law enforcement about how to give her a 30-day written notice to move out.
Be prepared to change the locks, pack up her belongings and drive her to a friend’s home or to a homeless shelter. You may also wish to make a monthly contribution to that shelter knowing what important work they do.