Before my ex-wife and I were married we broke up several times due to her cheating. We married when she got pregnant with our son but divorced 3 years later because she was cheating again.
Lately we have been spending a lot of time together and I know I still love her and she says she still loves me. I was just offered a great job in Portland making twice as much money as I ever have and she wants to come with me, get married and reunite our family (we live in Seattle).
Am I crazy to think this can work? She is seeing someone pretty regularly but she swears she doesn’t love him and she can be faithful this time around. I have to make a decision about the job and my living arrangements in two weeks so hurry! I’d love to have my family back.
Dear Frank Who Apparently Suffered a Brain Injury that Leaves him Without Memory:
I’m not supposed to swear anymore in my blog, or at least I am trying to stay away from the “F” word. Thank you for your letter, because it challenges me on that subject. I will give you thoughtful and purposeful advice here, instead of screaming:
(If I didn’t write it, it doesn’t count)
As our esteemed former president GW Bush once wisely noted, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
God damn, do I miss him.
OK Frank, here’s the deal: you sound like a nice guy. You told me when we chatted this morning that the job offer came after you completed a graduate software engineering program which explains the salary jump.
Of course, the salary jump also explains your baby mama’s newfound interest in you, or at least I have to assume that given her lack of employment for the past, well, ever.
You cannot have your family back, because you never had a family. You had a chronic liar for a wife who tricked you into marriage and then took a crap all over your vows. If you go back to her you will suffer the exact same fate as before, except now that you are making good money and she is a lazy bum who wants to follow you to Oregon, you will also end up shelling out alimony when you catch her letting your new neighbor store his tools in your shed.
You’ve made this mistake already, Frank. You knew she struggled with the definition of fidelity before you knocked her up and put a ring on it. Don’t compound the problems you already have by repeating your mistake and thereby making it even worse.
Your letter came just in time because I have to finish a chapter of my book this afternoon and I don’t have time to spend several hours on the blog today. Happily, your question is really easy to answer, and in fact I’ll provide you with a numbered list of things you should do:
1. Stop seeing her immediately and communicate with her only as it regards your son;
2. Do not accept the job in Portland unless she will let you take your son, because that kid needs his dad and you shouldn’t move away without him and leave him with the Happy Hooker;
3. Start mining your contacts in Seattle and find yourself a great job there. If you could find something in Portland you will surely be able to secure employment in the Emerald City, as their economy is doing better than ours;
4. Get some counseling to uncover the reason for your glaringly low self-esteem and inability to learn from your mistakes. You are not a doormat or a patsy, Frank, so don’t let people treat you as one.
You are about to embark on a really interesting period in your life in which your career is going to blossom and you will begin meeting some talented, successful and like-minded professionals.
Still young, you have time to find a woman who comes to you with a clean slate, not a dirty chalkboard with the white remnants from other men still visible despite the most vigorous erasure efforts.
Take your time to find out who you are and what makes you tick, in addition to building a solid base of self-esteem that allows you to demand love, respect, and faithfulness from your future partner.
Not only do you owe it to yourself, but you owe it to your son. Don’t let him grow up thinking that mommy repeatedly cheating on daddy (or vice versa) is an OK relationship model. As your child gets older, he will begin drawing conclusions about the ideal paradigms for life. I hope your counsel will correct the bad messages he will be exposed to from his mom.
Lastly, your new career will demand your full attention. If you go back to this baby batter bucket, your life will be filled with drama, unhappiness, and legal battles. That’s no way to start a new and promising field of work.
Please write back and let me know what you decide!