Today I’ll address “Once Bitten,” our advice-seeker considering a romantic weekend with her ex-husband and the possibility of getting back together.
In case you were in the ICU or trampled by a rhinoceros yesterday and missed her question, you can read it here:
Once Bitten and I talked at length about the marriage and the repeated infidelity that finally broke the back of her love for her husband, whom I will call “Trouser Snake” for obvious reasons.
As it turns out, Trouser Snake has quite a history of fooling around. I made a joke about him that she didn’t find very funny:
The only hole in your town he hasn’t stuck it in is the manhole on 5th and Main, and I wouldn’t bet real money he won’t nail that one at some point.
I thought that was a good one and as I patiently waited for her to laugh (she never did), I explained the source of the joke.
I made that one up while having a drink with a friend a few weeks ago. My friend could simply not believe his lovely wife was divorcing him after years of repeated, flagrant, and unrepentant cheating.
Don’t worry people, he doesn’t read my blog. He’s too busy “dating,” or as I like to call it, “fucking highly inappropriate gold-digging dip-shits.”
Back to Once Bitten, who came to the right place for advice because, well, I’m an advice blogger. Duh.
While I believe couples can and do move on after betrayal, I have yet to see a partnership survive after infidelity becomes an acknowledged and regular part of a relationship, rather than an unfortunate and very rare event.
One of my favorite authors is Junot Diaz. Diaz has written extensively about relationships and especially adultery. In a 2012 interview, Diaz made this observation:
Love is understood, in a historical way, as one of the great human vocations – but its counterspell has always been infidelity. This terrible, terrible betrayal that can tear apart not only another person, not only oneself, but whole families.
Unless both people in a relationship are OK with infidelity, that quote hits it on the head, doesn’t it?
Once Bitten told me she is not interested in any type of an “open” marriage with Trouser Snake or anyone else. Luckily, I’ve dug deeply enough to show her that she isn’t actually interested at all in reuniting with her husband. Instead, she wants to put her family back together.
There is a big difference.
I’ve spoken with many people who have feelings they don’t understand after their divorce. The most common one is a sense of regret and missing the family. I’ve developed a theory for that:
Do not dwell upon the past and a future that was not to be. You are missing what you would have inevitably lost anyway.
Once Bitten, here’s what I mean by that:
In a marriage as unhappy as yours was, I’d bet a fortune (all the money my latest bar complainer has paid to her attorneys so far) that once your kids were out of the house, the marriage would go from limping along on life support to stone cold dead.
You have two kids, the youngest of whom is 15. Therefore, assuming your children are moving out after high school to begin their adult lives, your “family” had an invisible expiration date on it already.
In our conversation you admitted you stayed for years after knowing he was a serial cheater because you wanted your children to grow up in a “normal” and “unbroken” home.
No offense, but that was dumb.
Unless you want your children’s understanding of marriage to be that one party is chronically unfaithful while the other party suffers, you weren’t doing your kids any favors.
Your home was not “normal.”
Your home was not “unbroken.”
I won’t be too tough on you since you wised up when you discovered your hubby’s harem of ho-bags and finally ended the marriage.
You miss your family.
I get that.
But in three years when your youngest is gone, what is your “family?” This man who can’t seem to holster his Kalashnicock because he sees himself as such a Bushmaster?
Apologies for the gun puns. I went off half-cocked and should be put in the punitentiary for punishment, because these jokes are not up to my usual caliber. Please take them with a grain assault.
Your life after the birds flew the nest was either going to be a miserable marriage or, more likely, a divorce.
I’m betting with the regularity of your husband’s wick-dipping in the naughty wax of others, divorce was your path. Once the kids were gone, why would you stay to be treated so terribly?
Once Bitten, do you want your next letter to be signed, “Twice Shy?”
Trouser Snake has been the same man for years. He does not appear to be capable of monogamy, at least not with you.
I came up with this expression just now and, certain someone had said it before, I Googled it to get the source. As it turns out, the source may be me. Therefore, go forth and prosper with these words uttered by a very wise woman:
Show me what you’ve done, and I’ll show you what you’ll do.
This concept could also be expressed as “what is past is prologue” which someone else may have written at some point but they surely were not as adorable, talented, successful, and funny as I.
You miss your “family.” Your “family” had a death sentence hanging over it with an execution date set for three years from now.
Your challenge is now to make a new family with what you’ve got. I am thrilled you have a good relationship with your ex and I will take full credit for that, but please do not go back to him.
If you do, I will slap you silly with the galleys of a book I’m working on called, “How to Fuck Up Your Life and Kill Your Self-Esteem: Loving a Narcissist.”
Do NOT take this trip with your ex. Watch a bunch of movies on people destroyed by infidelity that weekend instead.
Order some take-out Mexican food three days prior, have some of it, and leave the rest on the counter.
Consume that food after those three days and let the results remind you what happens when we recycle leftovers that should have been thrown in the trash.
Go date. Have random hot sex. Eventually, find yourself someone to love.
Keep co-parenting your kids and showing them that self-respecting and healthy adults don’t remain in poisonous relationships that beat them down.
And don’t forget to keep me updated!