Unreasonable Ex-husband


Well this is embarrassing.

As it turns out, the Venus Williams’ website has been undergoing remodeling for the past week and commenting was temporarily disabled.  I apologize for my petulant foot-stomping and thank many of you for the fun and illuminating comments that I was tickled to read this morning.

So many of us struggle with weight and body image issues so whenever I can provide positive words on this subject it pleases me to no end.

If you haven’t had a chance to comment yet, please skip on over there and give it a go: Venus Williams gives Robin her Big Break!.

As I prostrate myself before you, please know my shameless pleading comes from a place of deep hunger.

No, I am not speaking in the metaphorical sense, making a statement about my desire to fulfill my existential appetite to have a career and calling that I adore. Rather, I use the word “hunger” in quite the literal sense, as my earnings from this great social experiment haven’t exactly been keeping us in Kobe ribeye.

Thank Goddess for Mr. Patience and Understanding, whose patience and understanding seems to be unwavering but has been tested in the 17 months since I burned my last legal bridge in a spectacular fire of sass and bitchiness I cannot describe because my lawyer tells me not to.

I know you are all here to read the next installment from our Seattle woman who was worried about legal repercussions from sending Mean Girl text messages to her husband’s lover, but that story is still developing.  I’m starting to think she should be a chapter in my book rather than a spot on the blog…


That story should be wrapped up by Thursday.  In the meantime, here’s a question that my friends Mark, Liz and Jack will love because of the brevity with which I could answer it:

Dear AskDesCamp:

I found your original blog years ago and your Oregon Alimony Reform (I’m a woman who pays – one of the only ones!) blog and was thrilled to start reading you here.  I am divorced with twins finishing high school this spring and off to college in the fall.

My divorce was awful and I have tried for years to have a better relationship with my ex-husband.  I have actually sent him things you have written about blended and reorganized families and how much healthier it is for everyone to get along.

My husband initiated our divorce after making it clear he was unhappy for years, but did not react well when I met my current husband not too long after he filed.  Our kids are suffering and every joint event is a struggle.  What can I do to make this better?  I’ve tried calls, emails, sending books on co-parenting and still he hates me.


Dear Julie:

Just a warning to you: you may not want to refer to your husband as your “current husband.”  It doesn’t exactly denote expectations of permanency and if I were him I’d be a bit concerned to hear myself described that way.

Let’s call him “Mr. Forever” instead.  Men love to have cute nicknames; I know this because Mr. Patience and Understanding has been recognized on the street and especially loves it when folks call out to him, “Hey, you’re Mr. PU!”

While I applaud your efforts to transform your reorganized family into one that looks like my own, there is a critical ingredient you are missing in your mix: the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation on the part of your ex.

Just as one cannot make a cheese omelette without both eggs and cheese (unless you are some sort of vegan freak), you cannot create a positive post-divorce relationship with someone who is happier being unhappy and who, quite frankly, hates both you and your new life partner.

I worry sometimes that people think I have unrealistic expectations about the likelihood of friendship and cooperation after divorce simply because I spend a good deal of effort encouraging those types of arrangements.  However, I am also a deeply practical person who understands that there are certain types of people and certain types of relationships that are poisoned and broken beyond repaid.

Three of my best friends are dealing with exactly what you are, and while I tried to help them establish a better rapport in the beginning of the strife, we all came to accept over time that theirs were not Robin-Patrick-Tom-Crista type families and never would be.

As much as it pains me to write this: give up.  Don’t expect him ever to come around and rest easy in the knowledge that at least now your kids are adults and you won’t have to deal with this asshole very often any longer.

Until graduation.  And weddings.  And babies.  And babies’ graduations.





This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. mschmutzler

    Have to add a few thoughts.

    Being the child of a divorced family – well… couple – I sympathize with the want to ‘reconcile’ differences. Having said that, my one and only experience of trying to create a post-divorce family gathering where everyone got along turned into a disaster.

    Several Xmases ago, living in Atlanta, there was my dad and step-mom and my Mom and Step-dad who were visiting me. On xmas eve, we were all invited by a mutual friend to spend the night of the 24 at a party of 50+ people. Well, as soon as my parents arrived, the birth parents, they sequestered themselves outside on the patio of 28ºF and proceeded to argue, scream softly, and point fingers for the remainder of the party. Meanwhile, step mom and step dad and myself… we enjoyed the party and watched the show… as did EVERYONE else at the party.

    And this, happened after being divorced for more than 30 years. This was 13 years ago and after that evening events, show, I concluded there was no making these two be amiable or amicable. And it was never spoken of again.

    Some differences just can’t be… bridged or repaired. It is … and still is… what it is.

    1. askdescamp

      I absolutely agree and am sorry you had to experience that. It’s interesting all this anger has stood the test of time, and makes me wonder if they are still in love with each other. After all, the opposite of love isn’t hate – it’s indifference.

  2. mschmutzler

    I concur. There was way too much passion for having had 30+ years under the bridge. alas. Now… here’s the clincher. There’s a wedding coming up – me and mike – Hmmm….

  3. YouCanLeadAHorticulture

    At least the letter writer knows in her heart that she tried and can be at peace with the situation. I just can’t understand why you would want to hold onto so much anger through the years. I have friends in my social circle who do business with and socialize with their exes, even when they’ve been the victims of deplorable behavior. To them, they figure why suffer twice, they don’t have to be with that person anymore on that level and since they were married they feel almost like they were family. Why drive themselves crazy fighting with them now that the marriage is over? I would think getting so worked up and angry would be bad for your looks too.

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