ArcherOctober 10, 2022 at 3:38 pm #1116480
My ex-wife and I met in high school when we were 16 years old. We started dating at 17 and got married at 22. We have a beautiful son (8 years old) but the marriage didn’t last and we finalized our divorce 3 years ago.
The decision was not lightly made. We’ve been struggling in our marriage for years, and my ex became impatient and resentful, always finding ways to criticize and ridicule everything I said or did. I wasn’t a good partner either. I could’ve been more present for her and our son. I could’ve been more caring and loving. I didn’t even realize how bad things were getting between us until it was too late and my ex became very resentful and angry. Eventually, we went to 18 months of couple counseling to try to save the marriage but it wasn’t enough. So we decided to end it, with grace and respect.
During the first year of post-divorce, We were able to sustain a good relationship in order to raise our son. Our friendship wasn’t totally platonic and we ended up in bed together a couple of times. She brushed it off joking that old habits die hard. She also said that we could think of it as “casual sex” and a way to make an easier transition from being in a relationship to being single. But it was a different story for me. Being intimate in bed with her again brought me sharply back to my senses and made me realize I was still in love with the woman who was supposed to be my ex-wife. I tried telling her that but she didn’t feel the same way. She actually said I should try dating other women. I was crushed and we stopped having sex.
We, however, stayed friends for the sake of our son. I also cared so much for her and I didn’t want to make her life any harder than it had to be. So I stayed close enough to make sure she was ok. And it was like that for months. I was always there for her whenever she needed financial or emotional support.
I’m occasionally invited to spend some quality time with her and our son (apart from the time he spends with me). I love her deeply. I love our son. And I enjoy every second we spent together as a family but being near her is also excruciating and slowly gnawing at my mental strength.
I pretty much know what my options are: confess again (and likely get rejected again), cut ties (which is impossible due to the fact that we’re raising a child together), or smile through it which will definitely create more unnecessary pain for me.
What do you think I should do? Any tips on moving on will be greatly appreciated.
I think your only true option is to compartmentalize and move on. Listen, I, too, got married very young and divorced while still in my 20s. No kids, but I understand your situation pretty well. I was more in your wife’s shoes. Here’s the thing, she is gonna move on and get involved with someone else, and you have to be prepared for that. She’s already mentally moved on. You do need to detach from her except for co-parenting, and start looking to meet other women. Just really work on mentally preparing yourself and reframing your narrative so that you’re very clear that she’s your ex-wife and mother of your child, and you’re productively co-parenting. But there’s no longer anything else there. Romantically you’re looking elsewhere.
You don’t want to get stuck in this place for life.
I was once in your situation. Married the woman I was started dating at 19. You gotta move on, man. Confessing one more time isn’t going to have an effect. I guarantee you that she knows. For her sake and yours, you gotta get out there and be open to meeting new people.
She’s the only real relationship you’ve known. You don’t know how good it could be.