The only drawback to having such a great relationship with my ex is that people don’t always believe that our marriage is over, particularly people that I am dating. When I sent my first blog post to a recent ex-boyfriend, who himself is a friend (is this confusing?), he commented that I was fooling myself. I thought he meant that there was really more hostility between my ex-hubby and me than I was willing to admit. No, he meant that I was fooling myself that the marriage was over. He claims that every time my ex and I look at each other, especially when the kids are around, we look like we are engaged in a love affair.
For about a day, I mulled over this observation and somewhat seriously thought that maybe I should reconsider our breakup. I won’t enumerate the reasons why it only took a couple of hours of family time to figure out that my ex boyfriend was wrong… but also right. He was mistaken that we should reunite as a romantic couple, but he was correct that we are having a love affair. And I’m sure that our gazes reveal that.
Instead of looking at my husband with resentment, frustration and disappointment, like I often did in our last few years of marriage, I now look at him with appreciation and tenderness. This is not because of anything that he has done to change his behavior, like I had always hoped he would (don’t we all want to change our partners just a little bit?). Basically, once he was out of my daily living space and no longer my romantic partner, my expectations of him changed. A simple, yet earth-shattering, revelation came to me. I had spent years trying to control him and make him do what I wanted and not do things that bothered me, and it hadn’t worked. How the hell did I think I was going to influence him now that he was no longer living with me? When I switched my focus away from what I disliked about him and onto the very real ways that he is a dedicated father and still adoring ex-husband, the love affair that we once experienced rebloomed, like an almost dead plant that with a little extra tender loving care comes back to life.
What my former hubby and I are acutely aware of, and what my ex-boyfriend seems to ignore, is that this caring relationship is predicated on the fact that we are apart from each other. I am proud of the ways in which I turn the other cheek when he does those little annoying behaviors that once drove me so nuts and instead notice the kind ways in which he cleans the kitchen after having dinner with us or paints our daughter’s toenails or lights up when he sees the kids. If truth be told, I’d like to be this woman in my next great love affair. I’d like not to nitpick and accept my lover as he is, not how I want him to be. I’ve made strides in that direction, but alas, I also know that the nature of intimate relationships is that we don’t always let things go and we do have such high demands on our partners, particularly if we live with them. But for now, I am content with the platonic love affair that I do have with my ex-husband, and I am grateful that I have an ex-boyfriend to boot to point that out to me.