Carolyn: My wife and I have/had been married 24 years, however, the past four years were in separate rooms and sticking it out until the last kid was in college. Last March we signed legal separation papers and, using a mediator, the divorce was friendly and going very smoothly. We continued to live together until July, then both moved to separate living places.
Shortly after moving out, I discovered that she joined a dating website the month after we signed separation papers while still living under the same roof. She used pictures taken in our house, of family gatherings, cropped to show just her.
When I confronted her about this what I believe to be a total show of disrespect to me and our family she blew it off, saying we were done and she had to move on. But during counseling prior to signing papers, we both agreed to wait to date until we were on our own. I respected this agreement 100 percent.
ANGRY, YES OR NO
You have a right to your feelings; theyre yours.
I do hope, though, that youll summon the self-regard to let them go anyway.
Lets agree to the grimmest interpretation: Lets say your ex didnt merely break a promise that you took pains to keep, but instead showed poor taste in the family-photo cropping, coldly searched for your replacement while still living with you, did this deliberately on the sly, and knowingly violated the spirit of your mature and amicable split, which till now had been your main source of pride? comfort? during this difficult time.
There. Now what: Divorce her again?
In lieu of intimacy, you just experienced four years of looking at your watch. Thats a big slice of your life spent waiting for something, and deliberately not moving forward. By mutual agreement, but still.
If you choose to wait for your (ex-)wife to apologize then youre launching a whole new era of waiting for something. Dont you feel claustrophobic just thinking about it? I do.
Again, you have a right to feel angry. You even had the right to ask for an apology. But your say in her business ends there. You cant make her apologize or regret the profile, or make her take responsibility for your anger.
You can, however, decide: that cheating isnt possible for people with signed divorce plans; that people often agree just to get someone off their backs; that thats wrong, but so is getting on someones back; that trying to control others only invests you in decisions you dont get to make; that you can shape your future but cant rewrite your past. Please set her, and yourself, free.
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