Friday, 17 August 2007

Having my cake and eating it too

So many people have asked me why I don't do something about my situation. Why don't I leave my Husband? Why don't I get my own place? Why don't I take the children to live with Ruf?

My reply to them is: But what possible benefit could any individual from this family unit get from embracing one of those options? From a purely selfish point of view, yes, I would be gaining my independence from my Husband, who is hardly a tyrant, but I would be exchanging it for the far more savage rule of having to work to try to make ends meet and provide a second comfortable home for my children. So, in effect, I would be losing my independence.

Right from the start, I have always said that I will never leave my children. My own mother deserted us when I was 17, leaving me to deal with a father close to alcoholism and a younger sister, going through the tough teenage years which suddenly became so much worse without a stable family life. Admittedly, they had been arguing for a long time so things were not that secure and we had just moved house away from everything we had grown up with. Things were very tough. I am pretty sure that these difficult times played a crucial role in my insecurity and eventually developing anorexia. I don't blame anyone, it was just the way that I dealt with it. I refuse to put my children at risk of feeling anything less than confident in their own bodies/personalities/abilities. I try so hard to make them feel loved and cared for - this seems to be especially hard with an increasingly hormonal and prickly teenage girl, but I keep trying. I never want them to think I left them or forced their father to leave them.

Ruf has always said he doesn't want to be a home-wrecker. From the very start, he fought our attraction to each other because I was still married. However, I will explain it to you, the way I told it to him.

My Husband and I seem to have found a way to remain relatively civil. There are very few rows. We sleep in the same bed, although we do not have any form of physical relationship in terms of sex or day to day affection. This was never discussed but has developed on its own over the last few years. I do not know how he feels about this. If he doesn't like it, it is up to him to initiate a conversation. For 25 years, I tried to talk to him about affection and feelings until I was blue in the face and he would not accommodate my needs. I will not beg him to love me ever again.

We have a comfortable lifestyle. A nice house in a nice area with a big garden and a bedroom and computer for each child. There is enough money for them to be able to do most of the activities that they wish to try and to go on different types of holiday with the school. For me to leave my Husband or ask him to leave and finance a second home would be to wreck their comfortable, secure, settled home-life. At the moment they have unrestricted access to both parents, who love them very much and are not constantly fighting over whose turn it is to have them or who should be supervising homework or one parent having more money than the other to give treats or withholding maintenance. He does not beat me or them. He is a good, kind man who tries to love the best he can.

Ruf lives in a one-bedroom flat in the middle of a big City, nearly 200 miles away from their friends/family/security. He cannot afford to maintain my lifestyle or that of my children.

The only person who would be made happier by moving to be with him would be me.

There is no good reason for me to leave my Husband but there are so many reasons in relation to my children why I shouldn't. And to ask him to leave the comfortable home that he has financed would be just as wrong.

To consider either option would be an act of the utmost selfishness, an abrogation of every parental responsibility that I have tried so hard to uphold... at this stage.

In a few years time, they will both be older and more independent. Hopefully, one will be finishing Uni and the other starting there. My absences during term time will not be so noticeable. I can start a slow but inexorable break away.

Of course, anything can happen in a few years and Ruf may have found someone more suitable - younger, prettier, sexier, available now, who wants to settle down and give him his own children.

Who knows what the future holds but, for now, my duty is to be with my children with just a smidgeon of selfishness to ensure that I also get a portion of what it is that makes me happy on a regular basis. You will see from the next post on this subject why I believe that my Husband will continue to collude with me in this facade.

I know it's selfish, but I want to carry on having my cake and eating it too...


Anonymous said...

It drives me mad how people seem to assume that breaking up a marriage is the easy solution, when it sometimes clearly isn't. Every situation is different: I have a friend who I think should have left years ago, and who has damaged her children by staying, and other friends who I think would be unutterably selfish to leave.

I don't think anyone should stick out an intolerable situation "for the sake of the children" - and frequently, I suspect the children wouldn't want that either. But at the same time, if it is better for the children to have their parents together, then it seems selfish if one parent decides that their needs should be put first.

It's a delicate balance. I believe children need to see their parents having a decent, affectionate relationship in order for them to form their own... and then my daughter has never seen me in ANY relationship, and seems perfectly capable of running her own in a responsible and mature manner.

I think you put your case very well, and don't need to justify it to anyone. only you can be the judge of what is best for your relationship.

Walker said...

You do what you got to do under the circustances your in.
You sacrifice your desires for a bigger cause and noble one at that.

Even though your home life isn't what you wish it to be you bioth seem to make it work.
The kids should come first and that's where you have put them, the future is down the road waiting for you.

I don't think you're selfish I think you're a mother first.

Have a nice weekend

bittersweet me said...

I don't think that there can be any doubt that you know your own mind, and what is best for your family.

well said.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Putting your children first is responsible, not selfish. If you leave your husband when they're adults, I hope they will appreciate the sacrifice you made for them.

Tom Paine said...

I profiled your profile today. Perhaps that will add a moment of joy to a sober and thought-provoking topic?

Anonymous Boxer said...

You know, I agree with you. I really do. Your children deserve a stable life and as you said, you know what it feels like to be abandoned by a Parent.

n said...

That was very moving. What an understanding, sensible and honest view you have. Your children are very lucky to have you as their mother and i'm sure that they are well balanced children because of the way you are. I don't know your full story as i'm a newbie but i've got kids and so i do think i get where you are coming from. Be happy Nx

George said...

I am flabberggasted that you think of yourself as selfish. You are selfless ... you stay where you don't want to be, living with a man you don't want to live with but admire in a certain way all for the sake of your children.

I stayed a number of years for the sake of the children and then I had to leave in order to save myself. An entirely different situation than yours.

I no longer believe that children must have both parents with them in order to develop as healthy, responsible, caring people. As long as there is a great relationship between the child(ren) and the parent who is no longer there every day .. it works out well. Of course the relationship between the separated parents must be good as well ... I get along with their mother, better now than I did for the last 5 years of our marriage.

Stick by your guns and don't let others who think they know better get on your back.

Gypsy said...

You have no idea how close to my story this is. My daughters are in those pre teen years and I couldn't bring myself to ruin their lives so I could be happier. I don't regret that decision for a moment but it is hard living a lie. When they have lives of their own it will be time for me to decide what to do about mine. Good luck to you. I hope it works out the way you want it to.

having my cake said...

Thank you everyone for your constructive and supportive comments.

Sometimes it feels as if I live in a cage but most of the time it is a very gilded one so I would not like to sound as if Im complaining too much...

Anonymous said...

Cake, as you know from our discussions, you and I are on almost precisely the same page. Isn't it sad that we have to keep explaining our reasoning? Nevertheless, I'm with you, honey.

Lady in red said...

my situation is and was very different. I stayed with my alcoholic husband for years for the sake of keeping the family together. He has never got over his parents splitting when he was 12 hes in his 50s now. I didnt want to deprive him of his children and vice versa. But eventualy I could not carry on the facade.
We struggle financially even more now than before the divorce. But I feel I did the right thing, my boys are happier now in a calm atmosphere where there was tension before. we are poor but basically happy. they dont see their father often but he phones them often and knows more about what goes on in their lives than he did when he lived here.
I did what was right for me and my children, you are doing what is right for you and your family x

Vi vi vi vooom!!!!!!!! said...

Well put cake. If you can put up living with the tyrant for a few more years for the sake of your kids, then do so.

Thanks for the moving explanation.


DJ Kirkby said...

When I first realised you were having an affair I was going to stop reading your blog but your post has made me see that you deel you have soem valid reasons for your behaviour. You are in a situation that must be very unpleasant and I admire you for making choices that will ensure that you feel you are able to continue being a good mother.

Anonymous said...

Having you cake and eating it too seems to be the best option for you at the moment x

ronjazz said...

My dear, anyone who questions you has never been in your shoes. We all do what we have to do to survive and move forward. As long as you know what's best for you and yours, everyone else matters not. One of the biggest issues in my own life is judgment from others. And I get very hard on myself at the rare moment when I might fall into that trap.

One foot in front of the other. I admire you for it.

Mister Mxyzptlk said...

Not to be too Dr. Laura-ish about it, but if you have kids you need to put them first and that's what you're doing.

If you didn't describe your household as civil I might disagree with your decision, because as was noted, sometimes staying together for the sake of the kids does more harm than good.

From what you've described, your choice at this time is the right one and very pragmatic.

Such a shame how things have worked out, but you now know what "better" tastes like and seem to have a plan for your future.

Trust your convictions.

julia said...

I'm glad everyone has been so supportive of you with their comments. Your blog posts are fearless and so revealing. It's easy for any of us to walk a mile in your shoes because you draw us in so deeply. I'm glad you're taking time to figure out complicated emotions without taking spasmodic action you likely would regret.

Pixie said...

I am not at al religious, but a line that does make sense to me is: he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Live your life the way that works for you and your family, no one else has the right to judge you.
It's hard enough bringing up kids without beating yourself up too.
Take care.

Cherrie said...

Why not leave everything as it is? It seems to be working reasonably well for everyone. Children eventually grow up, and when they don't need you anymore you can reconsider whether leaving your husband would be the right thing to do.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

You put your children first. That makes you a wonderful mother. It's no-one's business but yours and your families. I think you are remarkable BG x

Loving Annie said...

You might be able to do both.... The price to pay is usually heartbreak though, if Ruf leaves...
I understand what you are doing and why - it makes sense. Good luck, Cake !

Elizabeth Penmark said...

Do you really believe this stuff you've said? Who are you hurting? Your children and your husband. You think material things are what your children want? You mentioned material comforts so many times. You think your kids will be well adjusted? Think again. How can they possibly be well adjusted living in a home with a woman who is using their father? I'm sorry, but they will have a LOT of issues. How do I know? Because my mom stayed in a loveless marriage "for the children." I am so angry with her for doing that now. I have no clue what a healthy, loving relationship is supposed to look like. Kids KNOW when their parents don't love one another. You are setting an example for them that they are sure to follow. Is this what you want their lives to look like?

I am pretty screwed up. In therapy, working it through. But if she could have left him and lived a happy, honest life, I would have had an example to follow.

And your husband? Do you simply hate the man? How can you deny him the opportunity to love someone and have someone love him in return? Do you think he is so horrid that no woman could ever possibly love him just because you don't? Doesn't he deserve better?

We all make mistakes. We all screw up. You are taking the easy way out, and the ones you love will pay for it down the road.

having my cake said...

Dear Elizabeth

Thank you for taking the time to put forward an alternative view and being brave enough to cite your own example to support it.

I am truly sorry that your mother's decision to stay had just as detrimental effect on you as my mother's departure did on me and your comments have certainly given me something to think about in terms of my future relationship with my own children.

When I wrote this particular entry, I knew that it would be possible to draw the conclusions that you have from what I had written, particularly the idea that I don't love my Husband and am 'using' him. However, there are a couple of key pieces of information that I have not dealt with yet and when I do share them, if you have stayed with this blog, I hope you will begin to understand and find it in your heart to judge me slightly less harshly.

What I have learned is that relationships and the ways in which people show that they love each other is such a fraught subject where there is no definitive guide, no right or wrong. It is all about how you feel comfortable demonstrating your love and how your partner feels comfortable about receiving and returning it.

But more than anything it is about having the self esteem to be able to love yourself. If you cannot do that then you will find it hard to maintain a loving relationship with anyone else... particularly if your partner also has the same issues due to the nature of his own upbringing.

I dont know your mother or her situation but I know there was a point at which I was completely trapped in my emotionless marriage. My already fragile self esteem plummetted and I felt completely drained. I was suffering from a severe eating disorder. I did not have the energy to love my children the way they needed and they were suffering because my Husband is incapable of providing that type of physical love to anyone. Ruf's affection was what, eventually, rejuvenated me and made it possible to stay and provide my kids with what they need on an emotional level but also to continue to interact with my Husband in as close a way as possible. We do not fight. We are now working together to do the best for our children as they start to become young adults. We eat together as a family as often as is possible. I certainly dont say I am doing the right thing but I am doing the best I can in difficult circumstances and this course of action is not set in stone.

The responsibilities of bringing up a child in this day and age are so much more encompassing than any new parent could ever imagine and the damage we can do when we get it wrong so devastating and long lasting. However, I would take issue with you about kids' attitudes to material things. My son came home only yesterday bemoaning that he didnt want to play with his friends cos they were all surfing the net on their new phones and his didnt have that facility. They live in a world where material possessions and labels matter a great deal from a very early age. But I agree with you entirely in that they also need to be loved wholeheartedly and, in an ideal world, provided with a proper loving relationship to aspire to. Sadly, it seems that so few of them are truly given that example.

I hope that your therapy helps you to learn to overcome your issues. Perhaps if I had taken that option or at least talked about my problems when I was younger, then I would not be in this situation now.

With Best Wishes

Mr. Nighttime said...

This is the first time I have had a chance to read this fully, and I am just a little shaken by it.

I have a very dear friend that, right now, is undergoing the exact same thing you are. This situation you have described is a carbon copy of her life right now. She has an emotionally crippled husband, save when it comes to their daughter. He refuses to initiate any kind of intimacy with her, even just cuddling on the couch. She is caught between a rock and a hard place, as he also happens to be an excellent father.

She also needs him for practical reasons, as although she is the major breadwinner, his health insurance from his job is far better in terms of coverage, and they have the needs of their daughter to consider. There is more to this story as you can well imagine, but suffice it to say that she has been sex starved for literally years. There is one person she wants more than anything in her life: Me.

I have my own marriage issues, including a lack of intimacy, but for other reasons. My friend and I go back a long way. We grew up together, had a fling about 20 years ago, but have remained the closest of friends. It has only been recently that we realized how much we really mean to each other, and that maybe we chose the wrong people to marry.

She also lives 1500 miles away. WE both know if we were closer, in the same city even, it would be dangerous in a sense. The desire we have for each other can be overwhelming at times. Right now however, we are where we are. We have to deal with what we are faced with. Getting together, even for one day of bliss with each other, is almost impossible.

It won't resolve our situations, but it would allow for just a moment in time where nothing else mattered but us.