Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Good ex-husbands - is there such a thing?

My ex and I were together for a couple of decades. By the time our marriage ended, it had been years of problems, numerous attempts - with counseling and otherwise - to keep it going, keep it healthy. We met when we were young and probably should have let the marriage go sooner than we did. As it was it went on far too long and both of us ended up being very hurt.

Like it is for so many others, the separation and divorce was pretty ugly and scary at times. I was the one who wanted the divorce and he wasn't ready. He had reason to hate me and he did his best to turn our sons and everyone around me against me.

I say all that not to bash him but to emphasize how far we've come.

And it actually didn't take all that long. By the time the divorce went through, a couple of years after we separated, it had already settled down. We were ALL extremely fortunate that he found someone else fairly quickly. It was obviously good for him but it was also good for me because that meant he moved on from the hatred. And it was especially good for our sons because they realized he was going to be okay.

Now we are all okay.

It didn't really surprise me that he is a good ex-husband. (He preferred the role of the 'fun/weekend dad' even when we were married.) He's a better co-parent now than he was when we were married. And he's more considerate towards me now than he was then.

He and his lady live fairly close by. We call each other to share concerns about our now grown sons (believe me, those concerns don't end once they're grown, just become more complicated). Not a lot but we know we can call if we need to. We attend graduations and birthday celebrations all together (his lady included, of course). I'm still invited to some of his family celebrations like weddings and showers. Over the years of the divorce, I've given him and his lady Christmas cards and I'll receive chocolates or a flower now and then. A year ago my mother experienced a few strokes and it was touch and go with her for a while and he phoned with his support.

I know this makes our sons VERY happy. They have zero expectation that we'll get back together, that's just not the issue. But they are very pleased that we treat each other so well, albeit at a distance.

I mentioned in a past entry how my ex was part of the surprise of my older son's recent early homecoming. He was in on the whole thing for the last few months and never let it slip. He drove hours to pick him up at the airport and deliver him here. It was a wonderful thing for him to do and entirely selfless.

Some background to set the stage for the next story: My birthday is November 1st, one day after Hallowe'en. Hallowe'en is a HUGE deal here, in our area and in our home. Usually we'd be surrounded by friends and neighbors, many of whom would wish me a Happy Birthday, etc. within his hearing. His birthday is November 2nd, the day after mine. And yep, he 'forgot' my birthday more than once.

Juxtapose that to what occurred a few years ago. My older son who was barely an adult at the time was serving with our military in Bosnia. He was gone for a good part of that year, training in another province and then in Europe for six months, including over the Christmas holidays. It was the first Christmas of his life when he wouldn't be with us. (We've since gone through two more without him.)

On Christmas morning, which I spent with my younger son, I opened one awkwardly wrapped gift to find a very Eastern European-looking 'Santa', a gift from my older son. My younger son revealed that yes, my older son had got it to my ex who had given it to my younger son to smuggle into the house to under the Christmas tree.

And I knew. And what I realized still brings tears to my eyes as I write this. My older son had done nothing of the sort. I wasn't expecting anything and wasn't hurt that there'd be nothing. He was doing what he wanted to do, his girlfriend had joined him for Christmas so he wasn't going to be alone (my only concern), and he was just too caught up in his life to even think of something like this, let alone have a chance to actually take care of it.

I knew that my ex, the same ex who had sometimes been thoughtless in our marriage, had figured I'd be missing our son and that our son should have got me something. I knew that he had gone out and deliberately found that Eastern European-looking Santa to pass it off as a gift from my son so that I would know my son was thinking of me.

I knew.

And I was right. That Santa is one of the ugliest things I've ever seen but it's one of the most precious things I have and it's always on display each Christmas.

That's a good ex-husband. Kinder than I deserve and, divorced or not, our sons have a real family.

Blessings come where we least expect them.


Blogger DrumsNWhistles said...

It's really interesting to see how parallel our lives have been.

I have a similar relstionship with the ex -- it's actually much better now than any time during the marriage, to tell you the truth.

Your story about the Santa is really sweet...my ex wasn't quite that far into the considerate zone, but it's okay -- we were always able to keep our relationship friendly and good for The Eldest, and he tells me that made a big difference.

BTW, I was the one who left, too. And he hated me for about six months until he married someone much more well-suited. I really like her a lot...she's down-to-earth, smart as a whip and handles him far more tactfully than I ever did.

1:27 AM  

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