I Left My Husband But I Didn’t Go Anywhere

After however many years, whether in a marriage or in a live-in relationship, at some point, statistically, most of us will separate. Traditionally when you separate from someone, it is customary to leave the domicile, or at least the area. You tried, it didn’t work, and now you pack your stuff into a Louis Vuitton suitcase, or a Vons shopping bag, or a handkerchief tied to a stick, and venture forth into your unknown, bright future.

Or not.

Some of us, under the influence of an overblown sense of guilt or some other forces not understood to humanity, do not leave at all. Instead we move into a guest room, or a basement, or a guesthouse and continue to “co-parent,” for the sake of the children. “Co-parent” which according an earlier post I define as, “The illusion that you can control another person’s actions when you are not there because you used to sleep with them.”

When you co-parent in the same house as your ex, many times you are there. You are still subject to all the annoying habits you used to find so damn lovable, and these serve as a constant reminder that YOU FAILED. You are a statistic, you couldn’t make it work and now you must stay and rub your nose in your inability to co-operate. You live, at least partly, amongst their “crap,” both physical and metaphysical, and but now there are no mitigating factors, like that you may actually get laid later.

And then there are the children. Ah, the children. Remember all those years ago when you made that fateful decision to procreate, high on the fumes of ill-advised optimism and oxytocin? And now here they are, all tanned and puppyish in the Malibu summer, gazing up at you with their fast dwindling innocence, with some infinitesimal hope that mommy and daddy will get back together, even having been told a thousand times otherwise.

“Kiss him,” they bleat, as you pass the baton and hand off the progeny at the neutral location of Barney’s Beanery. You kiss his cheek, and he rubs it off. There is affection, tenderness, but all pretense is gone. You didn’t make it. And now you must pay.

Friends, it is not for the faint-hearted. No matter how amicable the break-up, it is a challenge to continually put the kids first; to work on letting go of resentments as they occur, to cry the tears that need to be released, and to compromise so two kids who can barely find their socks in the morning don’t have to pack and move between two households every week.

Lately I feel like a distance runner, on mile 65 of a 150-mile race. “Only eight more years,” I tell myself daily, “Maybe less.” And I stagger through the days, sometimes worried about the sounds I make at night, because he can hear me through the vents, and sometimes just not wanting to be under the same roof with him, but knowing that until we sell the house, I don’t really have a choice. I am stuck in a generous purgatory that I am supposed to be grateful for, because the house has a nice view, and I’m not eating out of a dumpster. So what if I don’t have a bathroom; for how can your children’s happiness compare to peeing in the bushes?


  1. The last few months before I physically moved out (mentally I was already gone) we shared the house as roommates…we did this for the kids… Worst decision I could have made…I think they lost respect for me because they knew how unhappy I was living there and yet I didn’t leave…as they got older I think they understood… But for those few months I was lost…haven’t thought about that time in years…I have a lot of empathy for you…so many of your posts either apply to me now or bring me back to another time when they did…you’re a remarkable writer

    • Dennis thank you so much for the affirmation. It does seem that many of us love parallel lives, even as we are under the delusion that we are all separate. I’m so grateful that you are able to connect to my writing in this way- makes me believe there will be millions more:-)

  2. Wow. My life in so many words. She filed in February of this year. I’ve been under the same roof as her since then. I don’t want the divorce. She needs it because her “happiness is priceless.” Yet she and her attorney drag their collective feet on every request from my attorney. It seems like it will never end. I could move out but have been advised by my attorney not to. My wife wants to be friends and do things together “as a family” now and after the divorce. Why? You told me you can’t stand me when you filed. I hate this. I am slowly dying. I need money from the house to get my own place. I have options. As horrible as living here is, this seems like me best option right now. “Just a few more weeks (months? Years?) and I can move on. I am slowly dying. Thanks for your words.

    • You are not dying! You can do this! It’s a great time to work on yourself- meditation, some kind of physical exercise, I do yoga- it saves me. No one can take you down but you! Thanks for reaching out.

  3. […] So here I was some two years and three months later returning to the same bed store (what can I say, the service was terrific!) and buying myself a bed. Long ago I ceded the master bedroom to my ex, and then slept in the guest room for a year, before seven months ago making a mother-in-law’s quarters in the garage because… well that’s another story. […]

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