T Nation

Weird situation?

I rarely post much in the way of personal info. on the forum, but I’m in a very odd situation and I would like a little feedback from an outside perspective.
7 months ago my wife and I decided our marriage of 5 1/2 years was no longer working. It was a totally mutual decision and we were both feeling the same way at the same time. Nothing bad happened, nobody cheated, we just lost the intimate connection and it had been that way for a long time. While it was an emotional event for both of us, there was no anger and not an angry word passed between us. We both feel a tremendous amount of love and respect for the other person and are still the best of friends.
Here’s the weird part. We still live in the same house. When we split, I moved into the spare room with the intention of finding an apartment within a few weeks. The thing is, without the stress of a romantic relationship between us, we started to get along better than ever. In fact she suggested that it would be stupid to rent another place when I could stay here and save for another house down the road. She’s the best room- mate I’ve ever had. I know at some point both of us are going to want to move on with our lives, but right now this situation really works. Thankfully we have no children, but we have three dogs and with one of us always around they never miss out on care or attention. The difficult part however is dating. We are both ok with it and have no problem with the other dating, the problem is with the people we date. Both of us have experienced difficulty with the people we have dated, accepting our situation. In particular, she is having a really difficult time with the guy she is dating, who is having a really tough time with the way things are. When I meet women with whom there is mutual interest, I’m up front about my situation right away. Initially they say they’re ok with it, but eventually it usually becomes an issue. Is it too much to ask someone to understand that you’re room mates with your ex and still great friends? Are we fucked up? there is no chance that we will get back together. We honestly have no physical desire for oneanother. There has never been great romantic chemistry between us and we probably should have never been a couple and should have just been friends from the beginning. It’s something we both now joke about. Personally, I don’t understand how two people could be married for a time, claim to love each other deeply, figure out it’s not working, seperate and then totally remove themselves from each other’s lives. If the romantic part of the relationship fails, but you still care for and really like the person, should you not remain friends, even roommates if it works. I’m curious to see what others think. Am I fucked up in my thinking? Positive or negative thoughts are welcome and flame away if you feel so inclined. I can take it I have big shoulders.

I wouldn’t consider you fucked up, but you are in a very strange situation. As you know, most divorces do not end so well. That’s the problem that the other people you are dating have with the situation. It seems unbelievable, so they don’t fully trust that the situation is as you state it to be.

I think it would take a very strong person to start dating either of you in your current situation. That may limit your casual dating options, but aren’t you really looking for a very strong person anyway? I would just be scared that the initial reaction to your situation might turn off some quality people to the two of you.

It’s good to see people that can end a relationship without being better. I’ve always told my wife that I’d be excellent at divorce (as you and your ex seem to be), but she doesn’t find that funny.

Dude, I would never ever even think of flaming you. But I do have some thoughts on your situation.

First of all, sorry to hear. Very, very sorry to hear about this.

What I see here is a the classic “comfort zone”. You and your wife have developed this comfort zone and after 5 1/2 years it’s rather difficult to give up. So, this safety net has been created during this time to buffer any type of emotional stress that usually creeps up during a seperation. Cause it’s blocking your face of reality. You and your wife have decided to seperate. Then do. You both have valid reasons. Don’t use this comfort zone as an excuse to not move forward or find out for sure if indeed you two do or don’t belong together.
It’s great that you and your wife are remaining friends. But you two can remain friends even if you or her are living a few blocks away. You both will not be completely removing yourselves from each other. You’ve got a history together. And you’ve discoved a point where you need to find out if you can continue developing a history together. So, that means don’t use your relationship as a crutch to NOT move on (with or w/out each other). It’s beginning to happen now; you go out on a date, it’s over and you come home to your “wife”. THIS will become unhealthy.

So, my advice: find a place out from the house. Move out for awhile. This is a seperation where you two need time away from each other to sort things out.

Without being “bitter”, not “better”. Sorry.

Fucked up? No. But it is by no means ordinary. If I were potentially dating your ex, I’d be VERY wary of two things: (1) what might be going on between you behind closed doors (that whole “celibacy article” thing), and (2) what was being said about me by you to my girlfriend.

But I have a whole diatribe about the “failure” of your marriage that I’m not going to get into. There’s obviously some issues that need to be addressed before you get into another relationship and repeat the same mistakes.

First of all, any time a relationship ends it sucks. Sorry you have to deal with that. Second of all, I can relate on the two most important levels - I’ve lived both sides of your situation.

When things were over with my ex-husband, we lived under the same roof for a year before I moved out. It was not as copasetic (sp?) as your situation sounds, but it served it’s purpose (financial). However now, five years later, if circumstances prevailed I could very easily share a house with him. While we are not as close as you and your ex seem to be, we are very rational, friendly and concerned for the other’s welfare. The guys I’ve dated these last five years have all been wary of the situation and rather uncomfortable with it. It’s just not “normal” for ex’s to be rational human beings about their emotional differences. It has proved some sort of litmus test in that if a guy is to stand any chance of dating me, he’s got to be adult enough to accept that I refuse to play fucked up high school games full of emotional “tit for tat” and revenge crap. My ex and I get along very well and are very supportive of eachother - and NO, there is no chance in hell of us ever getting back together. If he can’t deal, fuck him. He’s not the guy for me anyway then.

The other side is that I dated a guy in your precise situation, dogs and all (only difference was they never formalized it by getting married but were together for 10 years). Yes, it was a little odd for me too even though I should have been fine with it due to my experience with my ex. But, upon meeting and hanging out with her and totally NOT getting any sort of “vibe” from them - it’s all good. I just had to experience their interaction first hand. He mentioned that other chicks had issues such as you’ve experienced. And yeah, I understand that. The chick (or in my case, guy) just has to be grown up enough to realize that not all ex’s want to murder eachother. Granted things didn’t last long between us, but that was due to entirely different circumstances. Thank god I still get to borrow his dogs for my hikes. :wink:

Bottom line, congratulations on both of you having the maturity to be where you are. If either of you guys are dating someone that just can’t seem to deal with the situation - fuck 'em. They are obviously not at your level of maturity and the relationship would fail eventually for one reason or another.

i agree with patricia. i actually was almost in this same kind of perdicument. yeah i know can’t spell worth shit. my ex and i broke up after a year and 4 months and were almost married. after we split up we were still good friends for the most part. we were thinking of getting an apartment together that way she wouldn’t have to live with her mom no more and i wouldn’t have to live with my dad. but we did alot of talking about it and we came to a conclusion that we couldn’t deal with it. its hard enough to know that she would be with someone else but to actualy see her bring someone back to the apartment and go to her room. thats just way too much to bare. i just can’t see how you can actually deal with that. jen and i have gone on are merry little ways and we still are friends and we are questioning getting back together but who knows. she actually does sound like she might be the one for you just because you too can still remain friends like that, cause to me that takes alot of love epecialy over a 5 year period. but you’ll never realy know if she is the one or not unless you move out and figure things out for your self.
just my 02.

Patricia has given you some valuable advice and insight.

My ex and I are the best of friends…his new girlfriend had a problem with it, until I had a heart to heart with her. Now we get along great, my kids have no clue that grown ups can’t all get along and someday we will probably take big extended family vacations together.

Eventually the right woman will come into your life and everything will work out. It will take a woman with tons of self confidence and lots of trust, but isn’t that what you would want anyway?

Did I mention that I am still single…??..LOL

Iron Maiden: Interesting about your ex’s girlfriend. I actually get along better with my ex’s fiance than I do with him. It was tense in the beginning (didn’t help that in one of the fights they got in he threw her out of their place and I was there as a witness that she didn’t take things that didn’t belong to her and that he didn’t abuse her in any way). But we had that heart-to-heart and come to find out - we probably could be good friends. Her and my views on child raising are much more similar than my ex’s and mine. Our views on relationship roles are more similar. Our views on finances are more similar. Hell, she even joked that if I were a guy, we’d be dating instead of her dating him. “Extended Family” vacations have already taken place. We take a 10 day camping expedition every summer with about 25 people - friends, “aunts & uncles”, kids, dogs, you name it.

Bottom line is that if everyone is adult enough to handle it, doesn’t use anything as a “crutch” and deals with their own issues - it really is possible and beneficial for kids. Magnus doesn’t have the kid factor to be concerned with, though.

First off, thanks for all the thoughtful and interesting insights. They are much appreciated and have given me valuable things to think about. Some of the comments have also given me language with which to help articulate my own feelings concerning the situation I’m in.
To Jared NFS: your thoughts mirror much of my own and your right when you suggest I should be looking for someone who is strong enough to deal with the relationship I have with my ex. I’m 36 now and too old for relationships full of drama and misunderstandings. I’m not sure if I’m deserving of it, but eventually I would like a simple relationship with an exceptional person, who’s not easily caught up in insecure, jealous nonsense. My ex is definately deserving of such a relationship and I really hope she finds it as well.
To Patricia: You’re right about the “comfort zone” we have created. However I don’t know that it’s a bad thing. Why would we simply move on for the sake of moving on? What I mean is, we support each other emotionally and financially and I don’t think it makes sense for us to live seperately right now. If you lived with your best friend or a family member, who you really liked, would you move out simply for the sake of moving on. No, you would likely wait till there was a reason to move on. If one of us develops a relationship with someone else that evolves to a level of taking the next step, (living together) than it will be appropriate for the other to find a new place to live. Right now, I think moving on would actually be a step back. Back to living like a student, without the means to save money for the future. Both of us have been quite supportive of each other’s desire to move forward and I think it’s entirely possible while living together at this point. I think you’re right that there is the potential to use our relationship as an emotional “crutch” which would prevent us from moving forward, but we’re both aware of it, talk about it and working hard to avoid it. Thanks for giving me a few things to think about and be wary of.
To brider: Ya, I try to put myself into the frame of reference of the guy she’s dating and I can see those concerns being legitimate. But, ultimately he needs to be strong enough to believe she chose him for a reason and trust her. If he can’t than he’s an insecure individual. As for the issues behind the failure of our marriage, they are deep and have a lot to do with childhood stuff. My ex has intimacy issues stemming from emotionally dead parents and childhood physical and sexual abuse. Ironically it was in finally dealing with these problems which lead to our situation. She is still getting help for these problems and dealing with them in a really strong way. It really is best for both of us however, that we decided to split. We are much better as great friends than husband and wife.
To Karma: It’s nice to hear from someone who has experienced a similar situation and who can articulate there feelings on a confusing matter with such depth and clarity. You have a gift for seeing the big picture, taking a jumble of information and ideas, extracting the important stuff, and pearing it down to a concise, understandble, simple concept. Thank you. You are also right on the money about using this arrangement as a “litmus test” for potential partners. If they can’t deal with it, I’m not interested, or as you so eloquently put it, “fuck em”. If I end up being the male equivelant to the weird old cat lady, so be it. Better than settling for some drama queen. BTW, the equivolent to the weird old cat lady, for me would be, living in an old shed with a couple of pit bulls living on meals on wheels deliveries. Not such a bad life.
To Iron Maiden: Nice to see another person who has dealt with a similar situation positively and successfully. Thanks for your input.

Enough about relationships, let’s see pics of the dogs!

(I’m kiddin Magnus, I feel for ya in splitting up with your wife) But I really do wanna see some pics of your pits.

Magnus, thanks for the compliment (sort of?). :wink: I sincerely doubt you’ll be the crazy old dog guy living on delivery food and moonshine in tin roof Tuff Shed. You’re attractive, articulate, intelligent and have high expectations of yourself and others. You will find your match.

Renegade dragon: gonna post some tonight if I get em back resized from Matt.
Karma: thanks for the kind words

If you want someone new in your life, you have to make space for them.

I don’t see that happening in your current situation.

I don’t mean literal space, I mean you have to give them an opening… room to land… that type of thing.

Even so, I think your current situation seems reasonable. It is giving you both time to come to terms, make peace, and get ready for the next phase.

Good luck.

People will always react negatively to situations they have not experienced and cannot understand. I used to live with my best friend and his honey. For almost three years. I found out later that all but our closest friends were convinced we were both banging her. For some reason people can’t get their heads around the idea of a platonic relationship. I am sure the trouble you are having stems from your potential new honeys thinking you and the ex still have something going. Pat. may be right - you may have to move out to get something new going. good luck.