Dysfunctional Family (But Not Mine This Time)

So, last Wednesday my husband and I had another define-the-relationship discussion.

The denial was wearing off, and he was realizing that when I said I saw the most likely outcome of this year being that we’d formally part ways at the end of it, that was what I really meant. That there are flaws in our relationship that aren’t the sort that we can fix short of what would essentially be a miracle.

I had to ask him how he’d feel about the prospect of being hitched to me for the rest of his life if he had no romantic and sexual attraction to me. He brought up the kids again, and our many years together, and I had to ask him how having kids together was supposed to somehow make up for the fact that I married him without romantic or sexual attraction.

I was so stressed out by the conversation I started having a physical reaction and had to lie down for the remainder, but in spite of that our talk went fairly well. He absorbed and adjusted and accepted, for the most part.

He was still hung up on the fact that I was stressed and threatened by the level of power he has over me in this relationship. I had to explain that it doesn’t matter that my rational thought processes assure me it’s unlikely he’d try to spitefully punish me for leaving – my subconscious knows he could and that’s where the stress and anxiety are sourced.

After we were largely finished saying what could be said for the time being, he told me he was going to contact his mother and tell her he didn’t want her visiting for now. He’s always stressed during her visits, and he could tell he wouldn’t be able to handle that with grace with everything else going on in our life. (She’s never been able to get over the fact that her little boy grew into a man that wanted to be treated like an adult, and it’s created a lot of strain.)

So while I was seeing my therapist that day, he called his mother to give her a heads up about our likely impending separation and swear her to secrecy on the subject, while also letting her know we wouldn’t be able to have her as a visitor for the moment.

He had quite a story to tell me later that night.

When he first told her, he didn’t get a response, so he thought maybe she hadn’t heard. He repeated himself, and that time she acknowledged she’d heard him. Instead of offering him any kindness or maternal warmth or familial support or sympathy, she basically told him she didn’t want to get involved. He’s her only child and very nearly the only family he has left in the world, as he’s never been close to his aunts and cousins.

(Apparently if she can’t relate to him as though he’s still a little boy, she doesn’t want to relate to him at all?)

So, having received that response and little else, he asked her for her thoughts. That was when she revealed she wasn’t surprised by his news. Apparently, she’d guessed this was coming and that I’d be seeking to divorce him… wait for it… because of my facebook posts, specifically mentioning my profanity, but also the subject of the posts (liberal politics, feminist, anti-conservative Christian, etc.) She concluded at the end of their call that she’d pray for us.

I don’t think with what I’ve sketched here that I’ve properly conveyed just how abnormal her response was to her only child telling her that divorce was impending. I actually felt sick and infuriated on my husband’s behalf. I could muster a warmer, sincerely sympathetic response to a stranger telling me about the impending dissolution of their marriage.

I could still see the grim humor in what she said, though. In spite of still being a conservative Christian at the time, I used a lot of profanity when I first started dating my husband. I had made the determination that there was no Biblical reason to refrain from vulgar language, as it had nothing to do with taking the Lord’s name in vain (a passage typically used to defend views that it’s not Christian to use swear words.)

After we had kids, I stopped using profanity in my home because my husband was uncomfortable with exposing our children to it and having them repeat what I said. I suppose she’d never heard my colorful vocabulary at that point, and only discovered it after joining FB many years later, where I didn’t restrain myself because my children weren’t going to be exposed to my vocabulary.

My husband was chagrined that in addition to how the rest of the call went that she’d brought up my liberal politics, because while he considers himself a moderate these days, he’s a moderate that leans left on more issues than not. Apparently his mom assumes otherwise.

I’m chagrined that she’s going to assume she’s right about all of it because there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to straighten out her misconceptions with the truth.

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