rabbit blog

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Dear Rabbit,

I turn to you having read some of your blog, in the hope you can throw some light on the difficult situation I find myself in. So here goes....

Last year I left the father of my child because it was a tumultuous and gritty relationship and I tried to make it work for 4 years and it simply didn't. In stepped my best male friend of 6 years, who picked me up, dusted me off, gave me back my self-esteem and also taught me how to have orgasms (I am 32 so this was quite an achievement finally!). I spent the first 6 months of this new relationship getting over my ex, or rather the guilt associated with my daughter not seeing her father every day. 4 months in to this 6 month grieving process, my boyfriend proposed. Several eyebrows were raised by various friends and family, but we got on with it, having an engagement party and then a wedding. We were married within a year of first getting together.

The marriage happened 8 weeks ago. 6 weeks into the marriage, we had yet another argument (we have always had these and it makes for a rather tedious relationship) at a party and my husband stormed off home. Meanwhile, a tall, dark and handsome guy - and friend's ex husband - offered to walk me home. I have always had a bit of a thing for him and half way home I got the urge to tell him so. I never made it home, instead going to his. It was all very innocent and we just kissed and it was lovely.

A week later I had told my husband and he subsequently packed his bags and moved out. Meanwhile, I have been getting closer to the guy who walked me home and we share a lot of things in common, including sense of humour, hobbies etc. However, my husband really wants our marriage to work and has suggested counseling.

I know what I SHOULD do - I should get back with my husband because he is a good guy, reliable, safe, stable and good for my daughter's stability (although she is only 2 and a half so maybe she could adapt again?!). The other guy is probably unreliable, unpredictable... but has a very calming influence on me which my husband could never have because he is too highly strung.

I have been ostracized by my family but have the support of wonderful friends thankfully.

I have told both men I need time and I do not want any contact for a few days which they are both respecting. I am now trying to figure out what to do. They are both great men for different reasons. The other guy has two kids and an ex wife which could make things complicated, but no matter what I say about him to put me off, it doesn't put me off. I feel like I owe it to my husband to try again after such a short time, but feel it might not work and if this has happened so soon in to our marriage, it's not a good sign. Being with the other guy would mean taking a big risk that might affect a number of aspects of my life. And yet I know we could have a harmonious and happy relationship and he has promised to make me the happiest woman in the world.

What should I do??? Why isn't it clearer? Do you have any advice at all?



Dear Confused,

First of all, Iíd like to encourage you to doubt your impulses, your best instincts, your urges, your fleeting notions, even your beliefs. Then look around at the friends you have left, including the new guy. Anyone whoís been standing by your side, backing up your plays at this point? Be suspicious of them.

And then thereís your family, and your estranged husband. And oh yeah, your daughter. Oh, and the friend who was married to your new guy for all those years. All of these people who love you, whoíve been around for years and years, who youíve trusted, leaned on, etc. Take a second, set aside your impulses and notions, all the things they donít understand because theyíre not you, and give them some credit. Give them credit just for being there, and for having the courage to tell you when they think youíre screwing up.

As valiant as you may feel for telling your husband and the new guy you need a few days to think things over, the truth is that people need longer than that. When you have a kid with someone and youíre with them for several years, you need more than four months to make your next big decision. When youíve been married for two months, you need to take a little more time before you act on an urge with your friendís ex-husband.

Look, when you went from describing your new relationship with your husband as promising to calling it tedious? I got confused and thought you must be talking about your kidís father.

Youíre making bad decisions right now, because you want easy answers and a quick escape. You wanted that with your new husband, and now you want it with your friendís ex. You need to slow down and take a breath and start seriously questioning every single thought that floats through your head, particularly the ones that involve some shiny, perfect future with someone who hasnít been around long enough to let you down yet.

Everything that you state as fact, in your letter? Put those into the ďUnknownĒ column. For instance, you do not know that you could have a harmonious and happy relationship with the new guy - what basis do you have for believing that? Any proof you might have, I can debunk it merely by observing that heís promising to make you the happiest woman in the world two months in your marriage to someone else. The new guy is deluded, and heís as anxious to believe in a fantasy as you are. What do you know about living with someone with two kids, plus your kid, plus an ex-wife who was once your friend and now likely (and justifiably) hates your guts? Youíre two months into a new marriage, and you want to throw it away, screw your husband, screw your friend, tell your family to fuck off, and drag your confused toddler along with you, into a house with two kids and a guy whoís willing to promise to make you happy forever before he even sees how you act when youíre in a crappy mood?

I know things seem extremely unclear, but unless you find your own clarity on this, slowly, and take into account your husbandís feelings, your friendís feelings, your familyís feelings and your kidís feelings, youíre going to regret it, big time. If you werenít married, if your new guy werenít your friendís ex, if you didnít have a kid, then you could be a little reckless. But think of all the people youíre asking to back your very bad bet, based on some empty promise. Thatís not just risky, itís self-destructive.

Demonstrate to yourself that you matter more than the latest guy who claims he can rescue you. Telling people who disagree with your choices to fuck off isnít the way you define your independence. You get to feel independent and free when youíre sure about your decisions, when you donít feel confused. You need to clear your head and take care of your daughter and feel good about yourself. Maybe your marriage was a mistake, but you made that commitment and the least you can do is go to counseling and discuss it. Sounds like you really need to be in therapy regardless, and listen, if your therapist tells you everything youíre saying right now makes sense? Get another therapist. Because right now, youíre damn near crazy.

Iím sorry to be so harsh, because I know youíre in a tough spot, but you need to know that anyone whoís angry with your choices at this point has a right to be. Youíre running around like a lunatic, trying to find something that will make you happy without forcing you to take a close look at yourself and your behavior. Anyone who promises that doesnít love you or is too dumb or short-sighted to get it. You need to figure out what you want for yourself and your daughter in the absence of anyone else, and until you have some plan for making it on your own, creating a stable situation for you and your daughter, until you feel confident in your ability to take care of yourself and your kid on your own, you wonít make a good decision about anyone else.

If you want to crawl out of this with some self-respect and the sense that you might still be a good mom to your daughter, tell the new guy you made a mistake, apologize to your husband, apologize to your family, apologize to your friend, and tell them all youíre going to take a long, hard look at yourself for the next six months and figure out a new path. You need to live alone, if you can afford it, and handle everything on your own, without leaning on anyone. You should still go to counseling with your husband, and see if that relationship is worth working on. But forget the new guy, factor him out, because if he were worth anything he wouldnít be sleeping with a friend of his ex-wifeís who just got married a few months ago, not only because itís fucked up, but because youíre a very bad choice for him, too.

And when you apologize, state your intention to get your head on straight, make it clear youíre not going to be with anyone for at least six months? The people who applaud that are your real friends, and the people who donít support it are the people who want you in some half-baked, dependent, half-confused state, who want to play hero or want to save you or want someone desperate in their midst. They care about their own egos more than you, and they certainly donít care about your daughterís welfare.

Do you care about your daughterís welfare at all, or do you want her to adjust to every whim you might have over the years? Look for a therapist, or if you canít afford that, look in the paper under ďLove AddictionĒ and find a group for women who canít resist the latest guy. Listen to some stories from women who find a new guy every year or so while their kids struggle to adjust. Itís a serious problem, just as serious as alcoholism or drug addiction, and youíre wandering down that path because you donít want to look at yourself or work on the commitments youíve already made - to your family, your husband, and your kid. You want an escape, like every addict, and you want it now.

Like I said, you need to set aside what you want, what you have the urge to do, what you think you believe, and clear your head. Start trying to imagine the person you want to become -- not some shiny imaginary future, in which a man saves you from yourself, but a future in which youíre the hero. Think about your family and friends feeling proud of you, and you feeling proud of yourself. That probably seems impossible at the moment, but you can get there. Itís just not going to be easy.

But if you do whatís easy right now? Your life will be much, much harder in the long run. Youíre at an important crossroads, and right now, you have to take the hard road.

Good luck.


11:51 AM

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staff writer at salon.com, co-creator of filler, author of the memoir disaster preparedness due from riverhead press in fall 2010

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gen x apology
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