Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dinner with the Ex

I have been reflecting a lot on my previous marriage, and all that has transpired since then. I married very young to a Lebanese Shia Muslim, coming from a sheltered conservative Christian background. I often wonder if that alone didn't ruin us. But there were a lot of obstacles. His temper. My youth. Working too hard to get ahead.

In any case, I now count H as one of my dearest friends. His wife is also extremely close to me and I adore his children. He married his current wife when she was very young, and for a long time I was careful not to say anything that might make her jealous. But much time has passed, and we are all in a very good spot now where we have freedom to speak our mind, and even to joke about things, past and present. And I think what has come out of all of this has truly been remarkable in every way.

I know that not everyone chooses to remain close to their ex. Especially when there are no children and there is no need to. But I feel that H will forever remain a part of me, and that I owe him so much for who I have become. Not to say that it did not take work, but it was worth it for the relationship that all of us have today.

Last night, I joined them at their home for dinner. I brought a cake that my daughter and I made for his wife. She recently had her appendix out and while she was sitting in the hospital she said she was craving this cake that I make, and asked me if I would make her one.

So we decided to cook Lebanese food together, which is something we both enjoy. We decided earlier this year that we both cook better together than apart. I think part of it is that we just enjoy each other's company so much.

So I arrived late in the afternoon with my kids and we let them play, while we opened a bottle of wine and started cooking and talking about life. H came in and out of the room, and joined us later for the meal.

We talked about how when we were younger, we were both more jealous, but as we have grown up we have become less so. We talked about our marriages, and in-laws and our children.

They said that they both had noticed when they saw me last week that I have been happier and lighter lately than I have been for a while. I told them that I had decided that no matter what, I am going to laugh and be happy, because whether things work out or they don't, or I have money, or anything else, I have to get through my days, and I may as well laugh.

We talked about how when you have children with someone, you are forever bound to that person, whether you are married or not - so you may as well make the most of it and try to get along. Her parents and I had a similar conversation earlier in the day at my office. They are jokesters and have 5 children, so they both said that is what had happened to them, that they were stuck with each other because of the children!

Interestingly, H also has a very difficult struggle with his in-laws, for different reasons. We talked about that a little bit too. I can see why he has the struggle, but I also see them different because they are not my in-laws and I deal with them on a different level. It's funny how you relate to people different depending on how you have to relate to them. I'm sure some people can get along fine with my father-in-law - so long as the relationship does not depend on his need to control their life.

One thing that I have always felt as I have moved on in my life is that I could have made my first marriage work, if I had given it some time. I don't have regrets over that now. It is what it is, and I don't think things could have worked out more beautifully than they have. But it does make me approach my current marriage different than perhaps someone else from the outside might.

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