I sometimes feel sorry for people. The homeless. The hungry. The injured. Never cats. I sometimes feel sorry for people who haven’t been divorced.
There’s nothing like a lousy ex-spouse to make your current spouse look ah-mazing. Granted, a person who has been married for 25 years to just one person, together maybe since they were barely out of puberty, might be perfectly happy. He or she might have gotten very lucky and found someone who is loving, loyal, and admirable. In other cases, however, he or she just might not realize that it is not necessary to ride off into the sunset on the back of an ass.
I will not go into my current ex-husband drama, but I will say this: I had a dream last night that my absolutely wonderful husband was a contestant facing my ex-husband in a game show, and he rather victoriously kicked his ass.
It isn’t at all that Gregg needs the comparison to look good. He is an outstanding person independent of the fact that my first husband isn’t. Gregg is admirable and kind. He is intelligent and responsible. He is handsome and darkly funny. He’s a catch. But had I met Gregg when I was young and stupid(er), I might not have appreciated just how much of a catch he really is. I might have taken for granted his wonderful qualities. I might have thought all men were that great, and I might have thought the grass could be even greener elsewhere. I would have been wrong. Truth is, my grass is a damn fine green and I enjoy rolling in it each chance I get.
When I met my husband, I was at the end of the being a hot mess. I was very lucky that he “took me on”, as my mother would say. He somehow managed to fall in love with me enough to be blinded to the fact that I was middle-aged, hormonal, had two teenaged boys, and couldn’t balance a checkbook or organize my closet if my life depended upon it. (Not that I ever felt I was in any danger of a gunman breaking into my house and threatening to kill me unless my blouses were nicely sorted into summer/winter wear, but one never knows.) I am enormously grateful that he is a leg man, and that my being a runner and thus having nice calves swayed him enough to like me despite my obvious faults.
I am enormously grateful that he had, and still has, a heart big and brave enough to carry me. Not just me, but us. He walked in when someone else had walked out. Step-parenting two teenagers is a task not to be taken lightly, but Gregg has done it gracefully. He has stayed low, and has taken the simple approach of being there when they need him, not when he needs them. He might not be the one to buy the “glory gifts”, but he pays the mortgage and the water bill and has slipped me money for things child support couldn’t even dream of covering. He has loved me, stayed with me through difficult times, and has been faithful to me, consistently providing a model for my sons’ relationships with their partners.
All that Gregg has done, through his devotion, his support, his excellent filing system, and his wise advice, has made me a much better person. He reminded me yesterday that there is a big difference between being confrontational and standing up for what is right, and that was exactly what I needed to hear in order to face some things in front of me. He has “taken me on”, and that in turn has emboldened me to take on challenges I couldn’t have before.
I suppose I should be grateful to my ex for paling in comparison to Gregg, like we should be thankful for the plague for showing society the importance of hand-washing; like we should be thankful for poison ivy for showing us the peace that comes with not itching; like we should be thankful for death for showing us the value of life. If I hadn’t known how bad things could get in a marriage to the wrong person, maybe I wouldn’t appreciate now how good things can really be with the right person.
For my friends who are one-hit wonders and have managed to stay married through it all, I salute you and only feel a little sorry for you. Don’t go out and get divorced on my account, just so you can appreciate your mate. Just ask around. Ask any single, middle-aged friend what her last date was like. If your spouse doesn’t show up late for a date wearing capri pants and then “forget his wallet” so that you’ll pay for gas and margaritas, you’re in greener pastures already. Go ahead and appreciate it without the costly legal fees.
Photo credit: “Green”, Littleman, RGB Stock Photos