Tag Archives: angry divorce

What I Wish My Ex-wife Knew

I’m not writing this blog to my ex-wife, but there are times when I wish she would read my words. I still love her, because of our connection and history with children, but she makes it difficult to remain objective sometimes. One of my outlets is to work it out, alone, right here. Again, I’m certain she’s NOT reading me, but these posts could help our relationship. Soften her up a bit, perhaps. And then again, I’ve given up imagining that my words or actions can change her in any way. We’d like to think we can make another person happy, or comfortable, or secure. Unfortunately, we cannot.

If I could give my ex-wife a quick list of posts to read, this would be the shortlist.

As it is, we’re supposed to have moved on from the charged feelings towards our significant, but no longer spousal, other. When the anger and defensiveness is quick to surface there may still be some emotional work to do. Somedays I’d really like to send her a link to my prayer for her. I don’t. Again, I’ve learned it’s not for me to change her, but really learn to love and adapt to her as she is today.

She’s remarried. She’s got money again. She seems to be enjoying her job and the job of parenting, but she still complains a bit too much for me to buy the slick surface. I’m not taking her inventory here, I’m releasing her. I just wish my loving words could reach her some days. And I hope, everyday, that my loving actions will soften her heart enough to give her peace.

“I wish you happiness in your new life, I always want to see you shine, you are the other half, the partner in this parenting journey we accepted together. Your joy is joy for our kids. Your peace is their peace, and mine. As we walk separate paths we are blameless and grateful for the gifts we’ve been given. And to you, my dear ex, I give the deepest respect and love. Thank you for where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going, still a family, still parents, still blessed.”

Always Love,

John McElhenney

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image: red flower, creative commons usage

The Next 100 Coffee Filters: Don’t Be Hasty About Your Divorce


After I was talked into the idea that our marriage was unrecoverable I was asked to leave the house, to give my then-wife some “breathing room.” The stress of the shattering relationship was taking its toll on all of us. But it was March. And while I still wasn’t convinced that separating was the answer, I was certain that leaving the house while our kids were in the last semester of 3rd and 5th grade was an awful idea. I refused.

I made my case to our therapist and my then-wife, “We’ve lived as roommates for a while now, we can do another two months so our kids can reach the summer before we throw their entire world into this.”

So we navigated the last weeks of our kid’s school year as bad roommates, uncomfortable roommates waiting to hit the end of the semester so they could move out.

I lost the war to save my marriage, but I won this battle with the help of our kid’s school counselor. Somehow my then-wife could hear her, “If you can wait until they are out of school it would be a lot easier for them.”

We didn’t agree, but I got my way. I stayed in the house for the next two months. We slept in separate rooms. But for the most part, when we were around the kids, behaved as if things were the same. Unfortunately they had been fairly chilly between us for over a year, so it wasn’t too much of a stretch to keep up the appearances for our kids. I still got up early every morning and made breakfasts and roused everyone in the house. However, instead of waking my then-wife with a kiss and a cup of coffee, I simply brought her cup of coffee and left it beside the bed. She had her own alarm.

I remember making the coffee each morning and as I pulled the filters out of the new package, imagining, “By the time I’ve finished these filters I’ll be out of my house and out of my kid’s lives.”  It was a sad thought, but I could look at the thick stack of filters and see that is was still a long way off.

During those last months in the house, I went through some confusing transformations. I don’t know if I was trying to get my then-wife to reconsider, or if I was beginning my own odd process for separation, but awkward moments kept happening through April and May.

Occasionally I’d cross paths with my then-wife in the hall and I’d naturally reach out to hug her, as I would on any other day. It was like seeing a deer in the headlights as I reached out my arms to hug her. “Oops,” I’d say. “I’m sorry.”

And I’d go back to the filters each morning, as some sort of symbol of the countdown of my divorce. Some weeks I would be a total butt. Some how, I imagined, that she would be sorry that she had angered me. That didn’t work at all. And other weeks I’d be a total compliant sweetheart, stopping just short of calling her “dear” all the time. That was fruitless as well. She had already left emotionally, and I was still catching up to the idea.

While the kids were still sleeping in, my stress level was no longer manageable and I left the house with a small bag of clothes and my computer.

So we navigated  the last weeks of our kid’s school year as bad roommates, uncomfortable roommates waiting to hit the end of the semester so they could move out.

On the very last day of school our daughter tripped and fell while going to the bus. She hurt her front teeth and we had to come together and take her to the emergency dental surgeon. We were bound in the trauma and pain of her injury and still having to make decisions as a family.

While my son played on the newly released iPad in the waiting room, my daughter screamed in the treatment room and we put the $1,500 on a credit card because the insurance wasn’t going through. We had to pay before the dentist would do the work. I felt like I might die right there in the office, holding my daughter’s hand and longing to hold my then-wife’s hand as well.

Later that night, as we had gotten everyone to sleep, I spoke to her while we sat in my daughter’s room. “I don’t want this divorce. You are what I want,” I said. “I don’t know if I can do this alone.”

A week later, while the kids were still sleeping in, my stress level was no longer manageable and I left the house with a small bag of clothes and my computer. I left the filters. I no longer had a coffee maker.

Always Love,

John McElhenney

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image: coffee in the morning, chichacha, creative commons usage