Monday, January 5, 2015

Can you call it a marriage if you don’t live together?

You might’ve noticed in an earlier post that I said the kids and I moved to Oregon while their father (I've gotta come up with a good anonymous name for him) continued to live and work in California.  How did that come about?  Before moving to Oregon we were living in Silicon Valley at the height of the housing boom.  Our family of 5 had 524 square feet of tiny house in some of the most prime real estate in the country.  Yes, you read that right, 524 square feet.  It was a tiny house before tiny houses became a thing.  Only problem was that it didn't have ANY of the well thought out floor plans, storage solutions or loft bedrooms that you see in those adorable tiny houses.  My in-laws owned the house and wouldn't let us remodel it in any way because they couldn't afford the higher property taxes.

We’d been preapproved for a $400k mortgage.  I was wary of the adjustable rate interest loans, because it never seems like my income goes up, only my bills. So I knew we couldn't afford a 400k mortgage, besides that wouldn't even buy a two bedroom condo at that time.  We needed to leave the area.  One thing led to another and I soon found a three bedroom manufactured home on ½ an acre in a beautiful area of Oregon for $153,000.  I loved it and I was thrilled to be a homeowner

The minute our bid was accepted my ex started to look for places closer to home.  Why he started looking AFTER I found a house remains a mystery to this day.  He found falling down wrecks of homes in the central valley of California for $100k.  He kept complaining that the place I found wasn't a fixer upper.  The Ex is an amazing contractor and can build anything.  He's done amazing work in some of the nicest homes in Silicon Valley.  His mantra for his own family home is cheap or free.  He'll get it to work...but it'll be ugly.  I realize now I should've taken pictures of the work he did in his own home.  At the time I was too embarrassed and tried to hide it.  I still remember when he added a second shower head complete with PVC pipe and drips of purple pipe cement.  He said "Now we have a shower like the rich people do."  My sarcastic response fell on his deaf ears.  He continued to complain that I didn't buy a fixer, until his neglect meant that our house became a fixer.

We moved to our new home and he stayed behind with his parents with the understanding that he’d keep looking for a job in Oregon.  He didn't.  He SAID he did.  But when I checked his email accounts there were never any emails sent to prospective employers.  When I asked him later for a copy of his resume he didn't have one.  I asked him how he was applying for jobs, he said he kept looking on Craigslist but didn't see anything.  Later I told him I was seeing stuff on Craigslist and he said that his brother was looking for him and hadn't mentioned anything.

This went on for nine years.  I know, I’m a glutton for punishment.  Everyone who heard my story was amazed I put up with it so long.  In my own defense it was one day at a time.  Like sobriety, you don't set out to be sober for nine years, you set out to be sober for 24 hours.  I was essentially a single mom for nine years worth of 24 hour days.  In January of 2013 I told him that I’d had it.  I was filing for a legal separation and if he didn't find a job in Oregon, clean up the mess he’d made of our home (his hoarding will be another entry at another time) and start acting like a full member of our family then I’d make the separation a divorce.  By June he had a job here and by September that business folded.  He found another job shortly after that and then was laid off a few days before Christmas.  This lead to over a year of unemployment , with only an interruption of a couple of months of under-the-table work and he didn't even get paid everything he was owed.  The money worries seemed endless.

He stopped showering and shaving regularly, refused to cut his hair and wore the same clothes for days at a time.  He looked like a homeless person and even though he tried to clean up some for interviews he never managed to look like a normal person.   Not surprisingly our sex life was nonexistent.  All of our alcohol was disappearing, every time I bought a bottle of wine it'd be empty when I looked for it; he said he needed it to sleep.  He only moved from the couch to cook dinner in the evening or put together a lunch for me in the morning.   I found myself not only uninterested in him…but repelled.  

I realized he was depressed, but he wouldn't do anything about it.  I was working full time, taking care of our kids and commuting two hours a day.  I had nothing left to give him and he couldn’t help himself.  My deadline to clean up his mess passed in June and the mess was still there.  In September I started looking for a place for the kids and me nearer to my work and their schools.  Did I give up on him?  Yes, I did.  I know our marriage vows said “for better or for worse” and “In sickness and in health.”  I’m very aware of all of that and I know many people will fault me for leaving him when he is obviously depressed.  I’ll write more entries that I hope will help explain some of it, but in reality, there are two people in a marriage and no one else will ever totally understand it.

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