Marriage Of One

November 6, 2013

Disintegration Part 2: The Waiting Game

Filed under: lifestyle,marriage,relationships — marriageofone @ 8:33 pm

Shortly after I wrote the draft for Part 1, things took a turn for the worse.  After having barely spoken to my folks for several weeks, Susan confronted Mum in the kitchen and effectively claimed her “space”. 

In subsequent conversation with me she backtracked slightly on what she intended by that statement – arguing that it was meant as a request.  Well regardless of the motive or intention the result was a forgone conclusion.  Mum took it as a demand.  If she had been talking as normal to Mum, there would still be plenty of opportunity for Mum to take offence, but at least it would have stood some chance of being accepted as a genuine request.  As it stood (and still does) there was no question that the meaning was interpreted as “get out of my kitchen”.

The weeks prior to this event may not have been discussed openly but now they were.  They had decided that they needed to consider moving out.  Within minutes of the “I need my space” altercation Mum and Dad called me to discuss the situation. It was the push to turn that turned them from considering to deciding.  They asked me what was going on with Susan, and I told them about how disappointed Susan (and indeed I) had been over the way Karen’s visit had gone.  Susan’s behaviour, I said was the reaction to that.  They told me then, what Karen had done to offend them.  Then they asked me to have a think about what could be done about the situation.  I think the decision had already been made though.  I took two days to think it through and came to the same conclusion.  There was no way to put the genie back in the bottle.

I felt that Susan had taken a side.  Dad and Mum are absolutely convinced of it.  The thing is, I don’t think they would have said a thing against Karen – they have (had) far too much respect for Susan.  The only thing was for Susan to remain neutral.  Of course Mum and Dad do not know that this is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.  They have no knowledge of Susan’s long and bitter accommodation of their co-habitation.  On one hand she has gratefully accepted the help and convenience this brings, and on the other she has vehemently blamed them for all the ills in our life and marriage.  I didn’t go into all this with my parents, although I did consider it.  It would have been too complicated and I doubt that they would have understood.  Hell, it’s taken me the better part of 13 years to work out what makes Susan tick; what hope for my old-fashioned parents?

Anyway, it was decided that they would move out.  The question then became when and where.  When is easy: as soon as possible.  The longer it goes on, the more obvious and uncomfortable it becomes – and harder it becomes to shield the children from the fallout.  For the past several weeks I’ve had the stress of being the link holding the household together.  I speak to Susan (purely practical matters and occasional small talk) and pass it on to my parents where it may concern or affect them, and vice versa.  Even on matters affecting the children.  And vice-versa.

The ‘where’ part is extremely difficult.  It is really important that they do not move out of our town.  The reason behind this is two-fold.  One is I hope that there may be some rapprochement in time between Susan and my parents.  The other is that my parents have significant involvement in my children’s lives and even school.  If they move away all this will be cut off instantly.  This would affect the children – but they would get used to it.  The thing I want to avoid is the effect on my parents – the isolation and boredom without these things would be profound and might affect their emotional, mental and physical health.

On the other hand they have to find a retirement apartment in our town – not an easy thing to do in a short time.  So far they have had no luck.

So we wait.  The house has been left quiet and cold.  My parents take advantage of the space of our home by withdrawing to their room whenever they can.  Although I don’t believe Susan actively discourages the children from spending time with their grandparents she certainly doesn’t encourage it.  I’ve noticed that they are spending less time playing or chatting with my parents, so I’m sure that the children have noticed the change in the atmosphere.

Susan did say a week or so ago that they need to be told.  I disagreed – we don’t know where my parents will go or when.  The girls are going to ask awkward questions as only kids can.  Where are they going?  When are they going?  And worst of all WHY?  It will be embarrassing and emotionally difficult to answer these sorts of questions whilst we’re all in this state of limbo.  It will be far better to tell them once there is a place, a date and a plan.  It can be framed as a positive development and we’ll be able to tell them something, show them the new apartment/home.

Susan has made an attempt belatedly to try to present her side to my parents.  It’s the only conversation she’s had with them in the past couple of months.  It did not go well.  She tried to deflect the situation away from the incidents with Karen, trying to focus the situation on her concept of ‘space’.  It did not work – she either did not present her case very well (quite likely) or my parents were in no mood for her 11th hour explanations (also likely).  She did complain to me that they “just don’t get that we need our space”.  I don’t disagree, but I said to her that she has not covered herself in glory either.  Her timing for this argument is absolutely terrible.

She wants to distance everything from the Karen incident but the fact of the matter is that it was the trigger to all of this.  She picked a side – even though she denies it.  She is still speaking to Karen, and not speaking to my parents.  Even though she may not have planned it that way it certainly has come out looking like that.  And everything subsequently has been coloured as a reaction to that one incident.  If she had waited a few months – even weeks maybe – whilst living ‘normally’ and then broached the subject of “space” as a request and not a demand it might (I am doubtful – because Susan doesn’t believe she should have to ask) – just might- have had a more favourable outcome.  As it turned out, with everyone’s pride still smarting over who was offended or hurt the most, we got disintegration.

It’s a waiting game now.  It’s acutely tense in the house, and it’s going to be a very awkward and difficult Christmas.  I’m trying to stay calm for the sake of the children.  Susan and I are managing to keep the machine turning – much as we always did – but with less communication. It’s a recipe for disaster.  I’m hoping that my parents move before the wheels fall off.

What happens after they leave?  Well that’s the interesting thing.  Susan seems to have convinced herself that it will be a new beginning for us.  We will possibly have a few long conversations shortly afterwards.  It’s going to be interesting – Susan has finally got what she wanted.  Will she want what she gets?

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