The progress I’ve made in a decade in not being my estranged husband’s partner
He is about to turn 60. I met him when he was 19 and I was 16. We were married 28 years when he moved out leaving me crippled and alone with our two sons.
This morning our 22 year old son asked me to help him plan a surprise birthday party for his dad like the one I did 10 years ago. It was a brilliantly executed party at a restaurant for about 40 family members and friends. I didn’t let my sons in on the planning to avoid a possible slip that would spoil the secret.
I worked with a neighbor in helping to get him away from ice skating and to the restaurant since he normally would not give up a minute of skating for anything.
The party was a spectacular success. He had no idea whatsoever. The elevator doors opened to a room full of people. He was dressed in his long johns from a day of skating. Both of our sons were with him and they, too were shocked. They were kind of angry I didn’t trust them to keep a secret, but they were ten and twelve years old and I put a lot of work into keeping things quiet so I didn’t risk a possible slip by saying anything to them.
Sadly, there was a surprise when my husband turned 40, as well. I was recovering from a stroke from a year ago, and couldn’t really do anything for his birthday that year.
I can’t say I’m not a little bitter and disappointed my husband checked out of our relationship when I became disabled. It’s tempting to try to be his wife since we are still legally married. But, it’s important to keep moving and not dwell on the past. Both of us are in new relationships.
Part of me was glad when my son wanted my help with a party. At first it sounded like a nice idea. His birthday is in 3 weeks.
I was gratified I didn’t jump on the chance to help my kids with this. Even if I’ve known my husband for forty years, it isn’t my job anymore to throw him a party.
My son said we should do what we did ten years ago. I told him a lot has changed in ten years. Dad and I were still together then. I guess this is a concept that is easier to understand with maturity.
I suggested he get in touch with my husband’s girlfriend to see if she wants to make plans with them. We talked about how I didn’t let them in on the secret ten years ago and how angry they were. My son admitted they might have screwed it up so it was probably a good idea to surprise them, too.
It was relief to see myself not holding on to the way things used to be, and accept there is someone else in what had been my role for so many years.