My Husband's Kids Talked Me Into Leaving Their Father
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car, divorce, family
Chris O'Riley
Relationships

My Husband's Kids Talked Me Into Leaving Their Father

Right after his daughter smashed the windows of his Maserati.

“The first time I met you, I couldn’t tell if you were gorgeous or not good-looking at all,” he said. I couldn’t tell if he was being funny or mean. I decided to go with funny, in a Larry David kind of way. He was hysterical but cocky, the type I normally like. “I have to go back to Los Angeles soon,” I said to him as we were wrapping up dinner.” “I don’t want you to leave,” he said.

I was 40 then. I had a great job in Los Angeles, but I wanted a life partner. So when I was offered a temporary job in Chicago, I jumped at the opportunity.

I moved to Chicago, got married to this “Larry David,” a prominent attorney, and inherited an instant family. His eldest was 15. His youngest, CC, was 11. Our daughter arrived a year after we married. Over the 21 years we were together as a family, the girls’ dad grew more and more successful.

“He’s driving a Ford … that’s why he can’t drive!” he said as he was honking his horn with the whole family in our BMW. I cringed at those condescending comments he would often make. The next day he drove home in a second car, a new black convertible Maserati.

I never noticed his gradual shifts in behavior toward me. We used to dine at hidden dinner spots, plan weekend getaways and laugh until it hurt, but he wasn’t connecting with me like that anymore. He always provided financially. He loved the girls as best he could, and they love him. His growing lack of involvement with us was upsetting. I started to notice the shift in my behavior, too. I began to resent him.

It was a Saturday night. We were regulars at a favorite neighborhood Italian bistro. We had just been seated when I noticed he was incessantly looking at his phone. His eyes were everywhere but on me in that room. Something was off. When he went to sleep that night, I looked in his phone. There were numerous texts to a woman I knew, 30 years his junior, with seductive pictures. “Finally, we can be together when CC gets married and your youngest leaves for college,” she wrote. “Yes!” he responded.

I woke him and confronted him. He denied it and went back to sleep. I lay there alone, heartbroken. At that moment, my cell vibrated. It was 11 p.m. I jumped out of bed and quietly went into the bathroom to answer. “Hi Al, checking in,” said CC. My voice was quivering when I spoke in a whisper to her. “What’s wrong?” she asked. She was 32 now. “Your dad is having an affair. I found many revealing texts from a woman to him,” I said. She was devastated and mad.

The next day the older girls came to the house — as they did every Sunday. He was golfing. I saw CC pulling up into the driveway. A few minutes later, I heard a crash. I ran to the garage and there was CC with her dad’s golf club in her hand. She had smashed the windows of his Maserati. Shattered. I wanted to say, “You go, girl!” but I didn’t. So I said, “CC, this is not the way to deal with your anger.” She then took a picture of the damage and sent it to him on the golf course, via text. “You don’t have to be with Alice, that is not why I am angry. You do need to treat her with dignity, she raised me.” She hit him where it really hurt, his Maserati. He was furious.

One morning as I was brushing my teeth at one end of the bathroom and at the other end he was massaging his face and putting potions on his bald head to make hair grow, I reflected on what happened. Who changed? I think he had always been the same; I just didn’t want to see it. His rude behavior that I once thought was funny had now become unbearable. I soon came to understand it was I who had changed, or rather I started rediscovering my old self. The girl from the ’70s with the long brown hair who was all about peace and love now found herself in a material world of emptiness. I needed to refind that other Alice. I signed up for a yoga teacher certification course, enrolled in acting classes and got my real estate license. It was the beginning of taking care of myself after 20 years. It was time to leave my marriage.

The next day, I met with my divorce attorney. After a year of mediation and negotiations, never setting foot in a courtroom, we filed and divorced on the same day. I believed it was best for us to do it quietly to preserve his reputation. His career benefitted me and the kids.

It was Christmas Eve. The courthouse was empty. There were four of us — me, my lawyer, his lawyer and the judge. He was on vacation. Right hand up, “Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth?” “I do.” It was cold and removed, like him. I cried again. Nothing is easy in life. Change can be scary, but how I looked at it made all the difference.

Whoever said there is not fun after menopause is so wrong! It is just as much fun, but better! Now I have wisdom from life experiences. I hadn’t planned on being single in my 60s, but I believe my next chapter will be the best.

My ex and his Maserati can live happily ever after. I have my three always-supportive girls and the freedom to be myself and really love again. Oh, and isn’t 60 the new 40?

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