Accepting Unacceptable Behavior

Okay, so after all the problems I had with my father I decided to give him a call this morning.  In this past post, Abusive and Controlling Email Trap, I explained how my father blew up at me because he believed I was writing a divorce column and advising women to get divorced.  Well as it turns out there was a very Soap Opera like story going on under the surface that he was not being very honest about.

So my father was remarried 8 years ago to a women he had gone to high school with.  She contacted my father at that time, they talked for a few weeks, she went to visit him and they were married 2 weeks later.  Then he packed up and moved to another state to live in her house.

During the first few years I talked to her a few times and I really liked her.  It seemed like they were doing good from what my father was telling me.  Although over the past few years he kept saying she was staying at her parents house and I started thinking that was a bit odd over time.  I wondered why she was never there anymore.  Then when he blew up at me I figured he probably did that to his wife and she left.  Perhaps that is partially the truth but then it sounds like she took advantage after that.

Last Christmas my father had planned on visiting my Aunt and then coming to see us for a few weeks.  After he blew up on me I decided against allowing him to come visit us.   I also avoided his phone calls for quite some time.  However, after a period of cooling off time I decided to contact him again.

In one of our phone conversations he said his wife had moved out four years ago.  I think I simply repeated his statement back to him in surprise.  Then he continued to explain how he was giving her half his income each month.  Apparently she refused to accept any of his phone calls unless she was collecting a check from him.  I told him, “Dad, this kind of sounds like you are divorced but she has the financial support as if you were married.”  I asked if she had any other income and he said she had her retirement pension.  So she was getting her own retirement income, half of his income, not accepting his phone calls, not spending any time with him and living in a separate house.  If this marriage was not working, I suppose this would be an ideal arrangement for his wife.

So I made the recommendation that he should file for separation so he would have a particular amount he was obligated to give her so he could support himself.  Apparently he and my Aunt had a plan and he told me to call her.   He said, “The walls have ears here.”  So I called my Aunt to figure out what in  the world was going on.

So after having a long conversation with my Aunt she filled in all the blanks.  Apparently during their first four years of marriage they wracked up more than $50,000 in debt that was all in my father’s name.  It sounded like he and his wife were just out buying furniture, eating out and shopping.  Turns out she kept all the stuff they bought and he was living in her house which was pretty much a shack.  He was spending the other half of his income paying those debts, some of his living expenses and he couldn’t afford much else.  She was telling him that the money he was giving her was for renting her house.  My Aunt asked me if I had seen the television show Horders before because this was what the house was like.

So my Aunt was able to get my dad to move to his own apartment, down the street from her house but in another state.  While they were packing up his things to move him, his wife showed up with separation papers, this was two days after I recommended my father file for the very same thing.  In the separation papers she requested he continue giving her a large sum of money each month and keep her name on his life insurance.  I guess she wanted to get divorced right away but in their state you have to be separated for a full year before you can file for a divorce.

So he moved and sounded rather happy at first, but now I guess he is having second thoughts.  He believes his wife can change and God would require him to forgive her.   So I just got off the phone with him where he blew up at me again because I disagreed with his belief.  He kept asking me if I was perfect and how can I judge other people.  I told him I was not judging her but simply stating a fact.  I did not say this but she sure seems like a Gold-digger to me.  I did say she was using him.  He used a lot of God to try to get his point across.   I did ask him if he wanted me to lie to him and tell him something he wanted to hear.

Anyway, why I continue to try to talk to my father is beyond me?   I have truly accepted my ex-husband will not change and have really distanced myself from any communication.  However, with my father I continue to try to keep communication open.  For the longest time with my ex-husband I believed his words and not his actions.

His words said he wanted us to have a good marriage and get along… but his actions were that of a bachelor, not coming home to spend time with me and our family and laying on his ass watching football for the entire weekend when he was home.  His words said he loved me very much and wanted me to be happy… but his actions showed that he did not love me and could care less how I felt.  He told me that our daughter and I were the most important people in his life… but his actions said work, football, drinking and himself were the most important things to him.

Now, his words tell our daughter she is the most important person in his life… but again his actions tell her football and tv are the most important things to him.  My father wants to believe people can change.  Sure, they can change, but only if they want to and intend to work very hard at making that happen.  I wanted so desperately to believe that my ex-husband would wake up one day and we would be a happy family.  However, that was just fantasy thinking on my part.  Also, as long as I accepted his unacceptable behavior, he had no reason to do anything different.

Today, I soft of view my ex-husband as a teenager.  He is a 45 year old man who still watches college & pro football all weekend long, hangs out with his friends and just wants to do whatever he wants to do.  He has not changed his behaviors at all since the day I met him.   He lets our daughter do whatever she wants and never tells her no.  She gets what he is doing but of course she take advantage of that.  Not that I approve of this movie at all but this part of the preview clip is almost too true of parents trying to be the ‘good parent’ to their children.  Kinds of reminds me of that movie preview clip from That’s My Boy movie with Adam Sandler and the adult kids says, ”

[from trailer]

Todd: You were basically the worst parent ever!
Donny: I was awesome!
Todd: You let me eat cake and lollipops for breakfast every day!
Donny: That’s what you asked for!
Todd: You’re supposed to say no!
Todd: I didn’t know what I was doing! I was 13,14 years old!
Todd: You know, what I remember is ME having to drive YOU home from the beach that time, because you were too drunk!
Donny: Somebody else’s dad would have had another guy drive home!
Todd: I was eight!
Donny: And you drove like a fucking champ too.

Sorry this post is primarily venting I think.

One of the biggest changes for me was when I finally gained my own self-confidence and self-worth.  Learned how to create Boundaries of what I would and would not accept.  Basically, “You can continue to lay around, watch football, drink with your friends and not come home.  But I am not okay or willing to live like that anymore.”  I had to stop making idle threats and follow through with what I said.  I think I said “I want a divorce” so often it had no impact what-so-ever on him.  At that time, my words “I want a divorce” really meant I want you to hear that I am unhappy and change your behavior.  Obviously, my words had no effect.  So I eventually did get divorced and still he didn’t change.

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