Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Why I am Getting Divorced

This is a post I've debated writing for a long, long time.  Back when I started this blog and I mentioned my family, I decided to mostly leave them out.  I did this for reasons of privacy, as I didn't want to post too much personally identifying information here for the world to see.

Also, I figured that my weight loss journey was really my journey and didn't really include members of my immediate family in anything more than providing a context for my adventures.  This blog was supposed to be about me and my weight loss, not them.

And so, I referred to my former spouse as "The Wife," and my adopted child as "The Kid."

Long time readers might remember that when I started this blog, I referred to my former spouse as "The SO."  I posted about that change back in July of 2008 when we got married.  One little (or perhaps not-so-little) detail that I have consciously omitted is the following:

My ex is a male-to-female transsexual.

So why didn't I mention this six years ago when I started my blog?  I didn't think it was important or relevant to my weight loss journey.  Granted, blogging about my transgendered spouse might have given me far more interesting blog fodder, bit it didn't seem really connected to the topic.

Why have I decided to write about this now?

Recently, I stumbled across Christine Benvenuto's book Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On.  When I read the book, I was so taken by it that I read it in a single sitting.  Though the circumstances of Ms. Benvenuto's marriage and mine are substantially different, her story struck a chord with me.

While reading her book, I realized just how darned alone spouses, ex-spouses, and soon-to-be ex spouses of transgendered people really are.  There are very few resources out there for people in our incredibly unique positions.  The subject matter is so sensitive that many people do not feel safe talking to family or friends about the issues that can arise.

So I decided it was time that I talk about this.

My silence on this topic is reflective of how sensitive this issue can be.  I didn't want to come out as a spouse of a transgendered person for fear of the possible reprisals I might face.

Now I realize that most people will read this post and immediately see the reason my ex-husband and I are divorcing, I feel it's important to say that it's not quite as simple as one might think.  When my ex and I met, I knew he was transgendered.  I knew he was a biological male, living and working as a female.

I didn't mind that.

When we got together, we had a great many long talks about his plans for transition.  He had already changed his name, was taking hormones, and living full-time as a woman.  He thought (as did I) that would be enough to solve his lifetime struggles with gender dysphoria.  He told me that he didn't want to have SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery).  That was a critical point for me, as I'm fundamentally not a lesbian.

Since he didn't want surgery, we embarked on what turned out to be a 14-year relationship where I ostensibly was living with a woman.  I treated her as female even though she often exhibited some decidedly male characteristics.

Unfortunately, my ex changed her mind about surgery.  Knowing full well that SRS was a deal-breaker for me, she decided she wanted the operation and asked me for a divorce.

I didn't want the divorce.  We talked, we discussed, and we spent endless hours negotiating on this topic.  In the end, I agreed I would agree to relinquish my sex life and continue on in a sexless marriage so that she could have the surgery she so desperately wanted.

Even that wasn't enough for my ex.  In the end, she decided she wanted to have surgery and strike up a sexual relationship with an as-yet-unidentified biological male.  (This means she wants to sleep with a man at some point, but hasn't found one yet as far as I know.)

Since it's not like I could close my eyes, push really hard, and grow a penis, our marriage was over.

Now it's probably not fair to blame everything on my ex's transsexuality.  There were other things that contributed to our failure as well.  There were enormous fights over our extremely troubled kid, money, gun ownership and work.  Still, I think all of these things could have been compromised upon eventually.

In the end, my ex's need to cut off her penis and her desire to have sex with men outweighed the value of our relationship.  That was an extremely painful realization, because the topic of SRS did come up a number of times during our time together.  When we reached certain milestones in our lives that deepened our entanglements, emotionally, socially and financially, I always paused to ask, "Are you sure about your decision not to have surgery?"

The question was raised when we decided to start a business together, when we bought a house, when we decided to become foster parents, when we decided to adopt, and when we got married.

Each time, the ex told me that she was sure.  We started the business, we bought the house, we got married, we adopted a child and we financed vehicles.  We did many of the things most married couples did.  We continued on until one day, she simply wanted out.

The worst part?  The worst part was that she told me she had always wanted surgery.  She hadn't been truthful with me from the very start.

When I asked the very obvious question, why weren't you honest with me from the beginning? Her answer left me reeling.

"I had hoped those feelings would just go away."

They didn't go away.  Worse, the beginnings of my ex's mid-life crisis only intensified them.  Now that we had a business, a house, a kid and all the trappings of a middle-class life that she pushed for, she wanted out.

She asked me for the divorce last July.  We waited to separate and divorce because we agreed it would be better to wait until The Kid turned 18 this coming October.  We'd even talked about staying together until The Kid graduated high school, though we never definitively agreed upon that.

Despite our plans to stay together until The Kid turned 18, The Ex changed her mind.

She is currently looking for an apartment, and plans to move out as soon as practical after the school year ends.  The Kid, who suffers from mental illness, has violently attacked me on a number of occasions.  It's not safe for me to live alone with such a troubled child, so she will live with The Ex who is more physically capable of restraining her if needed.

While The Ex has found a new job and will move off into her new apartment in the relatively near future, I am stuck with many of the financial responsibilities of the life we had together.  The Ex decided she would just let the house foreclose if I didn't take over, so I'll be taking over responsibility for it.  Likewise, I'll be taking over a vehicle loan, and our small business.

Though our decisions make sense, I can't help but feel as if she's walking out of here to start a new life, while I'm left behind dealing with the wreckage of our old one.  There are many decisions we made along the way that I wouldn't have made, if I had known she wanted surgery.  I wouldn't have bought a house, gotten married, or adopted a child had I seen this coming.  She knew, and yet she withheld a very important piece of information from me.

In the end, I guess the reason why I am getting divorced boils down to one thing: The Ex wanted it.

As much as I wanted to stay married, The Ex did not.  A marriage takes two people, and when one is committed to leaving there isn't much the other can do to prevent it.

And yes, we tried counseling.  We even went to a counselor who specialized in stopping divorce.  It didn't work.  After two sessions, The Ex refused to continue.  She was done.  It no longer mattered that she'd made promises regarding our relationship, our home, our child or anything else.  She just wanted out.

At this point, we've signed a get (Jewish divorce document) but we have yet to file for our civil divorce.  The Ex has agreed to stay married until I can be covered by her new job's health insurance.  I'll lose my small group coverage through my business as you need a minimum of two people for small group coverage.  Since she is leaving the business, I no longer have the required number of insured.

Once I am covered by my ex's insurance, we'll file for divorce, and I'll be able to continue my insurance coverage under COBRA.  Once the Obamacare health insurance plans become available in January, I'll look at getting my own insurance, which might be less expensive.

So the logistics are pretty much worked out.  We will prepare our own divorce agreement and try to do as much as possible without attorneys.

There it is.

I didn't want a divorce, but we are done.  While a part of me is worried about the future, there's a part of me that's actually glad The Ex asked me for a divorce.  Since all of this has unfolded, The Ex has done some things that I think are pretty darn despicable, regardless of our marital status.  I guess it's better to see the true light of The Ex's character now, rather than finding out in another 10 or 20 years.

So that, dear readers, is why I am getting divorced.

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