Landon from Seattle asks:
After nearly a year and a half of court-ordered no contact between the mother of my child and me, I recently received an email from her stating that she wanted us to communicate better, if only to show our child that we don’t hate each other. In said email, she also iterated that she saw no future for us as a couple and that she just wanted us to continue to co-parent as best as we can for our child.
As I read the email, I must admit my heart ached at the finality of it. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t a perfect man. No, I did not cheat! But we were only in the beginning stages of our relationship when the pregnancy occurred, and I didn’t exactly handle the pressures of expected fatherhood well.
The thought that I am solely responsible for this fracturing of my home haunts me. My child is growing fast and I’ve already missed so many of the major and minor moments in her life because of my admittedly stubborn, selfish and narcissistic actions. Yes, I know there are plenty of fish in the sea, but this was my Rainbow Fish and I let her get away.
So my question is this, Agatha: Is there any way for me to possibly salvage this relationship and repair my broken home?
Landon, I had to look up “court-ordered no contact.” Turns out, “court-ordered no contact” is fancy-speak for a regular, degula, schmegula restraining order.
Landon, I like my questions plain.
So, no “Dear Agatha, I’m between opportunities.” Just say, “Agie, I’m unemployed.” Or, better yet, “Agie, I ain’t gat no ghatdamn job.”
You see, if you’re mincing words with me, I know for sure you’re mincing words with Rainbow Fish. And as long as you’re more interested in glossing over the facts instead of taking true ownership, she’ll never want to hear what you have to say.
Because you won’t be saying anything. I mean, how does “I didn’t exactly handle the pressures of expected fatherhood well” translate into a restraining order?
Landon, how did we get here?
But … I realize I keep telling people there’s no hope.
Question after question, I keep telling people “No, nope, nah.”
But I’m a romantic! Always have been.
So here’s a story of hope.
Seven years ago, as part of its Modern Love series, the New York Times published an essay by a writer named Laura Munson, who spoke about how she saved her 20-year marriage.
You see, Laura had had a good marriage, all things considered. In fact, she was almost smug about it. And then, one day, her husband came home and said, “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. The kids will understand. They’ll want me to be happy.” And Laura wrote that instead of filing for a divorce or begging him to stay, she decided to not believe him.
So when her husband said, “I don’t love you anymore,” Laura’s response was, “I don’t buy it.”
I know, right?
I mean, who would have thought that a simple unwillingness to believe someone when they tell you it’s over would work?
And, according to Laura, it wasn’t easy. But Laura had just so happened to have had an epiphany where she decided to commit to “the End of Suffering.” And as far as she was concerned, she just needed to help her husband come to the same realization. (I guess she was still a bit smug.)
So Laura offered her husband a compromise. Something she called “responsible distance.” Because remember—she wasn’t buying into his whole desire for a divorce thing. So when he said, “I don’t want distance. I want to move out,” Laura remained stoic.
She wasn’t going to let him move out.
Laura was going to ignore the whole thing.
And when he didn’t ultimately move out, she took it as a triumph. (Still smug, our Laura.)
And over the course of the next few months, Laura’s husband acted out in a variety of ways, but Laura, as committed as ever to the End of Suffering, didn’t play into any of it.
And, then, one day, he came home, took out the lawn mower and mowed the lawn. And he started talking about the future again.
Laura got her man back, y’all.
And, of course, the essay went viral. These Eat, Pray, Love-type memoirs always do.
And that’s where the essay kinda ends, Landon.
So there’s your hope.
You could ignore your history. Ignore the courts. Ignore Rainbow Fish herself. And just decide not to buy any of it.
I myself cringed through the entire essay.
I saw a man who broke under the weight of his wife’s obstinacy.
And without having to look it up, I knew that marriage was doomed.
And Laura’s marriage did, in fact, end four years after her essay was published, because you can’t make someone stay and you can’t stop someone from leaving.
Rainbow Fish didn’t mince words with you. She said she doesn’t see a future.
Landon, you have to believe her.
Tl;dr: Stay the fuck away from her, Landon. Keep your motherfucking court-ordered distance. Don’t do more than she asks. Don’t petition for more than she wants. Give up the fight.