Doug Zeigler’s marriage is tainted by only one thing: his beloved wife’s ex-husband.
Few things bring me more joy than seeing my wife smile. It doesn’t just brighten up the room, it illuminates my entire day. Fortunately, this is a very common thing, since we both love to live and make each other the focus of each other’s happiness. There is something that does, rather quickly, take that smile I adore away from her wonderfully freckled face: certain calls or texts from her ex-husband.
My wife and I were both previously married and we have each brought 2 children from those relationships to our home. My ex-wife has evolved to being pretty understanding and flexible when it comes to the kids. It wasn’t always that way, but we’re glad it has come to that place. My wife’s ex, however, can be the exact opposite, which is where I struggle to figure out how to deal with his petty tirades.
Naturally, it all centers on the kids. He’s well-known for being hyper-competitive as well as having a superiority complex, especially when it comes to women. Since my wife is not shy about expressing her opinion (a trait I wouldn’t trade for anything), they do collide on how to raise the girls. I guess you could say that’s to be expected when two people divorce and have children. Here’s where my struggles begin: when they do have these collisions, he’s incredibly disrespectful and dismissive. He belittles and insults her. Despite her tremendous parenting skills, he does what he can to undermine her natural abilities as a mother.
I want to rush to her side and confront him, and tell him how wrong he is and how he is not allowed to disrespect my wife, the lady who bore his children. To be brutally honest, there are times where I wish I could pummel him. I’m not at all the violent type, but that doesn’t mean my brain doesn’t have little fantasies about inflicting harm on someone who is hurting my wife. I could never bring myself to do that since it would be ethically wrong as well as a poor example to all of our kids.
I don’t retaliate at all, verbally or otherwise. I do nothing for the sake of the girls, whom I love like my own. He’s the type that would take his pettiness out on them, and be rude or mean to them. Their lives are hard enough, and I will not make it more difficult for them over his slights and overall douchebaggery. They deserve more than that, even if my ego takes a hammer blow by remaining silent when he’s throwing his jibes at her and getting under her skin as only an ex can.
Does that make me more or less of a man? It’s a question I’ve yet to find a concrete answer on. The noble part of me says that being silent is the better route for the girls so that there is a more peaceable experience at his house. The primal part of me questions my machismo since I’m not standing up for the woman I love. I suspect I’ll have this internal battle for years to come. But for now, I just keep basking in that smile and try to shelve these questions for the next outburst.