Why I Wish My Husband Was My Ex-Husband

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By Pauline Gaines

On more than occasion I have gazed into my second husband's eyes, sighed wistfully, and murmured: "I wish you were my ex-husband."

He smiles when I say this. Because he knows I don't really want to divorce him.

My husband Atticus is a stand-up guy. Despite the fact that he often disagrees with his ex-wife Erin's parenting choices, he has never once bad-mouthed her to their 8-year-old son Kevin.

Kevin tends to act out more with Erin. At times, he has tantrums, gets sassy, and refuses to do what she says. Erin then confides in Atticus. And Atticus sits Kevin down at the breakfast table and tells him he cannot disrespect his mother.

Atticus doesn't just say this because he's heeding conventional co-parenting wisdom. He says it because he genuinely wants Kevin to treat his mother well. And he wants Kevin to grow up to be a man who treats women well. Or anyone well, for that matter.

Erin knows that Atticus has her back, which goes a long way towards fostering good will. If Kevin misses Atticus, she'll send him to us on her timeshare days because she supports her son's relationship with his dad.

Because I have an ex-husband who, nine years out of the marriage, is still trying to undermine my relationship with my son, I marvel how much Atticus and Erin strive to do the right thing. The effects of my ex's hatred of me have been devastating for Luca, who is now in a therapeutic boarding school. Luca told me recently over the phone: "I like you, Mom, but there's no point trying to have a relationship with you. My dad won't let me."

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