How Do You Maintain a Friendship With Someone Who Isn’t a Good Friend?

This is a confusing point of my life.  I am in the process of divorcing my husband.  Almost exactly 2 years ago, he began working out, losing weight, dying the hair on his head, and manscaping his body.  In six months, he would turn 50.  He signed up for and completed a Spartan race.  He traded his two year old Hyundai for a 10 year old Jeep Wrangler.  He, also, began telling me all the ways he found me deficient.  I didn’t have an issue with the changes he wanted to make with himself and even our marriage.  I wanted a more active life, too, so I quit my full-time job to go part-time.  We began biking and hiking together on the weekends since I was no longer working weekends.  I began addressing the aspects of my body that he said he didn’t like.  Still, he couldn’t seem to be happy with me and refused to perform any action I thought might make our marriage better(counselling, casual physical touching, working from the office on any day I had off so I would have some solitude).  I knew what these changes meant but chose to ignore them hoping he would just choose to stop.  His personal policy, as he himself has stated, is to deny, deny, deny.  In pursuit of this policy, he concocted elaborate lies and denials even when he was caught flat out.  I will simply state that he was caught in many liaisons with other women and even participated in a swinger’s group.  I don’t know how to justify my having stayed with him through this period of time except to say that I understood his abrupt confrontation with his own mortality and his search for sexual virility, even though I made it clear that I was not OK with it and that we would have to divorce if it continued.

He had long been overly critical, and this was noted by multiple people, but he began criticizing every aspect of my life.  This included my job choice, my appearance, my driving, the way I prepared a cup of coffee for him, and that I failed to greet him occasionally when he came through the door.  It should be noted that he never prepared a cup of coffee for me or greeted me when I came in. Even the way I took a photo of him- “Your instincts are terrible”(said twice).  Any contribution I made to our marriage or lives was discounted.  Mowing the yard, cooking, handling the mail, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, working- nothing rated notice, much less thanks.  He, also, cut me out of parts of his life.  There were no recent pictures of me on his Facebook profile, and I wasn’t allowed to go with him on a couple of trips he took to interesting places.  I know he chose to share his trip to Puerto Rico with some one else, and I found naked pictures of her in the folder on his computer.  He chose to spend our money exploring a new, exciting place with some one other than me.

He says he didn’t want the divorce.  He says he has a sexual addiction, and he says I am the love of his life.  I do love him.  We have two young adult children.  We weathered 12 years caring for a medically fragile third child, including that child’s sudden death.  We have made an effective, loving team in years past.  We have been married twenty-three years, 21 of which I see as mostly good.  We, also, share guardianship of our granddaughter.  The nature of our relationship has to change, but we must still be in some regular contact.  In pursuit of that change and of my own happiness, I have chosen to move back to our home state following the sale of our house.  What I thought I wanted was to maintain a friendship, but I am just now confronting the fact that I would not choose to remain friends with any one else who treated me as poorly as he has.  Even when I try to separate the marriage from the friendship, I have to face the fact that it wasn’t much of a friendship for years.  How much text contact do I want to maintain.  Do I really want to continue to exchange texts where we wish each other good night?  Right now, we have a standing “date” on Wednesdays where I make dinner for him, he spends time with our granddaughter, and we watch  a movie on Netflix together.  I set this up with him for several reasons.  I wanted him to continue to have contact with our granddaughter, I wanted to maintain a friendly vibe, and I didn’t want him to just drop in when he felt like it, which is what was happening.  I told myself that this was only short-term until the divorce process was complete, but the process is long.  I know that distance will help, but it will still be months before I can move.  Yesterday was the first day in a long time that I have allowed myself to acknowledge how hurt I am by the choices he made and that he made those choices knowing they would hurt me.  Deliberately hurting me over a long period of time.  How do I stay friends with some one who does that?  Do I really want to?

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