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Q: Dear Laurie:
I am a happily married woman with two beautiful kids by my husband and a son from a prior marriage. We have been together for four years and married for one. We both have good jobs and are getting ready to buy a new home. But there's something wrong because I can't stop thinking about my ex-husband. He is in prison and we write letters back and forth. We are just friends. But there must be something missing from my marriage for me to keep thinking about my ex-husband.
Signed: Married, but still in the past.
A: Dear Your-marriage-will-soon-BE-in-the-past,
Just how "happily married" are you if you "can't stop thinking about your ex-husband?" (we'll deal with that little prison comment in a moment...) Your letter is like a David Lynch movie where everything is picture perfect until you hone in on that pesky bug crawling in the ear of the dead person who lies face up on the perfectly manicured lawn of Suburbia USA.
Prison, did you say? I had to read that one twice. You snuck it in there so nonchalantly; as if you were saying: "He is in 'New Jersey' " or "'Real Estate' ". Now, while I haven't directly experienced dating or marrying an imprisoned man per se or having a guy imprisoned during the term of my courtship or marriage I do have a few thoughts on the matter. It is my understanding that people are imprisoned to keep them OUT of society. It's an extreme form, granted, with the bars and all but that's the gist as I recall. And yet you are fantasizing about getting this guy back INTO society, into YOUR "society" to be exact, into your kid's "society" and possibly into your current husband's "society"--he'll be happy to hear about that. Maybe the two of you could set aside a room for him in this new house you're buying.
You write: "...there must be something missing from my marriage for me to keep thinking about my ex-husband." Maaaaaybeee, but that sounds slightly un-self-aware as in maybe there's something missing in YOU. As in maybe there'd be "something missing" no matter who you were with. By continuing to write "friendly" letters to your imprisoned ex--by putting energy into maintaining that (fucked up) tie--you are fueling your own destructive fire. WHY? That relationship ended AT LEAST five years ago. What are you getting out of the connection? I'm assuming your current husband does NOT know you are pen paling with Clinker Joe. I suggest you keep it that way.
So, the real question is: Why do you need to keep distance between you and your current husband by fantasizing about the man in the orange (a very "in" color this season, by the way) jumpsuit? Maybe something IS missing with your current husband--I don't know, you didn't give me enough information but, whatever it MIGHT be, if you keep it in the realm of fantasy with your ex and never introduce it into your real, live marriage your current scenario doesn't have a snow ball's chance in hell. For example: perhaps Mr. Incarcerated tells you how beautiful/wonderful/awesome (fill in the blank) you are while your current hubby is not quite so glib/verbal. You need to tell Free Bird (that'd be your current husband) what you need--give him a chance to stand and deliver. You guys might grow closer by sharing your needs. Maybe then you'd prefer to live in the real world and could give up on the idea that as soon as your jailed ex is sprung life will be great.
The Short Answer: Honey, deal with what's real. Thank your fucking-lucky stars that you've had the good sense (till now) to have an EX who is jailed and a CURRENT who is free (and not the other way around). STOP WRITING "PAPILLON" (great movie--rent it if you haven't seen it). You heard me, STOP IT. It is foolish, irresponsible, senseless. You are a mother, a role model--what would you tell your kids if they came to you asking for advice about a similar situation?! If he's the father of your child he has the right to visitations (maybe) and the obligation to turn over his license-plate money for child support (I hope) but other than that you two need to be through! Case dismissed.
Lovingly and Logically yours, Laurie