Kate Meyers: Patty V. works as a researcher, specializing in health. She lives in New Jersey with her husband of nine years. Her daughter is 24. Patty has been divorced twice.
momlogic: Can you tell us briefly about your marriages?
Patty V.: I was 21 the first time I got married, and it was purely to get away from home and my abusive, alcoholic father. I had a low self-image and I was convinced that nobody else would ever want me. I was married for five years. I met my second husband at work. We were friendly, and after I got divorced we started dating. I got married for the second time when I was 30, and I had my daughter when I was 33. She was 12 when we got divorced.
ml: Why did you get divorced the second time?
PV: We had intimacy issues in our marriage and we went to marriage therapy for probably 10 years. It was helpful and I got pregnant and that was significant, but after I had my daughter, it was just too difficult to keep the intimacy going. I eventually got divorced because I was so lonely and depressed and I just couldn't live like that anymore. I decided I needed to give myself a chance for happiness.
I took one very small step at a time. I didn't know how I was going to do it, but each day I just found out what I needed to do to get thorough it. I went to therapy and took antidepressants, and that helped. I knew that I had to take it slow and that ending the marriage would give me chance for happiness.
I also had concerns about our daughter growing up in this house where we were Platonic and we had separate bedrooms. I was so involved with her life, but he was so uninvolved. I wanted her to see people together who loved each other, who laughed and did things together as a family. I wanted her to know that the way we lived wasn't normal. He wasn't involved with us. I couldn't do anything to get him interested in being involved with us, but he was fine with that. I wasn't. It was impossible for me. And I didn't want her to grow up feeling that she wasn't important enough for her dad to pay attention to her.
ml: What was the biggest challenge of the divorce?
PV: There were lots of them. In the beginning, when I first made the decision, I talked to a lawyer to understand what it would entail, and he suggested that I stay in the house until settlement. I didn't have the money to get a good place to live. That period -- which was nine or ten months of staying in the house and working on the settlement -- was very difficult. Once we got the settlement done, I was still pretty depressed, but I was able to take the next step and start to move on.
ml: How did you work out the time split in regards to your daughter?
PV: We didn't want to force her to spend time at her dad's house. She didn't have a very close relationship with him. We left it up to her and ended up not having a plan. It was only during times when I couldn't be with her and needed his help that she would go to his house. When she did go there, he didn't pay any attention to her. He would take a nap or go into his workshop in the garage. He acted like it was an inconvenience.
ml: What was the best thing to come out of the divorce?
PV: The best thing for me was that everything turned out great for my daughter. In a couple of weeks, she gets her master's in family counseling. She now has a relationship with her dad. My goal from the get-go was for them to have a relationship and get him involved. I made him come over to talk about issues and talked with him about her schedules.
I think the fact that we were gone changed him. He started coming to her softball games or to a cheerleading competition and he became excited; it piqued his interest. He knew what a great kid she was. It turned out much better that we got divorced. They now do things together and they text each other. My only regret is that I hadn't done it sooner. My ex and I are now great friends. I have him as a friend, which I really didn't have before. And I'm now in a great relationship. Pete and I started going out after my divorce in 1998. We married in 2001. Pete has just brightened my life. He's a terrific guy and we have fun. I have free, happy fun! I didn't used to have that.