I've been reading through the comments on this forum for a couple of days now and I think I have something to contribute. It appears that there are many here with similar circumstances to my own. I've never posted to an internet forum in my life, and I don't intend to become a "regular". Frankly there are other things I will be doing with my time that will be more effective in accomplishing my goals than airing my views with a bunch of strangers. Having said that, I've found that writing helps me organize my thinking. I do sincerely hope that one person will read this and it will make a difference to them. I have a new perspective after reading the posts here, have a few hours of free time, and feel like "giving back" with my own small contribution.
When I was a young man, you were more worldly and capable than I was. At the ripe old age of 22 I agreed to take care of your daughter as best I could until she was old enough to take care of herself as well as be a father for our new child. I felt responsible for my foolishness in having unprotected sex with you and the resulting pregnancy, and felt a lot of pressure from my family to "do the right thing". I was not emotionally mature enough to understand what was really happening. I did not realize that I was committing to a lifetime of servitude and degradation.
My father and his brothers taught me through work and fun that the only things that matter are integrity, respect, and honor. My father is dead and his brothers are now estranged, mostly because you have alienated them, one by one. You have made it too painful to stay connected with my family and I am embarrassed to show them what I have become after 20 years of marriage to you anyway. I am grateful that I was taught right from wrong in the beginning, before I met you. It shames you that you have chosen to use my ethics and commitment against me.
I live in a very different world than my father did. Virtually every institution that he relied on has become corrupted by leeches and thieves. Insurance, banking, real estate, the media, and most other public means of security have been corrupted by hucksters and the necessity to read the fine print. All is fair without respect to honor and decency, with the primary goal of these institutions being to dupe the honest man out of whatever they can get. Marriage has gone the way of the rest of these institutions. You use that fact to get instant gratification for yourself, with the calculating skill of a ruthless used car dealer.
Things have changed since we were first married. I educated myself formally, with respect to business, and socially. I have learned how to exercise self control, how to conduct business ethically, and how to make a great deal of money. I learned how to read the fine print and survive in this world. I get better at living my life and stronger every day. You have not matured in any way since the day we got married.
Let me respond in advance to your expected statements about how you have "made me a better man": I did everything I did on my own, with you sabotaging and opposing every move I made. I may be stronger because of you, but only because I have gone through my adult life with your useless weight hanging from my neck.
I have given you everything that I have to give every day of my marriage with you. I gave you sex and complimented you when you were demeaning, abusive, and fat. I bought you the surgery that made you thin again. Now I am the only one to see the scars on your body. Now you want more cosmetic surgery, and I'll probably buy that too. The house with pool, fine car for you and children, huge diamond, college of choice for the kids and luxury lifestyle that you enjoy are not enough to earn me one day of acceptance respect, or love. Once again I'll head off your blaming and excuses: You are the one who has defined our relationship with money and things, not me.
To summarize, I have honored every part of the Contract to include caring for children that are not my own. You have perverted my commitment and used it against me.
I Will Win
By your own statements, we are at war. You have reduced every interaction with me, including intimacy, to a competition. You have successfully filled me with self-doubt and made me miserable in my home to get what you want for a long time now. If you think I don't know about your comments to your family and friends about my stupidity and how easy it is to manipulate me, you are wrong. I know. So be it.
I will define winning as restoring the self esteem and independence that you have systematically eroded for 20 years. I truly do not care what you do with yourself anymore, and you do not come into the picture when I envision happiness and success. I don't want revenge, I just want you to disappear and take your petty, grasping, whining emotional swamp with you.
I was not materialistic when we were married and everything I needed fit into one duffle bag. Despite your efforts to lull me into the swamp of suburban materialism, I still feel pretty much the same way. If I defined my self worth by the size of my house, car, etc I would be no better than you are. I make the money I need. I have paid for classes that you stopped attending like a distracted eight-year-old. I've invested in businesses that sit moldering in the basement because you lacked the drive to accept challenge. Don't try to tell me that you can't make money because I smothered you or would not help. I will win by remembering what is important to me, not what you want to be important to me. I will listen to the Beatles, take long walks, get back in shape. You oppose these things for some reason. It's called "being human", not a "midlife crisis". I will give money to charities and people that need it a lot more than you do.
I may be alone in believing this, but in my experience romantic love is a big lie, used to manipulate young men out of the fruits of our labor. By the time they realize that the love and commitment they expected from the woman they married will never materialize, she has his life in her hands/womb/Contract. As we age love could be defined as having someone in your life that you can depend on, no matter what happens. I certainly don't have that, but you do. If being dependable means that you love someone then I love you but you don't love me. I will win by growing up and accepting the fact that love is an illusion. I will continue to get acceptance, honor, and respect from other people and stop investing in the empty hope that I will ever get these things from you.
Yes, I've put sex in a different category from love. My experience with sex changed drastically after I married you. You taught me that my sex drive is a weakness to be used against me, not an ex
Yes, it's likely that I will have an affair at some point. I will plan it carefully so that you will never know. I will select the other woman carefully to assure that she wants no long term attachments, and pay her in advance if necessary. At this point I have no reason to believe that any woman will be interested in having sex with me beyond the money she can get for it.
Heart, Soul, and Mind
My life with you is devoid of emotional satisfaction, but that does not mean I don't have empathy and emotional needs. I will win by developing meaningful relationships with people who you don't know, and I will carefully shield those people from your poison. I have a very active imagination and I can keep myself entertained quite happily with a pencil and piece of paper. I will win by maintaining my mental health through work and writing while you sit slack-jawed in front of Oprah, Glenn Beck, and Nancy Grace. I will acknowledge your parroting of the news shows that passes for informed opinion, but I will no longer engage you and try to get you to think for yourself.
I get stronger and better at living my life every day, and I intend to do so for the rest of my life. You have done nothing to improve yourself for 20 years. Eventually I will be strong enough and smart enough to be free of you. For now the war is a guerrilla war, happening right in front of you. You are too slow, weak, and compulsive to beat me.
I will travel for my next long-term foreign assignment in a few days, and I will have my time and my life to myself again. I will work with people that overcome challenges every day that would kill you, people that understand the importance of honor and respect. No matter what you do to me, I will never betray them so you can have new shoes. Don't worry, I'll keep sending the check, dear. Just don't expect me to show up at home and play dress-up for your friends this time. I think I'll stay away for awhile.
Thanks to those who took the time to read the whole thing. Hopefully the above has been offensive to none, interesting to some, and inspiring to a few.