Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | February 10, 2010

Q: What if Penny asked to reconcile today?

A: “No. It’s too late.”


Okay, that’s the short answer. Here’s the medium-sized answer:

We dated. We broke up. Actually, she broke up with me. I tried my best to become a stand-up guy. To win her back. But she was drawing ever closer to someone else; a former friend (and housemate!) of mine. I was devastated.

And just as I started to turn the corner, she came back. That’s still a story I intend to tell here (but, alas, not tonight.) She asked to come back.

I asked a good and trusted friend what I should do. She told me that there was only one answer:

“Too late.”

I took Penny back anyway.

And here we are. We moved in together, moved across the country together, bought a house, got married, and even as it became clear that the marriage was broken, child number one arrived. Things were a little more bearable for a while. Then child number two arrived. The marriage was still broken. Then child number three arrived. And we started seeing a couples counselor. But it was already far, far too late. She hasn’t wanted to be in this marriage for years, and I’ve finally given up.

It’s been suggested by more than one person that at the 11th hour, as I pack my bags to go, Penny may realize that my departure is going to make her life a lot less comfortable… and that she might relent and ask me to reconsider.

I suspect she will realize that she’s losing a lot by losing me. But I don’t think she would ask me to stay / come back, even so. And if she did, well…

It’s too late.

I’m done.



  1. Stay strong. I’m thinking of you…and rooting for you…and wishing the best for you…which is a new happy shiny life that is Penny-free (or at least Penny-limited).

    You can do this. Soon.

  2. There was a time when the idea of responding “it’s too late” to him was an impossibility for me. When friends tell me that maybe there will come a time when I will not want him back, I would give them a blank look that says “what the hell are you talking about??”

    6 months down the line, and seeing him without my rosy coloured lens, I can say that if this scenario ever happens, I will say “i don’t want you back now” but I can still feel a part of me hanging on a hope that maybe if we get to know each other again, there is a possibility of working it out.

    I do hope to reach the finish line though where I can say “no, we are utterly, without question, nary a sliver of doubt in my mind, OVER.”

    And I agree with Nicki,…this can be done. Sooner than we expect.

  3. Good! For a couple of reasons. First, that wishy-washy stuff is just WRONG. It’s bad for the kids to endure the constant push-pull of a dysfunctional (unfocused) relationship, and it sends the wrong message to Penny that you’ll put up with ANYTHING. Second, you NEVER had a good relationship. Therefore, there is NOTHING to go back to. If she never valued the relationship (as you point out), and you’ve wanted out since child #1, there is NOTHING to salvage.

    I connect this to my quitting my first CA job. It was a messed up place to work, there was nothing terribly BAD about it (hence my and your problem. Why break up if it’s not actually BAD?), there was nothing good, but it was a mess. My BIG boss (for whom I was doing 3 distinct jobs) decided to get me a boss. My light went off. I went to my (now) husband’s work, signed up for the CBEST, and decided to at least become a substitute teacher. Sure the money was awful, but it had to be better than the PURGATORY I was in (are you connecting the dots? :P). I told no one, took a weekend to clean things out and put things into the best order they could be. I crafted my resignation. I worked on rebutting the TWO things I knew would be offered: money and boss. Because that woman was my SIGN that it was TIME to leave. I was too comfortable being in a mediocre situation that didn’t challenge me or improve my work skills.

    Of course, Monday morning my BIG boss came to talk to me about the letter. She offered me more money, but I was prepared that leaving was about OPPORTUNITY not money. I was now FREE to pursue teaching because they had found someone who could take my duties. They offered to place her elsewhere. I pointed out that she was the PERFECT person to take over.

    I have NEVER LOOKED BACK. I talk about the place. I am friendly with the people with whom I worked. However, unlike others who quit, I’ve never gone back to “try it again.” Even if teaching doesn’t work out for me (after 10 years. LOL!), I know that my next position will be one where I learn, grow, am valued, and is interesting to me. Because, my friend, even a bed of nails can be tolerated if you lie on it long enough.

    This is the right decision. Now, tell me (and show me) that you’ll learn to be happy ALONE with who you are as a person before you go leaping into the next abyss, and I’ll be amazingly proud of you.

  4. Onwards and upwards. Being single IS uncomfortable but you can and will be able to move on. It takes time.

  5. Good – be strong – and it sounds like you are well beyond the point of wavering, anyway. Once you realize that no matter what, there is no going back, it’s like a release, and you just realize that moving forward is the only way to go. Up, my friend, up!! 🙂

  6. She’ll figure out what to do next. And you will too.

    As you said, you’ve both realized the relationship wasn’t working a long time ago. Now, its ‘been there, done that’ and time to move into something healthier.

    The best thing for both of you to focus on now is the new relationship you will have as co-parents.

  7. Amen!

  8. I’ve been asked that question, too, “What would you do if your ex begged to have you back.”

    My answer is essentially the same as yours, with some variation: “She had her chance. It’s time to give someone else the opportunity to break my heart. There’s a long line…”

    Just noticed the new camel/desert pic on your blog. Nice image, for lots of different reasons! 🙂

  9. Suzanne said almost everything I was thinking, (and much more eloquently than I ever could have), so I have only one thing to offer: “Congratulations!”

  10. You deserve to be happy and wanted. Go get it!

  11. I always feel like my comments have very little weight because i don’t know anything about being married or getting a divorce. i obviously have no clue how hard it must be.

    but i DO KNOW how liberating it is to know that you would say “it’s too late.” i only recently had that revelation about The Ex and it feels so good to know i’m done lighting a candle.

    • imerika,
      Relationships are relationships are relationships… Everyone is qualified to answer IMHO. Then again, maybe I’m just arrogant. I’ve never been divorced, but I figure my really nasty knock-down, drag-out fucked up break-ups count as “experience.” At least itneverrains isn’t considering gnawing off limbs to get away. I gave away every last household item I had to finalize a break-up with someone who broke up with me (but wanted to leave a door open for coming back!). Nothing I owned was as precious as finally realizing that I deserved better. So.. good for you and itneverrains for going after the good in life you deserve.

  12. Really?

  13. I agree. The realization that you are worth having a great partner (and being willing to take action toward that end) is life changing. It takes guts and it’s not for sissies.


    Once it’s over, it’s over. Walk away and don’t look back. It won’t work out, because all of the old issues remain, only on a restart they get wrapped in plain brown paper and get stuck in the closet to rot while the reunion honeymoon takes place. But eventually, the fetid aromas begin to percolate out of their hiding place, and you are in a worse place than when you first broke up.

    I learned this lesson the hard way, both with jobs as Suzanne relates above, and with girlfriends. As for the job, there are just times when the new guy/gal/”improved business practice” screams trouble and it’s best to move on.

    The girlfriend who taught me that lesson many years ago almost ended up with a friend of mine just recently. When I heard about it, I wrote him and asked him what he was thinking. His reply let me know that he had his love blinders on, and nothing I was going to add was going to get through. I replied that I hoped she had grown since I had dated her, and that she would treat him better than she did me. He later left her for someone else, so maybe I did him a favor in the first place.

    These lessons now make me take a hard look at the value of making a change, to be sure that I’ve really had enough of the badness, and that what I have to go to is really better than what I’m leaving. It can make for some sleepless nights, but in the end the right decision gets made.

    In your case, you have already made your decision to divorce. You have begun the process to separate and go your separate ways while meeting your parental obligations. There is no “there” remaining to save. It’s gone.

    So should Penny pull the weepy act right as you pull the plug for the last time, you will have to remember that she isn’t yours, maybe never was, and that you still have to take care of yourself for you know she won’t. Just avoid the temptation to stick the knife in for a final twist. It will come back to haunt you later if you do.

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