Last Thursday, my husband of 21½ years and I cuddled up with kids in the bedroom and told them we are separating. There was surprise, some tears, but overall they took it shockingly well. In fact, it seemed like they were trying to make us feel better.
While we were having our family discussion, Our Best Friend lay curled up on the bed in the middle of it all. Every time there was a lull in the discussion, he whimpered softly. It was as if he knew there were sad times afoot, and he was afraid of what the changes would mean for him.
The dog, of course, stays with me. It was The Spouse who insisted on taking him in; it was The Spouse who insisted on keeping him, in spite of Our Best Friend’s many flaws. I never wanted anything this big or emotionally messed-up. But now it’s me who’ll have him. And I guess I’ll get custody of the dog park too.
In the three years that we’ve had Our Best Friend, I don’t think The Spouse has ever taken him out alone. He’s gone on walks and to the dog park with me and with the children, but never just him and the dog. Of course all my dog park friends know him, and thanks to Ronnie he’s become a Modern Family addict, but I’m the one blogging about it. And it will be me who will have to tell our dog park friends about our split. Not that I plan to go there with a sign around my neck– I just have to answer questions like, “How’s The Spouse?” honestly. Or even questions like, “What’s new?” or “How are you?”
I can’t help wondering how they’ll react. Will they be as shocked as my “everyday” friends have been? (We both have a horror of public displays of dissent; nothing is more off-putting than couples who fight in public. The sturm und drang all happened in private, behind closed doors, and never in front of the kids.) Or will they have seen a different side of us? Will they have noticed that I was the “park presence” and he was more aloof? Did they sense the disconnect when I would stop to chat with friends, and he would go sit on a bench, or be on his cel the whole time we were “together?”
The children want their father to get a dog-friendly apartment so he can babysit Our Best Friend when necessary. As he works 18-hour days, I doubt that’s realistic, but it’s cute that they’re thinking about it. Right now it’s very civil and I hope it stays that way. We have no assets to fight over, and the kids are old enough to have a say in their living arrangements. I’m even staying in school (for now), at his insistence that I have to build a life and future for myself, even if it’s hard and he has to help me.
And I still have a man around the house. Even though he has four legs, fur, and is lacking some basic male anatomy, he’s the best cuddlebug ever. He loves to go on long walks, and lets me cry on his shoulder. He’s loyal, faithful, protective, and loving. And he doesn’t complain about having to kill bugs or catch mice. Really, what more could a girl ask for? He’s truly My Best Friend.