Sorry, I’m still living this so it’s what I’m blogging about.
The Tuesday that Anthony and I talked with Dave to ask him what in the world he was doing, he made some comment about he had to be the adult (or grownup, I don’t remember which word he used) because Alison wasn’t. But his behavior since 10/31 has not been very adult-like. He dropped a bomb and walked away and seems offended that we are still picking up the pieces.
First, even if he thinks this was coming all along, everyone else seems to be shocked. The responsible way to handle that is to bear the pain and agony of consistently telling his reasons and his thinking to the people that need to hear it. That includes his wife, the former pastor that is trying to contact him, and his family. (He doesn’t seem to have any current friends who aren’t in business with him.) He just has to keep saying it and looking us in the eye when he says it, or he has no right to be indignant when we refuse to believe him. David won’t look any of us in the eyes, he is angry that we want to hear him explain himself more than his short story. And what Alison, the counselor, and we heard was all different. Even if he actually said the same thing to all of us, it’s like visiting the doctor while he’s explaining that you have cancer and then he goes on to talk about the options and odds. You have to hear it repeated because your brain can’t process it all at once. It just doesn’t make sense that a man who declared divorce was a terrible thing and promised he would never leave his family and has notes all over the house about working to keep his marriage healthy would suddenly walk out this way. Alison is having to tell her family that they were right about Dave all along.
Second, if he actually loves his wife and children as much as he says he does, he would be with them. Not to give them false hope, but to provide his presence and comfort as they worked to absorb the fact that he is leaving. Dave was here a few times after he first walked out, but not to deal with his decision. He didn’t talk more to Alison or prepare to say anything to the kids. Then he worked on his business one weekend, let his brother scare him off the next week, and left for New York the next weekend.
Third, if he were an adult, aware of his weaknesses and needs, he would deal with why he has such a strained relationship with Anthony and seek counseling to work through it. They have always been a bit competitive as brothers, trying to one-up each other even in playing games. But over the past 10 or 15 years I thought they had moved beyond that to share more of their lives as men, husbands, father/uncle. But apparently Dave is still intimidated by Anthony so that just finding out we were here and wanted to talk to him upset him. Since then Anthony has put up a website asking Dave to come home and be a father and husband. The content is not threatening or designed to humiliate Dave, just to remind him and others that the public persona of his business is not consistent with the actions he is taking now. Dave, however, sees it and Anthony as creating a hostile environment.
Fourth, he would understand that all of this takes time and energy. Coming to terms with the fact that all the trust in the promises and faithfulness of Dave was misplaced doesn’t happen overnight. It takes even longer when Dave won’t talk or respond to queries about why he is acting so strangely. Dealing with the emotional upheaval of being abandoned in such a way takes time. But Dave seems to be in a hurry to get all the legal pieces in place, perhaps so he can quickly get back to focusing on his business.
Fifth, he wouldn’t rely on vague comments that there is more to the story. He walked out, telling his wife to take care of the house and kids and give him space. But every once in awhile he drops a comment (usually to their oldest son) that there are things he doesn’t want to have to say in front of him. If he loves Alison as he told the school counselor, he wouldn’t want to hurt her. Is he being childish throwing this out or is he setting some stage for later actions? Either way, adult behavior wouldn’t even bring it up as a ploy.
Alison begged him to come home, telling him she needed him to keep this family together and going. He asked what she would do if he were killed. This is a really childish comment, since the two are really not comparable. The tragic death of a parent in a loving relationship is painful and has lasting effects. But the damage done by a divorce, where one parent consciously moves forward with ripping everything apart for their own happiness is not at all the same. Sure, either way Alison would have to be strong and make it work, but in this situation David is still here and affecting the tenor of the whole situation by his presence or absence, and by his words and actions. And he is capable, if he were willing, of coming home.