*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Dating someone who is still married and assuming everything is done between them and their spouse can easily go in an unexpected direction when you notice indications of them getting close again. Is it ok for your partner to stay friends with their ex, or would you expect them not to talk to an ex once they're dating you?
And when they address their ex the same way they call you, would you think that's a way for them to get back together or not do anything about it and wait for things to resolve themselves?
My friend Matt and his girlfriend Zelda have been dating for about two years. He's been married during all this time, but he told her how things were.
"I knew he was married since the first day we met, but I still wanted to be with him. He told me he and his wife Annie argued almost every day, so I was sure he would choose me," Zelda said.
They went out almost every day for six months in Phoenix, Arizona, and Matt never told Zelda he needed to spend time with his wife or go on any trips with her. Based on that, she was convinced their relationship was about to end and stayed with him through it all.
"I wanted to support him in getting a divorce. And if he had someone close by while ending his marriage, it wouldn't be so hard to think about giving up on a home and the goals they used to have as a couple," Zelda said.
Things went very slow, though, and it's only recently that Matt finally decided to separate from Annie. They've been together for five years, and he's worried about losing the home they both paid for. Even so, he doesn't want to stay married to her but won't ask for a divorce just yet.
"He took the first step, and he told her they were separating. Of course, she didn't want to accept it. He's good-looking and earns a lot while she's a housewife, and they didn't have any kids. But I'm not leaving him now, so their marriage is going to end up in a divorce," Zelda said.
Once he let Annnie know they were separating, Matt moved out of their home and came to live with Zelda. They're now staying in her apartment, and he pays the rent and all their bills.
In the meantime, his wife still calls him to ask for money since she doesn't have a job yet, and she can't pay for the house expenses and other bills.
"I don't think he should help her anymore. We're together now. She can get a job and start looking after herself. He won't be there for her in a few months after the divorce happens," Zelda said.
On the other hand, Matt isn't rejecting any of his wife's requests even if he's now living with another woman. He sends her money every week and hasn't gone forward with asking for a divorce just yet.
Zelda is getting stressed about it, too. Particularly after she overheard one of their calls and her boyfriend called Annie "baby."
"That's what he calls me, and he's no longer with her. Why would he say that and be so nice each time he talks to her? What if they're getting back together behind my back after I've spent all this time keeping him happy and positive?" Zelda said.
Each time she asks Matt about his Annie, he tells her he doesn't love her anymore. Zelda would like to get married and have kids, but this delay about Matt getting divorced is starting to worry her. And his endearing names for his wife don't help at all.
"He calls me and his wife 'baby'; they're separated. But what am I supposed to make of it? I hear him talk to her over the phone, and he's so kind and considerate. It makes me upset. Is he really getting a divorce, or is it just about having more time? I like how he pays my bills, but I want commitment, our home, not just a rented apartment, and to have kids one day. I've waited for two years. How much longer does he need to figure things out?" Zelda said.
The last time they talked about it, Matt asked her not to rush him and even said she shouldn't try and tell him what to do. He asked Zelda not to interfere with how he treats his wife and let her know there's a chance they might stay friends even after they divorce and that she needs to respect that.
Zelda is feeling doubtful about his way of solving things and is already looking for indications of Annie and Matt getting back together.
What do you think about this situation? Should Zelda stop listening to Matt's calls to his wife and not mind that he calls her baby too? Is it ok for Matt to still be close and very nice to his wife even if they separated and are about to get a divorce, or does that show they will get back together?
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