The Alter-Ego Spouse
A story my good friend told me years ago that still sticks with me:
My partner had been miserable for months. They barely spoke to their child or me, slept in every morning, and stayed up too late every night. They kept to themselves and on their phone as much as possible and found every excuse not to be around us.
Then they told me that one of their friends was coming for the weekend. I was looking forward to it because I thought it would lift my partner’s spirits, but what I saw when their friend arrived was shocking and extremely upsetting.
They were like a comedian, cook, cleaner and expert party host, all melded into one character. They were lively, and the house ringed with their laughter and enthusiasm. It was a side of them I had not seen in years and was extremely upsetting. They were loving to our child and me, kissing me all the time and checking in on me, something they never normally do. That’s when I realized…that’s when I realized this is a sick performance for their friend, and this has nothing to do with it. My child and I were a prop my partner used to present an image they are so desperately trying to sell to other people.
When their friend left, this character left too, and we were left with the silence, disrespect and isolation. The party was over, and so was the show.
I cannot stand people who treat others better than their immediate loved ones.
What I am talking about is presenting one image publicly and one image privately, and the two identities do not correlate whatsoever.
What it tells me and shows me is that you care more about others’ perceptions of you than how you treat and make the ones you (supposedly) care the most about feel on a daily basis.
A spouse who puts on a show of being the perfect parent, partner, friend, and household companion when others are around and is a selfish, lazy, mean and rude person to their family in private is not a good person.