They tried marriage counselling for a while in an effort to resolve Andrew's dissatisfaction, but they weren't ab le to make much headway. The marriage was foundering, and finally it sank when Allison discovered there was another reason Andrew wa s so unsettled and unhappy. "He left and I found out that actually he'd been seeing a woman since I was I don't know how many mo nths pregnant. It had started during my pregnancy, so that was the messy part."
Over the next year he and Allison wrestled with what to do. They attempted to reconcile three times, but it never lasted. Though he cared for his wife and adored his baby, he was madly in love with another woman, Elizabeth. Their final parting happened during a weekend visit Andrew made to Allison's family cottage. "One of the defining moments in the story was
actually our anniversary,"
Allison recounted. "We weren't together, we were separated. He was with Elizabeth, but he showed up at my parents' cottage. A ll of a sudden he was there and we were all like, 'Oh my God, Andrew's just walking through the door. What are you doing here?' We sat down outside on the porch that evening, and I guess everyone thought that we were getting together. We were talking for hours , but we were actually letting each other go, and we were deciding that together."
That's when the rebuilding began in earnest. During the year it had taken for them to resolve what to do about the marriage, thin gs had been uncertain and painful for everyone. Now they could get on with creating a new life - one that worked for both of them. A ndrew was true to his promise that he would support Allison in raising their daughter. Allison stayed in their house for several yea rs, and he continued to commute between his new home and Allison's.
Allison, meanwhile, had made a remarkable decision about how to deal with Andrew after her discovery of his affair, and their bre akup. "I became committed to being co-parents who loved each other no matter what. After all the time that Andrew and I had know n each other and all the history, I wanted the love to still be there, but a different kind of love ... I wasn't committed to my dau ghter having anything less than what she would have had if we were together."
Eventually things began to thaw between Allison and Elizabeth, and as the new family triad began to figure out how to set things up for the longer term, they decided to sell the house Andrew and Allison had owned in Aurora and buy two affordable houses close to each other in Markham. Andrew knew a developer who helped them find homes that were just 12 doors apart. When Allison moved in, Andrew pitched in and set up her close t organizers, hung her shelves, and arranged to have her air conditioning installed. Eventually they shared time equally with AJ, who flourished. There was a lot of overlap between the two homes, and schedules and boundaries were remarkably flexible. For AJ, this family with an odd shape ma de complete sense, and Allison smiles as she describes her daughter's comfort with a situation that had taken such measured control to craft. "She just grew up with it, Daddy and Elizabeth and Elizabeth's mom and me. That was just her family. Whenever she drew pictures of her family at school, it was always all of us and the dog."
From Reconcilable Differences: Marriages end. Families don't by Cate Cochran. Copyright © 2007 by Cate Cochran. Reprinted by permission of Second Story Press.