To Fight the Fight, or Not

Clint Hester Finishes his Opponent at Wild Bills Fight Night

This question is one that I have struggled with. I have a real problem with the fairness of things, or more the unfairness. The system ultimately stands on these three principles. One, the children’s best interest is the underlying right that trumps all other rights. I have seen this through the process, and its is the giant hammer to smash all problems. Two, the mother is generally considered a better arbiter of the children’s best interest than anyone else involved, and the experts will back this up. Three, it is all actually about child support.

My first point is this. The children’t best interest is strong enough to strip everyone else of their rights. You may not know it, because it only becomes an issue in divorce and a few other more obscure child welfare type cases, but the children have a right to a portion of your income. That’s right, they don’t just have a right to the benefits that you bestow upon them as a parent, but a right to the actual income. This of course is child support. The child’s best interest determines whether a father or mother are allowed to be involved in the child’s life. Some might say this is right and correct. With what I have seen in the system, and I have seen a lot. I have adopted kids through foster care. The bar needs to be raised. The bar should require criminal negligence of some sort to remove kids from a parent. I am sorry, but children are raised in imperfect circumstances all the time all over the world, and guess what. Many of them grow up through those circumstances to be great leaders. You might even argue that they grow up to be great leaders because of those circumstances. Another right your children are bestowed, but you may not about is lifestyle. The kids have a right to maintain a certain lifestyle. Without divorce, you wouldn’t know this, because most kids don’t know how to advocate for themselves through the system, but the principle comes into play during divorce. One parent is deemed the keeper of the kids lifestyle, and thus they get all the benefits after divorce of maintaining that lifestyle, while the other parent is required to continue to fund a lifestyle they are not able to maintain for themselves. I read comments on blogs a lot, and the underlying argument used by many, is that we, NCPs (generally fathers), should be happy our children our being taken care of. The truth is, I expect no less. My children deserve to be taken care of. I am also fully capable of doing so. I am not only capable of doing so, but capable of doing so with my own income and resources all by myself. The system generally punishes the parent who can say that. The other parent will receive control of the kids, and get the benefits of the children’s lifestyle. In the name of the children’s best interest, one parent is chosen to outrank the other, and the other parent is quite literally indentured to the other parent until such time the children are considered legally emancipated from their parents. The court does so very pragmatically. They seem to be looking out for the children on the surface. The truth is the court is actually trying to limit whether or how often the parties return. When one parent is so substantially limited in their spending abilities and power over the children as an authority in their life, then it less likely that disputes will return to court. This is at least the theory that they operate on. The truth is that a few years after divorce the parenting time and arguments have usually subsided when both parents are granted equal access and control or authority in the children’s lives. This does not mean that each parent takes equal responsibility, but that things work themselves out in a way both parents are happy with the resolution. This leads to better outcomes for the kids. When the court chooses sides, the parents are more likely to spend more time in court, and ultimately this is money in the bank for lawyers and court systems, so they aren’t really motivated to limit conflict.

The second point is that the mother is generally considered better at determining what is best for the children. I will agree on the principle, but not on the importance of the idea. Mother’s most definitely look out for the children’s needs as children. Father’s on the other hand take on the task of raising adults. It is the combination of the two ideals that benefit the children. Ours society is full of overgrown children. They are healthy and unproductive. They spend their time doing thing of no value. Our society has also neutered fathers in every family law case I know of. It is a father who divvies out the harsh punishments. It is a father who demands that a child participate in taking care of the business of the house. It is the father that children run to when they have made a major mistake and need the hard, and sometimes cold, solutions that a father provides. When the father is shutout, or limited in his authority in his kids lives, they lose this. I will talk about how this is true in my family later. The mother is the nurturer. She provides an important factor to raising kids, even older ones, but without the God designed balance in the kids lives, then they will be well nurtured and cared for, and totally incapable of taking on the world on their own. Like I said before, I struggle with the unfairness of it all. I also have to face the realities presented to me. I am not going to get a fair deal. I am still my kids father. I am going to live my life without a significant portion of my income. I will have to tell my kids no, when I should be able to say yes, but finances won’t allow it. I know plenty of people with less money, but it is terribly frustrating to have less income at my disposal than my ex earns, while she has more income at her disposal than I earn. The courts have more than reversed our incomes and granted her control. She will, even with her limited capacity, nurture my children. She won’t raise them into adults. That will probably happen when the kids are legally adults, and she becomes tired of them. They will run to me, and I will have to give them a serious dose of reality. I will care for them, but with heavy hand. I will be more the mentor than the father at that time. I will have to teach them how to be adults in a very short period of time. For some of them, this will be an easy challenge, and for others this will be miserably difficult.

The third point is the most true. All the rationalizing in the other two are really for the purpose of this one. Child support is king. The states earn money by collecting child support. They get money from the payors and payees for handling the transaction. In some states this is a pretty hefty percentage. In others, it is a flat fee. They get this for imposing themselves into the middle of the case. On top of that, they are being paid by the Federal government for collecting support. Child support falls in the category of welfare. Part of the legal underpinnings of child support is that the mother has been abandoned and the father is not taking responsibility for the children. The courts artificially create an abandonment scenario in most cases, just so long as one of the parents wants to push it. This allows them to impose child support. Child support is in part punitive for abandoning your children and wife. Modern divorce of course is driven by women. Women don’t want to be in the confines of their marriage, and thus step out. The courts allow them to do so, and yet maintain their lifestyle, so long as their are children involved to justify it. The actual and marginal expenses of my children do not equal what I pay in child support. This includes their lifestyle expenses. She is never called upon to use her income to fund the children. Yes the calculators make it appear that she does, but if you look at how the formulas work, then you will see that it has very little effect on the numbers how much she earns. The payor’s income is the primary determining factor of child support. I have my children nearly equal time, but not equal enough any more. I have to maintain a home and feed them, and all the other things that a parent does for their children. None of this matters. I have to figure out how to do that on what I have left. I am amazed at how many men figure this out. It is a testament to how men operate, that they figure this out. Statistics show time and time again that years out from divorce, men are winning, and women are not. How can this be. There is only one way that this can be. Men are stronger emotionally and intellectually. I am not making a judgement based on sex, but more on the fact that society does not save men from failing. This forces them to be stronger. In the same way that father’s make their children stronger. When people look at divorce reform, and how to make things better for everyone, they need to look at child support and alimony. These transfers of wealth are the single biggest drivers in frivolous divorce. They are also the primary drivers in most litigation in divorce. If child support is more clearly defined as to what it is supposed to fund, and then the calculations are based on funding those things, they numbers will go down. Men will be able to be active providers in their children’s lives, and they will tend to disappear less from their children’s lives.

As to the question posed in the title. To fight or not. Well that one is harder to address. I have lost a lot of money fighting. I have lost my time fighting. I have lost my authority fighting. I am not sure any of it was worth it. I was a bit delusional in believing that the the rules and legislation from the state government would give me a leg to stand on. The courts are still pretty autonomous, and they make their decisions as they see fit. Understanding that no one in the higher courts wants to deal with domestic issues helps to put in perspective that the family courts are given a tremendous amount of freedom in these cases. The other thing that rules the day, and allows for the courts to do as they please is the concept of “The Best Interest of the Child”. This is a concept that is self contained in your case,so it can’t include all children that are connected to the case. It can only involve the children of the parties that are sharing parenting. So a man with 3 kids by 3 mothers can end up in 3 different courts, with 3 different and possibly contradicting definitions being applied to the case under the guise of the “Best Interest of the Child.” In my case the best interest of one child is being held up above the best interests of the other children. He rules the day. This would be my oldest son, who without remorse sexually abused a kid half his age. My lack of warmth towards him is what matters most to the court. My desire to protect the other kids from his is deemed harmful by the court, because it hurts him. This is the standard that we are abiding by in family court. If we were married, we could petition the state to take him back into their care. He is demonstrating psychological disorders that we were not prepared to deal with. I might sound cold in saying this, and it doesn’t demonstrate the entirety of my feelings, but the state gave us a problem to deal with so they didn’t have to, and we are not well equipped to deal with that problem, so they should shoulder the responsibility of that problem. I love my son. A day doesn’t go by, where I don’t think about him, and grieve the loss of seeing him grow into the man who could be. I hope that he turns his life around, but all I see is patterns of him never taking responsibility for his actions. Life happens to him. I know how easy it is to fall into that trap. I have done it through the divorce process. I am now looking to take control of what I have control over, and move on. It pains me that so much control has been stripped from me, but these are the cards that I am dealt. Much of it is un-American, but that doesn’t change reality. I do my best. I am working at not taking pleasure in the idea that she will fail in the long run, because its not good for me. It will be even worse for me, if she doesn’t fail, and figures it out. The one thing, I will take from this is, I will not be friends with my ex when this is all done. I do not relish major events where I get pushed to the side, so the kids can please their mother. I know that their life is not as good as I could provide in my own home. I will not thank her for raising my kids, regardless of the responsibility she takes. I won’t because, I did not choose this. I would gladly raise my kids in my home. I would provide for them from my checkbook. Instead my kids don’t know or understand that I am still their provider. That I pay enough in child support to pay their mothers rent and utilities with money left over for the car payment. That all they have in their mothers home is in part paid for by me. This makes me sad, but there is nothing I can do about it.

I am done fighting. I will take what I can with my kids. I am not allowed to give them responsibilities in my house. I am relegated to a hotel to provide babysitting services, so their mom gets a break. A privilege I get to pay for. They won’t understand this for years, if ever. I can’t let them watch the step-sibling, even for a brief amount of time. I can’t leave them home alone, even though they are old enough to care for themselves for a few hours, and the autonomy teaches them responsibility. I cannot ask them to do chores, because they feel like servants in my home. The fight has cost me additional freedom beyond what divorce cost me to begin with. My only words of advice to men is they should go nuclear from the start. Don’t worry about your parenting relationship with the your ex. You can try and mend that later. She is unlikely to hold back, and you are likely to end up right where I am at. Women have the advantage, so don’t be afraid to paint the picture of her as a monster. Win the war, then be fair in your treatise. That is the only way to engage family court. I also want to scream at the top of my lungs for men to start fighting the fight before they are facing divorce. Get your representatives to change the standards for family court, and to put teeth in the laws they are writing. Get them to require that criminal actions that affect the children be involved to limit the time a dad has with his kids. With the most recent ruling. I have only seen my kids a few days in the last month and a half. This is not right, but it there is nothing I can do to change it. My only recourse is the courts, and they are not likely to defend my or my children, for they have taken the stand already on behalf of my children in favor of their mother. I will not fight. It hurts too much. I am working on creating ways to connect with my kids, so that they still come to me on their own. I will write about some of those next.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Child Support Changes Everything

E3 2010 PS3 Motion - This Changes Everything

I get tired of the trite argument that a man needs to support his kids. First of all, why is it suddenly the governments business how I choose to support my kids. Why is it as a man married to the mother of my children, I have freedom, but if I am not married to her, I do not. This sets the stage for what no man wants to admit. We are disposable. We don’t matter. Society does not value us. Our freedom is either determined by either having no children or the type of connection we have with the mother of our children. Once there are children involved, then their mother has almost all the say in the amount of freedom we have. She can often decide the nature of the relationship you will have with your children. She can decide if you are her wage slave through the children. If you were never married to her, you have even less power in how these things are decided. I cannot explain how heavy the burden is of paying child support. If you have never had to pay child support, then you will not understand. I hope that you never do. Many men just accept it, and move on. It is the way things are. I for some reason cannot do that. I am not built that way, I guess. I cannot get over the fact that my value in my kids life is boiled down to some fraction of my salary. This is what matters most. Worst of all, none of this gets checked by higher courts. Divorce court isn’t truly a court of law, though they have been given legal authority to rule on many aspects of our life. It is also sad that so much of this revolves around the amount of time you spend with your kids. The kids standard of living becomes the business of the court in the USA. A lot of evil has come from this idea.

Lets examine CS a little bit. I will use my case for sample numbers, but I will be running some different scenarios as I use these numbers. Mom earns $57,000 and Dad earn $90,000 for this example. We have four kids where one between 6 and 11 and three between 12 and 18. We will assume that for tax estimates purposes that The dad’s tax rate is around 30% and the Mom’s is around 25%.

MOM HAS FULL RESIDENTIAL CUSTODY:

Dad Dad Totals Mom Mom Totals
Salary $7,500.00 $7,500.00 $4,750.00 $4,750.00
Estimated Taxes -$2,250.00 $5,250.00 -$1,187.50 $3,562.50
Child Support -$2,404.00 $2,846.00 $2,404.00 $5,966.50

Mom is responsible for 100% of direct expenses which currently seem to be school related expenses only.
Dad is responsible for 60% of health related costs and mom is responsible for 40%
Mom is responsible for clothing

This scenario is where most men currently land. They may have equal time, but the term given to it is liberal visitation. Mom has roughly $72K/year to spend as she pleases. This is the equivalent of someone who earns $93K/year. Dad on the other hand has roughly $34K/year to spend as he pleases. This is the equivalent of someone who earns $43K/year. Some people might think, not bad for a single guy. There is only one problem. He is still more responsible for medical costs than mom is. There is also very little he can do to enforce that mom provide enough clothing for the kids when they are at his house, and he has to maintain a house that is large enough for all these kids or he won’t be allowed near equal time. Here is the other problem. She has 100% of the decision making power, because she has all the money to spend for the kids. Forget all the mess about shared legal custody. Its the person who pays the bills who gets the say in this world. Dad has been relegated to baby sitter in his kids lives, or at least legally that is what he is. The rest is up to mom. It is rare, but yes the reverse could happen the following table shows the numbers if dad has full residential custody. Mom ends of with the spending power of someone who earns around $30K/year, and dad ends up with the spending power of someone who earns around $106K/year. Its no where near the imbalance that you see when money goes from the lesser earner to the greater earner, but I would argue that is equally as unfair. The Dad then become responsible for clothes and direct expenses and the split on health care stays the same.

Dad Dad Totals Mom Mom Totals
Salary $7,500.00 $7,500.00 $4,750.00 $4,750.00
Estimated Taxes -$2,250.00 $5,250.00 -$1,187.50 $3,562.50
Child Support $1,524.00 $6,774.00 -$1,524.00 $2,038.50

MOM AND DAD HAVE SHARED RESIDENTIAL CUSTODY:

Dad Dad Totals Mom Mom Totals
Salary $7,500.00 $7,500.00 $4,750.00 $4,750.00
Estimated Taxes -$2,250.00 $5,250.00 -$1,187.50 $3,562.50
Child Support -$1,147.00 $4,103.00 $1,147.00 $4,709.50

Mom is responsible for 100% of direct expenses which currently seem to be school related expenses only.
Dad is responsible for 60% of health related costs and mom is responsible for 40%
Mom is responsible for clothing

This scenario is better. Mom has the spending power of someone earning $71K/year and dad has the spending power of someone earning $62K/year. Typically the man is held to account for extra-curricular activities here. Usually split or at the same percentage as health care. This is something that in the above scenario is usually true, but its not enforced. I have found that it is marginally cheaper for the dad, because there are more expenses, and now he must have a home large enough for everyone. What we have is a major income shift for a minimal amount of expenses. It doesn’t look like much, but spread it across the year and you have over $7K/year difference. The expenses related directly to public schooling are not that expensive. They are probably half of that or just a little more if you are paying for school lunches, which depending on your agreement and judge may or may not be considered a direct expense. It certainly is possible for mom to decide that lunches will be packed, and transfer the expense of providing lunches to the dad on dad’s days with the kids regardless of how it is interpreted by the judge. There is a better balance in this scenario. She can still choose not to provide enough clothing, and you are left with little recourse, but to purchase clothing on your own. What is most bothersome is that she is never actually responsible for children’s expenses. Dad pays mom to then pay her portion, and then dad pays his portion. The expenses of the children are 100% covered by the father, and the father supplements the lifestyle of the mother’s household while also supporting his own. Shared residency in my state requires that the higher earner pay child support unless the court rules otherwise. The court almost never does, but if it did, she would $0 in child support to the father.

MOM AND DAD HAVE SHARED RESIDENTIAL CUSTODY AND EACH PARENT BUYS CLOTHING:

Dad Dad Totals Mom Mom Totals
Salary $7,500.00 $7,500.00 $4,750.00 $4,750.00
Estimated Taxes -$2,250.00 $5,250.00 -$1,187.50 $3,562.50
Child Support -$1,068.00 $4,182.00 $1,068.00 $4,630.50

Mom is responsible for 100% of direct expenses which currently seem to be school related expenses only.
Dad is responsible for 60% of health related costs and mom is responsible for 40%

It gets better. This is about the same as above with the exception you now have to buy clothing for the kids as the father. For 4 kids this is $79/month. This is not a lot, but realistically it would meet the basic needs for having the kids half the time. Again if you flip who pays direct expenses then Dad gets $0 in child support. Mom has the spending power of someone who earns around $70K/year and dad has the spending power of someone who earns about $63K/year.

MOM AND DAD HAVE SHARED RESIDENTIAL CUSTODY AND EACH PARENT BUYS CLOTHING AND THEY SHARE DIRECT EXPENSES:

Dad Dad Totals Mom Mom Totals
Salary $7,500.00 $7,500.00 $4,750.00 $4,750.00
Estimated Taxes -$2,250.00 $5,250.00 -$1,187.50 $3,562.50
Child Support -$440.00 $4,810.00 $440.00 $4,002.50

Dad is responsible for 60% of health related costs and mom is responsible for 40%
Dad is responsible for 60% of direct expenses and mom is responsible for 40%

This one is the most telling. Basically it says that dad, because he makes more money is responsible for paying mom $440/month or just over $5K/year to improve her lifestyle. In our life this is about the same as the kids typical expenses would be with extra-curricular activities. Mom has the spending power of someone who earns $60K/year and dad has the spending power of someone who earns $72K/year. What stands out to me, is she is never required to spend any of her own earned money on the children. She gets the money from dad to spend on the kids, and then dad also has to pay.

Why Does it Matter

There are plenty of reasons that CS is evil. There is the aspect that it indentures the father to the mother until the children are grown. Understand this isn’t an overstatement. This was its intent. CS started in an era where women were responsible for raising the kids with the man’s resources. A woman who was divorced was not going to be able to raise the kids. If a man abandoned his family, then the state was saying he was going to be held to account for them. This was also an era where if the man divorced the woman, and chose to keep the kids, he would be allowed to, and she would have to find her own way. None of this fits the modern era. Men are active parents. I would argue that they always were to some degree. It was only in the early years that men didn’t take an active role in the child rearing. Men and women may have had very different roles in raising children, but men were active. If they weren’t then there would be far fewer fond memories written about and shared about fathers. CS ultimately delivers the power to the recipient. They are given the power of the other person’s pocketbook, and its enforced by the power of the state. This is evil. For the government to decide, in a free society, that one person matters more than another is evil. CD tells one parent that your kids are going to cost you a specific amount of money based on what you earn, and the other parent is going to determine how to spend that. The other parent has no accountability as to how much they actually spend on the children, and a frugal woman can keep most of the money for her own use. The argument that all the money benefits the child may be true, but it is equally true that if the father kept the money in a shared residency circumstance. Its just that the mother doesn’t benefit. It is also evil that the party that chooses to terminate the relationship stands to benefit from the other party in the termination.

I want to play with the numbers some more. I want to see what point does her raising her income become a benefit. Just a cursory glance shows that she would need a significant jump in income to make up for the lost child support with an increase. Since increasing her income would mean working more hours and having more responsibility, there is significant friction to her taking any action to better her life on her own. Only a woman who is long sighted enough to realize that the money falls off quickly, and they will have to live off what they earn when the kids are grown will see the benefit of earning enough to eliminate most of the child support that is paid to them. Look for a future number crunching post to show how that might play out.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Rash Decisions Early in Separation

Decisions, Decisions

My life came crumbling apart. My hopes and dreams were being destroyed forever. I was being faced with a life that I never wanted for me or my children. This was a life that I had clung to far beyond its reality. The reasons and much of the process are recorded in the blog. If you are interested read them. Much of my writing come out of my tears and anger, and the process of clearing myself of these emotions to move forward to the next steps in my life. These are processes that most men have to do on their own when they face the same problems in life.

My first reaction was to cling too hard. I thought a lot of “if only” thoughts. I fought to get her to stay. This was a purely emotional response. Men need to understand that by the time she has told you she wants a divorce, she has at the very least had fantasies of the moment. She is firmly planted on the idea. She more than likely has a plan and she may go along with you for some of these things, but she will execute the plan. Mine had not planned much beyond getting out of the house with me. She went to counseling and all the other things I asked, but she still moved out on her original schedule. The right thing to do when she says she wants a divorce is not to panic. It is simply to ask what her plan is, and remain as disinterested as possible. It is unlikely anything that you do at this point fixes your marriage, but if there is any hope of re-capturing her heart, it is in showing that you are going to be just fine without her. Marriage counseling is generally for chumps. It isn’t effective, and the advice you will usually get comes down to you aren’t doing enough things she wants you to do, but if you look at your lifestyle, she determines what you do most of the time. Man up and do what you want to do. Set boundaries while you are still in the house, and take charge of how your family is going to split. If she is truly determined to leave, then you will have some control of the process. If she is not determined to leave, then you are showing the masculine traits she needs to see to be attracted to you.

We lived twenty miles outside the nearest suburb. She wanted to move into the suburbs when she left. She changed the kids schools and moved. I probably could have stopped her, and maybe I should have. That doesn’t matter so much as I didn’t even evaluate what was best for me and the kids. I could have made a lot of choices here. Changing schools is a joint decision. I could have immediately gone to court for temporary orders to require them to stay in their current schools. Maybe I should have. I won’t know the answer to that, but I didn’t even think about it. I was responding to her plan and actions. I saw some value in the move. All the kids activities were too far away from home. We had talked about moving before we talked about divorce, so it was reasonable. Boy what a trap that can be. Try arguing with a reasonable suggestion. Its tough. Its hard to argue that because of this change, I don’t want to do the other thing that we already agreed might be good.

I tried parenting from this town, but it was hard. I was scattered, and she spent the mortgage to move without telling me. I could have negotiated a new deal with the bank, and maybe I should have. I would have a house that is large enough for me and my girlfriend and all of our kids. They could all have their own room, which is an amazing thing. I loved the house. It fit my personality. If I had known she would move again a year later, I probably would have. I should have guessed that she would, but I wasn’t thinking much about things. I was just reacting. The bank would have offered me a new loan that is cheaper than anything I can rent now.

I tell you this, not so much because I regret the decision, but because I want men to think before the act. Stop reacting, and start making decisions based on the new circumstance. Don’t get railroaded by a woman who has been plotting for six months or more for this moment. She has the edge because of this, so slow down and really think about it. It is too late to save your marriage, so don’t run down that path, because it wastes precious time. If there is a chance to save the marriage, it will happen by you being assertive and direct in handling this circumstance. She says she wants a divorce, so go get a lawyer. File temporary orders that grant you equal time, the house, reasonable child support payments or none if you think you can make that work with her. Take charge and get the ball rolling. Don’t play softball, be a man. The divorce ball doesn’t need to run any faster after that, but now you have sure footing guaranteed by the courts. None of this prevents her from false abuse allegations, and if she is of that low of a character, then good luck. You can only hope that she is terribly inconsistent and you will prevail in court.

Once you have the first pieces in place, then take your time and do as much as you can without lawyers. This will save a fortune. I didn’t get those things in place, and when she filed, she tried to extract a large amount of child support. Thankfully the courts don’t respond quickly, so even though the orders were in place we negotiated a different deal that will hold from here on out. In the final orders any arrears can be cleared with a court order.

She had the first choice of stuff as she moved out. She didn’t take the newer furniture, and is pissed she made that decision, but we each got enough stuff. I don’t care if it was fair or not. There was no making both of totally happy. When I moved there was a ton of things left at the house. We took our time and took things as we saw the need. Ultimately she took more than me, but on the first move, I got what I cared about. Our stuff is thus divided with no real arguments. A few complaints, but no arguments. We will codify that in the divorce decree and its done.

I have written this over a course of a few days. It may not be totally congruent, but I am going to end it here. Slow down fellas, and make sure you are acting not reacting through the end of your marriage.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Catching Up

Catching Up with a Cup of Tea

Its been a long time since I posted anything. I haven’t lost interest, but my life has consumed my time almost completely. I haven’t had the downtime to address things on here. My last post was a time that I had my oldest son full time. That came to an abrupt halt as my mother needed help as my father took a rapid downturn in his health. This is going to be a long post, and will cover the gaps from October to now.

My Father

My father died of brain cancer on November 8, 2012. He had suffered from lung cancer that metastasized in his brain. He was a strong man who fought every moment in the end to retain his mental capacities. He managed to make most people not even realize that he was being affected as badly as he was with his quick wit and ability to steer the conversation as he pleased. Him and my mother just missed their 40th wedding anniversarry by a couple of weeks.

My mother is still relatively young. She grew up in the feminist expansion era of the 1960s. She would have graduated high school in 1972 if she had followed a normal path in life. She adored my father, and went to great efforts that even in his reduced mental capacity, he was able to be the leader in their relationship. It was something amazing to watch. She is the reason that I have such a hard time with most modern women. They say they want to be like her, but none really want to make the sacrifices that are necessary to be like her. They don’t see the rewards that come with those risks taken with a man they love. As much as I am aware of how the world has changed, I still hope that I may find a woman like her. A woman that understand men and women are different, and wants to say “fuck you” to the culture and do things our way.

His downward turn was shortly after my last blog post. His memory with me, my sister, and his seven grandkids will be a tribute to his life. He was a man who wore his emotions on his sleeve. You never were left wondering where you stood with him, and no one regrets the conversations never had with him. He helped rebuild a relationship between my mom and her older brother that had soured over a business deal between them and him. He had a childhood friend who gave him an ultimatum decades before and had walked out of his life, who heard he was dieing and returned in hopes of rekindling that relationship. This man hovered over my dad, and was willing to carry him if he had to just to spend time with him. My dad would complain that this man was hovering, but then with a smile say “but he needs to do this to close the gap in lost time.” My dad put up with his hovering to let this man heal the wounds created by his own decision to walk away decades earlier. He didn’t hold grudges, and he always thought of the other person. He was not a soft man. There were many times that he and I had ridiculous arguments, and yet we both walked away with a mutual respect for each other.

I loved my dad like I could love no other man. The only two grudges he held in his entire life were with my mom’s sister, who intentionally and continually hurt and alienated my mother, and my ex who isolated me from the rest of the family and has done so much damage to my oldest son emotionally without remorse. He actually banned them from his funeral. That was the only thing we did not honor of his wishes. I understood the feelings, but it was not the time to carry out his grudge. Both will fade from our lives forever over time. He held those grudges not for the harm they did to him, but the harm they did to those he loved most.

My Mother

My mother has needed some extra help, but not a lot. I worry about her far more than she needs me to. Going through the holidays has been tough for her. My dad loved everything about the holidays. She is glad to have spent those first close to his death. That they won’t drag out over the next year and catch her again a year later like he just died all over again.

My Dating

I was talking to a woman while my dad was in his last weeks. She was supportive. She was someone to talk to that seemed to get what was going on. Sadly she had some health problems, and turned out to be a flake. After not hearing from her for a while, I called it quits. That was followed with some panicked calls from her, but I don’t have the patience for someone who stops communicating with me. We haven’t talked much since then. I know she found someone to date. I think she just wanted a guy, and was scared that another one would not come along.

I met another woman very quickly. We have connected better than I imagined. Her story is similar to mine as a woman. I have let her be involved with my kids, something I have not considered with any of the other women that I have been involved with. I see some real oporunity here. I struggle with how the laws and the system works, but I am not going to be scared. I won’t be having kids with anyone anymore, so if I can find someone that I could spend the next 20+ years with, I would be happy. I don’t need that to be happy, but I do like the companionship of a wife. My standards are much different than before. My view of the world is much darker than it was before. I will cautiously move forward with this woman for now. She is the first woman to not be terrified of a man with 4 kids, who is actually involved in their daily lives, and who is probably going to seek full custody of the kids soon.

The Ex and Kids

She has become more aggressive in her behaviours with my oldest. This past weekend she scratched his neck during an argument. She blames me because I embarassed her by bringing my girlfriend to the kids games over the weekend. The kids had asked for her to be there. She said something within earshot of him after the game before he left with me. He was crying and I talked to him. Explained that my feelings weren’t hurt, and that he shouldn’t have had to hear it. She brought it up the next day as she was taking them to church. He called me to come get him. Before I arrived she had taken him to church. I have asked some questions and found out that she announced to the other kids he scratched himself. So they pipe in to defend her everytime he says something. I am starting to get together documentaiton of things to seek full custody of him, and by extension all of the kids when I file for divorce. I have reached my wits end on this. I have friends and family who will testify to how she treats the kids, and I have kept some logs of things as they happened to add to that. I hope that I can get a judge who isn’t stuck in the 1960s view of the world, and can get this thing done in the best interest of the kids.

DUI Fallout

There isn’t much. I show up every month and I talk to my CSO. I pee in a cup when they ask me too, and go on with life. I have been driving, but don’t have my license back. Thank goodness I drive like an old man anyway. I took the tint out of the windows, so no one has a reason to pull me over. I will be going in to get the ignition interlock and get my license back on a restricted basis soon, so I don’t have to be quite so careful, and so I have an ID to travel with, if I need to.

That is the condensed version of my life for the last few months. Its been a roller coaster. I will be blogging more, because its theraputic for me as well. I have some things on my mind to blog about. Some of them are the things mentioned above, and some are topics of interest I have.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Online Dating Update

Dangers Of Online Dating

I changed my profile completely. As I said I would, I used some of the women’s profiles as archetypes for mine. This has been an excercise in reverse engineering the technology, and then extracting social cues from the women’s profiles that I thought I would like to attract. The end result is an honest, but engineered profile. It also does a fair share of social engineering to get desired results.

Interests

I added a lot of single words to the interests section to make sure that I get hits based on that. Stupid me had that relatively short, thinking that if I covered it below in then I didn’t need to there, but that area is like meta-data to POF. You need it to be there, so you are presented more often to women. I didn’t put anything in there to just get hits, but I put a lot of things in there I wouldn’t have thought to add before. I put things in there that everyone has an interest in, like music and movies. I put specific things, and the generic counterpart so I could catch people who had one or the other in their. So you have float trips, canoeing, and kayaking in there.

About Me

So the about me is the meat of this system. This is where you say whatever it is you want people to know. There is a lot of space, but it is limited. I used it all. Using it all gives the impression that I took some time to do this. It tells the people reading it that I am not wasting their time, and that connection can carry into the first few conversations. I give details and inject some humor as I go. I rewrote each piece a couple of times until when I read it, I could hear my own voice saying the words. I am selling myself, not some image of me that they won’t see when we meet. That is something I learned in dealing with Sarah. I was not surprised in any way by her. She sold me what she was in looks and interactions.

Disclaimer/Introduction

Most women have a disclaimer in their profile. Telling you what they don’t want. I find this very off-putting, so I twisted the idea into an introduction. It basically says that I am not playing the game by the rules. I will not send out 100s of emails without responses. I will write women who catch my eye, but if I catch yours, then you should send me a thoughtful messages that shows you read what I wrote. I also tell them if they do that I will respond, even if it is to inform them I am not interested or we are not a good match.

Kids Come First

Again the way women write this piece, though it exists in all profiles, is a put off. I let them know that I am a busy involved dad with some real examples of how. Kids are a great place to interject humor. I hint at a peaceful relationship with the kids mom. I don’t say the kids come first and if you can’t handle that kiss off. I think any woman that reads a section describing my activities with my kids who can’t come to that conclusion on her own is too stupid for me to deal with for long. I can filter these women out pretty quick.

Active Lifestyle

Everyone likes to think they are active. I skip past the active women who only say they go to the gym, unless they look like they are about ready to compete in a figure or fitness competition. I do this because I know they are at the gym five times a week to meet men. Once they have one hooked, they will kick the habit and down goes the figure fast. I list what I do to have an active lifestyle. The sports I play. The activities I do. I inject a lot of personality humor into this section. Its a lifestyle born of disciplines, and I don’t want to focus on the disciplines. They aren’t fun and are evident to anyone smart enough to keep my attention.

The Career

Women write a lot about their jobs. I don’t really care about her job. I do, but only once I get to know her. Its not a selling point. I only care that she has a job to take care of herself, because this man has four kids to care for. She cares about my job. They all do. There needs to be a hint that you are secure and stable in that job to get any hits. I give some hints at what my work life is like and what I do. I am not too specific, but I paint a picture of the job and environment I work in.

Intimacy

Women always have something about hugging and cuddling. I wrote a section that covers my emotional disposition and thought process, but only little glimpses. This is something they need to discover, but they need a teaser. I let them know that I am protective almost territorial about the people I love. Its a lot of strong and affirmative language reflecting my character.

Interests Revisited

I expound on my interests. I talk about my love of fires and the outdoors. I paint a picture of their being room there for someone without making it sound like someone is missing. I talk about the different volunteer activities I have done. I have done a lot, so there is some stuff there for everyone. I explain some of my musical tastes and add a little humor to this section. I don’t talk about movies and TV. Who really cares. Yes there some I love and hate, but I don’t plan on sitting around watching movies or TV with anyone very often. I did that with the STBEW, and that relationship sucked. I talk about my love of reading and writing. I talk about my love of art, and make some cracks about how little I know about art. I talk about doing photography.

Relationship Status

This is a head them off at the pass section. Women rarely have it, but they do care. Especially since I am not divorced yet. Its simple and clear. Divorce is coming, and we get along well enough to deal with kid issues without fighting.

The Close

I say something that dares them to pass me by. No well wishes. No passive letter closes. Its the you should know me, and choosing not to is a bad idea.

First Date

I put some creative things I would actually like to do that are not the same stupid things everyone else puts in there about drinks, coffee, dinner, or god forbid a movie.

Results

I didn’t break it up into sections. I just had paragraphs follow this format, and in this order. The order was something I noticed as I read women’s profiles. I have had good results. My response rate is at about 30% when I send out messages, and I don’t send out a lot of messages. I have 3-5 women I am communicating with right now, and two that are likely to escalate into a date. I have been contacted by numerous women, and as I said in my intro, I do respond if they say more than “Hi, wanna chat?” The other thing I have noticed through this process is that I have very little patience for someone who has not taken the time to fill out their profile with something that gives me at least a little hint of who I am dealing with. Women with the punch lists of don’ts are bitches, guaranteed. Women with the punch lists of wants are never going to be satisfied. Women who say they don’t want players and assholes are off the list, because the only guys they are going to respond to are players and assholes. I don’t have a problem with those guys, and the women get what they deserve, when this is the type of guy they choose. I mostly look at the women who say something about themselves and what they like to do, and who have taken some time to choose pictures that show what they look like and some personality. When meeting a woman, if they don’t look like their pictures I will walk away. That is lying of the first order, and its not acceptable to bait me in with 10 year old pictures that don’t look at all like you. I have seen some of this with friends, so far the women I have met have not done this. I have had no surprises. I know that with time I will meet a few truly crazies.

I am surprised to say the least. This change has been dramatic to the whole online dating experience. None of it really fits what POF lists as good profiles or what many web gurus will tell you. I am liked by women in the physical world. They like my personality and how I carry myself. I needed to bring some of that into the profile. I am selling me, not some everyman for women to drool over. In the same way that I would walk if I find she misrepresented herself, I expect that the type of woman I want will walk if I do. I spend less time with the stupid site, and get better results. I have made a few international pen pals along the way as well. All in all, I think my assessment is changing of online dating.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Lust, Pornography, and Christiananity

Jesus is Watching You (and adult videos)

Well this isn’t so much a personal story as it is a commentary based on personal observation and experience. If you haven’t noticed reading my blog, I don’t use a lot of facts and figures. This is about what I observe in the world. I work in a world of facts and figures and statistics. I don’t want to write about them. Other people cover those things quite well. This is one of those posts that people will wonder about the facts and figures. I say go find them. I don’t have them. I am not sure I believe the ones I have read, because of the nature of the questioning that would have to occur to get the results. As with so many things revolving around sex, we really can’t get to the heart of the matter, because of the many taboos even in conversation that exist.

I am going to start with lust. Lust is one of those words in the Christian world that gets thrown around a lot. It is always used to shame men. I won’t argue this, I have sat in the pews of too many sermons that are on the topic of lust. None of them have ever dealt with it in any way that is not shaming men. Its an easy target. Men want women’s body’s to be theirs to enjoy. Its a part of how we were built. God made us with a desire for women. The unfairness to this is women lust after men too. Its not completely based on body, but it is a part of the equation. Women like the bad boys who set their own rules. I rarely hear women chastised for this lust of theirs. We use this word lust, but what does it mean. http://dictionary.com gives us this definition”

lust? ?[luhst]
noun
1. intense sexual desire or appetite.
2. uncontrolled or illicit sexual desire or appetite; lecherousness.
3. a passionate or overmastering desire or craving (usually followed by for ): a lust for power.
4. ardent enthusiasm; zest; relish: an enviable lust for life.
5. Obsolete .
     a. pleasure or delight.
     b. desire; inclination; wish.

Notice something in that definition. There is nothing about looks. The verse that is referred to uses the word look, but lust is not about looking. Its about desire and appetite or craving. So women lust after men all the time. Women get horny. Women desire men sexually. Its just not based on something they always see. It might be wealth, power, prestige, or beauty. Women are not immune to lust. This is the verse used to go after men.

Matthew 5:28
New International Version (NIV)
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

The context of this verse in Matthew 5 is Jesus calling out the judgmental people who sit back and do all the right things that they too are just as guilty as the ones who committed these acts. He is saying to the overly religious that if you want to judge the adulterer, then you tomust judge yourself, for what man has never looked upon a woman lustfully. He is speaking about the spiritual ramifications of these things. He is saying that for your spiritual well being you are no better off thinking about carnal acts with women who are not your wife than you are if you do the carnal acts. I would say that the core of this message is that no man is deserving of the saving grace of Jesus, and that being said we can do better. To do better we must stop worrying about our neighbor’s failings and start worrying about our own, for no man knows what is on my heart but myself. A verse rarely used for lust, but one that is used to attack homosexuality is this.

Romans 1:26
New International Version (NIV)
“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.”

I am not going to say anything about homosexuality. If you are a Christian then you are answerable to God on that issue not me. Verse 27 is the verse that is used for this. I have left it off on purpose. The word lust is clearly used in relationship to sex and women. Not only that, but its used in way that is derogatory towards their actions. I think the point can be made that women have lusts that are not Holy in nature. The Church needs to stop presenting this issue as a male only issue. One of the things that gets thrown at men in sermons is this lust, and as a side note women are told to be dressed provocatively is inadvisable and not very nice, but men you are still supposed to have it under control. The women’s dress is treated as cultural phenomena that women should think about, but has no spiritual consequence. There may be some truth to this assessment when you are talking about little girls, but you will notice that women will dress to show off the parts of their body that they know have men’s attention. For some women this is cleavage, and for others it is their legs, and for others it may be their stomachs. They are knowingly showing off parts of their body for the purpose of gaining male attention. Not just any male attention, but male sexual attention. These women lust for male sexual attention.

Pornography consumption is merely more of the same. Men and women watch pornography to fantasize about sex. They lust for what is being done on screen. There is an addictive nature to it, because of the chemical releases in the brain. I would venture to say that all lust has an addictive nature to it for the same reason. It is in the modern era that you can see porn without shame from society, so it becomes more prevalent. In the past to sit around and stare at women was a juvenile thing. If a woman was to look up at you staring at her while she was at the beach or pool, you would be chastised or she would move. Watching other people have sex is not something most people are invited to do, so again there is no historical corollary that really applies to be able to watch a couple of actors put on sex show in the privacy of your home. It is a kind of supercharged lust. The act of lust tends to kick endorphins into your system, and pornography gives you almost unlimited means to do get that release of endorphins. The closest anyone probably got to this in Jesus’ era was the temple prostitutes or orgies, but these things of course required participation.

I blame the Church for so much of the damaged sexual relations in Christian marriages. The Church has painted a picture of men being predators and uncontrollable lust monsters while women were pure and virginal(even when they weren’t) lustless creatures. Women were warned to watch out for the men. The men only wanted one thing mentality. Here is one of proverbs warnings against adultery.

Proverbs 5:1-6
New International Version (NIV)
Warning Against Adultery

5 My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
    turn your ear to my words of insight,
2 that you may maintain discretion
    and your lips may preserve knowledge.
3 For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
    and her speech is smoother than oil;
4 but in the end she is bitter as gall,
    sharp as a double-edged sword.
5 Her feet go down to death;
    her steps lead straight to the grave.
6 She gives no thought to the way of life;
    her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

To me this warning is clear. Men watch out. She will entice you. She will make you feel good, and she will drag you down to your death given a chance, and she will be none the wiser about what she is doing. There are plenty of verses that make it clear she is not absolved of her actions, so I won’t read into this that she is somehow innocent. The context of the Bible must be read as a whole. The problem here is the Church gives her a pass for her adultery all too often. It is blamed on the men. It is blamed on her husband’s failings, and on her lover’s charms. She was helpless to do anything about it. This is bunk, and everyone knows it.

Now lets get to my experience. I found that in my marriage, pornography was a problem. Not that I consumed it often or in large quantities, actually quite the contrary. Lust for other women and the temptation to just take a peek were there all the time, unless I was getting regular and quality sex. I only remember a very brief time in my marriage that happened. I think it was driven by some guilt on her part. I noticed right away that these temptations were almost completely absent during this time. As we separated I found that initially these temptations were huge. So was going out to pick up some woman just to have sex with. I gave in these temptations. I do not regret it. It has given me an understanding of things that I would not have had before. The absolutely carnal sex of pornography and casual sex was addictive in nature. I craved the endorphin rush, and the I craved the adrenaline rush of the chase. So what changed. I met Sarah. She was very sexual, but this was hardly casual. This was albeit short lived, a relationship. She was a person, not a body. She met other needs I had, and had needs I met. For me the sex was incredible. I had never had regular, healthy sex in a relationship, since high school. I know many will say sex out of wedlock is not healthy and spiritually speaking they would be correct, but psychologically speaking the definition expands some. Here is the kicker. I desire the healthy(or healthier) sex to the other stuff. I have not been tempted to go seek out the sex of pornography or one night stands after we split up.

Sarah never used sex as power. We had great sex up unto the day before she decided to move on. Sex as power in the relationship is at the core of what the Church teaches women. They are taught that there is no consequence to their actions sexually. They are taught that it is not their fault. Men are to get in line and do things right, and if they do, then their wife will desire them. There is the power play. The wife can say that he isn’t doing this spiritual thing or that spiritual thing right, and that is why they don’t desire their husband or worse strayed to another man. Of course if it were some womanly spiritual discernment that made them not desire their husband, then that same discernment should have told them that the man they were fucking on the side was in it just for the sex. Christian women hold men hostage with sex. I know women in the culture at large do this as well, but it is far worse in the Christian world, because the men will stay with these women because of their faith, and be tormented by their failure as a Christian husband.

I think that if the Church were to spend less time talking about lust and sexual purity, and more time about truly healthy relationships. If the Church taught Biblical truth about love, marriage, and leadership, things would be better. If the Church took the time to worry about spiritual successes rather than failures in its teaching, then men and women would strive to reach those heights. Too often people will look at the failures that are being talked about, and look around and see a sea of people who are doing worse, and decide that the teaching isn’t for them. I think that all too often the Church in focusing on the sins of men and women, they put the ideas into their head to become distracted by. How many people chose to look at pornography out of curiosity. To see what all the fuss was about. Those images are stuck there, and won’t go away. What if the Church stood up and said wives it is your duty to sexually please your husband? What if, instead of telling men to keep their lusts in check, they said husbands it is your duty to direct your sexual desires on your wife often? What if?

Ten-Foured,

JeD

My Focus Needs More Focus

Focus Your Vision

I have spent so much time perusing an online dating site. Its addicting. I am done. Tonight I will change the profile to say some different things. One of which will be that if any woman wants to talk, she will have to initiate. Men respond most of the time to women on these sites, and women almost never respond. I get a better hit rate than I see most men do. I get a response about every 20 messages sent, and at least a look every 5 or so. This is stupid. I spend a ton of time doing this, and it isn’t any fun. Its not otherwise productive. I will leave it up there for these women who search like crazy, and if they are bold enough to contact me, then I will say something back. Even if I am not interested in them, because I know how it feels to be ignored. I may block them after I send a message, but I will reply.

What am I going to do with all this time I was wasting? Um, read a book or two. Yes I read about three books a month as it is, but there are so many I want to read, it won’t hurt to get another one or two in there. I am checking out some things through meetup.com. It seems this is a better way to go. I will meet new people for real. Not just women, but men too. I get to make eye contact, and if there is a woman that gets my attention, she will at least know me from the group and have something to base her rejection or acceptance on. There aren’t many places to go meet people in the modern world. Things have become so much less social. The bar seems to be the place, but I don’t want to be there all the time. I also will probably be told I can’t go to bars for the next year, because of my DUI. I am bored of the bars. I like hearing the music, but there are other options for that. I will have time for some projects I have in mind. A couple of them are software projects that I have intended to do for a long time, and have never really gotten off the ground. I have some multi-media projects that I want to get done with my personal media. Nothing that will take too much time, but I do need to give it some time.

What will I miss? The sex and other intimate touch and companionship. I have become accustomed to having that in my life since my separation. I haven’t gone long without it. I didn’t have that in my marriage as this blog catalogs. I know I can live without, but desire it. I think patience will prove to be my friend here. I know that I can go find some woman for sex, but the amount of time that takes can be spent on so much more. The stress. Online dating makes you feel like a failure. There is a tendency to grab hold of women who wouldn’t normally have your attention, because they accept your message and reply. Most of these women, I would reject out of hand in the real world. I think that its time to return to the real world. Spend some time window shopping at stores that I like. It is likely I will run into women who enjoy the same things at those places. Go out and experience the places that I would enjoy going with a woman by myself. It is likely I will meet a woman at those places that would also like to enjoy them with a man.

What do I need? I need some single guy friends that like to do things together. I have a lot of married friends. Well I thought they were friends, but most have moved on since my separation. They aren’t available when I don’t have the kids. I can’t blame them. I am not a bad looking guy, and since my separation have got in much better shape. I wouldn’t want someone like me around their wife, and most men don’t do anything without their wife’s approval, so they are unlikely to spend much time with me away from their home. The problem is me and the other single dads I know, don’t have time. We go above and beyond to spend time with our kids. We have extra jobs or overtime to pay for our kids stuff, while our exes choose jobs that provide very little money, but great hours. It sucks to be more of a wage slave without her than with her, but its true. How do I get these men together. I don’t know the answer to that, but its something to work on with this free time I will have, now that I won’t be spending hours trying to woo that woman online into meeting me offline.

I wish I had more time to raise a dog. I miss my dogs. They died shortly before we separated. They were old, but they were mine. We had a dog that we shared with a neighbor, but it was really the neighbor’s dog. They gave the dog away as we separated. When I have my kids, I don’t get home soon enough to take care of the dog. It would normally be at home alone for about 13 hours. That isn’t fair. When I don’t have the kids, that would still be the case for a day or two. Sad, my broken family takes away my opportunity to have a simple companion like a dog.

I still struggle with the broken vows and separation. I get angry and sad. Its not that I want her, because she was not a nice person. I held onto my vows, always thinking that if I just persevere I will reach the promise of marriage that was sold to me, and shown to me by my parents. Her leaving takes away that opportunity. Knowing what I know, I regret not leaving her when she cheated on me, and we had the boys only as foster kids, and the girls weren’t in the picture. I say that, and know that I wouldn’t miss the girls, because I wouldn’t know them, but have a hard time regretting a decision that has brought their light into my life. I need to work through these feelings. I fear being alone forever, but that would be better than settling on a woman who will treat me badly again. I laugh at the women who put on their profiles that they are perfectly happy being alone. If that were true, they wouldn’t be on the site looking for men.

So often I want to cry, but I have no one to cry with. I have been the shoulder for my wife, children, mother, and even father. My wife shamed me when I was in pain, and obviously is not available now. My mother and father are dealing with so much in their lives now, and they become really uncomfortable when their big strong son cries. My kids obviously don’t need my pain heaped onto their own. I will not burden them with it. My best friend is the one person who can cry with. He is a youth minister of sorts. He is also the busiest man in the world. We live 45 minutes apart, and don’t get to see each other often. He is the only person who I don’t feel guilty laying my burdens down and letting him see my pain. Men need this. Men need to find ways to provide this to each other, because women will attack the weakness it shows all to often. I am not encouraging men to run around crying all the time. I believe the control of our emotions is where some of our strength comes from, but there are times where all a man can do is cry to clear his mind and relieve the pressure of things he cannot change.

I suppose that the tears are why I miss Sarah. She allowed me to cry, and not feel weak. Its one of the things that I will require in a partner in the future. I need a safe place to show that side of me. Many women proclaim they want this in their man, but then judge him weak for showing it. She never did. I had so much bottled up that during the short time we were together, I cried twice. She didn’t comfort me and say poor baby. She encouraged me. She saw where the chinks were in my armor, and fortified with the exact right words of encouragement. I am thankful for that. She needed me to be strong, and saw her part in making sure that I could be. It was not in tearing me down, but in building me up that I could be her hero or knight. Shame was not going to make me a better partner. This is a requirement in any woman that I choose to be with in the future. I am coming to a point that I am just thankful for the lessons Sarah taught me. I am getting over my sadness of her deciding that things wouldn’t work in the long term. There is this piece of me that believes she didn’t give us a chance, but then I understand wanting to leave on a high note. Who knows what the future holds. We parted well, and things could bring our paths back together when the dust settles in my life. If not, I will forever remember her for what she gave me this summer.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Reading Between the Lines

Reading Between The Lines

I tend to over analyze life. I also get stuck because of that. I need to process things, but I also need to get past them. This blog helps me get past them. I put in writing what I am thinking. In a way, it allows me to put certain things to rest. The relationship with Sarah was short, and when you consider that there was a period where we were both out of town that made it almost impossible to see each other just before the end, it was even shorter. I tend to go all in when I am interested in someone, so I over commit my heart. This something that I understand now. I am not going to change it, but I am aware like I never have been before all this mess started with my wife. I won’t allow that to steer me into bad decisions. Its a balance that I am learning. Don’t fundamentally change, but also don’t be stupid.

Early when Sarah and I started to date, she had the epiphany that I wasn’t as far along in the divorce process as she had thought. I hadn’t misled her, but she had made some assumptions that weren’t accurate. From that day forward, she kept saying things along the lines of, “I think we may move at different paces, I don’t know how that is going to work.” She would ask why I hadn’t moved forward with the divorce. At first I thought it was a case of her doubting I was actually finished with my marriage. I am not sure that is what was going on at all. She also would make comments about not being able to move forward while I was still married. I didn’t really know what she was talking about there.

As for the first point of moving at different paces, I think she is somewhat right. She saw a guy that she liked, and wanted the it all when she wanted it. The problem is that guy had stuff that prevented here from setting the time table, and that guy wasn’t jumping through hoops for her. I am no woman’s prince. I have tried before, and all that happens is immense frustration on my part and on hers. I also have a say in things. The mistake I made was I did make it sound like I could and would have the divorce filed and closed during the summer and all that would be left is the waiting period of 60 days. I could have done this, but it didn’t work out that was in my best interest. My wife and I have a house that hasn’t sold, and is going into foreclosure. That house being off the books will make things much easier for us to deal with things.

I think we also had very different ideas of what moving the relationship forward meant. I was interested in the deeper connection of getting to know each other, and investing in each other emotionally and in our time. This was not hindered in anyway by my still being married by separated for more than a year. She seemed to be thinking about the social and cultural ramifications of me still being married. I suspect her family ran he through the ringer for dating a married man on her vacation. I also think that she worried how some would react if they knew that I was still married and we were moving on with a serious relationship. I doubt it would have been a problem, but it is something to worry about I suppose. I think she may have also been worried about our kids being confused if they met either of us and I wasn’t divorced yet. Again, I don’t think this is a large issue. My kids tell everyone we are divorced, even though we are not yet, and they know it. Its just easier to explain.

When I was talking to her about moving to the neighboring state, as much because I might need a hardship drivers license for a while as anything, and my state doesn’t offer one of those. She became really defensive that she was tied to where she lived. Its struck me as an odd reaction at the time. It was just before she ended things. I think I understand it now. For us to move forward in her mind, I needed to be available to move in with her at some time. She had voiced that she wasn’t sure she wanted to be married again, but that didn’t mean she was out on domestic relations that resembled marriage. If this was the case, then she hadn’t read me right to begin with. I was not going to subject my kids to moving in with someone for a long time. I would need to know that it was a fairly permanent affair before I considered it, and I am not sure that I would do so at all. I think my kids need their own place and space. Her house would always have been hers and her kids first. It would be unavoidable for my kids to not sense that.

We had a debate the week before she ended things. It was around the nature of morality being imposed on men, and sometimes women, by the family courts. I had said that child support in some form was a moral obligation that should not be enforced by the state in any way. She kept referring to the courts as being useful tools when you had men who weren’t good and wouldn’t support their families. I said they should be allowed to walk. There was no good coming from forced child support. The good men take care of their kids. The bad ones avoid it. The blunt instrument of the law tends to catch the fairly good ones who can’t meet the state mandated obligations. The jail time costs more than the money owed in most cases, and that it would be more cost effective to allow these women to fall into the welfare system than to throw these men into what amounted to a debtors prison. She also didn’t understand that I was arguing for her as well. Under the new child support guidelines, her ex-husband could file a for a change in the parenting language that show that he is in a shared custody situation and then child support would not be calculated towards that custodial parent, but under the new guidelines the parent who earns less would receive the support from the other. He earning less than her, would probably receive most of the same amount he is paying her now from her.

I think as progressive as she was in her individual views, she wasn’t near as such in her political views. She let her husband pay far less in support than would have been required. She understands that her choice to pursue divorce affects the people she dates. She just isn’t ready to start applying that thinking to her views on the system. She was a good, smart lady. I enjoyed my time with her, and for the first time ever, I really hope that we remain friends after a cooling off period. Who knows? The sexual tension might be too much. She was the best lover I have had. I don’t know if I measured similarly to her, but I do know that she pleased. Time will tell.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Heart Break/Summer Fling

broken heart

I met the woman just before the kids were out of school. We dated for about three months, and they were some of the most exhilarating in a long time. Her name was Sarah. We went out the first time, and met at a bar in a trendy part of town. We had met online, so it was a little awkward the first time we saw each other, but that quickly passed. We had some appetizers and talked for a while. We then went to a show at a little theater in the area. We had planned this ahead of time. The play was a bit cheesy. We figured it would either be good or so bad it was funny. It had moments of both. During the show she was graceful elegant and beautiful to watch. She stayed in physical contact with me throughout the show. When the show was over, we returned to the bar, and had another drink. After we talked for a while, she leaned in, and said I am going to kiss you now, and did. I walked her back to her car, and we kissed more. We left in our own cars, and went to our own homes.

We both have kids, so we worked around each other’s schedules to sneak in an evening here and there where we would sit outside and talk and kiss more. I put off sex with her for a couple weeks. When we had sex, it was an all night long affair. We were in bed all morning the next day. I have never had sex so long and often in one day in my life. It was an emotional experience in a way that I hadn’t experienced sex before. It raised the bar for what my expectations are from a sexual relationship. I do believe that a big part of this was me throwing off the shackles of religious sexual oppression. As a Christian sex always seemed a little dirty. I haven’t tossed all my beliefs, but I just can’t buy the teaching of the church when it comes to sex anymore. My marriage was miserable, especially regarding sex. During this time together, I told her that my time table for filing for divorce was during the summer. The summer slipped away from me, and not all the pieces were in place for me to divorce as I would like. It was going to take a little longer. Among other things, the house deal had fallen apart yet again.

Over the month and a half we became very close. We met a mutual friend one night for karaoke and that was the night I got arrested for a DUI. My sister picked me up early in the morning, and I slept on her couch for a while. Sarah picked me up at the my sisters house and took me home. She took the day off, and we spent the day in my bed. The words she said to me and the way she made me feel, made the problem not seem so big. The results of that DUI have not been determined. I am sure that I will have some form of diversion that will suck, but won’t be that hard to deal with. The hard part will be my license will likely be suspended for some amount of time. I don’t know how long that will be. With four kids and my STBEW having moved farther away again, I don’t know how I deal with that. Sadly, I will probably have to drive illegally to live my life for maybe as long as a year. I will pay much higher insurance rates, and may never be allowed to enter Canada because of this one night. I don’t understand the law on this. I have a perfect driving record for most of the almost 25 years I have driven. I didn’t cause anyone harm, but I will punished in the most extreme way by an administrative court. There is no public transit in my area, so driving is a requirement for living a full life. The week this happened I had just found out my dad probably had another round of brain tumors, my neighboring duplex unit had burned, and I had found out my sister almost lost her house. I didn’t drink to forget these things, but relaxed too much while I was out. Sarah left before I did. I should have left when she left.

Sarah went on vacation with her extended family. Part of the trip was putting her father’s ashes to rest in the Grand Canyon, a favorite place of her father. Communication was weird during her trip, but that was somewhat to be expected. She was hiking and travelling. She was bothered by it though. We saw each other for a night when she returned. We went to my high school reunion. It was a really fun night. We couldn’t stay together, because she had her kids, but we had some intimate time together.

The next day I left for vacation with my extended family. It was a good time, and during the trip Sarah and I communicated regularly. I was excited to get home to see here, while having a great time with my family. I had the kids the following week, because their mom as on a trip for that week. We talked during that time, and prepared for the following week where we each wouldn’t have kids.

That week was the week after my birthday. We had a good couple of nights. I couldn’t spend the night because her kids would be their in the morning, because it was still summer break and the kids were being watched at her house during that time. We then had a great weekend starting with a night out with a couple she is good friends with. I had to go do some things the next morning with my kids. We got back together for lunch and then went on a hike and then got some dinner. We had another great evening together. After we fell asleep, I woke up and looked over to see her sleeping on the edge of the bed. I was reminded of how my wife would do that when she was mad. I remembered a few comments that Sarah had made over the week, and combined that with the fact she had not been sleeping well since she left for vacation to determine that something was not good.

Sunday we didn’t talk after I left. She got her kids back. I knew she was stressing over my situation with the divorce. I suspect the DUI bothered her more than she said, and her dad. She had told me how her dad had played a role in her marriage and in its demise. Her father died in a car accident, so it was a surprise. I played some soccer for the first time in weeks. I texted her to say good night when I was done. I didn’t hear anything from her next day until late afternoon. She asked if she could come see me before her baby sitter had to go home. I said sure knowing that it was going to be not good. She told me then that she wasn’t sure she could handle the way I make decisions, and that she didn’t want to grow to not like me. We talked for a while about things in general. I didn’t try to change her mind.

A couple days later after stewing about things for a while, I decided to write her a letter. Some might call it a love letter. It didn’t ask for her to come back, or tell her why she was wrong. I simply told her the impact that she has had on my life, and that if over time we could become friends, as hard as that can be, then I would like that. I felt good about the letter. After I sent it, I of course had the thoughts of what did I just tell her. What would it say. Would it make me look weak, or would it convey what I intended. I intended for it to tell her that I had grown to lover her, and would miss her. That she wasn’t just another girl in my life, but one of the memorable ones. I generally go with my heart on these things. I don’t like to leave things unsaid. Good or bad. I appreciate that she didn’t wait until things were bad, and she didn’t like me anymore.

As I have spent the last week thinking about this more. I wonder what was unsaid by her? What was going on in her head? And, how could I have drawn that out of her? I know that I should not have led her to believe that it was a done deal that I would have the divorce filed and nearly completed by the end of the summer. Summer is too unpredictable to make those kind of plans, especially when I am doing the work myself. She kept telling me “I am counting on you,” and “I need you to come through for me.” I took these statements lightly. I think I was missing some meaning behind them. It could be as extreme as she had decided she wanted to marry, or that simply that she felt like I needed to do this for her. She had said multiple times that wasn’t the case, but I may have missed the code words. I think she was emotionally messed up from her father and facing those demons again, and that she wasn’t willing to talk about it. All that added to the stresses of my life right now was too much for her. I may never know, and that always drives me nuts, but such is life.

Right now, I will look for dates again. I am pickier than when I met her. She did raise the bar for me. I am less willing to settle, and feel like that is okay. If she decided to come back in the next couple weeks, I would probably take her. It would require a big talk, and I would have to feel like I have gotten complete answers to some of my questions. She would also have to face me telling her some of the story of my marriage, because without knowing it, I don’t think she can understand why I am so cautious as I proceed with my divorce. She also believes that I am naive in believing that I have emotionally handled the ramifications of divorce, and am not going to be surprised by the finality of it. What she doesn’t understand is that as the man who was told that the divorce was coming, I had to face the loss and changes that were unexpected earlier than the person choosing the course. They have an image of how things will be as they head towards divorce, and its not until the end they realize there is another person making decisions and changing the course of events. They don’t realize that the loss of another’s love hurts, even after you have withdrawn your love from them already. This is why so many women in divorces they asked for become nasty at the end. The reality of their choices smacks them in the face.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Summer

summer maps and waves

My summer has been eventful. There has been good and bad, and maybe very bad. The bad, at least for me. My STBEW moved and the kids are in a new school once again. The distance makes it so many nights I don’t get to see my home until after 8PM. I will no longer be able to do homework with my kids, and have dinner ready for them before we do our evening activities. They will ride the bus to her house, and do homework at her house. This effectively cuts me out or takes away my way at least of parenting.

The good was the woman I was dating. She taught me a lot. It was refreshing and enjoyable in every way. We communicated well. Ultimately she told me that she couldn’t handle how I made decisions. A lot of that revolves around how I am managing my divorce process. She really never could understand that avoiding conflict with a high conflict person really is the best way to get things done. She had been weird since her trip over the summer with her family. I think she was having a hard time with the spreading of her father’s ashes and the reality of that closure. I miss her and its only been a few days. Its just knowing that we won’t be getting together again, and not talking through the day. I appreciate that she thought that she would come to a place where she would get frustrated and not like me anymore, so chose to end things now before it would be really hard, or she didn’t like me.

The really bad is that over the summer, I had one stupid night out and got a DUI. I don’t know what is going to come of it, but my state is super strict on this. If the lawyer doesn’t work something out, I may lose my license for a year. I really hope he can get that worked out. The criminal case doesn’t worry me much. I can deal with those consequences as much as they might suck, but I can’t handle not driving. There isn’t public transportation, and I have to get all over town. I am not sure what I will do if that is the case. There are no hardship licenses for work, and I wouldn’t be able to take care of my kids.

The good and bad is my father was diagnosed with brain cancer for the second time. He is doing well, and my parents took my family and my sisters family on vacation. We all had a good time. He is doing better than any of the doctors believe is possible. We also know that he is living on borrowed time. He will die soon. Its surreal to talk to him about it, but its better than watching him be in pain or to just lose him.

Some more bad, is my sister almost lost her house to the bank, and mine will be foreclosed on soon. Mine isn’t that bad. I want it gone. Its just more paperwork for the divorce, so its better to be gone before that. It sucks that it is so tight for my sister right now.

Another bad is the connecting unit to my duplex burned this summer. The smells have been really bad. I hope that gets fixed soon. I am not ready to move. I need to have the divorce settled and the DUI figured out first. I may choose to move to the neighboring state that has a hardship license, so I can drive if things go poorly.

Surprisingly with all the anxiety in my life, I feel well. When this is all over, I will be stronger for it. I will have to help my mother. I will be divorced, finally. I look forward to dating someone new, whoever that might be. I will also be content until such time that I meet whoever this girl is. I would give the last girl a chance if she hasn’t gone out and dated again, and I haven’t as well. I think with her that will be unlikely. She is attractive and likes to date. I will talk more about her in my next post.

Ten-Foured,

JeD