Old Habits

"A Dastardly Deed in the "Old Castle"

In the nearly decade and a half of marriage to my wife, I have developed the habit of trying to predict what she would want. I learned that I needed to know how she will respond to something before I dealt with it. Her temper was so bad that I found that I just gave up the idea of asking her certain things. I would choose to not see friends because it might disrupt her plans. I would do my best to live my life without inconveniencing or embarrassing her. I would do these things as a means of survival, not because I loved her and wanted to make her happy. I would do this to avoid conflict that was inevitable anytime I had plans that were not hers. We aren’t just talking plans she didn’t like, but plans that weren’t hers.

Now as I, for lack of a better term, have a girlfriend. I caught myself doing this with her. My high school reunion is coming up, and I wanted her to go with me. I put off buying tickets for weeks, because I was busy trying to figure out what she would say and think about the issue. I was concerned, because I am not divorced yet. There are people that will be there that know this, and know my wife. I was trying to guess if this would bother her. It took me a few days to realize that I was being stupid. This is not how a healthy relationship works, and that I was placing my old patterns and behaviors into this new situation. I immediately texted her, and asked her to go to my reunion. I warned her that there were going to be people there that might know my situation. She said yes, and made fun of the anxiety I put myself through in asking her.

I related the story to my mom. Other than the fact she is uncomfortable talking about me dating, the conversation confirmed what I was thinking. She told me if it was that hard to figure out then it was not a good relationship. She also told me she would kill me if I got into another relationship with a woman who made it that hard. She asked how my girlfriend responded, and then said good. She was pleased that it was just me over thinking things, rather than the woman I was with deciding to put me through the ringer for the sake of demonstrating her power.

One of the things that I have to learn to do, is to catch when I am following old patterns that aren’t healthy. The inability to make decisions based on my preferences, and to constantly look for the hidden subtext of my partner is a horrible habit. Its not fair to her or me. If I want to know what she thinks, then I can expect that she will answer me without malice when I ask. This shouldn’t be hard to figure out, but the results of spending so many years in a relationship with a high conflict woman has made my responses, even to me, bizarre. The new thing for me, is I express the intellectual and emotional quandary that I put myself into to her, and she laughs and makes fun of me, and then reminds me that she is perfectly capable of letting me know how she thinks and feels without any help from me. Such a simple thing. Two adults dealing honestly with each other. It is so liberating. You would think that I have found the fountain of youth. I know that things with me and her may not work out, but I am learning that things don’t have to be as bad as they have been with my wife.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

The Problem: Putting Kids First

Presents 29

The mantra I hear in divorce circles is that you need to put the kids first. There are multiple problems with this. One of the more common terms is child-centric divorce. I have stated so many times before, that if it were about the children, then the divorce wouldn’t be the event that they are having to adjust to. Lets just put the idea to bed that there is such a thing as a good divorce for children. As I sit here happier than I have been in most of the last fifteen years, I still believe that divorce was the wrong course to take. I also have to recognize that for so many reasons, I can’t go back. Number one of course is she doesn’t want to, but as I have thought about things, neither do I. For different reasons. For me, it is about the kids. I won’t put them back on that roller coaster just to wait and see when it will happen again. I don’t trust her. This has been covered before, so read the rest of the blog to understand why, because that is a long story.

The Fallacy of Child Centered

Divorce by its very nature puts aside what is very best for the children for the benefit of one or both parents desires. The very act is not child centered, except in rare instances where it is done to protect the children from the other parent. That is not what is considered when people say child centered. In a child centered divorce, the children become the focus. The parents throw themselves into the children’s lives as they are dealing with the trauma of divorce. The core ideas of trying to create the softest landing for their kids as possible are good, but they become such the focus that the parents aren’t seeing the bigger picture for the family, which by the way includes themselves. Divorce at its core is a selfish act, and doing things the child centered way makes the parents feel better about the divorce, but more often than not its still about the parents. They get wrapped up into competing with their old partner in life over who is the better parent. It should be noted that one parent is always better than the other, and it may not be the same parent as last week this week. This new child centered ideal for divorce has moved children from the same position as the furniture to a new position of actors in the parents’ play. They get confused over which parent to try to please and when. It is about the kids looking like they are doing as well as the kids from intact homes. It becomes yet another way for people to keep up with the Jones. The kids are not doing as well as similar kids in intact homes. They just can’t. They may develop new skills, and there are plenty of bright sides to their new life, if they can overcome the trauma of divorce. Everyone should understand that the child centered divorce is not about the children, but about alleviating the guilt the parents feel about the divorce regarding their children. I often see that the initiator or causer of the divorce uses the child centeredness of the the other parent as a way to get their way. It is rare that both parents are truly trying to be partners in this. It become a lever for manipulation.

Why Is It A Problem

Most people I know who have tried the child centered approach to divorce have a common problem in their marriage. The marriage became about the kids. All the couples time together was with children, or exhausted from children. One or both people never got out to do things without the kids, and they certainly never got out together. This is something that opens the marriage up to all sorts of problems. Men and women have affairs. They develop interests and don’t share them with their partner. They grow apart while spending most of their time together, and they stop enjoying each other at all. They lose patience for the things that bothered them, but they decided to accept when they took their vows. I think this happens often by accident, but initially when the kids are little they need lots of care. As the kids become older it is easy for one or both parents to stay completely engaged as if the kid needs them every moment. The longer this goes on, the harder it is for the couple to come back together. One of the things my wife told me when she asked for a divorce is “We are great partners, but horrible lovers.” There is truth to that. I know what I have written here played a part in that, and I was the one who ended up hiding in the kid stuff. As the rest of the blog explains, this is probably less true for us than many others I have seen. My response to her was that we wouldn’t necessarily stay as good a partners, because without the marriage bond our desires and interests for the kids would diverge, and probably sooner than we know. In the past year to year and half that has certainly been the case. We have fought over medicating my son, and what soccer team the kids will play on. These are the issues I am holding strong on, or at least for one soccer team, since my niece plays with my daughter. On many issues I state my opinion, and ask her to take time and think about it, and if she doesn’t change her mind, then I will usually acquiesce. I do believe that too much conflict will only hurt the kids, and she is high conflict. The only way to avoid conflict is to not take on every issue ready to fight.

The Balance

In marriage and in divorce there is a balance. I am not good at it, but I see where I need to get. As parents we need to allow the kids to develop and make mistakes. We have to tell them no sometimes not because we can’t do something, but because we need the time. In my case, we should have divided and conquered more for kids events. We should have taken time out together. That is one thing in divorce that I am not going to do wrong. I will take time for myself. I will take the time to play for me. I will not feel guilty for missing 1 or 2 games in a weekend when there are 8 to 12 games. With the tougher schedule of separation, I will not go to the late games if I have other opportunities most of the time now. I need to get out and see friends. I needed to to do that within the confines of marriage. I am spending my time rebuilding relationships that would be strong if I had done some of this before. If I need to clean the house, and the kids are with their mom, then I might not make it to a couple of events. I hate to miss them, but my world comes crashing down on me, if I don’t take the time to do the things I need to do. In the US we are not good at balance. I have known men and women who’s life stops because of divorce with the kids. They devote all of their time to the kids. Not just put kids first when the kids need the parent, but in every moment of every day they devote to the kids. They are usually praised and their egos are fed through this. These people become bitter as their kids don’t devote that same kind of attention on them as they grow up. Just as the married couple who fails to connect and devotes everything to the kids has nothing when the kids move out, so is true for the divorced parent who always puts the kids first. They are alone, and many make their children feel guilty about it. It is not the children’s fault that they are alone, it is their own. They didn’t have a balanced life. I know that I did not, and its tough to get there, but I find more and more joy as I do, and I enjoy my children more, because they become less of a burden. A word I would not have described them as before, but as things change I realize that I allowed them to become that to me.

Final Thoughs

Its not about the kids. The divorce, the marriage, the future none of it is about the kids. The kids are but one piece to the puzzle. If it is all about the kids, then you will be unhappy, and the kids will be spoiled and unhappy. The children raised in poorer cultures learn the lessons of family, and grow up to be much more balanced themselves. This is why these children can come to the US with no money and no skill, and end up running businesses that are successful. It is better for our kids to see us live. They will not appreciate us for giving up everything for them as they grow into adults, they will pity us. They will not visit to be our companion or friend, but out of guilt for all that we gave up for them. Family matters. Family is the most important thing in your life. Remember that your family includes you, and your well being matters as well.

Ten Foured,

JeD

Gladiators

#10: Gladiator

This is phenomena that I have been following the last few weeks. I haven’t done any studying, but have used the experience of having 4 kids who play on 8 different sports teams right now. Moms are treating their children as their personal gladiators. They push and push their kids to do better and better. This doesn’t sound bad on the surface. We should all like our children to pursue excellence. The problem is that it seems to be very comparative in nature. Women are constantly looking for their hero. Go out to any dating sight and you will see headlines referring to knights and heroes. Now this is a phenomena that seems to exist in all women and their children, but it is decidedly stronger in the single or divorced mother. What I have seen is women, particularly those with weak husbands or no husband begin to drive their children to perform better and better. This doesn’t only apply to sports. You will see this in school, the arts, and other areas where kids can be compared. This also isn’t just their male children. There are plenty of women driving their daughters to perform for the sake of being the best. All you have to do is turn on TLC and watch some of those _______ Mom’s shows. I don’t think this is a new phenomena. My reading of history tells me that any society that life has become to easy, and that the wars that are fought are far away begins to have this. Just as women used to give men something of theirs to have when they fought as knights, mothers see their children as fighting for them on the pitch or grid-iron. Somehow they feel like they are a part of it. Language can give this away in some nuanced ways. I used to get caught up in saying we had a bad game like I played. I never was that emotionally involved, but the language was there. I have realized over the last year of separation that my language has changed. Hers hasn’t. Its like she is a part of the game through them. I do think that this is worse in a world where these women don’t have men as heroes. Dads and husbands are not important in their life, or don’t exist. These women have displaced the adult masculine archetype with their little gladiators.

Another driver is the constant comparison that women do. They compare husbands or boyfriends. They compare houses and schools. They compare kids. They want their kids to be the smartest, fastest, strongest of all their friends. They will get angry, actually angry when their little one gets beat by another kid on the field. They aren’t just being overly critical, but are having a visceral emotional reaction to the event as if they experienced it themselves. Their champion isn’t the best. I see this as my wife isn’t happy unless my kids play on the best teams. They are good athletes and normally can play with whomever they like, but I have no desire for them to constantly be seeking the next best team. I was an athlete, and the relationships with teammates and coaches ultimately is far more important to me than being the best. I want the kids to learn and develop not only in their sport, but through their sport. I see very little of this from the moms. They seem to be looking for wins. An example that I see right now in my life is my oldest daughter. Her coach has pushed the team up a division. She wanted to test them, and see some different competition than the last season. They were a .500 team in the lower division. They haven’t won a game yet. The testing is working though. The division is small, and so they get to play most of the teams twice. So far they have played better games against each team they have played twice. They are becoming stronger and more skilled. They are also learning to overcome adversity of a stronger opponent, and get to see the results by playing the same teams again. I think it was a good choice. My STBEW does not. She was furious last week when my daughter was asked by her coach to help with a lower division team right before her game. She said something along the lines of “She is one of her best players, what is she thinking wearing her out before her own game.” I like that if my daughter wants to play she gets to. She is a good player, but at this level of play the best player changes from week to week, and that is how it should be. That is how they get better.

The craziest thing I have seen happen, and its creeping into my STBEW’s arsenal, is punishing for poor performance. Not taking them out for a promised treat. Actually being angry at a kid for not being their best. Making them feel bad about having a bad game. They feel bad enough. The best kids already take on the weight of the entire game on themselves. Sports in my opinion serve many purposes, but ultimately the kids aren’t going to learn most of those if they aren’t having fun. I have only punished my kids for things that happened in sports when they disrespected a coach. The rest of what happens on the field is up to the coach. I will talk with and partner with the coach on solutions for ongoing issues. Poor performance in competitive sports is generally punished with less play time. The kids learn quickly that if they do what the coach wants then they get to play. Now my experience is competitive sports. My opinion about recreational sports is that the parent may have to discipline poor behavior more, because play time incentives are hard when every kid should have equal time. Performance should not be a big issue in recreational sports. Many of the same lessons can be learned, but the intensity is very different.

This is similar to the previous one. Women are always looking to climb. They are much more likely to push their kids to change teams to find a better opportunity. Men seem much less likely to do this. They understand the value of the camaraderie of a team. I like the idea of my kid being on the same team for a long time. They develop lifelong friendships there. They can be a part time mercenary, if they want more games, meaning they can go play with other teams anytime they want. Kids who change teams constantly may be better at the sport than the other kids, but they are mercenaries. Just like the military has very little respect for the mercenary, even when they need them, so does the team that brings on a mercenary for a season. That kid will not be accepted, because everyone knows that he will be gone next season or next year. My daughter is on a team with her cousin. It is a good team. There are some moms trying to convince everyone that the coach isn’t very good. They are disrupting what is a pretty good thing for most of these girls, and especially good for a couple of girls I love. She wants her to change teams to a more prestigious coach. She has never seen a team he has coached. He just has the right credentials to be impressive to her. All her arguments about the team my daughter is on now, and why it is bad, also apply to the group of girls this guy is supplying. The icing on the cake to try to convince me to let her move is that another coach is going to allow his superior athlete daughter to play on the team. She misses the point. Its not actually about winning more games. Winning more games when they are young demonstrates development. I like to push my kids. This daughter already plays on a top division with team an age group up with this same girl. The problem is all these moms are missing the reality of who their kids are and what they have right now as they look for the bigger and better deal.

The final thing I see moms do, and this one is particular to the broad category of “single moms” is the tendency to try to imitate fathers. A harsh word from a father is taken differently than the same harsh words from a mother. As much as the world wants to deny that men and women are different, and that we fill different roles in our kids lives, it is true. They end at screaming at the kids for every technical detail of their play. I know some dads do this, and coaches tend to have a chat with them. The truth is the coach may have different desires. I find that I have stepped back. Having been a player and a coach, I have insight. Its not insight he needs during the game. I cheer, I encourage, and sometimes I have something to say about general game play, but I let the coach do the details. I can always talk to him about details on another day. I hear moms literally threaten punishment for poor play. I know the the quintessential overbearing dad shown in movies does this kind of thing, but I rarely see him. There is no more than one per team, if that many. Now I see multiple moms doing this. They are almost always “single moms” that are imitating what they think a father brings to the game for the kids.

My words to any mother who is in a situation where the father is not there, whether its a co-parenting situation, dad travels, or a true single motherhood, you are never going to be dad. Don’t try to replace dad. When dad isn’t there, the kid needs his mom to be the best mom she can be, and she can’t be that while trying to be a good dad to. Sure throw or kick the ball around with them, but coaches, male teachers, and neighborhood dads are going to give him a better dad experience than you are. Don’t force who gets to do this for your kids, especially boys. Sure guide them, but let it happen. If you are truly being a great mom, they will choose wisely. Now I say this with a forked tounge, because I don’t find that most women end up without the fathers around by making the best choices for their kids. If they did, then the father would be there in most cases. I do hope there are a few women who have turned around, and recognized the past mistakes, and are trying to do things right from here on out. This message is for you. You are not a dad, and can’t do it any better than I can be a mom. Dads are important, but a mom cannot be the missing dad. Being the best mom will soften the blow of not having their dad. I say this as a man who constantly is telling his kids that I am not your mother. I will not try to be your mother. I am your father, and I will continue to be your father for as long as I live. Your mother is your mother, and if you need your mother right now, I will do everything I can to get you to her. I do this with an ache in my stomach mourning that my kids are not in a two parent home where mom and dad are there together. I then go on and act like a dad. I hope my STBEW does the same, but I know she doesn’t. She tries to act like a dad, and my sons respond to her in ridiculous ways. She then calls me in a panic to get me to handle the problem she has created, if only she had been the mom, and handled it like a mom, or called me as the dad in the beginning to handle a situation that required a dad.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Observations over the weekend

White Knight

This weekend was a busy one. One of those crazy run all over town my kids are doing too much kind of weekends. I had 3 kids in 4 tournaments in 3 different places. This presented some time to take in the world. As I ran around, I spent a lot of time with different people in different situations. So here are three things that struck me over this weekend.

I was chatting with a mom at the batting cages. I didn’t know much about her situation. I know that the STBEW had been talking to her the day before. She opened the non-baseball talk with something along the lines of “Its great how you and her can work things out for the kids sake.” Now understand that was referring to us getting along well enough to get the 4 kids to their activities. She then went on to explain that she has been a single mom since her youngest was four and a half months old, and how their Dad wouldn’t always take the kids to everything on the weekends he had them. I listened as she finished with “Its all about them isn’t it” meaning the kids. First if it was all about them, I would meet far fewer women like her, because they would have figured out a way to stay with the Dad. Most of the time men are easy to keep. There was a time not long ago, I may not have judged the man harshly, but I would not understand why he wouldn’t take his daughter to both a softball game and a soccer game on the same day. Now I see it with a different set of eyes. This man has his kids every other weekend, that’s it. She moved from a town 30 minutes away, leaving him there. He chose not to pick up and leave. This happened to me, and I made a different choice, but I can understand not following her around. Mine wants to move again, and I will probably stay where I am at, so my kids can have some stability. Now if I only had my kids 4 days a month, I think that I might choose to filter their activities such that I got to spend more time with them. Now she painted this picture without saying the words that made him seem like a dead beat of sorts. She told me I would see him at the game. I found this woman attractive before she started talking. I lost some of that shimmer for her as she spoke. I found myself saying “that’s too bad” a lot during the conversation. She probably thought I was agreeing with her sentiment, but the truth is I meant that its too bad that this man was missing out on his kids life for whatever reason. I watched this man at the game. Not hard for me to do at a baseball game. I don’t like baseball much. He came with a daughter from another woman. He obviously had her full time or close to it. He interacted with her and his other daughter as a very genuine father, who knew that people had already judged him. He talked to no one else at the game except one of the coaches. I also watched that he multiple times gave this woman a chance to engage him, and she chose not to. I feel this man’s pain. I am forever changed by my experience, and I know what torture he must go through knowing that he does not have the right to protect his children as a father should.

The next one happened on Facebook. A girl I went to high school with posted one of those “support me, I have been wronged” posts I find that mostly single mothers post about the “son of a bitch” they chose to have kids with. She had sent her child to another city on an airplane to see their father. The father missed getting the child back on the plane in the morning, and she was incensed that not only did she go to the airport and not get her child, but didn’t get a phone call. She called and asked what the hell happened. He explained he thought the flight was in the evening not the morning. Now I saw the comments. Most from similar women saying OMG, and other trite things. They all called this man a pig. How dare he, blah, blah, blah. A few white knights stepped in saying they would kick his ass if they ever saw him. I am thinking to myself, why would this man call if he didn’t realize that the flight was at 5AM instead of 5PM. It would be hours before he realized the mistake. He acted completely reasonably, but everyone wanted to kill him. This again was a woman I once found attractive, but the shimmer was lost with posts like these. My new eyes made me see that this was the continuation of parental alienation. She would now have a reason and the support to deny the father of her children access to the kids they had together. He will probably now see them even less than he already does. I know from her posts that she moves around the country freely, which probably also complicates things for this man. I feel this man’s pain. I am forever changed by my experience, and I know the torture he must go through knowing that he does not have the right to protect his children like a father should.

The third is more personal. After my son won his soccer tournament. It was late, and I was ready to get my kids home. The youngest was tired and ready for bed. The oldest was just hanging out. The middle girl was at a friends and I needed to pick her up, and get some stuff she left in her mom’s car. The one who one who won needed to get his stuff from the car of his team mate’s grandma who had taken care of getting him from game to game over the weekend. I left with the three I had. Shortly after leaving I get an annoyed phone call from my STBEW. She had parked across the park in another lot. Something I would have no idea about, since she was there before I was. She was annoyed I hadn’t sent the boys or a boy with her to escort her to her car. She didn’t ask them to go. Somehow I was not doing my job as a man to think of her, and send a boy, and was also failing to train the boys how to properly treat their mother. If we were together, I would have known, and would have sent a boy with her, and we would have been going to the same home, so he would stay with her. Instead we are not together. My thoughtlessness should have been expected, because when she left my home and asked for a divorce, she also gave up my protection. I don’t understand how she believes that she should have my protection by proxy through the boys. I wasn’t going to argue the point with her. I also wasn’t going to agree to have a chat with the boys, because as I wrote before, chivalry is dead in Chivalry Lost. I see no reason to train my sons to treat women with deference, and their mother in particular. This is different than respecting her as a parent. Had she asked, I would have sent one, even though to get to her I would have had to make multiple u-turns and drive about 3 extra miles to get to the other parking lot. I struggle with how to handle this. I used to think that chivalry was something I should teach my sons. I used to believe that it was important, and it was my job to teach them that women were precious and deserved special care. The problem is the deal is broken. The social contract that was in place that chivalry was a part of him meant that women treated men with a certain respect for being men, and that her men were treated with even more deference. Now that she has left, she no longer has my protection. Our contract is broken. Why then should I train my sons to treat her in a way that I myself would not treat her any longer. Chivalry was taught from father to son mostly through interactions with their mother. Once you are separate that just isn’t going to happen. Now the other problem is that chivalry is something enforced by men for men. It is completely disrespectful for a woman to demand it, and to demand that I a man would teach it in the way she believes it should be done. Feminism has changed chivalry, something they were the beneficiary of but had no part in, into yet another female privileged they believe they deserve. I am sorry, but my sons will not be taught by me to treat women as princesses. They will get the respect they have earned and no more. They will get the protection and service my sons desire to give and no more. I will also teach my daughters that they do not deserve these things for just existing. Its sad the world is here, but surviving requires a new understanding of the social contract. It is time that the women in each of our lives understand that we know the social contract is broken, and they don’t get to write the rules all by themselves.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

None Of It Matters

Aghori

I have been thinking a lot lately about the things my wife told me when she said she wanted a divorce. As I said before, she gave me a laundry list of things that was wrong with me, that needed to change for her to stay. She had been challenged by her sister to give me a chance, so she told her she would. Her tactic was to pick a fight with me, and almost guarantee that I would not do anything different. Of course when I did change some things, I was told it was too little too late.

What horrible things could I have done to have her so firmly planted on leaving me, you might ask. Well I chew tobacco, have since I was 12, and never hid it from her. This of course was also an excuse to not kiss me after we got married. I was careful to make sure that I chewed gum, and brushed my teeth often to ensure that she would not be impacted by a stray piece of tobacco or the flavor. For the first few years, I never chewed around her, until I figured out it didn’t matter. I also very rarely did loads of laundry. This was a constant complaint with her. Of course the early years of our marriage she was so particular that I couldn’t get it right if I tried, and she just did mine. When we had kids, she was a stay at home mom. I always helped fold the laundry when the kids were in bed, and she was folding. I also didn’t get up with the kids in the morning often. I am not a morning person. I will admit that freely. She would wake up at the first noise, and I would not. She would get them ready for school, and poor the milk in their cereal, because the Lord knows she didn’t cook. From the time we had kids, I took over parenting when I got home. I would take care of all their needs, bath them, and put them to bed. When we had foster babies that needed to be fed in the middle of the night, I would stay up and do that, so she wouldn’t have to wake up and try to go back to sleep. Oh, and of course the kicker of all kickers. I rarely went to bed at the same time as her, and never got credit for doing so when I did. There were a lot of reasons for this. For first year of our marriage she worked nights, then I was in school and studying, then I had an IT job that required me to do much of my work in the middle of the night. When I did go to bed with her, she rarely wanted to be touched, or would complain that all I wanted was sex when I touched her.

None it matters. These were excuses. She actively rejected me getting up with the kids, doing laundry, and going to bed with her. I stopped chewing, but have started again. I enjoy it, and her opinion doesn’t count anymore. She would nit pick what I did in the morning with the kids, and complain about something every morning. She would get mad that I didn’t do the laundry exactly like she did. She would stay up long after I went to bed. None of it mattered. These were truly small things. The big thing was the rationalization hamster kept giving her more reasons to leave. It had found another man that would replace me, if only she could get rid of me. Ha, the joke is on her. That man ran away before they ever were able to get together, because she left me. He didn’t mind being the side guy, but a boyfriend for a middle aged woman with 4 kids, yea right. I had beat myself up over not doing these simple things. Of course these were the few things she did around the house. I did most of the cleaning, and all of the repairs and outside work. I also did most of the cooking. I mean actual cooking, where ingredients are bought and combined to make food, not just heated up to eat. She was fairly worthless.

Why do I reflect on this? What purpose does it serve? Well I spent a lot of time beating myself up for these things. I had to realize that none of it mattered. Once she opened Pandora’s Box by using the word divorce, there is no way to put it away. Game over. Anything she did from there on out was rationalizing her decision. The first time that word was used, was years before she said she wanted a divorce. Capitulating to her demands makes me weak. Not meeting her demands justifies her decision. Either way I lose. What it demonstrates is that she has no idea what love and marriage is all about. Its not about her. It should have been about me to her, and her to me. Self sacrifice for the betterment of your partner. That’s the deal in marriage, and the trust comes from seeing your partner do this for you. Its not hard to sacrifice for someone who is sacrificing for you. You don’t have to worry about your benefit, because your partner is. Sadly this is not what marriage was for me. I have seen it. My parents practiced it, and when they didn’t do it together, one was doing it for the other. It always came back around over the years to the other one. They were never worried about the fairness of the deal, or gaining advantage over each other. If your wife talks about divorce even in passing, prepare for divorce. Its only a matter of time. She is beginning to let that hamster run.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

What Is A Man To Do

London - Red Blue

The quandary is this, I love women. Every time I try to quit them, I make it a couple of weeks, and then I am thinking about them again. I like to touch, smell, and taste them. I like to talk to them. Women and men communicate differently. We all know this. The way a woman communicates with a man can be the best and the worst thing in the world. The flip side of this quandary is that as a man, there is not an equal playing ground anymore. There used to be a balance in relationships, but now women have most of the power. They can choose to do good or evil with it. This is why I don’t see another marriage in my future. Marriage is a very attractive thing to me. It is one of the few things I truly desired in life. Its not just what my wife is doing that has turned me against the idea of marriage, but what I see in the culture around us.

I have encountered in the last 6 months two women who are seeking husbands. One was actively doing it, and become way too clingy, and emotionally manipulative in the process. The final blow was her trying to use another man to make me jealous. I am in no position right now for any kind of real commitment, so this didn’t work. Another has accepted that the occasional encounter for dinner, a party, or just some sex is all I really have to offer right now. I know that she wants more, and she is using the sex to keep me around. I don’t mind, and she knows where I stand on things. She isn’t openly seeking a husband, but definitely wants something more. The other problem I have with these women is they aren’t really looking for someone to be a good husband. They want a Dad at their house when they have their kids. I am already a Dad to four kids. In the right circumstances, I might have it in me to be a father to more kids, but that isn’t on the plate right now.

The next problem I have is the women that are left that aren’t looking for these things are older women. I tend to be attracted to older women. Who am I kidding, I am attracted to attractive women. Age isn’t really a factor. Older women tend to be more predatory from what I have seen. They are better at playing the game, but they are also playing for different reasons. Some just want someone to hang out with, and enjoy some passionate times with them. Others are looking for status. This weekend, I did something I have never done. I went to a bar, and left with one of these women. I became really attracted to her as she told me bits of her story. I love stories. I was physically attracted to her as well. We kissed and talked for a couple of hours. It didn’t go any further. She was of course being elusive about her age. She said enough for me to figure out that she was more than ten years older than me. I was intoxicated by her. Who knows if she will accept my calls, or if anything comes of it. My only regret will be if she doesn’t call me, I won’t get to know her. Putting the cart before the horse can have that effect. She said enough that I want to hear the rest of her story. She had been married for 17 years to a man who died of skin cancer. She made it clear that she had never thought of a life without him, that she planned to be married forever. That man was a quite a bit older than her. I would guess that she is attracted to younger men now, because they won’t die on her. I don’t know if an older woman is in my future. I do know that some of the trappings of that is what hurt my marriage. I don’t want another mother in my life, but a woman like this is closer to my mother’s age than mine.

We live in interesting times. For the next 10 plus years, my focus will be raising my kids into adults. I don’t expect that I will keep many women around as they are pushed aside for my children a few too many times. I expect I will have lots of opportunity to explore the different types of women there are out there. I do need to find a couple I can trust to talk to, because that is something I valued from my wife when she listened. The problem was, I found she hardly ever listened.

So readers, as you can tell my whirlpool of emotions regarding women is going to change all the time. I don’t trust them. I want them. I need them. I can go my own way. Ultimately I think I will find one that will come to terms with all that I am feeling as my emotions level out on the subject. I have realized that society is not on my side, and women as a group are a disaster waiting to happen to most men, but that does not mean that the individual women is out to get me in every case. I will just have to wait until I meet one that we can come to the right terms with. If that never happens, then it will be with no regrets.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

Things Change…

Crysalis

Things change, perspectives change, desires change, and feelings change. This is no large epiphany, even for one like me. I couldn’t imagine a year ago that I would be sitting in my own place typing a blog about the demise of my marriage, and the ongoing saga of taking care of my kids, and managing my wife. A year ago I was scrambling to save my marriage. I was appeasing her whims, and she was drinking it up like a little princess, but she wasn’t being convinced that anything was worth staying for. A year ago I hugged my wife and was crying over the fact my father was near death from lung cancer, and was left feeling worse for the lack of the simplest empathy I received from her. It was cold. It was the moment I realized that there wasn’t really any hope. Shortly after this she looked at me in a store, and said “So, do I get a new ring if I decide to stay.” Further confirmation that she no longer cared to honor her vows, but might take a bribe to stay a little longer. I continued to try, but I also had to begin thinking of what life might be like a part. A year ago I valued my marriage for the commitment, the promise to her before God, and the family it provided for my children. A year ago I believed that she would grow up and be a big girl and honor our vows, even if it required a new agreement of what our relationship would look like. A year ago I would have believed that my children were better off if we were together, and that I was a better father married to their mother.

Now I am piece by piece separating our lives. I am working on having as many details figured out and working before we go through the process of divorce. I am putting back together my reputation at work that has suffered while I was floundering to save my marriage at home. I entertain only the whims of my wife that give me even more time with my children. Now, I hug my friends and cry to them as we have to deal with my father’s brain cancer, and hope that it too can be treated. I play soccer every week now, something I never was given time to do before. I spend my time wondering why she stayed to watch the game when she dropped off the kids. I am starting to have a vision of life with her on the periphery, while I do my part to raise my kids, and love them to the best of my ability. I try to buffer the damage of her constant rage with with the kids. I am rebuilding relationships that were lost in the isolation of my marriage. I no longer believe that our children are better off with us together, because I was not a better father married to her their mother.

Changing Perspectives

I am a believer in marriage as God created it. I believe even with the fallen state of man, because God created it for fallen man. My perspective has changed, because we no longer have marriage. With the constructs that we call marriage today, what we have is some strange dating ritual people enter into often after some long period of traditional dating, but that is not required. Divorce is something that has always been a part of marriage, but it has always had shame and consequences for the parties involved attached to it. The current state of things clearly has taken away any real consequence for women. The power women have in marriage and divorce destroys the credibility of modern marriage. Men are relegated to some sort of servant status in both situations should the woman choose to pull the triggers that make it happen. Not all women do, but they all can.

I believe that two parents working together as a married couple to raise children is the absolute best situation the kids. What I am struggling to believe is that it is good for my sons to see me treated as something a step above the family dog. I also struggle that it was better for my relationship with my kids to be constantly trying to mediate the tension of an angry woman and hurt children, and to meet out the punishment so that their mother could cool off, because she would continue to escalate the situation. The children would probably have a better relationship with her if we stayed together, but they would lose the influence I have on them now, because I had no time to do anything other than be in the middle. The additional stresses on my children make me sad, and if both of us were willing to work on the marriage to make it healthy, then being married and in the same home would have been better. Amazingly, my parents, my best friend, my sister, and our friends have all pointed out that I and the kids are probably better off over time in this. What is surprising is all these people I think of are strong Christians who are quick to condemn divorce, and generally actively work to preserve marriages. I had no idea how my marriage looked to others. That is new perspective.

Changing Desires

I used to desire marriage. I wanted what my parents had. I was willing to work for it. I thought I chose someone who also valued those things. I overlooked a lot of things that I now know should have been red flags. Now my desires don’t include a wife. Not just the one that I have had, but any wife. I love women. I love how they feel. I love how they talk. I love how they make me feel when they care. All of that doesn’t matter anymore. I can have that in small doses, so long as it doesn’t interfere with me and my kids. My kids don’t need a stepmother to mess with their lives and to compete for my attention. Perhaps my desire will change in this, but for now all I desire is to do some of the things I gave up, so I could have a marriage. I desire to write a book. It doesn’t have to be published or even read by anyone else. I just want to write one for the pure enjoyment of writing. I want to spend more time doing photography. I have enjoyed the art of photography since high school, but I gave that up because it took time away from my energy sapping marriage. I will write the system configuration documentation and change software that I have drawn up on paper now at least 30 times. I know that’s not sexy, but its something that I have a vision for and want to see working.

Feelings Change

This is the one that I have learned the most about over the last year. I learned that if I put in the effort I could love a woman that does little but spew bile in my direction. I also learned that no matter what I do, I can’t change the feelings of another. Love is something that you have to decide to do, and it takes work. When only one partner does this, the marriage is constantly at risk. It can survive, but there isn’t much of value there. I have also learned that when there is desire for a relationship of both parties, one choosing to love can lead to amazing results. I have seen this with my kids. They respond to me so much differently than they used to. They show me so much more affection than they used to. They spend so much less time in fear of how I or their mother might react, because I am no longer being fed by her fire. I still have my moments, and I struggle to pull the kids out of the boxes that their mother put them, and constantly shoves them back into when they are with her. I am beginning to see them respond better to each other. She has fostered an environment that encourages them to back bite and fight. When they are with me, I have to actively discourage that, but it gets better faster every time they are with me.

So things change. Sometimes it hurts, but its also opportunity to make things better. I have learned that people don’t do what they say they will all the time, and that sometimes dreams won’t come true no matter how hard you try and wish. I am also learning to not begrudge those who have been able to live the dream I had. Whether I wanted to admit it or not, marriage was a gamble. It always has been, but in the modern world it is a bigger gamble than ever. I can’t say that I regret my marriage. We had some good times, and I have my kids. I might dream of how it could have been different with one of the other women that I dated and sought my attention, but I always come back to the fact I wouldn’t have my four kids. I can never regret that no matter how angry and hurt I am by her.

Ten-Foured,

JeD