April 11

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

August 24

The New Child Support Guidelines

Guidelines in downtown Ann Arbor

I have been reading through the new guidelines handed down by our state supreme court based on congresses push for more shared parenting arrangements in my state. They are the typical if your lawyer is smarter than mine, I can still screw you complex, but at the core they do seek a fairer outcome of events. The goal is clearly that father’s will not be pushed off to some living circumstance that is sub-standard to the mother’s and still be expected to provide for the kids while they are together. It is interesting the way it handles who gets child support, and is thus required to pay direct expenses for the children. The parent who has the lower child support obligation will receive child support from the other parent, and be responsible for paying direct expenses.

Why would this be? Wouldn’t shuffling less money make more sense? It would if we weren’t mired in politics. There are two things that are satisfied by this method. One, the feminists can’t complain much. Women generally are the lower income winner, so they will almost always come out being the one receiving moneys. Two, the state is paid for processing the disbursements by the federal government based on the dollars that go through their hands. The more money through, the more they get paid, so having the larger amount go makes sound economic sense if you are the government.

I really hate how the federal government has messed things up. It makes it hard for the states to make the right choices. The best thing, if we are assuming that child support is necessary, to do would be to have the couple open an account for direct expenses to be paid out of, and have each parent contribute their portion of child support to it. The whichever parent is hit with the need to pay for something, they have the funds available to do so. Its not a perfect solution, and would need some work on my part to flush out, but think about the possibilities.

So much of the advice to women, when the subject of something in lieu of child support is mentioned, is to avoid it. That is its merely a way for the ex to control you. There is probably some truth to this in many cases. The flip side is true as well. How many women take child support, and spend it however they please. They spend it as if it were their money, not money for the kids, and then tell the kids that they can’t do something, because their dad won’t pay for it and she doesn’t have money. He gets manipulated into giving even more of his fortune up for things he theoretically has already paid for. This is why I am a fan of spending plans, and working together. Each may manipulate the other some, but each parent retains some degree of control over their own funds, and can make things work for them.

The whole process is manipulation and power grabs. Most people would work better together, if it didn’t seem like such a big deal to get it right before you even start for real. My wife and I have been navigating this on our own for the last year or more. We generally have made it work. There have been problems, but we have worked it out. No one has court orders or other things to make us be fair. She is a high conflict personality and we still seem to be able to make things work. Yes I have to use my 15 years of experience with her to know when and how to ask or push for something, but that is life. I chose her for better or for worse to be my children’s mom. I would hope that I didn’t choose so badly, that I can’t figure it out without a bunch of government interference. Yes it is frustrating that her lifestyle is propped up by my income, but that is something that would happen regardless of the scenario at this point. The law is twisted based on a lot of ideas about what is best for the kids, so there isn’t much that can be done about that today.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

May 10

When 1/2=6+

Happy Pi Day - P versus NP

No this is not a math problem. Its the dynamics of what happens to the family after divorce. When parents of kids split, there is not two families created. There are at least 6. Some of them are created by how the kids interpret what is going on, and how they decide to handle it, but there are some patterns that I have seen as this has happened in my life. I will use my family as an example throughout, but I have observed this from the sidelines of a lot of families that I interact with. I will touch on each of the six individually, but then I will explain the plus side of this.

The Families Created

Mom’s Family With The Kids

This is an obvious one. Mom interacting with her kids as a mom. Dad is gone, but most times its not a lot different than the life of a family with a dad that that travels for a living. Mom may have to work more than she did before, and fix things around the house she didn’t before, but the care of the children doesn’t change as much. Where it becomes different is when mom needs a dad moment. Does she call dad or does she try to be dad. This choice is critical to how the children handle the split up. Super mom trying to be the dad when he isn’t there makes things hard on the kids. There are really three ways to handle this. Moms are much more likely to hover and supervise than fathers. Its is harder for the kids to get some freedom to grow up in a mothers house.

  1. Mom tries to fill the role of the dad. This is problematic because she isn’t masculine. There is more to being a dad than acting like a dad. Dads are better at it, because they are masculine, and the things that need a dad truly need the masculinity. This is the case in comforting and disciplining. Dads and moms are different.
  2. Mom explains to the children that she is not the dad, and she is not willing to be the dad, because their dad does that for them. She can then go on to allow them to call their dad, or tell them to wait until they see their dad,
  3. Mom can call their dad and ask him to come over to help or take the child to him. If mom and dad are really working for the best interest of their children, they will figure out how to do this for any big issue. Big being defined by the child’s emotional state and age at the time as much as the issue itself.

Dad’s Family With The Kids

This is similar to the one above, but it is different. Its different in the fact there are a lot of things dad may not have done on a daily basis that he does now. This does depend on how involved dad was in the mundane things of their kids life before. I pass no judgement on what worked in the marriage partnership to parent. I am sorry that the courts do. Dads are much less likely to try to be mom. They have the same resolutions as stated above. Dads will tend to play more with their kids, and encourage independence as they grow older. Dads do less to protect their kids from themselves, though they are very protective from others. This is the balance that is lost in a split household, and the parents working together to ensure that when one is not resident, they are not absent. This is hard, and both parents out of pride may struggle with this.

Dad’s Family Without Kids

Dads will tend to find distractions. They go out with friends and work more. They get back into hobbies and sports that they had abandoned for the sake of their marriage. Things that probably weren’t really healthy for the marriage, but the stresses of time management made them think so. Once the kids are a bit older, dads are much more likely to wait for the mother to call if there is something that needs talking about, and to wait for their kids to call if they need or want to talk. Part of this, is they don’t need the constant contact for the closeness to be there. Again we are dealing with the masculine vs the feminine in how things are handled. There is often a renewed connection to the dad’s family(parents, brothers, sisters, etc). It is al too common that a married couple spends more time with the wife’s family than the husband’s this is often the case, because she is the one that is scheduling things, not some evil plot.

Mom’s Family Without Kids

I don’t have the insight for mom’s family that is required to go into great detail. What my experience tells me from being the dad with the kids on the other end. She calls me two to three times a day. In the morning to check on the kids. During the day about school stuff. After school about activities. The only necessary call is the last. She may or may not call them during these times. There is a part of the mom that can’t let go of the things she used to own in the marriage as the care giver. She knows that she doesn’t have the control over these things, nor does she have the right to try, but she has to touch base with it. I think this will become less as time goes on, but I doubt it will completely go away. Moms are much more likely to make extra contacts to the school when she doesn’t have the kids as well.

Mom Has The Kids At An Event Dad Is At

There is a tendency for the mother to hold tight. To keep them close. Its almost like they are afraid at some baser level that the father will take them away from her. There is also a tendency to return to requesting the father to do things that she would have expected when they were married. In the more mild cases, it is just things for the kids, but in more extreme cases it is things that he would have done for his wife not his kids. The Dad has a tendency to absolve himself of disciplining the kids. In his mind they are in her care, and whether its a detachment or avoiding stepping on her toes, I don’t know. I am intentional about not being her husband, but being their father, so the balance works out for me without too much stress or inconsistency for the kids.

Dad Has The Kids At an Event Mom Is At

There is a tendency to let mom take over parenting at these things, which often leaves the kids without a parent, because mom thinks she is there to just see the event and get some hugs from the other kids. Again I am intentional about not letting this happen. Little kids are drawn to their mothers anytime she is around, so its easy for a dad to let them go and absolve himself of responsibility. The situation tends to resolve itself as the kids get older. The kids are more autonomous, and it is easier for the dad to assert his rules.

Increasing The Multiples

There are many things that can increase the multiples. Stepparents with kids can change things a lot. Imagine that sometimes the step-siblings are there together and other times they are not. The dynamics of whose house it was if the family moves into a house one of them owned already.

One child has special emotional needs that has them living with one parent or the other or following a different schedule than the other kids. This can create distance and closeness that doesn’t exist for the other kids. And affect how the kids respond to each other.

God forbid that a parent get married more than once again, because this just continues to extend the family and its complicated interconnections.

The Effects On The Children

Its stressful. Their little minds are not mature. Their emotions aren’t in check with their logic centers. They are going to be stressed by even the best situations They don’t like change. Children do better when the parents stay together, even in the worst marriages. People can judge the break-up all they want, and whether it was good or not. Many will use the children as the filter. The problem is that it is too late for that. The decisions are made, and action has already been taken. I hate the argument that children are resilient. They really aren’t. They are pliable, and it takes time to bend around their new world. Much longer than it takes an adult. Part of this is the adult has much more control over what is happening than the child does. The best the parents can do along the way is ensure to the kids that their mom or dad is not being replaced or leaving, and neither are they. Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce this idea to them all the time. Their dad, even a bad dad, is their dad, and is irreplaceable. Their mom, even a bad mom, is their mom, and is irreplaceable. Don’t let your feelings get in the way of whatever relationship the kids can have with them. If they are flakes, then be their to catch them, and cry with them. Save your tears for them that are tainted by your anger and hurt until they are out of sight.

Ten Foured,

JeD

February 19

Comparing Notes

Comparing Notes

The other night I sat down with a co-worker. A man I have worked with for 10 years. Unlike me he is initiating his divorce, but the realities of our marriage were very similar. As I have explored the mess that was my marriage, I have come to the conclusion that my wife has a borderline personality. Obviously she has not be diagnosed with a disorder, so I will not go so far as say she has one. As I read about other men’s experiences, I have noticed that there are a lot of these women around, and they are destroying their marriages left and right. I have come to the conclusion that our society in the west allows women to behave in this way. It may not be that there are so many disordered people, but that we actually encourage this kind of bad behavior. My co-worker and I had so many similar experiences in our marriages. The differences in the women were stark. My wife is very bright and engaging. His wife is not very smart, and lacks social skills. My wife was attractive and although having weight issues has remained attractive to this day. His wife after losing her youthful appearance is not very attractive. My wife comes from a family that had massive turmoil growing up. His wife came from a stable Catholic background. There is very little that ties these women together, but they behaved in much the same way. I am beginning to suspect that we have created these beasts. I also am starting to believe that the cure is the MRA and MGTOW crowd. I believe this not because they are 100% right, but because they strip these women of the power to behave so badly. I am glad to have a comrade in arms as I go through this. I am sad that each of us has 4 children who are the main victims of what is happening. I say this because I feel relief in her leaving. He challenged his wife, and tried to get her to wake up to the issues, and now feels relief in divorce, yet still says divorce sucks. I will continue to blog on my life and my epiphanies, and the things that get me riled, if for no other reason than it helps me process what is going on. I do believe that some man hurting somewhere and sometime from now will find my story and it will help him do the same. I know many of the blogs I have read have kept me from diving into the feminist driven I am a complete failure of a man for not satisfying every need of my woman funk.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

November 17

Angry About the Loss Of A Dream And A Promise

Foever Lost, Forever Present (in red)

This is something I hadn’t expected to come up as often as it does. It plays to my overly sensitive sense of justice, and right, and the idea that your word is your bond. I knew as the talk of divorce cropped up, that this would be an issue for me, but I didn’t imagine the ways it would hurt. I figured I would internalize it, and process it, and after a time of mourning I would be done with it. That has not been the case.

I was struck by this the first time a couple of weeks ago.  My grandmother died. We weren’t close. She was terribly manipulative of my mom, and had shown with my nieces that she wouldn’t be reliable to show up for a lunch let alone other grandmotherly things that you would expect. She had been a significant factor in my growing up though. We spent some portion of nearly every weekend when I was a child at their house for a family dinner or some other event.  I was sad and grieving as you would expect.   As I drove to the hospital to get there before she died, I was so angry. I couldn’t figure out why at first, and then it smacked me in the face. I had been there through multiple funerals for my wife. I had been there when her mother died shortly after we got married. I had gone through this turmoil providing what she needed at the time, or at least trying to meet her needs. They were obnoxiously hard to decipher.  But now, here I was alone driving to the hospital.  I would be there with my crazy aunt and uncle who had each other, my mom and dad, my sister and her husband, my cousin and his husband. They all had someone who had committed to be there through the tough stuff, through the sad stuff, and mine was not only there, but did not want to be with me through the tough stuff. She wanted to be happy. Such a shallow feeling, happiness is. It is something fleeting, and rarely found when you are looking for it. It sneaks up on you when you are busy being content with the crap life brings along.  My mom was so confused by my reactions at the hospital, because I was angry more than sad. The grieving came later, but I was truly and justifiably angry. I didn’t take vows with this woman to be cast off when things weren’t as good as you planned. I took vows to stay together even if it sucked, and trust me there were many things that sucked.  Basically, I felt ripped off by the fact that I didn’t have that person who pledged alongside me to be there for this stuff.  To further dig the thorn in, she made a big deal out of the fact that my dad does not want to be around her, and that she wasn’t welcome at the funeral. My mom would have made it work, but there wasn’t any reason, she didn’t know my grandmother well, because as I said before we weren’t close. It was just so inappropriate at the time.

Earlier this week I had another moment. This one just made me sad. For most of my life, I have wanted what my parents had. They enjoy each other tremendously. They tell stories about when they were young before kids, and about life with us kids at an early age. They yuck it  up with friends from years far past.  I was sitting at a bar getting some tacos and a beer for dinner after dropping off the kids with their mom. I was sitting next to two couples who were telling these kind of stories to each other. They were easily old enough to be my parents, or at the very least the younger friends of my parents. I became sad, and very inwardly turned as I saw these couples and the joy they had in bragging about partner and how they handled a situation, and the occasional jab about something far in the past. These are things that I just won’t have.  Not even if I were to get back together with the mother of my children. She is incapable of telling stories that don’t make me look bad, and her the hero. She doesn’t playfully jab me, she knocks me in the jaw and tries to call it light hearted. I have lost this part of the dream. There is no getting this back. I chose badly when I chose this woman, and the price of that choice is I will never have the dream. I will never have be loved by one person regardless of circumstance. I will never have stories to share with my partner about life before kids.

The first part of the promise I can have, if I ever venture out to find another partner for life. I would like to hope that my judgement is better than it was in my 20s, but I don’t know that I can trust that a woman is capable of this. Not that there aren’t women capable of this, but that I can’t tell them apart. Women, you need to police your own better. Marriage is off the radar for me for the foreseeable future. The risks are too high, and they aren’t shared between us. women are seeking divorce at an alarming rate, and that rate  isn’t much different for the religious as it is for the irreligious.  If you are woman who believes in marriage and desires to find men of quality willing to marry, then you need to do something about the culture fostered among women that men are interchangeable and disposable.  I married a woman who all would have counted as a Christian woman of conviction, and those convictions were cast off chunk by chunk as she wasn’t completed by me.  Which is another bone I have to pick the Jerry McGuire theology of you are supposed to complete me is crap. Marriage is supposed to be a commitment to working together to make it through life, not that I  or you should be creating a whole person by the union, but that two whole people are better than one. That proposition is being broken in our society all the time, and I honestly don’t see how I could try at it again, especially while I have kids that would be torn apart by another family break up.

Sorry for the semi-random thought processes here. This has been a rough couple of weeks.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

October 4

Hard Day

098/365 Some days are harder than others

This should be a hard day. Its 10/4. Its the day I was married 14 years ago. I expected the wash of emotions I felt a couple of weeks ago on my son’s birthday that had me stay home throwing up. I expected sadness. I expected something.  It just feels like another day to me. I don’t really know what to think.  My marriage was hard, but I loved the woman, but after such a short amount of time, I already have no desire for what we had.

I was talking with a friend last night. She stopped by to make sure that I knew that the lady I have been playing with life is a mess. I knew this. She knows this. We are hanging out, and having fun.  Not your typical friends with benefits, since we are becoming friends and that is OK. There is enough physical space for us, and our circles are separated enough that we won’t be constantly running into each other if things change.  Back to the friend last night. She was asking me if I could get together, and talk about things. See if things have changed. My first reaction was she wouldn’t, and to get a bit mopy and defeatist, but the truth took over. I don’t want to. I really don’t.  A year from now, when new patterns are set in each of our lives, then if she wanted to talk, I might be open to it. I am done pursuing her. We had those talks at least once a month for the last 6 months we lived together.  I am not going to pursue her, she would have to initiate anything. She is the one that left, and she will have to be the one to come back and ask for another chance.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect this. I wouldn’t have open arms, saying “Its been so long. I am glad you came to your senses.” She flat out rejected me. She made it clear she doesn’t love me. With her mouth, and her actions over the years, and more so the last few months. All I desire right now is a good enough relationship to finish raising our kids minimizing the damage from a broken home.

She has rationalized these effects, and rationalized that feelings are what matters. She has made herself the center of the decision, and not only placed me, but our kids as secondary issues that will be able to manage regardless of her actions.   I have no desire to re-enter a relationship with her.  The risks are too high for my children. They will suffer from our split, but they would suffer more if we create a pattern of coming together and splitting, then they will be far more damaged and confused as they enter adulthood, and try to form their own relationships.  It will already be hard for me to encourage my sons if they are considering marriage. Unless the landscape of the US family law changes, I won’t be ashamed to tell them to have an extremely explicit prenuptial agreement. They can always change it as they decide that she is more or less trustworthy. If she is less, of course it will require the threat of divorce to modify it.  I know that if I consider marriage again, then I will enter into as a legal business contract to protect what I have for my kids. There won’t be any new kids. I have four, and I can’t see having kids with another woman, and they see that kid have the life that me and their mom couldn’t provide to them. That will limit the women that will want to be with me long term.

Well as I said, it is strange that this day is not hard. It should be. I passed  on a night at the bar with old friends tonight to be with my kids. I figured it would be safer than going out today. Unless something hits me later, then I could have gone without a problem.  This ride is an interesting one. I will see where it takes me. I have a few back story posts I plan on sharing, but I will be mixing in current posts as well.  There are many that are coming every week.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 29

Physical Separation

Greatwall China [1907] Herbert G. Ponting [RESTORED]

The six plus months of time that we were living in the same house after she said she wanted a divorce were some of  the hardest of my life.  As covered in some of my other posts, she was all over the place in how she interacted with. She slept in the guest room, she slept in our bed. I refused to leave our bedroom.  She wanted this, so she could come or go, but I was staying.  She erected a pillow wall between us, and when challenged she took it down. She would flirt to get my attention, and then act offended if I responded. She would yell at me for not trying, or not knowing her, or some other thing, but also yell at me when I demonstrated I knew her, or tried too hard. One night she screamed at me “I am still leaving your ass, nothing has changed, and you can keep that little psychopath(the oldest boy).”  She would go out, and not come home until it was almost time to wake up. She would leave and not tell me where she was going or what she was doing, and then come home and wake me up angry that I hadn’t stayed up waiting for her.  It was exhausting. I am not sure what she was doing. The only thing, I can come up with is she was working up the courage to actually leave or to get me to leave or kick her out.

As things go, she told me in early June was moving out, and taking the kids. Justifying this action by saying we had talked about moving the kids back to the city.  I was a little shell shocked, and didn’t know what to say. The next day I made it clear that I was not going to be a weekend Dad, and that I would be on her lease and have a key. I would be able to spend time with my kids at the apartment without her until things changed.  She agreed. I later found out that she agreed, because she couldn’t get the lease without me. She didn’t make enough money, since we still have payments on our marital home. I helped her move out, mostly because I didn’t want strangers and her moving out stuff without my knowing what was being taken.

She spent the first night in her apartment “alone.” I don’t know who she spent it with, nor do I care anymore. I did then. The next night I left the kids with her.  When I left the apartment after saying my good  byes, I was walking down the stairs. My lips became numb, and I just started to shutter. I couldn’t cry yet, I just shook and my face ached.  I have never felt a pain like that before. It was the reality of the loss of my marriage, and the new relationships I would have to build with my kids just overwhelming me.  These waves would wash over me for the next few weeks. Sometimes they would last hours, and other times minutes. There were times, I would leave work and just walk for miles to distract myself.

I spent the last part of the summer alternating with her at the apartment. Initially it was not so bad. It was hard to be in a place, so intentionally devoid of me. It was uncomfortable. She then started going out while I was with the kids, and coming back to the apartment and sleeping on the couch. After a while, she made it clear she wasn’t going to sleep on the couch, and I wasn’t sleeping in the same bed as her.  I slept on the couch a few times.  I started to then bring the kids back to our home when I had them. Once school started, she played nicer about leaving the apartment, but I was quickly becoming exhausted with my drive after finishing with kids activities. I wasn’t getting anything done I needed to get done.

She had spent some money to prepare her apartment. It was my understanding that this was coming out of the fund we had set up for vacations. It wasn’t she was saving that for living on. She spent the money that I had set aside to pay the mortgage. After failing to pay the mortgage, I decided that I needed to find a place closer to my kids, and before my credit was smashed to the point no one would rent to me.  I wanted a place with a garage for their bikes, and a yard to play in. I also wanted a two story place, so when I was their alone, I wasn’t constantly faced with empty bed rooms that should have my kids in them.  I found a duplex that meets the requirements.  I got moved with the help of some old and new friends.

I had spent a week without my kids, and so was going to spend the next week with them. I really didn’t have the place ready for them. Partly because she had left the kids with me during the move, so she could take one of my sons to a soccer tournament that we had agreed to not  play in.  I was now shuttling my other son to his games for a tournament, while trying to get my place ready. My youngest daughter made the boys and girls rooms look ready to sleep, and wanted to stay the night. Of course I didn’t have mattresses yet, so that wasn’t an option.  She kept repeating how great it was that I had got them a house. It had a basement, a garage, and a yard.  I was glad that she was happy with my choice. I hadn’t been able to include them in the looking at places, because my wife had kept putting off talking about what was really going on between me and her with them.

The first week with the kids was a bit crazy. I didn’t have any dishes yet, or much food for that matter. I also didn’t have time to prep everything for them. I am still working on some of that. I had to get them to school, and pick them up. I live in the boundaries for different middle and elementary schools, so no bus when they are with me. Which is OK. I enjoy taking them and picking them up. Its a good chance to talk to them. They are a captive audience at least for a little while.  My wife was constantly making sure I knew where I was screwing things up.  I wasn’t getting the girls hair right. I needed to get my own hair products for her( I bought the ones she was using now ).  Well none of this mattered much, because I could hang up the phone, and it was over. No having to talk about it as we went to bed, no waking up to the same conversation, etc.

This process has started the road to establishing what life is like with Dad, and how it is different than life with Mom.  The kids are noticing that Mom dominated life when we were together. I am getting questions like why we never did this or that before. I have to answer sadly that I didn’t make it priority.  I don’t want to say that when I tried, I was blocked one way or another by their mom. I don’t want to start having negative messages about each other going to the kids, even if I know its true.  I have also began at this point to establish that my opinion may not be the same as it was when we were together, and that I expect my voice to be a bit stronger now in our new circumstances.  New boundaries are being established. This is good.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

September 22

The Ruiner

Ruiner

No that is not a new super villain, but at times it feels like it.   Over the months that led to our eventual separation, there were some obviously important dates to us. She managed to ruin a number of them with her timing.  Over the past few years, our anniversary has landed on weekends.  In that time we have not been able to go out for our anniversary, because she has been in charge of the school carnival. This past year was the first year she was not in charge of  the school carnival, and our anniversary fell on the Monday. So when it was on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday she was doing carnival things.  The fallout from the carnival generally took over the preceding and following weekends, so our anniversary really didn’t amount to much.  This frustrated me, but I chalked it up to life with 4 kids.  The kicker was she would complain about how I didn’t do anything for our anniversary. I felt like I was in a catch 22 situation. This has been the story of our marriage, and a habit that I am trying to break my oldest son of now when he is with me. He does the same thing to everyone in his life.  This by itself really wasn’t that big of deal, but as I look back there are many times where an important date would be coming up, and she would book something that would interfere with anything we might be planning. I was unable to schedule anything without going through her, because I would either have to cancel because she had other plans, or cancel because I was needed to take care of the kids.  This was one of the things that I accepted as being married to her. What I could never wrap my head around, was why did she get so angry with me when I didn’t plan anything anymore, since whenever I did I had to change it.

I am reminded of a time when she got angry with me about making a list of things to do around the house.  She told me I didn’t care what she thought, because I wouldn’t let her make a list. I looked at her, and told her she can’t make a list, because if she does, then it will be treated as a task list by her, and she will be angry when I haven’t checked off everything on the list.  This was one of the rare moments where she recognized the truth in what I said, and admitted it was true.

So as she prepared for our parting ways, she decided to tell me she wanted a divorce. This happened on my son’s birthday right before we were meeting her family for dinner.  It is going to be hard to shake the shame that is now attached to that day when I celebrate with him, but he is more important than her, so I can’t imagine too many birthdays where I will struggle with this.

During the time between when she told me she wanted a divorce and when she moved out, I did my best to make holidays and other things still meaningful. She generally did her best to do what she wanted to do without me, or to make me feel bad for it.  Valentine’s Day blew, but there is no surprise there. Mother’s day was a day when she made no plans, but got mad when all I did is offer her a card and gifts from the kids.  She went to my parents house with me, and was rude to my parents.  Easter was spent with her family, and my father in  law fumbling over how to talk to me.  It boiled down to him telling me about how his brother’s marriage sucks, and they live in different places, and his brother screws around with anything that will spread its legs for him.  Talk about an awkward conversation.

On the anniversary of the adoption of our 3 oldest kids, she chose to have a talk with me. She told me that she was looking at apartments, and planned to move to the city with kids.  I told her I had been thinking of the same thing. She then informed me that she planned on moving without me. I knew this. She beat me to the same conversation by about an hour, except I was going to suggest we all move.  Again another date ruined for me, and again I will have to make it temporary, because I can’t imagine life without those kids.

Father’s Day was a good day. I took the kids to my parents house, and we had a nice dinner. She was mad that she was not invited. She asked me if my Dad knew he was burning bridges by not inviting her. His response was the bridge was burned the day she told me that she wanted a divorce, and started to to force things down that path.

Independence Day was interesting. I had planned to go see my parents in the afternoon. My Dad was diagnosed with cancer around the same time she started tearing down our marriage.  She had invited her family over to go see fireworks.  She was mad that I was leaving when her family was coming over. Understand that she had already signed a lease on an apartment at this time, and was moving out.  I told her I would be back in time for dinner. I spent my time with my parents, and then went back to my house. The kids were running around with neighbor kids, the cousins were feeling left out. She was buried in her phone while her family milled around. It was the strangest scene I had experienced in a long time. I ran off the neighbor kids, so the cousins could play with my kids, and started acting like a host, because needless to say they were guests in my house.  My wife’s sister’s husband told me that their biggest concern in this whole thing was that I not let her run me over, and that I get to remain as close to a full time Dad as possible.  That was a nice surprise. We went to fireworks, and everyone went home.

I had expected something exciting like divorce papers on my birthday, but there was nothing. Maybe she is done planning things for days that matter. I won’t count on it.  It doesn’t matter much anymore. My life is shaping up into something I enjoy. If only I could get through a day without having to talk to her about anything.  Too many days I get a phone call from her before I talk to anyone else.  Since our separation, I have talked to her first thing in the morning because she called me more than I did when we slept in the same bed over the past year. It annoying that someone that doesn’t want to be married to me, still has so much of my time. I guess I will get used to it, and it will change over time.  She is losing her influence over me, so her ability to ruin special days is fading.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

August 30

The Good Son

Hair Cut for Rusty

During the time when I was trying to rescue my marriage there was an incident with my oldest son that stands out.  It had been cold and snowy, and now the snow was starting to melt. The boys were crawling up the walls to go outside.  They went outside, and decided to play football on the slick slushy front yard. Not a genius move, but typical of boys. They played for an hour or more, and then there was the cry of pain. My oldest had tackled my younger boy onto the stairs, and he hurt his elbow. It was bad enough that we needed to get x-rays.

She berated my older son for hurting his brother. Made him feel tiny, tiny, tiny. I almost took him with me to the hospital.  I had a friend come by and check on things instead. She called him a psychopath, and then went on to scream at me. She yelled “I am still leaving your ass, nothing has changed, and you can take that little psychopath with you. I don’t want him.” Understand that this was all done with in ear shot of all the children.  This is my son who really struggles with being in foster care, and the separation from his biological mother. He has attachment issues, and it was just announced to the whole family that his current mommy doesn’t want him.  I regret not taking him with me.  I was shocked and shaken, and worried for my other son. My hind site tells me I screwed up. Nothing happened, but he needed my encouragement as a father.

His brother bruised his elbow. They thought it might be a sprain, and had it splinted for a week, but since there was no pain after a week they decided it was just a bruise. He was fine.  There was no reason for his brother to be made to feel like something less than as important as his brother.

Now fast forward to present day. She has moved out. I am still in the marital home 45 minutes away until the end of the week.  I get a call from her. He is screaming at her. I am pretty sure he is telling her that he wants to live with me, but I can’t hear it all. She screams “Good, when your dad moves, you can go live with him, and I won’t ever have to see you again.”  I don’t want to split my kids up, but I may have to for a while. If things keep going this way, I am going to have to drop the idea of shared custody, and get the lawyers involved and go after full custody of all the kids, and limit the visitation to a standard schedule.  I can’t have her throwing away kids.  Once she throws him away the other two adopted kids are going to see themselves as disposable as well. This is a sad day for me.  I was hoping that we can make things work so our kids had two parents working together, even though one is selfishly destroying the family. I know it was a stretch, but I was hoping.

Ten-Foured,

JeD

August 29

Wake Up Call

Vintage Copper Alarm Clocks

Well the divorce talk was a wake up call. It certainly got me going. I changed. Some of the changes were the desperate actions of a man caught off guard. Those slid away with time. The biggest changes came in my spiritual walk with Christ.  My walk over the years had nearly became non-existent. I spent almost no time in the Bible, and only went to church to make sure I didn’t lose connection with the people there, I cared about.

I started the “Love Dare” with my wife. It pissed her off most of the time. I wrote a blog journal so she could read my thoughts. She initially responded well, even when she got pissed. I learned a lot about love and marriage going through that book. Needless to say, she did not. She was still determined to stay on her current course. During this time we also started counseling. The counselor was good. He was strong and straight forward.  Not the kind of counselor that I have been turned off by over the years.  The first few sessions we talked about me, and how bad I was, and all the blah, blah, blah, she could come up with. He honestly said to her, “You want to give up a fourteen year marriage over those things.” He explained that her complaints were normal, and generally reflected a lack of understanding of how men and women are different. She shut down and got pissed.  One of the last sessions, I brought up and incident where we had our boys at a soccer tournament. I had to take one over to his game, while the other finished up a game. I dropped him off across the park, and came back to get her. Somehow we missed each other. I called her, and she answers the phone screaming at me about leaving her there to get all our stuff. Needless to say, our stuff amounted to a shelter for her, her chair, a heater for her, her blankets, and some other stuff for her.  She then hung up on me. I get to the other game, and am pissed. I ask her if she was going to apologize, she spit “for what,” and I went over to talk to some guys. I wasn’t going to stand there and wait for her to cool off and play nice.  She told the counselor, she didn’t believe that I came back for her.  He asked if I was there when she got to the second game. She said no. He asked then where do you think he went. She didn’t know. He asked was he gone long enough to have left the park. She said no. He then asked, then isn’t it reasonable that he did exactly what he said he did. She screams “I don’t care.”  She huffed and puffed for a while, and when he got her to talk again, she said. “This was fine, so long as we are talking about him. I don’t want this marriage, I don’t want to fix it. I don’t want to talk about me at all.” She then went on to explain that she settled for me, because she didn’t believe that anyone else would want to marry her, and that she never really loved me.  I am getting to the point where I believe that.

One thing from our counseling sessions that stood out to me was this. He was trying to explain to us that what a woman in marriage needs is that unconditional love. This is what I was trying to learn through the “Love Dare” as well.  I can admit that I wasn’t always good at this or motivated to do better, but at this point wanted nothing more than for her to understand I loved her. She told me during this time that she had no doubt that I loved her. Of course there is a but. A disconnected but, but a but none the less. When he asked me what I needed from her, he concluded what I was trying to express was I needed respect. I agreed. I hadn’t thought about it in those terms, but that was it. He went on to explain that there is a special kind of respect that only a wife can give her husband. It is a respect, like the love she expects that can’t be earned. It is a gift that should come from her along with her vows.  Her response was cold, almost angry, “Well he needs to have his own self respect.”  The counselor agreed and tried to explain the difference in what he was talking about, and she repeated that phrase a few times. This was when I really started to believe that she never did love me, and maybe couldn’t love me or anyone else. She was so wrapped up in her feelings and her anger that she was unable to recognize the effect that she had on other people.

During this time, I also started meeting with my pastor. We studied the word, and talked about my situation. He has provided great advice, and comfort.  He is furious that she would allow us to adopt 3 kids, and have a kid if she wasn’t willing to love me.  You see the problem, he gets that love is what you do, and emotions will follow. She wants to feel that romantic love, and isn’t getting that.  The truth is, she never has had any empathy for me, so I am not surprised as I look back at this.  I have grown in my spiritual walk going through this. I have learned to love when there is no love in return. I have also learned that this bond called marriage that God created is going to hurt like hell as it breaks.  I don’t think she will feel it until it is over, and then she will wonder why I am not hurting the way she is, because she will have missed all the pain that I was already going through.  My pastor had me go through a Bible study called “Experiencing God.” I would recommend this to anyone who wants to get a better understanding of God’s word and his desire to no just know us, but to interact with us.

I have been finding that as I talk to friends, and reveal what is going on, that many of them have been concerned for me. Her temper and sharp tongue have become harder on me.  Many of these friends stopped seeing us, and I never knew why. It was because she had cut off the relationships when they became uncomfortable. If there is one lesson that I have learned through all of this, is relationships have to be maintained by me, and that I cannot have a real relationship with anyone as a couple.  That is a strange thing to me. I believed that through marriage we became one, and most of our relationships would be together. I was wrong, and not just because of who she is, but its just not the way it works.  When couples get along it is because each member of the couples gets along well the both the members of the other couple.

Over the next few months, I tried to pretend that we were still a normal married couple with our problems. I tried to make days that should be special, special, and to comfort her through her hurts with friends and family.  During this same time she was busy knocking down my reputation to anyone who would listen, and was looking for supporters on her quest to kill our marriage. I am surprised that she found very few supporters.  She can be extremely convincing, but I had developed a good reputation in this small community, so people dismissed most of what she said as being angry and inappropriate talk about your husband. This has been one of the biggest blessings as I meet and talk with people now.

Ten-Foured,

JeD