My apologies in advance. I’m not completely familiar with this blog so I’m not sure if cheating was a part of this story or not. I’m not sure it really matters in regards to the overall advice, but it definitely doesn’t fit when you’re dealing with a cheater.
A while back I read an article entitled: The 7 Life-Changing Benefits of Treating My Ex-Wife Well After Divorce. Hmmm… sounds like something Cousinfucker needs to read. And therein lies the problem. I suppose it could be great advice if you’re dealing with someone normal. Unfortunately, there are many of us out there that aren’t dealing with normal.
My first objection was when he talked about the worst day of his life being the day he found out his wife was in a new relationship. Now, I’m not sure how long after she packed her stuff and left him this was but I keep going back to the whole, “Just because we’ve had children doesn’t mean we don’t have human emotions anymore.” Jeez Louise, we are human beings! We are imperfect. I would imagine that if someone has just ripped your heart out of your chest, cut your time with your child in half (at least!) and is now happily moving on with someone else, even potentially someone he/she began “dating” while you were still married, the first thought in your mind wouldn’t be, “Oh, I’m so happy for my ex! They’ve got someone new while I cry myself to sleep every night. Well, that’s only fair and right. After all, they deserve to be happy and I deserve to be miserable.”
No! You’re probably going to think bad thoughts. You might even hope bad things happen to that person. You know what? That’s okay! As long as you don’t have the power to make things happen just by thinking them you’ve done nothing wrong. And if you do have the power to make things happen just by thinking them please think that I’ll soon buy the winning Powerball ticket.
My second objection came when he said that usually the first or only “bad” thing he learns when dating a fellow single parent is how much of a dick the father is to the mother. That alone wouldn’t have raised my hackles. It’s when he goes on to say: Fair or not, marrying and conceiving children with someone capable of THAT much assholery reflects poorly.
Ummm…. excuse me but when I married my own asshole he wasn’t an asshole. I married a man who had graduated from an extremely prestigious school. He had been a standout in football, a wrestler, a baseball player supposedly who caught the eye of a major league team, a team captain in multiple sports, a certifiable genius. He was described by others as shy, introverted, geeky even. He didn’t come across as arrogant or an asshole.
These guys are good at what they do. They know how important it is to put on an act until their victim is firmly entrenched and has nowhere to go.
Yes, it was my fault I rushed into things. I thought I was far enough along in life that I knew what I wanted and that we were a perfect match. And to be fair to him, although he definitely had his little quirks throughout all of our marriage he wasn’t completely bad all the time. Even the things I bitched about in my Bitch List Parts 1-14 didn’t come along until much farther into the relationship. Him being a complete and utter lying, cheating cousinfucking piece of shit didn’t come until he began his affair and he lost control of me and my reactions.
I digress. Here is his list of the 7 benefits and why I think most of them don’t amount to a hill of beans in my situation.
- Reciprocated cooperation is very helpful.
Oh, I’m sure it is. And I would never suggest to someone to not cooperate just for the sake of not cooperating. Like the author says, your best friend or sister is having a wedding and it doesn’t fall on your weekend, how great for you and the ex to be able to exchange weekends. If the kid needs to go see a doctor or dentist and you can’t take him or her, how great if you and the ex can coordinate schedules so that the appointment is taken care of and your child gets whatever care he or she needs. It’s fantastic if little Hayden leaves his soccer cleats over at Dad’s house on Mom’s time and Mom can just call up Dad and swing by, or have Dad swing by her house. Awesome!
It’s also not the end of the world if that doesn’t happen. Mom buys a set of cleats; Dad buys a set of cleats. Appointments aren’t made if that parent can’t get it done. Or instead of relying on the ex to step in and do it, maybe you depend upon a relative or a friend.
Again, I think cooperation between divorced parents is fantastic. I also fully believe that even if Cousinfucker still lived in the same town (or hell, at this point even the same state!) there would be no cooperation because he can’t and won’t face his kids. Cooperation would look like this:
Please, Cousinfucker, I’m begging you! Can you please take off from work to take Rock Star to her doctor’s appointment? I have no vacation time left after all of our court dates and she needs to see someone ASAP. Please, for the love of God, would you do something for your children just once?
And he would look at me and reply: It’s not my problem. You’ve turned them against me. You deal with it all.
Because that’s who he is. He didn’t help out with them when we were married. I’m sure as hell not expecting any help now that we’re divorcing. Plus, there’s that pesky little problem that he moved 6-7 hours away from his kids so even if I were to debase myself and ask him for help he wouldn’t be available because he’s too busy playing daddy of the year to her kids.
In the final analysis I will concede that point to him. Cooperation is very helpful and if you can cooperate that’s a beautiful thing. Good for you. However, don’t feel guilty or like you’re a bad parent if that’s not possible in your situation. I would even go so far as to say if you are repeatedly knocked down whenever you try being civil and cooperative, STOP IT!
2. I get to know things I wouldn’t and freak less
The author seems to think that the only reason he knows things about what goes on with his child when he’s not around is because he communicates with his ex. He also lists his ex being willing to spoon feed him the dates of sporting and school events as a perk of treating her well.
I have definitely heard of parents who refuse to let their kids speak to the other parent when said kids are with them. I think that stinks. I applaud those parents who will let the other parent have unlimited access to them on their time. But that has nothing to do with treating your ex well. It has to do with treating your child well. Sure, when your child is crying because he or she doesn’t get to talk to you whenever they are with the other parent it must destroy something inside of you. The reality though is your ex is hurting your kid every bit as much as they’re hurting you. I guess I don’t look at that as treating your ex well. I look at it as respecting your child and being sympathetic to their needs.
I’m also going to be very blunt and say that playing secretary to my ex is no longer in my job description. Either he needs to tell his whore to get on the website and keep track of that for him because he’s far too important to do such menial tasks, or he can figure it out himself. OR, and here’s a really radical idea, he can talk to his children!!!! I know. Mine are a bit older. They are 15 and 17. I’m going to go out on a limb though and say even a child younger than that can offer up such helpful tidbits as, “I’m playing soccer!” or “I started swimming lessons!” or “We’re having a big program at our school. We’ve been rehearsing every day for two weeks now.” It’s amazing the things kids will tell you when you talk to them.
I think that gets to the heart of it. Even at a young age if being an involved parent is important to you then you’ll figure out a way to get it done. You’ll talk to your child. Even a very young child can tell you what they’re doing or going to do. I’m sure that even at four or five, if they know they’re going to the zoo or an amusement park or some other big trip that they’re excited about they can tell you they’re looking forward to it. They may not have all of the details but they can certainly let you know something is about to happen. At that point you may want to follow up with the other parent. Or not. If I found out through my kids that good ol’ Daddy was planning on taking them to the zoo one weekend what more exactly do I need to know?
Most of his concerns seem to revolve around things that parents either have no obligation to report or should be sharing with the other parent regardless of how they feel about one another. Here’s a quick for instance for you- when Rock Star hurt herself this past summer I let CF know. I didn’t do it because we have a cooperative relationship. I didn’t do it because he treats me so well. Hell, you all know he treats me like crap. I did it because it was the right thing to do. Because even though he’s a shitty father who hasn’t set eyes on his kids in over 18 months he is her father and I thought he had a right to know. Furthermore, I felt I had an obligation to inform him. Period. It had nothing to do with our relationship.
3. Being together isn’t the worst time ever
Apparently, one of the benefits of treating your ex well is that when you have to be together because your child is involved in activities it’s FUN! If you didn’t treat each other well then maybe one of you would end up skipping out on events and that would make little Amelia sad.
He goes on to say that he and his ex are often in the same place at the same time. They are both there to support him. In fact, many people probably don’t even realize they are no longer married because they are such great friends and treat each other so well.
I admit I’m being a smart ass and this guy probably doesn’t deserve it. This type of thinking, however, drives me batty! I do not need to like my ex nor do I need to have a supportive relationship with him in order to attend my kids’ events. I’m going to be there come hell or high water. I don’t need to talk to him. I don’t need to sit with him. And I can assure you that if he were ever so stupid as to bring the whore or any of her kids with him when he came to “support” his actual children I would not be schmoozing with any of them. We would not carry on as one giant, happy family. No, I am not friends with my husband’s whore. I am not friends with the woman who fucked my husband and helped cause the destruction of my family. I am also not friends with the man who was supposed to be my partner in life, who I was supposed to grow old with, and who ended up lying to me, gas lighting me, and making a complete and utter fool out of me. I call those people enemies. I don’t choose to share my life with those types of people.
Yes, I realize it’s always easier when everyone gets along and there is no stress or strain. Unfortunately, that’s not how it always plays out. So grow up, put on your big boy pants and get to the ball game or the concert or the school assembly and support your kid. Not because you’re absolutely giddy at the thought of getting to spend some quality time with your ex, but because you want to be there for your child. You don’t need to sit with the other parent. You don’t need to talk to the other parent. You just need to be there for your kid.
4. Our son is happy and healthy
Yes, none of us with less than stellar relationships with our exes have happy, healthy kids.
And once again there is more of this, “If you speak or behave in any way that is hostile or otherwise shitty to your ex-spouse, your children will know it and feel stressed and generally uncomfortable any time you’re all together, or even just in phone call situations. Being intentionally shitty to your ex is in many ways being intentionally shitty to your children.”
Oh please! My kids are stressed out because their father is a liar and a cheater who deliberately and with no thought of them whatsoever, destroyed their home and their lives as they knew them. They are stressed because we were forced to move out of our family home and they had to leave behind yet another set of friends. They are stressed because they had to start all over. They’ve gone from having a mom who stayed at home and was available to them all the time to having a mom who at one point was working two jobs and was very rarely available to them. They’re stressed because their dad refuses to pay his court ordered child and spousal support which allows me to keep their lives somewhat stable.
All of the stress they’re experiencing is because of their father’s behavior; it is not because we are not best buddies. Their father has done everything in his power to make us miserable and to make things difficult for us. There really isn’t a whole lot I can do except keep trudging along, being the sane yet impoverished parent.
I do my best not to put him down. In fact, I have gone out of my way to remind them of the good things he’s done in the past. If you ask my mother she will tell you that I have shielded them way too much from his shitty behavior. But I will not lie to them. If they ask me a question I’m going to answer truthfully. There is a difference between being shitty and being honest. Sadly, too often when cheaters (and I’m not calling the author a cheater; in fact, I don’t think he is) speak of not tearing them down in front of the kids what they really mean is, “Hey, I need you to lie for me! Keep up my good guy image so they don’t know what a shitty person I am. And if you won’t then I’m going to accuse you of damaging our kids.”
Generally speaking the people I know of who have kids who are struggling don’t have struggling kids because the parent isn’t speaking highly of the other parent. They are struggling because of something that other parent is actually doing.
5. You preserve important friendships
Apparently, the author believes that you should treat your ex well so that all of your friends will still like you. Because they have conflicting loyalties and if you’re honest about the ex’s bad behavior that may make them uncomfortable and they won’t want to be your friend.
Oh no! Whatever will I do when someone tells me they can’t choose sides and they love us both? What should I do when someone wants to support us both even when I’ve done nothing to deserve the abuse my ex is heaping upon me? I know! I’ll get new friends! Problem solved.
It might be an overly simplistic way to look at it but when you’re going through a divorce, even one that doesn’t involve infidelity or abuse, you need support. The last thing I’m going to worry about is whether or not my so called friends are offended by my vitriol towards this person who has caused me immeasurable pain. In fact, if they are offended by this because they think my ex is so wonderful then they are not my friends. They’re my ex’s friends.
I’ve heard it said before that divorce shows you who your true friends are. Maybe that is true and in that case you probably should weed out those who feel no loyalty whatsoever to you. It’s good to know where you stand and who has your back.
6. You’re not a messy, walking contradiction
Alright, full on honesty here. This is the one that really made my jaw drop. I will quote this since I’m not sure my paraphrasing can do it justice:
Don’t act like you didn’t love- or don’t still currently love- your ex-spouse. It’s a lie and you can’t trick yourself no matter how much we’d all like to.
He goes on to say:
If you want to live a balanced, healthy life where things aren’t constantly shitty and dysfunctional, it’s important that your actions reflect your true values and feelings. When you dislike someone but act like you like them, it becomes this gross, slimy, fake and all-around inauthentic display that most healthy people can identity right away…
You’re always going to feel just off if you spend your life doing things that don’t reflect your true feelings and intentions.
So. Just own it. You loved, and to some extent, still love the person you chose to marry and have children with.
What. The. Ever. Living. Fuck. I almost have no words. Almost.
Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter if I loved him or not. What matters is now. We could argue that at one point John Wayne Gacy was a cute little boy and his mother loved him so much and he had so much potential. Yeah. But the reality is he grew up to be a serial killer and that’s what we’re dealing with now. Memories are great, but not when they obscure reality. We need to deal with what is and not what was.
I have said many times I lost every feeling I ever had for Cousinfucker when I found out what he was doing. It doesn’t matter that I loved him once. What matters is that he moved me and our kids across the country and then after buying a brand new house, a brand new car, brand new furniture to fill the brand new house, and a brand new $57,000 inground swimming pool he began lying to me and cheating on me with the skank again. I’m not going to dwell on my feelings of love or the nice things he did 15 years ago. I’m going to focus on the fact that he started taking money out of our marital bank account and giving it to his whore, all while lying to me and telling me he was sending it to his mom. Or that when he was telling me he was buying new phones for his mom and stepdad he was really buying them and paying the bill for his whore and her daughter. I’m going to focus on the fact that he forced us out of our home after losing his job and has never consistently paid his court ordered support since then. I’m going to focus on the fact that he abandoned his children without saying a word to them. He moved out of the house and out of the state and didn’t blink an eye. He can’t do enough for four children who don’t belong to him and who have a loving, involved father while he neglects his own. He never did even half of what he does for the whore’s kids for his own. Those feelings I once had for him? Aren’t going to do shit for me now. That person I loved is gone. He was replaced by a known liar and cheater. I Do. Not. love him. I don’t even like him.
There is absolutely no contradiction in my feelings at all. Just because I married someone and had children with them doesn’t mean my feelings can’t evolve and change due to their shitty behavior. Believe me, I get the whole, “I’ll always have fond feelings for this person,” sentiment. That’s not for people who have napalmed your life. CF has done so many awful things to me and our kids in the last two years the only contradiction would be if I claimed I did still love him in some way. I can assure anyone reading this that I am not the least bit moved by the fact he is, unfortunately, the father of my children. The only feelings I have towards him are anger and hatred. I am eagerly awaiting the day when I feel nothing at all, one way or the other, towards him. When he registers as nothing more than any other stranger on the street.
7. You get to be you again by healing much faster
You’re going to have to read this for yourself because I’m not entirely sure what he’s getting at here. I suppose it’s more of this enlightened thinking where he has found happiness and purpose by putting aside all thoughts and feelings of anger and unhappiness towards his ex. By treating her with love and respect and reframing their divorce as a “new type” of love he can successfully navigate the murky waters of divorced parenting. It’s more of the, “Let go of the anger and bitterness” advice. Be buddies with the person who gutted you and then you’ll once again be happy.
He mentions in the beginning that his divorce could be a lifelong prison sentence if he chose to be super involved in his kid’s life and a massive asshat to his child’s mother. Again, I think that’s short sighted. If you want to get along with your ex, if they haven’t done something egregious to you, or if you just like getting kicked in the throat repeatedly, go for it! There is another alternative, though. You can be super duper involved in your kid’s life, not be a massive douche but also not be friends with your ex.
You’re cordial if necessary. You cooperate if possible. You provide necessary information. But you also stay on your side of the bench. You don’t go out for drinks afterwards. You aren’t buddy buddy. You don’t call each other up and chat for hours. It’s almost like a client relationship. You are cordial. You take care of business. And then you go on your way.
He also talks about how he found meaning in the truth and in the meaning he found forgiveness and in forgiveness he found the big one- love. He goes on to say:
It looks nothing like the love we’d promised each other standing on that alter, young and ignorant. But I’m pretty sure it can be enough. In fact I think it already is.
Again I have no feelings of love for my STBX. I don’t want to feel any feelings of love towards him. I wouldn’t be interested in dating a man who said he still loved his ex. I don’t understand why we’re trying to get to a consensus of some sort of love between exes. You’ve discarded the relationship. You don’t get to whine that they no longer love you. Yeah, we know! If they did they’d still be married to you. Is it not enough to simply respect the relationship your children have with the other parent and to get on with your new life which doesn’t involve the ex in any way? Is it not enough that we’re not interfering in or trying to make things more difficult in the ex’s life? Must we now profess to be buddies and have to hang out and talk to each other all the time? I kinda think if that’s what my ex wanted then he shouldn’t have cheated on me. If that’s what some non-cheating ex wants then maybe they shouldn’t have ended the marriage.
It’s the end of a marriage, the end of a relationship. You don’t get to end it and then cry foul when that person wants nothing to do with you. You especially don’t get to whine and cry when you’ve lied and cheated and done other horrible things and the person you’ve abused, for lack of better word, no longer wants to be around you or have anything to do with you.
I realize even the author and some of his commenters mention that this advice is only helpful when you are dealing with someone else who is sane. Sadly, I think it’s almost a foregone conclusion that if you really need his advice you’re not going to take it. The cheater in my situation will never recognize himself in any of that. He’s perfect. I’m the problem.
If you don’t need it then you’re going to experience some guilt because you’re not doing any of those things. You might feel like you are somehow failing your kids. If only I could just eat this one last shit sandwich then things would go better for them. If only I could humiliate myself one final time then my ex would do the right thing.
The problem is so many people see this and they begin to feel guilty that they can’t or won’t do these things. Here’s the truth: You are not obligated to be friends with your ex. You are not obligated to have any kind of a relationship with them. The only thing you are responsible for is not thwarting a relationship between him/her and the kids. Too often those of us who have already been kicked repeatedly while we’re down are expected to just take some more abuse in the name of the children. Meanwhile, the people that really need that advice go along their merry little way, doing whatever their little heart desires. I’m not down with that. I plan on helping to write a new narrative. One that says speak your truth and take no shit!