I was reading Chump Lady the other day. Someone had written in to see if she would put his STBX-wife’s texts through the UBT (Universal Bullshit Translator). Seems cheating ex-wife thought they should come together for their son’s graduation and present a united front- for the children, of course.
Surprisingly, this post is not about presenting a united front, or all the insane things people think divorced couples should do for the sake of their offspring. No, this is about something else.
At some point in his letter he mentioned that he had met a wonderful new lady and they had been dating for about six months.
One regular reader made the comment that one of the biggest mistakes divorcing chumps make is to date before the divorce is final. Among his reasons for thinking this is the biggest mistake you can make:
1. It’s too soon which isn’t fair to your new partner because you haven’t had time to heal.
2. You’ll probably be bringing baggage into your new relationship because of #1.
3. It might look like you were the cheater.
4. You’re still technically married.
5. It can give your cheater ammo to use against you.
I’ve written about this before. I’ve also admitted that I used to think exactly like that. You’re still married until you’re divorced. Don’t date. Keep your marriage vows. Then I divorced a lying, cheating fuckwit. Let’s just say that experience changed me. If you’re in a state (or country) where you can get a divorce in 6 months or less? Great! You probably can get through your divorce without dating. You certainly don’t have to, but you could.
There are many of us, however, where we can’t even file for divorce until we can show we’ve been separated for a year or more. In my situation I had no desire to begin dating; I had no plans to date. I resisted other people’s suggestions that I try online dating. I wasn’t looking and I was fairly certain I would never be in a relationship again. I didn’t even know the mobster existed until almost two years after D-Day. D-Day had been approximately 1 year, 9 months, and 20 days prior. My first divorce court date had already been continued, thanks to Jerry Lee and his claims of PTSD. I had a new date lined up. While I was working two jobs, supporting our two children with no help from him, and navigating all the emotional hurdles with them, my “husband” was living over 300 miles away with his cousin/mistress and her kids. He had financially cut us off that August of 2015, approximately 2 weeks after being caught; he, Harley, and the mulligans were living it up and living their best life ever. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. The month the mobster fell out of a tree and landed on my head marked a year since Jerry Lee had paid any support.
I’m solidly on board with the line of thinking that says I will not let him take one more minute of my life. Obviously you don’t need to be partnered up in order to live a full life, but if someone enters your life and they make things better I see no reason to avoid that person just because your cheating spouse wants to drag this divorce out. And often, they do. It’s the last means of controlling you they have. And because so many “helpful” people tell you that you need to keep your halo shiny and remain true to your marriage vows, they know they can get away with living their new lives, complete with a new partner, possibly new kids and a new house, while you’re left twisting in the wind, waiting for them to finally release you from your matrimonial bonds.
I would never have the relationship I do now if I listened to all the naysayers who say you need to wait until you’re officially divorced. It took me over two years to get my divorce. How much more time was I supposed to wait before I began dating once the divorce was finally finished? Another year? Two? Three? The mobster is still trying to get one. How long is he supposed to put his life on hold while she merrily goes about her life, doing whatever she pleases, shacked up with her boyfriend? We would both be missing out on the best relationship we’ve ever had while our spouses are shacked up with their new loves, doing whatever the fuck they want to do. Why are we supposed to forego our relationship?
Oh yeah- Reason #1- it’s too soon which isn’t fair to your new partner because you haven’t had time to heal.
Who is anyone to say what is too soon? In my case almost two years had passed and I was still married. I can tell you this though. I was way too busy working and trying to survive to go to therapy or do any work on myself. Year one hadn’t been too bad as we were still in our house the first 10 months, but year two sucked! I was thinking of nothing except survival and how much my life sucked. I was also pretty sure it was never going to get better.
I didn’t want Jerry Lee back. I wasn’t mourning him. I wasn’t mourning the loss of my marriage. Again, I was way too busy trying to keep afloat financially. Maybe people with plenty of money have that kind of time to navel gaze and overthink every little nuance of their past relationships.
I actually did fear that the mobster was moving on with me too soon. We met only two months after his wife walked out and less than a month after he had filed for his online divorce. But as he said many times, his marriage had been a living hell for 12 long years by the time he met me. He craved an honest partner. As he wrote once upon a time he wanted honest love; he was ready for that.
In the early days I grappled with a lot of self-doubt. I sometimes thought the love he had shared with her was far too big for me to ever measure up. They had twenty-five years together! But over time the fears lessened. I don’t worry about that at all now. And honestly, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if he’d been separated or divorced for a year or two. The issue was mine and it was mine despite the fact that my marriage had been over for almost two years, I had no lingering feelings for Jerry Lee, and I absolutely knew his cheating had had nothing to do with me.
Not everyone needs a year or two or more to heal. Not all of us need years of therapy and time to heal from a major trauma. Some people have been detaching for years, and once that person is out of their life it’s like a weight has been lifted. The mobster would say that he had been grieving the end of his marriage for twelve years before I came along. All those years he spent trying to get her help and get her sober he was grieving the end. I don’t think the mobster used me to replace her. Truth be told I wasn’t the first person he had dated after she left so it’s not like he just took whatever he could get. He chose me. He told me he fell in love with me the moment he laid eyes on me, crazy as that may sound. He was determined to not let her be the last chapter in his story. He moved ahead with full intentions of finding love again. And, as he always likes to point out, he knew when he was done with her. He didn’t need months or years to recover once that point was reached. When he finally got to that point recovery was well under way. The further away he got from her the clearer his mind became.
Similarly, point #2- you’ll probably be bringing baggage into your new relationship because of #1, isn’t true of everyone. Or maybe it is true of everyone regardless! I think I brought a certain amount of baggage into this relationship and it would have happened no matter how long I had waited. Anyone who watched twenty years of their life go up in smoke is probably going to be a little jumpy now and again. There are certain things I learned while my life unraveled and I don’t think I’m going to unlearn them any time soon. I also don’t think time heals all wounds, and I think everyone heals at their own pace. One person may be ready right away, while another person might never be ready. So, don’t date because you might bring baggage into this new relationship? Honey, I think we all bring baggage into our new relationships, even if that baggage is Louis Vuitton. We can’t help it but we can learn. Again, everyone does this at a different pace.
I’ve already gone over what I think of the “you’re still married” bullshit. Yes, legally I was still married. Legally Jerry Lee owes me somewhere around $60,000. Whether or not I’ll actually get that is a whole other topic. If it makes you feel better to say you didn’t date until the ink was dry on the divorce decree, knock yourself out. I’m certainly not advocating that you must date while you’re in the middle of that. But I no longer see anything wrong with it. Fuckwits are going to do what Fuckwits are going to do. They like to drag it out. Case in point- BSC. She’s been living with her boyfriend for 3 years now but has absolutely no interest in getting a divorce. It’s stall tactic after stall tactic, lie after lie, outrageous demand after outrageous demand. Any time the mobster starts talking settlement she gets all crazy and expects to get everything.
Point number five- you give your cheater ammo to use against you. Well, not really. If you’re in a no fault state they really can’t use the fact that you’re dating against you. And you can always remind them that if they want to try to drag you through the mud because you’ve dared to date before divorced that you’re only dating because they cheated on you. Which in effect means they’re dating, too, and they did it behind your back while you thought you were in a committed relationship.
But what if you live in an at fault state? As a person who divorced in an at fault state I can tell you that all three of the lawyers I met with were very clear that even if I could prove adultery it wouldn’t result in anything extra for me. Debts would still be split 50/50; assets would still be split 50/50. The judge wouldn’t give me full custody because of it. I wouldn’t get everything while he walked away with nothing because he cheated. I was advised to not date but the other side of that coin was that I was also told he could run around town declaring his love for Harley and make out with her in the middle of Main Street. Unless I could prove they were actually having sex I couldn’t prove adultery. The bar is set pretty high when it comes to proving adultery. Jerry Lee and Harley were living together. He had moved out of the state to be with her. My lawyer still said she didn’t know if she had enough to prove adultery. They. Were. Living. Together.
Plus, it’s only a potential problem if you’re the spousal support receiver. If you would be paying spousal support you can do whatever you want. It’s not like you’ll have to pay more because you’re dating. Even if you’re the receiver you’re allowed to date; you just can’t have sex. Unless your spouse can prove you’re actually having sex and not just going out to dinner and the movies with this new person, you are operating within the law. Personally, I wouldn’t announce it to the world (and I didn’t) because cheaters don’t like consequences and they are always looking for a way out of them.
Finally, I take issue with this little gem, otherwise known as point #3- it might look like you were the cheater.
To whom? The cheater in my case is a perpetual victim. Even if I hadn’t met the mobster until months after the divorce was final Jerry Lee would still be whining and crying. It’s what he does. I don’t care if he likes it or hates it. I don’t care if he thinks it’s unfair or that I’m a horrible person or that he says horrible things about me. The opinion of a man who cheats on his wife and walks away from his kids means absolutely nothing to me. Furthermore, what on earth do I care what his family thinks? They are nothing to me anymore. They will always side with him; they have supported and encouraged him throughout his entire affair. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our marriage ended when he began carrying on with Harley again. They know I was blindsided and that there was no one the entire time I was living in Virginia. They know, and he knows, that he was the one packing a bag and leaving his kids every weekend to go meet up with Harley. Not me. More importantly, I know none of that matters to them. So why in the world would I care if they think I cheated on him?
The people that matter to me know the truth. They had front row seats to the Jerry Lee Divorce Chronicles. They were there when I found out. They were there when he moved out without saying a word. They were there when he lost his job, forcing us out of our home. They were there when I moved back with my poor kids in tow. They were there during those long, long months where I worked two jobs while he worked none and sent no support for his children. Those are the people that matter to me and they all know that I’m not the cheater.
I can say the same thing about the mobster. The people important to him know he didn’t cheat on his wife and leave her for me. They know about everything she put him through. His dad, a Baptist pastor, even told him at one point that maybe it was time he considered divorce. When he told me that story he admitted that his dad suggesting that, when he had always grown up with the idea that marriage was forever and you just did not get divorced, shocked him. It must be really bad if his dad was offering up divorce as an option. They also know that I didn’t come into his intact marriage and break them up. She was gone before I came into the picture. His parents know that. His siblings know that. His kids know that. Jerry Lee can spin whatever kind of lies he wants to about me. His family can judge me as being a homewrecking tramp. I don’t give a flying fuck. You know why? Because the people who matter know the truth. Jerry Lee and his ilk don’t matter. And they wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and bit them on the ass.