Can’t You Be Nice To Him…. For the Kids?

Someone wrote about the very strong boundaries she has with her ex-husband. She went so far as to say that she hoped in the upcoming years she could say, “He cheated on me and I never saw or spoke to him again.” I can appreciate that.

As you may expect while many people were cheering her on one person had to ask, “How do you think that’s going to affect your children?” Naturally it must be so difficult for the children to have a mom who won’t suck up to their lying, cheating dad. Throw in a phrase or two about the poor lambs being uncomfortable when the parents aren’t together and how they’ll be forced to choose sides, right along with the requisite story about feuding parents that won’t attend major milestones because of their “bitterness” and “rage”.

Her response could have been my response. Why does it fall to us to once again suck it up? It’s not enough that many times we’re thrust back into the workforce, lose time with our children, work 2 and 3 jobs to make ends meet, are responsible for everything child related because the fuckwit is off living his (or her) best life, have to handle the divorce, are being dragged through the mud by the lying cheater, and we’re emotionally exhausted and feeling unloved and unworthy. No, on top of all of those other things we’ve been charged with doing we are also under an obligation to make nice with the very person that put us in that situation.

Think of the children? I’m pretty sure that’s what I did when I worked two retail jobs at Christmas. It’s what I did when I got up and went into work at 2 in the morning because we got 2 trucks during the Christmas season. It’s what I did when I was working 14 and 16 hour days to provide my kids with a Christmas because their dad, the one I’m supposed to “work with” and be cordial to, wasn’t sending a single nickel their way. It’s what I did when I continued to work two jobs even after I got hired on full-time because I knew that I didn’t make enough money at the one full-time job. It’s what I did every time I cried on my way to work, wiping my tears before walking in, whether that was into Target at some ungodly hour or a bank branch in those early days. It’s what I did when I went to the plasma center after work twice a week from August through January, just to ensure I wasn’t dependent on the spousal and child support Jerry Lee sent when he felt like it, modifying it to suit his whims (gotta have money for the whore and her kids). That’s what I did every time I had to break the bad news to my kids, every time I held one of them while they cried. It’s what I’ve done while trying to get Picasso the help he needs and Rock Star the help she needs. It’s what I’ve done the entire seven years since I found out about him and Harley. I’ve shown up. I’ve been there. I’ve done the hard jobs. When he walked away I stuck around. And now you want me to smile and play nice with that motherfucker? Because that’s what’s best for the children?

What if what’s best for my kids is seeing their mom establishing healthy boundaries instead of being a doormat? What if what is best for my kids is me telling them that they don’t have to tolerate people treating them badly? That it’s fine to terminate a relationship that is bad for them. What if teaching my kids that I’m a human being and not some robot is what is best for my kids?

These people have already taken so much from us. Why is it our duty to enable them even further?

As I asked, would you be telling someone to smile and be cordial to their ex if that person had pulled a gun on them? Or beat them unconscious? Or abused their children? If not, why not? Must we get to the point where someone is physically attacked before we can legitimately detach from them?

I’m not one of those people who think that children are irreparably damaged because their divorced parents aren’t buddy buddy. I have no problem with someone telling their child: Your relationship with your father is between the two of you. You need to learn to navigate that on your own. But you also need to realize that the relationship I have with your father is mine to navigate. We don’t have similar experiences so we’re not going to view him through the same lens.

And what’s with this pearl clutching at the idea of Mom and Dad not standing side by side at an awards banquet, or graduation, or even a wedding? I don’t know about you but I didn’t talk to everyone at Rock Star’s graduation. When my kids were in elementary school I didn’t talk to everyone at the awards assemblies. When they played sports I didn’t talk to everyone at the sporting event.

I’ve written about Rock Star’s graduation. I gave Jerry Lee the ticket. I was even the person who offered him a ticket via text message, fully expecting he would come back with some venomous reply. My thought process was, “Oh well. His loss. I tried. I did what I thought was right.” Instead, he shocked me and was actually very thankful. He came to my place of employment. I gave him the ticket. There was no big fanfare. We didn’t reminisce. He took the ticket and left. We didn’t sit together at the ceremony, not that she would have known if we did seeing as how she was down with the graduating class and we were up in the stands. Picasso wouldn’t have known either as he was playing down in the orchestra. My mom saw him and was infuriated by the fact he wore a suit. I saw him. Didn’t give a shit about the suit. I sat with a group of 7 others; he sat alone. I took pictures of her and with her and then headed to the restaurant. He came out of the shadows, cried his crocodile tears and made everything about himself. She joined us at the restaurant. He wasn’t invited.

I could be completely wrong although I don’t think I am but none of this seemed to bother my daughter. No scene was made. I doubt anyone in my vicinity was thinking, “Wow- the anger radiating from her is intense!” or, “Golly gee that woman sure is bitter!” And Rock Star wasn’t sobbing hysterically, “Why can’t I have a picture with my mommy AND my daddy? I just want you two to be best friends for one night. Can’t I have that, please?”

You know what did happen though? Aside from his crocodile tears and making it all about himself, of course. He cut child support in half and prorated his support for her down to the half hour when she graduated. When I dared to question him about this and told him this wasn’t correct he told me to read my divorce decree and then called me a cunt because he was forced to recognize that I was right and he was wrong.

Yet there will always be those Pollyanna’s who urge you to put aside all sense of self-preservation in order to take another beating from the person who has already abused you.

No thanks. If ignoring that motherfucker so hard it makes him doubt his own existence is the worst I do to him then he got off easy.

What Is So Difficult About No Contact?

Sometimes I think I must sound like a real cold-hearted bitch. I see so many variations of, “No contact is so hard!” and every time I hear it I think to myself, “How is this difficult? You are being asked to do literally nothing. They tell you to perform open heart surgery? That’s hard. Not talking to someone? That’s easy.”

Of course you’re reading the words of a woman who lived in the same house as her cheating ex-husband and didn’t have more than 3 or 4 conversations in the entire 6 months that this was going on.

I guess for me I intuitively knew that nothing I said was going to mean anything. I knew nothing I said was going to change his mind. He didn’t care about what he was doing to me or to his kids, and like most fuckwits he wouldn’t have believed me even if he said he did care.

I see these people who pour out their hearts to these cheating monsters and all I can think is that they are handing them more ammunition to use against them. They bring up the affair partner. They tell them what a piece of shit they are. They tell them how much they’ve hurt their kids (that one is NEVER believed). They tell them how much they’ve hurt them and remind them of how much they’ve sacrificed and done for them over the years (they don’t care and they don’t appreciate it). They reveal way more than they should; they bare their tender underbelly to the enemy. I’ve said before I was way too proud to ever let Jerry Lee know he hurt me.

He texted me once, shortly after I found out about Harley, and asked me if I was okay. I remember texting back that no, I was not okay, and I proceeded to list all of the reasons I was not okay- starting with him moving all of us across the country and ending with him fucking his whore of a cousin. It was maybe a paragraph. And I ended it by telling him the time to worry about whether or not I was okay was before he did all the shit he did. Don’t worry about me now, bro. I’m prepared to handle this on my own from here on out.

Probably not my finest attempt at no contact or gray rock, but I got better. When I got his sad little missive about me removing all of his memories from our home and destroying all his clothes and us working together for the sake of the children and showing them how vital happiness is for us both… I simply replied that I had not destroyed his clothes; they were in the spare bedroom.

Oh believe me, there was a lot I wanted to say. I even typed it up. Added to it. Posted it here. But I didn’t bother with him. He wouldn’t have read everything I said. I had a sentence, maybe 2 or 3 to get everything across. And all those words would all have been precious kibbles to his ego. I’m sure they would have had a grand time reading it and dissecting my words together.

I get it. The cheater says something stupid or hurtful and the cheated on person feels compelled to make the cheater understand how much they have hurt them. If only you could just get them to see what they’re doing they would be sorry and stop doing it. So you try a dozen different ways to explain the same concept to this person. Because surely it’s a communication problem, right? If they truly understood how what they did was harming you and your precious children they would apologize and stop doing it, right?

Wrong! They get off on your pain. Your pain is delicious, addicting kibbles to them. They love it when you tell them how much pain you’re in because of them. Every time you mention the affair accomplice they get an intoxicating hit. Every time you beg them for help (which they won’t give you) they get another intoxicating hit. Every time you rage at them because they haven’t shown up, or they’ve shoved the affair accomplice in your face, or they’ve done some other douchey thing that fuckwit cheaters like to do, they get the sweet, tantalizing taste of victory kibbles. They matter! They’re central! They are still the sun around which you orbit. They are the most important thing in your life and you will never, ever get over them. This devastation which they wrought upon you will never be overcome.

So stop it! Cut them off. Starve that motherfucker.

And the back and forth arguing? Never argue with a fuckwit. You won’t win because facts and the truth do not matter to these people. Drop the rope. State what you are willing to do once and then shut it down. No answer is an answer. If it’s court worthy say it once and then take the jackass to court. If it’s not court worthy, just regular fuckwit shit either no answer, or if you’re worried about court I’ve got two favorites for you. #1- Noted. #2- Your attempt to portray me in a negative has been noted. Or you can go for #3 which is simply a thumbs up.

Finally, you need to reach deep inside and let go of this need to be liked and/or respected by the cheater. So often people ask how they can prevent them from trying to drag them through the mud, say horrible things about them, outright lie about them, and so on. Or the ever popular, “He says…”

Who gives a fuck what he says? He’s a lying, cheating sack of shit. You can trust exactly 0% of what he says.

He says if I go after child support I’m bitter and confrontational and that shows I’m only concerned about myself and not our child.

That’s nice. He also said he was going fishing with his best friend when in reality he was fucking a whore behind your back.

He says he’ll do the right thing by me and take care of me but we can’t involve lawyers.

He also promised to be faithful. How did that work out for you?

I don’t want him to say bad things about me.

He’s already saying bad things about you.

I feel like if I fight for what’s mine everyone in his family is going to think I’m greedy.

And? Honey, that’s his family. Chances are very great that even if they say you’ll always be a part of their family they don’t mean it. You look out for you and stop worrying about what everyone else is saying or thinking.

He’s telling everybody I cheated on him and I think they believe him.

Sweetie, find your tribe. The people in your tribe aren’t going to believe that shit because they know you. They know the truth. Those people that believe him? They aren’t your tribe.

I know that Jezebel will back her brother no matter what. I know she thinks I’m crazy and that he deserved so much better. And you know what? I don’t care. I do not give one single shit about her opinion of me.

I know that Blockhead fed him information and undoubtedly thinks I’m a horrible person. Rolls right off my back. Don’t care. From what The Saint said he and his wife have sucked up quite nicely to Harley. Again, don’t care. They are not people I would ever want in my life. Jerry Lee and Harley can have them.

I would be willing to bet that absolutely everyone that Jerry Lee has told his story to during and after our divorce has been led to believe that I am the most horrible, greediest, selfish bitch out there. I’m sure he tells them all I drug him back to court and siphoned money I don’t deserve out of him so that I can spend it all on my boyfriend. Undoubtedly there is a group of people out there who think I’m a horrible person. I know this will shock you but I don’t care. I do not have two fucks to give. I don’t know those people and I don’t care what they think about me.

The people that I do know? Well, if they really think I’m that person then I’m glad they’re out of my life. I think too often people want to “win them all.” You can’t.

The best gift you can give yourself is to trust that they suck. Once you honestly believe that it gets so much easier. Once you stop arguing with them, explaining to them, begging them, relying them on and you drop that rope it gets so much easier. Let them argue with themselves. Remove yourself from the equation. They’re not your monkeys, not your circus.

Another Married Until You’re Divorced Question

Disclaimer: For the purpose of this post I’m only talking about people who are married. For reasons that will be abundantly clear I’m not including people who are living together in long term relationships or even couples that have a longterm relationship but aren’t living together. I just can’t cover that many scenarios. Sorry!

I’m on a support group where the topic of dating comes up quite frequently so as you may guess I am quite frequently deluged with messages from well meaning pearl clutchers who insist that any dating done before the divorce is final is cheating and you (or the person you are dating) is no better than the cheater.

It made me wonder. They so often tsk, tsk, “Not divorced yet is still married.”

“Separated is not divorced. It’s still married.”

“Your soon-to-be-ex is still your husband.”

Does that mean if you’re engaged to someone they can’t cheat on you until after the wedding? You find out your husband to be fucked a hooker at his bachelor party. Or, you find out he hooked up with his ex constantly until the wedding day. Or maybe you find out that he would pick up women all the time on weekends out with his friends. None of this is cheating, right? You’re not married. You’re only engaged. Married is married.

People will often talk about finding out their spouse has been cheating on them throughout their entire marriage and many times they say they discovered their spouse had been cheating on them the entire time they were dating. How is that possible? They weren’t married.

I mean, if separated or in the process of a divorce equals still married, then shouldn’t engaged, and certainly only dating pre-engagement, count as not married? And if you should remain faithful to your lying cheater until those divorce papers come through then I don’t think it’s right to expect faithfulness when you’re not married yet. You know, if marriage is that great barometer of who is cheating and who isn’t.

I just find it slightly funny that everything that happens within a relationship, regardless of marital status, can be seen as cheating because of the commitment you’ve made to the other person. I think most people would label the act of your live-in boyfriend picking up another woman at a bar and going back to her place for sex cheating. Or your husband to be having sex with a hooker at his bachelor party. Why?

Because you two have a commitment. Doesn’t matter that you’re not married. Doesn’t matter that you’re not even engaged. You two had an agreement that you would be faithful. So marriage or no marriage that agreement should take precedence.

And yet for some reason that logic doesn’t seem to work for others in reverse. When it comes to ending a relationship the commitment goes out the window and it’s only the ink on those papers that matters

Should You Share Your Inheritance With the Mistress?

I came across this gem recently: Husband cheats on wife. Leaves her for the mistress. Then he dies at age 48 and leaves his ex-wife everything. Mistress is pissed. I shall elaborate.

The “man” cheated on his wife when she was four months pregnant after more than ten years of marriage. It was only when he asked for a divorce and then had his lawyer order her out of their apartment that she found out about the mistress. Over the years the ex-husband attempted to reach out to her several times, including after she had a miscarriage with their child. When he found out he was terminally ill he reached out again but she wisely refused to see him even though this was his “last wish.” Boo hoo.

Despite her refusal to see him, and despite the fact that the woman had remarried and had two children with her current husband, the ex-husband left her everything. He even wrote her a letter that he included with his will where he stated he had never stopped loving or thinking about her, and in his mind, she was still his wife.

Oh really? Still loved her and thought about her even while you were banging your mistress? Did your affair accomplice know you were still pining for your former wife? Did she know she was still fucking a married man in your eyes because you were still married to your ex? Did that keep everything fresh and exciting with her because you could convince yourself you were still cheating on your wife and your side whore was still just an option, not your only option?

Side question: How did your mistress feel about the fact that you weren’t willing to marry her?

I wish I could feel bad for him but I don’t. Plus, he’s dead so he doesn’t even know I don’t feel bad for him.

Sad sausage goes on to write to his ex-wife that he never got over the loss of their child (the one you abandoned when she was four months pregnant?) and felt responsible for causing the miscarriage. Leaving her his money was his way of making amends.

The relationship with the mistress lasted 8 years and at 33, Little Miss Homewrecker has been left with nothing. Doing the math it seems a really stupid 25 year old got involved with a 40 year told and thought she was going to live a life of luxury. And then he died and left everything to his ex-wife. Including the apartment the mistress currently lives in.

Excuse me while I laugh hysterically.

Naturally the mistress is not happy about this. I mean, if she was willing to steal the wife’s husband do you really think she wants to let the wife keep all of his money? Oh no! She’s threatening to contest the will if the ex-wife doesn’t give her a portion of it.

Oh, the inheritance? Comes out to $1.3 million.

In addition to all this fun, the woman’s ex in-laws are also pressuring her to “be fair and share the money”. According to them the mistress will end up homeless and on the streets if the ex-wife won’t share. Because, you know, the ex-wife also got the apartment.

Hey, dumbasses, she already shared her husband with the dumb bitch. She didn’t get a choice in that decision. She can, however, choose not to share her inheritance.

Also, I’m sure the mistress will land on her back. She’ll find some other poor married sucker and leach off of him.


At the end of the article it asks, “Is the author entirely justified to keep the full inheritance that her ex-husband purposely left her, even if it means his girlfriend of 8 years gets nothing? Or should the author be kinder to the girlfriend, who just lost her partner, and share a portion of the wealth with her?

Oh. For. The. Love. Be kinder to the woman who fucked your husband behind your back? Be kinder to the whore who came in and wrecked your marriage and your life? Do you think the mistress was urging her lover to share a portion of his income with the wife he left behind for her? How kind do you think the mistress was to the wife when she lost her baby? Do you think the mistress even thought for one minute that maybe her actions had contributed to that?

The ex-wife went on to say that once her husband left her for the mistress the mistress quit college, never worked a day in her life, and basically lived off of her lover. Too bad he died young.

Maybe she should have a heart to heart with the grieving girlfriend. After all, she could sympathize. I imagine it might go something like this: Oh, Whore, I feel for you. What you’re going through now must feel an awful lot like what I went through when I was four months pregnant and found out my husband was fucking you. You must be as devastated now, finding out he blindsided you and left you with nothing, as I was back then when he blindsided me and torpedoed our life together for a life of cheap sex with you. I guess you could say he left me with nothing as well back then and gave you everything. Don’t forget that I, too, know what it’s like to be betrayed by him. The only difference, of course, is that you helped him betray me. I didn’t do anything to you. You go right ahead and contest that will. You don’t have a leg to stand on and I’m not giving you a single red cent.

Thankfully the mistress is still young. She could play this one of two ways. Way #1 she actually gets off her ass and gets a job and works for what she wants. My guess is that will not appeal to the gold digger. So again, thankfully she is still young because way #2 involves finding some other sucker to support her. Maybe the next one won’t come down with a terminal illness.

If I were the woman I’d tell both the gold digging girlfriend and the asinine ex in-laws to fuck all the way off. And when they had fucked all the way off they could keep going and fuck off some more. They could keep fucking off until they fucking died.

Keep that money, honey! He left it to you to assuage his guilt. He was probably hoping to buy his way into Heaven. If he had wanted the whore to have it he would have left it to her. Use that money to make your life better and easier.

One last tip- don’t co-mingle the inheritance with marital funds. Keep it as yours, and yours alone.

Stop Expecting Them To Parent!

I think one of the saddest things I see on infidelity boards are the parents that ask in anguish, “Why won’t the fuckwit have anything to do with our children? How can they just abandon their own flesh and blood?”

I frequently see posts from people who are frustrated that the fuckwit won’t help out with the kids, won’t take them for visitation, doesn’t show up when they’re supposed to, and of course, hasn’t seen the kids in months or years.

I recall reading a post on a blog from someone who was irritated that her ex wouldn’t help out with his kid. At the time I told her she needed to pretend that he didn’t exist and that she only had herself and her support system to rely upon. I think she was a little befuddled because her response was along the lines of, “But this is his child! Shouldn’t he be doing this for our child? He’s the other parent; I should be able to rely on him and expect him to do his part! This is for our child, not me!”

My response to that was, “Yes, obviously he should but he’s not going to so stop beating your head against a brick wall and control what you can control.” What she could control, of course, was herself. Not him.

I spent six months living in the same house as Jerry Lee after D-Day. Not one time did he help out with the kids. I believe he asked Picasso once if he needed a ride but that was it. Then he moved 6-7 hours away and he’s never lived in the same state as his kids since then. I had no choice but to take on everything myself.

Maybe that was a blessing in disguise. I never had false hope that the other parent would step up and do his part. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he wouldn’t.

Maybe I spent too much time on other boards, boards populated by single moms who shared children with absent fathers. Their attitude was primarily, “Put on your combat boots and get shit done yourself.”

I think that’s why I advocate for people forming outside support systems. It’s why I recommend not relying on the other parent. And if you’re going to rely on the other parent then make sure you have a backup plan. It’s why I recommend having everything your child needs at your house and the other parent having everything the child needs at their house.

Stop begging an uninterested person to remain in your child’s life. That’s giving the fuckwit more power than they deserve. It makes them central. If they’re going to ditch your kid they’re going to ditch your kid and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it. The only thing you’ll be able to do is potentially prolong it. I have heard so many stories where once the sane parent finally drops the rope and puts the relationship responsibility on the now adult child and the other parent it fizzles out, or the now adult child puts an immediate end to it.

Stop being shocked when they flake on you. Expect it. Have that backup plan ready.

I guess maybe in many ways I was lucky that I was the one that handled everything that went along with Rock Star and Picasso. I could figure out how to get both kids to hockey and gymnastics on the same nights when Jerry Lee was at an out of town meeting. He seemed incapable, but I could do it. I was used to taking 2 young kids on a cross country vacation with no help from him even when we were married. I could figure out how to get Rock Star to gymnastics practice early and then return in time to pick Picasso up from school at the regular time. I could figure out how to get Picasso to his hockey tournament (three games played throughout the day) on the same day as Rock Star’s state gymnastics meet. I could figure out how to get a kid to orchestra and arrange a breakfast for the teacher’s at the same time. I could figure out how to arrange for childcare while I volunteered at church. And I even figured out how to arrange for childcare while I went out of town for a weekend with church friends so we could go to a women’s conference.

It involved about 16 hours of driving and leaving children in two separate states but I arranged it! I drove Rock Star from Michigan to Kentucky to stay with her grandmother down there and then I drove Picasso back up from Kentucky to Indiana to stay with my mom. From there I drove back on up to Michigan and my friends and I left for the conference the next day. And I got to turn around and do it all over again a few days later in order to pick them back up.

Is it better when you’ve got a 2 person tag team taking on childcare responsibilities? I’m sure it is. But you can do it without them. My advice, just like the advice I gave to that woman on her blog, is to stop banging your head against a brick wall. Be prepared to take on all the responsibility. Don’t rely upon the other parent. If they come through it’s an unexpected bonus. If they don’t, you’ve got this.

If the other parent is still involved and reliable I think that’s great. I’m not suggesting you attempt to oust them from their kids’ lives. But if you’ve got an ex who doesn’t take much an interest in your children then please stop giving them the power to hurt you and your kids. Your kids need one sane parent. Stop offering up your child like a lamb to slaughter. You don’t mention visitation. If the other parent shows up you send them with them. If they don’t show up they have no idea the other parent was even supposed to be there. You don’t call them and beg them to show up for birthdays or holidays. You take advantage of the fact that you don’t have to share those moments. You don’t ask if they’ll be using their visitation. You don’t remind them of the days they have. They are adults and I trust are able to read their visitation schedule. If you’ve got plans you get yourself a backup in case the other parent doesn’t show. If you didn’t have plans now is your chance to do whatever you want with your kids, whether that’s spending the evening at home, or going out and doing something fun.

Can it be heartbreaking for your child when the other parent abandons them? Of course it can be! More so I think if your child is old enough to remember the other parent being around. In other cases, if the parent disappears early enough they may not even really remember them. Just remember, this is not something you can control. You are not responsible for their shitty choices. You concentrate on being the best parent you can be.

What you can control is taking charge of your life. You can refuse to be at the mercy of a fuckwit. You can refuse to be held hostage to their whims. Put that support system in place. Make your backup plan. Have a backup for your backup plan if necessary. That way when they call you twenty minutes before pickup and let you know they can’t make it you’re not flipping out because you had planned on going out for a long overdue night out with friends. You’ve got this. You’ve already made arrangements. You’re never disappointed that your ex can’t pick up your daughter while you take your son to soccer. You’ve already got this handled.

The Name Game

As y’all may remember I changed my name back to my maiden name when I divorced Jerry Lee. I didn’t want his name anymore. Or rather, I no longer wished to be associated with him anymore because let’s face it, once we got married and I changed my last name to match his it became my goddamn name.

There always seems to be discussion on changing your name back on the various boards I read. My stance is pretty simple. The last name is yours. Do with it what you wish. You want to get rid of it and go back to your maiden name? Get rid of it and go back to your maiden name; I did. You want to keep it? Then keep it. No one else gets to have an opinion. That includes the replacement, the cheating STBX, or even, sadly, the betrayed male spouse. Yes, my stance remains the same even then.

You think your new boyfriend’s/husband’s ex should change her last name back to her maiden name? You don’t like that she still has “his” name? It’s not your decision to make. It’s her last name now, not solely his.

You want your ex-wife to go back to her maiden name because you want to “bestow” that name upon a new woman? No one’s stopping you, Romeo. But you don’t get a say in whether or not your ex changes her name. Your choice was to be faithful or cheat. Now she gets to make choices.

Your ex-wife cheated on you and you think she should stop using your name? Again, I’m sorry. I really am. I know it must suck to have someone you despise share a name with you, but when you married her you gave her that name. It’s now hers. It was never a loaner.

Someone asked, “Why would she want to keep it when she cheated on me?” I can think of several reasons.

Practically speaking it can be a pain in the ass to change your name, especially now in the time of Covid-19. I just went through helping my son change his last name a year ago and let me tell you it was quite the process, and this was without having to change diplomas, credit cards, etc. I realize we probably had to take a few extra steps, like advertising in the paper, but it was still a lengthy, time-consuming process. Just getting the change at the Social Security office was a nightmare. Their offices are still closed so everything had to be sent in the mail- birth certificates, social security cards, high school transcripts, IDs. No one was answering phones so you had no idea if what you were sending in was correct (and in our case it wasn’t so we had to send in all new things). You needed to get everything changed at the Social Security office before you could do anything else- like getting a new State ID or driver’s license, or changing your medical records or updating your information at your bank. Hell, I still have credit cards in my old last name. My email address still has my old last name as well.

Many women also want to share a last name with their children. Most children are given the last name of their father. They frequently point out how travel and other issues can be more difficult when you don’t have the same last name as your child. It’s yet another slap in the face to think that your child’s stepmom can get information about your child or travel with your child with no one questioning them because they share a last name, while you, the legal parent, has to jump through hoops and prove your relationship to them if your name is different.

Also, as some people point out, they’ve had their married name longer than they had their maiden name. That wasn’t my situation but I’d still been Sam Jackass for 20+ years. Most of my adult friends knew me by that name instead of Sam Awesome.

Even with those three reasons listed above it still comes down to this: When you get married and legally take someone else’s name that name becomes your name. No one else gets to tell you to get rid of it. It’s yours to change if you choose. This isn’t semantics. It is your legal name.

In my situation I asked Jerry Lee how he would feel if I hyphenated my name when we got married. I know you will all be shocked to find out he was not happy with that idea at all. Oh no! I was to take his last name when we married.

Little Miss Harley hyphenated her name when she was married to The Saint. Now, I don’t know if she chose not to hyphenate it this time around because she just loved Jerry Lee so much she wanted to be all Jackass instead of Skank-Jackass, or if he pouted again and asked, “How could you not want to be all Jackass?”

So here’s my solution, fellas. Stop giving your name away! Seriously. When you’re getting engaged let it be known that you realize she’s her own person and you don’t expect her to take on a different name. She’s been Jane Smith for 20+ years and just because she’s marrying you doesn’t mean she has to suddenly become Jane Jones. If you’re insisting that she take your name then realize it’s now her legal name. She’s free to do with it what she wishes. She doesn’t have to give it back if things go south.

Personally, I think we should stop taking the man’s last name and we should start giving our children our last name instead of the man’s. As one person pointed out, “You have to do a DNA test to prove the children belong to the father. Not so with the mother.” And as another made note, ”So many times these men abandon their children and the woman is left either keeping a last name she no longer wants, or her name is different from that of her children, even though she’s the one raising them and he’s off doing God only knows what.”

Children & Cheating

There is always discussion on various boards about whether or not to tell children the truth. Thankfully, the tide seems to be turning and more and more parents are opting to be honest while keeping it age appropriate. I’ve never understood those that object to a simple: When you get married you make a promise to each other that you won’t have other boyfriends or girlfriends. Daddy (or Mommy) broke that promise and that’s why we can’t stay married anymore.

It’s age appropriate. You’re not trashing the other parent. It’s honest. The child is not left wondering if his or her parents are getting divorced because they threw a tantrum at the supermarket or got a “D” in school or forgot to feed the dog.

Yet there are still people who argue that children are too young to understand the concept of cheating and that they shouldn’t be burdened with adult problems.

Have you ever played Candy Land or Go Fish with a small child? Believe me, they understand the concept of cheating. You hide that Queen Frostine card and they’re going to call you on your shit. “That’s not fair! You cheated!”

Putting that aside, every time I hear someone argue that children don’t understand cheating and shouldn’t be burdened with that I think of my own daughter and our discussion about her getting married.

She was 3, maybe 4, when she announced to me, like young girls often do, that she’s going to marry her daddy when she grows up.

Had I known then what I know now I would have said, “Baby, I’ve got bad news for you. Your daddy is a big, fat cheater. You don’t want that in your life. Find another man. Also, he’s your father, and that’s gross.”

What I actually said was, “Honey, you can’t marry Daddy. He’s already married to me.”

Again, knowing what I know now, that obviously wouldn’t have stopped him.

So Rock Star decided to do the next best thing. She decided she was going to marry one of her uncles. Again, I had to break it to her that her uncle was also married.

She went down the line until she got to my brother that she didn’t really even like at that time. Actually, it wasn’t so much that she didn’t like him. She was terrified of him.

“You don’t even like him! Besides, he’s married, too.”

“To whom?”

“Your aunt!”

I still remember her defeated little sigh as she said, “I’m never getting married! Everyone’s already married!”

I would like to believe my child is brilliant beyond measure. Honestly, I think she’s very intelligent even if she did tell me on one occasion to tell her brother to stop using big words. Apparently, he was using words in every day conversation that she would reserve for a paper she had to turn in. I believe the word was “invigorating”. Nonetheless, I don’t think she was so incredibly gifted at age 3 or 4 that she alone could comprehend you could only be married to one person at a time. Hell, when she was 3 she wanted to be a butterfly when she grew up.

My whole point, of course, is that my child could understand she couldn’t marry someone if that person was already married to someone else. We weren’t even talking about something nefarious, like cheating. It was a simple explanation that when you’re already married you can’t marry another person. And if you think about it, when she bitterly announced she would never get married because everyone was already married, she already intrinsically knew that the solution wasn’t for that person to get divorced so she could marry him. It never occurred to her. She didn’t say, “Well, he can leave you and marry me instead.” She didn’t even attempt, “Maybe he could be married to both of us.” He was married and that was that to her little 3 or 4 year old brain. So no, I don’t think it’s completely crazy to believe a child can understand the explanation, “When you get married you make a special promise to not have any other boyfriends or girlfriends.” I don’t think it’s involving them in adult situations or putting too much on their shoulders. It’s a simple, age appropriate explanation as to what’s going on.

A Woman’s Responsibility

I have another circumbendibus story for you. I guess it’s not that circumbendibus but I’ll let you decide.

Once upon a time in 1969 there were three precious babies born within 5 months of each other. Spoiler alert! I was one of those babies. The other two were my cousins- one born in January and the other in May.

The cousin that was born in January had a birthday- obviously. I believe he is now retired from the fire department and he has taken to driving buses. He doesn’t drive just any kind of bus. He’s not transporting kids to school. Oh no! He’s driven Lorrie Morgan, Luke Combs, Kane Brown, and Jesse Keith Whitley.

Because I’m Facebook friends with him I saw his message on his birthday where he talked about Jesse Keith (son of country legends Lorrie Morgan and Keith Whitley) calling him up on his birthday and singing to him. It turns out he’s actually friends with this guy now. Like, he’s not just Facebook friends. They go back and forth with each other.

Now, I don’t remember how I came to see this but in the not so distant past I saw a video of him singing his father’s song. I liked it and I downloaded it.

“That’s fascinating stuff, Sam, but why are you telling us this?” I’m sure you are asking. Hold your horses! I told you this was a circumbendibus story!

Because of the exchange between my cousin and Jesse Keith I looked up another YouTube video. In it, he had his mama on stage and sang his father’s hit, “Tell Lorrie I Love Her”. As I am oft to do I began reading the comments.

For those of you who have no idea who these people are I will give a brief overview. Keith Whitley was a country singer who also happened to be an alcoholic. His career was brief, but filled with hits. Maybe some of you might recognize his song, “When You Say Nothing At All.” Allison Krause covered it back in the 90s. He was married to Lorrie Morgan for approximately 3 years, from 1986-1989. They were considered a country superstar duo and then he died of alcohol poisoning.

I have now given you all the background information I need to get on with my main point. Ready?

As I was reading the comments what struck me were the number of people commenting on the relationship between Keith and Lorrie. Many talked about how you could see how much she loved him and how difficult it still was 30+ years later. Others made the comment that if she had loved him so much she shouldn’t have gone on tour. Apparently, it was while she was on tour that he died. And apparently, knowing he was an alcoholic she should have sidelined her career and babysat him.

Look, I have no idea what went on in their relationship. I have no idea how much he had been drinking before she went on tour, and I have no idea if she knew how bad the drinking had become. Hell, who knows if her breaking her contract and refusing to go on tour would have even saved his life? But to have someone actually call into question the love she had for this man because she went on tour? WTF!

Seriously? We women are caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand we’re told no one is responsible for supporting us all of our lives, and especially not after you’ve been cast aside for the newest model; on the other hand, we’re supposed to give up our career for the sake of our husband if that will help him. Or at the very least, we’re expected to put our career on hold so we can take care of our husband.

I hate all the pretentious talk about “the patriarchy” and how it keeps women down, but damn! This is the kind of shit that drives me nuts. As women it’s our duty to disregard what might be best for us and concentrate on what’s best for the man in our life. You’ve got a tour with hundreds of people counting on you for their livelihood? Oh, but hubby needs you. Just cancel it. You have a job that you find fulfilling and allows you to support yourself? Your husband was just offered a promotion 1000 miles away. Looks like you need to leave that job behind in order to make that move. You want to go back to school in order to get a job that pays you well, one that you find personally rewarding as well? Oh, hubby needs you home to take care of the kids, do his laundry, and make his dinner. Just put a pin in those plans until the kids are older.

Most states in the US have no long-term alimony. I know Texas doesn’t. Indiana doesn’t. From what I understand quite a few will award “alimony” while the divorce is in process but it ceases once the divorce is finalized. Others will award rehabilitative alimony for a few years. Basically, the breadwinner has to pay alimony until the dependent spouse has had a chance to either go back to school or otherwise managed to get a job that will support them. It is the courts’ belief that this should only take a few years. Of course, they don’t really care if they have anywhere close to the same standard of living. It’s enough to merely be able to pay rent and buy groceries. If you’re living in a one bedroom apartment in the roughest section of town, who cares? You’re supporting yourself! Congratulations!

It suddenly has occurred to me that we’re not going to make the changes in the courtroom or in Congress. Too many cheaters in power. No way that they will pass laws that hurt themselves. But we can make a change with women. Maybe. Hopefully.

Women, stop putting your husbands first. Start putting yourselves first. Go to school if it betters your career prospects. Get a job. Keep it. Don’t buy anything that you cannot afford on your own. If that means you live in a shittier house than your husband wants- too damn bad. Have him put that extra money aside in savings so that if he gets a bug up his ass and decides to leave for some floozy 20 years younger you’ve got one hell of a savings account to split. Don’t quit when you have children. Don’t move all over hell’s creation for your husband’s career. Don’t be the only one to drive kids all over the place. Don’t be the one picking up dry-cleaning all the time. Don’t cancel your plans for his plans. Don’t be the one who tries to do it all. Period! Make your life count. Make your needs count.

I know it sounds selfish. That’s because we’re used to putting our spouse ahead of ourselves. Don’t.

Not long ago I was reading a woman’s story. She had helped put her husband through med school or law school. Something big. She’d helped him build his career and as they often do, once he became successful he tossed her aside for a newer model. One that hadn’t helped build shit but was going to reap the benefits of that woman’s hard work. The woman was actually chiming in to thank another long time member of the group. She said she remembered sharing her story and that member said to her, and I’m paraphrasing, “Imagine what all you can accomplish if you put as much work and focus into yourself. You helped your husband succeed. Now help yourself succeed.”

And so she did. She took that member’s advice and put all her time and energy into herself and her own career. She went back to school to become a nurse. Her standard of living is nowhere close to what it used to be but everything she has from here on out is hers. She’s not dependent upon a man that will turn on her the minute she’s no longer of use to him. She’s going to be far better off than most of us.

I will leave you with this wise advice I got off Twitter:

Eureka Moment!

Getting a divorce after being a stay at home mom, or simply being the lower income earner, is like going into business with someone and then dissolving that partnership. You get 50% of what that business is worth, minus 50% of the debts associated with it. Only… you’re the business partner that has to sign a non-compete clause and start over 200 miles away with a completely new business you have to build from the ground up while the other half of the partnership gets to keep the business, the customers, and the income generated.

It’s the Best Decision I Ever Made!!!

Oh boy! Another former co-worker had a baby and opted to be a stay-at-home mom. This makes three in the last 2+ years. She announced it on Facebook and so many people chimed in to tell her how happy they were for her.

“You’re going to love it!”

“So happy for you!”

“Being a stay at home mom is the best!”

“So glad you’re going to stay home!”

“You’ll never regret it!”

“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made!”

I didn’t comment. I didn’t feel it would be appropriate.

The reality is no one wants to be told they’re doing something that could prove to be financially devastating to them. They don’t want to hear about everything that could wrong. We’re not taught to plan for the worse; we’re always told to look on the bright side and think positive! The person who attempts to interject reality into this fabulous fantasy is labeled bitter, jealous, and jaded. Plus, I realize it might all work out exactly as they’ve planned. I hear that sometimes happens for other people. I guess in that case you’ve made a mountain out of a mole hill. Jellybean’d on their dreams for no reason. Not to mention looking like a bitter, jealous, crazy woman who wants everyone to be miserable. So I don’t comment. With that said (or left unsaid)…

It’s the best decision you’ve ever made? Really? Because I look back on my time as a stay at home mom and while, yes, I did enjoy my time with my kids, I think it was the absolute worst decision I could have made. When the discard came 15 years later I lost everything. Primarily because I didn’t have a job or any way to support my kids.

Had I not gotten a divorce I might be singing a different tune. I might be one of those people telling her how amazing it is. Then again, if I didn’t get a divorce I wouldn’t be living in Indiana. If I didn’t live in Indiana (and I didn’t get a divorce) I wouldn’t have taken a job at the bank. If I didn’t take the job at the bank I wouldn’t have met her, and therefore would not be Facebook friends with her. It’s a real If-You-Give-A-Mouse-A-Cookie situation.

You’ll never regret it? Hmmm…. I suppose that depends upon how your marriage works out. Again, if you remain married I would imagine you wouldn’t regret your decision much at all. He tosses you aside for a new model after 15, 20, 25 years and you’ve got to go out and hustle to get a job after all that time at home, you might be regretting it.

I find it a little sad that I view life that way now. This woman is so overjoyed with her new baby and being able to stay at home with her and all I can think about is how this has the potential to go horribly wrong years down the road.

Honestly, I’m happy that they can go all in. I’m happy that they feel like they can trust their husbands. I’m happy they seem to truly work as a team. Good for them. That’s over for me but hooray to whoever can still have that. I mean that sincerely.

I think that when marriage works as it’s intended to it can be a very, very good thing. Two people working towards a common goal. Two people supporting each other and each other’s dreams. Two people raising their family and having the best interests of their children at the forefront.

The problem comes, of course, when it no longer works as intended. When the woman who worked a full-time job so that she could put her husband through law school gets discarded once her husband graduates from law school and begins to finally make good money. When the woman who has moved around the world in support of her husband’s career, and at the expense of her own, is tossed aside for a younger model, When the woman who chose to stay at home with her kids and take care of everything related to the home so that her husband could concentrate on his career and his climb up the corporate ladder is replaced by a woman who makes good money herself. That’s when we say to ourselves, “I never should have done that. That was NOT the best decision I’ve ever made and I DO really regret it!”

Unfortunately, it’s one of those things where you don’t know what you don’t know. Until your world comes crumbling down and you find out that those decisions that felt so right back when you made them 10, 15, 20 years ago, turned out to be so, so wrong.

The truth is most people don’t live their lives thinking of worst case scenarios. They don’t make their decisions based upon, “What if I get divorced?” or, “Could I do this completely on my own if I had to?” I certainly didn’t back when I was married. I naively thought that I would never get divorced, and if I did… Well, I saw my mom do very well for herself after her divorce and had heard of other women who began careers after their kids were grown and out of the house. I didn’t think I would have any difficulty.

I’ve said before I enjoyed being home with my two kids. I enjoyed taking them to school and running them around to all of their practices and games. I loved being able to take them places and do things with them in the summer and when they were on break. I’m thankful for all the memories we were able to make. I did love it. And had I remained married I would still think it was a wise and wonderful choice. But I didn’t remain married. Instead I was forced out of everything I ever knew and had to find a job after being out of the job market for 15 years. No one wanted to hire me. I suffered. My kids suffered. We lost almost everything. We had to move 600 miles away. I worked 2 jobs for almost a year. I didn’t have much time for my kids. I went from being a 100% dedicated stay at home mom who did everything for my kids, to being someone who was constantly exhausted, worked ridiculous hours trying to pay my bills and support my kids, and never had time for my kids. I think that abrupt shift from Mother Extraordinaire to Pretty Shitty Mom hurt my kids more than anything. In the end staying at home was the worst decision I could have ever made and I definitely regretted my decision.

I sincerely hope that all of these former co-workers who are so happy to quit their jobs and stay home with their babies don’t find themselves wearing my shoes 15-20 years from now.