Oh, Willow

Willow Smith appeared on her mom’s Red Table discussion recently, talking about her decision to be polyamorous. She’s twenty, so of course she’s got all of this figured out. I wish I could go back in time to when I knew everything… But I digress.

Where were we? Oh yes. Polyamory. Look, if you want more than one partner and you’re honest and upfront about it from the very beginning I don’t care what you do. If the object of your affection doesn’t mind sharing and knows what they’re getting into then have at it. It’s not for me but if two other people come to an honest agreement I don’t give a damn. Nonetheless, I have a couple of issues with what Willow is trying to sell the nation.  

“With polyamory, I feel like the main foundation is the freedom to be able to create a relationship style that works for you and not just stepping into monogamy because that’s what everyone around you says is the right thing to do…”

Hmmm… who are all of these people that are commenting on other people’s sex lives? She makes it sound like people are forced into monogamy. No one is forced to get married. No one is forced to date only one person at a time. This idea that your only two choices are monogamy or cheating is a falsehood. Personally I’m beyond tired of hearing people act like monogamy is being forced upon them. No, what generally happens is that monogamy works for the cheater, or at least the appearance of monogamy works for the cheater. Then when they’re caught they begin whining about how monogamy was forced upon them and it’s not natural.

Willow goes on to tell us that after doing some research into polyamory she has discovered that “the main reasons… why divorces happen is infidelity.”

Willow, you’re probably onto something. Infidelity probably is one of the main reason that people end up divorced. Unfortunately, being polyamorous doesn’t mean you won’t experience infidelity. That agreement you have with your partners? Those are rules you’ve agreed upon. You need to follow those. Cheaters aren’t good at following rules. They hate following rules. Rules are for other people. Not them. They’re very special. All it takes is for you and your partner(s) to have an agreement about something, anything, and for your partner(s) to go behind and your back and do the exact opposite of what was agreed upon. Boom! You’ve now experienced infidelity- even in a polyamorous relationship.

I’ve head it said many times by people who have been cheated on that it’s not the fact their partner had sex with someone else that is so painful; it’s all the lies and the gas lighting along with the discard and everything else that goes along with cheating on your partner. Now, let’s be honest. If the mobster came up to me tomorrow and said, “Sam, sweetie, I love you but there’s someone else I’m very attracted to and I’m going to have to sex with her. I thought you should know because after all, it’s the lies and not the sex with another person that is so painful. We’re good, right?” well, let’s just say that conversation would not go over well. At. All. But I get what everyone else is saying. The secrecy, the lies, the double life, making you think you’re crazy, making you doubt yourself… those are the cherries on top of the shit sundae that is infidelity. It’s also what so many cheaters thrive on. They love the double life. They love knowing something that their trusting partner doesn’t know. They get off on it.

Now add in the fact that most of them don’t want their partners having other partners. It’s fine for them to have a buffet of choices, but let’s face it. If their partner also is allowed other partners then they won’t have their full attention and that simply won’t do. Everyone is to worship them. You are to have no gods before them. It’s not a transparent agreement. It’s a one sided arrangement that benefits only one person- the person who knows what’s going on. It’s amazing how many cheating spouses claim to be  polyamorous, yet all of their partners are monogamous. Strange, huh? It’s almost like that’s deliberate, or something.

Naturally mom Jada was all about the polyamory. She, too, bought into the idea that people seek out monogamous relationships because they “feel like they have no other choice.” She then suggested that the majority end up practicing “unethical non-monogamy” (otherwise known as cheating, and called out as such by her mom, known as Gammy on the show).

Again, no one is forced to be monogamous. But when you lead a person to believe that you’re going to be monogamous and have sex only with them, they expect you to be faithful. Funny how that works. 

Let’s be real. This idea that monogamy is being forced upon anyone is a load of horse shit. It is a total cop out. Most of these poor, misunderstood people forced into monogamy are usually getting something out of it. Either their spouse wouldn’t have agreed to marry them under other conditions, or the spouse is of use to them. They make them look like an upstanding citizen. They can pull off Mother or Father of the Year with their trusty spouse beside them, pulling the majority of the weight. They’re fed, their clothes are washed, their kids are taken care of, they have a steady income coming into the household. Another person is doing all of the adulting so they can go off and play. It’s not that they’re “forced” into monogamy. It’s that leading someone on to think they’re in a monogamous relationship means they’re getting their needs met. Then when they’re caught cheating they whine that they were forced into monogamy and if only they had been allowed non-traditional avenues none of this would have happened.

When Gammy tells Willow she’s not a fan of polyamory and prefers the traditional constructs of marriage, despite being married several times, Willow takes the ol’, “What if your partner isn’t meeting all of your needs?” approach.

“Let’s say you haven’t always been the kind of person that wanted to have sex all the time, but your partner is. Are you gonna be the person to say, ‘Just because I don’t have these needs, you can’t have them either?’

Let’s begin with the obvious. You don’t cause someone to cheat. After reading Chump Lady for years I can confidently say there are  people out there in relationships where none of their needs are getting met and their partner treats them terribly yet they still don’t cheat. I didn’t get my needs met in my marriage. I didn’t cheat. You’re either the type of person who will cheat, or you’re the type of person who won’t. If you will, it doesn’t matter what the other person does or doesn’t do; you’re going to cheat. If you won’t, it doesn’t matter what the other does or doesn’t do; you’re going to remain faithful.

And what is this shit about “you can’t expect one person to meet all your needs”? Who does that? I’ve never expected one person to meet all of my needs. Does no one have friends anymore? Can people only meet your needs if you’re fucking them? I don’t even expect my friends to meet each and every one of my needs. I had friends I played Bunko with. I have friends I go out to dinner with. I had friends I bowled with. I had PTA friends and gym mom friends. I’ve got friends from work. I’ve got friends from high school. I have friends I tell my innermost secrets to and other friends where I keep it pretty superficial.

I’m shaking my head here. I’m not sure anyone rational expects one person to be everything for another person. Again, does no one have friends anymore?  Just because your partner doesn’t share your interest in something doesn’t mean you need to find another warm body to sleep with in order to enjoy that interest. Just recently when I shared that sweet J and I watched the Kentucky Derby the mobster told me he had never seen the race, nor was he interested in ever seeing it. When I told him I planned on having an annual Derby party, complete with hats and mint juleps he told he would probably be working that day. Does that mean I should go find some other man that does enjoy watching the Kentucky Derby? One that would love to attend my annual Derby party? No, of course not!

As for the sexual mismatch… to be blunt I think you should know by the time you’re committing to a person what kind of a sex drive they have. If your libidos are mismatched and that’s going to be an issue then end the relationship. It’s called dating for a reason. People are far too reluctant to end a relationship, choosing instead to settle. That’s not on monogamy; that’s on people who are willing to compromise something important in order to remain in a relationship.

Look, Willow, I know you think you’ve discovered the magical cure for all relationship woes. If I’m just not tied down to one person but can instead experience a multitude of people, all with my partner’s blessing, my life will be blissful. Oh, you sweet summer child, people don’t cheat because they’re forced into “unnatural” monogamy. Cheaters cheat because that’s what they like to do. It’s no fun with permission. It’s not because they’re not “allowed” to sample others. It’s because they like duping you. That is the real thrill, not freedom to fuck others. Polyamory isn’t some magical elixir. A lying, cheating asshole “forced” into monogamy isn’t suddenly going to become Prince Charming once you tell them they can fuck whomever they choose… within the bounds of your agreement, of course. Monogamy is not the enemy and polyamory isn’t the answer to everyone’s prayers.

The Terrible Tragedy That Time Forgot

Do you know what today is? It’s June 11th. That means yesterday was June 10th. It went by without notice by me. I mean, obviously I knew the date. I wrote several reports that day at work citing the date, but it did not give me a single pause.

I went back to see what I wrote about the date last year. Apparently I forgot about it last year as well. The year before I didn’t realize the significance until the day was almost over.

When my world came crashing down on me on that date back in 2016 I thought for sure I would never forget that day. That was the beginning of a very dark period in my life.

These last two years it’s gone back to being just another day and I am so thankful for that. Life does indeed go on. 

If there is one thing I could burn into the brains of those people who are just now going through what I went through it would be that it gets better. It really does. You may not believe it now but the pain will go away. You will gain a life. You will smile and laugh again. You may or may not find love again. You will find happiness. And you will forget those horrible dates.

Summer Time!

The unofficial kickoff to the summer has come and gone. I spent yet another Memorial Day weekend down in Virginia with my mobster.

Picasso and I left after I got off work on Friday. We were going to stop and drive the remaining distance Saturday morning but I couldn’t find a hotel room and by the time I was actually trying to stop for the night we were only about 2-3 hours from his house. I ended up driving through the night and getting in at 4 in the morning.

The drive was the worst part of the trip. It rained almost the entire trip. It wasn’t terrible through most of Ohio but as I got to the eastern side of the state it began to pour. I can barely see to drive at night as it is, but add in a torrential downpour and I am definitely on edge. I thought I hit not one, but two, potholes. Turns out one of the potholes must have been an animal because when we stopped to get gas (at a gas station that had lost power and therefore had no way for us to get gas into our cars) there was blood splatter on my side of the car. I felt horrible but tell myself that I hit a dead animal. It was pouring so hard out there I find it difficult to believe any animals would have actually been out attempting to cross a highway.

As always we had a great time. He finally took me to a Salem Red Sox game. T actually bought tickets for her and her boyfriend and invited us to come along. Picasso wasn’t feeling well so it ended up just being me and the mobster.

We also played a lot of Pokemon Go, had a bonfire, went out to eat, and took a bike ride where he tried to kill me. Okay, I’m exaggerating but I did fall off the damn bike. I bruised my hip and skinned my knee. I am not real good at shifting gears on a bike and when I tried to shift on one of the last hills I went nowhere and then pitched over. He kept saying, “I don’t understand. The last time we did this you loved it!” The last time I was on a bike with him I shit my pants and had to have him hand wash my jeans for me while I cleaned myself up in a port-a-potty. I don’t know that I would call that love. Plus, I’m not going to lie- I was worried about snakes. Virginia has those dreadful huge black snakes. And, at one point, he yelled, “Try not to fall into the river!” as he cruised over the tiniest of a ridge next to the water. Now, I probably wasn’t anywhere close to falling in but you know how it goes when someone calls attention to it. I’m pretty sure I screamed. Which reminds me- I got going fast, was slowing down, and mistook a dog for a deer. I screamed; there were like four other dogs, and I looked and felt like a complete idiot. But, the good news is I refused to let my disastrous trip to the end of the trail derail me. I got back on the bike, so to speak, and rode the hell out of that trail on the way back. I told the mobster it was very much like ice skating. I went around once, almost died, and was ready to call it quits despite my lifelong dream to be on a hockey team. But, I recalibrated, caught my breath, and got back out there and ended up having a really good time. I did the same thing with the bike. Breathed, recharged, and got back out there. The mobster and I are going to enjoy many long bike rides in our future.

I took Tuesday off so we were able to spend all day Monday with him as well. Sadly, I came down with what I thought was allergies, but turned out to be a cold. I fought through it while with him but once I returned home I crashed, especially once it didn’t go away like I thought it would, proving it was not allergies. I went into work on Wednesday but felt so bad I took my first sick day ever on Thursday. I spent all day in bed and sucking down cold medicine. I needed to be healthy for the weekend because….

Rock Star turned 21 Thursday! Despite being at home sick I called her and sang Happy Birthday to her. On Saturday, Picasso, my mom, and I picked up her best friend’s mom and headed on down to Bad Axe Throwing Company in Indianapolis. My sister-in-law and my niece, Queen B, joined us, as did Rock Star, her bestie, and her boyfriend. We threw axes for 2 hours and then headed to Oliver Winery about an hour away. Rock Star loves their wine. Now how she knows that having only turned 21 two days prior to this is beyond me but it was her one request. We then drove back up to an Indy suburb, had dinner at a hibachi grill, and then headed over to another winery called Urban Vine and Brewery to finish up the night.

It was a great day spent with my two favorite kids. As an added bonus I love my kid’s best friend’s mom! She was awesome. We took a selfie together and started calling each other bestie. She was so much fun.

My summer is only getting started. So much more is yet to come. The mobster, Rock Star, Picasso, Rock Star’s boyfriend, and myself are all heading out to Utah for an amazing ten days, starting on July 2nd. I’m leaving work, driving to Chicago and getting on a plane. Rock Star and the boyfriend fly out on the 3rd. 

We’ve got a family chat going and a bucket list of things we want to do while we’re out there. There are a few favorite food places we want to hit up and between the kids and myself we want to go to Lagoon (the amusement park), Thanksgiving Point (the dinosaur museum), the zoo, multiple hikes, and downtown Salt Lake City. The mobster wants to see the Great Salt Lake and although it’s a dreadful, smelly mess I am willing to take him so he can say he has seen it. Rock Star wants to go horseback riding and we are thinking we might go rafting so we’ll play it by ear. I am so looking forward to this trip. I can’t wait to see my friends and visit all of my favorite places and spend a bunch of leisure time with my family. We are going to be making memories!

Finally, at the unofficial end of the summer, Labor Day Weekend, Picasso and I, and possibly the mobster, are heading off somewhere for a week. I thought my son wanted to go to Maine and New Hampshire and Vermont, but apparently he has changed his mind and would like to go to DC. We may spend a few days in DC and then see about checking somewhere else out. We may spend all of our time in DC. I don’t know. It’s up in the air. There’s also the possibility he’ll change his mind again and we’ll end up going somewhere completely different.

I’m really looking forward to this summer. It should be an amazing season. 

How about you? Do any of you have any plans for the summer months? I’d love to hear them.

I’d Love To Be That Naive Again

I’m jealous, folks. I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore. I get on to check in on the Chump Nation page and take maybe 5-10 minutes to scroll through my feed. I send out a few birthday wishes/happy anniversary wishes, etc. Even with the limited amount of time I’m on there I still see the feeds of seemingly happy couples.

The co-worker I mentioned a few months ago is pregnant and quit her job; she’s going to be a stay at home mom. She’s living the life she’s always wanted to live- living on a farm surrounded by animals with the love of her life and a new baby. My cousin is still at home, baking bread, knitting, and being all domestic. She is honestly rocking this stay-at-home thing. The meals she cooks, the desserts she makes, the fucking artisan bread she bakes, the projects she takes on… it’s amazing. Truly.

I’m not jealous because they’re able to do those things. I’m happy for them. No, I’m envious because they, for whatever reason, have the luxury of believing that this new life they’re crafting with their partner won’t go belly up; the thought that things might not work out and they could lose everything doesn’t even cross their minds. I don’t blame them. I didn’t spend any part of my marriage thinking, “Oh my God! What if he leaves me?” I didn’t prepare for a future without him. I certainly didn’t live my entire life with him in preparation for a divorce. That’s the root of the envy.

I learned the hard way that you can’t ever rely on the other person doing what they’re supposed to do. I learned you need to be prepared to do it all on your own because when you don’t, you’re completely blindsided. I’m envious because they don’t seem to know that; they can throw caution to the wind and depend upon another person. They are quitting their jobs. They are without an income. And they’re fine with it because their husbands will support them. They’re able to take this new life they’re creating for themselves and not think beyond now. It’s all excitement- new houses, new lifestyles, babies, new pets, photo shoots, artisan bread, home projects, and vacations. They’re building a fantastic new life with someone, and they are able to throw themselves whole heartedly into this new chapter of their lives. There is no, “What happens if I quit my job and this person leaves me?” It’s simply a brand new life where they can depend 100% on another person and trust that that person isn’t going to betray them. I really wish I could be that naive again. That is what makes me envious. All that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you. I wish I still believed that without reservation. I wish I could put my life in another person’s hands and have faith that he will always have my back. I wish I still believed that you work as a team, you build a life together, and you reap the rewards together. You don’t have to keep a tally sheet of who does what and how much your contribution is worth.

Now I see people working as a team, building lives together, making the decision to stay at home, and I think, “You better hope he doesn’t leave. If he does your life is going to spiral out of control. Everything you know to be true today will be over in the blink of an eye. Better yet- you’d better have a backup plan so you can take care of yourself if he does leave.” 

Even worse, I can’t allow myself the luxury of thinking of myself as part of a team. I am horribly aware of how no couple is really a team. You say the words, but the reality is, when that new person catches your eye, you don’t give a fuck about your former “teammate” and you’re certainly not trying to give them a fair share of everything “the team” has accumulated through the years. The team member that was making a six figure salary gets to walk away and move in with the new teammate while still making six figures; their life goes on as normal. Meanwhile, the teammate that wasn’t making the money but was raising the kids, cooking meals, doing all the grocery shopping, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, running the pets to vet appointments, running the kids all around, and generally supporting the money earner from behind the scenes is left alone with no income. Their life changes dramatically.

I know this probably sounds odd coming from me. Or maybe it doesn’t, which is even scarier. I’m very happy with the mobster. Far happier than I ever was with Jerry Lee. I love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him. I still can’t get comfortable with the idea of giving up spousal support in order to marry him or even live with him. Every time I think about it and start to believe that this time would be different because he’s the right person that little voice in my head says, “Listen up! Don’t be an idiot! You’ve already learned the hard way what happens when you can’t stand on your own two feet. You would have to be amazingly stupid to voluntarily give that up and depend on him. You don’t make enough money to be able to afford anything on your own without spousal support.”

That little voice is right. I do know what happens when you depend upon another person. I know what happens when you can’t support yourself. You wind up moving in with your mother and getting rid of almost everything you’ve ever owned and sleeping on the couch. I wish I didn’t know that.

Things have changed a bit since I first began writing this way back in October. The biggest change, of course, is my new job. I actually could support myself now if I gave up spousal support and moved in with or married the mobster. It’s still a good chunk of change though so I’m not eager to give it up. It would also be rather tight because as I said I’ve almost closed the gap. I haven’t done it completely. And when you look at actual take home pay… well, let’s just say I’m not where I want to be without that extra boost.

I like to think I’m mostly unscathed from my divorce; however, I can’t shake that idea that if I can’t afford it on my own then it’s not really mine. It was a hard lesson to learn and I’m not sure if it will ever be unlearned. The funny thing is I think that the mobster and I really would make a great team and could build a fantastic life together. That little voice in the back of my head continues to question though: What if he leaves you? Can you still afford that? Will you be able to take that (whatever “that” happens to be) with you? Will you be able to stand on your own two feet or will you have to return to your mom’s house? Funnier still is the fact that I have no reason to believe he would do that to me. He’s been through all of this himself. I don’t spend time worrying that he’s got one foot out the door or that he’s checking out other women. Hell, we live 600 miles apart and I have never worried about him cheating on me. Maybe that’s stupidity on my part, or maybe it’s a testament to the strong foundation of our relationship. Either way, it’s not something I worry about. And yet… I’m not able to fully commit to joining finances and letting Jerry Lee off the hook.

Fortunately for me the mobster understands. He recently said to me, “You’re terrified to give up spousal support, aren’t you?” Oh yeah. That’s my safety net. I lost everything. I’m not prepared to do that again.

I really wish I could be as naive as some of the people I know when it comes to relationships. I wish I didn’t feel like I always needed an exit plan in case I get discarded. On the other hand, I’m really glad I’m in a position finally where I can stand on my own. I don’t see myself ever giving that up.

Random Thoughts- On Closure

I saw a fantastic quote one time. The person wrote: Glaciers will melt and freeze back over into ice that will be sculpted into swans that will be the center piece at gay weddings in Saudi Arabia before my spouse will ever admit that they are the one to blame for their cheating.

Perhaps I am a cold, heartless creature but I didn’t need or seek closure. Nor did I think I would find comfort in Jerry Lee admitting everything was his fault, or at the very least, that he was sorry for what he did and he was wrong for doing it.

Then again, maybe I just knew it wasn’t going to happen. He’s the smartest man in the world (just ask him!). He’s entitled to everything. He’s always a victim. Nothing is ever his fault.

I’m often asked if I think they did truly end their affair the first time they were caught, or if they continued on the full two years. I don’t know. I don’t care. I’ve been asked if I believe he moved us to get closer to her. Well, obviously I know from previous conversations that the original plan was for him to get closer, but I don’t know and I don’t care, if they were still involved when we did move. I’m often asked if I know when it started. I don’t know. I don’t care. Was she at my house? What did he tell her about me and our relationship? Again, I don’t know. I don’t care. I know the important part of the story- the part where he lied, cheated, betrayed me, abandoned his kids, and left us in a financial pickle. That’s the part of the story I care about. All that other stuff? it’s filler.

Having him admit he was wrong does nothing for me. It doesn’t get me my old life back. It doesn’t get my kids their old lives back. It doesn’t erase what he did to us. All it does is make him feel better about himself. Such a good boy for apologizing.

I’m also not bothered by him telling people I’m the devil. I don’t care if he tries to portray me as the ex-wife from hell. I hope I am the ex-wife from hell! The people who know me and have my back know the truth. Those that believe him can have him. I have no interest in everyone believing I am the injured spouse and siding with me. I’ll take it, of course, but if you think I fucked him over or have alienated his kids from him, I don’t care. That person is obviously not a part of my tribe.

No, this is the part where you really need to trust that they suck. You don’t need them to verify events. You don’t need their apologies. You don’t need them to admit they were at fault. If you truly trust that they suck you already know all of that.

Michael Myers Is Pissed Off

I think this has to be my all time favorite blurb about the new Halloween movie coming out in October.

Long time readers will know of my odd obsession with Michael Myers. I truly think I was traumatized by watching that movie back in middle school. There is a reason those movies were rated R. I have no intentions of actually watching this movie. I didn’t watch the remake back in 2019 but my Google feed is always showing me stories about it and the upcoming sequels. So I saw this little gem and it made me laugh.

Michael Myers is pissed because Laurie, her daughter, and granddaughter locked him in the basement and left him to die after he tried to kill them! He’s spent the better part of at least two films (if we’re going to go with the idea that this new movie has erased all of the others) slaughtering people and he’s got a bug up his ass because the tables were turned! It’s fine for him to randomly slaughter people but God forbid anybody try to kill him. He’s no better than your average cheater. 

They cheat. They lie. Yet somehow they’re always the victim. How dare you impose consequences? They discard you in the most brutal way and then, despite being able to start a brand new life with all the pieces already in place while you flounder, they continue to try to destroy you. 

Poor Michael. Turns out he doesn’t like consequences either. Too bad. Laurie and company, I hope you take him out.

Giving Thanks

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that my journey has been filled with a lot of bumps and potholes. It was not easy. My mom has always said he couldn’t have left us in a worse position if he had tried; she absolutely thinks he did it deliberately. He let me install a $57,000 pool in our backyard, using up most of his available stock options. I couldn’t pay the pool off because I needed the money to live on so we never had it closed properly. That in turn meant I had to replace pipes in the spring and we never were able to use the pool again because I couldn’t get it clean from all the leaves and other debris that had fallen into it. He let the house go into foreclosure and of course, we ended up losing the house. After spending months lovingly decorating our new home and filling it with new furniture I had to turn around and sell off as much as I could and leave behind almost everything else because I had no way to pay for storage and didn’t know how long it would remain in storage (going on six years now, btw). He walked out the door without saying a word to his kids. Didn’t bother to tell us he was moving or that he had quit his job and taken another one in a different state. He didn’t pay support at all for 10 months; he paid it sporadically for another 10 months, all while I worked two jobs and was the only parent our kids had anymore. I spent $35k on my divorce and then another $5-$10k getting support modified. He paid what he was supposed to pay for about 6 months and then unilaterally modified child support. Refused to go through legal channels. Refused to pay the legal bills when I tried to. Lost another job. Modified spousal support for almost a year. But you know that old adage: No matter how bad you have it someone always has it worse. 

I thought I’d take a minute to say what I was grateful for in terms of my own betrayal story and divorce.

1. I’m thankful I didn’t have young kids when I divorced. I see these stories of parents whose hearts are being ripped out of their chests because their children are off with the other parent, sometimes in a 50/50 custody situation. I got to spend the majority of their years with them, being a very involved stay-at-home mom. I didn’t have to split holidays or summers. I didn’t have to deal with them thinking Harley was awesome. I cannot imagine a bigger shit sandwich than knowing the OW/OM is playing happy family with your young child/ren and they are too young to understand who this person is. As many people have said, “You can take my spouse but keep your fucking whore hands off my kids.” 

2. Sort of the same thing but not completely I am infinitely grateful that neither Rock Star nor Picasso has any kind of a relationship with Harley. I’m sure to many people that’s an awful thing to admit because we’re supposed to “think of the children” and “love our children more than we hate the other parent.” I know it would probably be better for both of my kids if their dad gave a damn and was a part of their life. But he doesn’t and he’s not and that’s not something I’m responsible for so I’ll take my wins when I can. I’m sure it’s horrible when you’ve been cheated on and you know your cheating spouse and the AP are playing happy family with your baby. I’m sure it’s horrible to have to listen to your young child talk about how much fun this new person is, or how nice they are. But it’s also horrible, I’m sure, having to share older children. I’ve heard many stories of the morally challenged new partner showing up at the kid’s games, recitals, assemblies, graduations, birthdays. I hear about kids that choose to live with the cheating parent or the older child is receiving expensive gifts from the side piece. There are weddings and the births of grandchildren, not to mention birthday parties for those future grandchildren. Having to share those milestones with someone who played a part in blowing up your life would be difficult. I keep trying to steel myself for the day that either one of my kids decides that putting up with Harley is worth it in order to have a relationship with their dad. It’s not what they want right now, but they are still young and there are still years left. For right now though I’m glad I don’t have to slap on a fake smile or remember to use, “Cool. Bummer. Wow,” as my only responses when they’re telling me about their adventures with the two of them.

3. I didn’t have to worry about 50/50 custody. Jerry Lee had already moved by the time our divorce trial rolled around. He moved out six months after his affair was discovered. I feel for those who have to miss out on so much of their children’s lives because of the actions of an unfaithful spouse. I have had every holiday, every birthday, every major event because he walked away. Thankfully they were both old enough to have a say in where they wanted to live even if Jerry Lee had not moved (not that Jerry Lee fought for them). And because of their age and the fact that Jerry Lee moved hundreds of miles away from them they were able to have visitation at their discretion, instead of being ordered by a court.

4. In a similar vein I never had to worry about him trying to alienate my kids against me. God, that has to be the worst betrayal of all. This person cheats on you, leaves you, leaves you destitute and then turns around and turns your kids against you. I cannot even begin to imagine.

5. I don’t have to co-parent. I’m a big fan of parallel parenting anyway, but there are so many people out there who have to try to co-parent with the ex. The horror stories I hear make me so grateful I don’t have to deal with Jerry Lee. He is not a part of the equation at all. I’m sure having full legal custody also helped with that but I didn’t have to consult with him on anything. Kids needed therapy? I got them therapy. Kids wanted to participate in a sport? I signed them up. I didn’t have to ask his permission. I didn’t ask for his help. I took care of it.

6. He didn’t fight me moving. He didn’t have a leg to stand on but I’m still thankful I didn’t have to go through that. I see stories all the time about people moving for their spouse who then cheats on them and now they’re stuck in this place where they have no support.

7. I did not have to deal with him having another child with Harley. I think an affair baby would be the worst but even knowing that my kids had another sibling that I knew nothing about is something I wouldn’t like. I would have loved to have had more children but alas I did not get my wish. Had he gone on to have more children with her I would have been pissed, even though it was completely out of my control.

8. I have always said I saw the writing on the wall. I knew that there would be no reconciliation even if I had been willing. Nonetheless I put on my big girl panties, called the lawyers, made the appointments, and got myself armed with information. I didn’t let on until I was ready to file. And once he knew I knew I gray rocked the shit out of him. It would probably be more accurate to say I went no contact- even while living with him. I’m thankful I didn’t chase after him. I’m thankful I didn’t beg and plead. I gray rocked his ass and pretended he didn’t exist.

9. I had a soft space to land. I absolutely realize there are people out going through the same thing who have no one to rely on. I was fortunate that my mom was willing to take us all in. She was also an incredible help when I was working two jobs and could barely keep my eyes open when I was home. I have a friend who was living in a garage and was damn grateful to be doing that because of the antics her ex pulled. I hear horrible stories all the time, reading Chump Lady and the Chump Nation FB page. People out there wondering how they’re going to support their kids when they haven’t worked in years. People who have no one who can help them out- emotionally or financially. People who have lost their parents and all their family. Even worse are those whose families side with the ex. 

10. I will always be infinitely grateful to The Saint for telling me about what was going on. Because of him and his willingness to speak up I didn’t sink every last dollar we had into paying our final bill for the pool. Instead I was able to follow my attorney’s advice and hang onto that money. I cannot even begin to imagine what would have happened to me and my kids if I didn’t have that money to put into my account. It would have been bad. Really bad.

11. I’m grateful I don’t have to worry about running into them. I had to live with him for six months after knowing what a shithead he was, but then he up and moved and I’ve only seen him twice since then- once in court and once at Rock Star’s graduation. Oops- three times because I saw him right before Rock Star’s graduation as well when I gave him his ticket to her graduation. We are hundreds of miles apart. I know the mobster had to deal with his wife bringing her AP to the kids’ games and then again to T’s graduation party. So many people ask for advice on how to handle it when the inevitable happens and they run into them. Some people have even had the ex and the AP move in next to them. Not me. I don’t think I’ll ever see him again.

12. I have never had to deal with her writing to me, trying to explain things to me or tell me how I should behave. There’s a lot of this going on over on the FB page. Usually the OW feels the need to intervene and give “advice” to the person she helped try to destroy. Things like, “Move on and stop being so bitter,” or “You need to be more grown up and put your kids first,” or, “You need to encourage your kids to have a relationship with their cheating dad and shame on you for being the reason they don’t.” Real classy things. I think we can all agree that if we felt we needed advice the last person we’d ask for that advice would be some home wrecking whore. And yet, they freely give it. Then again freely giving it up to anyone is kinda what they’re known for. Thankfully, Harley has stayed way, way over in her lane. Ironically, despite being married to her cousin for twenty years I never met her. I’ve never laid eyes on her. Might be able to pick her out of a line up (she does have an impressive list of mug shots from which to choose). Then again, I might not be able to. I’ve seen pictures but I’ve never seen her. With the way things are going I probably never will. Hooray!

13. He’s had his moments but for the most part Jerry Lee leaves me alone. He’s not texting me vicious messages or calling me or emailing me and harassing me. Like I said, he’s had his moments- his hissy fit when being called out way back in the day, the stamps on the envelopes, the text message to the mobster, his shitty messages and obscene emojis in his Venmo transfers, hacking my Facebook page… He hasn’t been an angel but I haven’t heard a peep out of him in probably over two years. Now that he has a suspended jail sentence hanging over his head it’s amazing how compliant he is.

14. I was awarded spousal support. That is HUGE. So many states don’t offer it. Period. Others only offer it for a very short amount of time. It’s scary to think so many women are at the mercy of their husbands. If he decides to leave her and take up with someone else after she’s spent fifteen, twenty-five, thirty years supporting his career and putting her own needs aside to focus on him, she’s just out on her own. Oh well. Looks like you live in poverty from now on.  I may have had to fight him on it. I may have never known when I was going to get it until just recently, but I got spousal support. It was enough that I could do things for my kids, buy groceries, pay the utilities, go out to eat, and have some semblance of the life I had before. Way too many women don’t get that at all.

15. I didn’t really lose any friends. Being married to someone anti-social has its perks, I suppose. I’m sure there were people at his place of employment who liked him, both in Utah and Virginia. I socialized with those people in Utah. Most of the people I don’t talk to anymore just because we weren’t all that close and we moved 2000 miles away. I was friends with the wife of the new production manager at his old plant. We still text or send a FB message every once in a while. We’re FB friends. We live over a thousand miles apart but I have an open invitation to get together whenever I come back to Utah. I never really socialized with those in Virginia so no loss at all. We didn’t have any couple friends. He never wanted to socialize so I did all of my socializing by myself. I didn’t hate Blockhead while we were married but I didn’t feel exceptionally close to him either. I guess I always felt kind of like he didn’t care for me so when we got divorced the fact that he wasn’t on “my side” wasn’t a big shock. Or a big loss. I had already distanced myself from most of his family by the time D-Day #2 came along so no loss there either.

16. I didn’t have to get rid of my pets. We did re-home our cats but we hadn’t had them very long either. It would have been nice had he told me he was having an affair and planning on leaving because then we never would have taken them in but let’s be realistic. Our cats were all re-homed and my three dogs were able to come with me. I’m down to two now. My sweet Beau died a few years ago. My luscious Laila Lou is almost fourteen. For a Boxer that is ancient. Far beyond their normal life span. She just had her check up and they were amazed at her good health. Little Milo Tim is almost 8. They will be with me until the day they die. Again, I hear the sad stories of people who were forced to relinquish their pets. I can’t imagine.

17. I won in court. Another huge thing in my favor and another thing to be grateful for. It could have gone badly for me. There were many times I worried about what might happen if the judge decided I didn’t deserve spousal support, or the amount was set at some very low amount. Winning in court, even if it didn’t guarantee him paying what he was supposed to, was a huge thing for me.

18. I’m thankful I had the means to keep fighting in court. And that goes back to my mom in part. I was able to pay the first two retainers (to two different lawyers) but the third retainer I had to borrow from my mom. At that time all of my savings was gone. I’m not sure I had a job yet and if I did it would have been my part-time job at Target. Hardly enough to pay a retainer. I did get lucky and had the funds to pay the retainer for the expert witness and I was billed as I went after the trial, but not everyone is so “lucky”. It also helped that I wasn’t paying legal fees on top of a mortgage and everything else.

There you have it. If I took another three months to write this post I could probably come up with some more things to be thankful for, but I’m not going to do that.

I guess it boils down to this: I’ve got my kids- full-time. I don’t have to see him or deal with him. She stays out of my way. Twenty years of marriage and it’s like it never happened. He’s just someone that I used to know. I don’t have to deal with him playing games in regards to the kids. And with a suspended jail sentence hanging over his head he pays what he’s ordered to pay me. Life is good and I’m thankful.

Why Not Getting a Job Might Not Be the Wisest Choice

I frequently see women who have been stay at home moms advised by well meaning people who have been through the hell of betrayal and divorce NOT to get a job. Many times they are advised by their lawyers not to get a job. I was advised not to get a job. As my first attorney said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I want to put you up on that stand as a stay at home mom with no income.” Let me tell you why I think this is bs.

First of all, I get it. I understand *why* the lawyers give us that advice. Child support and alimony calculations, many times, are based upon the difference between what you are earning, and what you need to continue living the same lifestyle you and the kids have been living. Your lawyer is trying to get you the best deal possible. In regards to child support it’s usually a set formula but when it’s an income share model the more you make the less he needs to pay. That’s why Jerry Lee was insisting upon current numbers when I first tried to modify child support. If I was making $1.00 more per hour that would mean his support would be cut. It wouldn’t be cut by much but any amount he could get out of paying was worth it to him.

With spousal support you are looking at all of your expenses and what you need to pay your bills. Every dime you don’t make is a dime that your spouse is, in theory, supposed to make up. Scratch that. It’s actually the difference between what you are earning and what you need to pay your bills. When Jerry Lee lost his job, forcing us out of the house, it benefitted him greatly. As my second lawyer told me it wouldn’t matter how much money he made. If all I could show was $3000 in monthly expenses then the judge would only award me the difference between what I was making and $3000. Obviously my expenses were higher when I was paying a $2100 a month mortgage, plus utilities that ran anywhere from $400-$600 a month. Regardless of how much or how little your monthly expenses may be it  stands to reason you want as much help as possible, especially if you haven’t had a job in years. You should receive more help when you make $0 than if you’re making $40,000, or $100,000. That’s what the lawyers are looking at, and that’s what the well-meaning people on support boards are talking about.

Let’s look at the big picture though. Most of these stay at home parents have been out of the workforce for years. 10, 15, 20 years. Many of them don’t have a college degree, and we already know that a college education won’t necessarily get you a great job right away if you’ve been at home for a considerable amount of time. My main point is even if they do manage to get hired right away chances are they are not going to be making anywhere close to what the ex is making. If you’re one of those women that has supported your husband throughout the years while he’s climbed the corporate ladder, or you helped put him through school while he earned his law degree, medical degree, or other doctorate, he’s light years ahead of you. He’s been making money and getting steady increases in his pay over 10-20 (or more!) long years. You’re starting out at square one. He is going to be making so much more money than you that it really doesn’t matter if you’re making $30-$40,000 a year. Compared to the $150,000 or more that some of these men are making it’s a drop in the bucket.

You also need to consider the likelihood that he’s even going to pay. I’ve seen it more times than I can count where women are counseled to not get a job because that will affect how much they will receive in child support. We keep ourselves in poverty on the promise that child support and possibly spousal support will be more. Sometimes we luck out and he is ordered to pay a significant amount of support; however, being ordered to pay and actually paying it are two completely different things. Ask me how I know.

According to the US Census Bureau in a report from 2018 only 43.5% of all child support recipients reported that they received the full payment. Honestly, I was shocked it was that high; at one point I believe the stats were somewhere between 25-35% of support recipients received payment in full. More than 30% don’t receive any support at all, although I was unable to verify if that included people who have never filed for it, or if that was strictly people who had an order that was not being followed.

I know anecdote doesn’t equal data but back when I was still a teller I remember looking around at my co-workers. There were four of us. We were all lined up in a row. At least three of us had been married to the father of our children; I’m not sure about the fourth. Not a single one of us was receiving regular support. I think I had the best situation out of all of them, which is a sad thing if you think about it. Some didn’t pay at all. Some would toss the mother of their child $30 once in a while. Make a random payment here and there. I will never forget that image. Four women working hard to provide (barely) for the four sets of children left behind by the four fathers who didn’t care whether their kids were provided for or not. Maybe they just figured we wouldn’t let our kids starve. Maybe they didn’t care one way or the other. Kids fed and doing well? Great! Kids starving and doing without? Not my problem!

Those statistics become even more important when you consider so many states don’t have spousal support. You can spend your entire marriage supporting your spouse’s career and taking care of the house and the kids, but once he decides he’s done with you and he’s onto the next willing victim there is nothing for you. Nada. So you’d better hope that child support is generous and is paid in full.

I’m not saying to go against your lawyer. God knows, if you’re paying hundreds of dollars an hour you should probably follow their advice. I am saying it might be a good idea to question your lawyer on why they are giving you that advice.

Most of these women are terrified. They have no idea how they’re going to make it once they’re divorced. I get it. I was one of those women. I was living in a nice big house. I had a nice, cushy life. I had no money problems. Then **POOF** it was all up in smoke. I went from going on shopping binges to fill my house with furniture and putting a $57,000 inground pool into my backyard to wondering how I was going to pay for insurance and where would my kids and I live? How would I pay for my daughter’s graduation party? How would I afford college (in a state that will not order college to be paid for)? How could I provide for my children? All questions I was wondering about while my lawyer wanted me to appear in court as a fragile little stay at home mom.

In hindsight the best thing I could have done was start searching for a job right away. What I probably would have made wouldn’t have prevented us from losing the house but it may have given me more of a cushion. I was actually pretty good at staying on a budget. When he did lose his job I would have had something to put towards bills instead of having to begin draining my savings. Even if I ended up having to leave my job six months later I would have still been in a better position to get a job once I moved to Indiana. Trying to get a job after a long absence in the workforce is a nightmare. This idea that when you’re finally ready to get a job you’ll find one is a fairytale. In a lot of cases it takes a long time. Far better to start that search before you want to, so that when you need to you’re well on your way. I also might have been in a better position to ask for more money. Between having more relevant work experience and having had an actual paying job I might have been able to make more, or at least been confident enough to ask for it.

It’s well meaning advice but I don’t think it’s very prudent. The difference between what a man who is making six figures will be ordered to pay you when you’re making nothing versus making a fraction of what he makes is not worth putting yourself in potential poverty. The chances of him actually paying out what he’s court ordered to are less than half- 43.5% to be exact. And finally, just because you start looking for a job doesn’t mean you’re going to find one right away. Once you find one it doesn’t mean it’s going to pay well. It took me almost four years to finally get to the point where I’m making enough to support myself on my own if I had to. Save yourself. Don’t wait on the man who cheated on you and abandoned your kids to rescue you. It probably won’t happen.