It’s a Partner Problem

I have to be careful about how I phrase this because I don’t want anyone coming away with the wrong idea. I’ve come to the conclusion, however painful, that ultimately when your partner cheats you don’t have an OW or OM problem. You’ve got a partner problem.

I don’t say this to excuse the person sleeping with your partner. It is absolutely wrong to be sleeping with another person’s spouse/partner. I do not feel as though they don’t owe us anything therefore they’ve done nothing wrong. I am not forgiving them for what they’ve done. I think it is horrendous. I think people like that are awful people who think of no one except themselves. With all of those disclaimers aside, you still have a partner problem.

All too often I read blogs where the OP is blamed for the affair: She knew he was married. He knew she was vulnerable. She went after him and wouldn’t stop until she got him. He took advantage of her. She wouldn’t stay away even after I begged her to. He refused to stop contacting her even though I told him how much it hurt my kids.

Yes, they suck. You still have a partner problem.

I hated Harley the first time I learned about her and Jerry Lee. My rage and anger was like a white hot laser focused on her. She was a whore. She enticed my husband. She was trying to take over my life.

Hell, there are marriage counselors who actually advise you save your anger for the OW/OM. Don’t rage at your spouse. It’s the other person’s fault, they will tell you. I don’t agree.

The reality is Jerry Lee bore all the responsibility. He could have ignored her and blocked her. He didn’t. She didn’t entice him. He was ready and willing; he was ripe for the picking. If it hadn’t been her, it could have easily been someone else. In fact, at one point it was. He did the same thing with Anne.

My husband is the one who let things go too far. My husband is the one who began an emotional affair with her back in 2013. He knew it was wrong. No one put a gun to his head. Yes, she absolutely played the victim and offered him something he was looking for. He was the one with the responsibility to stay the hell away. He was the one who never should have started things to begin with.

What I didn’t understand back then is that he was looking. She didn’t find him and lure him into her web. He went looking for her. For anyone really.

The second time around I didn’t give her a second thought. Oh sure, I still think she’s a whore and a horrible mother and a terrible human being. I think she’s selfish and mean, entitled, too. She’s a liar and a gold digger and a cheater herself. Truth of the matter is if I saw her trapped in a burning car I’d pull up a chair with a bag of marshmallows and make myself some S’mores. But she’s not my problem. He is, and ever since August 10th, 2015 I’ve held him responsible for everything that has happened.

You can chase off every admirer/predator. You can stick it out and wait for him (or her) to come to his (or her) senses and choose you. You can refuse to leave. You can maintain divorce is not an option. You are still with a person who has no problem cheating on you. If you want to blame it on toxic shame or poor coping skills or damage done from childhood trauma you are still with a person who’s coping mechanism is to have sex with other people.

It’s so very easy to say that if everyone would reject a married man/woman there would be no more cheating. You can maintain that it’s the other person’s fault because they should be moral enough to not sleep with your beloved. The fact remains, if your beloved is propositioning someone, it doesn’t matter if the other person accepts or rejects them. You’ve already got a problem. Just because Single Mom/Dad #1, or Lonely Gal/Guy #4 rejects your partner and refuses to have sex with them because they’re married doesn’t mean you’re now home free.

Whew! Thank God for people with morals!

No! You’re still partnered with a person who is looking to bed anything that moves. That is your problem. Not the nitwit that believes the lies. Not the whore that’s willing to spread her legs for anyone. Not the predator who takes advantage of every naive woman. Not the tramp that is out to steal your man. Or the Lothario that is out to steal your woman.

Your partner is the problem. As cliche as it may sound your partner is the one that made promises to you. Your partner is the one that is supposed to love you. Your partner is the one that is supposed to have your back. They’re not supposed to lie to you, or gaslight you, or betray you.

You can chase off every competitor and you are still with a person who has absolutely no intentions of being faithful. You are with a person who has no shame in blaming you for what happened. You are with a person who continues to lie to you, to be evasive, and to refuse to give you what you need.

Look, I hate it, too. And I’m not saying to not hate the other woman or man. Hate away!

I get it. It’s extremely hard to walk away from a long term relationship. I also know it’s so much easier to be angry at and hate the other woman or other man because so many times you don’t know them. You know your spouse/partner. You love that person. You want to forgive them. You want everything to go back to the way it was. So let’s just blame the other person and convince ourselves that if only they had done the honorable thing and stayed away your life would never have fallen apart.

What about when I do know the other person, Sam? What about when it’s a family member or a close friend? Well, I’ll be the first to say it’s a double betrayal and that person did owe you something. I’ll also say you still have a partner problem. Yes, your best friend or your sister should keep her fucking hands off of your husband. I don’t even understand being attracted to your friend’s partner; they’re like kryptonite to me. The other person in this case absolutely owed you loyalty; they were supposed to have your back. Your partner still betrayed you. They still took that step, knowing it was wrong and that it would hurt you. Yes, your best friend or relative should never have made moves on your partner, but your partner should have refused those advances. You’ve still got a partner problem. You’re with a person who has no problem cheating on you.

I will be the first to admit that I am much more jealous when it comes to the mobster and other women, than I ever was with Jerry Lee. Part of that may have to do with the fact that I’ve been cheated on. Part of that may have to do with the fact that the feelings I have for the mobster are so much more intense than what I felt for Jerry Lee and that I consider him to be the love of my life.

Even so, if another woman were to come on to him I fully expect him to handle it. I could threaten her. I could become unhinged. I could check his phone and spy on him. What does any of that accomplish? Absolutely nothing.

What would accomplish something? Him telling her he’s not interested. I expect nothing less than for him to tell her straight up: I’m not interested. Sam is the love of my life. I would never do anything that might mess that up. Leave me alone. And then him blocking all means of contact.

And I do mean all means of contact. None of this, “But we’re co-workers,” bullshit. None of this, “I can’t change my number because…”. No excuses. No keeping any kind of line of communication open. No testing the waters. No remaining friends because otherwise it would be awkward. No refusal to nip that shit in the bud because you don’t want to be seen as “mean”.

I firmly believe that in most of the cases of an affair partner doggedly pursuing someone else’s beloved, that the beloved wished to be pursued. Or at the very least enjoyed being pursued. Focusing on the fact that the affair partner pursued your partner allows you to ignore the fact that you have a partner problem. You have a partner that enjoys being pursued, flattered, etc. by others.

That’s why me chasing off any of the mobster’s admirers does nothing. Him letting it be known that he’s not interested and shutting that shit down? That speaks volumes. If he doesn’t tell her that he’s not interested and that her pursuit is not flattering, it’s offensive? If he continues to flirt or let her flirt with him? If he refuses to disengage or continues to go places he knows he’ll run into her? If he continues to take her calls or go to lunch with her or continues texting with her? Then as much as I may hate her, I have a partner problem.

I’ve Become a Publicist for Grudges and Bitterness

In yesterday’s post I wondered if maybe the reason forgiveness gets all the love is because it has great PR agents. There are tons of quotes lamenting the hardened hearts of those who refuse to forgive and extolling the virtues of those who forgive others even while those others are spitting in their face. I mean, look at this crap.

 

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That sounds swell but terribly unnecessary. Do you really need to forgive someone in order to move on with your life? I think not!

I’m probably not the best example because I still write about Jerry Lee. In my defense though I do write a blog and he’s always doing something else to try to fuck up my life.

I think I’ve moved on; I also think the things he does pull me back into his orbit. I can’t help that. And saying, “Oh, Jerry Lee, I forgive you for being a lying, cousin fucking sociopath,” isn’t going to make any of those things better. You want me to move on with my life? Tell him to pay his fucking support on time and in full! Tell him to stop neglecting his kids. That would help. Me forgiving his lying ass doesn’t do dick for me.

Maybe let’s try this one instead:

3hyhic

Then there’s this one.

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Again with this setting you free bullshit. Hey, if it makes you feel better to forgive someone then you have at it. But I don’t think anyone should feel guilted into forgiving someone.

Oh no! I don’t forgive her for cheating on me. I must be a bad person. Oh no! I don’t forgive him for draining our retirement accounts and spending all the money on his mistress. I’m a horrible human being.

No, you’re simply human.

Why not go with this:

3hyhu4

Or better yet:

3hyi45

Again with the healing and moving on, thanks to forgiveness!

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Who am I to argue with Nelson Mandela? I’m Sam, and I really feel that this is bullshit.

You do not need to forgive someone in order to heal, unless your definition of forgiveness is like Chump Lady’s definition of forgiveness: I no longer wish you dead. I can get behind that one. Still not necessary in order to heal, though, although I suppose you could argue that if you’re still wishing someone was dead you’re probably not healed.

This one is a little longer but expresses the same sentiments:

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Grrrr! Maybe that’s part of the problem. We hold forgiveness in such high esteem that we aren’t thinking about what we’re actually saying.

I forgive you. I don’t agree with what you did or believe it was right, but I forgive you.

How crazy is that? Why are you forgiving them again? Oh yes, because it will help you move on and you will no longer dwell on what was done to you. Isn’t that convenient?

The person who has betrayed you or hurt you experiences no consequences. Let’s wish them well and forgive them.

I don’t think it’s right that you pushed me down the stairs, breaking my arm and collarbone. I don’t agree with you pushing me down the stairs. But I forgive you for pushing me down the stairs. I’m not going to think about you pushing me down the stairs anymore, or about how my body still throbs in pain, or how I break out in a cold sweat every time I’m near the stairs and you at the same time. I’m going to move on with my life. Some might say the way to do that is with a restraining order and charges filed so that your worthless ass is in jail. Others might say the way to get on with my life is to get you out of it. But I know the only way to move on is to forgive you.

Then there’s this gem:

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Oh really? Let’s try this one on for size:

3hyifh

That’s not really the way I feel, but damn! Not forgiving someone who has wronged you is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of self respect. Oooh! Let’s do that one instead!

3hyia3

In that same vein we’ve got:

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No, sweetie, that’s stupidity.

That’s a pretty easy re-write.

3hyikr

At the very least it’s pointless.

Here it is in longer form:

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I’m not even going to bother doing a re-write on this but I would like to point out that one of the major tenants of forgiveness is that the person needs to ask for forgiveness and they need to repent. Forgiving a person who is not sorry is pointless. It defeats the whole purpose of the concept. That person is not sorry! They don’t give a fuck if you’ve forgiven them or not. They don’t think they’ve done anything wrong and they certainly aren’t looking to you to forgive them. That’s just a given.

If you didn’t receive an apology you have nothing to accept. Why even bother with this charade? Stop wasting your time. Find people worthy of you. Be good to those people. You don’t have to go around plotting revenge on those who have hurt you; let them go and forget they exist. No forgiveness necessary.

Then there’s this “wise” advice:

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Tell me more. How exactly am I taking away Jerry Lee’s power when I forgive him? Will that result in him paying the correct amount of child support? Does it mean he begins paying his entire spousal support instead of what he has absurdly calculated? By forgiving him and taking away his power does that mean I’m suddenly going to be working at a job that pays enough to pay my bills and allows me to live on my own and still have some semblance of a life? Will he suddenly remember he has two kids that live here in Indiana? Will anything actually change for the better or does the quote writer just think I’m going to feel so much better once I’ve forgiven him?

The funny thing about this whole forgiveness thing is he whole heartedly believes he is the victim in all of this. Come to think of it I think he would be insulted if I told him I forgave him. There’s nothing to forgive in his mind because I am the enemy and I am the one who wronged him. Maybe someone should tell him that by forgiving me he’s taking away my power.

I think a better way to put that is:

3hyisc

Got time for one more?

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Oh please! Again I will point out that people who are not sorry do not care about your forgiveness. They don’t want it or need it. If you’re willing to extend it they’ll take it. Why? Because it means they get to use you some more.

I get that holding onto anger does nothing to them. Then again, who says that holding onto anger hurts you? Anger can be very useful. It can propel you to act. It can instigate you to look out for your own interests. It can get you out of a bad situation. It can help you refuse to take any more shit. Plus, not forgiving a person doesn’t necessarily mean you’re angry at them. Maybe it just means you’ve learned a very valuable lesson. 

THIS is the PR agent we need to combat all of that forgiveness nonsense.

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A-freakin’-men! I’ll put that one right up there with:

3hyj3n

I’ll throw this one in as a bonus service announcement:

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It is truly amazing how society pushes us to disregard our instincts and instead encourages us to put ourselves in danger.

One more just because I’m a giver:

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I hope you take that to heart. They’re not lying to protect you. They don’t “trickle truth” to protect your feelings. They lie to protect themselves.

Finally, if you really have it in your heart that forgiveness is the way to truth and light then try this one:

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Don’t forgive them for lying to you, cheating on you, betraying you. Forgive yourself for putting up with that behavior. Then resolve not to do that anymore.

My Daughter’s Legacy

I come from a long line of women cheated on by their husbands. My grandfather cheated on, and left, my Mamaw after roughly twenty years of marriage, resulting in a nervous breakdown on her part. Ultimately, she ended up moving out of her home and out of the state, and in with her mother, where she lived until the day she died. My father cheated on my mother repeatedly, until finally she decided she didn’t want to end up like her mom- in her 40s, divorced, financially destitute, and living with her mom. She reasoned that eventually he would find one he would be willing to leave her for so she got out when she was in her early 30s- after affair #3.

I thought I had picked someone completely different from my own father. Turns out they had more in common than I realized. I ended up like my Mamaw- minus the nervous breakdown.

I often wonder what legacy I have left for my own daughter. Is she doomed to marry a man who will lie to her and cheat on her? That seems to be our pattern.

It’s no surprise, then, that the song, “Just Like Him” by Brandy Clark hit me hard the first time I listened to it.

He was kinda like Superman

Show up, save the day, disappear and then

We wouldn’t hear from him ’til Christmas

He was a whole lotta fun

Til he got one drink too drunk

A fight would start, he’d be breaking hearts and dishes

I used to say that I’d be damned

Before I’d ever fall in love with a man

Like the one Mama wasted her youth on

I wait up all night alone I feel like I’m six years old again

You’re just like him

Daddy had the bluest eyes

Kept my Mama hypnotized

Now I finally realize the reason

They say love’s like coming home

And I came from a broken one

So why am I surprised you’re always leaving

I used to say that I’d be damned before I’d ever fall in love with a man

Like the one Mama wasted her youth on

And I wait up all night alone I feel like I’m six years old again

You’re just like him

Promises all sound the same

Swear up and down you’re gonna change

And you never do

And I’m not that little kid

That’s why I can’t do this again

You’re just like him

Yeah, especially that part about wasting my youth on him. That always makes me pause.

I love the mobster with all my heart and I’m so very glad I met him. Yet I always feel a little tinge of sadness that we won’t have more time because we both wasted our youth on people who didn’t give a damn.

I had to listen to the song a few times before it hit me: She’s not repeating the cycle.

Promises all sound the same

Swear up and down you’re gonna change

And you never do

And I’m not that little kid

That’s why I can’t do this again

You’re just like him

She’s walking away. She learned from her mother’s mistakes. She knows he’s not going to change and she’s going to get out and save herself. Hallelujah!

A few days ago I was reading a post. The writer mentioned that her daughter declared love to be a crock of shit. She thought her daughter felt that way because her parents, who had been together for thirty years, were no longer together. He left for someone else.

That got me thinking. Is it a crock of shit, or do so many of us accept so very little and call it good?  The stories I read over on Chump Lady keep me shaking my head. Frequently I wonder, “Why do we accept this behavior? Why are we so willing to accept scraps and to cater to people who don’t deserve it?” There is story after story of people who give and give only to be dismissed as though they’re nothing. The mom that works full time, does all of the childcare, takes care of the home, does all the cooking and the shopping while her husband hangs out in his den and plays on the computer all night. The husband that sends his wife off on a girl’s weekend because she’s “confused” and “trying to work things out”, only to later find out he’s actually paid for her and her lover to go on a weekend getaway. The person who throws a surprise party for their partner’s big birthday, and doesn’t even get a card for their birthday in return. The person who carefully selects gifts every birthday, anniversary, and Christmas only to be given some token gift year after year. The person who remains at home taking care of the kids while their partner goes out drinking with their friends. I could go on and on.

This is the point where we should actively teach our kids about good relationships. I’ve long thought they should teach a class on that in high school. In between the dating violence and the liars and the cheaters and all these different dysfunctional relationships these kids need to be taught this shit isn’t normal. They need to be told what to look for and what to watch out for. Give them an example of what is good and what is bad, what is normal give and take and what is dysfunction that should never be tolerated.

To my own daughter I would say: Look for the one who reciprocates. Does he do sweet, kind things for you? Do your needs matter? Does he pay attention to what you like and what you dislike? Does he listen when you tell him stories? Does he even exhibit any interest in your life? Is he willing to take care of you when you’re sick or listen to you when you’re upset? Does he laugh at your jokes? Does he tell you you’re beautiful? Does he make you feel loved and cherished? Does he call you by your name? Is he considerate of you? If it’s important to you, is it important to him? Do you remember his birthday and important dates while he blows them off when it’s your turn? Does he value your opinion or is everything done his way?

Don’t confuse the above with love bombing. I’m not talking about the guy who comes in and sweeps you off your feet. I’m not talking about the guy who makes grand gestures and tells you that you are the most amazing person he’s ever met and he’s madly in love with you and his life would implode without you in it. I’m not talking about the guy who sends big bouquets of roses to work so everyone can see how wonderful he is (although I’m not opposed to getting flowers at work) or who buys you over the top gifts so everyone can be jealous of you. I’m talking about the guy who performs loving gestures. I’m talking about the guy who knows you love chocolate dipped strawberries so he’s willing to buy a carton of strawberries and melt some chocolate and dip those berries for you. I’m talking about the guy who will rub your back or cut your meat up for you (true freaking story!) if you ask him to. I’m talking about the guy who will make you breakfast or wash out your shitty jeans or butter your roll for you. I’m talking about the guy who knows you love polar bears so when he sees one he picks it up for you because he knows you love them and it will make you happy.

Stay away from the ones who take and take and take and never give back. Don’t ever make your needs smaller and smaller while you try to fill an endless void that can never be filled. You will be pick me dancing for the rest of your life if you do that because they will always demand more while giving back nothing.

Along that same line run from the ones who keep changing the goal posts. There are some people out there who will never be happy. There are some people who will always find something to complain about. Don’t make it your mission to change that. You won’t succeed. They will only bring you down with them. Leave them to wallow in their misery.

Keep in mind dating should be fun. It’s a time to figure out what you want. So if he’s already lying to you or cheating on you, breaking plans with you, talking down to you, breaking up with you numerous times and then getting back together, or doing any number of things you don’t like during your early dating stage, it’s not going to get better. That’s as good as it gets. You deserve someone who adores you, and in turn you should adore him.

Watch out for red flags, and when you see one don’t spackle. No, it’s not normal for him to blow you off to spend every weekend with his friends. No, it’s not normal for him to have female friends that either he doesn’t want to introduce you to, or who don’t like you. No, it’s not normal for him to tell you that particular outfit makes you look like a slut and it’s not normal for him to be obsessively jealous if you have male friends or have a regular conversation with someone. No, it’s not normal to sleep with your ex a few weeks after the two of you start dating. No, it’s not normal to call you names and say hateful things. No, it’s not normal to do almost nothing together as a couple. No, it’s not normal or okay if you plan something special for his birthday, or a weekend away, or do your best to make holidays or other occasions special, while he does nothing in return for you. Those are red flags, honey. Don’t. Spackle. Over. This. Behavior.

This is an oldie but a goodie. Anytime you find yourself thinking, “Life would be so much easier if he just died,” that’s a bad sign. It’s another big red flag. Get out. Save yourself. Similarly, if you find yourself recording messages for your friends and loved ones for after they find your body, that’s another big sign your relationship is failing and you need to get out.

Words and cards are nice, but actions are much more important. As the old saying goes, “Don’t listen to his words; watch what he does.” If he’s telling you he loves you and you’re the best thing ever but he’s sleeping with other women, doesn’t take your feelings into consideration, and/or mistreats you, he doesn’t love you. This is not a good relationship.

Don’t ever be so desperate for the fairytale that you’re willing to put up with endless amounts of shit.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and to say what you really feel, what you really want. If you’re afraid you’re going to rock the boat and he’ll be out of here then he’s not the guy for you. You can’t have a satisfying relationship if you always have to shut up and pretend everything is fine.

The cool wife/girlfriend is usually the one that gets cheated on. Stories abound of people who didn’t want to make a big deal out of their partner meeting up with an ex for dinner while they weren’t invited to join in, or going out with or texting opposite member friends, or co-workers.  There is no reward for being a doormat. Only more and more abuse.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask yourself this question: Is this relationship acceptable to me? You matter. Your needs matter. It’s not a license to act like a crazy, entitled person, but please, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t sacrifice yourself for a relationship that is unworthy of you. If the relationship is not acceptable to you you have every right to end that relationship.

Draw boundaries. Rock solid ones. Boundaries are not a bad thing. Get it out of your head that they are, or that you’re unreasonable for having them. If your partner repeatedly violates those boundaries they are not a good partner. Recognize that. Do something about it. And by “do something” I mean leave. Find the courage and have the self respect needed to get out of a bad situation. It will never improve. When people realize they can treat you badly they don’t ever change. Not without fear of very serious consequences, and even then, that change may only be temporary.

Make yourself a list of things you want in a partner. Then make another list of deal breakers. Refer to those lists often. Don’t be afraid to end a relationship if you discover this person falls short of your list, or if one or more of his behaviors is on the deal breakers list. Obviously I’m not talking about the more superficial traits, like hair and eye color, height, occupation, etc. But if loving animals or wanting children or having a relationship with God is important to you, then it’s probably not going to be a good fit for you if you end up with someone who can’t stand animal hair, doesn’t want kids, and thinks religion is a crock of shit. Similarly, if you want someone who is faithful, dating someone who wants to be in an open relationship, or who fucks around on you behind your back early on in the relationship, is not a smart move. Again, refer to your two lists. Far better to end things early on in the relationship as opposed to investing years in someone who will only make you miserable.

If he sucks the joy out of life, he’s not a good match. Be with someone who brings joy to your life. Be with the one who makes everything fun, who brings out the best in you, who ignites your sense of adventure and your childlike wonder.

Don’t mistake good sex for a good relationship. There are people out there that would fuck a snake if someone would hold its head down. Those people don’t actually care about anyone; they only care about whether or not you’re useful to them. Don’t be useful to a person like that.

My darling daughter, find someone who adores you. Find that person who wants to please you, just as much as you want to please him. Find that person who loves you back just as hard as you love them. Don’t settle for a barbed wire monkey because you’re afraid. I know ending a relationship is hard. Staying with a person who doesn’t respect you will end up being infinitely more difficult.

Find that person who brings out the best in you. That’s the person you want to be with. Find the person who makes you laugh, and lose the one that makes you cry.  As that saying goes: Find a man who ruins your lipstick, not your mascara.

And again I tell you, because it is so important, don’t ever make your needs smaller and smaller while you cater to someone who continues to demand more and more, appreciating none of your efforts. You want the man who thinks you’re worth the effort. You want the man who sees your needs and says, “Challenge accepted!”

Don’t be me, the person married to your father, the person who wasted her youth on someone who didn’t deserve it. Break this cycle. Demand more. Expect more. You are worth it. I was worth it. Thankfully, I know that now.

Co-Parenting: Another Approach

I learned my lesson, people. The last time I saw someone give what I thought could be potentially harmful co-parenting advice I titled it, More Bad Advice. This time I shall label it, “Another Approach”. Perhaps people will not call for my head this time around. I’m also not going to link to the article this time so that should help as well.

Tip #1

The relationship is over. It is not your job to “ruin” the life of your ex. Please refrain from gossip that may harm the image of your child’s other parent. Remember that is still their parent and you chose them. Taking the high road, especially when you’ve been handed the short end of the stick, will go a long way in establishing a dynamic that is good for all parties.

First of all, who has said anything about ruining another person’s life? If by “ruining” you mean “imposing consequences” then I’m all for it! Sometimes the grass isn’t always greener. Sometimes when you act like a jackass people aren’t willing to help you out.

As far as gossiping goes I do my best to follow Chump Lady’s lead. I report the facts. I do not editorialize. If the facts lead others to believe you’re a shitty person… what can I say? If you wanted people to speak more kindly about it perhaps you should have acted better.

I always find it remarkable that the person who is shit on is the one being given the advice. Hey, even if your partner has completely fucked you over, take the high road. That’s what good people do. You want people to think you’re a good person, don’t you? Do you want people to think you’re bitter and angry? Then you’d better smile and be willing to work with fuckwits. Otherwise everyone is going to know you’re a horrible person who deserved whatever injustice you’ve been dealt.

Tip #2

When you start dating, vet your dates. If a person shows major signs of distrust or envy when it comes to your ex, they may not be mature enough to handle a healthy dynamic. For example, if they cringe at the thought of the two of you going to an event to support your in common child, sincerely take that as a red flag.

Vet your dates? Are there a lot of people out there who don’t do this naturally? Oh him? He was my prison pen pal. I’m sure he’ll be great around my kids. Sure, I had a little bit of a setback with that hitchhiker I picked up last summer… Like I knew he had a head in the duffel bag! But this guy is different. He wasn’t even in on murder. And he’s innocent! It was all a big conspiracy! He was framed! 

All snark aside, I think this can actually be very good advice. If your new partner becomes a green eyed monster whenever you and the ex need to have a conversation about your shared child, or throws a fit if you say hello when you bump into one another at a kid’s event, you probably need to examine that. This is probably not a good pick for a future partner, especially if you have young children and will need to co-parent for a while.

Similarly, I would be leery of the exes that do everything together. If you, new partner, think it’s weird for them to go to brunch every Sunday to discuss little Sydney, or think it’s unnecessary for them to co-chair the big spring carnival, or wonder why they still go to the movies together, this might not be a good relationship for you. They seem a little too entwined to me.

With that said, if you decide you want to act like one big happy, polygamous family, good for you! I won’t fault you for that. I, however, do not wish to hang out with the ex at every event. I prefer cordial when necessary. Not buddies. Not spending vacations together. No hanging out. Then again, that’s my line. You are certainly free to draw a different one.

Tip #3

When separating from the ex you share children with, you should consider it your job to assist when possible the betterment of that ex. What’s that mean? If you learn about an opportunity they could benefit from like a job, let them know about it. Or maybe you were their transportation before the break and they still need you to maintain employment, just do it. For as long as you can. And give a warning before you cease. Be the bigger person. Your kids are watching.

Give me a break! It is not your job to assist them. That stopped being your job when the relationship ended. How crazy would it be if we quit an actual job and people continued to tell us it would behoove us to continue to do that job? Listen, Gloria, I know you quit your job at the bank but don’t you think you owe it to us to come in and assist our customers? If you don’t do it, who will? Here. Just sit down right here at this desk. Turn on that computer. Maybe throw a loan or two together. Open up an account. You owe us that much. It’s your job to do your job that you quit. What kind of a person are you? Are you a quitter, Gloria? Are you?  A little warning that you weren’t going to continue to do this after you left the bank would have been nice.

You want a warning that I’m no longer going to continue to do things for you? Here’s your warning- I’m divorcing you!

Jesus Christ on crutches! It reminds me of Jackass and him asking me if we were still going to have spaghetti for dinner after I told him I knew he was fucking Harley. Gee whiz! I can’t think of a single reason I wouldn’t want to. Oh yes, except for that whole, “You’re fucking a whore!” thing. That makes me not want to cook for you anymore. FYI: Spoiler alert! I won’t be doing your laundry anymore either.

And always with the ominous warning: Your kids are watching!  Oh no! You mean my kids might actually see me standing up for myself? They might actually see me refuse to take any more shit? How awful! My God, they may not grow up to be co-dependent people; they might actually develop a backbone.

Generally I try to be open minded. I try very hard not to tell people what to do. But I’m begging you. Please, please don’t take this awful advice and continue to prop up someone who shits all over you. It is NOT YOUR JOB! Why? Because this person FIRED YOU FROM YOUR JOB! That’s why!

With that said if you were the asshole then I suppose it’s fine to continue to help out. Perhaps it will ease your guilty conscience.

The author goes on to say that she knows some of these examples are far fetched but implores the reader to hear her out. Too often when we split we want to make sure life is not better for our ex’s without us. It’s true. We all like to think we are the best thing that has ever happened to anybody we’ve come in contact with.

Eh. I don’t think CF deserves to have a wonderful life after what he’s done to me and our kids. I think the life he’s living is far better than the life he deserves. I definitely don’t think it’s my job to make sure his life hums along and that he has everything he wants. I owe him nothing. And quite honestly, I don’t have to do anything to make his life miserable. He’s done a fine job all on his own.

Instead, she wants us to get to what’s important. The children. Apparently, if you speak negatively about the other parent that is going to trickle down onto the child and damage their fragile psyche. If Mommy’s a bitch that must mean I’m a bitch. If Daddy’s an asshole, then I must be an asshole. Or so goes the conventional wisdom. The author points out that even if what you are saying are all facts you shouldn’t speak them because you could traumatize your children with that information.

I say, once again, if learning the facts about what you are doing would traumatize your children then YOUR BEHAVIOR is what is wrong. You can’t argue that cheating is okay or beating your partner is okay or gambling away your paycheck is okay or whatever behavior is okay, but actually telling your kids the truth about that behavior is traumatizing and never right. No, no. If it’s okay to do it then it’s okay to talk about it.

She goes on to tell a fun little story about her ex never paying child support. The man was $22k behind. Hmmm…. sounds familiar. Due to circumstances beyond her control he still wound up in front of a judge who was only too willing to throw him in jail for failure to pay. But Your Honor, this is a man who, despite being a deadbeat, sees his children every chance he had and his children appreciate that. His presence is so much more important than the money it takes to raise them. She decided to withdraw her petition for support and forfeited the past due amount. She didn’t want to be left having to explain why dear ol’ daddy had to “go away” for a year.

You know what? Good for her if she can forgive that debt and be completely fine without his financial help. Not everybody can, though. I sure as hell can’t say, “Hey, Cousinfucker, don’t worry about support. I’ll forgive it all. We’ll make it work on my hefty $28,000/year. I love the fact that I don’t make enough to have a home of my own. I enjoy sleeping on the couch. You and the whore take your combined $180,000 and go have yourselves a real fun time. You deserve it!”

Something tells me, though, that this woman always worked. She wasn’t a stay at home mom who followed her husband across the country. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she had been the primary breadwinner. I would also be willing to bet that if she wasn’t the primary breadwinner, that she at least made close to, if not equal to, what the father of her kids made. God bless those who are able to support their kids on their own. Sadly, not all of us can. And if you’re one of those who can’t you shouldn’t be made to feel as though you’re doing something wrong by insisting upon child support being paid.

I would LOVE to find a job paying me $60-$80,000 a year. I would LOVE to be able to tell Cousinfucker to fuck off, that I don’t need his goddamn money and he will NEVER be able to influence my life again. Alas, I doubt that will ever happen so I do the only other thing I can. I hold his feet to the fire. If necessary, I’ll throw his ass in jail.

What would I tell my kids if their dad went away for a year? Well, for starters it wouldn’t be a big change. But even if it were they are old enough that I would simply tell them the truth. Your dad owes thousands in back child support. The state takes his obligation to support his children seriously. He’s going to jail for a year as a consequence for not paying his child support, just like he could go to jail if he had been caught driving drunk or if he robbed a store. Honestly, I think that explanation is simple enough even for a young child. But if you think that’s too complicated try this: You know how when you do something you’re not supposed to, or I tell you to do something and you don’t do it so then you have to go to time out? When adults do things they’re not supposed to, or don’t do things they are supposed to they have consequences, too. Daddy’s going to an adult time out. We call it jail.

She goes on to say that the look on the judge’s and sheriff’s faces made it all worth it because they thought of him as cheap labor. That wasn’t going to happen on HER watch. He was her kid’s hero. I need them to see him as SUPERMAN. Really? A deadbeat is their hero? A man who leaves their mother to not only physically take care of them but also financially bear the entire burden? That is one awesome example.

She ends it by saying she needs her kids to know that both of their parents love them, emphasis on both. She wants them to have another person to run to if she’s not available. I need them to receive all the love God has made for them, even if it comes from their dad’s new love. She is in my place when I’m not there so she is important and is to be respected. She is important because she is there to enhance his happiness so we need her on board with the co-parenting dynamic so she doesn’t disrupt the flow of things.

Oh. Hell. No. For the record, I have no objection to them running to the other parent; however, the “new love” is not my replacement. She is not “the momma of the house”. She is not their momma. Period. She can be pleasant. She can be nice. She can take them to the movies. Hell, my wallet would appreciate it if she would take my daughter shopping. But she does not take over as momma. Even when I’m not there. Even when I’m dead she will not be momma.

Plus, I thought it was important to vet your dating partners. Why is her participation necessary for their co-parenting dynamic? How can she disrupt the flow of things? It is my belief that the other parent might be a little less than stellar if she has that much influence. Then again the man didn’t believe in paying child support so…

Also, she advises that you never be envious of the new love because “he/she is your ex for a reason.”

Sometimes that reason is because your ex is a lying cheater who tries to skirt child support. Sometimes that “new love” is the whore that knowingly fucked your then partner with absolutely no regard for you or your children.

She does wisely advise those who are dealing with a physically abusive person not to try to follow along with this. I think it should go even further.

You are not a failure as a person or a parent if you do not have the blended, happy model that is portrayed on television comedies. You are not a horrible person if you don’t want to pose for “divorce selfies” (dear sweet baby Jesus, yes, that’s a thing) on the courthouse steps. You do NOT need to get together with your ex and the new love to discuss “your” children. You no longer need to behave as your ex’s secretary; it is not a failing to say, “No more.” Your kids will be fine if Mommy and Daddy don’t vacation together or spend the holidays together. You don’t need to fool the world into believing you’re still a happily married couple even after you’ve divorced. You can have your own schedule, parent your own way, have your own set of cleats or tennis rackets or school uniforms and learn to rely on a new support system. That’s all fine if that’s what you want. Hell, I would encourage it.

I’ve also said many times that if being cooperative works in your situation then excellent. I’m happy for you and would never try to talk you into being uncooperative just for the sake of screwing with your ex. HOWEVER, what the author preaches is not the gold standard for co-parenting. Sometimes it’s just not going to work. Sometimes you are co-parenting with a person who does not have your best interest at heart and certainly doesn’t have the kids’ best interests at heart. Sometimes you are dealing with a person who hates you more than they love their kids. And sometimes you’re dealing with a person who just doesn’t care and doesn’t place a priority on their kids. Figure out if you’re in one of those situations and take it from there.

You do not need to act like a doormat in order to co-parent. I would argue that modeling such behavior is actually harmful to your children. You teach them to let people walk all over them. You teach them their needs are not important. You teach them that pleasing others is so much more important than anything else- like standing up for yourself or your principles, or demanding what is rightfully yours.

Remember, cooperation and civility are nice bonuses, but they aren’t necessary in order to raise some damn fine children. If you are willing and able to do that with your ex, good for you. But if you’re dealing with a toxic person there is no shame in walking away and letting them pick up their own mess.

More Amazing Advice From Hax

I recently found out that my girlfriend of five years (long distance for a year) slept with someone else. The day after, she called to break up and gave reasons but didn’t mention another guy.

I was confident she’d cheated but had no proof. Until… I did something rotten. I checked her email.

I know that’s horrible but I had to know. And my worst fears were confirmed. I confronted her again, she denied it again. And again and again.

Last weekend she came to visit and we had a wonderful time. Well, I checked her email again and found out that yes, they messed around multiple times. I confronted her again and she admitted to it. I’m devastated, to say the least. How does one, if they decide to try again, get past this kind of betrayal?

Carolyn’s amazing response?

I guess all she can do is accept that you know snooping was wrong and be patient while you demonstrate to her that you can be trusted.

Right. Not the answer you wanted.

Did she cheat? Yes. Terrible. Were you supposed to enjoy getting dumped? No. It’s a hellish, powerless feeling.

But that doesn’t mean it was right to recapture your sense of control by interrogating and badgering and scrounging until you found the smoking bedsheets. And it’s tough to see what you gained. Before, you had a girlfriend who dumped you, making you and ex-boyfriend. Now, you have a reason your girlfriend dumped you, making you… an ex-boyfriend. Congratulations!

If your argument is that you needed the “truth” to “move on”, then okay. Look how well you’ve moved on.

I’m not going to pretend your ex didn’t behave horribly. She did. The breakup call is supposed to precede the tryst with the other man (though by breaking up with you right away, she did make the best of a hurtful decision). And her denying and denying wasn’t morally crystalline, either; in fact, it’s arguably worse than the cheating, since there’s no caving-to-passion element. But these are just rhetorical rabbit holes you wouldn’t have fallen into, and betrayals you wouldn’t now have to fight your way past, had you merely taken her breakup for an answer.

Since it’s too late for that, take a cue from your ex, believe it or not, and start repairing the damage immediately. Stop ferreting through other people’s private business, stop keeping score, stop hanging on to a relationship that’s months past its sell by date and really starting to smell. It was over when your girlfriend broke up with you. Let it be over, please. Be willing to see that she- this- isn’t healthy for you.

I always love it when people act like the real problem isn’t the cheating; it’s spying or snooping on the cheater. Cheating on your partner is fine. No big deal really. Spying on your partner to get the truth about them cheating on you is bad. End of the world stuff.

I also appreciated how she spent the majority of the time chiding this person for getting to the bottom of his girlfriend’s cheating, instead of focusing on the fact that his ex cheated. Did she cheat? Yes. Was that terrible? Yes. But let’s forget all about that and concentrate on what a horrible thing he did by snooping in her email to get the truth. Let’s examine every fault he has as a human being. Let’s completely disregard her unfaithfulness and instead focus on his behavior and his shortcomings. Let’s also forget about how she’s lying (oh yes, Carolyn calls that denying, denying, denying) to him which is why he felt compelled to dig around until he discovered the truth.

Her entire response is predicated on the idea that if he had let it go he wouldn’t be in this situation. If he hadn’t snooped he wouldn’t have found out she cheated. If he was still in the dark about her cheating then he wouldn’t feel betrayed. If he had let her go without asking a single question then none of this would have happened. It all boils down to this: It’s all his fault. Cheater girlfriend is blameless. If he’d just been a good little stooge he’d still be wondering what on earth happened to derail this wonderful relationship. He could still keep worshipping his ex and keeping hope alive that she would come back. Even better, if she decided to “give him another chance” (once she realized she hadn’t traded up) he would jump at the chance, delirious with joy at the thought of reuniting. She could convince him she realized she couldn’t live without him with him being none the wiser. None of that pesky, “How could you cheat on me?” drivel to deal with.

I will give her credit though. She was wise enough to counsel him to move on and told him straight up that neither the girlfriend nor the relationship was good for him. Maybe she should have led with that.

If I had an advice column this is what I would have said:

Hey, Encyclopedia Brown, great job ferreting out what a lying liar your ex-girlfriend is. Can you explain something to me? What is it that you think you have to work with here? She’s a woman who lies to you and cheats on you. Is that what you’re looking for in a partner? Are you just dying to paternity test your kids in the future? If not, move on.

I won’t bust your balls for snooping. She was lying and gas lighting you. That’s what liars and cheaters do. It’s a normal reaction to attempt to sort out the truth when people are trying to make you crazy. Mad props to you for that one, bro. I will, however, smack your nose with a newspaper for your willingness to give her another chance.

She cheated on you. And then turned around and lied to you about it. What do you find appealing about all of this? Is it the way she shakes her ass for another guy? Is it the charming way she smiles and lies right to your face? Do you want to spend the next fifty years fact checking her stories and GPS’ing her vagina? Here’s a little wisdom I picked up during my ex’s infidelity debacle: Any time you need to start snooping your relationship is already over.

Finally, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think someone needs to be honest with you. It’s not going to be her. And it’s not going to be that ditz Carolyn Hax. That leaves me. So here it is. The only reason you just spent “a wonderful weekend” together is because she’s either realized her new schmoopie isn’t the knight in shining armor she thought she was getting, or she’s already been dumped by him. You are her Plan B, otherwise known as the backup plan.

Get out now! The sunk costs are relatively low. Save yourself! You have nothing to work with.

Stay

I have written before about my 48th birthday and what a low day that was for me. It was my second birthday since D-Day, although I don’t remember much about that first one. I just know I wasn’t terribly depressed. Or maybe I was; it’s possible I was still waiting for CF to send me alimony and child support after he had moved out of the state and left the company he had worked for for 15 years. I might have been thinking I was going to have to move out of my house, leave everything behind, disrupt my children’s lives, and move back to Indiana.

By 2017 all of that had happened. Everything was gone. I was working two jobs. I worked 6 days a week and 13 hours a day most days. I was poor. Even working two jobs I barely made enough to cover the bills, feed us, and buy the essentials.

I remember crying that morning as I came home from my first job and got ready for my second. I didn’t see how life would ever improve. I was still at that point where I begged God every day to please strike me dead so I didn’t have to go on living this shitty, shitty life. I shut down my Facebook because I couldn’t bear to have people wish me a happy birthday. I didn’t want to go out and celebrate. My brother and his family ended up coming over to my house and cooking me dinner.

I don’t mean to be glib. I realize that there are a lot of things going on when a person decides to kill themselves. I don’t think it’s as easy as saying, “Don’t do that.” Depression is a very serious illness and many times you need professional help to get out of it. I also know when you’re going through a messy divorce it seems like life will never get better. I’m not sure I would have categorized myself as clinically depressed but life sure as hell wasn’t a fun time. Like I said, I would drive around screaming out my fury and despair. I once was so hysterical a guy in a truck in front of me was looking around to see what all the ruckus was about.

If that’s you right now, if you think there’s no point in going on because the person you loved deserted you, please stay. It does get better.

In February of 2017 I was begging for death. In April I received my back support and a weight was partially lifted. In May I met the mobster. In November I finally had my day in court and later that month found out I had kicked his ass. All those times I was certain he was going to get away with it all did not come to fruition. I won. And finally, in December I was divorced from him.

My birthday in 2018 was a completely different experience. I’ve written about that, too. The mobster sent me flowers at work. He bought me a beautiful ring. He video chatted me that morning just so he could see my face. My son bought me a gorgeous amethyst set and then wrote me the sweetest note, telling me how much he loved me and appreciated me and how hard I work. My daughter bought me roses, an iTunes card, and my favorite pj bottoms. My mom rocked her gifts to me. I got Facebook messages and texts. I went out for sushi with my brother and sister-in-law. I let my co-workers know it was my birthday so I got happy birthday wishes from them as well.

This year was even more amazing. I’ll write about that more in another post, but suffice to say, if God had granted my wish I would have missed out on all this wonderfulness. Don’t get me wrong. There are still days I feel overwhelmed. There are still days I feel like I’m spinning my wheels for nothing and like I’ll never get ahead. But overall I’m happy.

I never thought I’d get to this point when I was in the middle of all of that crap. More importantly, if I’d gotten my wish I wouldn’t have gotten to this point. I would have died a sad, depressed, poor woman instead of emerging from that hell as the person I am today.

I can’t tell anyone it’s definitely going to get better for them. I believe it eventually will but I don’t have a crystal ball. What I do 100% know is that if you don’t stay you’ll never get that chance to reclaim happiness.