If any of you read Chump Lady then you probably saw Thursday’s post about Bruce Willis self-quarantining with his ex wife, Demi Moore, and their three adult children. If you’re familiar with Chump Lady then you can probably guess her reaction. She thought it was crazy and stupid.
I, personally, don’t care whether they’re all stuck together or not. Bruce and Demi have always had a crazy type of post-divorce relationship. They’ve always made a show of being a united front for their three girls, at least publicly. Hell, maybe privately too; I don’t know them so I can’t say with certainty. They were the supposed goal of post divorce relationships, even when she got together with the much younger Ashton Kutcher. It was all one big happy family with the girls calling Ashton “MOD”, or, my other dad. I did feel a bit vindicated when it was revealed after Demi and Ashton broke up that Bruce had always thought the guy was a jerk. I also feel fairly confident that “their other dad” doesn’t have much of a relationship with “his” daughters now that he has remarried and has two children of his own.
Tracy did bring up one valid point though, which I hadn’t really thought about. Bruce is remarried and has two young daughters with the current Mrs. Willis. Why is he not with them?
I don’t really care. Honestly. What I did find interesting in all the comments was someone who decided to chime in with the news that she had left Chump Nation because it felt like a cult. Despite being cheated on she and her cheater remain friendly and she felt like Chump Lady didn’t approve. She went on to say that Chump Lady wants everyone to hate their ex and basically shames those who don’t. Another commenter chimed in with, “Exes CAN be caring friends. It DOES happen.” And then went on to imply that Chump Lady wants everyone to be pissed off at their ex.
Um… no she doesn’t. She’s pretty clear on this. Does she want you to get angry and use your anger to propel you through the hard parts of this shit show? Absolutely! Does she want you to stay there and wallow in your misery and the unfairness of it all? Not at all. Her standard go to advice is that the pain is finite. It hurts like a sonofabitch but it will end. On some random Tuesday. Her goal for her readers? To reach Meh, that glorious state where you don’t care what your fuckwit is doing or who they’re doing it with. You’re not angry. You’re not vengeful. You are way too busy living your new amazing life.
I can believe she doesn’t see the point in remaining friends with your ex. Then again, her first ex, the father of her child, is a hoarder with mental issues who sued her pro se for custody continuously despite rarely seeing his own child and being financially negligent; and her second ex was a serial cheating sociopath. Not a lot to work with.
She’s also not a big fan of the whole “conscious uncoupling”. I’m right there with her. If infidelity wasn’t a part of your divorce I can see perhaps remaining friendly. Otherwise, my question has always been: Why would I want friends like these?
She firmly believes you don’t have a lot to work with when your spouse cheats. She doesn’t think most of them are genuinely remorseful; they just don’t like consequences so they’ll say or do whatever is needed to prevent said consequences. And she has said many times that cheating is not about the marriage rather it’s about entitlement and shitty character.
I understand she’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ll even let you in on a little secret: I don’t agree with everything she says. The Bruce and Demi self-quarantine? I don’t care. And despite her insistence that they’re probably having sex and the new wife should file for divorce, I don’t think that’s true. Her views on emotional affairs? Don’t necessarily agree, although she has changed her stance over the years. This idea that a 50 or 60 year old has just as much of a chance to find love again as a 20 or 30 year old? Nope. Don’t agree. I also don’t think she necessarily gives credence to all the different variables people have in their lives. It sometimes feels like it’s a one size fits all approach. I tend to think that obstacles facing a 60 year old whose marriage has disintegrated after 35 years are probably different from the 30 year old who is divorcing after five years. I tend to think that the woman who has been a stay at home mom for 15 years is going to find it financially more difficult than the woman who is the main breadwinner in her family. Despite my minor disagreements I’m not offended by her or her message. I take what I can use and I leave the rest. Her tag line is very clear: Leave a cheater, gain a life.
Apparently though there are some people out there that are very, very offended by the fact that Chump Lady exists. They’re offended by the fact that she preaches leaving instead of reconciliation. They’re offended that she doesn’t encourage friendship and “cooperation”, but rather gray rock and no contact. They’re offended at the thought of no longer untangling the skein, or giving up their spot on the marriage police. They also seem to be offended by the fact she believes instead of investing in a relationship with a person who has lied to you, cheated on you, and stabbed you in the back you should invest in yourself.
My first thought on the commenter who was complaining Chump Lady wants everyone to hate their ex and all of those who are offended by the fact that she doesn’t believe in reconciliation is, “Who the fuck cares?” Seriously! There are 11,569,214 websites out there devoted to reconciling with your lying cheater, aka your wayward spouse. There are almost as many blogs written by betrayed spouses who are reconciling after infidelity. Chump Lady is ONE website that doesn’t preach reconciling at all costs. Actually, if you read her you know she doesn’t preach reconciling at any cost. But it’s one website! One website out of millions. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find blogs written by divorced women? Most of the blogs I have found are written by women (almost overwhelmingly women) that are reconciling. Most websites are geared towards reconciliation. It’s a foregone conclusion that you want to save your marriage.
As for being friends with your ex? That is the message we are bombarded with every. single. day! Friendly exes are held up as the golden standard. Look, they vacation together! They spend holidays together! I believe in putting my children’s needs ahead of my own; that’s why I threw the OW a baby shower. We’re besties now- because it’s best for the children. I live with my ex on the weekends- for the children.
We get literally one website that tells us it’s okay to not be buddy buddy with someone who has abused you. One website that tells us it’s okay if we don’t want to double date with the ex and the replacement, or host parties together, or vacation together. We get one website that tells us it’s okay not to engage, to not waste our breath. One website out of 11,569,214 that tells us it’s not us, it’s them. That we don’t control them and there wasn’t anything we did or didn’t do to make them cheat on us. And even there you find people who want to talk about forgiveness and thinking of the children. Like those of us who aren’t willing to have our ex and the OW over for dinner must not love our children. Like those of us who would rather crawl through raw sewage than sit with our ex and the affair partner never think of our children or refuse to put their needs ahead of our own.
There’s a woman who is hosting dinner for her husband (not divorced yet) and his pregnant girlfriend/mistress because custody orders are still in place and if she does dinners with them then Daddy Dearest won’t push the issue and insist they transfer the child between homes during this pandemic. Many people have responded with, “No. Not gonna happen.” She continues to insist she is putting her child’s needs ahead of her own and doing what it takes to help her child be comfortable. Then along comes someone who tells her what a wonderful thing she’s doing, how it’s so great that she can put her child ahead of her own ego and anger.
There it is again. That assumption that people can’t let go, that they’re mired down by their anger. If only you would forgive everything would be wonderful. Adult children of divorced parents NEVER complain about their parents being civil to one another. They are only grateful Mommy and Daddy could put aside whatever petty issues they may have had which led to this divorce so that everyone could go to Benihana’s after the school play or they could have both of their parents there on Christmas morning.
Ah yes, the kids are rubbing the sleep out of their eyes as they roll out of bed in their matching pajamas. They run down the stairs to the sight of their giant Christmas tree decorated to the nines and full of blinking lights. Presents overflowing. There’s Mommy in her sweats and t-shirt. She’s been up all night getting things ready for the big reveal and has been busy making breakfast for everyone. And then there’s Daddy and his whore, both dressed in their Christmas finest, with her practically sitting on his lap, her hand firmly holding onto his as if to claim him. Mommy is dutifully serving Daddy and the whore that helped demolish her family like the good subservient loser that she is. They all laugh and coo over the kids as they open their gifts, patting themselves on the back because they’re so evolved and love their children so much more than those bitter exes that spend the holidays in separate homes. Then Daddy and the replacement say it’s time for them to go. Maybe they take the kids with them for more festivities. Maybe they head home to their own quiet, clean house to spend the rest of the day in bed, fucking like rabbits before going out for Chinese food and going to the movies. Meanwhile, Mom is left to clean up the kitchen and the mess of wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows and assemble the toys or find batteries. Wow- sounds like an amazing holiday.
The sad part is that this is the narrative preached by so many. This is the only way to teach civility, letting go, moving on, exhibiting grace. It’s also the only way you can demonstrate that your children’s well being is the most important thing.
You know what? I AM a child of divorce. I never once wanted those things. I never expected my parents to act as a unit now that they were divorced. I don’t know who all these kids are that think even though Mommy and Daddy are divorced they’re still going to do everything together. My dad cheated on my mom. For years my mother could not stand him… or her. I still remember after Rock Star’s fourth or fifth birthday party when everyone had gone home my mom telling me she had been talking to my dad and she had to find something else to do because she was having a good time talking to him and it almost made her forget how much she couldn’t stand him. They separated when I was in fourth grade. I had my first child at 31. This was twenty plus years later.
I’m not damaged by the fact that we didn’t spend holidays together or that my parents weren’t super chummy. It was just the way it was. My mother was civil when she had to be. She preferred to not be around him. He and the OW turned wife were invited to her home for my graduation party. I think that was probably the first time they were in the same space for a prolonged period of time. I’m not sure they said a single word to one another at my wedding. You know what? I didn’t even notice. It did not affect me or my big day. They were able to be in the same space when we started having kids and the kids had birthday parties. Again, she was civil when she had to be. She was not friendly. She kept people around her and kept busy when they were there in the same space. I’ve never had a problem with that. I’ve never thought less of her. I’ve never wondered, “Gee, why didn’t my parents take us on a family vacation after they got divorced?”
I have always believed you do not cease to be a person with feelings and emotions once you have children. Yet, so often what we’re told is good parents eat shit sandwiches. Good parents let people walk all over them for the sake of their children. You don’t get to feel hurt. You don’t get to feel angry. You don’t get to draw boundaries. You’re a parent. Whatever your kid wants you should give them. Don’t worry about the psychological toll it may take on you.
I say, “Balderdash!” I much prefer Chump Lady’s message. Let us have our ONE damn site out of millions. If we’re all wrong who the fuck cares? It’s not like there aren’t millions upon millions of websites and blogs that are going to push reconciliation and friendliness between exes.
To be continued…