Lying

The most insidious and oft-overlooked red flag in the giant book of red flags is without a doubt LYING.

Lying is so pervasive that we even have a term for the more “innocent” ones: “little white lies”.

How about “fib”? Sounds like a name for a little hamster. Fibster.

We’re so accustomed to being lied to that we let is slip by again and again with no consequence or action. When it comes to our saintly women, men like to fall all over themselves explaining away these indiscretions. Our women are just far too innocent to think that they would lie to us for insidious reasons. They’re just little fibs. Chubby hamsters running on their wheel. Adorable.

The egg heads explain the phenomenon of the lying wife by pointing out that women are conditioned to lie and be more manipulative from an early age. They don’t have the physical attributes we men have… so they can’t punch and kick and push their way out of a bad situation, so they lie and manipulate their way out of it.

That guy just said something mean to you? He’s 9 times the size of you? Turn on the tears, rub your eyes, point to the large man and scream “That man PUNCHED me!” and watch the entire world come to your rescue. Girls learn this pretty early on. Especially the pretty ones.

Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets: The Truth About Why Women Lie

Regardless of WHY it happens, the truth is that yes… Women lie. Women are in fact human beings. They have faults. They have vices.

But like all vices and manifestations of psychological baggage, lies must be dealt with. They must not be ignored. There must be a reason for untruths to be spilling out of her mouth, and it’s usually not as innocuous as you think.

I’ll give you a real world example.

My ex-wife and I were invited to 70’s themed party years ago. Everyone was going to go in fake afros, bell bottoms, big sunglasses, big shirt collars, etc. We didn’t really have anything on hand so we had to put together some outfits from any old clothes we might have. She asked around at work if any ladies had anything she could use and she came back with a giant afro wig and glasses. “Look what Sally at work gave me! She said I could just have it! They’re perfect!”

Fast forward to a few days after the party and she asked me to get something out of her purse. Right there on top of a giant wad of crap was a receipt from a costume shop… showing that she had purchased an afro wig, glasses and other things her friends “gave” her to use.

What the…? Why would she lie about that? The grand total was about $30. It’s not like she broke the bank by spending $30. Weird.

Immediately my mind went to “it must be me” mode. Was I such a hard ass about budgeting that she couldn’t share with me that she spent $30 on something unnecessary? Was she that worried about my reaction? Was I causing her to do things in secret like this? Must be me.

I was conditioned. I knew exactly what her reaction would be if I confronted her… and I did… and I was right.

“I couldn’t tell you because I knew you would be mad/upset/angry/sad” is the most overused and manipulative excuse of them all. What they’re doing is shifting the blame from themselves to you. “I just HAD to lie about it because you are such a baby about these things! You always blow them out of proportion. It was nothing.”

Interesting.

Take a moment to think back to all of your interactions with your wife over the years. Were there moments sprinkled in there where she expressed displeasure with something about you? Can’t think of any? Let me help.

“You’re not wearing THAT shirt again, are you?”

“No… we’re not buying that. It looks really stupid and tacky.”

“This place you picked out for us is no good. Next time let me pick.”

“Sigh… do you think you could have the kids not look like hobos when I return?”

“We have people coming over, try not to be too much of a slob.”

Just innocent little wife jabs, right? Little tests here and there to keep you on your toes? What would happen if the roles reversed and you said half of those things to her? You’d be labeled a real abusive jerk of a husband and she’d have six other wives lined up to tell her as much. But I digress…

See, during those frequent little jabs… she had absolutely zero care about what your response may be. Your feelings weren’t a factor. She was just stating facts. You need to know that your favorite shirt looks terrible, that thing you want for the bedroom is tacky, the place you picked out for your date is really trashy, the kids look like hobos when she’s not around and you really need to do a better job of keeping yourself and the bathroom looking good. To her, these are all just necessary statements like “You left the oven on again”. It’s not like she’s out to hurt your feelings… your feelings aren’t even a factor.

See my point? She constantly takes little jabs at your sense of self-worth with zero thought as to how it may annoy or even hurt you. So why NOW is she suddenly concerned about your reaction to something she might say/do?

Because the thing she is hiding with her little lie is just the tip of a much bigger and more sinister iceberg… and she is VERY well aware of that.

Otherwise she would rub it right in your face with no regard for your thoughts.

The $30 afro wig and glasses ensemble my ex-wife bought? It wasn’t about me at all. It was about her. She had a spending problem. She coped with her anxieties by spending and eating. That was her thing. That receipt was one of about 3,987 red flags that told me “Dude… she has a problem”. This particular red flag was there in black and white and she sure didn’t like that I saw it. Yes, it was just $30, but it was a little receipt that was the first of many receipts that added up to thousands of dollars we needed and didn’t have. She knew that. One little white lie at a time hid this reality from view.

Here’s another example you may have run into. I’ve heard some variation of this more than a few times (the names and exact situation are all made up):

You wife was married once before to a dude named Randy. She claims that he was abusive and treated her like dirt throughout their relationship. You’ve personally only met the guy once and she hasn’t spoken to him in 10 years. He’s been a total non-factor in your relationship.

One day you see the messages is open on the laptop you share. Buried at the bottom of a list of conversations is the word “Randy”. She had a text conversation with him. This particular conversation was dated over one year ago. You start going through the messages fearing the worst… and thankfully it’s nothing. Just inane blabber about how his family is doing, good to hear from him, so sorry to hear about this brother, etc. They had four different conversations over a period of a month and then it stopped. He ended the conversation with “Would love to see you sometime soon.” She didn’t reply. Now you feel bad for snooping. But now it’s got you thinking…

Your wife has been blabbering consistently about how awful this man was for the past decade. Years of horror stories. No details left out. One time she pointed out a bottle of ketchup during a routine grocery store trip and said “Randy threw one of those at my head years ago. I had to get stitches.” If there was ever a concern that you may not be comfortable hearing Randy stories, she sure didn’t show it. She never asked. You just let her vent and all is well.

So now that dear old Randy has come out of the woodwork and sent random messages that were friendly and normal and out of character and unexpected… she doesn’t mention them? At all? Not for an entire year? How odd.

You get an idea… instead of just coming out and asking about them, let’s do something more passive… something sneaky. Let’s see if she comes clean.

You: “Honey… remember that one crazy woman that was married to Randy before you? I saw her at the store the other day and she looks like a total meth head. Really scary.”

Her: “Whoa. Yeah, she always had some serious problems. I haven’t seen her in years.”

You: “Yeah, she actually recognized me and asked me if we have heard from Randy. I said ‘Nope, we never talk to him… thank god’. She just laughed.”

*here’s her chance to come clean…. nothing so far*

You: “So.. how long’s it been since we heard from him? Not since you and I started dating… what’s that, like 10 years ago?”

Her: “Yep.”

Sigh… there it is. You gave her a chance.

This woman has been mentioning this creep on a regular basis for years, and never mentions the time he apparently awakened from the dead and communicated with her out of the blue. Why? Because something more is going on. Here comes the rest of the iceberg.

He has touched a nerve in her. She felt something inside and she’s a bit ashamed of it. She still has some residual feelings for Randy and she doesn’t like that. Those messages made her feel something good for that short period of time, and she secretly deep down holds out hope that he will message her again. She even started having thoughts of asking him out to lunch. You know… just to catch up. She knows it’s probably wrong… but she isn’t strong enough to overcome those wandering thoughts and she couldn’t bring herself tell you right away that he reached out to her. Why not? Because she knows that telling you would put an end to the communication forever and she’d never hear from Randy again.

The woman who wouldn’t shut the hell up about the guy when he was gone is now completely quiet about him when he reappears. She lies to cover for him. Two big strikes and probably a sign that you are in for some serious trouble.

There’s always a story behind the little lies. Always. But all of that pesky reality can get wiped out with one phrase: “I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d get mad.” The reality of the situation flips and now it’s on you. You’re the crazy, irrational one.

Don’t fall for it.

Don’t ignore lies. As soon as they appear, you call them out and dig deep. Talk it out. Investigate. Don’t let up. You may not like what you find but it’s better to know the truth.

 

 

 

 

Baggage

Here’s a common term in the world of relationships: BAGGAGE.

“Baggage” is another word for all the negative shit that happened to you in the past and that is presumably deeply embedded in your psyche and ready to bubble up at a moment’s notice.  After a marriage dissolves a man will often talk about all of the ex-wife’s baggage she brought to the relationship and how he should’ve acted on this crucial data earlier on.

Examples of typical female “baggage” may include:

  1. No father figure in her life
  2. Comes from a broken home
  3. History of sexual abuse
  4. History of sexual promiscuity
  5. History of poor past relationships with men
  6. Past drug abuse

You get the idea. This is all a bunch of stuff that when us seasoned guys hear it we wince and say “Ooo… be careful, dude.” What we mean is “The chances of this relationship not working and you getting hurt are much higher than with a low/no baggage girl.”

This is true.

Also true: The chance of you finding a low/no baggage girl are somewhere between slim and none. This isn’t a typical condemnation of current western society, but rather a testimonial to human nature.

We ALL have baggage.  All of us. Every one of us.

What we ALL don’t have is the ability to COPE with said baggage. Therefore your litmus test for a good long-term relationship partner shouldn’t be “Does she have baggage?”, but rather “Awful shit happens to everyone all over the world… how does she DEAL with it?” This is the bread and butter of what makes a good partner. Staring life right in the eye when it gives us a shit sandwich and saying “That’s it?! What else you got?”

I myself have baggage. A good deal of it, actually. I was dumped by my wife for another man (ouch). I was left with three kids that I have most of the time (double ouch). As a result, my professional life has suffered and I would probably have more money if it wasn’t for the divorce and expensive kids (triple ouch). My ex-wife is also fucking nuts (quadruple ouch). These things do not work in my favor. What DOES work in my favor is how I dealt with them and continue to deal with them on a daily basis. This translates into fortitude and strength. The kind of stuff you want in a partner of either sex.

A woman's emotional and psychological baggagePicture baggage as a bunch of luggage in the back of a car. A woman who has a shit ton of baggage is barreling down the road in a car with suitcases and duffle bags poking out of the back windows. The trunk is so full that it’s open and tied down with bungee cords. It’s a mess.

The weight of the baggage is SO much that it actually throws off the balance of the car. She has to keep her hands on wheel at all times and constantly make corrections with little tugs left and right. The second she takes her hands off the wheel… SCREEECH! She’s off the road and headed for a tree. Disaster.

That’s what baggage is. It’s all the shit that happened to you in the past that WILL have a negative impact on your life and relationships with others… UNLESS you recognize the baggage for what it is, live in reality, and take steps towards remedying the situation. If you don’t live in reality and say you have nothing to worry about… SCREECH… you’re running right off the road and into danger.

Here are some real life ways in which mature adults “deal with baggage” successfully:

“My entire family are alcoholics. I watched my mom and dad drink themselves almost to death and it ruined my childhood. Because of that I have vowed never to touch a drop of alcohol. I don’t know need it and I am fine without it.”

“I was sexually abused at a young age. Because of that I have intimacy issues and see a therapist on a regular basis. As a result I recognize that I have issues with impulsive promiscuous behavior, and don’t want to threaten my current relationship… so I don’t put myself in compromising positions. No drinks after work with colleagues. No sexual talk at work. No girls’ nights out drinking and going to clubs. I tell my boyfriend about all of the men that contact me and hit on me at work… I don’t want to leave anything a secret no matter how small. Trust and transparency is important.”

“My mother was abusive to my father. She would always hit him and belittle him and call him names in front of me. Because of that I vowed to never do that to my man… but, I recognize that I’m also attracted to guys like my dad and find myself later loathing them and sometimes acting like my mom. I need to get to the bottom of this and talk to a therapist. I need to learn to better control my anger.”

But, of course… it’s never that easy, is it? It’s VERY tempting to take your hands off the wheel for just a second. “I shouldn’t HAVE to always be steering the car. This is stupid. SALLY doesn’t have to steer HER car all the time! I should be able to take my hands off the wheel whenever I want!” – This is not a good thing. This is what we call a broken woman.  Mature people recognize that life isn’t “fair”. We all have our own little crosses to bear and we all overcome and navigate through life in our own way. We each have our own special prescription bottle with “take these if you want to be healthy and not hurt yourself and others” pills. We take our medicine every day and we deal with it.

So with all that being said…you’ll hear me preach abundance and not tying yourself to one woman to the point of ignoring red flags. I still believe that 100%. If you see things that make you say “uh oh” repeatedly, you don’t walk away… you run. Listen to your gut. If you are repeatedly running into the same issues that means that your woman, with all of her baggage, has taken her hands off the wheel and you’re about to be ejected through the windshield and end up as a quadriplegic face down in a mud puddle. Broken people bring down and destroy all those around them if they have the chance.

Don’t give somebody repeated breaks just because they otherwise make you feel good. This is your life partner we’re talking about here. This woman is potentially the mother to your kids. If she repeatedly crosses the line into inappropriate or destructive behavior, you’re in for big time trouble. Recognize it and get out of the damn car.

If your woman slips up and says “Alright… that was wrong. I’m sorry. I’ll fix this” and she GENUINELY tries to fix it… and DOES fix it? Then bravo to her. You have a winner. She’s an adult and she saw shortcomings in herself and saw a way to improve. There’s nothing more admirable than that.

Unless of course she screwed some other dude… then it’s just over. Sorry guys.

 

 

 

My Story – Part 3 – The Phoenix Rises

Rock bottom. I had hit it. From my perspective at the time, it was very sudden. The last 10 years were a blur. Moving across state lines. Failed business. Kids. Wife’s job changes. More kids. My job changes. Death. It all went by in about 10 seconds.

Somewhere along the line I lost touch with that young guy I used to like so much. The guy everyone else seemed to like, too. The guy who had so much enthusiasm and joy that he infected everyone. The good looking guy who loved the gym, loved playing guitar and loved basketball. The guy who read a lot. The guy who loved films. The guy who loved art.

Where the fuck did that guy go?! How did I forget all about him?! He was pretty cool. How did I let everything have such a negative effect on me?

So many questions. So many “what ifs”. Such is life.

Now here I was this single dad with no real close friends, no real passions, and no oomph for life left. No more wife. Three young mouths to feed. Three little ones looking to me to be their model for “normal”. Mom was not recognizable in her new life. She was, by all accounts, fucking crazy.

My daughter is 9 when everything goes down and takes it very hard. She cried herself to sleep most nights. We had long talks.. always being careful not to bad-mouth mom in any way. There was a tense but unspoken understanding of our new reality… but we didn’t ever acknowledge it. Mom ain’t coming back.

My son who was once goofy and extroverted was very passive and shy. The littlest one is in his most formative years, so time will tell how he is affected.

This really fucking sucks.

I went to a therapist. It helped a little. She put me in touch with a few other guys who went through the same thing. That was the biggest takeaway from my sessions. Wow, our stories were so similar. Like… almost identical. One of the guys suggested I check out some forum online. More stories. All the same. Just a bunch of “I swear… I used to be awesome” stories.  Pussified pushover dads whining about their crazy slut-wagon of an ex-wife.

What is going on here?

I read. I read more. I read even more. This whole idea of figuring out this phenomenon, while also going down the path of self improvement… this was my new passion. It took a giant smack upside the head to get me there… but there I was. SOMETHING to get me going in the right direction. A fire under my ass.

One thing I read again and again is about testosterone. Seems to be an epidemic of “low T” going on… if I believe the commercials. Maybe the pharmaceutical companies are just trying to push product. I read all I can on it. Very interesting stuff. There is something to it. Can’t hurt to get tested.

Yep… my testosterone levels are lower than what they should be… by a long shot. That explains some things. Is it the stress? Just being out of shape? Age? I know I used to have high testosterone years ago when I had a blood test done.

I hit the gym. I don’t feel the energy like I did in my 20’s, but I do feel better. The anxiety-induced weight loss has stripped pounds of fat from my body. That’s one positive aspect all this craziness. I need all new clothes. Now I want to fill in my frame with muscle. I was determined to step-by-step bring back that guy I used to like so much.

I go to a clinic in my area, get checked out and start a regimen of testosterone. They are a decent group and they help monitor all my vitals on a regular basis. Over the years, my blood pressure has never gone up, my PSA numbers are steady and my blood lipids have improved. About a month into the program I start to feel it. HUGE difference. This was the missing ingredient I needed. The only negatives are that my balls are smaller (somewhat remedied by injecting HCG) and I get acne on my back and shoulders like a teen again. No biggy.

I started dating almost right away. Online dating accounts were created. So stupid. I was nowhere near ready, but I was horny and wanted some company. Some people I knew also put me in touch with women they think I will like. Every single woman in their own way was another step towards taking away the last remnants of the fog I was living in. Nearly every one was a divorcee with a history of infidelity. Seriously. They also all had horribly terrible abusive ex-husbands with small penises. Weird how that works. *massive eye roll*

My dating experience alone is enough for a 20 part essay. Let’s just say… wow. Yeah. Crazy.

I start to take up guitar again. Not to obsessive levels like before, but I fiddle every now and then, and it’s fun.

I go to the gym now about 4 – 5 days a week. No matter what, I go. It’s my medicine. I play basketball regularly with my boys. I’m in pretty good shape. Compared to other dudes my age, I am in fantastic shape. My weight creeps up on my easily if I don’t watch it. I gain 10 lbs just by looking at a piece of cake. Damn you, old age.

My job situation has improved. About a year after the divorce I realized I needed more money and I needed more time at home with the kids. I met with my boss and came up with the idea of working for more than one company (as an employee). They each get a chunk of my time and I get a nice combined salary. I work from home. The hours can sometimes be weird (sitting on the couch at 1:00 AM on my laptop), but it’s my life now. It affords me the time I need to maintain my self, maintain my house and keep some semblance of being the dad my kids need. I get regular paychecks, so that’s a plus. I make more than I ever have. I don’t have to worry about paying bills or getting kids the things they need.

I hear from a guy on the internet who is going through the same thing. And another. It’s always the same story. And about 100,000 more out there just like it with a little Googling. I become the “You can do it, too!” guy to many of them. A little ray of sunshine to some men that are in a very dark place. I start this website and eventually the podcast. I enjoy the writing a great deal. It’s a form of therapy like any other outlet.

My kids are doing better. My daughter is now a teenager. She had issues with depression and self-harm. She’s riddled with anxiety. But… she seems to be on the upswing. We talk more as she gets older and more mature. We still don’t mention how or why her mom left. My oldest boy is back to normal and is a great student and very sweet and good-hearted kid. My youngest has started grade school and has his moments. He’s very hard-headed. Makes you want to drive him out to the woods and leave him there for a few days. But.. he’s my boy. I laugh just thinking about him. He’s the spitting image of me when I was his age.

As the years have gone by I have the normal ups and downs. Nothing nearly as drastic as that of the previous 10 years, but I can say with confidence that my trajectory is going upward. Now that the fog has completely lifted I am left with a great deal of regret. I keep telling myself that those 10 years were filled with great life lessons. I wouldn’t be ME without them.

Why on Earth did I let that young guy so easily slip away? I think it was the perfect storm of reasons. My ex-wife just wasn’t the right person to go on my life journey with. She folded entirely too easily. She pounced on the first sign of weakness and didn’t let up. She didn’t have the respect for me to say “You can do it. We’re in this together.” Instead, for the last 10 years of the relationship, she was left with an ongoing feeling of “I think I made a mistake with this guy.” I made a mistake with her too (obviously), but I was too caught up in the minutiae of LIFE to see it.

To use the terminology you’ll see so often on this site:  I was a good mix of Lover and Provider (more Lover) that later morphed into 100% Provider… but I unfortunately failed at providing. That left me with.. nothing. Effort doesn’t count. Results count. There’s no participation trophy in life.

I was stripped of all that was ME and was left with some pitiful shell of a guy.

Never again.

My current love life? I’ve talked about it before in other posts, and I feel weird mentioning it in the context of this post. I don’t want to taint what IS now with what WAS then. I’m a completely different human being compared to who I was 5 years ago and I’d like to keep it that way.

I have married again. She’s an absolutely wonderful human being in every way. I don’t know what  lottery ticket I won somewhere along the line to find her, but I did. We are a very good match. The romance and sexual side I lacked in my first marriage has been found in spades in this relationship. The love and support I never felt before is there as well. I’m not a hindrance or failure to her. I’m her man. I’m her man that was put in a shitty predicament and came out smelling pretty good. She likes that. She also likes that I am opinionated about our roles in this relationship and I’m not afraid to say when I don’t like something or if I want to go in a different direction. I have a vision for our future and she agrees.

She’s a wonderful step-mother to my children. They love her to pieces. If I had just found her 20 years ago… Sigh.

Some dudes will read “married again” and roll their eyes, groan and shut their browser window. Marriage is a losing proposition in many men’s eyes. I get it. Really, I do. You can get divorce raped. Your masculinity stripped from you. Any spare time you have is taken away. The nagging wife. The kids. Freedom gone. Your friends all gone (they too have a wife, kids and no life). Hobbies gone. You get fat. She gets fat. Ugh… it’s not fun.

But whose fault is that? Women can knock you down and mold you into something you may not want to be. I hear that a lot. Yep, that is true. They will poke and test you until you show your true self.  So does life in general… If you let it. Stop making women your excuse and stop hanging any semblance of individuality and happiness on their shoulders. They’ll resent you for it, and rightfully so.

Don’t lose your edge. It’s tough to hold on to… but if you don’t, the consequences are brutal. This world has ZERO patience for a dude who doesn’t measure up. Life will stomp on your neck and walk right over you.  You have a choice in the matter. Say “NO” from time to time. Frame your existence as a husband and father in a manner that serves you well. Be there for your wife and kids but be there for YOURSELF, too.

Get up early, make your bed, hit the gym, clean the house, go for walks, hang out with friends, romance the shit out of your wife, read, stand up to your woman, bang her like tomorrow is your last day, make money, keep learning, make more money, be a good model for your kids,… you know the drill.

Deal with the bad times. They will come. They always do.

Learn from me, amigos. This could be you. Ten years goes by quick. Hell, 20 years can go by fast. I was 25 yesterday.

Now I am again.

My Story – Part 2 – My Holy Shit Moment Has Arrived

So my wife starts working with the personal trainer. She literally spends at least 2 hours each day at the gym.. and longer on weekends. How the hell does she accomplish this? She gets up at 4:00am every single day. This is her mission now.  This is on top of her very long work schedule. I rarely see her.

I continue playing Mr. Mom at this point. I cook. I clean. Not ALL of the cooking and cleaning… but a good chunk of it. I help with the kids’ homework. This is on top of my full time job and 2 hours of total commuting each day.

Did I ever have enough of this BS and actually tell her that we need to make a change? That she is spending too much time away from home and I need to get out and do things, too? Yep. I sure did. Her response?

“You have never supported me in anything. You made me take this job and don’t let me to do anything I like.”

I… wait.. what just happened??

I still remember that conversation in the kitchen. Seeing her very crazy looking face as she spits out these words. Wow.

I was flabbergasted. This was a total fabrication. I made her take this job? I don’t let her do anything? What in the hell?

COMMON RED FLAG: Sudden obsession/addiction that usually revolves around self-improvement (actual or imagined) or in some way takes them back to a more youthful time. Examples are joining the gym and working out for hours at a time, going back to school, staying out late, making new younger friends, etc. This combined with a sudden rewriting of history is a VERY common red flag and cause for concern. The two always seem to go together.

 

After working out with trainer dude for a few months, the wife is buff. Not really in a good way. Too much so. She was never a petite gal, but this was just bulky, man-like muscle. Not the fitness bunnies you see in the magazines at all. I’ve worked out with athletic women before (when I was a younger attractive gym goer) and I know that chicks who lift weights can look extremely good… but this was not good. Not at all. Steroids? Who knows.

She is now glued to her phone like a teenage girl. Her speech and overall behavior is changing. She’s much more… trashy. Her southern twang is stronger than ever. She didn’t have an accent at all for the first 10 years of our relationship. Even her text messages to me look like they are coming from somebody else. Random misspellings. She has suddenly forgotten the difference between “there, their and they’re”. How weird. Who was this woman? She used to make fun of people like this.

COMMON RED FLAG: Being glued to their phone 24/7 is bad. Sudden change in behavior and personality is also bad. Becoming what she always hated? Watch out.

 

Bad News: My grandma was dying. She was in a nursing home down in Florida. She suffered from dementia and now kidney cancer.  Her days were numbered and my mom wanted to know if I wanted to go down and see her. I hadn’t seen or talked to her in years (since the dementia kicked in and they put her in a home). Maybe we can stay the week at the beach there and make it a vacation. See dying grandma, say our goodbyes, enjoy some sunshine. Sounds like a plan.

(In hindsight… this was every bit as weird as it sounds)

So, we all load up in the minivan and head down to sunny Florida.

We arrive. Wife still glued to her phone. She still wakes up at 4:00AM and goes to the beach to workout.  We hang out at the beach and her physical appearance is jarring. She posts photos on social media… another obsession of hers. Her sister sends me a text. “She looks like a man.”

Day two of our stay in Florida was D-Day. I was in the condo alone putting our baby down for a nap. Wife and two other kids were down on the beach. My mom was away. She spent most of the vacation with my Aunt, thankfully. I fired up the laptop. Wife was logged into Facebook. I saw a conversation between her and her personal trainer dude. This was not appropriate talk for a married mom of three to have with another man. Oh, god. No way.

Is she having an affair!?

No. Fucking. Way.

I approached her right away with what I saw. This was a mistake. The rest of the week was spent very openly talking about all things related to our relationship. This involved her denying any kind of misbehavior on her part… It was only flirting via Facebook. Nothing else.  OK… they did kiss that once. Oh boy.

COMMON RED FLAG: This is called “trickle truth”. The awful truth is not so bad if you let it out just a little at a time. Usually the trickling goes something like: We were just being friendly -> We were just flirting -> We just kissed once -> He came over a few times but all we did was talk ->We may have kissed more than once -> Ok we had full blown monkey sex right on our bed while the neighbors watched and it’s all recorded and on the internet forever.

We agreed to do couples counseling. You can read about the results here.

The next several weeks of my life were pure hell. I’m going to purposely leave out the details. Just trust me, it was bad. It does me no good to expose those old wounds again.

She moved out. The sad part was that she was gone so much anyway, that the kids didn’t even notice. Seriously. After two weeks of that we decided enough of the charade and we sat the kids down to break the news. I remember sitting in our little living room and my wife looked at me with puppy dog eyes… as if to say “Can YOU do it, please??”  I just motioned towards the kids “Oh no… this is all you. Go ahead.”

She told them. No hesitation. Mom was going to go live somewhere else. My daughter collapsed on the chair and immediately cried. My oldest son just sat there with his hands on his knees like an old man. Staring. Frozen. My wife called to him to come sit with her. He screamed like somebody shot him. My littlest boy was 1 and a half years old.. he had no idea what was going on.

Toughest day of my life.

I wished every type of cancer on her that day. I hoped for her to have a long, slow and painful death. She hurt my kids. She put her selfishness above their well being. Their lives will never be the same… and neither will mine. How could she do this?

This was all happening so fast.
Looking over what I have just typed… it seems so sudden. Boom. Boom. Boom. Done. Yep, that’s exactly how it was.

They say when things like this happen that you should “keep busy”. Oh, I kept busy alright. That’s never been a problem. Mom just wasn’t around at all for the kids anymore. She would pick them up from school, drop off, and go to the gym. I would feed them and put them to bed and she would pick them up in the morning for school. I was still commuting to work.

A divorce agreement was written up by her attorney. It was surprisingly fair. She recognized her contribution to our debts and took half. She also took one of the vehicles that was paid for (she would later crash it three times and finally total it). Left me with a car and the little house.  50/50 custody of kids. No fine print. No gotchas. She just wanted out fairly and fast. She had a new life waiting for her.

I couldn’t sign fast enough.

READ PART 3

My Story – Part 1 – The Beginning

Things I hear a lot from guys online: “Well, did YOU ever run into this…” or “What did YOU do when this happened to you?” I just realized,…I never really did share my full story with the world. I hinted at it a bit in the About Me page,  but I haven’t gone into any kind of detail to paint a picture of just HOW and WHY some blowhard bald guy in his forties decided to make a website and declare himself an expert on all things relationshipy.

So, here it is.. PART 1 of my story. Hope you get something out of it and learn a thing or two. If not, at least poke fun at me where applicable.

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I will start with what I consider the PRIME time in my life: My twenties. I was fresh outta college with a degree and a set of skills that actually made me marketable in the workplace. So much so that I had three job offers right out of college. I realize this is basically unheard of these days, and I just want to say to you new college grads out there: “HAHAHAHAHAH!!” Just kidding, you kids are getting hosed. Sorry. Now if you could put almond milk in my cappuccino, that’d be great.

So, there I was in a new town, in a new state, with money, full of dreams and ambition. To have a giant Fortune 50 company ask YOU to come work for THEM and offer you a nice salary and even nicer benefits… well that put me in a good state of mind right off the bat. I’m wanted. I’m pretty ok. The hard work finally paid off. Life is good.

My wife-to-be (high school girlfriend) is living still back in our home state. She’s finishing up school. We meet from time to time, but mostly it’s just me in my apartment. I am quick to make new friends. Coworkers. Actually, they sit right next to me in the cubicle farm we all work in. That’s how guys work. We just randomly point at some dude nearby “You. You’re my new friend. Let’s go hang out and make fun of each other.”  So we all become best buddies. We learn that our job requires that we travel a great deal. Cool. Field trips together!

We go on airplanes, land in a variety of different places, work long hours, go to bars and strip clubs and have a jolly ol’ time. None of us are married. None of us have kids. I have money leftover every month and I save.  I buy toys for myself.

The girlfriend joins me in the new town and we get married. I help get her a new job through my job connections. We move into a nice house. I continue hanging out with my friends most of the time and she has her friends. I develop hobbies that take up a great deal of my time (guitar playing, for one). As with most things I get interested in, I dive into it 100% and become kinda good at it. My two best buddies join me. They don’t last long with actual guitar playing, but they’re happy to tag along when I want to go watch live music at a dive bar.

We also go to the gym a lot together because I like lifting weights and playing basketball. I look pretty good. I get hit on every now and then when we go out. My friends tease me over it. I know I look good. I workout hard. Makes me feel good about myself. I would never cheat because… well.. it honestly never even occurred to me that it was an option. I wasn’t wired like that.

Looking back I realize that I was kind of the “Alpha” of my pack. I wasn’t really all that “strong” or “ultra-manly” of a personality… more like I just really enjoyed a lot of different things, and I think my enthusiasm was infectious. I was a good dude who loved life and loved hanging out with friends.

As I moved on in the company and further up the chain, the buddies and I separated. We all went to different groups. One guy got fed up with his group and went to work for a consulting firm. Then another guy did the same thing. Another guy hates his new job but sticks with it. Me? I’m starting to hate mine, too.

Work is getting depressing. There’s an overall malaise to the the new area. My boss is a giant grump. She hates life and lets me know it. Repeatedly. She’s been at the company for a gajillion years and never fails to tell me how much it sucks. My coworkers are not fun. They’re not anywhere near the definition of fun. They’re all boring parents who can only talk about kids. One time we all decided to do a company volleyball tournament together as a team. The whole time was spent with me getting pissed at them for not giving a damn. One guy showed up to games in jeans. For fuck’s sake… jeans!

I have approximately 19 bosses. None of them are what I would call “Pretty intelligent and cool people.” I am still convinced to this day that one of them was genuinely retarded. The politics are laughably bad. People around me dropping like flies. One guy leaves due to stress.  We still see him at company picnics. He got really bad hair plugs while gone. That’s awkward. One woman died after getting her stomach stapled. Guy next to me has ball cancer.

That’s it. I want out.

I was told I can’t go to any other group for a while. I’m stuck in this position.

I get the harebrained idea to start my own business. This is around the time that my wife wants to have a kid. The big 30 is closing in and her biological clock is ticking so loud the neighbors are complaining. A new kid AND a new career as an entrepreneur?! I can do this! Besides, the wife has a nice career herself! She’ll support us (financially and otherwise) no matter what, right?

HEY YOU: So often I hear the stories of failed careers, sudden firings, layoffs,  start with something to the effect of “Yeah, it sucks… but my wife has a nice job so I don’t have to find something right away. We’ll be ok for a little while.” Dude, NO NO NO. Never take your foot off the gas. In my case I should’ve kept my career and worked a little on the side if I wanted to explore the entrepreneurial thing. My wife’s well-paying job gave me a false sense of security. Like her money was a crutch that would be there just in case. It’s not. I know if the opposite were true you’d be expected to step up for her… but it’s a double standard and that’s reality. She needs the security, not to play the part of provider.

 

Almost everyone I know is telling me not to do this. I listen to the handful that stroke my ego and tell me that I’m smart and work hard and I should strike the iron while it’s hot and take advantage of my youth. I ignore everyone else telling me “Are you fucking out of your mind? You’re going to have a kid and start a new biz at the same time?”

Strangely one of the few to support my idea were my disastrous in-laws.  As much of a mess as they were, they always looked up to me.

Speaking of… did I mention we also move out of state to be closer to her very dysfunctional family? That was a condition she put forth. “Oh you want to do your own business? Then we’re moving closer to my childhood home so I can have my family around me.”

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***I will pause here as you all stare at the screen and say “DUDE!” repeatedly. I know… I deserve it.***

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Nothing could stand in the way of my success. I was determined to move to a new place and get my piece of the pie. I didn’t need to conquer the world right away… but I needed to start work immediately. Hit the phones. Drive around. Join all the networking groups. Go go go. I was up for the task and I was going to show the world what I was made of.

The wife… she’s not really my biggest cheerleader. More stressed and doubtful than anything. She had a job lined up right away. It paid her more than the last place and with good benefits. Still… I need to bring in cash. I know it won’t be a success overnight and it will take time to build my client base. Her patience is very very thin already.

Baby comes. Baby is awesome. Baby is perfect. I love this little girl. She is the apple of my eye. She has turned me into a ball of mush.

We live in a rental home because we can’t afford to buy a new one. Still haven’t sold the old place back home. We have tried but no real bites yet. Priced too high? We lower the price. Stress stress stress. Wife takes time off to be with baby. Three months. She returns to work. She hates that she has to go back and resents that I am not bringing in enough money for her to take off indefinitely. She’s pretty blunt about it. Even though she has a new job, the baby changes everything. I feel worthless, too. I work harder. Everything comes second to my business at this point. I gotta make this work.

Money starts coming in, but in spurts. Feast and famine. I drive all over the state. I work hard, but tell myself I can always work harder. I haven’t seen the gym in months. I look horrible. My hair is falling out. Oh great.. now I’m bald. That does wonders for my self-esteem.

I point out the need for budgeting. It’s ok to not buy things just because you want them. Prioritize our purchasing. Our situation is not forever… doing without now will pay dividends later. We’re still young. The wife’s attitude is basically “You should be better at providing. I shouldn’t have to do without something just because you had the harebrained idea to become an entrepreneur and get rid of a regular paycheck. I’m playing by the rules and bringing home a paycheck. Do your part.” She has a point.

Instead of clipping coupons, she spends. It’s her way of coping. We rack up credit card debt. I’m the only one who seems to care about this and put plans together to pay the debts down. She chooses to ignore the issue. Just bringing it up reinforces my failure. Every negative thing is tied to my failure. Washing machine breaks? Well, maybe if we could afford a better one.

COMMON RED FLAG: Poor coping skills. What do they do when things go bad? Look at it as a problem to be solved? Look to you for help and guidance and support you along the way towards finding a solution? That’s great. Do they blame you and everyone around you and stomp their feet like a child because they don’t “deserve” such awfulness? Do they seem to be sabotaging your efforts to improve? You’re in for a world of hurt.

 

Caring for our finances was now my job. She has zero interest and didn’t want to talk about it.

We live about 45 minutes away from her parents. This introduces a whole other world of problems. Where we lived before was about 7 hours away from her family. This provided a protective buffer away from her dysfunctional past and kept her baggage at bay. Now we have a front row seat into that chaotic world.. and it’s not pretty. Non-stop drama.  This is when my wife begins to morph into her past self. The part of her I never really got to see before.

We move to a different town that’s closer to the area where most of my business comes from (and thankfully two hours away from her family). She’s offered an even better job right away. We buy a home (yes we sold the previous one). A small little starter home… just to last us a few years until we can afford something bigger. In the meantime I am still chugging away in my business. I finally string together a couple of decent years. I had to work my butt off to get there. My network is growing. Clients are happy and I’m getting referrals. Sweet. About fucking time.

My father dies. This is unexpected. He is only 53 years old. Heart attack. Over the next few years my mom ages approximately 20 years. She leans on me a great deal to help with all the logistics of life my dad that took care of… and to empty emotionally on me. She’s a mess. Her entire well being was dependent on that man (codependency 101)… and now he’s gone. She lives almost 4 hours away from us. She refuses to move closer. As a business owner, husband and parent, this is draining and very stressful.

Kid #2 arrives. A boy. My new best buddy. Over the years he will grow to be quite the awesome young dude. Wife takes a shorter maternity leave. This time it’s no big deal.  Daycare it is. Worked well for the first one. That’s what everyone else does, so no big deal, right?

I don’t have hardly any really close friends since we moved. Just acquaintances from work and husbands of my wife’s friends. When you work from home alone, are on the road a lot and raise two kids… you don’t have any random dudes to point to and say “Let’s hang out!” My wife has friends. They’re all her coworkers she sees every day. I’m still in regular contact with buddies from back home, but it’s not the same. I’m lonely. The culture in this new state is completely different… Lots of good ol’ boys and cliques… or maybe I’m just making excuses?

The wife is going back to school. Yay, more debt! She needs her doctorate to compete in her field. I completely support the idea and further pick up the slack as she goes down the road of self-improvement. My wife is now a “Doctor”!? Cool.

She is offered a big fat promotion. Her company wants to have her run one of their business locations. More hours. Lots more hours. I let her know that I don’t like the idea of her being away from home more… but I will support whatever decision she makes. More money is possible if the business does well. She’s been making more than me the last few years. Now she will really make more than me.

I support her and give her lots of advice on how to navigate the new work environment (I have a great deal more business experience than her) and I use my expertise to  help out her office with some things… doing everything I can to make sure she succeeds.  I will also have to step up as dad even more. Kids are getting older and more into sports. I coach them all. I’m there doing what I can to help out around the house.

Uh oh, the economy has crashed. Clients aren’t paying their bills. People are closing up shop. Oh shit, this sucks. What the fuck now!?

Stress. We ain’t leaving this little starter home anytime soon. She is not a happy camper. She’s the breadwinner now. This can’t go on and I know it. I’ve reached the end of my rope. The entrepreneurial world has come to an end.

I asked one of my clients if he would consider hiring me to work for him full time. He says yes. I now have a regular full-time salary again. Hallelujah. I come home with the news and my wife hugs me like she hasn’t in years. The stress has taken a huge toll on her. I am a failure.

Child #3 arrives. Another boy. This is a surprise. Especially considering how infrequently we have sex. She always wanted three kids and I was happy with the two. I actually looked into vasectomies. My doc cancelled on my initial consult appointment and I never got around to rescheduling. Ouch.

(Yes, the kid is mine.)

Wife takes nearly zero time for maternity leave. Her work is above all else. She has started becoming more distant from me and the kids. More time away from home for a “girls night out”. I do the right thing and stay home and continue playing Mr. Mom.  I commute an hour to work every day. I still coach teams. I am exhausted. Stressed. This point in my life is just a fog. I’m on automatic pilot.

I work out sporadically. I’m still out of shape. Wife has lost weight, but she’s also a physical mess. She starts working out more with coworkers.

“My boss uses a personal trainer, and I want to use him, too” she texts me one day. We basically have zero time together and she never sees the kids… and she wants to go to a personal trainer? Well… ok. I will support whatever she wants to do to improve herself. We’re starting to bring in some money and I would like to more stringently pay down down debt instead… but I support her. That’s what being a partner is all about, right?

READ PART 2