You can’t trust yourself. Take time to heal.

While I was married to my first wife,  I used to cherish the rare moments I would get alone. During those quiet moments, I was able to re-calibrate and get a sense of self that I couldn’t have with three screaming kids, a nagging wife and all that work. A day to just sit… and do NOTHING? Awesome. Thank God.

 

It wasn’t until my “married life” reality was taken away that I realized how conditioned I had become. While I may have been alone and enjoying peace and quiet for a day, I always had the crutch and foundation of family and marriage to lean on.

Divorce peeled the scab back and exposed wounds that I never knew I had.

After the ex left, “What do I do now?!” was never in my vocabulary. I just turned into a post-divorce robot dad and was moving on auto-pilot. I was king of the to-do lists… and three kids made sure those lists were always full. Finding something to DO was not an issue. After a while, I would say my behavior bordered on “obsessive”. Lots and lots of cleaning. Lots of organizing. Trying to create order out of chaos. Avoiding the hard stuff. Avoiding the truth.

I had my fingers in my ears and yelled “LALALALALA!! NOT LISTENING!” as the harsh reality of my world was hiting me upside the head. As long as I stay in my little enclosure, I didn’t have to deal with it.

In hindsight, I would say I was suffering from some post-traumatic stress. I am stopping short of calling it full-fledged PTSD, because I think we should reserve that diagnosis for guys that experience combat, death and truly malevolent human behavior firsthand.

My wife just got caught fucking another guy and divorced me. In the grand scheme of things, that’s peanuts.

But still…. traumatic in its own way.

Divorce is what the kids call a huge “mind fuck”. Reality altering. For me it was so very sudden. One moment I’m boring dad on the beach with my aging nag of a wife and our three energetic kids… and the next moment I’m alone in a house looking at online dating sites drooling over 20 year olds. I had put myself into that “dating” world with the same obsessiveness and tunnel-vision that I applied to house cleaning and organizing the kids’ lives.

Fingers still in ears. Making order out of chaos.

Looking back, there is one overwhelming question that comes to mind when thinking of my immediate post-divorce self:

“WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?!”

I can now, after years of contemplation and hindsight, answer that question.

I wasn’t THINKING. I was FEELING. I was “broken” in every sense of the word. The brain was randomly firing, looking for a fix, and I was acting out.

I just wanted to feel good. I wanted some kind of justice.

“Hmmmm… maybe if I assemble a group of young, horny 20-something sex-addicted college co-ed commandos to carry out a raid and murder my ex and her affair partner.”

When I get messages from guys, you can always tell the ones that are new to the game. They don’t even have to tell me all the details. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that their behavior is strange and emotion-driven, and they are ALMOST completely blind to it.

Every situation is different but still the same.  For some guys, it takes just a few months of hell and the fog clears and they are back on the path of normalcy. For others, it may take years. They keep living in denial and kick the can down the road again, and again, and again.

They are too scared to face the truth.

I remember a guy I met at the gym years ago. I don’t remember how we got to chatting, but we worked out together once. Really good guy. He’s what I would call a naturally good-looking dude. Tall. In really good shape. Still young. A little stand-offish. Not the most confident man in the world. He, his wife and two kids just moved into town from out of state. He worked IT for one of the local companies.

After that one workout day and a few messages here and there, he disappeared. I found out later that he ended up moving to a neighboring state to be closer to her family (that sounds familiar).

Then outta the blue, years later and about a year after my own divorce, we started chatting on Facebook. His life had changed dramatically. The wife went crazy, took out lines of credit in his name, racked up debt …AND she cheated on him. Very typical borderline personality behavior. He had admitted to having numerous warning signs/red flags throughout their relationship. He ignored for the greater good of the family…. and now he was paying the price.

She was moving in with her new guy. He was fighting for custody of the kids. He eventually ended up getting full custody due to all her issues and the identitity theft.

A story like that wasn’t anywhere close to being new and shocking to me. I had already heard from a dozen other guys just like him by that time… and had also read countless stories just like his online.

What WAS new to me was seeing his immediate post-divorce/infidelity behavior. It was, I would say, a little concerning.

He had drafted a very long and detailed letter that he insisted on giving his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. He just HAD to warn him about her and her BPD ways. He must save this man and get back at her!

This was Nice Guy “save the world” behavior, plus a need for justice and revenge. Not good.

I told him he was asking for trouble. The letter will just kick a hornet’s nest. He was in the middle of trying to get custody of his kids and sue the ex for stealing his identity. Reaching out to her new boyfriend was not a good idea.

He vehemently disagreed. We went back and forth on this for quite a while.

I never did find out what happened with that letter… maybe he gave it to the guy and the ex-wife never found out about it (he is still alive, after all). Maybe he came to his senses and realized that nobody gives a shit and he needs to move on to more important things in life.

Regardless, the strange behavior continued.

Next thing you know, he is posting videos of himself online, shirtless, singing songs he wrote. From what little I knew of him, he wasn’t really the “look at me, I’m shirtless and asking for attention” kinda guy. He was a wallflower when I met him.

Then he wrote strange poetry and shared it with everyone.

Then he started frequently posting photos of himself and his kids on Facebook. He did this every day. Multiple times a day. He needed to remind everyone “I’m the good parent here! Look, no wife in the picture!”

  • Petty revenge behavior
  • Posting photos and videos for attention
  • Patting himself on the back about what a great parent he is
  • Denial of reality

Hmmmm… Almost sounds like typical divorced single mom behavior. But I digress…

It was all just very odd. He was mentally broken.

He was looking for attention. Admiration. He was looking for confirmation that that he WAS doing everything by the book his whole life and that SHE was batshit crazy.

“Would somebody PLEASE recognize how great I fucking am, already!?!” 

Nobody gave a shit.

The truth was that he was on his own. He’s always been on his own. The wife was not his, it was just his turn.

The truth was that in his 30 some odd years on the planet he never put the hard work and time in that he needed to develop his SELF. It finally caught up to him.

He was dependant on a severely broken woman to give him a sense of completion. With her out of the picture, he went off the rails.

I see this more often than I would like.

Maybe not “take your shirt off and sing for Facebook” levels of weird, but I see very emotional and irrational behavior from guys out there ALL the time.

The timeline is usually like this:

  1. I’m so devastated. This is terrible. How could she do this? I don’t understand. I did everything right (lots of crazy behavior here).
  2. I really need to focus on getting better. I can’t go on like this. I’m a mess. (more crazy behavior but the fog is beginning to lift)
  3. I realize I have some deep issues that have caused bad things to happen to me over the years. That eventually led to where I am today. It’s sad, but I’m glad I have the clarification now. It’s all uphill from here! (the fog continues to lift)
  4. Oh, look! A woman! She likes me! I’ll proceed to ignore everything I just learned because she makes me feel REALLY good right now! Yay! It’s almost as if all that bad stuff never happened! What’s that? A red flag? BAH! It’s nothing. I can’t always walk away from this relationship if I have to. I mean… I’m not marrying this woman tomorrow or anything! (back to crazy town)
  5. I would totally marry this woman tomorrow if I had the chance. Jesus, she’s perfect in every way. How did I get so lucky? I’m going to bend over backwards to keep her around (he’s deep in crazy at this point).
  6. Oh. Never mind. It’s over. Fuck. What was I thinking?? Ok… where was I with this self-improvement thing again? (fog lifting again)

It’s on step 4 that they usually stop talking to me (too busy with their new girl.. and they’re ashamed)… and step 6 is when they come back with their tail between their legs.

100% of men I talk to jump into relationships too soon. 100% of them wish they would have waited a while longer.

Jumping into a relationship too soon is a sign of being broken. A rational person sits back and recognizes their need for help. A rational person realizes that bringing other human beings into their broken world will not end well. It’s not fair to themselves, their loved ones, or the new “girlfriend”.

Men I talk to often qualify their new girlfriends to me. They know they’re not mentally firing on all cylinders just yet… so they need to convince me that “It’s ok… This one is different!”

“Oh no… we’re just casually dating. Nothing serious. She’s fun. Are we dating other people? No… we both agreed not to. I took her to meet my parents last week. They love her.”

“So far no red flags. She’s really very normal in every way. She has two kids from a previous marriage. We already talked about what it would be like to blend our families. We know it’s too early, but we’re tired of being single and we’re awesome together.”

“She’s going to move in with me. She’s going to school right now to get her Phd. She’s really driven. I’m helping her out so that she doesn’t have to work so many hours and can concetrate on her studies.”

Everything is great, casual and fun. Nothing serious. Except that there’s no dating others, she met his parents after week #2, you’ve already met her kids and you’re paying for everything.

Everyone outside of the relationship looks at them, shakes their head and says “This won’t end well.” They recogniz the crazy manic state he is in. For the guy… he’s in too deep and in love. His brain is firing away with all those feel-good chemicals. Rationality is out the window.

He is now officially open to make a huge number of life-changing mistakes that he can’t see yet. The fog and confusion of love, lust and happiness blinds him. This could get really bad in a hurry.

When the fog finally clears, he discovers that the woman cheated on her last husband, she has borderline personality disorder (medicated) and she is still actively texting three other guys. Soon after finishing her Phd, she leaves the relationship and has a new guy immediately.

That’s when I get the email.

“Dude… things are really fucked up right now.”

So, where did he go wrong?

Where he went wrong is that he never fully erased the programming he had from all those years of marriage. He never removed the crutch of marriage that he leaned so heavily on all those years. The “strong” foundation of marriage that was always there was comfortable… but at the same time limited his development as a human being. Having that wife to fall back on was a safety net. Once it was taken away, it made everything a hell of a lot scarier.

He falls flat on his face. Time to get a new net, right?!

The healthy way of looking at it is saying “Do I really need that crutch? Why do I need it? Can I operate to my full capacity in life and gain happiness by being alone?” If the answer is “no”, then he has issues he needs to address.

After a man realizes true happiness on his own, he realizes that the fickle nature of love, romance and women isn’t the foundation of life… but just a really nice accessory.  Romance is the heated leather seats in your new SUV. It’s great to have and it makes things nicer and more comfortable and puts a smile on your face, but you don’t need it.  You can still get from point A to B without it.

There’s nothing wrong with love and romance. Most of us WANT a long-term romantic relationship with just the right woman. We LOVE being in love and having that person to go through life with.  It’s an amazing feeling. The irony is that you won’t find that love until you don’t need it. It’s the great cosmic joke.

Find happiness within yourself. Concentrate on YOU. Tear down those safety nets and kick away those crutches… and the world of normalcy opens to you.

Her: “I have two kids and want to pursue my PhD while you pay for everything. Sound like a plan?”

Mentally Healthy Guy: “It was great meeting you. Take care.”

Her: “Wow that was some great casual sex we just had. I would like to date exclusively now. Can I meet your parents next week?”

Mentally Healthy Guy: “I can appreciate the sentiment, but I’m not interested in jumping into a serious relationship so fast. I hope you understand. You were great. Let’s keep in touch.”

Mentally Healthy Guy (MHG) knows his worth. He knows the PhD and Needy Girl have something off about them and he doesn’t want to waste more time being around them. It was fun… but no thanks. They are literally two of about 500,000 women in his demographic that he would be willing to date. Maybe one of those 500,000 end up being a really great match and she is worthy of settling down with.

Chances are that won’t be the case… and he knows that. He’s cool with that.

My typical reader doesn’t know that. They are broken. They CAN’T see that right now. They have no true sense of worth. They’re in a very confused state. They see the monogamous long term relationship as the finish line because that’s all they’ve known all these years.  If they happen to hit that finish line in week #2 of their divorced life… great!

Take time. Step back. Reflect. Work. Think. Work more. Be honest with yourself.

The women aren’t going anywhere. That ONE girl is not THE ONE. Trust me. If she is your perfect one-in-a-milion match, she will wait for you. She’ll understand, back off, and be a friend.

That’s what good, healthy people do.

Chances are, with time and distance, you will realize just how much she is NOT the one and just how broken she also is. See… when in a broken state, you tend to attract other broken people. Mentally healthy people recognize your brokenness and avoid you. They’re the girls at the bar who look at you wide-eyed and say “Okay… well, it was nice meeting you.”

They’re not playing hard-to-get… they’re running away. There’s a big difference. They have a finally-tuned “broken guy” meter.

Take time. Lots of time. Enjoy life. Discover yourself. You will very quickly slip and fall and find yourself right back on Step 1. Then you’ll go through the process again. Then again. Then you’ll find you’re not slipping anymore.

You’ll be failing a lot over the next few months/years. No need to exponentiate the suffering with a quick new wife replacement.  You can ride the rollercoaster by yourself.

You’re a big boy now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re free?! Divorced?! Forget about women for a while.

A recent email exchange with a reader reminded me of something. The most often asked question I get by guys who have discovered infidelity and see divorce on the horizon:

So… what’s dating like?

These poor guys are so conditioned to having a female by their side that the knee jerk reaction to losing one is to immediately look for a replacement. While some may say they just want to have fun with ladies while playing bachelor… they secretly all desire to find “the one” and get comfortable again.

My advice to them is always the same.. and it’s always ignored. Always.

“Forget about chicks for a while. Focus on you.”

I see men jump right into dating, get crushed, crawl back to their cave and say “Yeah… maybe I should give dating a rest for while.” Over and over and over again.

I know… I was one of them.

I am now with a genuinely GOOD woman. That is NOT because I bounced around for a while in online dating, worked my network of friends and neighbors and eventually connected with somebody I had a lot in common with. No… I just got lucky. Seriously. It had nothing to do with my repaired emotional state or doing everything by the book. No… I just happened to find a good woman who was going through much of what I was going through… at pretty much the exact same time. She was there through my annoying three year post-divorce emotional journey, and I was there for hers. We both agreed that we were dating way too soon.. but did it anyway. This could’ve ended in a catastrophe of epic proportions. Thankfully it didn’t.

In spite of doing everything wrong, we got it right.

Don’t do what I did. Just because I hit the lottery doesn’t mean you should go out and spend your next paycheck on Powerball tickets. Just because Jimi Hendrix did drugs doesn’t mean that you can be an awesome guitar player by shooting up heroin. You get the idea.

Oh yeah, I did some dating. I’m familiar with that world. As I’ve often said, 90% of the single women out there are not long-term relationship material. Have fun, go out every now and then, do your thing.. but realize that the chances of finding somebody worth calling your one girl are very very low.

YOU HAVE TO BE OK WITH THAT.

Hearing somebody tell you that you will probably spend your remaining years casually dating and enjoying the single life should put a big fat smile on your face. It’s shouldn’t make you sad. You’re a dude. FREEDOM is everything to you.

Don’t quite feel that way? You’re conditioned. You’re broken. Don’t start dating yet.

When you are in a super vulnerable state of being shit on and dumped… you tend to want to remedy the extreme anxiety as quickly as possible. Some of us figure out that you just have to power through it slowly and occupy your mind with stuff like the gym, work, hobbies, reading, writing, friends… but most of us look for the quick fix. That touch. That physical feeling. That warmth. A WOMAN.

Hey, it all sounds good. You go about doing all of those things that come with new found freedom, and you have NEEDS, so why not casually date? Well… I agree with the sentiment… BUT recognize that you will most likely set your progress back a little (or a lot) by jumping into bed with women right away. Recognize that it will whip up all kinds of feelings. Recognize that you may very well start falling for girls REALLY quickly. Recognize that you CANNOT TRUST YOURSELF right now to make the most rational decision. You cannot trust yourself to do what is right for YOU RIGHT NOW. What you can trust is that you are hurting and you will want to fix that hurt right away. You will ignore red flag after red flag if it means you feel good again.

Your feelings are perfectly valid… Your conclusions and remedies are not. You cannot trust yourself right now. You are an addict looking for a fix. “I can stop at any time. I’m cool. Don’t worry about me.”

Another way to look at it: You are an adult. You are probably a dad. You have an entire world of work, home, and family that depends on your to keep your shit together. Don’t run out there and jump on the first woman that makes you feel good again. Realize that you have a 1/10 chance of finding a good one… which means the remaining 9/10 are varying degrees of broken. They are cheaters, liars, depressed, angry, abuse-survivors, abusers, borderlines, bipolars, manic depressives… you name it, you will run into it. You want to risk bringing THAT into your world? You’re willing to risk having a crazy woman show up at your door on Taco Tuesday night with the kids,  screaming “WHY HAVEN’T YOU TEXTED ME BACK, ASSHOLE!? IT’S BEEN TWO HOURS!!”

You’re better than that. You’re a man. It’s ok to hurt. It’s okay to want it to all go away. What you don’t do is look for the easy way out. You work through the pain. You work through the anxiety. You work on yourself. It’s introspection time. It’s time to pick apart yourself and rebuild. It sucks… but it sucks worse to be sitting at the kitchen table with your head in your hands saying “God dammit… I did it again” as you find out your new girlfriend gave you the clap.

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Breakup Man Roadmap. Step 1: I NEED SEX!

I went through it. Every man I know who was cheated on and later divorced has gone through it. EVERY ONE.

The rabid sex stage. The “I will fuck anything that moves” stage. Right now divorced guys everywhere are reading this and saying “Hehe… yep.” We humans are such predictable animals.

It’s an interesting phenomenon. A man is betrayed in the worst way, and he of course goes through the normal five stages of grief:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Shoehorned in there somewhere between #2 and #3 is the “fuck like your life depends on it” phase. It’s as predictable as the new gym membership. I think guys do this for several reasons:

  1. Wanting to be literally “touched” again. It’s therapeutic. Most divorces and affairs are precipitated by months if not years of a dead bedroom experience. Cold spouses who don’t give you loving attention. You may have attempted to bargain or work your way into your spouse’s heart… only to be denied again and again or maybe rewarded with “Oh fine, if it will shut you up” sex. A new start with new women means that this biological need for human touch and affection can now be experienced again. Hooray! I remember the first time another woman other than my ex-wife touched me in a “more than friends” way. Wow. That was electric. The euphoria. Like I was lying in a warm bath after a 5 day hike. A lot of negativity melted away when the woman squeezed my arm and lovingly stroked my back. And the first kiss? Forget about it. I was in heaven.
  2. We love the chase. I think most men will agree that human touch and eventually sex are awesome and necessary… but there is something really great about the chase. Seeing a woman, saying “I want that” and going for it. Playing the mating game. The push and pull. Having several numbers on your phone and texting several women at once. Setting up back to back dates. This whole experience makes many guys feel electrified.
  3. Prove that you are a man. There are several things in a man’s life that can make you “feel like a man”, and none of them are more powerful than being wanted by attractive women. Taking it a step further, nothing puts you further up on the man pedestal than actually having sex with these attractive women. It’s a very innate “conquering” type of feeling that you get. I saw it, wanted it, got it. Earned it. RAAAR!! Let’s do it again.

Immediately after this stage comes the “Ew… what was I thinking?!” stage. Not all of these women will be of substantial caliber. They may look the part, but they end up being crazy… or  even a few IQ points shy of being considered “special”. More baggage than O’Hare.  If you come out of this phase relatively unscathed, you are really lucky. You could have caught a disease, been stalked, experienced major drama, hooked up unknowingly with a wife, got one of them pregnant…. the list goes on and on. You’re in a nutty stage in life and you are NOT looking out for red flags. You’re looking to get laid. This sets you up for a whole slew of bad experiences.

BE CAREFUL. Recognize what this time period is: a crucial and normal step towards rebuilding into the new you. It’s one dip in the roller coaster. There are many more to come.

The Post-Divorce Dating Primer

dating after divorceYou’re newly divorced. You’ve joined a fraternity of men who spent a good chunk of their adult life with one person…. but now find themselves where they never thought they would be: Deep in the crazy world of single people.

It can be surreal.

Scary.

Wondrous.

Evil.

Mind-Blowing.

In short, dating today is really very much NOT what you expect. Not at all.

Prepare yourself, my son. This is a crash course in what the dating world is like for the divorced adult man.

I HOPE YOU LIKE TEXTING

The primary means of communication is now texting. Your dates will expect you to text at any time of the day. Since you’re a busy guy and can’t spend all day typing away at your phone… you will drive her nuts if you don’t reply right away. She’ll accuse you of playing games. This actually works in your favor. Nobody said the dating game was mature.

People today, especially young women, are now addicted to little doses of validation that they get from texts, Facebook posts, Twitter replies, etc.  So, don’t be thrilled if that hot thing from the bar carries on a 990 message long conversation with you about your awesome arms. They all do that. Just try and keep it short, sweet and polite (ha, good luck).

Oh, and look up Emoji. Install it on your phone. Get used to using funny face icons. Congrats, you’re 8 years old again.

DON’T BE THAT GUY. THE DESPERATE ONE.

Women are bombarded by men. If they’re online, they’re getting hundreds of messages. If they’re at the bar, they’re getting hit on every 20 minutes. All of these women will tell you that the vast majority of these guys are NOT guys they would date seriously. BUT… a lot of them will tell you that they may be guys that they string along for free stuff. They sense the desperation and take advantage of it. Meals, presents, validation… nobody provides all of that better than the desperate guy. He thinks all this pushover behavior may one day end in a relationship (sex). It never does. Don’t be that guy. Everyone is repulsed by him. You know she’s not interested. Be honest with yourself. Don’t waste your time or hers.

DON’T LET THE BAD APPLE SPOIL THE WHOLE BUNCH. WARNING: THERE ARE A LOT OF BAD APPLES.

You’re divorced, so your past notions of “Women are angels and not at all evil like us men” have probably been squashed long ago.  Don’t think that dating will help bring those old positive feelings back. In fact, you can easily slip into woman-hating mode if you allow it to take over.

If you play your cards right, you will be involved with a lot of different, attractive women. You will also witness a lot of horrible things:

  • Wives hitting on you.
  • Engaged women sending you nude selfies .
  • Bible-thumping, church-going women telling you that they want to fool around with you because they’re bored with life and their husbands “work too much”.

If you have the gift of gab and women find themselves frequently “opening up” to you… prepare yourself for the mindfuck. Many an evening with single women have left me with me with a semi-permanent shock face. I led such a sheltered, boring married life. I had no fucking idea.shocked face

These women are not the rule. They’re not necessarily the exception, either. They’re just broken human beings. Listen to them, take it in, learn, move on. Up to you if you want to be intimate with them. You will end up hating yourself and them more if you do… but that is your call. Sometimes we are slaves to our balls. I get it.

SINGLE WOMEN TODAY ARE HAVING A LOT OF SEX. WAY MORE THAN YOU THINK.

Unless you have specifically stated this as a firm boundary in your relationship, don’t assume that the women you are dating is being monogamous and loyal to you. She’s most likely screwing around. A lot. She may have banged a guy that morning and then met you for drinks at 4:00. You have to be cool with that. If not, your dating pool just shrank down considerably. This is the new reality in the dating world.

Condoms are your friend. Use them. STDs are rampant.

YOU WILL NOTICE PATTERNS AMONG THE AGE GROUPS

The young 20 somethings are VERY picky about the men they sleep with. They tend to like the bad boys and aren’t interested in settling down at all. They are BRUTAL when it comes to the pushover/desperate guys. They hate these guys. They are approached every day by them. This group is where the “just be an asshole” techniques work the most, unfortunately. Ignore them…and they will come running after you.

The single 30 and 40 somethings are way more open and not as picky about who they date. Why? They’re ready to settle down. They’re way more loving and emotional.  Some may say it’s because they aren’t as attractive to the bad boys so they settle for the nice guys. Or, they’ve learned from life and now know what is valuable in a relationship. Might be a little of both.

Dating can suck. Hard. It’s enough to scare away decent guys who are just looking for the one soul mate in life. For those of us with an abundance mindset, and armchair psychologists like me… it’s actually pretty damn interesting.

Approach it like a game. That’s exactly what it is.

My One Marriage Counseling Experience

How the hell did I get here?

I’m seated across from a very nice and motherly marriage counselor.

My wife is next to me. Tissue in hand. Dabbing at her eyes. I have somehow held back my tears. I don’t know why, but I just poured out my life story to the counselor. It really has no bearing at all on why we’re here… at least not directly… but it seemed right at the time. I was probably hoping for my wife or the counselor to break out into tears and sympathize with me. “We didn’t know you were so complex and interesting! You win dude of the year! Yaay! Let’s get this marriage back on track!” God, I was such an ass. I was in a state of shock and extreme anxiety. I had not slept for two days. My heart was thumping out of my chest. I had already lost 11 lbs. How is that even possible?!

I talked and talked… the counselor sat there with a concerned look on her face. She nodded and hummed sympathetically at all the right times. My wife was normally stoic and emotionless. She had a hard time with intimacy of any kind. Today she was sobbing quietly and wiping tears.. a state I had only seen before when somebody died or she was caught overspending for the 100th time.

I wrapped up my story with the line “… and now here we are with you… because I found evidence of infidelity”. You could see this took the counselor by surprise. “Oh… okay.” Not what she was expecting. My wife went immediately from sobbing damsel to angry bitch in the span of one nanosecond. She had enough of my histrionics.

“Okay, here’s the deal. We were on vacation and I stupidly left my Facebook page open and he saw messages between me and a guy… but it WAS JUST FLIRTING!!” *turning to me* “I know you don’t believe me, BUT IT’S TRUE!! WE NEVER DID ANYTHING!!”

Back to crying. Very convincing. It was a lie. One of many. She has been in an affair for three months with her personal trainer. I would later find evidence and she would admit the full extent of the affair.

The counselor was calm… “Okay then.” She went on to describe people drifting apart in marriages… boundaries… mid-life-crises… the usual boilerplate stuff. I sat and took mental notes. I am a man… a fixer. I was determined to come out of this with some nugget of information that would put things back the way they were.

I just wanted my damn life back.

Then the wife opened up about what’s wrong with me. Some of it was completely false. Reinventing history (a way to rationalize her behavior). Some of it was right on the money. Hearing all this come from her… it hurt. Who was this woman? “And I don’t like having sex with you. I never have. I just want it to hurry up and be over. I’m sorry, but it’s true!” Okay, that did it. I’m crying. She found the button to push.

The counselor has an interesting response to my tears. “You need to learn to be able to take all of her emotional vomiting and just let it roll off of you. You can’t be so hurt so easily.”

Easily?!?! Did she just hear what she said? I haven’t slept in two days because of this! This is my wife and mother of my three kids! What the fuck is going on here!? Has everyone gone mad?!

But I now get what she was saying. “Dude. She’s nuts. Big deal. Most of them are. Deal with it.” A future mantra of mine.

The issue of money came up. The wife admitted that she did have a spending problem, but me constantly picking on her about money and questioning every expense really pissed her off. She was an adult and didn’t need another dad. The counselor agreed. Wow. I was made to feel like a control freak. At one point I said something to the effect of “My wife just needs to…” and the counselor quickly cut me off, raising her voice. “No! She doesn’t NEED to do anything! That’s not for YOU to say!” It was two against one now. I was defeated again.

We wrapped up the session and drove our separate ways. She was now armed with new emotional ammo. I felt like crawling out of the office on all fours. She drove away to be with her new man. I went to pickup two kids at school and the other at daycare.

Part of her “crisis” involved her emotionally and physically disconnecting from the kids (a mental state she is still in). She wasn’t home when they woke up, and not there when they went to bed. She took them to practices and then dropped them off to “go do work stuff”. This was good enough for her.

I was told to let her move out and have her space. I did. She never came back. We only had the one counseling session. She filed for divorce immediately. This was the beginning of the new me. One day I will thank the counselor for giving me the much-needed wake up call. I needed to be torn down completely before I could build myself back up.

Book Review: Single Father, Better Dad – By Mark Tucker

I happened upon an article online from Australia that gave a sneak peak at a new book by a Mark Tucker calledSingle Father, Better Dad. The article really really hit home for me. What he described was so eerily similar to my own divorce experience, that I immediately Googled the book title and saw that it was for sale from Amazon for $5 (Kindle Edition). It’s a quick read, but is very interesting from my post-divorce perspective.

Mark is a good writer. An Englishman living in Australia. He seems to be a very kind and very funny guy. His wife was something else. He provided for her for many years, and she ran off with her personal trainer… her “soul mate”. She tells the kids of her affair (that’s a first), she leaves… and he has majority custody of the kids. Again, all very familiar to me. But, this is where the familiarity ends and where ol’ Mark takes a turn down the wrong path.

He goes on two dates six months after his wife leaves. Both dates are a result of online dating. First gal is fatter than what he liked. He had the balls to tell her it wouldn’t work out. Good for him. No need to drag it out and hurt feelings and waste time. The second gal was too old, but he liked her. She then finds out about his kids and tells him it’s not going to work out. He ends the evening asking her if she would have sex with him if he didn’t have kids. Probably, she says. He asks for sex while dropping her off. No. Ouch, Mark.

He then meets a chick at his kids’ school. She’s pretty but has a ring on. He eventually asks her out, they go out, he asks about the ring. Oh, it’s a commitment ring…for a “special friend” she’s known for years. They used to live together, but don’t anymore. “I’m sort of single” she says. Jesus, Mark. RUN!

Nope, Mark sticks it out. He falls in love. Ugh. Some highlights of his relationship with the new gal, Allison:

  • One night she drinks herself into a coma and goes to the hospital. This was at a family gathering.
  • She already has two kids.
  • They couldn’t complete their first sexual experience. They stopped mid-pump. No condoms. The moment had all the spontaneity and passion of a bridge game.
  • They tell the kids of their relationship after two months. She moves in half the time (when she doesn’t have her kids).
  • He tries to propose, but before he could start she cuts him off and tell him that the situation is not right. Not the right setting. Eventually he does it right, they get engaged and then waste no time getting married. He remodels his place to accommodate her and the new kids.

epic facepalm

The book is peppered with little stories of what not to do in a relationship. Textbook stuff like her asking him where to go on a rare night they have with no kids. “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” I cringed at that and about 148 other little moments he describes. I was waiting for a “And all these things I’m describing are how NOT to date a woman!” moment, but it never comes. The poor sap is head over heels for her. Blind to all red flags.

He does cover some helpful things about divorce. Talks about how men are run over the coals in the process. He was divorce-raped, but it could’ve been much worse.

The most heart-wrenching moments for me were the very beginning (the story of the discovering infidelity and the break-up) and the very end.. where his daughter writes (very beautifully I must say) about her recollection of the day her mom told them she was leaving. That was, again, so much like my very own experience.