This is a first in a series of interviews with REAL dads and dudes starting over in life. From each of these stories, we can learn a great deal from each other and see that we are nowhere near alone in our quest to start over.
"Pete" is the perfect example of a guy who had very little self-worth combined with the all-consuming need to find "the one" to settle down and grow old with. When you combine the two, it can be a complete disaster.
DSO: Okay, so to start with... if you could, tell us who you are, how old, kids, etc..
Pete: I’m Pete. I’m 35 years old. Have 3 boys.
DSO: You gave me a little bit of you story before this interview... Are you technically still married as of right now?
Pete: Yes, technically still married at this point but have been separated since January 2017. Tried to reconcile this year, only lasted about 3 months and then I walked away for good. I had started over last year and I was in a really good place. All that went away during time period of trying to reconcile and that’s what made me realize it was time to let go and now for a second time I’m starting over again.
DSO: Sorry to hear that. How did you and your wife first meet?
Pete: We met through her cousin that I was friends with.
DSO: Did you have much experience with women prior to meeting her?
Pete: I had been in 3 or 4 relationships prior to her and had been casually dating a few other women but nothing real serious.
DSO: And how about her family? Did she have a stable family life? Mom and dad in the picture?
Pete: Her parents had divorced when she was 12 and her dad remarried but her mom did not until this year. Her dad and grandmother raised her after the divorce
DSO: Oh, interesting. Why was mom out of the picture?
Pete: She gave up rights because of a violent incident that occurred with her boyfriend and my wife and her brother. So, her dad got custody of them two.
DSO: Did her mom cheat on dad with the bad guy?
Pete: It’s crazy because her mom had another daughter by the boyfriend after high school. It didn’t work out and then she met my wife’s dad and they had two kids together being my wife and her brother. Yes, she did cheat.
DSO: Oh wow... Mom had some serious issues. So, looking back now on your relationship, were there warning signs/red flags with your wife and her behavior?
Pete: Yes. There were the violent outbursts towards me and the kids. There was a lot of secretive stuff on her cell phone. All this started happening in 2016 after our third son was born. Before that there was one or two instances where she would just pack up the kids and leave for 3 weeks the first time then 3 months the second time taking our boys with her. After she had come back both times there was messages on her phone from a guy she knew talking about what they had done and that he better not have told anyone about it. I confronted her about it each time and she just blamed me for it.
DSO: Wow... your wife just took off with the kids for long periods of time? Sounds like kidnapping.
Pete: No, she would use a PFA each time making up stuff then dropping the PFA when we would go to court because I could prove the statements to be false that were made against me. Second time she left I didn’t see my two older boys for 3 weeks then got a visitation schedule through court with help from my attorney.
Pete: Yeah here they have a PFA or protection from abuse order that can be filed in family court. Don’t have to have any proof of anything they are easy to get. I have 3 that I have filed on her as well. With pictures and documents proving my statements. That’s why 95 percent of them don’t stick because there has to be proof beyond a reasonable suspicion to get one.
To stick you have to go in front of a commissioner.
DSO: Oh, I see. So... if I understand the timeline correctly, she had claimed abuse and ran off with the kids (and to another man), returned, and this was before your third child came into the picture. After third child, she became more secretive and violent. Correct?
DSO: Well, this begs the question... Why stick around with her during all this?
Pete: Because I loved her, and I wanted our boys to have us together around them. Looking back at it now that should have been my turning point and that’s when I should have started over, but I wouldn’t have my youngest son if I had of left then and I wouldn’t change having him for the world.
DSO: Understandable. Circling back.... How about YOUR family past? Any issues there? Mom and dad in the picture?
Pete: Yes, my mom and dad have been there the whole time for me and for her when we got married. They have seen all the ups and downs we had. They gave us a place to live for a few years because we couldn’t make it on our own with having our first two kids 12 months apart.
DSO: Were they aware of all the issues you had, and did they ever suggest you leave?
Pete: They were witness to just about all of what happened. After a couple years we built an apartment and moved into that and out of their house. Thinking that it would make things better and it did for a couple years.
DSO: Your thought was that the living arrangement brought about her behavior? Too close to parents?
Pete: She always blamed my parents for everything. Once they were out of the picture and it was just us then everything turned to being blamed on me then because no one was around, and she knew whatever she said happened couldn’t be refuted and it was just my word against hers with no witnesses like when we lived with Mom and Dad. Yes, that was her excuse that we were too close to my parents. They were the only ones that offered to help us out.
DSO: Was she ever formally diagnosed or under any kind of mental health care?
Pete: No, she would never get any kind of help and I offered that multiple times she would say ok then when I would schedule appointments she would cancel and say that I was the one that had all the problems. Nothing was wrong with her. It was all put on me.
DSO: Hey, you tried. WAY more than most would do, I would say. So... back to after the birth of the third child. What was the tipping point that made you say "Enough"?
Pete: After finally being able to buy a house together and moving in with each other to work out the differences between us this year. The tipping point was the lies she would make up and then she would go and stay gone for 10-12 hours at a time saying she fell asleep along the side of the road or that she fell asleep at a parking lot when she was at other guys’ houses with them and meeting other guys out at different places. The last time she was caught at a guy’s house sleeping with him and when I asked her about it she told me 4 different stories and I told her I was done it’s over I know your lying about everything. I can’t do this anymore.
DSO: Wow. Was there ever a "She's behaving just like her mom" moment... either from you or from herself?
Pete: No. Her dad did make a suggestion of the behavior being the same. Only he didn’t understand why she was being with all the different guys.
DSO: I was going to ask if her dad ever pulled you aside and warned you. I have an article I wrote on my site called "Baggage" that I think fits your wife perfectly. If you don't make constant corrections in life, you WILL end up acting out your baggage. You saw that firsthand, unfortunately.
Pete: The other tipping point for me was the physical abuse on the kids from her. Once I saw that started then everything just fell into place with what I needed to do. And yes, unfortunately I did see that.
DSO: Have you begun the divorce process? Does she still have contact with the children?
Pete: I have the paperwork filled out and turned in to my attorney. Right now, she has minimal contact because she was evicted from the house we had bought for not paying. So, the kids live with me full time in the apartment that I had built.
DSO: I'm glad to hear they are safe. So, you have a long road ahead of you with the whole divorce process still... This is all still very fresh
Pete: Yes, a long road for sure. It was June of this year when I walked away for good.
I had moved on last year got saved gave my life to Christ and became more of the man that I always was supposed to be by living a life for god and my boys. I’ve learned a lot about myself through this whole process so far and I realize now it wasn’t worth the heartache and having to start over again.
DSO: Good for you. Before wrapping this up... the big question: What was it about you that REALLY kept you in the relationship. That's not something you have to answer now, but it's the big picture that every guy in your shoes needs to answer, or else you'll do it all over again. And no... you can't just say, "I am a good guy, and I loved her." That's a copout.
Pete: I wanted to have that marriage that when we turned 80 we could sit in the front porch holding hands and say we made it. Everyone doubted our marriage from the start and I thought I had met the woman I would be with forever. And I never really knew my worth as a man and how I should really be treated but after going through the years of abuse and narcissistic actions towards me I now know that I stayed out of fear of not being with my boys, making sure they were safe and taken care of, and lastly because I was afraid of losing her to the point I lost myself and no woman is worth that unless they are willing to do the same for you.
DSO: What was it about HER that made you so sure she was "the one", in spite of everyone and everything tell you the opposite?
Pete: The first time I met her it was like we were the only two people that were around like everyone else just diminished into the background. We just clicked instantly. That was the only time so far I’ve ever had butterflies in my stomach. I just knew she was the one.
DSO: So, you had serious physical chemistry.
Pete: Sparks flew definitely.
DSO: Typically, men that are so drawn to broken women in such a way have broken moms themselves. Or, they have little experience with women... Which is why I ask.
Ok, so where do you see yourself five years from now?
Pete: In five years, I see myself living life to the fullest with my boys. Buying a nice house for them and I. And to not be looking for anything or anyone. I know that in due time God has an ultimate plan for my life and for my boys and as long as I stay true and honor him, my blessings will come when least expected.
DSO: Thank you so much for taking the time to share, and LAST bit of advice… Don't you DARE take that woman back, Pete. :-)
Pete: Definitely not doing that again.
DSO: Good. All my best to you and the boys. Thanks again!