Category Archives: Divorce

How To StifleThe Pain of Separation

Not long ago, I received an email from a single dad who is going through something similar to what I went through a couple of years back when Grace’s mother and I broke up.  This guy’s marriage crumbled, and he wanted to know how to, paraphrasing his words, avoid the accusations and feelings of abandonment and guilt.

Well, single dads and single moms, here’s my thoughts.

First, let’s be realistic.  Breaking up with a longtime partner or spouse is bad.  Really bad.  I’ve heard it be described as everything from feeling like you were in a serious car accident every day for years to, in one friend’s words, “simply worse than you can possibly imagine.”  I never knew what he meant until a few years ago.

Now, however, I know.  It’s bad.

Feeling of abandonment and guilt, whatever the prior situation, are bound to occur at some point, especially if you have kids, assuming that your family life held a high priority to you.  To put it bluntly, you can’t avoid it.  I might argue, even, that you shouldn’t.  Divorce and separation can feel like a death in a close family; sometimes, you just need to mourn.

But don’t go crazy.

In the situation where you left a spouse or loved one and left children behind, STAY ON TOP OF THE FAMILY SITUATION.  You love your kids, most likely, your kids love you.  You’re a parent, and become no less of a parent because you’re not there 24/7.  The dirty little secret is that very few of us are actually there 24/7 anyway.  But don’t lose track of what your kids are doing.  Ask questions: about school, friends, home, what their likes and dislikes are, everything.  If your kids are too small to answer back, play with them.  Watch movies.  Read with them.  Take them to parks.  In short, be an active parent.  You’ll be amazed at how much less sulking time that gives you.  I still get fidgety if I don’t see my daughter within a certain time period.

Another suggestion I would give would be to learn to tune out the noise.  Obviously, if you’ve been with your partner for any appreciable amount of time, they are going to know you alarmingly well, and one of those things that they will most certainly know and will almost positively take advantage of is which buttons to push.  Listening to the pertinent information and eliminating the noise is a skill that takes time to master, but it will be necessary for your mental health – and it will be your mental health that will allow you to thrive without your significant other.  Remember that, and achieve a zen-like comfort level.

Finally, and this might not seem to be obvious, but get a lawyer if you can.  This person is more than just a person that knows the law, it’s a person that knows the law that you are paying to be on your team.  This simple knowledge will give you an important, and at least in my situation, unexpected emotional boost.  Really it helped.  Also lawyer will give you all sorts of information that you knew, but somehow forgot about when it comes to separation.  It sounds strange, but it works.

Those are a few things that come to mind.  I know that I’ll come up with more.  I’ll keep thinking.

Hang in there!

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Yet Another Of The Talks That I Hope To Give My Daughter

Hey, all! Yes, I know, it’s been quite a while.

I could probably type until my fingers were sore on what I’ve been doing lately, since I was such a regular blogger and all for such a long time, but I won’t. Not because it’s boring (it isn’t), but it’s late, and I’m a bit tired, a bit sick, and a bit blue. But only a bit.

The thing that I forgot, though, was that writing always helps, and so, lo, again I’m here to write to you all, apologizing for my long absence from blogging. Hope that you all are doing well!

Here we are, in the midst of the American Silly Season (others might call it Election Year), and I’ve been spending a lot of time with the 4 year old, Grace, to whom this blog is dedicated. It’s been a trying year, but one of change, and that is, I think, a good thing. But my thoughts turned to post that I wrote quite a while ago called One Of The Talks That I Hope To Give My Daughter and, by jove, I think I have another one.

That post was about drugs. This one is about a topic just as dangerous: relationships.

Being that I’m a single dad, one might surmise, correctly, that my luck with women has not been the best. But, as this man approaches 40, I’m beginning to catch a whiff of what might be a working theory. I’m pretty sure that it would work for women, too.

It would go something like this, I think:

“Grace, you’re getting older now, and I’m sure that you’ll want to date, if you haven’t already. Most of those you might not even tell me about. I hope that you do, but you might not. Before you do, though, let me give you a little advice from an old dad who has been dating for a while.”

“You’re going to meet a lot of people. Some of them will like you for who you are, and some, compulsively, will try to change you. Of those two types, realize that once you realize who you are, and you probably haven’t yet, you won’t change too much. You might pick up or lose a habit; you might gain or lose an interest. Fine. But the whole of you, the person that is you, won’t change, so finding someone that you have something important in common with might be…big.”

“But that isn’t the lesson.”

“The real lesson is to try to not be that person who tries to change the other. That path will not make you happy, and I doubt that it will make the other person happy. Be the best person that you can be, care about the one that you love, respect the relationship that you have, never be afraid to communicate with that person, but be ready to drop and run if you have to.”

“Grow together, improve together, encourage each other, and share everything. EVERYTHING. From the dash of your hairspray, to the bills in the mail, to the joys in your lives. Share it and relish it all. Because, Gracie, if you don’t share it all, the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, you’ll have secrets, and you will not be a couple. You might be a relationship, but not a couple. In the end, that will probably not make you happy, when your being happy is the only wish that I will ever have for you.”

I think, think that is what I might say.

I don’t know, though. Seems a bit long winded. What do you think?

8 Things To Do With Your Goofy Self After The Divorce

After going through the hell of getting divorced, you’re spent.  You’re tired.  You’re lonely.  You feel like you’ve been hit by a car, landed on train tracks and run over by a passing railcar, then knocked into the path of an oncoming bus.  Worse, these seem to be your good days.  But after all that passes, the realization sets in, and you are confronted by a question:

Now what the Hell do I do with myself?

At some point in everyone’s post-divorce aftermath, this bitter but realistic question rears it’s ugly head, and idleness is the Devil’s playground.  Here’s what I do to stem the tide of emotional trouble.

1.  Sign up to and attend functions for Meetup.com.

Meetup.com is a website that helps you to arrange actual face to face meetings with others that share your situations, hobbies, or interests.  I’ve been to a couple of meetups for a couple of groups myself.  I’ve yet to regret it.

2.  Attend local festivals and events.

Summer in Denver is the height of the festival season.  I missed the People’s Fair this year, but if you know where to look, you can always find cheap and free events that have the added bonus of helping you to forget the ex that ran off with the waitress from the bar down the street.  In Denver, you can find these amnesia-producing nuggets at the Denver.org site, and in many cites, you can look for free gatherings in your local independent newspaper of choice.

3.  Spend time with friends and family.

If you are like me or a lot of the people that I know, friends and family FREQUENTLY get kicked to the curb when things start to go sour in your home life.  Now that you’re divorced, there’s absolutely no reason to let that continue.

Reconnect with family and friends.  In the end, they will help you more than you thought possible.

4.  Read a book, then go see the authors of the books that you enjoy.

I’m way behind on my book reading lately, but if you’re so inclined, book reading is a great diversion from ex-spouse wallowing.  Here’s a list of books that I’ve read in the last year or so, and as you can see, I’ve done a lot of diverting.  Even better, you can get your social on and then buy the book and go to a book signing, class, or meet and greet at places like Barnes and Noble, the Tattered Cover, and even your local library.

5.  Enjoy the outdoors.

As the brain becomes addled with breakups, pain, economic hardship, and all, people tend to forget about the wonder of nature – that force to which we are all connected, like it or not.  When was the last time that you walked barefoot in the grass?  Ran in the surf?  Went for a hike?

If you find yourself not remembering when the last time you noticed a fragrant, growing and living flower or watched nesting birds fly overhead, then you haven’t been outside in the air enough.  Make time to do it.  You’ll feel better, I can almost guarantee it.

6.   Spend time with your kids, if you have them.

Perhaps I’m fortunate here.  I get to spend a LOT of time with my daughter.  Plus, she’s an absolute joy to spend time with, which makes life even easier.  But I believe that spending time with your progeny is extremely important.

Here’s a pic to share with you to prove my point.

Grace, with Bear

I call it Grace with Bear.  I believe we had come back from a fair that day.

Years from now, I will have the pictures to prove that I was there.

7.  Get a hobby.

As much as I love surfing the Internet (and this site in particular,) that is not a hobby.  Photography is a hobby.  Scrapbooking, although not recommended, as thoughts of the ex will surely pop up, is a hobby.  Mountainbiking is a hobby.  These things keep your mind engaged, and will keep you from dwelling on the past.

8.  Align yourself with other similarly situated people.

Shameless plug:  I joined Divorce360 for exactly this purpose.  I get information, support, and sympathy from people.  Sometimes that helps.

There’s eight things that I do pretty regularly that help me in my post-breakup life.  Perhaps you can add to the list!

Notice, though, that nowhere did I mention the idea of “exacting the perfect revenge.”  I must be better off than I thought.

Financial Moves To Make Right Now If You Are Considering A Divorce

Many moons ago when I first started the blog Single Dads, I wrote a post where I gave you a list that included a bunch of things that you could do immediately financially for your kids.  In the spirit of the immediate fix, I’ve decided to jot down a few things that you can do immediately if you are deciding about getting a divorce from the financial side.

Get a new checking account. Be honest and start thinking about your family’s shared cash. Is it possible that your soon to be ex will drain your joint accounts? If the answer is “maybe”, then you have a problem, especially if it’s a contentious situation. Get a new bank account.

Start looking at your credit card situation.  If you’re at all like me, you’ll find that you had a lot more than cash tied up in your ex – you’ve got credit tied up in them as well. Unfortunately, anyone will tell you that credit can be your death if things go sour.  Divorce is death on your credit.  I immediately stopped using my cards that I shared with the ex when I had that “feeling”. You should too, if you know what’s good for you.  You are going to need that money, probably to pay lawyers.

Closing vehicle loans.  Seriously, do you really want to haggle over who gets the SUV if the dreaded thing goes down?  How about do you want to haggle over the SUV loan?  Please.  Get rid of the payment if you can.

Those are just a few ideas.  You’ve got to consider wills, insurance, and other financial matters as well.  And most importantly, know where you are going to LIVE.  You need a place to hang your hat.

One Thing Can Improve Your Co-Parenting Life… And I Have Evidence

A while ago, I wrote a post called A Fact And Forgiveness where I basically said that forgiveness is the key to being in a relationship with your children and your ex, and that accepting your ex as part of your family would eventually make your situation much better.

Well, I have a secret.

I didn’t know that for sure.

Sure, I can talk a good game, but in all honesty, I didn’t know for a fact that forgiveness was the key.  After all, I was in a situation where things were relatively contentious between myself and my daughter’s mother; we would argue or wouldn’t speak at all, and the relationship was strained, to say the least.

So.  It’s would great pleasure that I tell you that I was actually correct.  Tomorrow, with the blessing of the State of Colorado and Grace’s mother, my daughter will be having an extended, meaning weekend, stay over at my apartment.  I would jump for joy, but my legs are a bit sore from an rigorous workout today (ouch).

Sure, I’m quite sure that working hard, paying child support, providing health care, and participating in school events had something to do with it too.  But in the end, my head had to change – and once that it did, everything else fell into place.  And there it is – in the end, I did what needed to be done.

Forgiveness works, people.  Fight when (and if) you have to, but seriously, as the phrase goes, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar.

Where’s Daddy?

The great thing about having a little time off from Single Dads and my other blog is that I have no shortage of things to write about.  However, some things are timelier than others.  This article from the Buffalo News, however, made me just a little upset.

Dante Brown is a playful, rambunctious toddler growing up on the city’s West Side.

TraJanae Sanders is the same kind of kid, growing up on the East Side.

A lot separates these 2-year-olds, but in some important ways, their young lives already echo with similarity. Both are poor.

Both are being raised by young women who bore them as teenagers.

And neither child has a dad at home. Dante and TraJanae are two faces of a change that’s deeply affecting many neighborhoods in Buffalo — where today 43 percent of children live below the poverty line.

These two children, and at least 18,450 others in the city, are growing up in low-income homes headed by women alone. This is fatherless Buffalo.

Nifty.  Nice job out there in Buffalo, guys.

Look, men as a whole are dumb enough; I don’t think that I know one person that wouldn’t agree with me, and I do know a lot of people.  However, there’s no reason to make us look MORE dumb by not sticking by your kids.  YOUR KIDS, GENTLEMEN.

I’m not with my daughter’s mother, but I’m definitely with my daughter, Grace, and by God, she knows it, and will know it, for the rest of her life.  I’m not going ANYWHERE.  Shoot, it’s hard enough to not see her for a weekend.

I have a million stories to prove that.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, on behalf of the millions of men out there that love their kids and would never abandon them, mothers of the world, I apologize.

This Man Really Has The Child Support Blues

Scenario: You break up with your wife, who has your children. You see your kids and pay child support for years, then discover to your horror that one of the kids that you thought was yours in fact wasn’t yours at all. So, you seek to decrease child support payments. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Wrong. Not in New Jersey.

TRENTON, N.J. – Paternity doesn’t count when it comes to a Hunterdon County man’s bid to lower child support payments for a child that’s not his.

An appeals court upheld a lower court which denied the man’s request in 2006 after he said he discovered he was not the father of the 10-year-old girl.

The appeals panel found the judge put the best interest of the child first.

Via Newsday.

So, wait. Married couple has a kid then another. Couple gets divorced. Man pays child support, then finds out that one of the children isn’t his. He wants his child support reduced, and they rule against him? Really? I would think that the ex-wife committed a crime in lying to the ex-husband in the first place, then his acting on that crime would nullify the child support responsibility.

This story is filled with so much wrong. Women should hate it too. Doesn’t this one individual basically make a bunch of women who deserve child support for their children look bad?

I’m quite sure that I don’t have the whole story, but my, that sounds ridiculous. I can’t imagine how screwed up that poor child is going to be as well.

What’s the lesson to learn here?