Finding Balance in Divorce

In the past year, two of my closest friends got divorced. It's our time -- when our kids were younger, I used to joke that no one had time to get divorced. Unfortunately I was right -- now that we've all been married a dozen years or more and our children are increasingly independent, some people do have time to realize how miserable they are together. Luckily, in both cases, the custody arrangements have been 50/50. Not too much ugliness. Kids seem okay -- but of course, kids often seem okay in the short run, and problems surface later.

On Mother's Day, I read an Associated Press article that really got me. Returning Troops Battle for Lost Custody of Children profiled several divorced moms and dads who had to transfer custody of their children temporarily when they were mobilized. When they returned to civilian life, they lost custody permanently because of court decisions that determined it was in the best interest of their children to remain with parent who had not been forced by military obligations to relinquish care. Nothing fair or balanced there.

We have not talked much about divorce and custody (civilian or military style) on this blog. There's a lot to explore about custody arrangements that are fair to both parents and children.

What's your experience? Have you "survived" divorce? How about your kids? What are the mistakes and pitfalls to avoid? What have you seen that brought about balance in the wake of divorce?

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 16, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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Interesting topic. I've seen much more 50/50 arrangements. Takes a lot more from the parents (they can't move, etc. etc.), but the kids seem happier. But I haven't seen many new divorces lately. 10 years ago, yes, but not too many lately...In fact, I can't think of a new divorce in my friends in the last 6 years or so...Strange to think of that

Posted by: dotted | May 16, 2007 7:19 AM

Second, dammit!

Posted by: Jack Bauer | May 16, 2007 7:48 AM

It does seem like divorce is getting rarer. None of my good friends have divorced yet and I am only a year away from 40. The only divorces I know of in Washington in my age group (give or take 5 years) involve someone cheating. It just doesnt seem to be worth it to divorce any more. You learn to get along and adjust to life's differences. In most cases, unless you have a family trust, everyone's lives get harder financially and even if you do have a trust fund your life still gets harder logistically. There are just better ways to deal. I know a lot of couples who are in therapy and working on their marriages. That seems to be more the norm these days.

Posted by: Palisades | May 16, 2007 7:53 AM

I don't think that I will be around today!

Posted by: The Shark | May 16, 2007 7:56 AM

Most of my friends have not been married long enough to get divorced. But my FIL divorced for a second time a few years back. He has two younger children (12 and 13) and they share a 50/50 arrangement. I do think there are pros and cons. Some of this joint custody thing seems like a way to ditch child support. But the positives do seem to be there. Kids still seem to have a lasting and in depth relationship with both parents. In fact, they have a stronger bond with their dad now because every other week their dad is the care giver. A role he did not assume when he was married. The flip side is logistics is more tricky and their mother is definitely at an economic disadvantage. She is currently engaged, so her economic hardship did not seem to last too long but if she had stayed single it would have been harder for her. The other down side is when the kids get into HS, I am not sure they want to go from house to house because their parents live in different school districts and neighborhoods. Eventhough they will attend one school, half the time they would be separated from their peers. Also since the parents only see the kids half the time, all their free time is dominated by family activities. Eventually the kids will want a social life of their own. Good and bad. Balancing is hard but there are definite positives. Kind of nice, that divorce is becoming more rare.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 16, 2007 7:58 AM

My husband and I both have children (three boys) from earlier marriages and a little girl of our own. The boys live with us half of the time. After the divorce, I found very hard to be apart from my son half of the week (he was 3 ½ years old at the time), though he had (has) a very good relationship with his dad. Nowadays he's 10 and I still miss him a lot the days he's away, but it's easier to compensate over the phone. All in all, I'm convinced it was for the best: his father has also remarried and given him two younger siblings and I bet he would feel very left behind if we was seeing his dad only every other weekend, instead of truly being a part of the new family.
Of course it's not always easy to manage things, even if we're lucky enough to live in the same town and not very far apart (all the three families, I mean, mine, my ex-husband's and my husband's ex-wife's). There are tensions and irritations. But as time goes by, it gets easier, as everyone realises the benefits of politeness and a sensible degree of flexibility. Plus, the kids all get along wonderfully and are completely comfortable with the fact that they have two homes, two sets of clothes, two bedrooms, etc. Its their world, or the world as they know it. The logistics (which people keep asking about) is not at all complicated (even if my youngest stepson is in a wheelchair).
Just one personal thought I would like to share: I truly believe that 50/50 is the best option for the child when staying married is no longer an option for the parents. But it does takes a little bit of your child away from you, so from an egocentric point of view, sure it is a sacrifice you make. You feel a gap, regardless how much you rationalise it. I know my longing for another baby would probably not exist if I had both my son and daughter always close to me.

Posted by: Euromom | May 16, 2007 8:09 AM

Divorce sucks. I survived one after a 20 year marriage; we entered a rough marriage patch where the now ex and I poorly handled our marriage problems. Enter younger attentive women (yes, more than one) into the picture and yep - you end up with divorce. The kids were approximately 13 and 15 when this all started to happen... they were scared at the thought of Mom and Dad getting divorce (separation was to get our acts together - this does not work!).. then they saw mom standing for the values she believed were necessary for a good marriage (she looked like a real bad person) and Dad being led away by someone new who didn't have as many expectations and wanted to have more of his babies. (Never mind some of the marriage problems were over his lack of attention to the two kids he already had).

I fought to save the marriage to the very end; but ex was determined to move on with new woman who respected and loved him. I allowed my ex full rights to my house even after the divorce AND his remarriage so that he could visit with his kids. Once the youngest received his drivers license and car; the ex no longer had reason to come to my house. Of course, our "relationship" declined more over this time period so this was a good thing. Both kids could drive to his house whenever they wanted; but due to their age, there was no set child visitation. I would never deny the kids their dad; they don't realize how much our marriage problems were over my advocation for my kids and their relationship with their dad.

The kids now have a new baby half-brother. They spent Mother's Day morning with the woman who married their dad (I hate to call her step-mother - she was still in high school while I was having his children and supporting him thru college).

The best thing if you are in a divorce is to always take "the high road". It is very hard; sometimes you want your kids to know the REAL truth and not what the other spouse is telling them. Anytime I fell off the "high road" - I really did end up regretting it.

Also, a divorce is a defining time when you give up 100% time with your kids and you have to share them with your ex and possibly another person.. and that hurts more than anything because I would have never dreamed that when I had kids. Families are important and I never wanted my kids to live in a broken home.

Posted by: C.W. | May 16, 2007 8:13 AM

We have friends who divorced and maintained their family house and jointly rented an apartment-50/50 custody. Each parent left the house and stayed in the apartment when it wasn't their turn with the kids so the kids didn't have to lug their stuff around-they agreed the adults should be inconvenienced, not the kids. They often had dinner together at the house. I thought that was a fantastic way to manage custody especially because the divorce was a little nasty. But they both agreed that this was the best arrangement for the kids.

Posted by: Capt. Feathersword | May 16, 2007 8:19 AM

My parents divorced when I was eight. Now, as an adult, I know they had an "ugly divore," but we kids would have never known. They really did it the right way. NEVER did one say a bad word about the other (and they had plenty of chances).

Because of this we never blamed one parent or the other we just always thought "it didn't work out."

If you talk negatively about your ex, you are seriously doing a disservice to your kids. Kids are not mentally equipped to handle adult problems. Do not make them.

Posted by: child of divorce | May 16, 2007 8:22 AM

Had a close call or two the first couple years but I think we've managed to make it through a lot. The military definitely put a strain on things, even if you are not deployed...
I am not a big fan of people who file for divorce simply for convenience. I understand if there are certain circumstances like abuse, drugs, etc. but breaking your word of "till death do us part" is not something that should be done lightly.
That said, my parents split when I was 2 for a VERY good reason. Unfortunately, my dad never provided any child-support, and the gov't never went after him despite knowing where he was... It'd be nice to get 16 years of back-pay (with interest!), but I don't think that's possible, much less likely (though I really could use the money).

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 8:23 AM

I'm interested to hear about all the 50/50 cases out there! I don't know anyone else besides me with a 50/50 custody arrangement so it's interesting to hear about it working out in the long run, when the kids are older etc.

One thing I've tried hard to correct is (as another poster pointed out) the tendency to make "your week" into a really mom-centered or family-centered week. Kids should have their own interests and friends and it's up to the parents to support that and not ask them to stay home all the time so the parent can get more time with them. So I do an activity or two a week but also try really hard to set up play dates and just friend time even though their friends are all near their school 30 mins away. Hopefully this will also lessen the impact in the high school years - after all, as a private school kids, my friends were routinely 30-60 minutes away and I managed to see them all the time.

Posted by: divorced mom | May 16, 2007 8:27 AM

I'm interested to hear about all the 50/50 cases out there! I don't know anyone else besides me with a 50/50 custody arrangement so it's interesting to hear about it working out in the long run, when the kids are older etc.

One thing I've tried hard to correct is (as another poster pointed out) the tendency to make "your week" into a really mom-centered or family-centered week. Kids should have their own interests and friends and it's up to the parents to support that and not ask them to stay home all the time so the parent can get more time with them. So I do an activity or two a week but also try really hard to set up play dates and just friend time even though their friends are all near their school 30 mins away. Hopefully this will also lessen the impact in the high school years - after all, as a private school kids, my friends were routinely 30-60 minutes away and I managed to see them all the time.

Posted by: divorced mom | May 16, 2007 8:27 AM

I was the product of one of the old-fashioned divorces -- my dad left, saw me periodically. But he followed his job around (the old-fashioned, transfers every 2 or 3 years kind of job). When he was just one state over, I'd take the bus to see him every other weekend or so. But when he moved away, my visits were mostly limited to a month or two in the summer. It was hard to adjust -- I never really felt like part of that family, because it just wasn't frequent enough to be normal.

When I had kids, it really hit for the first time that if something ever happened to our marriage, I had an obligation to them to try to keep us all nearby. That was a tough realization, because at the time, we were 1600 miles away from my job and family, in a place I had no desire to live. But I realized I couldn't just run home to mommy -- I would have needed to stay put and give it my best shot at letting them maintain a "normal" relationship with both of us. (Now I am back home -- and HE may be the one wanting to run away! And of course, I can't control his actions).

If something did happen, I can't see myself asking for sole custody, or messing with his time with them, or anything like that. And since we both have fairly comparable jobs, I can't see much reason for child support. Biggest issue would be whether I could maintain the house on one income, which I would like to do to provide my kids some stability (plus 1 block from my mom = even more important if everything else shot to hell). But that's my issue, not his -- it wouldn't be fair even to ask him to contribute to that.

Of course, I haven't experienced the degree of anger and hurt that is involved in all of the bad stuff that leads up to divorce, so I can't say for sure how I would react. But as long as he doesn't go over into mental illness or abuse or something similar, I think having a real dad in their daily lives would be incredibly important to them. And I hope I wouldn't lose sight of that.

Posted by: Laura | May 16, 2007 8:33 AM

Re: the military parents who lost permanent custody of their children. You say this was unfair and unbalanced. Unfair and unbalanced for who? For the parent who lost custody? I can see how this parent might see the situation as unfair. But what about for the child(ren) involved? Seems to me that a loving parent would want his or her kids to be in as stable an environment as possible without having to worry about the next deployment.

Posted by: Murphy | May 16, 2007 8:34 AM

Marriage is difficult- years fly away and people change. To divorce someone over an affair of the heart/body, to divorce because you feel that person has become unattractive and not keeping up with you- to divorce over boredom in the bedroom..... All of these situations have a point and the point is - try to work at it, these excuses are built around human nature- time and age. They are not reasons for divorce and in the end of your life, when your kids will be complaining because they have to go to Moms house and then Dads house for holiday/family functions, when your grandchildren ask you 20 years later- Why did you and grandma divorce? What will your reply say about yourself? Time heals-all things pass and if you can work on your marriage and yes it is work- all things in life that provide comfort, support and productivity require work that's how you achieve success then at the end your life you will be sitting with someone who is a true friend and partner with your family around you acknowledging your great achievements. The marriage vows state - in sickness and health till death do you part- there should be another line in the good times and bad. I am sure there will be many replies to this posting- I have witnessed divorce in my family- my husband grew up with parents divorcing then repeating the same mistakes 2-3 times again, most of his family Aunts, Uncles, and now his siblings are repeating the same action that his parents took. It is sad and somewhat pathetic to watch. We both know how important it is to try and make it work and there are days when it would be so great to walk out that door and say goodbye but we are blessed in the sense that we have learned a thing or two and now witness this cycle of divorce and want no part of it.

Posted by: home | May 16, 2007 8:34 AM

While never having been divorced myself, in the last few years I've seen my brother, wife's brother, and two good friends divorce, all with kids. The reasons for the divorces were different, but in all cases the big issue over kids and custody popped up when one of the spouses remarried.

In my brother's case, his ex-wife remarried; her new husband wanted nothing to do with these two girls that weren't his, and my brother's been a single father to two daughters (one now 13, the other 20) for about four years. He has full custody (well, my oldest niece is an adult so nobody has "custody" but she lives with him while going to college); they visit their mother on weekends and during the summer.

In BIL's case, his ex-wife also remarried. None of the kids gets along with the stepfather and he doesn't think highly of them, either. The oldest son is now 19; he lives with his father when not at college. The two girls are 17 and 15; they spend most of their time with their father and stay at mom/stepfather's house only when it's more convenient for school/activities. The youngest son is 10; he's at his father (my BIL's) house almost all the time. BIL doesn't have full custody, but he may as well.

A good friend of mine officially has a 50/50 custody arrangement, but now that his ex-wife has remarried he finds he has the kids about 75% of the time. (Ex-wife needs time to "bond" with her new husband and prefers the kids to stay with their dad.)

Posted by: Army Brat | May 16, 2007 8:36 AM

This is why I never really found much use for this column. Its not family-friendly. Its all about the career woman putting job and self ahead of family and has always shown the feeblest understanding of what love and marriage really requires. That Leslie is divorcing in the end thus is no surprise at all.

Posted by: observer | May 16, 2007 8:44 AM

Where do you people live that you think divorce is more rare?? The rate of divorce for first marriages has changed little in the past 20 or so years (it still hovers around 50%).
Go to an al-anon meeting (or, I'm guessing, AA meeting) if you think people aren't getting divorced anymore.

Two of my closest friends have divorced in the past three years, and I'm in the middle of an ugly one. The shortest of these marriages lasted 16 years.

Neither of my friends' divorces were the result of infidelity or addiction. One has a son in high school and a daughter in college; when she moved out, her son stayed at home, but he can see her whenever he wants. It's a relatively amicable separation.

The other friend had, at the time of the separation, a daughter in high school, a mentally handicapped daughter in middle school, and a daughter in elementary school. Fortunately for her, she comes from money, and she has landed squarely on her feet financially. Her ex was a lousy father when they were married, and he didn't improve once they split (he actually contributed to the need for his middle daughter's stay in an institution, because he refused to follow the program put in place by her therapist for contact and behavior modification).

In my case, my sons can see STBX whenever it doesn't interfere with work, school, or other obligations. They generally choose not to contact him, and he doesn't initiate contact very often; they resent the h*** out of him because of the alcohol, and he's probably embarrassed in his sober moments. I have encouraged them to attend al-anon or alateen, but so far they have not gone.

It's incredibly stressful, because they are legally adults (#2 just turned 18), and they are savvy enough to know exactly what's going on. They worry about me, and they want to protect me, and I worry about them, and want to protect them.

And, parents are fooling themselves if they think that joint custody/split living arrangements benefit the kids. I have taught a number of students over the years who live with this arrangement, and it's not all that beneficial for the child. We only see the confusion and disorganization as it relates to school. For example, you have NO IDEA how many times teachers in our school have assigned work when dad had the child, which was due when mom had the child, and the reason we are given when we send home a note about the missing assignment(s) is because dad didn't tell mom about the work, or vice versa. And don't even get me started on scheduling conferences, or choosing field trip chaperones! The prevailing opinion in the faculty room is that some of these parents are delusional, and some are selfish.

Children should feel stable, comfortable, and at ease; they shouldn't be confused. The arrangements that seem to work best, at least with the families we see, involve sole custody, with frequent visitation (as in 2 nights a week and at least one night/day each weekend) by the non-custodial parent.

Posted by: educmom | May 16, 2007 8:45 AM

Observer...Leslie didn't say she and her husband are getting divorced. So then are you speaking ill of the divorced troops who are deployed and at war on our behalf? You need to fall back, and fast.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 8:50 AM

To Home:

My ex-husband confessed after 7 years of marriage that he was gay. Not quite sure how time and hard work were going to heal that...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 8:53 AM

"My ex-husband confessed after 7 years of marriage that he was gay."

Obviously he was not gay. He just fanticized about having sexually perverted adulterous affairs with other men. Not a good reason to get divorced.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 9:03 AM

Home,
I'll send STBX over to you.
YOU can buy the beer, the Jack Daniel's, the vodka, the tequila...
YOU can clean up the vomit on the living room rug, the urine in the laundry hamper, the empties on the front porch...
YOU can pay the attorney (the rate doubles with each DWI), and the auto insurance (ditto for every tree you hit 'while avoiding a deer')...
YOU can check your bank balance online every morning, so you can be sure that the $1000 you put in yesterday is still there...
YOU can explain to your children why Dad was golfing instead of attending the concert in which you had a solo, or why your mom's dad took you to the football team father-son breakfast because your dad had Ravens tickets (for a game that starts 3 hours after the breakfast ends -- but TAILGATING starts at 8 am)...

Even my dad, the strictest Catholic I know (and I worked for a nun in my previous school!), is supporting me in my decision to divorce this man.


Yeah, a nerve has been struck...

Posted by: educmom | May 16, 2007 9:05 AM

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 9:09 AM

We have one of those 50/50 arrangements and it seems to work well. The fact that my ex & I live walking distance apart and in the same school districts help. My daughter has seemed to adjust. One thing is that the year before my ex & I split she was accident prone, multiple broken bones (though the adults with her were different each time, my ex, me, the sitter, her coach). When we first split she was very stressed, but now the accident proneness has stopped and she is a lot less stressed. Both my ex and I agree that the accident proneness was her picking up on the tension between us.

As for balance in a way it helps. On nights when my daughter is at her dad's, those are the nights I can work late and I schedule my time that way as much as possible. On weekends when I don't have her are when I schedule my social life. I still miss her those days, but it allows me to focus on her and her activities more when she is there.

As for the child's social life - they'll insist. When the party invitation comes or the friends are going to movies they'll ask and as a parent saying no so she can stay home and watch TV with me sounds unfair. It is realizing as a parent you will have to let your child grow away from you. It is harder because you already see them less, but unlike the days when you would have a non-custodial parent who would only see a child a few days a month it isn't as wrenching because you have more opportunities to see them. I also remind myself how in high school it sometimes felt like days would go by and I only maybe had a chance to say hello to my father, between his work and my work, extra circcular activities and social life. So living full time with a teenager doesn't guarantee a lot of face time either

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 16, 2007 9:11 AM

The divorce rate has declined slightly, but it's still over 40% of all marriages. What's more, the figure is skewed by the increasing number of couples who live together without marrying and then part -- in other words, relationships end that way as well.

C.W. urges people to take the high road when divorcing. Hard as that can be, eventually you're happier with yourself.

Mine was not an amicable or even civil divorce. Despite joint custody language in separation and divorce papers, no court's going to compel a teenager to spend time with the parent who left. (Not just my opinion, but that of a NoVa family court judge.) Context: two of my kids were in high school; one out of college and on her own.

The best you can do if you're the parent who leaves, I think, is to stay as present as you can (phone, email, offers of visits/meeting even when you've repeatedly been turned down or ignored) while remembering that the child's working through his own feelings. Further, the child has to deal with the reactions/feelings of the parent he's living with.

Sometimes, as a therapist suggested to me, there are no good choices; you try and find the best possible choice, and move forward with that.

You can end up feeling sorry for yourself, feeling angry that you have to be the adult. Often, that's a hint that you may not be quite as adult as you imagine; the rest of the time, it's a truism: you are an adult. Acknowledge your feelings to yourself, but remember you don't always need to act on them.

Then gently scan your brother man
Still gentler sister woman
Tho' they may go a-kennin' wrang
To step aside is human --
One point must still be greatly dark:
The moving Why they do it
And just as lamely can ye mark
How far perhaps they rue it.

Posted by: Experienced | May 16, 2007 9:16 AM

May parents divorced when I was in college and I think they should have done it sooner. They were just too different and now they have met and married more compatible spouses. I agree with educmom that the 50/50 just doesn't sound like a great way to go for children/ I know kids are resiliant and they will probably be fine, but having one parent who is a constant source of love and another who is an extra dollop of love and support (i.e. visitation and phone calls, etc.)just seems like a more comforting situation than to have the kids shuttled back and forth every week.

I only know one couple who has gotten divorced-- perhaps because people in my crowd get married so late in life, there is less risk of the "Growing apart" that happens when you marry at a younger age. Plus they haven't been married long enough-- and don't have the time or energy to deal with it, as Leslie pointed out! We are in our 30s and 40s. I hope marriages last, but I know that when they don't, it can be best to just let it go.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 16, 2007 9:18 AM

When they returned to civilian life, they lost custody permanently because of court decisions that determined it was in the best interest of their children to remain with parent who had not been forced by military obligations to relinquish care. Nothing fair or balanced there.

This statement needs a little clarification, Leslie. You make it sound like EVERY solider has to give up custody.

"forced by military obligations to relinquish care"???

Way to say you are against the war. I thought this blog was about balance, not about political agenda.

Posted by: Protecting your right to write this crap | May 16, 2007 9:22 AM

"in 1999, his house organ the National Liberty Journal warned parents that the Tinky Winky TV character was secretly gay and morally dangerous; in 2001, he blamed the September 11 terrorist attack on "pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America."

Posted by: Falwell- for those who had the nerve to do up for him yesterday | May 16, 2007 9:22 AM

What does STBX mean?

Posted by: foamgnome | May 16, 2007 9:23 AM

Home,

Divorces happen for many reasons; some are legitimate. I'm all in favor of trying work through problems while you can, but sometimes they can't be solved.

In the case of the divorces I mentioned in my earlier post:

- my brother and his now-ex wife grew apart. They both cheated. (They still argue about who cheated first; well, they still argue about a lot of stuff.) Once they each found out about it, they played a game of "you hurt me so I'll hurt you back worse". Could they have worked through it? Yeah, probably; they'll admit privately that they were stupid, but once they got started there was no turning back.

- BIL is an easy-going guy who was satisfied with his lot in life. He had a stable job that didn't pay a lot, but it paid enough and he was happy. He had the flexibility to ride in bicycle races, spend time at his kids' games, etc. That's not what his wife wanted out of life. She wanted "the good life" - a place at the beach, travel anywhere/anytime, lots of luxuries. She finally realized after 17 years of marriage that she wasn't going to change him, so she dumped him while she was still young enough and "hot enough" to find another husband who'd provide the lifestyle she wanted. A divorce, a boob job, a couple of body piercings and tatoos, and voila - she found the younger, richer man she wanted. They fly off to Europe or the ski slopes on a whim; she's much happier (and he's got the kids most of the time, so he's happier too).

- Friend #1 was a controlling jerk. Seriously, I've known this guy for 20 years, and his wife is much better off without him. He controlled all the money; she had one credit card and a monthly allowance. He made all the decisions; he'd go through her purse every so often just to make sure there was nothing going on he didn't know about. He's still shocked that she left him. DW and I keep trying to explain that you can't treat somebody like that; maybe someday he'll understand. (The good thing is that he's not dating yet. He's still too "devastated". This time, I'll have to warn whoever he dates what it's going to be like.)

- Friend #2's wife was a heavy abuser of narcotics. Don't know what got her started on it; maybe he made her miserable or something. I just know that she was big into pills, and it got untenable for him and the kids.

There are all different reasons; some legit some not. It's wrong to assert that everyone should just work out their differences and never divorce.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 16, 2007 9:23 AM

my fil had an affair when my husband was 4 years old & his parents divorced over it. both of my husband's parents remarried & all 4 of them would take vacations together with the children. as to what my fil would say if asked why he divorced my mil; he answers the question honestly "i made a stupid mistake and had an affair." one of the things i admire about my fil is that even after 40 years he does not gloss over the truth.

Posted by: quark | May 16, 2007 9:30 AM

"I have taught a number of students over the years who live with this arrangement, and it's not all that beneficial for the child. We only see the confusion and disorganization as it relates to school. For example, you have NO IDEA how many times teachers in our school have assigned work when dad had the child, which was due when mom had the child, and the reason we are given when we send home a note about the missing assignment(s) is because dad didn't tell mom about the work, or vice versa"

Wait isn't my child responsible for doing their assignments? Are you saying at your school you assume the parents are responsible making sure homework is done and if it is not the parents not the child is responsible? That you don't trust the kids to tell the parents that they have homework? We have never had this problem (maybe because my daughter was in 5th grade when we split and old enough to know when the teacher said something was due she was responsible for telling both of us). Also, my ex and I do talk about school and other activities regularly. Actually my daughter got her laptop specifically for this reason - she had to start a project/paper at one house and need to finish it at another.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 16, 2007 9:31 AM

I've often been under the impression that the increased divorce rate is due to a increased value placed on marriage, or at least a kind of idolization of marriage. Speaking as someone still in the under 30 crowd, I've seen many divorces come quite quickly after marriage among my peers. In most cases, this is due to a phenomenon of "rushing to marraige" rather than being unfaithful, or finances. It is also, fortunately, the exception rather than the rule that the couples I am thinking of have children.

As to 50/50 custody, I could definately see how it could work well. Though I must admit that the adults who I know who were children when their parents got divorced and were part of a 50/50 custody deal all, eventually, ended up living with their mothers by the time they were in high school.

Posted by: David S | May 16, 2007 9:33 AM

More people are divorcing because they are living longer, and as many of you posted before on this blog, children are living with us for maybe 20 years -- a quarter of our lives (optimistically). We have to think about our personal fulfilment, not just about perpetuation of our genes. My MIL divorced her husband 30 years ago. He died 20 years ago, when she was 60. Her new husband is still around, and pretty active. Do you think it would be better for HER to stay a lonely widow for the past 20 years, not even mentioning stay in a troubled marriage? Her kids did not like the divorce back then, but they feel about it very differently now, when their mother's family is self-supporting.

My parents did not divorce, but it would have been better if they did. I always knew that my late mother stiffled my father's plans and ideas. He would have been better off on his own, and we would have had better relationships. As it was, my father's bitterness about my mother influencing his decisions translated into negative feeling about his kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 9:34 AM

I was divorced several years ago after I found my husband having an affair with a co-worker. The divorce was very nasty and he continues to be as difficult as possible. We have joint custody with a 50/50 schedule (5/2/2). It is awful for me as well as the children. They hate going back and forth on school days and would prefer to be in one place during the week. Our divorce agreement calls for us to see a parent coordinator when there are parenting issues we cannot agree upon. Needless to say there are many, including where the kids should go to school, what sports they should play, how frequently they should be allowed to speak to their mom (for a year and a half he would not allow the children to call me while they were in his care), summer and vacation schedules, etc. He does not communicate with me about anything, even had my daughter's teeth pulled without telling me. He refuses to see the parent coordinator. So, we just continue with the status quo because I cannot afford the retainer for a lawyer. He knows this and uses it to his advantage. My kids are suffering and so am I.

I believe some divorces work when both parents can behave like adults and work together as co-parents. Clearly, not the case with my situation.

Posted by: dcdivorcee | May 16, 2007 9:34 AM

We're a former military family- I've seen countless divorces and I'm only 31 years old.

In all cases- the wives take the kids and move back home to their parents- where ever that may be: Germany, England, Pennsylvania, South Carolina. AKA, thousands of miles away from the dads.

I think military divorce has to, hands down, be the most difficult for kids. The wives have no financial choice but to move back in with her parents- they are obviously not going to move every few years with the ex husbands (the stress of moves is a big marriage issue) and the military has absolutely NO support of any kind set up for civilian wives. NONE. They won't even pay to move the kid's things to a new house! (Unless the service member gives up money for his next move)

I could write a book about this, but military divorce is extremely hard. The kids will most likely rarely see their dad (or never in some cases)Money is extremely tight.

I also read that Outlook article and it is so unbelievably sad to see these parents out defending this country to come back to their kids being gone. There is a reason they got custody in the first place!

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | May 16, 2007 9:36 AM

Foamgnome,

STBX = soon-to-be-ex
LBS = left-behind spouse (usually indicates someone had a new "friend" lined up or already in a new bed)
WS = wandering spouse (partner of LBS)

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 16, 2007 9:40 AM

dcdivorcee: just a suggestion, and you may have already done this - legal aid may be able to help, or give you some direction in the matter.

Posted by: pd | May 16, 2007 9:40 AM

So, my divorce is about 10 years old. We've done 50/50 from the beginning, except for 1 year when my ex was out of the country. We never said anything bad about the other to our daughter. She's 16 now. Her dad and I talk almost every day. He and my live-in get along well, and I really like his new girlfriend.

We now do 1 week at each house. We did do 2 weeks at each house for a period of time. The biggest thing to do is to listen to your child, see what they need, and put your own wishes second. My daughter has all 4 of us at events, and we all help each other out.

I took her to a child therapist at one point to find out what she wanted, without her trying to please us. I also checked in at school with her teachers and guidance folks. They didn't know her parents were divorced - as they said "She doesn't present as a child of divorce". That's the best!

We have had quite a few people tell us we should write a book on how to be divorced. I'll sum it up from my family's perspective. Divorce is meaningless - you're still part of the family. What that means is that my ex is always my daugthers dad, so part of my family. I've always treated him like family.

So, we're 10 years into this experiment. The result? Our daughter is doing very well, she has both parents very involved in all parts of her life. She's thriving. We kept communication open, and put ourselves second (most of the time, anyway).

I will say that the year I had her to myself (she was 11 then), probably set us up for life. We bonded like I couldn't have otherwise - I think. We ride horses together, we both just signed up for a race (Marine Corps Marathon for her, Marine Corps 10k for me) without knowing the other did. Things like that. I adore my daugther, and am very proud of how she turned out.

I usually don't post here, but this is a near and dear topic for me.

Posted by: Divorced Mom | May 16, 2007 9:46 AM

"My ex-husband confessed after 7 years of marriage that he was gay."

Obviously he was not gay. He just fanticized about having sexually perverted adulterous affairs with other men. Not a good reason to get divorced.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 09:03 AM

Sounds like he didn't want to be married though.

It takes two people to get married, it only takes one person to file for a divorce.

It's not slavery, you CAN get out of it.

I'm sorry for Leslie & her friends. Even if it proves to be the right thing to do (for whatever reasons), it's hard to witness and be supportive/fair. Extra dollops of good feelings towards the kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 9:46 AM

I appreciate all comments- I did not state in my post that you should stay - and work on it due to alcoholism- drug addiction
I referenced the "human nature" attributes of marriage that can bring down a household.
I stand by my comment.
To air you personal viewpoint educmom so dramatically and with such anger does not encourage a healthy debate or help to give insight into any opinion. You have posted an insight that many who know you or perhaps your children will now see and wonder why expose such a personal viewpoint. Given your information - then yes leaving such a man would benefit you and your family. My comment put forth was to say Marriage is work and if both parties are healthy- non violent- then work at your marriage - time changes everything and many time improves communication between partners.
This is not a blog to post "who he/she did" this is blog to gain insight and perhaps a better sense of what a marriage can be and how a even though divorce has taken place a family can remain as one.
I never understand why posting in such intimate details would better prove a point or sustains the conversation. I posted my comment from my experience and hard work put forth in may marriage.

Posted by: home | May 16, 2007 9:47 AM

I, like some of the other posters, am really happy to see how many 50/50 custody arrangements exist. I am dating a man with young twin boys who shares custody 50/50 with their mom. We dated for a long time before I was even introduced into the boys' lives. I have come on the scene very gradually and began spending the night in a guest room when the boys started asking me to sleep over (that's still where I sleep when they are there). We have worked with a child psychologist to help us plot our path in the most healthy way for them. We are planning on getting married and having more children, and all signs indicate the boys will be thrilled. The kids are very young, which I think has helped them adjust to the split time with parents better than older kids might. No question, it is hard on them sometimes to move back and forth, but I believe strongly that both their mom and dad have become better and more involved parents because of the arrangement. Their dad has a very demanding job but has found a way to make it work -- he doesn't use a carpool for school drop-offs and pick-ups, he spends the afternoons with them on his days with them, and he has learned to cook (admittedly he is no Michel Richard). He loves it, and they seem to love having so much Daddy time. The flip side is that he has to spend late nights after they go to sleep catching up on work, and we both work late and squeeze in all our travel on the nights we don't have the boys so that we can compensate. But in that way, we've managed to find balance. We're still working on my relationship with their mom, and to be honest, his relationship with her, but I have learned that I can only control my own behavior, and so far no one has resorted to saying nasty things in front of the children. I promote her relationship with the boys as much as I can - I help them pick flowers for her, remind them to go into her room with big hugs on Mother's Day, etc.

My parents have been married 40 years and still go out on dates and hold hands. I have four siblings who are all happily married to their first spouses. Divorce was sort of a bad word in our house, so I never expected it to touch my life so closely. But I will say the experience has made me less far judgmental. No one ever knows what is going on in someone else's house or bedroom. Sometimes there is a great deal of pain and emotional abuse hidden in a marriage that looks picture perfect to outsiders. My only hope is that people treat this topic with some respect and recognize that they can't sit in judgment on others for these choices.

Thanks for all the ideas and comments - it is great to hear what other people are finding that works and doesn't work for kids and themselves in these arrangements.

Posted by: Lori | May 16, 2007 9:47 AM

So, tell about how great it was for your marriage to have an affair. A real "bonding" moment for you?

Posted by: to home | May 16, 2007 9:49 AM

My ex and I have had a 50/50 arrangement since our separation 10 years ago. We make it work, and I believe for our children it is the best arrangement. When my kids are with me, I focus on family activities. Yes, they do have social lives of their own, and extracurricular activity schedules that do not perfectly align with one or the other of our schedules. So my ex and I work together to try to make supporting the kids' e/c lives fairly distributed. It takes lots and lots of negotiations. Do we argue? Sometimes. But so do married couples, and we probably argue a lot less since we try to keep "our" issues separate. Our kids sometimes prefer spending time with one parent over the other. We try to make small and temporary adjustments (60/40 for six months, and then back to 50/50 or 40/60).

Posted by: Ed | May 16, 2007 9:49 AM

Dcdivorcee & educmom have brought up one of the main issues with 50/50 custody - the parents must be willing to communicate and behave like reasonable adults.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 16, 2007 9:50 AM

Any parent curious to know more about how kids are affected by divorce is invited to read Elizabeth Marquardt's book "Between Two Worlds."

http://www.betweentwoworlds.org/

This is a great book. Carefully researched and beautifully written. Highly recommended for both divorcing parents and adult children of divorce.

Posted by: Helper | May 16, 2007 9:53 AM

My husband and his first wife divorced while he was on a year-long cruise with the Navy. His ex-wife sent him a letter saying she wanted out of the marriage, and what's more, she didn't want custody of their child.

My stepson went to live with my husband's parents until my husband could get back to the U.S. But here's where it got ugly--the military is not kind or understanding or flexible to single parents. They would not consider reassigning my husband to shore duty to avoid long periods where he'd be out of the country and unable to care for his son. They suggested that my husband place his son in foster care so that he could continue his service with the Navy. This was their final (and only) offer. My husband appealed to his congressman for help, who eventually worked out an early discharge from the Navy.

I wonder if the Navy would have been more flexible for a single mother?

Posted by: Sarah | May 16, 2007 9:55 AM

I have wondered recently why my parents didn't get divorced sooner. My mom was clearly not happy, but I guess the idea back then was to stay together 'for the children.'. What horrible advice, but today that isn't the way (not to mean you shouldn't try to work it out, but when everyone is miserable, at some point you need to throw in the towel). I will say that it is much more horrible for parents to split after the kids have had a 'stable' home for so many yrs-ie, you thought they might make it, but they couldn't.
Dh says to me all the time that he couldn't afford to divorce me. We've only been together 7 yrs but I couldn't imagine much that would make me want to split.
I worry way more about him dying than about divorce for any reason.
Educmom: my parents never knew anything about my assignments from school even in elementary. Why isn't it the *kids* responsibility-what does it even have to do with the parents?
Our close friends just got divorced and they do the splitting of weeks-it seems to be working for them even though they don't like each other very much anymore.

One other thing-tho-, my parents split when I was in college, both sisters were on their own but I was still being supported. When I got a job out of college (finally-graduated during a recession) dad was quick to tell me that I should move out of mom's apt. Not to mention I could hardly afford to just get to work and clothe myself, let alone have an apt to pay for- my sister each lived home for 2yrs after college ( and the job only lasteda few months). I thought this was horrible, but my dad wanted us to have nothing to do with mom. Mom, having grown up without a dad wanted to make sure we had a relationship with him.
The weird thing is, once mom passed away, he talks about her as if they were never separated (yes, ever have a discussion with your dad less than 2 wks after your mom has died about him suing your stepfather cause he wants the money? Much fun). It is weird, because I started dating dh after mom was gone and he thinks it is so weird when my dad talks about my mom and how it seems as if nothing ever happened (he talks so lovingly about her). In his mind it is possible that that is how he remembers it-that they weren't divorced (actually separated) at all.

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 9:56 AM

Well, my sister was married to a drunk, womanizer for almost 15 years. He did and cared little for my nephew and took him out to his girl friend's house one night and drove home drunk with him. The best thing my sister ever did was divorce him. I wish she would have done it sooner, if she had my nephew may not have been messed up like he is.

I have to say that educmom has valid points some marriages are not worth saving.

Posted by: scarry | May 16, 2007 9:58 AM

PD, thx for the suggestion. I make too much for legal aid and not enough to pay a retainer. I know many middle class single mothers in the same position. We cannot qualify for aid but don't make enough to save for a retainer. It is a terrible catch 22. Meanwhile, the exes with plenty of money get away with bad behavior and the children suffer.

I'd love to hear if there are any other moms in a similar situation. I'd also like to hear comments on this 5-2-2- schedule. For those not familiar, kids are with one parent every Mon/Tue and with the second parent every Wed/Thu. Parents then switch every other weekend. So for the weekends the child is with mom or dad for 5 days at a time.

Posted by: dcdivirocee | May 16, 2007 9:58 AM

Among my circle there have been many divorces--for a while I knew more divorced couples than married--but they were all "starter marriages", begun and ended in the early twenties, with no kids in the mix. These divorces occurred for some very good reasons (addiction, abuse, serial adultery) and some avoidable reasons (incompatibilities that could have been discovered before marriage with a bit of honesty & serious conversation).

Now, many of those divorced people are remarrying & having kids, and these second marriages look a lot stronger than the first. While I obviously think divorce is to be avoided if possible, I am glad my friends got theirs out of the way before having kids. (And I only avoided divorce myself because in my paradigm it's fine to live together before marriage, which I did, and it didn't work out... some of my friends felt pressure to marry which I didn't feel.)

Posted by: worker bee | May 16, 2007 10:01 AM

I would like to reiterate that the HIGH ROAD is the the way to go. I did slip off the HIGH ROAD too many times and it has really damaged whatever relationship I had with my ex. He considers the kids almost adults and doesn't feel the need to discuss issues related to the kids.

It was hard though considering that although I did some stupid things to contribue to the final demise of my marriage; I did not leave my husband for another person which caused the ultimate divorce. (they were suppose to be friends, but fell in love).

Of course I was going to be angry and hurt beyond any level I could ever comprehend. I can justify why I fell off the HIGH ROAD; but it still wasn't right.

My sister is dealing with an alcoholic husband right now. But their kids love him dearly and as a result she endures things that most of us would never tolerate. It is hard to stand by your spouse when they are totally irresponsible in their actions towards the welfare of the family and their spouses.

But the HIGH ROAD is absolutely the right thing and that is the #1 advise I'd give anyone involved in a divorce; no matter how ugly it gets.

Posted by: C.W. | May 16, 2007 10:04 AM

dcdivorcee -- we do the 5-2-2 schedule as well, and it seems to work really well so far. It helps substantially that Dad's and Mom's houses are within 5 blocks of one another, so they can have the same neighborhood friends, school district choice is not an issue, etc.

Divorced mom of 1 - you have it right on. People in these situations need to be prepared from the start to deal with one another like adults. This is easier said than done when emotions like anger and resentment cloud judgment, but it is possible.

Divorced Mom - your post actually encouraged me to have hope. I am so glad to hear that your arrangement has worked as well as it has. You all deserve to be praised for your efforts to work together.

Posted by: Lori | May 16, 2007 10:07 AM

I am shocked to read that parents of young kids have "live ins"!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 10:11 AM

I enjoy having my stepsons for the weekend occasionally, but I would not like 50-50. That was one of the reasons I did not marry a great guy few years ago. He was very much into coparenting, was taking his young (3 and 5) kids on vacations with him, etc. Was flying across the country every weekend to be with them. No, ladies, I don't know if he is stil available...

I don't like 50-50 because I'm not much into talking/washing/cooking for the youn'uns. I like spur of the moment decisions, and don't care if there is milk in the fridge. Don't like to designate a room "for the kids". Don't care about their homework or award ceremonies (neither does my husband, so it would have ended up with me). The kids enjoy our financial support and occasional adventures with us.The ex seem to like it too.

Posted by: Bagheera | May 16, 2007 10:12 AM

Great topic today...my experience with divorce (there are many among my family members) isn't pleasant, naturally. My parents divorced when I was little and my mom remarried right away, so I grew up with a relatively normal two-parent household. My stepdad was more like a dad to me than my own father, who I went years without seeing. However, now that they are in their fifties, they are separated--(step)Dad decided he wanted to have a fling with someone else, changed his mind, but Mom had already moved on. It's ugly, and now my sister and I are feeling the terrible feelings most kids have when their parents divorce--you know, the ones I didn't feel the first time around because I was so young. I have come to the realization that there's a good chance they only stayed together because 1)she needed someone to support her financially and 2)he needed someone to mother his problematic daughter. Necessity kept them together, and now that we're grown and the situation is a bit less dire financially, they are free to grow apart.

My sister seems to have a good balance with her STBX. Neither of them are doing well financially, but he takes the kids on his weekends, and often more than that. If they need something, they go to Dad almost as often as to Mom. Naturally, he doesn't take care of them as much as she does, but that was the climate during their marriage as well. They are civil to each other and still have a great deal of affection, if not for each other, than for their past marriage and their kids. I am just an outsider looking in, but it seems to me that they've struck a balance in a situation where lots of people would have let circumstances divide them.

To any of you who are going through a divorce, slogging through custody arrangements, and finding a way to balance your children's days in two households, you have my sympathy. Best of luck.

Posted by: Mona | May 16, 2007 10:13 AM

I agree with "home" comments and insights
"Home" is not trying to say divorce should not take place- just stating insights and contributing to the blog. Yes many of the comments on this blog note "drunken bums" and how it was better to get out- That's obvious don't take an insightful comment to mean divorce should not be an option. I have noticed many times on these family blogs that the topic strays off the mark- due to someone's need to share such private remarks. I think almost everyone could contribute some kind of "disaster" story and it's important to share but why cloud the conversation so that your comment can produce a string of comments that takes the discussion off topic. Marriage, divorce and how to make it work. I think "home" has some good points that are being misconstrued just so others can contribute with anger instead of insight.

Posted by: 4444 | May 16, 2007 10:16 AM

For 10:11 am - I haven't read all the posts, so I'm not sure about other "live-ins". But, I did mention it in mine. Here's how it worked. I was dating my partner for 2 years without him and my daughter ever staying in the same house overnight. When she started asking "Why do I always go to Dad's when XX comes over?" I talked to her about it. I explained that we'd be sharing a bedroom - and I didn't want her to feel uncomfortable (she was about 12 at the time I think?). She said she wasn't at all. At that point, he stayed over when she was here. We dated for 5 1/2 years before he moved in. She and he have a wonderful relationship. We moved at her pace, never forced anything in her face. Also, she was 14 or so when he moved in.

Her dad, btw, had his girlfriend living with them fairly quickly (long since over). I wasn't comfortable with it at the time, but it was *his* house, and I do not have say over his house (as he doesn't have say in mine). That's another key thing. Respect that you have different parenting styles, and don't freak over things that are done differently. The kids will pick up multiple ways of doing things. It's Ok.

Posted by: Divorced Mom | May 16, 2007 10:23 AM

For those of us with no experience with custody issues, what is a 5-2-2 schedule? 5 days with parent 1, 2 days with parent 2, 2 days with parent 1, 5 days with parent 2, 2 days with parent 1, 2 days with parent 2, etc.? It seems overly complicated - what is the reason for such a schedule?

Posted by: BLE | May 16, 2007 10:33 AM

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 10:38 AM

to BLE, good question. I thought dcdivorcee explained it well at 9:58 --

"For those not familiar, kids are with one parent every Mon/Tue and with the second parent every Wed/Thu. Parents then switch every other weekend. So for the weekends the child is with mom or dad for 5 days at a time."

The main reason it was chosen in my situation was because it allows the kids to share their day-to-day goings on with each parent equally, and also allowed each parent to fully integrate with the kids' school/activities on a more constant basis. Also, it seemed more than 5 days was a long time for the kids to go without seeing one parent, except in instances of vacations, etc. It may be that everyone decides down the road that less changeovers are better, but it seemed that at least initially, this was the best plan.


Posted by: Lori | May 16, 2007 10:41 AM

One of my girlfriends was divorced a couple of years ago, and another friend is divorced and remarried. At my previous job, several coworkers were having issues and attempting to hold on to their marriages through counseling. My former boss is separated from her husband. And I am going through a divorce that is relatively calm so far but has been pretty ugly thus far (a lot of the ugliness went away when the wrangling over the house was resolved). I have sole physcial custody, and we share legal custody. I do mostly everything, however, include care for and advocate for a son with disabilities. My daughter has no disabilities, but lately she cries a lot more. I don't say negative things about my ex around my children. I suspect he does not return the favor. He refuses to communicate with me. When he calls, I am to let my son answer the phone, I suppose so he doesn't have to hear my voice. Beyond bitter.

I stay exhausted, but I feel much better without than with him. It's great to see other couples working it out. I've certainly tried to make mine work, and I have that consolation. Now, it's time to move on.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | May 16, 2007 10:43 AM

"But the HIGH ROAD is absolutely the right thing and that is the #1 advise I'd give anyone involved in a divorce; no matter how ugly it gets."

Isn't the high road the best way to travel down most (not all) roads in life? Not much insight here.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 10:46 AM

STBX: soon-to-be-ex

Posted by: educmom | May 16, 2007 10:48 AM

"For those not familiar, kids are with one parent every Mon/Tue and with the second parent every Wed/Thu. Parents then switch every other weekend. So for the weekends the child is with mom or dad for 5 days at a time."

What a mess!! Widowhood is starting to look a lot better.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 10:49 AM

Divorced mom of 1:

No, we don't accept "mom didn't tell dad" as an excuse for missed assignments -- fourth-graders have assignment pads and are expected to be responsible for their own work. That doesn't mean parents (and students) don't try it anyway.

I was using the homework issue as an illustration of the confusion that arises when children are pulled in too many directions. Many parents DON'T talk about school, team practice, etc. with each other; I'm glad you and your ex do.

Posted by: educmom | May 16, 2007 10:55 AM

Of course the HIGH ROAD is the best road to talk in all aspects of our life.

The problem is it is too easy to get distracted from that high road. Especially during the intense emotions of divorce.

And unless you've been thru divorce; you have no idea how extreme those emotions are.

Posted by: C.W. | May 16, 2007 10:56 AM

Military divorce -- and custody arrangements in general -- are indeed, a strange phenomenon.

Some things we've seen are a single mom by choice who flew her young child home from Europe to stay with family in the US every time she had a long deployment.

A friend who routinely took in her daughter's classmate when classmates dad (a widower) had duties that took him away from home.

A family at preschool that took in a classmate for five months while the mom, a single mother, was deployed.

The problem with the military making an exception for everyone who has sole custody regarding deployments is that (a.) the divorce rate is actually HIGHER in the military than in civilian society in general -- so the number of these special arrangments could easily get out of hand and make a unit less than ready for the task at hand (b.) the number of people who are single parents by choice is about the same as the civilian population -- not insignificant

And there are also more international couples (Korean, German, English, Philippines, etc. -- basically, anywhere there's a base)so custody arrangements are considerably more complicated. Apparently, not all of these countries have agreements with the US regarding custody issues, parental abductions and the like. There's really no easy solution to this one -- and the military has been working on it for years already.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 16, 2007 10:57 AM

To anon at 10:49, thanks for your input - really useful. Again, I would throw out that no one knows what is going on in someone else's house, OR what's best for someone else's family. When and if you have to deal with divorce and custody arrangements, I'll make sure not to call your chosenpath "a mess."

Posted by: Lori | May 16, 2007 10:59 AM

I really liked something foamgnome (I think it was foamgnome) posted earlier on about how shared custody often lets kids know one parent (usually the dad) BETTER than they knew him before the split. My dad is a very quiet guy, and I don't remember spending a lot of one on one time with him when I was little - but when I was in high school and early years of college, he started doing work that required him to live away from the family, and I got to visit him in other cities and felt like I really got to know him better. Obviously I don't mean that divorce is the best means to accomplish more one-on-one time - I'm just saying!

Posted by: TakomaMom | May 16, 2007 11:00 AM

My parents divorced when I was in my early teens, just about 15 years ago.

They did not have good divorce. My younger sister and I witnessed lots of arguments -- shouting, name-calling, hysterical sobbing. We heard the accusations and each parents was all too eager to tell the "truth" about the other.

The divorce was long and drawn out. They fought over us. For a while I believed it was out of love, but later I began to think it was more over money. (The state in which they divorced has a high minimum percentage for child support payments.)

We ended up with a guardian ad litem. It didn't help. My mother told me not to say too much and I was too afraid to do otherwise.

I didn't see my father for years because he moved away and my mother hid his letters. Thinking he didn't love us anymore, I refused his phone calls.

All these years later, it is still a painful topic. I still wish they'd acted like adults, and not sniping kids. I still wish they'd tried to make an effort for civility. Please, divorcing parents, if you can't maintain a civil tongue, seek out help. Your kids deserve it.

Posted by: M | May 16, 2007 11:00 AM

"don't like 50-50 because I'm not much into talking/washing/cooking for the youn'uns. I like spur of the moment decisions, and don't care if there is milk in the fridge. Don't like to designate a room "for the kids". Don't care about their homework or award ceremonies (neither does my husband, so it would have ended up with me). The kids enjoy our financial support and occasional adventures with us.The ex seem to like it too."

This says a lot about you and your husband's lack of character. This may sound harsh, but frankly, if you don't care about the kids and their needs, you should not have married a man who has kids. And your blythe excuse that your husband does not care about them either is no defense. How could you respect a man who is completely unconcerned with the day to day parenting needs of his children. Money and financial support do not make a parent. Be prepared to be forgotten when those kids grow up and realize that their father and stepmother are selfish, uncaring, irresponsible dolts.

Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2007 11:04 AM

My parents divorced when I was 12. My dad remarried 9 years later.

Well, my mom let me know all about how terrible my dad was. He cheated on her with his secretary (how cliche, I know), he never made time for us kids (travelled months out of the year), and was an alcoholic (somewhat true).

They proceded to have an ugly battle in court that cost them each $10,000 or more. My mom got sole custody, child support, and alimony. We were allowed to visit my dad on our own accord (not without the guilt trips from my mom: "Why do you even want to see him! He abandoned us!").

Now, 15 years later (2 years longer than they were married, FWIW), my mom is suing my dad for back alimony. It seems his past employer never paid her his pension, as was agreed in the court documents. My dad will retire soon, and she's asking for half of his monthly income. And, of course, my brother and I get to hear all about it.

What makes this all okay is that they're my parents. I still love them both so much, and I hate to see them hurt each other, but I can only control my own actions. It would be nice sometime to say "Grow up! You're both adults!" But they are not perfect, so I just try to support them as best I can.

Posted by: Meesh | May 16, 2007 11:04 AM

My parents are still married after 39 years of marriage. Her two sisters each have 2 divorces under their belts, while my dad's 3 siblings have all been married at least 32 years. My MIL has been divorced three times, and my BILs have been through various divorces and affairs. I only had two friends btwn high school and college who had divorced parents. Luckily my husband can see what went terribly awry with his parents.

Posted by: Cubeland | May 16, 2007 11:07 AM

If anyone reading the blog is having trouble and thinking about getting marital counseling, I highly recommend the book "Mindful Loving" by Henry Grayson, and finding a counselor who is familiar with it and uses it. If you go to the website, (www.mindfulloving.com, I think), I think there's a link that will let you find someone or email Grayson to ask for names of counselors in your area.

My husband and I sought counseling about a year ago and it just happened that the person who was recommended to us used this book. It was enormously helpful to us and strengthened our marriage and also strengthened each of us as individuals. On the other hand, I've seen friends and relatives go to marriage counselors and have almost the opposite happen - it seems like there are some counselors who just play the role of referee, deciding who is right about what disputes, which actually increases resentment and frustration, rather than helping the couples see the sources of the conflict and address them.

Even if you don't like the approach of Mindful Loving or want to use a book, I definitely recommend interviewing a couple different counselors to find someone who you think can really help you.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 11:07 AM

When son 1 was young(maybe 6 mos), I took him to music class. Because dh had a flexible schedule, he would take him every other week. One of the parents asked if that was part of our 'arrangement'-implying we were divorced. It was horible to me that that was the first reactio (rather than that he wanted to take son to class)-i told my sister the story about how sad it was and her first reaction was that she had a friend who divorced after child was under one year old. My reaction to that is that perhaps those people shouldn't be having children if the marraige couldn't last even that long.
But, I think it would be in best interest of said sister to divorce abusive husband. She thinks that might be admitting a mistake and goodness knows she couldn't do that (what would people say if she wasn't perfect?-well, she should hear (well she does) what people say about her now).

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 11:08 AM

My husband and I have gone through a few rough patches lately- for the first time, divorce was actually thrown out (in anger, but still...) For those few hours before we both calmed down and realized that divorce is not in the equation, it was terrifying. We would have to move back home, closer to family- we'd live an hour away. I would get custody during the week, he'd get her weekends. And it would have been awful for our daughter.
We vowed then and there (again) to do whatever we could to stay together forever. Unless addiction, abuse, or adultery comes in to the picture, we will stick it out.
Bottom line, we're family. I don't have to be over the moon happy all the time. We argue, he gets on my nerves,...
I have arguments with my mom- but I'm not going to divorce her and get another one!

I think there's too much emphasis on being HAPPY all the time. You have to have the perfect marriage, perfect kids, perfect job...The topic yesterday really drove it home. Sometimes a job is just a job, sometimes, you have to do what may not be wonderful at the time.
Sometimes you just have to muddle through.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | May 16, 2007 11:10 AM

Emily

"This says a lot about you and your husband's lack of character"

By YOUR standards. There is some refeshing honesty in this post. Again, it is none of your business!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 11:11 AM

Home:

No one knows who I am on this blog. My friends and family do not know I post here.

Even if all my friends and family were to read every comment, nothing I have said today would be a surprise to any of them (including my sons). I have not shared even one-tenth of what they have witnessed.

Would you prefer I disguise myself when I go to al-anon meetings, in the event that someone I know from elsewhere might see me enter a meeting room?

I shared a (very) few of the graphic details of my former life to make the point that blanket statements with the basic theme of "stick it out for the kids" are ridiculous on their face. Every situation is different, and you should not judge until you have walked a mile in someone else's shoes. For that matter, "divorce is no big deal" statements are equally inappropriate, although I have not seen anyone express that viewpoint here today.

And, yes, I am angry. I'm also defensive. One tends to get that way after years of being called a loser, stupid, worthless, nothing, and a variety of other, more colorful insults that I don't care to share. I will heal eventually, but I have not done so yet.

Since you said right up front that you knew you were going to get a lot of responses, I am sure that you had to be aware that at least some of them would not support your viewpoint.

Posted by: educmom | May 16, 2007 11:12 AM

"By YOUR standards. There is some refeshing honesty in this post. Again, it is none of your business"

Sure, it's honest, but that does not make it any less despicable. A women who encourages her husband to have a minimal relationship with his children because it's inconvenient is not a person of good character, nor is the husband who neglects his children. And as to whether it's my business or not, people should not post things that they don't want to be commented on. They minute they post something, they are fair game to people's opinions. In this case, I am disgusted.

Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2007 11:17 AM

Home, thank you for your post. It strikes a nerve as I am experiencing doubts in my three year old marriage. But I agree that with work, things can get better. We're seeing a therapist soon. Educmom, I agree with your points too. Hang in there. Things get better.

My feeling is that each marriage is different and you have to make your decision based on what your gut tells you.

Posted by: Bob | May 16, 2007 11:20 AM

Meesh, what's that about back-pay? I didn't realize it was possible... anyone know if that is that just for alimony, or is it possible to get back child support paid long after the fact? Anyone?

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 11:20 AM

I can't find it now, but I think it was C.W. who said her sister is staying in an alcoholic marriage...please, please tell her to join al-anon. It will help her to cope with the difficulties that will arise in the life she is choosing. The program has literally saved my life! And, please help the extended family not to judge her too harshly. She needs all the love and support she can get.

Posted by: educmom | May 16, 2007 11:21 AM

" The kids enjoy our financial support and occasional adventures with us.The ex seem to like it too."

This is just a question: why did your husband want kids in the first place if he wasn't interested in parenting? It is not a criticism just a curiosity.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 16, 2007 11:21 AM

Meesh, what's that about back-pay? I didn't realize it was possible... anyone know if that is that just for alimony, or is it possible to get back child support paid long after the fact? Anyone?

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 11:20 AM
It is a legal possibility but it is hard to track the dead beat parent. Even if you do, doesn't guarantee he has any money.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 16, 2007 11:22 AM

Chris,
My guess is that any back child support would be owed to your mom, not you.

Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2007 11:24 AM

Meesh, your parents are lucky to have such a forgiving and understanding daughter. I don't think I have ever been that accomodating.

My parents divorced when I was in college - they did a great job at not criticizing each other and keeping the inevitable ugliness between themselves. My college graduation was the first time they saw each other after the divorce. The months leading up to it was the first time they let their emotions out to me, in the form of "Well, I'm not going to Campus Dance if your father/mother is." After trying to accomdate this for a while, I finally put my foot down. I called them both and said, "I'm tired of this, we're all adults, you can either come to events or not but I'm not going to be your negotiator and I'm not going to be the one who chooses who does what." And truly, they stepped up to the plate and were great during that weekend. Each family gather (funerals and weddings) got easier, and now that we are all living in the same state and there are grandchildren in the picture they've been very willing to do holidays and birthdays all together, which is lovely. I have a lot of admiration for how they have both moved on in their own ways.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 11:25 AM

Just to play the devil's advocate, I'll tackle the idea that that divorce may not that big of a deal (educmom mentioned it).

If you are religious, marriage is a sacrament. Therefore, divorce is a HUGE deal for them. I'm not talking about those people.

For people who are not religious, marriage is a legal contract. Contracts are broken all the time, with the usual penalties involved.

I'll say that the most desctructive part of divorce is the penalty--paying lawyers thousands of dollars to sort out the logistics of houses and cars. But handled properly, divorce can actually make lives better. So, in my opinion, if you're not religious, it is not necessary to stay in a loveless marriage. Why waste your life being unhappy? Why try to force something that's not working?

As a side note, some might think that my opinion is based on getting the wrong idea of marrige from my parents, but, in fact, I am religious and I take my marriage vow very seriously. I just think that forcing that view on non-religious people is kind of strange.

Posted by: Meesh | May 16, 2007 11:32 AM

My divorce was a long time coming; I was married to an irresponsible, untreated bipolar alcoholic.

Predictably, it was ugly at first--for about five or six months. By the time we divorced, we were on friendly terms.

I have sole custody of our child, and he pays no child support. He has remarried an Australian and lives 10,000 miles away, and I have no idea if he will ever see his daughter again.

I wonder about the 50/50 arrangements...I remember back in the early '80s, Ted Nugent and his ex-wife had a similar arrangement: the kids kept the house and the mother and father split residence there in six-month intervals. At the time, I thought that was a rather radical idea, but these 50/50 arrangements are much more common now.

Posted by: single western mom | May 16, 2007 11:32 AM

Chris, I have a cousin who went to court and collected on many years of long-unpaid back child support from her ex after she found out from others that he'd hit better times financially. After years of living in small apartments in public housing, she used part of the money for a down payment on a house for herself and their child. While I imagine this is a pretty rare case, still it's heartening.

Posted by: catlady | May 16, 2007 11:33 AM

educmom
I did not state "divorce is no big deal"
I have posted my comments and tried to be positive not derogatory in thought.
I have nothing more to comment back to you except I hope you and your family are able to heal. I did not post a comment to have my viewpoint win overall acceptance. I am not in need of adulation regarding this blog. As noted my comment was posted as a means to convey my opinion and experience.

Posted by: home | May 16, 2007 11:35 AM

I am just curious, do women get awarded alimony a lot these days? I really don't believe in it myself, but am just wondering what everyone else thinks.

Posted by: scarry | May 16, 2007 11:36 AM

Emily, I'd be just fine with it going to my poor mom.

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 11:36 AM

Chris, in my mom's case, my dad payed all his child support and continues to pay alimony. She sued him for his employer's negligence. But it was easy for her to do so because (a), she knows where he is and can easily communicate with him and (b) she has the court papers that say if the employer didn't pay, it was my dad's responsibilit to do so.

In general, I have no idea how one would go about suing an absent dad who owes child support.

Posted by: Meesh | May 16, 2007 11:36 AM

Thanks, 11;11!

I proved that I was taking those issues seriously when I did NOT marry a great guy who was very much into 50-50 parenting (of course, my husband is wonderful, not just great!) Somebody else who shares his philosophy will be happy and make him happier (that was hard to explain to him at a time).
Our arrangement works, we had this system from when they were 4 and 7 to present time (11 and 14). Actually, they can stay longer now, if they want, as long as they can find some food in the pantry and clean up after themselves. No maids in this house. Emily is a prude. Go wash some sippy cups.

Posted by: Bagheera | May 16, 2007 11:37 AM

As noted my comment was posted as a means to convey my opinion and experience

So was educmom.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 11:38 AM

Chris,
How's your wife doing?

Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2007 11:38 AM

"why did your husband want kids in the first place if he wasn't interested in parenting? It is not a criticism just a curiosity."

maybe his wife wanted them, and he was just OK with it

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 11:39 AM

Hmmm. An issue close to my heart. My husband has a daughter from his first marriage, and we have tried very hard to make sure she is in the center of our family, as children should be. I knew when we started dating that the two of them were a package deal, so to speak. What I could not have foreseen was just how thankless being a stepparent can be. We've had quite a few conversations along the lines of "You're not my mother, you can't tell me what to do". I am not her mother, but when she was living in the house my husband and I shared, whether temporarily (when we shared custody with the egg donor) or permanently (when the egg donor threw her out and she came to live with us), I would have liked at least a modicum of respect. Rambling -- or maybe ranting. In any case, I think that it is critical, particularly when other children enter the picture (as my husband's and my children did several years ago) that the children from a previous marriage continue to feel a part of the family. We have often erred on the side of caution, for example, making sure that we don't schedule family vacations without seeing if she's available, even though she's out of the house now and living on her own. She is also part of the "Christmas picture" every year, even though trying to get her scheduled with the kids can be trying -- she's got a very busy social life, and with work and school, it's crazy.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 16, 2007 11:41 AM

Meesh

"If you are religious, marriage is a sacrament"

There are some religions which DO NOT consider marriage a sacrament.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 11:42 AM

Chris:

Laws regarding back child support vary state-by-state. Here in Arizona, if the back child support is not reduced to written judgment within three years of emanicipation of the last minor child, then the debt is considered settled. It usually falls upon our state Department of Economic Security to bring these cases to court because so many of the parents are on public assistance, and DES goes after the delinquent parent to get the money owed.

It's a statute of limitations, so it is really the responsibility of the parent who is owed to keep this in court.

I'm not sure where your mom lives or how long ago the debt was owed, but if it is substantial and if there are assets to secure, she should consider filing paperwork in court if she is able to do so.

Posted by: single western mom | May 16, 2007 11:42 AM

"maybe his wife wanted them, and he was just OK with it"

Well then he should take some responsibility for actually parenting them. A man who is not interested in his children, their homework, their award ceremonies, etc. is not a wonderful man. He is a poor excuse for a father. But it sounds like Bangheera and he deserve each other. Birds of a feather.


Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2007 11:43 AM

To Scarry: Alimony (i.e., spousal support) and child-support are entirely different matters. Celebrity divorces aside, my impression is that alimony isn't paid as often (or at least in such large amounts) nowadays as it once was, on the theory that most ex-spouses are able to find jobs support themselves financially to some extent; an exception might be made for an elderly SAH spouse who was married for many decades, with the reasonable expectation of staying married to the spouse "till death do us part" until the divorce cropped up.

Posted by: catlady | May 16, 2007 11:44 AM

Actually, they can stay longer now, if they want, as long as they can find some food in the pantry and clean up after themselves.

This is sad. I wouldn't have a house sitter in my house without food, let alone my children. Don't you buy stuff for them to eat when you know they are coming over?

Posted by: scarry | May 16, 2007 11:45 AM

I share Emily's standards, and I'm sure I am not alone. Just because someone is honest about their lack of character doesn't make them any less slimy.

Posted by: webbrat | May 16, 2007 11:47 AM

11:42, you're absolutely right. I knew that, but didn't know which religions, so I thought I'd err on the side of caution and be ambiguous instead of flat-out wrong. Hope I didn't offend.

Posted by: Meesh | May 16, 2007 11:48 AM

Bangheera: It sounds like it is working for you and your spouse. But have you asked the kids if it is working for them? There is a big difference in being a maid and providing basic care (food). If your husband wasn't interested in parenting, he should have done something about it prior to the conception of these kids. If he failed to do that, then the children are his responsibility whether he likes it or not.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 16, 2007 11:48 AM

WorkingmomX
Good for you for making such an effort to include your stepdaughter in the family. I realize stepparenting is a thankless job (I was a stepchild). But I bet that in time, your stepdaughter will realize and appreciate your efforts, especially as she matures. You have set a wonderful example for her and for your own children.

Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2007 11:49 AM

WorkingMomX

"What I could not have foreseen was just how thankless being a stepparent can be"

Thank YOU for your refreshing honesty. Today is turning out to be some kind of a watershed day for this board.

Posted by: Judge Judy | May 16, 2007 11:49 AM

"For people who are not religious, marriage is a legal contract. Contracts are broken all the time, with the usual penalties involved."

Meesh, I understand and appreciate the spirit of your post, but I will say that as a non-religious person, I view my marriage as much more than a legal contract, and so does every other non-religious person I know. While my understanding and feelings about marriage and divorce are undoubtedly different from those of a very religious person - and I do not have the religious barriers to divorce that some do - marriage to me is still a sacred relationship that extends far beyond the legal rights and obligations it entails. I have committed to sharing my life with someone, and to supporting, caring and loving him throughout our lives, and this is not something I take lightly or a commitment I would break as easily as a simple contract.

And obviously, once there are children, the equation changes again and the questions become even more complicated, regardless of religious beliefs.

Again, I know you did not mean to imply anything negative and were saying that religious beliefs should not be forced upon non-believers, and I agree with you completely on that. But I just wanted to put it out there that lack of religion does not mean that marriage or divorce can or should be taken lightly.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 11:49 AM

catlady,

I can see it in the situations you described, but half of someone's monthly income is a lot of money. Meesh does/did your mom work? I am just wondering, I am not saying anything bad about your mom. I find legal stuff interesting.

Posted by: scarry | May 16, 2007 11:50 AM

Try a university near you-they may be able to give you reduced or free rates by using them for legal advice and/or representation.

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 11:53 AM

Meesh --

Ok, have to beg to differ with your 11:32 devil's advocate argument on divorce being "no big deal." I 100% agree with you that in a lot of cases, it's for the best, and the issues it raises can be worked through. But it IS a big deal to the family going through it -- it's a fundamental change to the family structure, that shoots down hopes and dreams and replaces them with a scary new unknown reality.

I don't think you're really denying that divorce can raise problems; I think your point is that sometimes those problems are the lesser of the evils, and can frequently be handled and solved if the parents act like grownups and give the kids the support they need. And that I completely agree with. But it just bugs me when I hear people say "no big deal," because it trivializes what people have to go through to get to that new happy place.

Just one little example, my mom tells me that for months after my dad left, I screamed my head off for hours every time she left the house, because I was afraid she wasn't coming back either. Am I scarred for life? Nope -- don't even remember that now (I was @ 3), have a good relationship with my dad, am happily married, etc. But it was very definitely a big deal at the time, which required a lot of work and support from both my parents to get us all through, and some work from me even decades later to realize some of the messages I had internalized from that whole experience.

Posted by: Laura | May 16, 2007 11:56 AM

Okay, Emily and Judge Judy, your posts have both brought tears to my eyes!!! I really appreciate hearing those words and I hope, Emily, that you are right.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 16, 2007 11:57 AM

Thanks for asking. We're holding up... she's a real trooper about it all, and we've both faced death before and won, so it gives us a different perspective, but it's still not easy- especially when you are getting comfortable planning a future.
Still no word from the VA despite multiple calls and messages left with them for someone to let us know results that should have been given to us early Monday. In fact a nurse told her yesterday that the results were in and the doc should call her in a day or two (when in the past the nurse would have just given the results).
The whole family is worried sick and keeps calling, which in turn just upsets the situation even more and brings more stress and worries. Just when we start to settle back down and relax the phone rings...
The needless delays just reinforce what we already know about government programs.

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 11:58 AM

foamgnome

"Bangheera: "If he failed to do that, then the children are his responsibility whether he likes it or not. "

Agree, but the kids are not Bangheera's responsibilty, which she made crystal clear before the marriage.

How do you force someone to be interested in their kids or grandkids? Does that even work?

Posted by: Judge Mathis | May 16, 2007 11:58 AM

WorkingmomX--had to laugh at your use of the term "egg donor!" When my DH's ex-wife left their marriage, she went on to marry and divorce another really nice man who stayed actively involved in my stepson's life even after their divorce (far more active than his then ex-wife had ever been). He made the comment once that my stepson was the only child he knew who had two fathers and an egg donor.

I had similar issues being a stepparent. My DH had sole custody and his ex was simply not interested in being actively involved in parenting my stepson. I think some of the tension in being a stepmother with a custodial father is that people are just hardwired to love their mothers, and there must be terrible cognitive dissonance when your biological mother rejects you so obviously while your stepmother works so hard to make you a part of the family. This may well be true with stepfathers as well--I don't know. But I used to feel just awful for my stepson who was fighting tooth and nail to NOT love (or even like) me while his mother wanted nothing to do with him. Weird thing was, before our marriage my stepson and I had a fabulous, loving, close relationship (DH and I dated for six years)--the rebellion all started about four weeks after we got married.

Posted by: Sarah | May 16, 2007 11:59 AM

Bagheera,

Refreshing honesty. I would not date anyone with kids when I was single. I did not want to take care of someone else's children. You stayed true to yourself when you did not stay with the man with 50/50 custody.

There are many people here who have chosen to be childless, and their choice is respected. I can also respect divorced parents who chooses a custody arrangement other than 50/50, as long as the arrangement works for the children. Some children adjust easily to continuing back and forth between parents and others are better with having one parent with custody and the other with visitation.

Posted by: nona | May 16, 2007 12:02 PM

foamgnome

"Bangheera: "If he failed to do that, then the children are his responsibility whether he likes it or not. "

Agree, but the kids are not Bangheera's responsibilty, which she made crystal clear before the marriage.

How do you force someone to be interested in their kids or grandkids? Does that even work?


Posted by: Judge Mathis | May 16, 2007 11:58 AM
It is not her legal responsibility and maybe not even her moral responsibility. That is why I spoke only of her husband. But I would caution anyone who has no regard for children to marry a person who has kids. Of course you can do it, but it seems strange. Also it seems as if the husband is a pretty crappy father. So it seems to work for the adults. Again, is it working for the kids?

Posted by: foamgnome | May 16, 2007 12:05 PM

WorkingmomX,
I have a special respect for people who parent children who are not their own. I remember how much I resented my stepfather when I was younger. Some of the resentments were for good reason, I thought, and some of them were just a generalized resentment against my parents splitting up, and he was just an easier target. I am sure I was a difficult stepchild, and that he felt like his efforts wer in vain at the time.

But in the end, people (at least some of them) develop some insight and self-awareness over time. They come to understand, forgive, and sometimes just accept the reality that some situations are complicated, imperfect, and just hard. These days, I really love my stepfather. He is my son's grandfather, and the only grandfather he has. My son loves him without reserve, just like he loves my mother. And today, I recognize that despite everyone's flaws, throughout all those struggles in my younger days, what we all wanted was just to be loved. And somehow, we have come to a place where we do love each other. I'm not sure exactly how we got here. But we did. So will you.

Posted by: Emily | May 16, 2007 12:05 PM

Sarah -- What an amazing story. Your stepson is lucky to have you. Sounds like the egg donor and your DH's ex went to the same school. I cannot refer to her as my stepdaughter's "mother" because of what she's done to her child, in particular over the last 5 years. In my house, we don't save for college, we save for therapy!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 16, 2007 12:05 PM

I am in my early 50's and am celebrating 21st wedding anniversary this month. I agree with 'home'. There are many marriages that break up. Some are caused by addictions, criminal behavior, abuse, etc, and those are usually not salvagable. However, there are many that break up for what may be legitimate reasons at the time, but many of these could be saved with (hard) work.

In the earlier years of my marriage, there was trouble that led us to consider divorce. We decided to try to save the marriage. It wasn't particularly easy, and there were times when neither of us were happy. Now, we are both glad that we made the effort to stay together. Over 21 years, the positive definitely outweighs the negative. We both suffered the loss of our parents in the past 5 years. It was incredibly comforting to go through the experience with a spouse by your side.

It may sound corny, but the bond that develops over the course of many years and shared life and family experiences is something to be cherished.

Posted by: nona | May 16, 2007 12:14 PM

scarry, my mom did and does still work (well, she's looking for a job now). At that time, I don't think alimony had much to do with whether the woman worked and had more to do with the fact that she was a woman. FWIW, I think alimony is outdated and was based on stereotypes that do not always apply today.

Posted by: Meesh | May 16, 2007 12:18 PM

dcdivorcee,

I had an ex like yours. I ended up moving, because I couldn't take it anymore. It was childish, controlling behavior on his part. We had joint legal but I had sole physical custody. He tried to stop me, but I was sucessfully able to argue that it was job related. It was much harder for him to play his stupid games from 60 miles away. And it was his loss - if he would be reasonable & act like a grown-up, I would have stayed put to give my son more time with him.

Posted by: madivorcee | May 16, 2007 12:22 PM

nona

"However, there are many that break up for what may be legitimate reasons at the time, but many of these could be saved with (hard) work. "

and some break up because one or both of the the parties aren't willing to do the hard work. It can't be forced.

Posted by: Judge Alex | May 16, 2007 12:23 PM

Scarry, the concept of alimony has definitely changed over time. I can't remember details now from the one family law class I took, but essentially in most states it's now "spousal support" or something like that, and is available to either spouse (in the past alimony was only available to women - based on outdated stereotypes as Meesh said). There are different types - I think sometimes courts can still award the type of on-going support that I think you're thinking of. Other times the award is time limited, with the idea that one spouse who for some reason is at an economic disadvantage may need a year or two of support to be able to get their skills up to par and become self sufficient. It also may be that there are tables, similar to those for child support, that set the boundaries on how much can be awarded but I'm not sure.

And it is definitely entirely separate from child support, which is intended to be only to support the child's needs, not the custodial parent, and which is now determined by tables and things.

Anyway, that's my admittedly vague recollection, any actual family-law attorneys or people who have recently dealt in these matters may have better info.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 12:31 PM

"and some break up because one or both of the the parties aren't willing to do the hard work. It can't be forced."

I agree, it can't be forced, and it takes two. I am not saying that there are not legitimate reasons for divorce, or that you can save a marriage by yourself. I was just trying to say that there is a choice - you can say "it's over" or "let's work on it". There was a part of me thinking I was crazy for working on it, but it the long run, I have no regrets and am truly happy with my marriage. I'm glad we decided to 'give it one more shot'.


Posted by: nona | May 16, 2007 12:31 PM

I have been divorced for 10 years, with a schedule that has the kids at their father's house one night a week and every other weekend. They are now teenagers and have endured/prospered through tremendous change, including both parents marrying again and having more children. They don't feel particularly "at home" or welcome/understood at their father's house, and I wonder whether a 50/50 split would have been a better idea. (It really never came up, and as the years passed, he did less and less for them, down from not much to begin with........) On the other hand, their feelings of not fitting in could just be because they're teenagers forced to fit into a household that revolves around little kids, with a stepmother who is a very, very different kind of parent than I am. There is no perfect way, but I will say that the pain of the divorce is always there when I see how difficult it is on the kids. NO ONE should think any magic "schedule" will alleviate that, and I would urge couples to do all they can to stay together when kids are involved.

Posted by: Bethesda | May 16, 2007 12:37 PM

I'd like to recommend "Imperfect Harmony" by Joshua Coleman.

Excellent read.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 12:41 PM

You know, I can remember LOTS of friends who stuck with their husbands after they were unfaithful. Why? Quite honestly, they couldn't afford to divorce and didn't have the job skills to support themselves and the kids afterwards.

Now that women are earning more, and in some cases OUTearning their spouses, I seriously doubt that as many women are going to put up with affairs.

Men rarely stuck around when it was their wife who cheated, in my observation. They could afford to dump her and start fresh.

I've been married 45 years and I think marriage is a terrible lie to foist upon others. My children aren't married, but two are in very solid long-term relationships. I suspect the fact that they are self-supporting helps ensure the longevity of the relationship. The grandchildren seem happy and well-adjusted.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 12:47 PM

I forgot to mention that neither my husband nor I cheated. I still wish I had never married him though. The feeling is mutual.

But as we have no grounds for an annulment, there is no reason to get a divorce. Separate lives helps.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 12:49 PM

I was in college when my parents divorced, my brother in high school. I escaped the brunt of it, being out of the house, but my poor brother had to endure the weeping and teeth-gnashing of my mom, as well as her constant litany of mean remarks against my dad.

Today, my brother has no relationship with our father (who my mom tells me didn't want my brother in the first place -- he only wanted me, the first child). I feel sad for my brother, who is having a lot of trouble finding a girl to be happy with, and trouble just being happy in general.

I agree with those who say take the high road. I know how painful and agonizing it can be to have to swallow that anger and hurt for your children, but it is a great gift to them. It will be repaid to you in the future as they love you without bringing you their own hurt and angry feelings that you helped to create by speaking badly of their other parent.

I never want to divorce and hope I never feel like I want to. Choosing a spouse is the most important decision you will make -- do not make it lightly.

Posted by: Rebecca | May 16, 2007 12:56 PM

no reason to get a divorce. Separate lives helps.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 12:49 PM


It's called ABANDONMENT, and it IS grounds for divorce.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 12:56 PM

When I divorced all was well with my ex until I asked for child support then all of a sudden he wanted custody because I didn't deserve "his" money. We went to court every month for over a year. During this time he got a DUI and my daughter came back bruised from being dragged across the floor because she was too tired to go to one of his friends houses (she was 3.5 at the time and it was way past her bedtime) All the while the court knows about this but is happy to try and accomodate a father who wants to be involved and wanted to do a 50/50 split. I felt like I was in a nightmare I couldn't wake up from. I decided that being poor, I made about 1/3 of what he did, was better than this so I told him to keep his money. He magically agreed that I could have custody and he would see her every other weekend. I hope the courts have changed and look into these things more than they did at the time. My daughter is 12 now and still sees him every other weekend. I have managed to not say anything bad about him during this entire process. Thank goodness for a close friend I could vent to.

Posted by: CaliforniaMom | May 16, 2007 12:56 PM

madivorcee, You hit it right on the head--childish and controlling. The only control he has these days is with the children so he exploits it.

I have thought of moving many times to save the children from his antics and to regain some sense of normalcy. I grew-up here, my family is here and this is my home. Moving just isn't a realistic option. However, I am ever hopeful the ex will move!!!

The only people benefiting from divorce are the lawyers. My ex hired a cut-throat attorney who reveled in our fighting. I consulted with one attorney about the current problems and was told a 15k retainer was needed to do anything. He also said I should be prepared to spend even more because the ex-husband's attorney would fight everything, thus increasing the bill. Quite frankly it makes me sick the ex won't see a parent coordinator, is in contempt and I cannot do anything unless I hire an attorney at some exorbitant rate.

The worst aspect of all of this is the children are suffering. His behavior is destructive to my kids. As far as I am concerned, in my situation co-parenting (which is what the court required of us) is a joke. The only person parenting is me. He merely acts as a road-block to any decision/change in the status quo. I wish I had gone to a sperm bank.

Posted by: dcdivorcee | May 16, 2007 12:57 PM

No, we live in the same house. We have very little to say to one another, no common interests and put on the occasional show of being in the same room & being polite for family.

Otherwise, I have my friends, part-time job and hobbies. He has his.

Neither of us ask for sex, so that isn't an issue. He has a bad heart so "performance enhancement" drugs aren't a recommended option anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:00 PM

By the way, I said "grounds for annullment". I never said anything about it not being grounds for divorce. That is not an option due to our religious beliefs.

I imagine we both pray for death.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:02 PM

scarry,

Alimony is awarded, or not awarded, based on the statutes in effect in a given state, e.g., the experience of one's friend in Connecticut is not going to have any bearing on someone else's experience in Alaska. Alimony is, in many states, automatic if the spouse can prove infidelity - and infidelity after a separation agreement is in place, but before the divorce, remains infidelity.

The trend is for alimony awards to be for a shorter duration than they used to be, 3 - 5 years is common, in order to allow for a transition back into the workforce or for updating skills.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 16, 2007 1:04 PM

"It's called ABANDONMENT, and it IS grounds for divorce."

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 12:56 PM

There is no such thing as "grounds for divorce". Anyone can get a divorce at any time for any reason or no reason at all.

Welcome to the wonderful world of "irreconcilable differences".

Posted by: Bob | May 16, 2007 1:05 PM

Of course you can divorce. You just can't remarry in your church.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:05 PM

I did not post a comment to have my viewpoint win overall acceptance. I am not in need of adulation regarding this blog. As noted my comment was posted as a means to convey my opinion and experience.
Posted by: home | May 16, 2007 11:35 AM

You didn't convey any experience - only an opinion. As soon as someone disagreed, you became defensive. If all you wanted was to make a one-way statement, you could have more easily walked into the restroom and spoken to the mirror, and saved us the time of reading your repetitive, defensive, thoughtless comments.

Posted by: Georgia Girl | May 16, 2007 1:06 PM

My mom was married for 20 years and raised three children. She didn't trust my dad (unemployed at the time) to pay alimony - but was certainly entitled to it (so at 55 she was goign to go back to school to get a job??).
They split the assets - my dad still thinks he's a saint cause he 'gave' my mom more than 1/2. I think it was the only thing he COULD have done - if he had done otherwise, it would have been wrong. He *could* have worked (could still) but chooses not to.

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 1:07 PM

"Alimony is, in many states, automatic if the spouse can prove infidelity"

Wow, I had no idea that was still true. I can only imagine the incentives that creates for a particularly vengeful spouse...

I remember reading in my family law course book that in the days of fault-based divorce, there was a lawyer's secretary in NYC who was named as the mistress in hundreds of cases - obviously situations where the couple wanted a divorce and had to come up with grounds to get around the fault laws.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 1:10 PM

Marriage, divorce and how to make it work. I think "home" has some good points that are being misconstrued just so others can contribute with anger instead of insight.
Posted by: 4444 | May 16, 2007 10:16 AM

What is being misconstrued? home said:

"To divorce someone over an affair of the heart/body, to divorce because you feel that person has become unattractive and not keeping up with you- to divorce over boredom in the bedroom..... All of these situations have a point and the point is - try to work at it, these excuses are built around human nature- time and age. They are not reasons for divorce and in the end of your life, . . "

Others have disagreed based on their own life experience and insight, not platitudes and opinions without support.


4444, what insight do you have to offer? or are you here merely to criticize the life choices of others without insight?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:12 PM

Divorce, per se, is not bad. I think how the parents handle the divorce makes all the difference. Not bad-mouthing the absent parent, being cautious about introducing a new boy/girlfriend, keeping consistent rules between households, etc. I think are all important to keeping children secure during an incredibly stressful time.

I was 23 when my parents divorced. I got daily calls from my mother telling me how awful my dad was. My dad's family called me several times per week (my grandparents, aunt, uncle) insisting that I had the power to get my parents back together and why wasn't I doing anything. My dad remarried the day after the divorce was final and his new wife (who was six years older than me) immediately started calling my sisters and me "her kids." She thought it was hilarious. We were less amused.

I mention this mostly to point out that divorce can be devastating to both adult and young children. In my case, I think my family felt MORE comfortable telling me every little thing and trying to involve me because I was an adult. My parents' divorce was easily the most stressful experience of my life. In addition to trying to juggle very conflicting emotions toward my dad, I suddenly felt like my entire childhood was a lie since it was clear that he had been waiting for years for his opportunity to leave. He literally moved out the day after my youngest sis left for college.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 16, 2007 1:13 PM

New York State waas notorious for having some of the toughest laws as obstacles to divorce, sort of the poster child for changing to no-fault divorce. Of course, no-fault has its own problems.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:14 PM

"I suddenly felt like my entire childhood was a lie since it was clear that he had been waiting for years for his opportunity to leave. He literally moved out the day after my youngest sis left for college."

He had the opportunity to leave at any time. He chose to stay and be a part of his childrens' entire childhoods. His marriage may have been somewhat of a lie, but your childhood wasn't.

Posted by: another view | May 16, 2007 1:17 PM

I'm now in a second marriage for both of us, so there are multiple balancing routines going on.

Overall, my side of the post-divorce equation was probably easier on a practical level, although the emotional fallout took a fairly long time, some therapy, and a lot of geographic distance to work through. My son was almost 18 when his father and I divorced, so we didn't have much in the way of custody and support issues to deal with. I'd worked throughout the marriage, so I was well prepared to support myself. I believe the fact that I moved halfway across the country after the divorce has helped my ex and me get along. Our son went away to college, and we split the financial obligations related to that 50/50 by mutual agreement (nothing court-ordered), but since he just graduated (last week!) I'm not sure how often we'll be talking with each other going forward.

My new husband's children are both school-age, and he actually has a 40/60 custody arrangement with their mother (she's the 60), which in his case means he still pays the full child support obligation in addition to having the kids two nights each week and alternate weekends. He occasionally considers going back to court to change it to 50/50, but that would mean more changes for us. The kids go to school in the next town, for example (since their primary address is their mother's), so we'd most likely move back there in order not to disrupt that, and of course it would mean 10% (technically) more responsibility for their dad, but he's a very competent caregiver and he'd adapt. The kids seems to be fairly well adjusted to their two homes, all things considered, and we're doing OK so far with the stepparent/stepkids thing, but we want to be careful maintaining balance. My husband and his ex are both trying to get along better for the kids' sake (most of the time), and the kids' emotional welfare is of huge importance to us all.

My stepson was too young when his parents split to understand a lot about it, but my stepdaughter is older, and she seems to understand that both her parents are happier apart than they were together. (For the record, I didn't meet my husband until after his divorce, so there's no baggage of that sort associated with our relationship.) For the most part, we don't have all that much family drama, and we want to keep it that way. We need a fair amount of structure in our lives to keep all the arrangements functioning, but we do our best to be flexible when we need to be.

Posted by: Nina V | May 16, 2007 1:20 PM

'He chose to stay and be a part of his children's entire childhoods. His marriage may have been somewhat of a lie, but your childhood wasn't.'

I agree completely. There are plenty of bad husbands who are good fathers, or want to be good fathers anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:21 PM

"My ex-husband confessed after 7 years of marriage that he was gay."

Obviously he was not gay. He just fanticized about having sexually perverted adulterous affairs with other men. Not a good reason to get divorced.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 09:03 AM

9:03, I hope you are joking.

If you are serious, how is it that you know her husband is not acting on his fantasies? What is the basis for suggesting that it is preferable for one adult to risk the transfer of sexually transmitted disease from another adult potentially engaged in high-risk behavior (since those on the down-low tend to engage in high-risk behavior more often than those who are living an out lifestyle)? It is not at all uncommon for men to admit to themselves that they are gay after several years of marriage. It is, thankfully, less common than it used to be.

Why would you ever suggest that a straight adult remain married to a gay adult?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:23 PM

"I suddenly felt like my entire childhood was a lie since it was clear that he had been waiting for years for his opportunity to leave. He literally moved out the day after my youngest sis left for college."

"His marriage may have been somewhat of a lie, but your childhood wasn't.


Posted by: another view | May 16, 2007 01:17 PM "

I understand what you mean, another view, but I also really sympathize with Vegas Mom's feelings. WHen my parents divorced when I was in college, and as I started to understand the reasons for that divorce (in spite of the fact that they were so good about not doing what Vegas Mom's parents did), I felt much the same way.

My understanding of my childhood is tied inextricably to my understanding of my family, and suddenly realizing that things were not the way they seemed after all these years is strangely devastating. I know now that much of what I saw was an act or a myth; I realize that we were not the happy family I thought we were; I know that both of my parents struggled with some pretty big demons. I also know how much they sacrificed of themselves, particularly my mother, for my brother and I, and I am very grateful for that, and it is a gift of a very different type. But there was still a real sense of loss at the time.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 1:25 PM

Vegas Mom

"I got daily calls from my mother telling me how awful my dad was. My dad's family called me several times per week (my grandparents, aunt, uncle) insisting that I had the power to get my parents back together and why wasn't I doing anything"

This is where the "Don't be a Doormat" and "Learn to Say No" stuff comes in very, very handy. Too bad you didn't learn it by age 23 .

Posted by: Judge Judy | May 16, 2007 1:25 PM

Nina V - I bet your husband's ex will fight hard against your proposed change from 60-40 to 50-50 because it means money to her. The difference is time spent with each parent is miniscule, but the $$ will make her fight. A prediction

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:27 PM

"Divorce, per se, is not bad. I think how the parents handle the divorce makes all the difference"

Speaking as a child of divorce, I believe that no child wants their parents living separately. Even when there is abuse, addiction, etc, the children still want both parents - they want the destructive behaviors gone, but they don't really want the parents gone.

I respect Las Vegas Mom's dad who apparently found a way to peacefully co-exist in a marriage until the children were grown. I wouldn't wish a broken home on any child.

My beliefs and my opinion only. Those of you who don't believe in staying together for the sake of the children won't agree. I don't believe in it if the parents cannot peacefully coexist - if there is constant fighting, abuse, etc, it probably is better for the children if the parents divorce.

Posted by: xyz | May 16, 2007 1:28 PM

"Alimony is, in many states, automatic if the spouse can prove infidelity"

Wow, I had no idea that was still true. I can only imagine the incentives that creates for a particularly vengeful spouse...

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 01:10 PM

Incentives to keep it in your pants, in particular.

Interesting that your first concern is for a vengeful spouse, rather than a wronged spouse.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:29 PM

This is why I never really found much use for this column. Its not family-friendly. Its all about the career woman putting job and self ahead of family and has always shown the feeblest understanding of what love and marriage really requires. That Leslie is divorcing in the end thus is no surprise at all.

Posted by: observer | May 16, 2007 08:44 AM

BWAHAHAHAHAHA.

Did this moron ever read the column or only the title?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:32 PM

Another View -- You're right, and I know that now, but it took me years to see it. That's what I felt during the divorce. Mom telling me about how much he regretted his marriage and family didn't help. Mom telling me he always wanted sons, not daughters, didn't help. Him thrusting the new wife on us with no warning (we literally met her at the wedding) didn't help. Him going months between phone calls didn't help.

I live 5 miles from my dad now. We have a great relationship and have managed to rebuild trust. He's a good, but flawed, man. Like most of us.

This is just my cautionary tale to parents considering divorce. If my parents had been less selfish, my sisters and I might have come through the experience with an intact relationship with our dad. As it is, I'm the only one on speaking terms with him. And by being on speaking terms with him, my Mom is barely on speaking terms with me. It's very sad.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 16, 2007 1:35 PM

1:32, observer obviously wasn't observing very well...

It really is a bit depressing here today. blah.

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 1:36 PM

I read Observer's comment back at 8:44 and had a similar chuckle. Hey Observer: Leslie's blog entry did NOT say she was getting a divorce!

"What a maroon," said the bunny wabbit.

Posted by: dotted | May 16, 2007 1:36 PM

Chris- depressing, but people like and need to Hear and tell their stories. Unfortunately, I can't think of a tune to match today's thoughts...can you?

Posted by: dotted | May 16, 2007 1:38 PM

observer

"This is why I never really found much use for this column. Its not family-friendly. Its all about the career woman putting job and self ahead of family and has always shown the feeblest understanding of what love and marriage really requires. That Leslie is divorcing in the end thus is no surprise at all."

Woo hoo! What a cuckoo bird!

What about the career men who put job and self ahead of family?

Posted by: Adam's Rib | May 16, 2007 1:38 PM

Chris,
I knew a girl that when she turned 18 she sued her dad for back child support and got it.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 1:45 PM

Those who keep repeating the same action looking for a different outcome are doomed to repeat the same mistakes..............

This blog is that....

Leslie should just have a day for cynical, whinny and mean spirited bloggers.


Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:50 PM

The basic assumption to making a 50/50 custody split work is that both parents are 100%/100% committed to making it work. My unscientifc guess (based on my own personal experience) is that one of the main reasons the marriage didn't work is that one of the spouses wasn't willing to give 100% to the marriage, thus there can no expectation that they'd be willing to give 100% to the custody arrangement.

I know its a general opinion, but just trying your best doesn't work when the other is not willing to try his/her best either!

Posted by: Single Mom in SS | May 16, 2007 1:53 PM

Here in the northeast, the spouse is provided with alimony in the same lifesstyle provided when married. this is most often the wife, and rarely the husband. Alimony is often awarded for life, or until remarriage.

Posted by: To scarry and catlady | May 16, 2007 1:53 PM

I can agree that Step parenting can be a thankless task. Under the appropriate circumstances in which a step parent is introduced into a kids life; they have my full support and appreciation.

However, if they played a role in breaking up the primary family - that is an issue.

I struggle every day to accept the person who my kids view as their step mother. She was but a kid in high school when I was having a family with my now ex and supporting him thru school. We went thru many things in our marriage. I have no doubt that my ex has portrayed me as a bad mother / wife to the new wife to justify his actions. She KNEW I didn't want that divorce and that I wanted to keep my family together; But she didn't care. She didn't walk away but she encouraged him to leave me for her. So, I have a hard time accepting her role in my kids life. If we'd been divorced and then they met - the story would be totally different.

The kids think the new wife is wonderful. I'm sure she is. But that does not deflect that she played a role in breaking up a family. And if she one days utters her job is Thankless as a step-parent.. well..... in that situation I have a hard time feeling sorry.

And trust me, I don't act like an arse around her or towards her. I respect that my marriage is over and that my ex has moved on and started a new life. I don't interfere or have any interaction in their life at all except to see each other occassionally at kid events. I sought counseling to even work on liking her. My counselor thought I was crazy for wanting that so I stopped going. He said I only needed to be civil.

Posted by: C.W. | May 16, 2007 1:53 PM

If you're blue and you don't know
where to go to why don't you go
where trolls live
Postin' On Balance
Different typers who waste the day
post their tripe and snark away
then throw fits
Postin' On Balance
Write more than a pullitzer author
Tryin' hard be Anderson Cooper
(super duper)
Come let's mix cocktails
with sticks and um-ber-ellas
on their lips
Postin' On Balance

Have you seen a minnie van Up and down Park Avenue On that famous thoroughfare With a breastpump in the air Blog Stats, and lawyers and cats, and lots of hours wasted on line For a wonderful time

If you're blue and you don't know
where to go to why don't you go
where trolls live
Postin' On Balance...
Puttin' On Balance...
Puttin' On Balance...

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 1:54 PM

Chris --

Ok, I've missed a lot of the last few days -- your wife has a medical issue? I'm really, really sorry to hear that (not to mention the VA runaround).

Posted by: Laura | May 16, 2007 1:55 PM

Hey Judge Judy -- You are absolutely right, and that experience led to the first time I stood up to my Mom. The phone calls went on far too long, but I finally told her they had to stop. She was mad and said I was abandoning her. I told her to talk to a friend, that I was not the appropriate party to complain to. The calls from relatives eventually died on their own because I was clear with them from the first call that I wasn't interceding. This was in the days before caller ID, and with two roommates, not answering the phone wasn't an option.

I don't think I'm unusual in this, but I have always found it much harder to stand up to my parents than other people who might be treating me badly. I never put up with much from boyfriends, friends, even teachers, but parents have a lot of power.

I muddled through their divorce, learned some valuable lessons about myself and them, got the courage to stand up for myself. Really, those aren't bad outcomes. I'd just prefer that children learn those skills from their parents in a more positive way. I could have done without all the intervening drama!

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 16, 2007 1:55 PM

Here in the northeast, the spouse is provided with alimony in the same lifesstyle provided when married. this is most often the wife, and rarely the husband. Alimony is often awarded for life, or until remarriage.

Posted by: To scarry and catlady | May 16, 2007 01:53 PM

First of all -- how is the wage earner supposed to keep the spouse in the same lifestyle as when married if he/she has to pay for 2 households? Second, which states provide alimony for life?? I am not a family law lawyer, but that seems wrong to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:56 PM

dcdivorcee,

Have you contacted The Women's Center in Vienna? http://www.thewomenscenter.org/

They were a phenomenal source of assistance during my divorce. They referred me to a mediator and we met at The Women's Center to negotiate the settlement. Later, TWC referred me to an attorney who handled the divorce as economically as possible. There's no income requirement for TWC services.

I have full custody b/c my ex is too immature to be a parent, but he does try to do some co-parenting. We do tag-team on weekdays to keep the kids out of before- and after-school childcare, just like b/f the divorce. It requires him coming to our house every morning, so I have to give him credit for that. And we observe holidays as a family (now with his fiancee). He's not a bad person, just isn't really cut out to be a Dad. We get along much better now.

Posted by: To dcdivorcee | May 16, 2007 1:57 PM

seems like some points of my message got amplified disproportionally, so here is the background:

1. No, i did not say there was no food in the house, it's just cooking 3 square meals for 2 kids with different tastes, as their mom requested, is not my idea of a nice weekend. The moment I made it clear the boys magically adapted and became perfectly capable of microwaving the chicken nuggets. Besides, they had to try what we were eating (mushrooms... fish... their mom was shocked, but now she is grateful).

2. If they don't make beds or don't keep the bathrooms clean -- tough. They'll be pulled out from whatever video game they are playing, instantly. Did not take much time to instill these habits.

3. They think a world about their father. He is not much into mushy stuff, like videotaping the school plays (their mom does it), but he is a problem solver. He won't just talk, he'll try to tell them what to do and why, and how. He'll tell them stories from his childhood. If they listen, the outcome is usually better, but he never forces them. Of course, doing what he recommends takes much more energy and drive than goofing off, so I suppose they are secretly glad that he is not available to micromanage. No, he is not a control freak, I am...

4. The older one posted on Myspace that he has 4 parents, describing all 4 very reasonably. He left a link in history on our computer and did not mind when we told him we've seen it. I take it as a good sign. They also have an older sister, who is living on her own now, but when she was a teenager visting regularly it was funny to observe how her behaviour changed when she crossed the threshold of her house. Her last words to her mom giving her last minute instructions sometimes were: "mom, shut up! It's stupid!". Certainly not something she would ever say to me or her dad.

Anyway, enjoy any style of parenting that works for you. The key word here is ENJOY. If you do, kids will never feel unwanted, even if Tommy down the street has to lug his backpack 30 miles one way twice a week and seem to be enjoying that too. We, on the other hand, are perfectly satisfied to be a fun half of "4 parents".

Posted by: Bagheera | May 16, 2007 1:57 PM

To all the women leary of a 50/50 split.

It's much easier to think 50/50 won't work when you will be the one to get the lions share of the custody and child support money to boot.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 1:58 PM

Second question first, recent experiences in NJ, Pa, NY, and especially CT.
First question second, that is the tough luck of the alimony-paying spouse. This is the legal system; logic and reason do not always apply.

Posted by: To 1:56 | May 16, 2007 2:00 PM

educmom: the divorce rate is the lowest since 1970. Try reading some news in the Post, not just the blogs. That may make you more "educ"ated.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/10/AR2007051001245.html

Posted by: doh | May 16, 2007 2:00 PM

I was going to do something to the tune of Mr. Ed about a divorce being a divorce of course, of course, but that would have been REALLY beating a dead horse (of course, of course).

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 2:00 PM

1:53 PM wrote: "Here in the northeast, the spouse is provided with alimony in the same lifesstyle provided when married. this is most often the wife, and rarely the husband. Alimony is often awarded for life, or until remarriage."

Could you please be more specific? Which state(s), and how often?

Posted by: catlady | May 16, 2007 2:00 PM

Megan and Laura, thanks for the thoughtful replies. You both make excellent points.

Posted by: Meesh | May 16, 2007 2:01 PM

Funny how you backpedal when confronted. Who knows what your story is? You certainly don't seem to.

Posted by: To Bagheera | May 16, 2007 2:02 PM

Funny how you backpedal when confronted. Who knows what your story is? You certainly don't seem to.

Posted by: To Bagheera | May 16, 2007 2:02 PM

"Wow, I had no idea that was still true. I can only imagine the incentives that creates for a particularly vengeful spouse...

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 01:10 PM

Incentives to keep it in your pants, in particular.

Interesting that your first concern is for a vengeful spouse, rather than a wronged spouse.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 01:29 PM"

LOL, that's me, advocate for vengeful spouses everywhere!

What I meant was that such a system would be an incentive for an angry spouse to conjure up evidence of adultery in order to have a chance at alimony and have the opportunity to make life difficult - which is what I thought the no-fault laws were intended, in part, to reduce.

I don't really know if it would be an effective real-time incentive to prevent people from cheating in the first place - the decision to cheat doesn't seem to be particularly rational under any circumstances, even assuming that everyone in those states know of the penalty, but I wouldn't know having never been there.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 2:02 PM

Bagheera

You didn't have to give the background. I can read between the lines.

Again, thanks for your honesty and skipping the martyr role.

Posted by: Judge Joe | May 16, 2007 2:02 PM

"I don't think I'm unusual in this, but I have always found it much harder to stand up to my parents than other people who might be treating me badly."

Vegas Mom, you're absolutely right. When I was a teenager, my mom and dad entered a snit phase -- he was close enough for me to visit, but bad at planning, so I'd be on the phone with him and she'd be saying "tell your dad. . ." and he'd be saying "well, tell your mom . . ." and I'd get really stressed out, because even though I was just the messenger, the snippy/angry tone was still directed AT me as Holder of the Phone. Until one day I just got fed up, threw the phone at my mom, said, "No, YOU tell him yourself," and stormed off upstairs. Funny, from that point on, they figured out a way to work out the details without me being in the middle. :-)

Posted by: Laura | May 16, 2007 2:03 PM

My mom got divorced in Pa -- married for 33 years did not work while raising children (or the 9 years after we were out of the house-- she was "retired") and she got alimony for 8 years, part of pension, etc. As for the "lifestyle" issue, you cannot take blood from a stone -- she got a portion of his income -- it never amounted to the same as when they were married.

Posted by: Marie | May 16, 2007 2:04 PM

"To all the women leary of a 50/50 split.

It's much easier to think 50/50 won't work when you will be the one to get the lions share of the custody and child support money to boot."

Huh? I don't get your logic? What's the point?

If you're trying to prove your commitment to your child based on a dollar figure, I'm sure that's sending a great message to your child!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:04 PM

dotted and chris,

consider the following tracks as a composite of today's comments:

Harry Chapin, "Cat's in the Cradle" ("When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when,
But we'll get together then.
You know we'll have a good time then.")

Alannis Morrisette, "You Oughta Know" ("I'm here to remind you
Of the mess you left when you went away")

George Thoroughgood, "One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer" ('nuff said)

or

my personal nominee for most apropros: Meat Loaf's, "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" (" . . so now I'm praying for the end of time . . .")

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 16, 2007 2:04 PM

C.W.

"However, if they played a role in breaking up the primary family - that is an issue."

And you get to play martyr for the rest of your life! Whoppee!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:07 PM

"Funny how you backpedal when confronted. Who knows what your story is? You certainly don't seem to."

I don't see any backpedaling here. She said she was interested in 50/50 split and having the kids around that much. She never said that she was lousy when they were around. Not providing 3 squares a day doesn't make you lousy - not providing food is what makes you lousy.

Posted by: xyz | May 16, 2007 2:07 PM

My divorce was a long time coming; I was married to an irresponsible, untreated bipolar alcoholic.

May I ask why you married such a person in the first place?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:08 PM

Unfortunately, I now know a little bit about NY. Generally, with no issues, it's for half the time of the marriage for alimony. For example, if folks are married for 20 years, then alimony for 10 years. Also, they will NOT lower the level of the paying spouse to a level of destitution. However, there are other circumstances where alimony can be granted for life.

Posted by: Divorced Mom | May 16, 2007 2:09 PM

Megan's Neighbor

Take the Long Way Home by the Eagles

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:09 PM

That last post is not my divorce, but someone I'm close to! My previous posts stand - had an easy VA divorce.

Posted by: Divorced Mom | May 16, 2007 2:10 PM

oops -- "She said she was interested in 50/50 split" - shoud be NOT interested.

Posted by: xyz | May 16, 2007 2:12 PM

C.W.

"However, if they played a role in breaking up the primary family - that is an issue."

And you get to play martyr for the rest of your life! Whoppee!!

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 02:07 PM

To her friends and family. . . yes she does (in my opinion). But notice that she does not to her kids -- GOOD FOR YOU.

I know people that are married to the other woman -- and everyone who knows the story knows them as that and are all waiting for him to cheat on her too. Very sad but earned

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:13 PM

"My divorce was a long time coming; I was married to an irresponsible, untreated bipolar alcoholic.

May I ask why you married such a person in the first place?"

Why did Leslie marry a man who used her for a punching bag?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:13 PM

My brother lives in Albuquerque, NM and has to pay alimony to his ex for the rest of his natural life. ($800.00 a month)

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 2:14 PM

First of all -- how is the wage earner supposed to keep the spouse in the same lifestyle as when married if he/she has to pay for 2 households? Second, which states provide alimony for life?? I am not a family law lawyer, but that seems wrong to me.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 01:56 PM

To the first question, get rid of the he/she and change it to he, and the answer is who cares? Maybe he can live in his car.

To the second question, I don't think there are any states that give alimony for life, except in cases long term marriages.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:14 PM

May I ask why you married such a person in the first place?"

Some people are on their best behavior while courting, then only show their true colors after the wedding ceremony is well over.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:18 PM

From Friday's "What do you want for Mother's Day:"

"For Mother's Day I want my wife to be ok, but I know we will spend the entire day wondering if we will ever get to have kids, much less the life we had wanted. We went yesterday for her to get a blood test because her white blood cell count was high. The doc thinks it might be a form of leukemia, as her dad has it... I tell you, it's one thing after another. The only way to face this, is as we've faced everything else- we still have life to live and will do our best and make the most of what we have. So, that said, please pray."

We spent Mother's Day with a cloud overhead nearly the entire time, even when we put thoughts aside, they would still be there (especially with the phones ringing). We haven't had kids yet, despite wanting to- and are working towards being able to afford the next step in modern medicine that the VA doesn't cover. Other health concerns were finally being taken care of, and we seemed to be on track for nice long future and then this came up... so we are hoping and praying that when someone from the VA decides to call back, they will have good news for us.

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 2:19 PM

Did anyone see the recent article in the NYT about marriage/divorce rates when split out by education/SEC? I think it will be sad/interesting to see what happens in 25 years, when a full generation of kids have been raised by single or divorced parents who are of a lower educational/SEC. Prebuttal to those who say smart/wealthy can get divorced, too - yes, of course they can, but what the data is bearing out (data, not plural anecdotes) is that members of higher economic social class still values marriage at a higher rate than their lower counterparts.

Posted by: The NYT recently | May 16, 2007 2:21 PM

"I know people that are married to the other woman -- and everyone who knows the story knows them as that and are all waiting for him to cheat on her too. Very sad but earned "

The folks hoping for bad news for the other woman can't be Christians. Where do they live?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:21 PM

My brother lives in Albuquerque, NM and has to pay alimony to his ex for the rest of his natural life. ($800.00 a month)

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 02:14 PM

How long was your brother married? How old is his ex? How much does he earn (after all, that's less than $10K to his ex/year, hardly enough for her to survive on without other income). If they were married a long time and she was mainly SAH and now near retirement age, the alimony seems reasonable. Are you sure your brother is telling you the truth, or just trying to play martyr to get either your sympathies or financial help from you?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:22 PM

"The folks hoping for bad news for the other woman can't be Christians."

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Right....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:24 PM

see 2 pm post for details.

Posted by: To catlady | May 16, 2007 2:25 PM

Why does alimony exist in this day & age? Child support I get, but alimony?.....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:25 PM

"To all the women leary of a 50/50 split.

It's much easier to think 50/50 won't work when you will be the one to get the lions share of the custody and child support money to boot."

Huh? I don't get your logic? What's the point?

If you're trying to prove your commitment to your child based on a dollar figure, I'm sure that's sending a great message to your child!

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 02:04 PM

My point was, that if you are a woman, it is really easy to think a 50/50 split is not a good thing because the chances of you being on the 30% side of a 70/30 split are very small. In other words, for a woman, the 50/50 time split without child support is a signifacant step down from the usual 30/70 with child support.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:26 PM

Chris --

I'm so sorry that your wife is sick. I know getting through times like these can be hard. It's a one-day-at-a-time exercise.

Be diligent about following up with the VA or other insurance and doctors. You really need to take charge of your own healthcare these days!

Make sure you keep doing "normal" things. Cook dinner at home and eat together. Cuddle on the couch with the newspaper or watching TV. Don't let it overtake your life.

Accept help from those that offer it, and ask for it from the people you love and trust.

Keep us posted. We're praying for both of you.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 16, 2007 2:26 PM

50/50 split? Sounds great! Just cut them in half!

Posted by: King Solomon (aka Chris) | May 16, 2007 2:28 PM

The folks hoping for bad news for the other woman can't be Christians. Where do they live?

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 02:21 PM

Not "hoping" but expecting. Leopards dont change their spots. And they live everywhere but would you feel better if I said not near you?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:28 PM

May I ask why you married such a person in the first place?"

Some people are on their best behavior while courting, then only show their true colors after the wedding ceremony is well over.

How long can one truly conceal their mental illness? I think that that argument would certainly indicate that longer courtships are better.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:28 PM

"I know people that are married to the other woman -- and everyone who knows the story knows them as that and are all waiting for him to cheat on her too. Very sad but earned "

The folks hoping for bad news for the other woman can't be Christians. Where do they live?

Leopards & spots.

Pattern of behaviour.

Second marriages that are started under false pretenses (cheating on a current spouse) tend to fall apart.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:30 PM

To 2:00/2:25: These seem to be merely anecdotal cases. Could someone please find data to support or dispel these claims?

Posted by: catlady | May 16, 2007 2:30 PM

"Not "hoping" but expecting. Leopards dont change their spots. And they live everywhere but would you feel better if I said not near you?"

But, are they Christians?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:30 PM

Why does alimony exist in this day & age? Child support I get, but alimony?.....

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 02:25 PM

For SAHM/D who give up a lucrative career to take care of the couple's children. They cannot get a job and be placed in the same position as before they gave up their career.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:31 PM

It's different when they're your own!

http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/asiapcf/05/16/baby.drop.ap/index.html

There should be a screening process for parenthood. Any idiot can obviously become one.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:31 PM

My brother was married for 20 years. His wife is 47. She was a stay at home mom for all those years. Her kids are not grown. I know he is making good money so I don't know how they figured out the amount he has to pay.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 2:33 PM

But, are they Christians?

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 02:30 PM

WHo are you, Jerry Falwell's ghost?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:34 PM

"Why does alimony exist in this day & age? Child support I get, but alimony?"

Financial retribution for either cheating and/or deserting the spouse. It's the fee for breaking the contract.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:34 PM

"Why does alimony exist in this day & age? Child support I get, but alimony?....."

I think alimony can still make sense in certain circumstances, where one spouse has either been a SAH parent or taken lower-paying or part-time work in order to raise the children or for some other family-oriented purpose, or where one spouse contributed significantly to the other spouse's higher earning capacity.

For example, my husband's salary supported us while I went to law school, which significantly reduced the amount I had to take out in loans and of course increased my earning capacity. Since then, he has worked part-time, in part to start his own business and in part to take care of our son. Given his contribution to my increased earning capacity, and the fact that the time he's taking now to care for our son during day has reduced his earning capacity, I think it would be fair for a court to award rehabilitative alimony to him if we were to divorce right now (speaking completely hypothetically, of course). It would take some time for him to rebuild his resume to be where he would if he hadn't taken this time off, and I think it would be unfair for him to not reap some of the financial rewards of my going to lawschool.

People in a marriage, especially with children, often make decisions based on what is good for the family and based on the assumption that they will continue to be part of that family. That change in decision-making can put them in a much worse position in a divorce, and the point of spousal support is to compensate for that a bit. I know there are plenty of people (see yesterdays blog) who would say that you should not make different decisions if you're in a marriage, but I think it's better that they do, so I suppose that affects my view of alimony too.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 2:34 PM

"I know people that are married to the other woman -- and everyone who knows the story knows them as that and are all waiting for him to cheat on her too. Very sad but earned "

Jesus doesn't go along with this type of thinking. Where is the foregiveness?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:35 PM

Thanks. Like I said earlier, both of us have faced death before, but this is more of a prospect of a lingering doom instead of something short-term... and the not knowing really is a pain.

I'm not a big country fan, but my quote for today is "Live like you were dying."

Between the Mother's Day topic, and this one about the benefits of ripping families apart, it's just been blah. Can't we talk about breastfeeding in public or daycare? ;-P

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 2:35 PM

Catlady --

Here's some stats that look reputable (at least at first blush) regarding the divorce rate:

Taken as the number of divorces per 1,000 U.S. residents, the rate is going down. It was 4.7 in 1990, 4.4 in 1995, 4.2 in 2000, and 3.7 in 2004. It should be noted, however, that the marriage rate per 1,000 U.S. residents has also declined, from 9.8 in 1990 to 7.4 in 2004. The proportion of marriages to divorces has not substantially changed during this period.

Hope this helps.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 16, 2007 2:35 PM

What does Jesus say about the exwife who was cheated on -- tough sh*t?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:37 PM

A couple of things based on my Virginia divorce - Alimony (sposual support) is paid based on need (the one recieving) and income (the difference between the two incomes). Unlike child support it is NOT based on a formula though the atty's/courts use precedence to make a decision. It can be paid from the higher earner spouse so the person who said something about it must be a he keeping someone in the same lifestyle needs to move into the 21st century. Some of women are the higher earners

To whoever said that they have the kids 40% of the time, but pay full child support. In VA there is a worksheet, you plug in the respective incomes, the percentage of time the child stays with each parent (full custody to one parent is when the other has every other weekend and two weeks of vacation)contributions for medical insurance and day care (if applicable)and then it is determined who owes whom what. So even if you split the time 50/50 if there is a major difference in income you can still pay child support. If both parties agree to a different arrangement that is fine, but this is the default.

Posted by: divorced mom of 1 | May 16, 2007 2:41 PM

Thanks, Vegas Mom.

My original questions dealt with the following claim by an anonymous poster: "Here in the northeast, the spouse is provided with alimony in the same lifesstyle provided when married. this is most often the wife, and rarely the husband. Alimony is often awarded for life, or until remarriage."

Posted by: catlady | May 16, 2007 2:42 PM

Even if my brother's ex re-marries he still has to pay alimony.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 2:42 PM

Megan's Neighbor

Take the Long Way Home by the Eagles

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 02:09 PM

I thought that was Supertramp, LOL, but it's been awhile since the '80s.

is there anyone besides me suprised mcewen hasn't appeared or been conjured up today?

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 16, 2007 2:42 PM

Even if my brother's ex re-marries he still has to pay alimony.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 02:42 PM

I bet your brother is just jerking you around for sympathy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:44 PM

"Even if my brother's ex re-marries he still has to pay alimony.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 02:42 PM "

Somebody had a very good lawyer!!!

How do you know how much alimony your brother pays? That stuff is a state secret in my family.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:44 PM

On "the other woman." My rich grandfather left with the secretary (the cliche again)when my mom and uncle were young, and they stayed happily married till she died of old age... at which point he married someone who would be his "caretaker" till he died. She got his millions, leaving nothing for his kids or grandkids whom he never supported or even spent time with after moving out anyway. In fact, when he came by for my uncle's funeral, my mom asked him to not be such a stranger and he replied that he had priorities. c'est la vie I suppose... but the point was, he never cheated again, despite being a jerk.

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 2:44 PM

Re: alimony - I understand the financial retribution for breaking a contract over cheating/abuse. I do not get the SAHP compensation argument. All we hear, repeatedly, when the working/stay at home debate comes up is "It's my choice, I'm not going to work for some societal ideal, wasn't the feminist movement all about choice?" So BS that after making such a "choice" you'd feel entitled to having your spouse pay for you going ahead. If you want them to cover your IRA, etc. while staying at home, ok, but as we repeatedly hear, you made the "choice" to stay home, so I don't know why that entitles you to alimony.

Posted by: elf | May 16, 2007 2:45 PM

Thanks, Vegas Mom.

My original questions dealt with the following claim by an anonymous poster: "Here in the northeast, the spouse is provided with alimony in the same lifesstyle provided when married. this is most often the wife, and rarely the husband. Alimony is often awarded for life, or until remarriage."

Posted by: catlady | May 16, 2007 02:42 PM

catlady, anyone making statements about family law on a regional basis doesn't know what he or she is talking about. The statement lacks credibility.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:47 PM

Well, I am a Christian and I laughed my a$$ off at one of the skanks my BIL cheated on my sister with. Her daughter told my nephew that his dad would never cheat on her mom.

Well, guess what, he did and it was great and she got what she deserved.

What goes around comes back around.

Posted by: scarry | May 16, 2007 2:47 PM

"The folks hoping for bad news for the other woman can't be Christians. Where do they live?"

Wait, Christians don't judge people or condemn them? Since when?

Oh and you might be interested to know that waiting for =/= hoping for.

Posted by: Mona | May 16, 2007 2:47 PM

"Prebuttal to those who say smart/wealthy can get divorced, too - yes, of course they can, but what the data is bearing out (data, not plural anecdotes) is that members of higher economic social class still values marriage at a higher rate than their lower counterparts."

Or, maybe, the data are bearing out that people of lower soci-economic class have more stressors in their lives that can put additional pressures on their marriages. Or, another possibility is that people of higher socio-economic class have more to lose (financially) in a divorce, so choose to stay together while living separate lives. I think it's a bit condescending to say that people of lower socio-economic class value marriage less.

Posted by: xyz | May 16, 2007 2:48 PM

"Why does alimony exist in this day & age? Child support I get, but alimony?"

Financial retribution for either cheating and/or deserting the spouse. It's the fee for breaking the contract.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 02:34 PM

another troll who does not know what he or she is talking about.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:49 PM

Megan's Neighbor, if we are thinking of the same song, then it IS Supertramp - but I have discovered songs w/ same names in the past, so maybe not.

Posted by: TakomaMom | May 16, 2007 2:50 PM

"Did anyone see the recent article in the NYT about marriage/divorce rates when split out by education/SEC? "

No, I have ADD and only read blogs on the Net. Can't make out stat analysis, anyway.

Posted by: Madame X | May 16, 2007 2:50 PM

Sorry Catlady, I guess that stat didn't help with your original question. Tracked back to 2pm and the question seemed to be about the divorce rate. Hard to keep track of all the threads, LOL.

I doubt there are facts or stats to back-up the assertion you're questioning. It would be interesting, though, to see what's happening regionally in terms of alimony, child support, custody, etc.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 16, 2007 2:51 PM

My brother called my mother after the hearing because he was upset he has to pay $800.00 in alimony for the rest of his or her natural life. At least his kids are grown and he doesn't have to pay child support. His alimony payment is more than I got for child support.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 2:51 PM

To Vegas Mom: Yup, just tangled threads. No harm, no foul ;-)

Posted by: catlady | May 16, 2007 2:53 PM

I was married to a man that was a citizen of Canada and when he left me he went to Germany. Talk about avoiding child support. I went to DSS and all they could do is file a judgement against him in court which will ruin his credit but I will never see a dime of it.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 2:54 PM

"Here in the northeast, the spouse is provided with alimony in the same lifesstyle provided when married. this is most often the wife, and rarely the husband. Alimony is often awarded for life, or until remarriage.

Posted by: To scarry and catlady | May 16, 2007 01:53 PM

First of all -- how is the wage earner supposed to keep the spouse in the same lifestyle as when married if he/she has to pay for 2 households? Second, which states provide alimony for life?? I am not a family law lawyer, but that seems wrong to me."

That is not true, at least in Maryland, where the policy reason for alimony is rehabilitative -- to get someone back on his/her own feet and working to support him/herself. Alimony is not always, but can be, permanent.

Posted by: Lori | May 16, 2007 2:55 PM

leopards can change their spots - DH and his first wife each cheated on the other in the early 70's (free love years - pre-AIDS).

After seeing firsthand how destructive that behavior was, he realized that it wasn't worth losing a marriage over a cheap fling. Cured him.

I met him 5 years after the divorce was final and would have no idea that he had cheated with first wife unless he told me.

(OK time to put on the armor to ward off the "he's probably cheated on you, too comments").

Posted by: another view | May 16, 2007 2:55 PM

"another troll who does not know what he or she is talking abou"

Um, how was I being a troll? Those seem like valid reasons for any spouse--male or female to seek alimony.

Posted by: JRS | May 16, 2007 2:57 PM

"My brother called my mother after the hearing because he was upset he has to pay $800.00 in alimony for the rest of his or her natural life. "

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007

You are repeating gossip, not facts.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:59 PM

Re: alimony - I understand the financial retribution for breaking a contract over cheating/abuse. I do not get the SAHP compensation argument. All we hear, repeatedly, when the working/stay at home debate comes up is "It's my choice, I'm not going to work for some societal ideal, wasn't the feminist movement all about choice?" So BS that after making such a "choice" you'd feel entitled to having your spouse pay for you going ahead. If you want them to cover your IRA, etc. while staying at home, ok, but as we repeatedly hear, you made the "choice" to stay home, so I don't know why that entitles you to alimony.

Posted by: elf | May 16, 2007 02:45 PM


elf, you're deliberately conflating two different and unrelated topics.

First, women do not want to be told that they owe other women or society some debt that must be repaid by remaining in the workforce, when they and their respective spouses have determined that the best individual decision for their respective families is for the wife to take time off from employment. According to the women that espouse this view, their family decision is their alone. FWIW, many, many people on this blog agree.

Second, as between the parties to the marriage, if one spouse took several years off and either she/he is not employable (think, job skills atrophy), or she/he is not employable at a rate that allows her to support herself, the spouse whose earning capacity is higher MAY be required to provide a limited amount of support sufficient to ease the former SAH spouse's re-entry.

It is up to the spouse who requests alimony to provide evidence that she / he needs it, for how long, and in what amount. Alimony is one area where the quality of a lawyer matters. In the absence of infidelity or abuse, alimony is not going to be awarded without a substantial evidentiary showing.


Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 2:59 PM

Ah, Chris, I'm sorry. Take care of yourselves, and keep us posted.

Posted by: Laura | May 16, 2007 3:00 PM

You are repeating gossip, not facts.


How is it gossip when it is her brother?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:01 PM

Spousal Support: Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.

The court may, at its discretion, may order temporary or permanent alimony during a divorce proceeding if it feels it is appropriate. In making such an award, the court will consider a number of economic factors, but marital fault is not a consideration. (District of Columbia Code - Title 16 - Chapter 9 - Sections: 911, 912)

Posted by: DCLAWYER | May 16, 2007 3:07 PM

In the case of military couples splitting, I can see alimony being awarded for life. The civillian spouse follows a military person every four years. This prevents them from finding sustainable employment. Therefore they are entitled to some alimony for a period of time or forever (depending on the length of the marriage). I think in this case when they are retired, they do get 50% of the military spouses retirement pension.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 16, 2007 3:08 PM

But, are they Christians?

What does that have to do with anything? Whether they are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindi, atheist..... all people within these groups have the ability to live up and/or down to their ideals. Most of the self proclaimed Christians I know are some of the most judgemental people I know.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:08 PM

How is it gossip when its my brother?

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 3:08 PM

Vegas Mom,

Thanks for the stats. There are so many ways to measure the rate of divorce, and it appears that it isn't really changing all that much. I suppose it's good that it's no longer increasing.

Do you know what the rate is for divorces involving first marriages? I remember reading a while back that it had not changed for many years.

I hope doh read your post as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:09 PM

Elft: you totally and completely contradict yourself. If it is important to stay at home-then it is important. The sah spouse loses out on raises promotions etc and in divorce is more likely to live in poverty. So the spouse with the income should pay because the sah spouse has given all of that up for the family.

The book the price of motherhood by ann crittenden indicates that the nonworking mom gets dinged by judges who don't give alimony (or enough) by saying the sposue should have kept working. Or the working mom gets dinged because she should have been home with kids and won't get alimony when dad makes a lot more because she doesn't 'need' it. You can't win for losing.

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 3:09 PM

Re "Once a cheater, always a cheater" mentality. I don't believe that theory. I do believe people realize the mistake they made and don't make it again.

I have no doubt my ex and his current wife will endure a life long marriage. People do learn from their mistakes.

And yes, to heal from divorce, we have to FORGIVE and move on. It does no one any good to hold on to bitterness forever. However, it is reasonable to have a time period to get to that point. It isn't instantaneous; it takes time.

One saying I like is "If someone takes your spouse - let them have them". Another is "Living Well is the Best Revenge". Not that revenge is necessary... but it does help the party slighted to move towards that goal. Live Well and Happy!

Posted by: C.W. | May 16, 2007 3:10 PM

Has anyone out there ever tried to collect back child support from some one over seas. (He is not in the military)

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 3:10 PM

Isn't part of the reason there are fewer divorces the fact that more people choose to live together without getting married first?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:11 PM

""My brother called my mother after the hearing because he was upset he has to pay $800.00 in alimony for the rest of his or her natural life. "

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007

You are repeating gossip, not facts."

Whatever you want to call it, the story doesn't seem improbable. Having posted totally wrong information earlier, here is some stuff I've since looked up on alimony:

The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, on which many states' spousal support statutes are based, recommends that courts consider the following factors in making decisions about alimony awards:

-The age, physical condition, emotional state, and financial condition of the former spouses;
-The length of time the recipient would need for education or training to become self-sufficient;
-The couple's standard of living during the marriage;
-The length of the marriage; and
-The ability of the payer spouse to support the recipient and still support himself or herself.


Alimony is often deemed "rehabilitative," that is, ordered for only so long as is necessary for the recipient spouse to receive training and become self-supporting. If the divorce decree does not specify a spousal support termination date, the payments must continue until the court orders otherwise. Most awards end if the recipient remarries.

A party paying alimony can petition the court to discontinue it based on changed circumstances for either the payer or payee, including changes in income or marital status.

I couldn't find any statistics on alimony awards.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 3:12 PM

"You are repeating gossip, not facts.


How is it gossip when it is her brother?"

She's repeating what her mother told her someone else said.

She has no actual knowledge (court documents, etc.) of the facts.

Anyone can say anything about finances on the phone; it doesn't mean any of it is true.

But it sure spreads like wildfire.

Her brother might be dumb as a tree stump and got it all wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:12 PM

Her brother might be dumb as a tree stump and got it all wrong.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 03:12 PM

I think it is obvious who is dumb on this board.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:14 PM

Her brother might be dumb as a tree stump and got it all wrong.

Or her brother was telling his mother all this in hopes of shaking down the old lady for money.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:15 PM

She said her husband makes good money. $800 per month may not be that much comparatively. I surely couldn't live on $800 per month.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:16 PM

to the annonymous poster who asked, "Why did you marry such a person?"

Because all the sanctimonious jerks were alreay taken.

Posted by: single western mom | May 16, 2007 3:17 PM

and from what i understand - people who live together before marraige have the same rate of divorce as others. but those who did not take the marraige plunge would skew the stats - since you still have to divide up assets (and sometimes there *is* a child(ren) involved) - depending on how long you were living together, it could be easier or more difficult.

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 3:18 PM

"She said her husband makes good money. $800 per month may not be that much comparatively. I surely couldn't live on $800 per month."

Me either. What ages are these folks?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:18 PM

Among the findings in this report: unmarried cohabitations overall are less
stable than marriages. The probability of a first marriage ending in
separation or divorce within 5 years is 20 percent, but the probability of
a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49 percent. After
10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33 percent,
compared with 62 percent for cohabitations.

Posted by: they're just cohabitating! | May 16, 2007 3:19 PM

I surely couldn't live on $800 per month.

I believe that this is tax free (not 100% sure) and you would have to get rid of your BMW.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:20 PM

RE: "If it is important to stay at home-then it is important. The sah spouse loses out on raises promotions etc and in divorce is more likely to live in poverty. So the spouse with the income should pay because the sah spouse has given all of that up for the family." I was going to make the point that when other people on this blog raise the point that the SAH spouse loses out on raises, promotions, etc. and is more likely to live in poverty as a reason that they should continue working, others inevitably chime in that they don't think their marriage will go south, etc. But that probably isn't as salient as the fact that SAH spouses say they "aren't giving anything up. I WANT to stay home with my family because it's important." So why do you get financially compensated for such a choice?

Posted by: elf | May 16, 2007 3:21 PM

Fact: Divorce rates are rising.
Fact: Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce.

Fact: There are ten myths of divorce.

Divorce Myth 1: Because people learn from their bad experiences, second marriages tend to be more successful than first marriages.

Fact: Although many people who divorce have successful subsequent marriages, the divorce rate of remarriages is in fact higher than that of first marriages.

Divorce Myth 2: Living together before marriage is a good way to reduce the chances of eventually divorcing.

Fact: Many studies have found that those who live together before marriage have a considerably higher chance of eventually divorcing. The reasons for this are not well understood. In part, the type of people who are willing to cohabit may also be those who are more willing to divorce. There is some evidence that the act of cohabitation itself generates attitudes in people that are more conducive to divorce, for example the attitude that relationships are temporary and easily can be ended.

Divorce Myth 3: Divorce may cause problems for many of the children who are affected by it, but by and large these problems are not long lasting and the children recover relatively quickly.

Fact: Divorce increases the risk of interpersonal problems in children. There is evidence, both from small qualitative studies and from large-scale, long-term empirical studies, that many of these problems are long lasting. In fact, they may even become worse in adulthood.

Divorce Myth 4: Having a child together will help a couple to improve their marital satisfaction and prevent a divorce.

Fact: Many studies have shown that the most stressful time in a marriage is after the first child is born. Couples who have a child together have a slightly decreased risk of divorce compared to couples without children, but the decreased risk is far less than it used to be when parents with marital problems were more likely to stay together "for the sake of the children."

Divorce Myth 5: Following divorce, the woman's standard of living plummets by 73 percent while that of the man's improves by 42 percent.

Fact: This dramatic inequity, one of the most widely publicized statistics from the social sciences, was later found to be based on a faulty calculation. A reanalysis of the data determined that the woman's loss was 27 percent while the man's gain was 10 percent. Irrespective of the magnitude of the differences, the gender gap is real and seems not to have narrowed much in recent decades.

Divorce Myth 6: When parents don't get along, children are better off if their parents divorce than if they stay together.

Fact: A recent large-scale, long-term study suggests otherwise. While it found that parents' marital unhappiness and discord have a broad negative impact on virtually every dimension of their children's well-being, so does the fact of going through a divorce. In examining the negative impacts on children more closely, the study discovered that it was only the children in very high-conflict homes who benefited from the conflict removal that divorce may bring. In lower-conflict marriages that end in divorce -- and the study found that perhaps as many as two thirds of the divorces were of this type -- the situation of the children was made much worse following a divorce. Based on the findings of this study, therefore, except in the minority of high-conflict marriages it is better for the children if their parents stay together and work out their problems than if they divorce.

Divorce Myth 7: Because they are more cautious in entering marital relationships and also have a strong determination to avoid the possibility of divorce, children who grow up in a home broken by divorce tend to have as much success in their own marriages as those from intact homes.

Fact: Marriages of the children of divorce actually have a much higher rate of divorce than the marriages of children from intact families. A major reason for this, according to a recent study, is that children learn about marital commitment or permanence by observing their parents. In the children of divorce, the sense of commitment to a lifelong marriage has been undermined.

Divorce Myth 8: Following divorce, the children involved are better off in stepfamilies than in single-parent families.

Fact: The evidence suggests that stepfamilies are no improvement over single-parent families, even though typically income levels are higher and there is a father figure in the home. Stepfamilies tend to have their own set of problems, including interpersonal conflicts with new parent figures and a very high risk of family breakup.

Divorce Myth 9: Being very unhappy at certain points in a marriage is a good sign that the marriage will eventually end in divorce.

Fact: All marriages have their ups and downs. Recent research using a large national sample found that 86 percent of people who were unhappily married in the late 1980s, and stayed with the marriage, indicated when interviewed five years later that they were happier. Indeed, three fifths of the formerly unhappily married couples rated their marriages as either "very happy" or "quite happy."

Divorce Myth 10: It is usually men who initiate divorce proceedings.

Fact: Two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. One recent study found that many of the reasons for this have to do with the nature of our divorce laws. For example, in most states women have a good chance of receiving custody of their children. Because women more strongly want to keep their children with them, in states where there is a presumption of shared custody with the husband the percentage of women who initiate divorces is much lower. Also, the higher rate of women initiators is probably due to the fact that men are more likely to be "badly behaved." Husbands, for example, are more likely than wives to have problems with drinking, drug abuse, and infidelity.

Copyright 2002 by David Popenoe, the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.

David Popenoe is professor of sociology at Rutgers University, where he is also co-director of the National Marriage Project and former social and behavioral sciences dean. He specializes in the study of family and community life in modern societies and is the author or editor of nine books. His most recent books are Life Without Father: Compelling New Evidence That Fatherhood and Marriage Are Indispensable for the Good of Children and Society and Promises to Keep: Decline and Renewal of Marriage in America.

Posted by: Divorce Myths | May 16, 2007 3:21 PM

single western mom: people make all sorts of stupid mistakes in their life- the better thing is that you saw you made a mistake and rectified the situation.

Plenty of people I know don't want to ever admit mistakes and do the right thing so they stay in bad marriages, or whatever. This is quite harmful, and teaches kids that mistakes are bad - mistakes are not inherently bad, but what you do when you make one could be a bad decision.

I tell my kids all the time: oh, no, I was mistaken - or whatever, to let them know that it's okay - but we have to do what is right and fix the mistake if we can, apologize, etc, whatever.

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 3:21 PM

"Among the findings in this report: unmarried cohabitations overall are less
stable than marriages. The probability of a first marriage ending in
separation or divorce within 5 years is 20 percent, but the probability of
a premarital cohabitation breaking up within 5 years is 49 percent. After
10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33 percent,
compared with 62 percent for cohabitations."

So, if there was still a stigma about living together, many of these relationships would likely be marriages that would end in divorce, which would make the divorce rate higher than what it is.

Posted by: another view | May 16, 2007 3:22 PM

regarding collecting back child support from overseas:

Depends. If I were vindictive, I could file for child support here in Arizona, tehn forward that information to the Australian government. The Aussies have tough immigration laws: they will deny citizenship based on unpaid child support.

I don't get child support because he really doesn't have anything to take. If he had money, he would help. Fortunately, I have a good job and I can take care of our daughter. I'm happy to be able to raise my daughter on my own terms.

Posted by: single western mom | May 16, 2007 3:22 PM

to the annonymous poster who asked, "Why did you marry such a person?"

Because all the sanctimonious jerks were alreay taken.

Posted by: single western mom | May 16, 2007 03:17 PM

ding, ding, ding, ding, DING!

single western mom wins best comeback award of the day.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 16, 2007 3:23 PM

single western mom

"to the annonymous poster who asked, "Why did you marry such a person?"

Because all the sanctimonious jerks were alreay taken."

Ha ha!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:24 PM

elf: it is usually not the MOM who makes a decision - but the HUSBAND *AND* WIFE. so together they have decided it is better for mom (or dad) to stay home and the SAHP loses out...etc...

So the NON SAHP should have to help out. In case of divorce.

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 3:26 PM

Rutgers? Now what else was recently in the news about Rutgers? ;-P

Posted by: Chris | May 16, 2007 3:26 PM

"another troll who does not know what he or she is talking abou"

Um, how was I being a troll? Those seem like valid reasons for any spouse--male or female to seek alimony.

Posted by: JRS | May 16, 2007 02:57 PM

JRS, you were a troll for posting anonymously and spreading mis-information on a topic that matters greatly.

The law is the law is the law. Alimony is not financial retribution for either cheating and/or deserting the spouse or "the fee for breaking the contract." If you qualify for alimony, under whatever criteria is specified in the applicable statute, and if your argument prevails, it may be awarded. There is no "fee" for breaking a marriage contract.

If you don't like how divorce is handled in your state, go to your legislature. Don't blame the judges.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:28 PM

when i was a kid, i used to wish my parents would get divorced. with the fighting, the emotional/verbal abuse and the oppressive atmosphere, the idea of divorce (as i imagined it then) seemed like a relief!

now, at 26, my parents are both on meds for their respective mental illnesses and i am grateful that they are still together. they have mellowed out with age and though their relationship isn't exactly lovey-dovey, as their child, i am so so so grateful they are still together.

i still sometimes wonder if my mom will decide to leave my dad. in some ways i know she would probably have lived a happier life if she did/does. but there is comfort in the fact that, despite the crap that has happened in the past, we are still a family.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:28 PM

elf: it is usually not the MOM who makes a decision - but the HUSBAND *AND* WIFE. so "together they have decided it is better for mom (or dad) to stay home and the SAHP loses out...etc...

So the NON SAHP should have to help out. In case of divorce.

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 03:26 PM "

Wow!! If this is true, men are REALLY suckers. Where can I find one of these patsies and sign up for a free ride to the grave?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:30 PM

"Alimony is not financial retribution for either cheating and/or deserting the spouse"

Didn't MN already post that some states automatically award alimony against a spouse that commits adultery? How is that not financial retribution for cheating?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:30 PM

to the annonymous poster who asked, "Why did you marry such a person?"

Because all the sanctimonious jerks were alreay taken."

You didn't truly answer the question. Oh, I forgot, no one here is responsible for anything. Their lives just happen to them and all outcomes are either the fault of somone else or rationalized because if I am happy, everyone around me is.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:32 PM

Well, here's what I found about first marriages:

"The National Center for Health Statistics recently released a report which found that 43 percent of first marriages end in separation or divorce within 15 years. The study is based on the National Survey of Family Growth, a nationally representative sample of women age 15 to 44 in 1995.
Bramlett, Matthew and William Mosher. "First marriage dissolution, divorce, and remariage: United States," Advance Data From Vital and Health Statistics; No.323. Hyattsville MD: National Center for Health Statistics: 2 1.

"Data in the Census report were collected from both men and women, age 15 and over, and a different methodology was used than in the NCHS report.

"About 50% of first marriages for men under age 45 may end in divorce, and between 44 and 52% of women's first marriages may end in divorce for these age groups. The likelihood of a divorce is lowest for men and women age 60, for whom 36 % of men and 32 percent of women may divorce from their first marriage by the end of their lives. A similar statistical exercise was performed in 1975 using marital history data from the Current Population Survey (CPS). Projections based on those data implied that about one-third of married persons who were 25 to 35 years old in 1975 would end their first marriage in divorce.

"This cohort of people, who in 1996 were about 45 to 55 years old, had already exceeded these projections as about 40% of men and women in these ages had divorced from their first marriage. Current projections now indicate that the proportion could be as high as 50% for persons now in their early forties."

I think this implies that the number of first marriages failing is indeed increasing, but I defer to someone with more experience, such as foamgnome, to interpret.

That being said, there was a lot of press awhile back regarding "starter marriages," which were defined as marriages of 5 years or less that ended in divorce. No children are involved.

Anecdotally, I know MANY people who fall into the starter marriage category.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 16, 2007 3:33 PM

"Alimony is not financial retribution for either cheating and/or deserting the spouse"

Didn't MN already post that some states automatically award alimony against a spouse that commits adultery? How is that not financial retribution for cheating?

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 03:30 PM

yes, alimony CAN be "retribution" for adultery. in Florida, for example, alimony consideration is based in part on the FAULT of the divorce.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:34 PM

so, 3:32, presumably you required your spouse to go through a comprehensive psychiatric exam even though there was no sign of a problem? Mental illness often develops later in life or does not escalate until later. It is not always predictable and it is not always a question of it being hidden or ignored.

Posted by: puh-lease | May 16, 2007 3:37 PM

so, 3:32, presumably you required your spouse to go through a comprehensive psychiatric exam even though there was no sign of a problem? Mental illness often develops later in life or does not escalate until later. It is not always predictable and it is not always a question of it being hidden or ignored.

Oh and every single person here was simply a victim who was bamboozled by mental illness or a deceptive spouse who previously consistently presented as Mr. Rogers. Puh-leas indeed.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:39 PM

gotta love this blog after 3pm

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:41 PM

Didn't MN already post that some states automatically award alimony against a spouse that commits adultery? How is that not financial retribution for cheating?

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 03:30 PM

Qualifying automatically for alimony only gets you so far. The amount and duration of the award must be proved. The statute implements a public policy that says, as between an adulterer and his or her victim, we are going to lower the burden of proof for the victim. In effect, what the statute does is lower the impact of the wronged spouse typically having less stellar legal counsel. The wronged spouse still has to offer evidence for the amount.

It's gender neutral, btw. If I cheat on my husband tomorrow and he's got a video of me exiting the hotel room, I'll be paying for some time.

If you want to talk about financial retribution, let's discuss the fact that North Carolina permits claims for alienation of affection. You can go after the other man or other woman and be compensated (assuming he or she has any assets other than the ones that attracted your spouse). Lawyers and judges hate these suits because they're all about revenge. People who can't move on love them.

Add A and B together, and if one spouse is divorcing in order to get together with someone who might be subject to alienation of affection claims, the divorcing spouse will agree to a higher alimony amount for a limited period of time in exchange for agreement not to sue his / her girlfriend or boyfriend, as the case may be.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 16, 2007 3:42 PM

The theory is that it isn't cohabitation that leads to divorce. It is that the kind of mind set that people, who would choose to cohabitat, are more open to divorce. They would be more open whether they every cohabitated or not. Coversely, the people who would not cohabitat have the values or mind set that would not divorce under any circumstances or need more of a reason to divorce. It isn't that cohabitation in itself causes divorces.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 16, 2007 3:43 PM

MN
alienation of affection is about the oddest phrase in law. I don't know much law so maybe there are odder/better phrases!

And I'm singing Thoroughly Good right now...Thanks!

Posted by: dotted | May 16, 2007 3:46 PM

I really hate the term 'starter marriage'. A starter home is something you expect to leave to move up to "bigger and better". It's sad to think of marriage in the same terms.

Posted by: nona | May 16, 2007 3:46 PM

uh, single western mom was, and that's who your attacking.
--
Oh and every single person here was simply a victim who was bamboozled by mental illness

Posted by: puh-lease | May 16, 2007 3:47 PM

so, 3:32, presumably you required your spouse to go through a comprehensive psychiatric exam even though there was no sign of a problem? Mental illness often develops later in life or does not escalate until later. It is not always predictable and it is not always a question of it being hidden or ignored.

Oh and every single person here was simply a victim who was bamboozled by mental illness or a deceptive spouse who previously consistently presented as Mr. Rogers. Puh-leas indeed.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 03:39 PM

"every single person here"? you only have a dispute with one person, so why don't you leave it at that. You don't know me or my story and I haven't the slightest interest in chipping away at your omniscience.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:47 PM

"Oh and every single person here was simply a victim who was bamboozled by mental illness or a deceptive spouse who previously consistently presented as Mr. Rogers. Puh-leas indeed."

I am single because my husband DIED!! The medical exam didn't reveal the defect that would take him at age 40.

I would have married him even if I had known.

But in your book, he's some kind of loser and I should have taken a hike.

Posted by: Lady Bird | May 16, 2007 3:48 PM

"so, 3:32, presumably you required your spouse to go through a comprehensive psychiatric exam even though there was no sign of a problem? Mental illness often develops later in life or does not escalate until later. It is not always predictable and it is not always a question of it being hidden or ignored.

Posted by: puh-lease | May 16, 2007 03:37 PM"

Fine. so why not just answer the question with that answer - "The mental illness didn't appear until after the marriage" is so much nicer than "the sanctiminous jerks were taken".


Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:50 PM

But in your book, he's some kind of loser and I should have taken a hike.

Where'd you get that? Every single, meaning: each and every, not every person who is single. I'm sorry that your husband died - can't imagine anything worse except the loss of a child.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:50 PM

Yeah, Lady Bird, you shold've made him get a prenup physical exam, & had his teeth checked too, & kicked him to the curb instead of marrying him when he flunked.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:52 PM

First marriages fail due to youth, not being ready, having small kids, diverging career/life paths

Second marriages fail due to trying to create a harmonious stepfamily with the kids from the first marriages (and the stress of having to deal with your spouses' ex)and because you've already divorced once, why not do it again?, parents are elderly and sick and require care

Maybe third time's the charm?? Kids are grown and gone, aging, sick parents are dead, retirement is coming, can focus on each other and travels, hobbies,...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:53 PM

Fine. so why not just answer the question with that answer - "The mental illness didn't appear until after the marriage" is so much nicer than "the sanctiminous jerks were taken".


Posted by: | May 16, 2007 03:50 PM


She didn't because she is a "regular" and we all know her history and her husband's

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:55 PM

Dang, 3:53, you pretty much just described my dad's life to a T!

Posted by: Laura | May 16, 2007 3:57 PM

"The theory is that it isn't cohabitation that leads to divorce. It is that the kind of mind set that people, who would choose to cohabitat, are more open to divorce"

Well, I chose to cohabitate because my parents were divorced, and I vowed that I would never marry someone unless I believed that we would never divorce. I was in love with BF but had some doubts about his longterm committment. So, we moved in together. When he showed me that it was a serious committment, we married, and 20+ years later are still married.

So, in my case at least, cohabitation was because of oppostition to divorce, not openness to divorce.

Posted by: to foamgnome | May 16, 2007 3:57 PM

"Well, I am a Christian and I laughed my a$$ off at one of the skanks my BIL cheated on my sister with. Her daughter told my nephew that his dad would never cheat on her mom.

Well, guess what, he did and it was great and she got what she deserved."

Nice, scarry. Really nice.

Once again, Christians prove they travel the moral low-ground.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:58 PM

I went through the Department of Social Services here in NC and they are filing a judgement in the German courts for the back child support he owes. Until he decides to pay off that judgement I will never see the money. Any suggestions on how else to proceed to collect the money from some one over seas?

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 3:59 PM

Oh and every single person here was simply a victim who was bamboozled by mental illness

Posted by: puh-lease | May 16, 2007 03:47 PM

WTF?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 3:59 PM

"Maybe third time's the charm?? Kids are grown and gone, aging, sick parents are dead, retirement is coming, can focus on each other and travels, hobbies,..."

By this point in time, my looks are shot to hell and DH is impotent. Yep, third time's the charm!


Posted by: JUne | May 16, 2007 4:00 PM

The theory is that it isn't cohabitation that leads to divorce. It is that the kind of mind set that people, who would choose to cohabitat, are more open to divorce"

Well, I chose to cohabitate because my parents were divorced, and I vowed that I would never marry someone unless I believed that we would never divorce. I was in love with BF but had some doubts about his longterm committment. So, we moved in together. When he showed me that it was a serious committment, we married, and 20+ years later are still married.

So, in my case at least, cohabitation was because of oppostition to divorce, not openness to divorce.

Posted by: to foamgnome | May 16, 2007 03:57 PM
I am not against cohabitation. I was just pointing out the cohabitation in itself does not cause divorce. But one theory of why the rate of divorce is different between cohabitators and noncohabitators is the their view on divorce. It is never to say everyone who cohabitats is open to divorce. The statistical theory is they are more likely to be open to divorce. Personally, putting religon aside, I see a lot of positives in cohabitation. Most of the young people I know have cohabitated at one time or another.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 16, 2007 4:01 PM

probably because the question sounded sanctimonious. people give her that sort of crap all the time on this blog.
--
Fine. so why not just answer the question with that answer

Posted by: puh-lease | May 16, 2007 4:02 PM

"Maybe third time's the charm?? Kids are grown and gone, aging, sick parents are dead, retirement is coming, can focus on each other and travels, hobbies,..."

Yeah, but you just live together because the grown children are more worried about new spouse getting "their" inheritance than about their parents' happiness. Too much trouble to be married.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 4:02 PM


to charlotte, nc:

can the US deny him entry to the US until/unless he pays? Would that help at all?

I don't know if he ever would want to come here, but maybe that's something you could do.

Are you saying the judgement is worthless? The German courts wouldn't enforce like the US courts would (i.e., garnish his wages and send the money to you)? If it's an american company - maybe find some way to get his wages garnished because they might for some reason be more helpful?
Or the US govt would more likely enforce something like that with a US company?

I'm just trying to think of things to help...

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 4:05 PM

foamgnome, I got your point. You didn't have to repeat it. I was just countering your theory that people who cohabitate are more open to divorce.

Cohabitation doesn't cause divorce. Marriage doesn't cause divorce either :).

Posted by: to foamgnome | May 16, 2007 4:06 PM

Anonymous judgmental poster (AKA sanctimonious jerk):

I answer to no one except the person who signs my paycheck.

And PLEASE indicate where I have said I am a victim. That was not my terminology; that was yours.

So why don't you start blaming other people who did not marry well for their victimization? As I mentioned before (probably to the same annonymous troll), you can start by blaming Laci Peterson for her own demise because she married a sociopath.

Laci Peterson was a victim of a bad marriage. I am not. I'm simply divorced.

Posted by: single western mom | May 16, 2007 4:07 PM

to 4:02

My dad was dating some woman. When my mom died (they were separated, never actually filed the final papers, long story), they broke up.
We all suppose that she wanted to get married, and he kept telling her that his wife would not give him a divorce - so they couldn't. Once she died, it was no longer an issue - and since (we suspect) she wanted to get married (he wouldn't live with her unless they were), they broke up.

he keeps threatening to go to florida and pick up a rich widow, but doesn't follow through.

Posted by: atlmom | May 16, 2007 4:07 PM

How long can one truly conceal their mental illness? I think that that argument would certainly indicate that longer courtships are better.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 02:28 PM

The average age of correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder is in the 30's.

Usually it starts out with depression--and when you are younger (and have more energy) it is easier to mask or hide symptoms.

Fred,

Why are conductors hearts in such high demand for organ donation?
They see so little use.

What's the difference between a bass and a trampoline?
You remove your shoes to jump on a trampoline.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 16, 2007 4:10 PM

"probably because the question sounded sanctimonious. people give her that sort of crap all the time on this blog."

Well, if you are a new poster, you don't know who gives and/or gets crap on the blog. Without spoken tone, it is hard to tell what is sanctimonious. I am new and thought it was a serious question with several possible answers.

1. Blinded by love
2. he hid the problems
3. no problems until after marriage
4. knew there were problems, but thought we could fix them
5. knew there were problems, but didn't realize the extent

Maybe it was sanctimonious and maybe not. I find the world more pleasant if I assume "not" until proven otherwise.

Posted by: new | May 16, 2007 4:11 PM

Atlmom, he owns his own business so his wages cannot be garnished. I don't know if the german government enforces judgements but I know they stay on your credit report for life as an unpaid judgement for child support so that doesn't look good.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 4:13 PM

"I surely couldn't live on $800 per month.

I believe that this is tax free (not 100% sure) and you would have to get rid of your BMW."

Must keep the BMW for turning tricks.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 4:13 PM

Does anyone here known anybody who has participated in the covenant marriage laws? As I recall, some states (I'm guessing primarily in the south) have passed laws that allow people to voluntarily bind themselves to a stricter divorce process. THe idea has been pushed by religious leader who see the no-fault system as promoting easy divorce and undermining the institution of marriage and wanted to have an alternative. Last I read they were not much used, but I'm curious if people have started to sign up.

by the way, single western mom, nice one!

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 4:15 PM

"but I'm curious if people have started to sign up."

We signed up for a covenant marriage right after we publicly admitted we broke our virginity pledges!!

Dang!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 4:20 PM

"I surely couldn't live on $800 per month.

I believe that this is tax free (not 100% sure) and you would have to get rid of your BMW."

Well, I don't have a BMW to get rid of. Where I live, you would be hard pressed to pay rent for a one-bedroom apartment, gas & electric, and phone bill on $800 per month.

I was assuming that the $800 per month was everything. If she got the house or he continues to pay for it, then I would see it differently.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 4:20 PM

On this blog people are assume to be sanctimonious until proven otherwise. And it sure is hard to prove the otherwise!

Posted by: to new | May 16, 2007 4:20 PM

Charlotte NC, are you sure he doesn't have any remaining assets in the US (in any state)? Bank accounts, house, anything?

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 4:21 PM

New:

A little of one through five. And when the person you are married to begins exhibiting suicidal tendencies, then guess how hard it becomes to walk out? I've literally had to assess the self-inflicted damage, use my limited medical knowledge to determine if I could stop the bleeding so I wouldn't have to contact authorities, then talk him down from the ledge.

Did this happen in the beginning? No. At first I thought I had someone who would outgrow the partying (he was 18 when we started dating). I was five years into this before I knew there was something going on. It got worse, not better.

We tried counseling, but he refused to get treatment for his alcoholism. In the end I had to make a choice to leave him because I could not raise our young daughter in this environment. Fortunately, I had my financial ducks in a row, so I had only the emotional fallout to deal with.

He is a very generous, loving man. He is also sick. I simply hope he finds peace with wife number two. And again, I am happy to be able to raise my child on my own terms.

Posted by: single western mom | May 16, 2007 4:22 PM

"On this blog people are assume to be sanctimonious until proven otherwise. And it sure is hard to prove the otherwise!"

That's sad.

Posted by: new | May 16, 2007 4:22 PM

Charlotte NC, are you sure he doesn't have any remaining assets in the US (in any state)? Bank accounts, house, anything?

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 04:21 PM

That's why you shouldn't marry foreigners!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 4:22 PM

new, if you also wrote the very sanctimonious post at 3:32, I don't have any sympathy for you argument. If you didn't wrtie that post, then sorry for assuming.

Posted by: puh-lease | May 16, 2007 4:25 PM

I was assuming that the $800 per month was everything. If she got the house or he continues to pay for it, then I would see it differently.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 04:20 PM

Of course she got the house, why wouldn't she?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 4:26 PM

Megan, no he doesn't have any assets here in the U.S. I don't know if I could go after any social security he has though. I will never marry a foreigner again.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 4:27 PM

OK, the top ten users of the word "sanctimonious" if you please!

Posted by: to blog stats | May 16, 2007 4:32 PM

She didn't get the house. They sold it and split the money.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 4:37 PM

She didn't get the house. They sold it and split the money.

Posted by: charlotte nc | May 16, 2007 04:37 PM

Really, I am surprised, did she want it?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 4:39 PM

I was married in LA, and we opted to NOT to the covenant. Even though we're never getting divorced. Seriously. OK, maybe if he had a brain tumor or got into a car accident and became another person.

Posted by: atb | May 16, 2007 4:40 PM

She didn't want it. She has moved in with her new boyfriend.

Posted by: Charlotte NC | May 16, 2007 4:43 PM

Nice, scarry. Really nice.

Once again, Christians prove they travel the moral low-ground.

Well, I said I was a christian I didn't say I was perfect. What moral code did I break by being happy that she got what she deserved. I wasn't the one sleeping with a married man whose wife was disabled with lupus. But, hey, judge away because we all know that judging is a good way to show you have morals.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 4:46 PM

Also it is nice, really nice to lump together a whole group of people because of one thing I posted on a blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 4:51 PM

Charlotte NC, on Social Security, I don't know if you can go after it or not, but I think depending on how long you were married, you may be entitled to survivor benefits or some other kind of benefits on his social security - might be worth looking into. Sorry you are in such a rotten situation - enforcing a judgment in Germany sounds like a real chore.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 4:56 PM

On this blog people are assume to be sanctimonious until proven otherwise. And it sure is hard to prove the otherwise!

Posted by: to new | May 16, 2007 04:20 PM

to new, I disagree. People take what you post at face value if you don't have a history, although using a moniker improves your chances of a non-snark interpretation.

Posted by: OR mom. | May 16, 2007 5:03 PM

If he was an american you could get his passport revoked... unfortunately the US does not have a lot of sway on foreigners that are overseas. I'd go back to the court where you have your Cs agreeement to declare that payments have not been paid - at least you can start a paper trail

Posted by: single mom | May 16, 2007 5:05 PM

"Once again, Christians prove they travel the moral low-ground."

Really, this is silly. Since when does the behavior of any one person reflect on every group of which that person is a member? (Scarry, I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with your sentiment, believe me.) Are you next going to use Scarry's sentiment to tar all women or all mothers? That would make as much sense as extrapolating from one comment to the moral standards of all Christians. Are all Muslims terrorists and all Koreans depressed killers, as well?

Posted by: MN | May 16, 2007 5:09 PM

35 years ago, my mother stopped efforts to get child support for her 3 children. My father was paying less than the agreed amount and none of the bills he agreed to pay. Mom was a typical 50's bride who quit work to get married and raise a family. Mid 1960's, she had 3 kids, no job, and little support.

Dear old Dad said that if she pursued the issue, he would stop sending the little bit he did send. Her lawyer said that she wouldn't get much anyway because the law (at that time at least) set child support depending on what was left after maintaining the household he lived in which was him, new wife, 2 step kids, and 2 kids he had with her before divorcing Mom. Not a high wage earner, so very little left. He would work "under the table" to avoid showing income.

Mom decided to drop the issue and got a low paying job. She did the best she could with what she had. years later, I questioned why she didn't go after him harder. Her response was that she needed the little bit he was sending to feed us, and she also needed peace in her life. The turmoil created when trying to get more from him was destructive to her. She said it was easier to struggle financially than to live with the fight for more money.

it was also easier to "take the high road" when she wasn't engaged in battle about the money. She never spoke badly of him. she didn't have to. We were able to figure out what a jerk he was without her input.

Posted by: anon for this | May 16, 2007 5:23 PM

puh-lease,

Nope it wasn't me. apology accepted.

Posted by: new | May 16, 2007 5:26 PM

My point was that even though you may legally be owed or entitled to money, sometimes just letting it go results in more peace in your life.

I knew another woman who stayed in a miserable marriage with a man who had alcohol problems because she "worked too hard for what I have, and I'll be damned if he gets half." personally, I feel like it's only stuff, and I'd rather start over with nothing than be miserable for 15 years (as she was) before one of them died.

Posted by: anon for this | May 16, 2007 5:30 PM

Mom decided to drop the issue and got a low paying job.

Posted by: anon for this | May 16, 2007 05:23 PM

I know this was the fifties and things were different, but child support is to support the child, not the mother. After a divorce (without alimony) each parent should be expected to support themselves and not live on child support alone.

(Maybe you mom should have got alimony, but she shouldn't have expected to live on the "child support")

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 5:33 PM

"Really, this is silly. Since when does the behavior of any one person reflect on every group of which that person is a member? (Scarry, I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with your sentiment, believe me.) Are you next going to use Scarry's sentiment to tar all women or all mothers? That would make as much sense as extrapolating from one comment to the moral standards of all Christians. Are all Muslims terrorists and all Koreans depressed killers, as well?"

Not so silly when you look at the phenomenally judgmental postings of the Christians on this blog -- or the comments of Christians in our society at large.

I thought they were supposed to follow that little thing about "judging not, lest ye be judged," but apparently they don't like that teaching, so they ignore it.

Pretty disgusting.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 5:36 PM

Military divorce/retirement depends on the time while married while on active duty. If you are active duty for 20 years and married for all 20 of the active duty period (if married after entering AD the time is subtracted) then spouse gets 50%. If married for 20 years and only 10 years of marriage were AD then spouse gets 25%. I know because a friend just went thru it. Medical benefits also can go away depending on the time of marriage, etc. Very complicated.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 16, 2007 5:40 PM

Not so silly when you look at the phenomenally judgmental postings of the Christians on this blog -- or the comments of Christians in our society at large.

I thought they were supposed to follow that little thing about "judging not, lest ye be judged," but apparently they don't like that teaching, so they ignore it.

Pretty disgusting.

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 05:36 PM

5:36 - you've earned the "sanctimonious" label for the day.

Poverty is disgusting.

Famine is disgusting.

Child soldiers are disgusting.

Torture is disgusting.

Dogfights are disgusting.

Humans not being perfect? That's inherent in the species.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 5:44 PM

"Not so silly when you look at the phenomenally judgmental postings of the Christians on this blog -- or the comments of Christians in our society at large"

Really, I'd say both are equally assinine. Christians and non-Christians can be jerks and hypocrites in equal numbers, and judging one entire group or the other based on individual comments is absurd.


"Maybe you mom should have got alimony, but she shouldn't have expected to live on the "child support"

What makes you think that the child support wasn't for the children? The post started off explaining that the mom was left with three young children and was trying to enforce the order for support for them.

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 5:45 PM

Mom decided to drop the issue and got a low paying job.

Posted by: anon for this | May 16, 2007 05:23 PM

I know this was the fifties and things were different, but child support is to support the child, not the mother. After a divorce (without alimony) each parent should be expected to support themselves and not live on child support alone.

(Maybe you mom should have got alimony, but she shouldn't have expected to live on the "child support")

Posted by: | May 16, 2007 05:33 PM

The issue that Mom dropped was the child support issue - it wasn't about alimony. He only paid 50% of the agreed-upon child support. My sister was 2 years old and mom expected to go to work when she was in school, not when she was in diapers.

Posted by: anon for this | May 16, 2007 5:46 PM

"Humans not being perfect? That's inherent in the species."

We're not talking about being perfect. We're talking about people who don't follow one of the most basic teachings of the deity they call their saviour. On a regular basis.

People who routinely judge others when, according to their scripture, only God can judge.

Hey, they made the rules. Not following them is pure hypocrisy.

Perfection isn't part of this issue at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 5:50 PM

Not following them is pure hypocrisy.

which is humans not being perfect, kind of like, um, everyone, you included.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 5:58 PM

"which is humans not being perfect, kind of like, um, everyone, you included."

No. Humans having an oops now and then is not being perfect. Calling yourself a Christian and then judging everyone around you is simply a big lie.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 6:01 PM

6:01, I suppose you slept in during the semester you were enrolled in Logic 101. In the alternative, you are quite confused about what a lie is.

"Lie" means a falsehood or untruth.

It's not a lie if I call myself a Muslim and commit terrorist acts. It merely means I screwed up.

It's not a lie if I call myself a Hindu and eat beef. Oops, again.

and it's not a lie if I identify myself as a Christian and don't live 100% as Christ did. It would be a lie to say something I'm not, which would be to deny that I believe the teachings of Christ.

It would be absurd to accuse a Jewish woman of lying for saying she's Jewish simply because she doesn't always obey every commandment in the Torah, including keeping the Sabbath.

Being committed to a path of religious belief doesn't mean I'm 100% capable of, or committed to, adhering to each and every verse you choose to quote, as it's convenient for you to cherry-pick the verses you want to discuss.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 6:12 PM

Also it is nice, really nice to lump together a whole group of people because of one thing I posted on a blog.


Posted by: | May 16, 2007 04:51 PM
__________________________________

You are absolutely right about this. It should be changed to read:

"Once again, Scarry proves she travels the moral low-ground.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 16, 2007 6:15 PM

Are 6:15 and 6:01 the same? Because your posts sure sound a whole lot like what you supposedly despise.

As Scarry put it so well, "But, hey, judge away because we all know that judging is a good way to show you have morals."

Posted by: Megan | May 16, 2007 6:24 PM

The obligatory song lyric related to today's topic

He Thinks He'll Keep Her
(Mary Chapin Carpenter/Don Schlitz)

She makes his coffee, she makes his bed
She does the laundry, she keeps him fed
When she was twenty-one she wore her mother's lace
She said "forever" with a smile upon her face
She does the car-pool, she PTAs
Doctors and dentists, she drives all day
When she was twenty-nine she delivered number three
And every Christmas card showed a perfect family
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her
She packs his suitcase, she sits and waits
With no expression upon her face
When she was thirty-six she met him at their door
She said I'm sorry, I don't love you anymore
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her
For fifteen years she had a job and not one raise in pay
Now she's in the typing pool at minimum wage
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
At least until you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her

Posted by: Fred | May 16, 2007 6:38 PM

Fred's Official Quote of the Day

"don't think that I will be around today!"

Posted by: The Shark | May 16, 2007 07:56 AM

The Shark, whoever it is, wins the award today because he/she/it accurately predicted that the blog would mostly stay on topic. There was enough meat on this bone!

The prize is a bowl of shark fin soup or a ride in the creepy van. (either way, I get a whiff of tragedy!)

Posted by: Fred | May 16, 2007 6:45 PM

I have a friend who has been married - sometime now 15-18 yrs not sure. He has built his career and made some money. Slowly he started thinking "what do I need her for" The woman/girl he married is one of the best. They have there moments but I know my friend and she is a saint to have put up with his ego all these years. She got sick last fall and it was serious. My friends ego and persona went out the window. He was a lost without her constant attention and support. My friend has changed his tune. I believe his wife does see a change we dont speak about it. I guess my observation is Divorce could have happened for these two and believe when I say he would have had to pay in the long run- she is a good girl. Its funny how fate steps in sometimes and changes the course of direction. I know that thought will never pop into his brain again he is happy to have his marriage and family.

Posted by: blog | May 16, 2007 7:23 PM

"I have arguments with my mom- but I'm not going to divorce her and get another one!

"I think there's too much emphasis on being HAPPY all the time."

Maybe part of it is that we don't get to choose our parents but many people chose whether or not to marry and who to marry? I mean, I can understand having expectations for your husband just as low as for your mother if you *didn't* choose him any more than you chose her...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 7:01 AM

"I've often been under the impression that the increased divorce rate is due to a increased value placed on marriage, or at least a kind of idolization of marriage."

It's due to increased lifespans too. It's kinda hard to divorce your wife at 30 if she already died in childbirth at 20, and in recent centuries the First World rates of death of childbirth have gone down...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 7:09 AM

You didn't convey any experience - only an opinion. As soon as someone disagreed, you became defensive. If all you wanted was to make a one-way statement, you could have more easily walked into the restroom and spoken to the mirror, and saved us the time of reading your repetitive, defensive, thoughtless comments.
Posted by Georgia Girl

Well what can you day to that reply.
Totally uncalled for I followed the blog from "home" yesterday- made excellent sense and points- This is what I would have commented back to your unnecessary reply- I have a happy marriage- we work at it- I knew he would not become a drunken bipolar bum. I knew where he came from and got to know if family very well before we entered into marriage. He loves our family- is a great Father to our 5 kids and guess what- Pulls his own weight around the house- in the bedroom and at the bank
Goooooooood Morning
Hope you cynics can start this morning off with some Happy Creamer in your coffee!

Posted by: conf8 | May 17, 2007 8:47 AM

The issue that Mom dropped was the child support issue - it wasn't about alimony. He only paid 50% of the agreed-upon child support. My sister was 2 years old and mom expected to go to work when she was in school, not when she was in diapers.

Posted by: anon for this | May 16, 2007 05:46 PM

I understand what you said but I don't think you understood what I said.

I said that the child support is to support the child, not the mother. The mom should be supporting herself, if mom is not working she is stealing from her children by using their support money to support herself.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 11:16 AM

So it is OK to use support money to pay for day care (an expense that does affect child support payments) but not to pay general expenses so you can stay home? Even if the net at the end of the day is exactly the same cash flow?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | May 17, 2007 11:33 AM

"I said that the child support is to support the child, not the mother. The mom should be supporting herself, if mom is not working she is stealing from her children by using their support money to support herself."

If the full child support had been paid, we would have been able to scrape by while mom went for training to obtain a better job and provide a better life for us. since only partial child support was paid, we could not even scrape by and mom had to go to work immediately at a low paying position that allowed the family to scrape by with no possiblity of providing a better life.

Oh, and they were not yet divorced. He was gone and living with new girlfriend, her kids, and two they had together. Legally, Mom was still his wife, and at that time (60's), there was still an obligation for a husband to provide for wife. The obligation may have been societal (not sure about the legality), but nonetheless, it was an obligation that most people thought was reasonable - just as the societal expectation for mothers to stay home and do all house and child duties may not have been legal, it was still pretty much the way things were.

I get your point, but I lived through the reality and not just the story. You can read and learn all you want about prior times in history, but you don't really know what it was like unless you experienced it. These days it's reasonable to expect a mother to support herself, but back then it was expected that a mother took care of the children.


Posted by: anon for this | May 17, 2007 12:04 PM

The irony of it all.

Dad's mother worked since she was the child of poor immigrants. Dad wouldn't "allow" Mom to work because "My mother worked, but the mother of my children will raise them." new wife was someone he worked with. They shacked up, he shortchanged his existing children, and they had a 2-income family with more comfort than we would ever know.

But, in the long run we were richer. We were raised by a loving mother with good morals. he turned out to be a thief, even going to jail for stealing from his employer. All told, there were 7 children between 2 wives, counting stepchildren. As adults, only 2 will speak with him. That says something.

Posted by: anon for this | May 17, 2007 12:09 PM

Well what can you day to that reply.
Totally uncalled for I followed the blog from "home" yesterday- made excellent sense and points- This is what I would have commented back to your unnecessary reply- I have a happy marriage- we work at it- I knew he would not become a drunken bipolar bum. I knew where he came from and got to know if family very well before we entered into marriage. He loves our family- is a great Father to our 5 kids and guess what- Pulls his own weight around the house- in the bedroom and at the bank
Goooooooood Morning
Hope you cynics can start this morning off with some Happy Creamer in your coffee!

Posted by: conf8 | May 17, 2007 08:47 AM

Since you've appointed yourself god of which replies are and are not pointless -- quite an ego you have -- you've now at least given the readers sufficient background to determine whether your opinion has any merit. I don't know where you obtained your crystal ball to be so smug about whether mental illness would impact your marriage at a later date, and I hope that neither you nor your spouse become victims of early-onset Alzheimer's -- a challenge with which a 42 year old friend is now dealing.

I am not sure what is "cynical" about pointing out that an opinion without any corresponding basis is worth nothing in a debate. Go on and pat yourself on the back though, conf8, because, in your world, calling yourself and your baseless opinions, "excellent" is transforming - rather like polishing a pig's turd.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 17, 2007 12:48 PM

Since you've appointed yourself god of which replies are and are not pointless -- quite an ego you have -- you've now at least given the readers sufficient background to determine whether your opinion has any merit. I don't know where you obtained your crystal ball to be so smug about whether mental illness would impact your marriage at a later date, and I hope that neither you nor your spouse become victims of early-onset Alzheimer's -- a challenge with which a 42 year old friend is now dealing.

I am not sure what is "cynical" about pointing out that an opinion without any corresponding basis is worth nothing in a debate. Go on and pat yourself on the back though, conf8, because, in your world, calling yourself and your baseless opinions, "excellent" is transforming - rather like polishing a pig's turd.
Posted by: | May 17, 2007 12:48 PM

Whoever Posted by: is -why dont you give yourself a name- then we could address you comment to conf8- You did exactly what she was pointing out..I guess you did not get the "happy creamer" for your coffee.

I have not posted just read these weekly blogs sort of like watching the Soap Operas- there was nothing to reply to and it stays the same. I will keep reading its better than a comic book!

Posted by: mom rival | May 17, 2007 2:04 PM

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