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An Open Letter to Married Men Looking to Cheat – From a Divorced Woman

Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio

Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dear Married Men,

You are extremely fortunate to have found a woman to love and take care of you.  Hopefully she’ll live with you until your last days on earth.  The boredom and tedium of being with the same partner every day might be getting to you.  Maybe you don’t have sex as often as you’d like, or you think other married couples are getting it on more than you and your wife.  You might get nostalgic about your youthful encounters with women. New partners may have been in and out of your bed on a regular basis.

The younger, attractive women on the subway, down the hall, or in the elevator at work seem almost within reach.  You think to yourself – if only I was single.  You have delusions of gorgeous women falling for you like they did when you were in college.  Only now you’re not in college, you’re a married father, or at least a husband.

So you go out after work and leave your wedding band in your pocket. You walk just to the edge of doing something inappropriate and then pull back.  I know you do this, because I’ve been that woman you’ve talked to in the bar, on the subway, or at the party.  A few times I’ve even seen you slip the ring off the finger, or keep your left hand mysteriously hidden in a pocket, for most of the evening.

Being single past a certain age, say 35 or 40, is not the party it was in your twenties. You’ll find a lot of younger people don’t want to date you, unless you are incredibly charming, extremely good looking, or have some power, influence or money.  The older you get, the less likely anyone will want to stick around for the long haul.  You are also competing with young perfect bodies of men half your age. They might not have the wisdom and experience but they have stamina and washboard abs.  The young ones can also stay up until 4 am with ease and don’t have aching joints, bad eyes and sensitive stomachs. They might not have your sexual prowess, but they are like energizer bunnies in the sack.

When you get invited to parties you’ll find yourself surrounded by couples and married friends.  The dating pool is half-dried up with potential age-appropriate prospects, and what is available is largely damaged goods. Women who have been through brutal divorces or breakups.  Finding time to date will also be tricky.  Your job is more demanding, with longer hours and higher stakes.  Most potential partners are also extremely busy with their own kids, epic work schedules and other obligations.

So before you decide to cheat on your wife, please take this as a word of warning.  If you get along with your spouse, and things are generally pleasant at home, do everything you can to make that work.  The alternative is a lot of lonely nights eating greasy Chinese takeout by yourself, and wondering how you got there.  You might also lose most of what you have worked so hard to get your entire life, your apartment or home, time with your children, investments and security.

If you’re miserable in your marriage and you’ve tried everything to fix it, then get out. Walk away without causing more pain by cheating.  I’ve had more than a few friends use infidelity to end their marriages.  Cheating was a means to an end.  But infidelity will just cause more damage and wreak havoc in everyone’s lives.

I’ve known more than a few couples who decided to transform their marriage into an open one, where both partners have affairs outside of the marriage, or at least multiple sexual partners.  The key to making these marriages work is lots of communication, honesty and equitable treatment.  If you want extra partners, expect your wife will want some too.  It’s not for everyone, but it might be the perfect option if you want to stay together but are finding yourself stifled by traditional monogamy.

Who’s going to take care of you when you are in your seventies, eighties and beyond? You might get lucky and meet the perfect partner and have a wonderful second marriage, or you could end up alone and more frustrated.  Never assume that divorced women are going to find you that compelling, or have sympathy for your divorce sob story.  Our spouses may have cheated on or betrayed us, and we are the last ones who want to hear a biased account of marital turmoil.  You don’t want to end up stuck on a pity treadmill going nowhere. Single woman might not want to date a guy with a wife, and any woman who is so selfish as to lack empathy for your spouse, will probably lack empathy for you in the long run.

Love is a precious and rare commodity.  Think long and hard before you throw it away. Before you decide to betray the trust of your spouse remember, there is a reason you got married.  Try everything in your power to make it work, and please stop hitting on me, as lonely as I get sometimes, I’ll never get THAT lonely.

Sincerely,

The Not So Bitter Divorcee

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Divorce – The Blame Game and the many shades of gray

Marriage

So I am starting this one worked up again, as that is usually what compels me to write.  One of the things that kind of drives me crazy with divorce is the “blame the victim” mentality.  That is, for some there is never a victim in a divorce, that both sides of the conflict must share the blame of the split and they won’t budge from that viewpoint.  Another blogger, who I absolutely won’t mention as I don’t want to give him publicity or attention cherry-picked one of my articles.

This is how he quoted me.

By her third sentences, she regrets having acted as she tells others they should not — “but not completely.” Why? you may ask. No need: Her run-on sentence goes on to say that she was “mad, extremely mad at my husband who had been…” blah, blah, blah.

Those blah, blah, blahs….that he left out were in fact quite important.  I wrote the following.

I was mad, extremely mad at my husband who had been lying to me for years and living as a closeted homosexual. I had nine years of sacrifice and struggle to keep a relationship together that was ultimately a fraud at its core.

My critic also goes on to criticize me for basically taking none of the blame of my divorce.  And to quote him directly, he claims

“I was 100% right and he was 100% wrong” story.

I hate to break it to this self-proclaimed divorce expert, but sometimes…divorces really are that lopsided.  I can think of my example, and most straight spouses.  A straight spouse is someone who was misled by a closeted homosexual into believing that they entered a marriage with a heterosexual partner.  In some cases, the straight spouse may know beforehand that their partner is gay, has gay tendencies or a gay past and they choose to marry them anyway.  However usually the closeted partner will go to extreme lengths to hide their sexuality.  When the truth is finally revealed what is the straight spouse to do to save the marriage?  Continue to live a lie?  Live a non-traditional marriage perhaps having new sexual partners, but remaining in a sham marriage? My ex-husband begged me to stay with him, work out an arrangement, live with him in a fraud, he was willing to do almost anything to keep me.  I didn’t want to live a lie anymore so I left him.

The only exception I can think of is that if a gay partner and a straight partner choose to stay in a relationship and everything is above-board and honest.  I know of a few examples of non-traditional relationships that work quite well.  But in my situation deception was the only thing keeping my marriage together.  And I knew that by keeping my ex-husband in the closet would ultimately destroy him.  Because “the closet” is a horrible, miserable existence.

If anything by leaving my husband I released him from this destructive self-loathing.   So I am not going to take half of the blame for my divorce.  I was fully committed to my husband, I never had an extramarital affair and that was even after my marriage became celibate.   I put up with lies and excuses because I was dedicated to making my marriage work.

There are other examples of blame not going evenly to both partners, such as

  • One partner is physically abusing the other or abusing the couples children
  • One partner is a serial cheater and has not been faithful to their spouse and cannot be faithful to any partner
  • One partner is leading a secret life that puts his or her family in jeopardy.  i.e. criminal activity without the other partners knowledge
  • One partner is mentally ill and refuses to get treatment
  • One partner has a substance abuse problem and refuses treatment
  • One partner marries the other for a green card or other fraudulent reason

I know it might seem impossible for my critic to admit that there charming yet nefarious people out there who have absolutely no intention of keeping their marriage vows, but these situations are quite common.  I blame myself for picking the wrong partner, but I won’t take responsibility for his lies.

In some marriages both parties have made multiple mistakes, or perhaps entered into the union before they were ready.  They may have both been emotionally abusive to one another or had extramarital affairs.  Financial or lifestyle issues and lack of communication might tear them apart.  Or they simply could have grown into two very different people than when they entered the marriage.  In these cases there are many shades of gray.  Even infidelity sometimes occurs because one partner simply wants out desperately and is looking for any excuse to end it.  They have an affair, admit it immediately and their marriage is over.  Not exactly a serial cheater who lied for years, but a desperate person looking for and end to a broken marriage.  I have had friends go through nearly every scenario, and in most cases the reasons for a split is very murky.  Neither side can blame the other without taking some blame themselves.  But when one spouse enters into a marriage with a secret and lies, there is little the other spouse can do to change that.

Human relationships aren’t so neat and tidy or democratic.   So to those who insist that I or any other spouse like myself should accept responsibility for a person who repeatedly lied during the marriage I say they are way off base.  The best thing we can do is avoid picking another deceptive partner and move forward.

 

Divorce – It’s more than just a breakup

Divorce Cakes a_006

Divorce Cakes a_006 (Photo credit: DrJohnBullas)

One of the most annoying things that I heard repeatedly after I left my husband was the following.

I just broke up with my boyfriend, I know exactly how you feel”

I know that my friends who told me that were trying to make me feel better.  They were trying to show empathy and a shared experience with mine.  But a relationship even a long-term one with cohabitation is not the same as a marriage.  If it was then same-sex couples wouldn’t be fighting for the right to marry all over this country.  For starters there is the ceremony.  When you start dating someone you don’t throw a “Hey look we just started dating party” you might have a housewarming if you move in together but with a marriage there are usually one or more bridal showers, an engagement party, a bachelorette party and finally the big obnoxious wedding.    I remember mine as if it was yesterday and when I stood there in the dress facing both sides of our collective families turning to watch me walk down that aisle I thought to myself.

So this is why we have weddings, to guilt us into staying together.

All of these parties, rituals and ceremonies add to the sense of permanence to the union.   Your families become legally linked to one another, everything becomes part of the public record.   And although getting married is easy enough, getting out of it can be a quagmire.

For instance I always wanted to say to the person who just broke up with their non-spouse partner.

  • Did you have to go to a lawyer to break up?
  • Do you have any stocks or mutual funds in both of your names?
  • Do you have property with this person?
  • Do you have children?
  • Did you just have to go do your taxes with your ex?
  • Do you live in fear that your ex will financially ruin you before the divorce is final?
  • Do you have to pay alimony to your ex-partner?
  • Is your partner hiding marital assets or income earned during the marriage?
  • Is your ex contesting the split or slowing the process down?

As difficult as a breakup is, even a long-term live-in partner is not the same as a husband or wife.  With some long-term relationships shared assets or children might be an issue but in most cases they are not.  With a boyfriend or girlfriend you can usually just walk away.  You don’t have to go to court, you don’t have to file for legal separation, you don’t have to protect your assets.  The only real legal benefit to being non-married is that if you have your own health insurance you don’t have to worry about losing it when you get divorced.  Because of all of the legal ramifications, especially with those involving children divorces in some states can drag on for years before they are resolved.

I had a non-contested divorce with few assets and my ex and I spent over $2,000 on the divorce and I had to go to court about five times before it was over.  Since I was the one who filed, I was the one who had to appear to drive the paperwork through the system.  I remember waiting in line trying to hold back tears to get my certified copy of my divorce.  I had to get this document to split in half some of our assets and to legally declare to the universe that we were no longer husband and wife.  Our divorce was easy, it only took eight months in NY state, but some of my friends with children are still battling with their exes years later.  Eight months, thousands of dollars and multiple court appearances isn’t exactly the same as moving my stuff out of a boyfriend’s apartment.

But putting all of the legal and financial ramifications aside, there is still a sense of permanence of forever that exists in marriage that doesn’t exist in the same way as it would in a non-legally binding relationship.  There is something about that big day and the hopes and dreams of both of your extended families that makes it feel like it won’t end.  It is why we have big rituals surrounding marriage, it is supposed to be something higher, something larger than just two people living together.  And it is exactly why the fall is much harder.  Of my divorced friends I honestly don’t know anyone who didn’t go through some level of hell.  For some the day of reckoning took a while to show up, and for others it was immediate, but they all went through some major trauma even if they wanted desperately out of the marriage.  Divorce is not just a breakup, so the next time someone tries to tell you that, just nod and smile, they know not what they say.

Life After Divorce: Some Basics I try to remind myself of every day

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This is a blog post from another blog that I used to write, that due to confusion with this blog I am shutting down and moving my better articles over here.  🙂

So I was sort of acting as impromptu counselor for a friend who is facing a separation/divorce.  And I will repeat what I have said numerous times.  Divorce is much different from a regular break up.  You stood before your entire family, you committed your life to another person, you had legal and financial obligations, you had to go to court to actually break up, you have a wedding ring, and on and on and on.   There is just such a perceived permanence to marriage, even with a 50% divorce rate.  If you were betting on a horse, a 50% success rate wouldn’t be so bad, so thinking you might stay together forever isn’t really that far-fetched.

Divorce is hell, I am still over a year from separating from my husband and I still have dark nights of the soul, crying fits for no reason, insomnia, and the occasional panic attack.  I am doing a MILLION TIMES better than I was just a few months ago, but it is still a daily struggle.

But I try to live by these very basic rules every day.  Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I don’t, but I try and, trying is half the battle. This is sort of what I was telling my friend tonight (who shall remain nameless) and I thought it would be good to write it down.   I get a lot of “Think Positive and I think that is a lame way of saying “Be Happy for me there is a bit more to it, and I am breaking it down.

1. Don’t Dwell on what You cannot control – Like it or not, we cannot control other people.  I can’t control the main factor that lead to my divorce, so I have to let it go.

2. Get Rid of Crazy People in Your Life – Not exactly crazy people, but people that make me crazy or encourage crazy behavior, especially self-destructive behavior.  Sometimes this is impossible if it is a family member or a roommate but if you can avoid people who make you do crazy things, do it!  They might not even know they make you crazy or are actively trying to make you crazy…..but it doesn’t matter.  People that put you into CRAZYTOWN, should be avoided.

3. Do Not Hurt Yourself – Avoid the trappings that seem like an easy fix to a complex problem, drugs, alcohol, sex with people if it is in a self-destructive way, lashing out at loved ones and friends.  I don’t do any substances and for the most part have avoided dating, but I definitely find ways to mess up my life…..trust me.

4. Surround yourself with supportive people – This one is hard with my crazy schedule but I try, I wish I could do this more often.

5. Focus on the Future not the Past – I think it is important to know your past, but not to dwell on it.  This is HARD especially while in therapy, because in therapy a therapist is usually trying to find a cause to the core problem.  I actually saw my future as a black hole when I left my husband.  I am still extremely uncertain what lies before me, but it is a little less black and more gray now.  🙂

6. Forgive yourself and others for past mistakes – This one is also very difficult for me especially.  I won’t get into it, but because of childhood issues, I have difficulty letting go of things and especially with forgiveness.  My biggest problem is forgiving myself.  I tend to beat myself up over things that I cannot go back and fix.

7. Ask for Help when you need it – This one is beyond hard for me.  It always has been, but I tell myself that I am a weaker person when I DON’T ask for help.  No one is perfect, everyone needs help sometimes.

8. Stop Saying “What if?” –  What if I had not dated so soon after leaving my husband?  What if I had left him earlier?  What if I had never married him in the first place?  Do these questions really do me any good?  NO, they just make me crazy.  And they will never stop, so I have to stop them…..I will never know the answer to WHAT IF?  So I have to stop asking!!!

9. Don’t ignore reality – When I start to spiral I say to myself, I have a great apartment, I am working, I am healthy, I have the best friends, supportive family, and the two world’s greatest cats, and compared to how a lot of people live in this world I have it pretty good.

10. It is going to get better – This has become a mantra I say to myself nearly nightly, although it is usually “It is going to be OK, It is going to be OK”  Life has a way of constantly changing, and even though things are bad now, they could very easily get better soon.

11. Find something that makes you really happy and do it – For me that is performing and more specifically singing and music.  One good thing that has happened through this whole mess is that I have re-found my love for singing that studying music had sort of beaten out of me.  🙂

12. Try to throw away the bad advice and take the good – I can’t tell you how much well meaning bad advice I have gotten.  It is extremely difficult at times to just let this stuff roll off of me, especially comments about my Ex-husband and judgments on myself and my marriage when the people giving the advice are uninformed.

13. When in doubt find my cats – They are pure love, they are furry, they purr, and they never let me down.

Huffington Post Readers – Some Questions Answered

So I didn’t want to get into it with the article that I just posted on the Huffington Post, but I am so tired of all of the “blame the victim” comments in regards to my divorce.  Maybe 5% of the readers will end up at my website and then actually go to this blog, but I still want to print this as the Huffington Post doesn’t let me respond to comments.

I plan to take this post down in the next couple of days, as it really doesn’t serve much of a purpose but I would like to clarify one thing before everyone jumps down my throat about how I should have stuck around and tried to make my marriage work.  First off, you don’t know much about me and you don’t anything about my marriage, so it is extremely presumptuous for you or anyone to tell me what I should have or should not have done regarding my divorce.  But I have the absolute best reason to have terminated the marriage.  Drum roll please….

My husband was a closeted homosexual.  I had no idea and he was in denial when we got married, and after nine years together I found hard evidence to the fact and left him.  We are on good terms, all things considered, and he lives openly as a gay man now.  He is much happier living as a gay man, but it has been hard on both of us for obvious reasons.

So to the strangers who feel compelled to lecture me on “giving up on my marriage”…you don’t know enough about my situation to tell me that.   And I mean that with the deepest sincerity.  If the hell that I have been through for the past two years has taught me anything it is to be less judgmental of other people’s divorces.  Because no one ever really knows what goes on in another person’s marriage, and I am living proof of a marriage that most people deemed as ideal, was in reality a total fraud.