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What not to do, part II

October 3, 2011

Moxie told me all this almost five years ago, and as I see it in print for the first time, there will always be a part of me that calls horseshit. Over the years, however, that part of me has shrunk dramatically, because 1) articles like this point out how commonly it happens, and 2) after a while, forging ahead with the new reality is a more important use of your energy than torturing yourself over the Why-Oh-Why.

We had The Talk right after Thanksgiving 06, and over the next several months I felt I was the one fighting for the marriage, while she was merely trying to dissolve it as expediently as possible. If you refuse to fight for something, it’s easy to be a revisionist historian and argue that it was never anything in the first place. And to seem so uninterested in reconciliation when we had our boys to think about was beyond my comprehension.

When Moxie first told me that our entire relationship was basically a lie, I lashed out, calling her all sorts of things: cowardly, deceptive, lazy, parasitic. I also resorted to emotional cheap shots, like throwing that Kali story back in her face. (Besides, CREATION is only as good as what you’re creating. Since when is creating a divided household a good thing?)

The reason for this reaction is pretty obvious: I was scared to death. I’d had almost no experience with divorce, and what little I knew seemed very mother-centric. And the idea of losing my sons left me with an unrelenting dread that gripped my throat until her signature on our divorce agreement assured me otherwise.

And that’s the key point: When I say I was fighting to stay married, I was really fighting not to be divorced. Because I had a lot more interest in being my kids’ father than remaining my wife’s husband.

When I read that article, and Moxie’s reaction to it, I felt waves of comfort and recognition. And I hope the author follows up with an article that includes the social pressures that push men into marriage. Because even though I’ll always remember my wedding day as a happy one, I also admit that part of me got married because I thought It Was Time. That marriage would make me A Grownup. And anyone who makes a life decision based on a Seinfeld sketch (or two) deserves what he gets.

Ultimately, our marriage happened because each of us thought the other loved us enough to make it work, and she was the one who was brave and aware enough to realize it was doomed.

So, in a way, she called horseshit first.

The other day when our nine-year-old came to my place after school, I happened to see that Moxie had left this in his math book:

As it turns out, you can pull a Kali on a marriage and create something that is, though not ideal, eminently livable: the situation when you’re glad she’s no longer your wife, but you’re also glad she’ll always be their mom.

37 Comments leave one →
  1. Denise permalink
    October 3, 2011 4:05 pm

    I hope that I am never in your situation, but if I do ever find myself divorced, I hope that my spouse and I work together for what’s best for our kids as you and Moxie do. I know it’s not easy to do, or always smooth, but ultimately you both do right by them.

  2. famousamy permalink
    October 3, 2011 4:11 pm

    Great post. To be glad the other parent is the parent of your child should certainly be the desire of all divorced parents. Sadly I have many friends who don’t have this as the case. You all are an insipiration.

  3. oneday@atime permalink
    October 3, 2011 4:22 pm

    I’ve been checking back to see your response to Moxie’s post…and am actually relieved that you were aware of all those thoughts/feelings years ago (assumed so, but you never know!). You are both truly an inspiration, not only with your blunt honesty and articulate words…but with the grace and dignity and humor with which you address these amazingly deep and poignant milestones in your lives. How you continue to work through all of this is inspiring…and although your audience becomes quite aware of the qualities you’re not so fond of in each other, the ones you are shine through in your words, as well. Your posting of the post-it note was beautiful…and the boys are lucky to have you both as parents!!

  4. October 3, 2011 5:05 pm

    Beautiful last line, Doug.

  5. Heather permalink
    October 3, 2011 9:21 pm

    This post just brought tears to my eyes. Great perspective.

  6. bethann permalink
    October 3, 2011 10:30 pm

    Moxie seems very manipulative to me, perhaps conning you into supporting her, being a stay at home mom in nyc (really, did she think she was marrying a rockefeller?) didn’t pan out, so she bailed. Heavan forbid she must support herself AND raise two of your offspring fulltime.

    You’re a great dad to give in to her demands, extensive as they are. I hope your boys are thankful, Moxie should be greatful.

    • Mel permalink
      October 4, 2011 3:06 am

      Wow, really? Really?

      It seems strange to me that Moxie and LOD are making such a huge effort here not to blame each other, while still sharing an experience which is very difficult and finding the strength to do it fairly. Why do you feel it’s appropriate for you to lay blame? If they can interact with such grace and kindness about their own marriage and divorce, who are we to say who is right and who is wrong?

      Moxie & LOD, thank you for what you are doing here.

      • Mel permalink
        October 4, 2011 3:09 am

        Duh. Should have said “WHILE making such a huge effort … why is it appropriate for us to lay blame”.

      • bethann permalink
        October 4, 2011 8:19 am

        Hi Moxie!

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 4, 2011 8:54 am

      “Bethann,” if I’d replied to you, I’d reply under my name.

    • TheTruth permalink
      October 4, 2011 9:23 am

      [This comment has been redacted for content and language. We encourage commentary, but no name-calling or personal attacks. Work clean or go home.]

      [Actually, you probably are already home. Maybe it should say “Work clean or go outside.”] — LOD

    • NYC-Tree permalink
      October 4, 2011 10:07 am

      Bethann you have a lot of nerve to cast such unfounded judgement here or anywhere. You’re making yourself look really bad with this kind of comment. Might want to rethink your presumptions and when or if you should ever broadcast them.

      • bethann permalink
        October 4, 2011 6:39 pm

        When the flames go up?

        Ok. Only nice/false commentary from here on out.

        Just an observation. LOD did what no other man would. I think it’s commendable.

      • askmoxie permalink*
        October 4, 2011 8:19 pm

        I think you underestimate men, bethann. He’s not the only man who wants to parent his kids.

      • bethann permalink
        October 5, 2011 7:30 am

        Well, I haven’t encountered anyone else that moved from nyc to michigan so the EX spouse that never loved him anyway could go to school.

        It really is putting your kids above all else. Admirable.

  7. Nicole permalink
    October 3, 2011 11:45 pm

    This was amazing.

  8. October 4, 2011 8:23 am

    Those two posts together are fantastic.

    /not feeding trolls. NOT feeding trolls/

  9. Alicia permalink
    October 4, 2011 9:32 am

    I get so much out of this blog, and wanted to thank you both for being so open. Nothing about this is easy, and though I spend most of my days acting like it is no big deal, it is so refreshing to read here how it really feels.

  10. MoxieMom permalink
    October 4, 2011 9:43 am

    Once again you have hit the nail on the head. You two are inspirational. I admire all your extraordinary efforts to I wake up every day happy I am not his wife anymore. I hope to wake up and add “but happy he is their father.”
    It may never happen for me, but I too, got married knowing deep down it wasn’t right but felt pressured for other reasons.
    Your boys are so lucky.
    signed, a HUGE FAN

  11. Suzanne permalink
    October 4, 2011 11:02 am

    Thanks for this. I also commented on Moxie’s post but I was in a very similar situation and I still don’t understand my ex-husband’s perspective, or more accurately, ongoing resentment toward me. Your comments about the social pressure of men being pushed into marriage and fighting against divorce really make sense. My ex fought the divorce despite the fact that he told me he did not love me (or like me) and he had never really been happy in our marriage and I could not understand why he was doing what I thought was fighting FOR the marriage. Now I’m sure he was just fighting against divorce. I hope that he has the self reflection at some point to admit this to himself.

    • goodyr2012 permalink
      October 5, 2011 10:18 am

      My ex did a similar thing – initiated the crisis (affair), said he never really loved me, didn’t want to get married, had been so unhappy in the marriage – and then when I realized I actually had never been happy either and basically thanked him for this and got down into the practical aspects of co-parenting and divorce arrangement, he has fought it all the way and has asked numerous times prior to the Divorce Order to make things work. While we are legally divorced now with shared custody of our child and he’s a great father, he still continues to avoid a number of legal requirements such as releasing his claim on the marital home to me, paying me the equalization payment, and a number of other things which I ultimately will have to go to court for! I have never felt so relieved, and have learned so much about myself and how I have in the past soldiered on in many aspects of my life just Because It Was The Thing To Do. I don’t he has found that peace with himself yet.

  12. October 4, 2011 11:21 am

    I am so impressed by the grace, the dignity, and the hard work the two of you are bringing to making your divorce work and to making co-parenting work.

  13. Dee Mented permalink
    October 4, 2011 11:40 am

    Team Co-Parenting!

  14. October 4, 2011 1:47 pm

    In reading both your posts on this it seems you both have raw spots, places where your issues aren’t completely resolved. This is totally understandable but also makes your collaboration, co-parenting, and mutual ceasefire all the more impressive. Thank you for letting us in to such deeply personal places.

  15. October 4, 2011 3:43 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing all of this. As I work through, co-parenting issues and the bitterness that my ex still carries with him about me and the divorce, it is comforting to read about all that you and Moxie have done “right” for your boys. I admire you both and the gifts you are giving your readers in sharing your experiences.

  16. Vickie permalink
    October 4, 2011 11:57 pm

    I remember when you revealed the divorce in ’08–how devastated I felt, how I went back both your blogs to try to find clues that this was in the offing.

    I remember being irrationally angry with Moxie. (I know! It’s crazy!–especially since she’d been such a lifeline for me during my son’s first year of life, whereas LOD, all your blog did was make me laugh.) Intellectually I knew that I had no idea what your marriage was really like–no one knows what goes on in anyone else’s marriage, blah, blah. At the time though it felt like an emotional betrayal–I think I felt like I was one of your boys! I remember feeling that it was like Moxie wasn’t even trying to work things out with you, go to counseling, etc.–and I thought that’s what you do when kids are involved.

    Last year I read Stacy Morrison’s Falling Apart In One Piece, and while her circumstances were different (if I remember right, she and her husband were truly in love with each other, and then he wasn’t, and while he wanted to be out of their marriage he also waited for Stacy to realize that there was no salvaging it and it took a year, I think), it helped me accept your divorce as a good thing for each of you, especially if it held out the possibility of each of you finding true joy and intimacy in new partners.

    • October 5, 2011 9:40 am

      When any relationship ends, there’s usually one person who wants out more than the other. And if one headstrong person’s mind is made up, there isn’t much counseling can do but keep the shards from spreading too far.

      How do you keep the one you love, especially if you don’t even love her as much as you should?

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 5, 2011 1:41 pm

      Yeah, Vickie. I’m sorry you felt betrayed by me. (You weren’t the only one.) But to me, I’d been fighting for years, alone. So by the time I told LOD, I was tired of fighting and knew there wasn’t anything to fight for. It still makes me confused that he didn’t realize it was gone before I told him I needed out, so then he accused me of not fighting for it, when in reality I was so beaten down from fighting for years already.

      Anybody who’s interested in the process from the point of view of the person who wants out should read “Uncoupling” by Diane Vaughn. She chronicles the long, hidden, shameful process of figuring out that you have to get out, and then the feelings of the other partner in response. It’s an excellent book and makes no judgments, so I think anyone going through it or trying to figure out what happened would find it worth the time to read.

      • Vickie permalink
        October 5, 2011 6:09 pm

        I think that’s why I went back over your blogs (especially your regular, not-advice-one) to see if I could find hints that this wasn’t just a snap decision. Aside from your not talking much about LOD, I couldn’t find anything–and even found a few very affectionate-toward-LOD posts right around the time 2B was born.

        Again, intellectually, I knew that your lives weren’t just the stuff on the blogs, of course you didn’t write about every single thing going on–especially not the really important stuff.

        I can’t explain why I felt so deeply affected by your split–even thinking that it was just like my own parents breaking up didn’t make sense, especially since I spent all my childhood and teen years wishing my parents would just break up.

      • October 5, 2011 8:44 pm

        Apparently, she confuses as easily as I self-delude.

      • askmoxie permalink*
        October 5, 2011 11:06 pm

        There was a whole lot of telling myself everything was ok. And thinking that if I wrote it the way I wanted to feel it, I would feel it. I spent so much time praying to be able to change to be the kind of person who would be happy or the kind of person he wanted, and I convinced myself for a long time that I *could* change, and part of that was putting the best face forward and living on the good parts. And I didn’t want to be disloyal. I wanted to be the couple everyone thought we were.

        There is so much of that time that I don’t have any memories of.

  17. goodyr2012 permalink
    October 5, 2011 10:19 am

    Great blog you two. Thanks. You really make me see the big picture and how to let go of the bad stuff and let come the good.

  18. Anna permalink
    October 12, 2011 9:24 am

    I recently moved to a new, much smaller town and needed to open up my own law practice. Here, beggars can’t be choosers so I’ve taken family law referrals even though I have very little background.

    If each side could just start with, “She’s/He’s the mother/father of my kids. I have to live with that forever.” Then eventually move to, “I want the best for my kids so I want my ex- to be as happy, healthy, and stable as possible.” Then: “I’m glad she/he is the mother/father of my kids.” Oh, family law might actually be a wonderfully fulfilling field.

    Instead, my clients so far think like this: “He/She is a total loser who can’t parent their way out of a paper bag. I ALWAYS know best so I want to monitor every one of their actions and see if I can use it against them in my effort to take our kids away forever…mostly because I want him/her to hurt as much as possible.” With clients like these, I’ve decided beggars can be choosers and I don’t take any more who won’t agree to a collaborative process.

    LOD, your post gave me goose bumps. Lovely.

  19. SJF permalink
    December 28, 2011 10:17 am

    Thanks great post, fantastic last line, and most of all, I truly commend the way you handle all the comments past the blog too…

    as always thanks for sharing, and all the best with the new move!

  20. Sarah permalink
    March 27, 2013 10:50 am

    two years on we are in the position you so acutely describe here. Thank you LOD for an amazin post, for managing to articulate my thoughts, for enabling to see more clearly my husband’s perspective (and possibly make it clearer for him too) and to both of you for giving us hope and for keeping me busy in the wallowing days.


  1. And now back to normal co-parenting « When the Flames Go Up

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