Posts Tagged ‘ Marriage ’

More From Wisconsin: A Ban on Divorce?

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

This just in: the state of Wisconsin is trying to make me have a stroke.

In defense of the bill that proposes a “public education” campaign maligning single parents for their alleged contributions to child abuse (previously discussed here), Wisconsin state representative Don Pridemore is saying that no one should ever be allowed to choose to get divorced– not even women abused by their husbands. Essentially, he states that these women should sit down and think about why they got married in the first place, and that should pretty much take care of the issue.

Now, I don’t generally take issue with people taking a personal stand against divorce. To each their own, and freedom of speech, and all that. Just because divorce was the right choice for me doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for everyone, and it’s certainly not a decision to be taken lightly.

But… saying that divorce shouldn’t be allowed to be an option for anyone– even for people in abusive relationships? You can’t be serious. Who are these guys, anyway? What exactly qualifies them to speak for (and give orders to) battered women?

Hey, Pridemore and Grothman? Yeah, I’m talking to you. I know you think you’re standing up for your beliefs and trying to make America a better place and defend the innocent children from all of us loose, divorced women or whatever. But listen, there’s a reason these things aren’t politically correct to say. It’s because they’re a bunch of judgmental, discriminatory bullsh*t. If children that result from abusive marriages need defending, I’m fairly certain it’s from the men who are beating their mothers and not from the women who are strong enough to stand up and walk away.

Pridemore states that children are more likely to go “astray” without the disciplinary influence of a father in the home. What is this, Little House on the F*cking Prairie? Sure, okay. Let’s just conveniently ignore all of the actual research about children and divorce and just throw around a bunch of outdated, misogynistic opinions, because that means more than science and psychology anyway, right? Forget the studies that show that it’s not divorce itself, but the way divorce is handled, that has the most influence on the psychological development of a child. Forget the common-sense truth that a child is better off in a single parent home than in a dual-parent home where they’re being abused. Actual facts are so lame and boring. Those don’t get you votes or publicity. Am I right?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there’s an important document somewhere in this country’s history that states that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Well, Pridemore, I’m pretty sure “liberty” includes the right to find your way out of a failed marriage, and I wouldn’t have my happiness if I hadn’t had the right to get divorced, so how about you mind your own business and back up off it, already.

Sheesh.

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Wisconsin Bill Aims to Penalize Single Moms

Monday, March 5th, 2012

There is nothing that makes me go quite as postal as hearing someone equate single parenting to bad parenting.

(Prepare to hear me go postal.  Hold me back, ladies.)

This bill, introduced in Wisconsin by a man who has never been married and has no children, states that single mothers should be penalized because their unmarried status is a risk factor for child abuse and neglect.  The bill would require the funding of ad campaigns to “educate” the public regarding the ill effects of single parenthood on children.

Imagine it: you’re a single mom (from the language, this bill is clearly aimed at women).  You collapse on the couch after a long day at work and feeding and bathing and getting your kids to bed, all by yourself, as usual.  You click on the TV to relax, and some ad pops up and pompously, self-righteously, ignorantly tells you what a crappy parent and child abuser you are, just because you aren’t married.  I don’t think so, Wisconsin.

Now, I don’t know in concrete terms what the aforementioned “penalty” would be (nothing is mentioned in the text of the bill), but it doesn’t take a lawyer to figure out the real danger here: the passage of a bill like this would set a precedent for legitimizing the usage of a single parent’s marital status as a “black mark” against them as far as the best interest of their child goes, and that, my friends, is straight-up discrimination and a giant step backwards for hundreds of thousands of women and children in this country.

The senator who introduced the bill would also like to underscore “the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect”.  And what role would that be, exactly?  Too often, a single mother is single because the father up and left her.  How about penalizing those deadbeats instead of the hard-working, self-sacrificing women who pick up their slack?  Watch out, Caroline.  Don’t you dare ask me for that third cookie.  I might just freak out and do something crazy with all my female hormones and emotions running rampant and no level-headed man here to stop me.

No doubt this piece of judgmental trash masquerading as a state senator is one of the Limbaugh-esque far right conservatives who don’t believe contraceptives should be a covered service for the very sector of the population which contains the vast majority of single mothers.  I try not to get political on my blog, but really people, it’s the elephant in the room and I can’t hold my tongue: you can’t get birth control, you can’t get an abortion, and you can’t keep the child because then you’d be a single mother and, apparently, an abuser… so your only option is what, adoption?  But then he goes on to say that a child should be raised by two biological parents, so adoption doesn’t work either.  What exactly are we going to do with all these children?  Perhaps they will all just conveniently disappear?

Some of my regular readers may remember that I actually wrote something along the lines of this topic months ago. Statistics don’t lie: single parenthood is a risk factor for child abuse, plain and simple, and that fact should be recognized.  But in order to truly make a difference for abused children, it is critical that we distinguish between offering guidance, support, and practical resources rather than forwarding a cruel, judgmental, and purposeless smear campaign against women who face more than enough stereotyping on a daily basis in addition to all the other challenges of raising children alone.

Honestly, I know that this bill is too ridiculous to ever have a prayer of passing, and I shouldn’t even give it the publicity of a blog post.  But I couldn’t keep silent on the topic, because discrimination and an ad campaign tantamount to slander based on marital status is not okay, in this country or anywhere else.  I hope it never is.

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Building a Coparenting Relationship After Divorce

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Anyone who has ever tried to coparent with someone after a breakup or divorce knows that it’s… kind of the worst thing ever.

For me, it’s a mixed bag.  Tyler and I have good phases and bad phases.  Lately it’s been pretty good.  I think that as time passes post-divorce, it gets easier to keep that necessary distance while still staying civil.  Both of us being in new (healthier) relationships helps a lot, too.

There are a lot of challenges, though.  To me, the most frustrating one is trying to develop a coparenting relationship that has a different dynamic than our marriage did.  Relationships have momentum, you know what I mean?  Once the interaction between two people is established, the pattern is pretty well set, and it’s hard to change.

Tyler and I were together for seven years.  We developed a way of interacting over those years that I clearly did not care for, since I filed for divorce.  From my point of view, it was basically him telling me that he was going to be gone for long periods of time and that I would need to rearrange my career to accommodate caring for Caroline, so that he could build up a reputation in his field and finish his PhD.  In the beginning, before we had Caroline, to be honest… I liked it.  I liked to mother him and take care of him and cook him dinner and keep his house, and I was proud of all the things he had accomplished so young.  (He treated me more like a subordinate than a partner, but as you can see, I am also at fault for encouraging it.)  I liked that he depended on me, even if I didn’t always enjoy being alone while he worked.  But eventually I became resentful of everything he asked of me, and the very little that he gave in return… both to me, and to our child.  And I didn’t want to back-burner my career anymore, because it was important to me.

Too often, our coparenting relationship reminds me of our marriage.  He will text me to say “I’ll be away for x number of days/weeks and I’ll be picking up Caroline for these days and I’ll need you to take her back on this day.”  I’ll say okay, rearrange my schedule to accommodate his, and basically do whatever he asks… but then I’ll get mad, and resentful, and pick a fight with him, and then we snipe at each other via text for a few days and act sullen when we finally see each other.  Sounds healthy, right?  And by no means do I claim that it’s all his fault– fighting takes two.

But how do you change that pattern of interaction?  How do you reverse the momentum of a relationship when you have to stay in constant contact after a breakup, because you have a child together?  How do you put the pieces of a broken marriage back together to form a healthy coparenting relationship?

It’s hard.  It really sucks.  I don’t know the answer.  I tried, today, to establish something new.  He texted me, telling me the way the next visit was going to go.  I told him that I had a conflict with my schedule, but I would be happy to have a two-way discussion about it if he would rephrase his order as a request.  Somehow, we ended up fighting anyway.

One of my friends said to me tonight, “I hate seeing my ex every day at school.  It doesn’t seem fair that I still have to deal with that, every single day.”  I looked at him.  “I win,” I said.  “I have to deal with mine for 18 years.”  (He was kind enough to refer to my one-upping as “perspective”.)

But, hey, that’s just life and coparenting after divorce.  You’ve got to make the best of it… right?  If you’re a single parent, how do you and your ex manage?

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Where I Stand

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

So we all know I’ve been seeing HSD (Hot Single Dad) again for a little while now.  It’s gotten relatively serious, I would say.  I’ve met his family and his daughter and his daughter’s mother, and he’s met Caroline.  We hang out all the time.  We have a lot of fun together.

I like him.  I truly enjoy his company.  And I haven’t said that about anyone I’ve dated since my divorce.

With all of that said… even though I like him, I don’t necessarily like dating.  I mean, let’s be real.  It’s kind of sucky sometimes.  I’d forgotten what it was like, to be completely honest with you.  I started dating Tyler when I was 19, and that was a long time ago.  The rules of the dating world are different when you jump back in after eight years.  And there are all these insecurities and misunderstandings that are just an inescapable part of getting to know someone and letting them into your life.

Having a child also puts a whole new perspective on it, of course.

Because I can share as much of myself as I want to, and if things go bad, well, that’s on me.  And that’s fine.  But when I share my daughter, I feel… open, and vulnerable, and scared.  She is my most precious part of me.  I stand guard over the people I let into her life as though my own life depends upon it.  So, having a relationship post-divorce is scary enough for me as it is, and bringing Caroline into it… raises the stakes, somehow.

“I don’t like not knowing where I stand,” I told one of my girlfriends today, who is also divorced.  “I hate dating sometimes because of that.”

“I know what you mean,” she sighed. “Honestly, that’s the only thing I miss about marriage.  No joke.”

“Same,” I said.  “But, you know, it’s better to be unsure of where you stand with someone you actually like, than to know exactly where you stand with someone you hate.”

“I freaking love you, Jules,” she laughed.  “We should be marriage counselors, I think.”

That’s the thing, you know?  That’s the whole reason behind my divorce.  The insecurity and the sometimes-loneliness of being a single parent sucks, for sure.  But the exhilaration of it, the free-falling, the not-knowing, the roller coaster… is exactly what I was after.  My marriage made me feel like I was dead inside, like I’d never feel a real feeling again.  I wanted to feel something, anything

If I’m being honest, I think I settled for Tyler because I had had my heart broken just before I met him, and I never wanted to feel that way again, and I knew that Tyler would never leave me.  But having already settled once, I will take a broken heart and certainly the insecurities of dating any day over the flat, dead nothingness of staring bleakly out over the years that stretch ahead of you when you know you are doomed to spend them with a man you do not love.

The silences, the months spent alone, the angry words, the fights, the conflicts.  Whenever the uncertainty of my life as an unmarried mother starts to get to me, I look back on them and immediately I feel better.  Because… no thank you.  I can’t live that way.  I never want to feel that way again.  I never want to stare across the living room at the silent man on the couch and think, I have to live with you forever, but I don’t even know you anymore.

I traded security and unhappiness for freedom and hope.  So did my friend.  So do a lot of divorced people, I’d imagine.

For me, it was a good trade.  Even when it gets tough, even when I feel sad, even when I despair at how terrible I am at dating… at least I am living, now.  And that thought makes me feel better, every time.

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Thoughts From a Divorcee on Kim Kardashian’s 72-Day Marriage

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Okay, so Kim Kardashian is getting divorced after 72 days of marriage.  As a divorcee, I have several comments to make on the matter, not that it’s any of my business:

1. I once had a case of bronchitis that lasted longer than her marriage.  (Jury is out on who deserves more sympathy in that scenario.)

2. At least 90% of the blame for this divorce lies with that weird headband thing she wore at her wedding.  She is gorgeous, but that thing was… Not. Cute.

Image credit: newestfun.com

3.  I totally called this, you guys.  (Fine, along with the rest of the world.)  One of my best girlfriends is also divorced, and she and I make divorce jokes all the time that I’m sure would make most of you call us horrible and bitter (but let’s be honest, a little bit funny).  I had sent her this picture of Kim Kardashian and her soon-to-be-ex husband, on their honeymoon:

Image credit: E! Online.com

I mean, come on.  They’ve already run out of things to say to each other.  She looks totally bored and he looks like he hates his life.  This is sort of how I felt at certain points on my honeymoon, which leads me to my next point…

4. I kind of respect Kim for calling it quits right out of the gate.  Hold up.  Let me explain myself.  No, she shouldn’t have married him if the relationship was so shaky that they’re getting divorced after 72 days.  I’m sure they both know that and knew it right away.  But at least she didn’t let it drag on and on, maybe bringing kids into an unstable situation, pretending and suffering forever and ever until the inevitable divorce finally occurred.  It takes a lot of courage to end a marriage, no matter what your reasons are and no matter how long it lasted.  Who knows what really happened between them or why it fell apart, but I’ve got to hand it to her for standing up and admitting that she had made a mistake.  I felt uneasy about my marriage from the start, and I should have taken action sooner (either starting counseling or calling the whole thing off, neither of which I took the initiative to do), but I didn’t, because I didn’t have the guts to admit that something was wrong.  She did, despite the fact that I’m sure the whole thing is very embarrassing for her, and I’ve got to say I respect that.

All joking aside, divorce is no fun for anyone in any situation, especially one as public as theirs, and I hope they can both heal as quickly as possible.  (But next time, Kim, as I’m sure you know, think it through a little better before you say those vows, and maybe don’t throw around so much money on the wedding, hmm?  XOXO, Julia.)

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