Maybe the winter is even longer than I think it is, but all of a sudden it seems that long standing couples are breaking up all over the place. As refugees from broken homes, both my husband and I really hate seeing that happen. Especially when there are kids involved. So it got me to thinking of the reasons men cite for leaving their wives and kids. The economy sucks. You've been laid off. You aren't feeling it for her but are feeling it for the great unknown.. Whatever the reason. A few things to consider guys:
1. You are not just married to your wife. You are married to your family. You can pretend that nothing will change between you and the kids but there are a nation of three generations of kids out there that have slightly less than admirable father relationships. You think all those crazy chicks you liked in college that quoted Eugene O'Neil plays to you were born that way? Oh no, my friend--daddy had a hand in that. What did Kurt Cobain tell us? “I tried hard to have a father but instead I had a dad?”
2. You know what divorced guys do, guys? They get lonely. After the bars and Internet porn, and living without anyone telling you to pick your socks up off of the living room floor, you’ll eventually miss real live women. You know the ones. The ones with clothes on, who talk to you? Buy birthday presents for your family so you don’t have to? Yeah , those ones. You’ll miss real women.
3. Consider this: When you start dating again at your age odds are you’ll date a woman who will have to level with you that she...(drum roll...) has kids! So you just left one woman with kids for another one with kids. That’s a heck of a lot of Little League games to get to on Saturdays. And if you trade in time with your own kids for her kids? Then you are a bigger schmuck than I thought. And don't think for a minute your kids will see it in any other light.
4. Maybe the new woman might not be as ‘crazy’ as the last one but consider this--was she crazy from the get -go? No. She got crazy living with you. Odds are the same thing will eventually happen to the new one if she lives with you.
5. Do you know what your kids are doing right now while you are in your new studio apartment in a neighboring town? They are crying themselves to sleep. They weren’t molested by a stranger. A teacher wasn’t being mean to them. No one beat them up on the playground. It’s you. They are crying over you. You know why? Because you just taught them a lesson they weren’t ready to learn. By your actions you just told them that personal comfort and happiness of the parent is more important than being there for the family. That families don’t stick together for better or for worse. That’s a pretty messed up thing to have to digest in third grade in between standardized testing. Thanks, dad.
4. If you were my husband and you really needed to go chase that skirt or some illusive dream goal, I’d say do it. Go for it. I always loved how Yoko Ono sent John Lennon off into his Lost Weekend period to go figure his stuff out for a bit with the understanding that he’d have to come home. It worked. So talk to the wife. See if she’ll give you a free pass for awhile or a night out or something to make you feel that freedom you yearn for ---odds are though? Your angst is in your head.
7. You may have been born an American with an overwrought sense of an entitlement but you chose to get married and you chose to have children. Remember those “Chose Your Own Adventure Books?” You can’t read what’s behind every chapter and then move forward.
8. Sometimes the unrequited and the fantasy is so much better than the real thing. Write it out. Paint it out. But don’t sabotage the only people who actually care about you on this planet.
9. Kids of divorced parents statistically have more mental health problems. More depression. More black clouds following them. That cloud will be entirely of your making.
10. Tell your wife how you feel. If you aren’t the therapy type, don’t go. But don’t drink a case of beer despondent in the den either. Tell her what she does that drives you insane. Let her tell you what you do that makes her want to stick her head in the oven. Play nice.
I can relate to unhappiness. And winter does take a toll---who wants to be stuck with the same four walls and the same person 24/7? But there are other remedies. What about a weekend excursion? A new activity you like or you and the wife are willing to try. Go home and talk to your wife like she’s the hot stranger in the coffee house. Of course this works best if the wife is understanding and open. You married her for a reason. Find that reason. Hold on to it. Develop it. Figure out the why. Put you aside for a moment and think about the future relationships your daughter will have if you go. Think about your son and what you are teaching him.
It’s all on you , baby, it’s all on you.