Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Interesting - more lies from those who try to keep men down

This comment over at Volokh tells an interesting story. I'm often told that "studies show" men fare better after divorce, and women get the shaft. That doesn't fit with my experience (I'm skirting the edge of bankruptcy), but I get told it all that time, usually in a "shut up you stupid male" sort of way.

I should do some more research, I can't seem to find the specific AP article he cites, though I did find a book on Google books that cites it. But this makes sense to me - divorce in the USA usually favors women, no matter how much people want to hate on the men. The comment at Volokh links to this piece, which goes into more detail.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Abuse, so called

These two articles are not too recent, but somehow I missed them the first time around. They directly relate to my situation, and the situations of many men I know.

I used to believe all tales of "abuse" by walk away wives. Now that I've been accused 0f "psychological abuse" by my ex, I don't so much anymore. I don't bring this up much, because people refuse to believe that any accusation of abuse could be false.

Well, it's not so much "false" as "the definition stinks." According to the Federal government, abuse consists of such things as "getting annoyed if the victim disagrees" and"disregarding what the victim wants.” Based on those definitions, my spouse abused me - but the way our courts are run, it's always assumed that men are the de facto abusers - and my ex realized accusing me of abuse meant she could likely get more out of me - and since we didn't always agree on everything, hey - my behavior was abusive.

The real problem is that divorce so distorts the memories of those involved, every disagreement becomes an argument, and every argument becomes a fight, and every fight becomes an abusive incident. Pretty soon, there are nothing but abusive incidents in the mind of the spouse that has to mentally justify her decision to divorce.

Commentary on the Federal government guidelines here and here.

There are too many divorced men out there being treated as abusive deadbeats merely because they didn't agree with their wives on every issue. Too many divorces seem to be more about the wife finally "winning" every argument then they are about following the Lord's will.

The sad lack of charity

I've noticed, in my internet readings, that a lot of ex-wives want their exes to suffer. "If he doesn't suffer, it will mean this whole divorce meant nothing" seems to be a common thread. In nearly all these cases, it seems the women were the ones who did the leaving.

That seems to me a very unChrist-like attitude. I know I do not want my ex to suffer, but she does want me to suffer. In fact, she's complained that I'm not suffering enough. This inidcates to me that the divorces aren't really about doing what's best for the kids, and are instead merely petty attempts at revenge for perceived slights.

While I am far from blameless, perhaps if my ex had actually tried talking to me, rather than calling up her parents to complain about my behavior, we might have saved the marriage. Instead, we have me barely staying ahead of bankruptcy, and her essentially praying that I suffer because of choices she made.

It's a lack of charity and an ability to forgive. I am working on forgiving my ex. I think I'm starting to see things from her point of view, at least a little bit. However, I have no desire for her to suffer, no matter how ill-advised and stupid I think her decision to divorce me was. What I really don't understand, though, is this desire from ex-wives to see their husbands punished horribly. Judgment is up to God, not us mere mortals who all make mistakes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The oddest thing about being single again

is that whenever I go on a date or go to a dance or "midsingles" activity, I have this vague feeling I'm cheating on my "wife."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yeah, pretty much

This article resembles what happened to me. My ex spent the last year of our marriage complaining nearly everyday on the phone to her mother about whatever I had done wrong. In the linked story (HT: Instapundit), however, the lady's mother helped her realize what she was doing wrong. In my case, the mother encouraged the behavior, because my ex's mother had been trying to get her to leave me for over a decade.

I should have thought it a little odd when her mother started calling more frequently, but I didn't. And my ex even dropped hints ("my mother was trying to dig for dirt on you today") what was really going on, but I was a little too focused on getting my dissertation finished and jobs applied for (I applied to nearly 100 jobs the semester I graduated and got none) and figured it didn't matter, since I would soon have a job.

Then, I didn't get a job, and that's also a marriage killer (as I discussed in a previous post). I've also read that the more divorced people you know, the more likely you are to get divorced. And about tw0-thirds of her cousins are divorced. At least now she can fit in at their family reunions and have a lame-0 ex-husband to complain about, since to my recollection, that's what most of their family get-togethers consisted of - bashing the ex-spouses and sympathy for the family member who is clearly an innocent done wrong (even the cousin that decided he was gay - it's the fault of his shrewish ex for not being a good enough wife or something).

I made it a point never to complain about my wife to anyone, not even my parents. She had no such compunction, and now I know her mother was keeping a record of everything I ever did wrong in 11 years of marriage. And when I didn't get a job, well that was further proof of what a loser I was.

Monday, July 19, 2010

In my more cynical moments,

I sometimes think this is how the world works (at least in the developed Western world). Even in the church, this attitude is all too prevalent. (If the link doesn't go to the specific comment, it's the one by "Trust" at 11:07 a.m.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The main thing I worry about

is my kids. A friend of mine comes from a divorced family. Nearly all his brothers and sisters are inactive and most are outright hostile to the church. He has one sister that's active, and my friend goes back and forth from atheist to active. They almost all blame the church for his parents divorce - she was counseled by her bishop to divorce her husband because she caught him reading a certain type of magazine (trying to avoid spam bots here). His mother now says divorce was the biggest mistake she ever made. One thing his mom said to me the other day chilled me to the bone: "The parents eventually move on, but the kids never do."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Some advice

for those going through or about to go through divorce (or even if you think you never will, you might want to keep this in mind).

This is going to sound awful and unchristlike, but once your wife declares she is going to divorce you, it's in almost all likelihood too late. So - here's the advice, something I've learned from hard experience:

Once she is divorcing you - don't apologize for anything. All it can do is hurt you. Two things happen: 1.) Your apologies just remind her of the terrible things you did to cause her to want a divorce in the first place. 2). It will be used against you court. I was surprised to find e-mails with my sincere apologies used as evidence that I was evil. "He even admits he has these problems" as the lawyer said.

Apologies need to come before she declares divorce. Unfortunately, since studies show somewhere north of three-fourths of left behind husbands have no clue their wife is unhappy, that's hard.

So, guys - just be careful. And make sure you really are sure where your marriage stands. Make the apologies when they can save your marriage.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

This is another example

of our rhetoric in church.

Leaving aside the main point (I have a comment somewhere in there), the Stake President bothers me a little, even if it's typical and too be expected.

The main idea - men stink, need to shape up, and their wives don't.

How does this help save marriages? It seems to me the self-righteousness and entitlement in creates in the women and the guilt it forces on the men is an unhealthy brew that will help women justify leaving their loser husbands. Yes, it might cause a few borderline men to stick it out, but since women do the leaving more often than the men, this strategy by the SP does nothing to help solve that issue.

Friday, May 14, 2010

No fault divorce is anything but

No fault divorce is suppossed to mean "it's no one's fault, it's just over." Or at least, that was how it was sold.

But that's not what it is. It just means "one spouse can unilaterally end the marriage."

It also encourages each spouse to accuse each other of nasty things, in order to try to get the best "deal" re: child support, etc. I've honestly avoided dragging out our metaphorical dirty laundry, but my ex dragged out every argument we ever had, everything I ever did she didn't approve of, and then accused me of mental cruelty and the like. It's terrible, because while I was never perfect, I never, never was as bad as she painted me in court. But every argument we had suddenly became me yelling at her to shut up and do it my way, wench. I can protest this is not true, and that she was more (or at least as) likely to yell as I was, but they were disagreements, not fights. But since she wants me to pay her more money than I earn, and she wants to keep the children all to herself, it was to her advantage to try and "prove" that I was a terrible, terrible man.

I'm lucky in that she had no proof, but since it's a no fault divorce, she "wins the war" no matter how many little battles I may win. The other problem is that the courts tend to take the wife's word for it, since apparently the default position is that all men are potential abusers. This seems to be the default position in the discussions online as well.

So, no fault divorce doesn't mean "it's no one's fault, it's just over" - it means "one spouse can accuse the other of abuse, and even with no proof and no abuse, it gets taken as reality anyway."

Or something. The feminists, for the most part, won't believe me, and smugly smirk to themselves that "finally, another woman removing herself from the dominant patriarchal hegemony of the church culture" or something equally vapid but smart sounding.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our rhetoric in church

Far be it from me to second guess our church leaders, but there's one reason I see (among the many, many reasons) for my wife's decision I wasn't worth anything except as a source of funds.

Our Mother's Day at church was filled with many talks praising women. Phrases I heard more than once (from both men and women - in sacrament meeting, Sunday school, and priesthood):
1. "Women have a special spiritual sensitivity that men lack"
2. "Women are inherently more righteous than men are"
3. "Women are more important than men in the eternal scheme of things"
4. "Men need to follow their wives more and listen to them and do what they say."
5. "Really, when it comes down to it, women are necessary in every aspect of life."

Isolated, none of these is terrible (though the first three smack of pandering), but all together - is it any wonder some women decide they don't need their husbands, and it's okay to just walk away? Coupled with a broken family law system that favors the female and turns the father into either an absentee money man (after all, fathers are supposed to provide for their families) or a deadbeat dad (due to, as my lawyer said, "the state doesn't care if you go bankrupt or starve to death, as long as you pay the child support and alimony"), we do not have a culture that encourages families to tough it out during tough times.

As I said in previous posts, it actually makes sense for my wife to walk away. The state ensures she has income for life, regardless of what I say or do or make, she no longer has to work on maintaining a relationship with me (maintaining relationships are hard work), and the church leaders and culture tells her that no matter what, she's inherently more righteous than her loser male of a husband.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Perhaps, perhaps not.

So, I read this article at the NYTimes, and wonder if it applies at all to my situation. It may apply to me, or the ex. Most especially, these lines stood out for me:
He was about to turn our first meeting into yet another encounter in which he was mistreated. It seemed he rarely missed an opportunity to feel wronged.

Of all human psychology, self-defeating behavior is among the most puzzling and hard to change. After all, everyone assumes that people hanker after happiness and pleasure. Have you ever heard of a self-help book on being miserable?

So what explains those men and women who repeatedly pursue a path that leads to pain and disappointment? Perhaps there is a hidden psychological reward.

I got a glimpse of it once from another patient, a woman in her early 60s who complained about her ungrateful children and neglectful friends. As she spoke, it was clear she felt that all the major figures in her life had done her wrong.In fact, her status as an injured party afforded her a psychological advantage: she felt morally superior to everyone she felt had mistreated her. This was a role she had no intention of giving up.
I know that my ex gets a self-righteous kick out of constantly discussing how evil I was, and how long suffering and self-sacraficing she was. In fact, her entire side of the family is like this. At family gatherings, the talk was always about how someone in the family had been wronged by someone else, causing them to fail at something, and how it was never their fault. It was always the other person's fault. In fact, there was a lot of divorce among her cousins, and in every case, it was never the cousin's fault (even the one that decided he was gay and left his wife. It was his wife's fault for being such a shrew, of course).

But then again, I wonder if perhaps I didn't somehow self-sabotage the relationship as well, all for a similar psychological reward. I may be blind to my own mind - most of us are. I know my ex and her family would read that article and not recognize themselves in it, and may in fact feel it applies to me.

But at the same time, I know I don't get a self-righteous kick out of failing. Failing depresses me.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Paranoia runs rampant.

This is related to the last post, somewhat.

The process of divorce encourages paranoia, and it's not healthy for the emotions or psyche. Suddenly, you start second and third guessing everything the other spouse does, accusing them of "playing games" or trying to trip you up. My ex has cut off phone conversations with the kids because I was asking "leading questions" and sent me e-mails accusing me of stalking her (even though we're on opposite sides of the continent) because I called her bishop to discuss my son's baptism.

I'm hardly innocent of this. Once, my son was punished for something or another, and I was sure she was doing it to get back at me for the latest court hearing (which she basically "lost" - although no-fault divorce makes it so she automatically won the war, regardless of any in between "battles"). But I have to admit, maybe he just misbehaved and needed some discipline.

There have been other incidents on both sides. I wish I was a better man, and I wish I could take her actions with more charity, and I wish she would give me the benefit of the doubt occasionally as well. It's a struggle. I've made a commitment to never send off an angry e-mail or phone message, and to look for the most charitable interpretation of her actions.

But when she constantly sends me nasty messages attacking me for things I never intended as hurtful or mean, it only encourages me to reciprocate.

As I said before, divorce is terrible and distorts reality.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's very hard to keep perspective

Everything I've read says that divorce destroys perspective. Spouses erase all the good memories and exaggerate the bad ones, so that by the time it is all over, all they recall of the marriage is one long argument of epic proportions.

I've tried very hard to not lose perspective, constantly reminding myself of the good times we had. But it gets rather hard, as my ex-wife continues to do things that clearly violate the agreement, such as deny me access to the children. In her mind, this is all justified because I was such a terrible husband, the kids are better off without any contact with me at all. All their bad behavior is my fault - even now that I'm gone. It's either residual, or because I wrote something "inappropriate" in my weekly letters. She has lost all sense of proportion.

I used to believe many of those women who came online to Mormon sites like BCC and FMH and give a narrative like this: "I did all the right things and married an RM. But he was emotionally abusive and controlling."

I now wonder if that is always so true, or if it's the loss of perspective caused by going through a divorce. Divorce apparently forces some (or most) people to get nasty and accuse each other of vile actions, even if it's not really true.

It's just sad all around. The children really are the ones that lose out.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

This seems applicable

I found an academic article that argues "The empirical results show that unemployment seems to be an important factor behind marital instability. However, only unemployment of the husband has an effect, and this effect is immediate." (HT: I can't remember exactly how I found it, so I can't give a hat tip at the moment).

Since my own divorce coincided with a period of unemployment (followed by a brief period of part-time employment), this may be part of the explanation.

Actually, my ex-wife once heavily implied "Well, if I divorce you, I get guaranteed income for as long as I have the kids, but if I stay with you, I might get dragged down into bankruptcy if you don't get a job and can't pay off your loans."

From an economic standpoint, what she did makes a lot of sense. As my lawyer said "Unfortunately, the state doesn't care whether you starve to death, file bankruptcy, or are otherwise ruined financially for life. The no-fault divorce laws are written so that the wife gets the kids and the money, and the state can't really take into account whether or not you have a job or debt."

I don't mind paying child support, but I have to pay alimony AND her attorney's fees. And now she gets the kids (they can visit me twice a year - we're still working on that), guaranteed income (or else I become a "deadbeat dad"), and doesn't have any real expenses (since her parents, who have been trying to get her to leave me for years because I never earned enough money for their tastes, are putting her up and have told her she can stay with them for the next several years).

Anyway, if you're going to lose your job, make sure your marriage is 110% solid if you're a man. Even then, it may not help. Another reason to avoid any and all debt: if you do get divorced, you just added another massive round of debt you cannot avoid.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Post

Not that I expect much out of this, or that I'm even sure that I have time to devote to this blog.

I decided to start this blog based on what I see as a missing need for a place to discuss how divorce affects men in the Mormon universe. Too often, on other Mormon blogs, I find that men are marginalized and ridiculed and told to go away. Women are given a sympathetic hearing, and reassured it's not their fault.

Everyone in divorce deserves sympathy and understanding, but this reflexive "it's always the man's fault" and "we don't want to hear from the male's perspective" is more than annoying. It's downright un-Christ like and annoying to boot.

Given that women do that walking away, often in cases where there is no abuse, I think there's a real need for more discussion on how this affects men, and how men are often the wronged party.

Of course, I will talk about my own experiences, one reason I don't use my real name and I'm going to generic-ize many details. Despite it all, I still think of my ex-wife as an overall decent person who has become warped by the process of divorce. I will try to avoid casting blame (while acknowledging that both parties are always at fault to some degree or another), but I don't want to be seen as attacking anyone in particular or trying to prove myself right and her and her parents wrong.

Anyway, let's see how it goes. I'm going to allow comments for now, but I sure hope there aren't too many trolls out there. From my internet searches, there is clearly a lot of anger directed at Mormon men over divorce, but very little understanding.