Saturday, June 5, 2010


Anonymous left the following comment on my last post and I was about to respond in the comments segment but then figured what the hell, I'll just post it. Here's the comment....

Anonymous said...

I have 2 young friends going through miserable divorces right now. You seem to have come through your divorce with some sanity and cordiality towards your former. How about a nice long post on how you know its time to get one and how to go through it with grace for the sake of the children? I think you could write with intelligence and certainly wisdom while looking back. Then I could refer my 2 friends to your site to learn about clothes. (They need a refresher course!) Please include if you can how you settle the custody and vacation issues. My views are outdated and your sweet daughter seems to lead a lovely life.

And my response.....
Let me first say that I’m sorry that you have two friends amidst the divorce process. I wouldn’t for a moment profess to be competent to provide credible advice regarding how to navigate through the toxicities of divorce. How could I, one who failed at marriage provide credible advice? What I will do is offer a few “statements”…how’s that?

1.      First...Get over yourself. Yes you are hurt and pissed off. Yes you want the world to see your point of view because of course, it’s the true one-the correct one-the one that should be the script-the narrative for what has and should happen. I would like to say that the birth of LFG was the defining moment of my life. It wasn’t. My divorce was. Don’t kid yourself into believing that just because your divorce may be a no-fault endeavour that the toxicity is somehow attenuated. It can still become messy and you can cling to your desire to be right-to win…however the hell you might purport defining that culmination…and the dollar and emotional costs of being “right” will stun you. I’m not saying become a doormat and allow yourself to be treated unfairly. All I’m offering for consideration is the option of seeking a fair and just conclusion with minimal “score settling”. Dragging it out is appetizing to only one constituency in the process…your attorneys.

2.      Second...Family Law is an oxymoron. There are good divorce lawyers out there I’m certain of it. However, keep in mind that it is not in their best interest for you to get over yourself and manifest a fair agreement overnight. Like me, lawyers are paid by the hour and they would starve if they settled all divorce cases in thirty days. I am not a lawyer basher. I’ve had in my professional life, my butt saved by good Counsel and I gladly toot the horn at an intellectual property lawyer here in Old Town any time I see him in traffic. I take great pride in knowing unequivocally that our little consultancy paid for the sports car from which he toots back. And he deserved every penny of it for saving our ass. Less than stellar lawyers will accommodate your desire to extract some revenge—gladly—at 325 an hour.

3.      Third...Your kids should be a filter not a lever. I’m not a proponent of the death penalty. It isn’t efficacious and I believe that vengeance is the currency of God. The reason that LFG’s mom and I resolved the custody-access-vacation issues in fifteen minutes, with a legal pad and pen, is because we both filtered our custody concerns through little LFG. She was two years old and deserved parents who intended to do right by her. We had and still have strong differences on many things. We are blessed to not have meaningful differences when it comes to LFG. The remaining issues involved in our no fault divorce, unfortunately required 2.5 additional and expensive years. If I could advocate the death penalty, it would be for those who use their kids as levers in the divorce process. Kids are NOT as resilient as the cliché suggests and they need to see two parents behaving civilly to each other. It often requires eating huge portions of humble pie and biting of one’s lip. Do it. Do it. Do it for your children. And guys…leave the macho “I’ll show her a thing or two” shit in the car. The only thing you’ll show by using her kids as a lever is just what a small and emotionally weak little pussy you are. Ok, so you caught your spouse smoking crack naked with the neighbor. I’m not saying that you have to hug them and smile when you see them. Just because LFG’s mother and I can go to lunch with LFG doesn’t mean I insist that your circumstances will ever be that civil. Just be decent when you have to. Trust me, if your former spouse is the turd you think they are, your kids when old enough, will discern it on their own.

4.      Fourth...Written Agreements are worthless…unless you commit to behave in the spirit of what said covenants dictate. Again, it may take some lip biting between bites of humble pie to manage this but it’s better than ending up back in the legal arena…at 325 an hour.
5.      Fifth...SunTzu said that “No one wins in a prolonged conflict”…Don’t let your quest to be “right” become your Vietnam.

6.      And finally…If you have kids, I would suggest that you read “Mom’s House-Dad’s House” cover to cover. I was so miserable and devalued that I skipped the chapter on post divorce dating. Why should I? Dating was the last thing on my mind. There’s a reason why I suggest that you read this superb book…cover to cover.

Ok, that’s it. Just “statements”. Not advice.


~Tessa~Scoffs said...

I reeeeeeaaaaaally hope I never need these "statements." But this post will be my first stop if I do. Well done, Max.

Mal said...

Having both of my wife's sisters gone through this challenge in the past three years, I understand the wisdom of your thoughts. The impact this will have on their children we can't measure for years.


James said...

You are wise my friend.

Anonymous said...

I think you made some excellent "statements". I was divorced after 24 years of marriage. At that time, I had been married for 1/2 of my life (from 25 to 59). I guess our divorce was a bit unusual. We went out to dinner and decided how to divide up the assets. Luckily, there were no debts. It was all over after the 6 month required wait. I think what made it work was that we had so much history together, much of it good, to fall back on. Maybe it was luck....or the fact that I didn't ask for any of the business he owned.

Laguna Beach Trad said...

Really, what is the point of marriage? For men, especially, marriage is a losing proposition in every area. Divorce can be devastating.

The solution, of course, is for men to avoid marriage completely. Society in the West has changed, and, short of a major revolution or civil war, we are not going back.

I suppose another solution is to move to a more traditional country or adopt a more traditional religion.

Lucky Dog / The Commish said...

Well stated, sir.

Best Regards,

Preppy 101 said...

Please bold-face and capitalize all of point #3. I wish all my divorced friends could have seen that one. Your statement on #3 shows what a wonderful father, human you are! And the beneficiary of such fabulosity as a father - LFG!! What a lucky gal! xoxo

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous who asked you to write about divorce. (Not the anonymous above.) What a thoughtful and interesting response and not what I expected but better. You are so right about divorce being a defining moment and it teaches such tough lessons. I was divorced a hundred years ago and my ex went on to his 4th marriage and multiple children. Out of the blue in the past year he sent me a letter of apology after all of this to share his regret for leaving the marriage. I did remarry and it was successful but always tempered by the reality of the first. Eyes wide open does dull romance. Thank you for taking the time to respond.

Anonymous II

Lisa said...

I can not begin to know the pain you have felt/continue to feel over your divorce. It is quite evident that it was not your idea. The thing that has struck me about your ordeal is the mature/responsible way in which you’ve handled the divorce if only for LFG’s sake. That in contrast to your pain is amazing and so admirable. She truly is one lucky girl to have parents who put her needs first – I’ve been witness to countless divorces where this was NEVER the case. Those kids continue to feel like they are in the middle of a tug-o-war, not a good thing for a child. LFG is one lucky girl, in spite of the divorce. You're wrong on one account though, your 'statements' are excellent advice!

TWJ said...

I have been busy lately and thought I would try to catch up on the blog world. Work has been very taxing along with the family. Some of my time has been taken by a friend that was married for 21 years. He himself is on month 10 of his first year of divorce. He has two children, one in college and one in high school. Both are home now and with mom. My friend has spent a lot of time lately trying to "make friends" again with his children. Tough going though.

I see everyone telling you how great you are/did with your situation and the wonderful LFG. Don't take that statement the wrong way. I am sure you both are trying to do your best. At least the pictures of LFG look real. But having to "try to be there" for my friend I see what Hell it is. I am sure it was and still is sometimes for you.

I will see if he can get some "good" from your "statements". I sure hope so. I don't see him having the same success.

In all the divorce's I have been witness to over the last couple of years I believe it might possibly be "cheeper to keep her/him".

TWJ said...

Sorry, I will let you know that my wife and I both are children of divorced parents. Both of them decided after 20 plus years they just could not make it together. My wife and I both were in our late teens when our parents divorced. Each of us also had younger brothers. I at least thought I would not have any impact on me. My wife said the same thing. We both agreed that it would however affect our siblings. And it did for each of them.

At 47 I still tell myself the same thing. (She is smart enough to realize that it did affect her.) We try very hard not to go through the same thing as our parents. Life, married life is not always the way it was for the “Cleavers”. I always thought it would be. Divorce has a long lasting effect on everyone around you for generations. My four children never knew a holiday without four sets of events. I wonder now what it will be like when they get married themselves.

Both sets of now grandparents all believe they did the right thing. For each of them I hope that is true. As much as they also did everything they could to minimize the in pack on their children, it does have an effect. We love each of them very much as do our children. But there are still times that it is difficult.

I do commend you on what you have told us that you and Mrs. ADG have done. It is from this vantage point what everyone wants or hopes to see.

I have tried to tell my friend that it will be difficult for both of his children, especially his daughter. However, he thinks that since they are both “older” they will be fine. I hope they will be and I will do my best to help with this.

Again, I am sorry for coming across the wrong way. I was just responding as one of the kids of divorce.

ADG said...

I won't respond to each of your comments individually. What I will do is say that all of your perspectives are valid and appreciated.

39amber said...

Maybe it is because I am divorced and I want to justify my decision, but I just can't wrap my head around how staying in a loveless marriage was going to be better for my girls. Isn't it better in the long run for them to see their parents happy, successful, functioning people than miserable roommates going through the motions?
I don't know what the residual effects will be on them but I do hope that someday they see that their mother was strong and brave and always put them first and was not selfish for getting divorced.
My ex and I throughout the entire process had a laser focus on what was best for them, that was the litmus test for every decision we made and still make concerning them.
If they get tons of love from both sides and their parents are civil and respectful I think the damaged can surely be mitigated.
Wow, sorry for the strange rant... but it felt GOOD!
(I'm sporting my daiquiri pink ten ton bouquet LP skirt today for church... that will make some eyes roll!)-adn

Divorced (no kids); Remarried (2 kids and happy) said...

Thanks for writing this. It must have been difficult. It seems to have struck a chord already.

Have to agree and disagree. Married men live longer than single men, and happily-married couples have it best. You are right about how awful divorce is, and how everything is stacked against men in divorce and family law.

All others,
Every study out there shows that children do best when raised by both biological parents, in the same home. Our societal problems regarding marriage and divorce are complex, and cannot be adequately explored here. Having said that, I believe one of the biggest sources of our woes is putting the individual ahead of everything and everyone else. This approach has lead to enormous misery, both personal and societal. LBT is right about another thing: traditional religions and traditional societies have vast advantages over ours.

(Disclaimer: I know that there were unhappy marriages in the past and in traditional societies/religions; it's that there are fewer of them in those times/places than in our time of radical autonomy of the individual.)

39amber said...

Divorced dad...
I doubt EVERY study out there would say it was better to raise children in a home where there was constant fighting and years of stress and discourse. Where does the the adoptive child fit into your "raised by biological parents in the same home" equation?
I also beg to differ with your statement that all people that get divorced are putting themselves first. I struggle everyday to provide for my girls emotionally and monetarily as a single parent... I think if I was putting myself first I would have stayed in my cushy life as a stay- at-home, suburban mom without a care in the world... but then I would have been living a lie and I think that would be much more damaging to my children.

ADG said...

Listen my friends...everyone to a fair degree is correct in their opinions-experiences-references etc. What we all need to accept is that there is NO SINGULARLY CORRECT ANSWER to managing through such inflection points as divorce.

Now let's talk seersucker, shell cordovan, martinis and GTH pants!

ADG said...

Oh an P.S. .... 39amber....those pink/orange tom tom ten tom whatever shorts of mine cannot be squired around my 'hood till I get a bit more sun. I've NEVER seen a GTH item that makes white meat look so....white.

39amber said...

I hear ya on the white meat point... we live near the ocean so we already have a bit of color.
normally, I'm not very combative ... in fact I shy away from all conflict but that gentleman struck a nerve! didn't mean to take the post in that direction! my apologies!nothing a glass of red won't calm.

K.S. Anthony said...

Good post.

My divorce was...unexpectedly liberating.

I tend to agree w/ LBT on the matter. No reason for me to get married again: not willing to let hope triumph over experience.

ilovelimegreen said...

But ADG, does that mean no more talk about patch madras? And don't think we are done talking about Gibson Island chairs.

Divorced (no kids); Remarried (2 kids and happy) said...

First, I'm not trying to paint EVERYONE who gets a divorce as selfish; adultery has always been seen as a valid reason. However, the consensus, as I understand it, is that children of married parents do better emotionally, economically, academically, and in other ways, than children of divorced ones. There really was something to the "staying together for the kids" meme. (Let me add that there are extreme situations--violent ones, for example--where separation and/or divorce seem to be better, but in such cases, the kids are pooched either way.)

Adoption is another can of worms--let's not open it today :-)

I am truly sorry for those who have been so affected by their divorces that they never want to marry again. I understand the pain, but I also know what pleasures they're missing.

Onward... (or should I say "shut up"? ;-)

initials CG said...

Some divorces can be liberating. Especially when there are no kids involved. But when they are involved, there are no winners. Only the kids lose...always. Hell, you don't even have to be married to have kids involved. They always lose deep down inside.

I will say that if men were systematically given automatic custody of their children instead of having to prove their ex deals crack just to see their kid a bit more, the divorce rate would probably drop dramatically.

Getting divorced after 20years of marriage just seems ridiculous to me. What, it took you 20 years to figure it out? I think we're all living way too long.

Jeez, IPO underwriters had to force wives to sign "lock-up" provisions separately from their husbands because they were filing the day after!

Lisa said...

Excellent post... My divorce is final in a few weeks, and I'd like to think that the ex and I have remained on good terms. There was nothing to fight for between the two of us money- or property-wise, except to ensure the happiness of our two children (ages 6 and 4). We are battling, but we're surviving.