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Aug 8

Dealing with the ex for better or worse

Posted on Monday, August 8, 2011 in dating, Divorce, Happiness, Honesty, Parenting, Relationships, single dads, single moms

“You won’t believe who I ran into the other day,” Sara said as we stood in line to board the ferry to the Giants game.

“I hope someone worth running into, like Lincecum or whatever actor’s filming somewhere around here.”

“No, someone much more interesting — Todd’s ex.”

Todd’s the OkCupid guy Sara’s still sweet on and vice versa.

“Oooh, what’s she like?”

“Nothing like I thought she’d be like, which, of course, is all based on what Todd told me about her. She’s not at all psycho. She actually seemed like she could kick back a cosmo or two with us, you know? I like her.” 

There are a few weird experiences when you’re divorced — meeting your ex’s new love, having your new love meet your kids, meeting your new love’s kids, and meeting your new love’s ex.

I always listen to a guy talk about his ex with a grain of salt — there’s his version of the truth, her version and then “the truth,” which is likely some mash-up of his truth and hers.

Of course, some exes truly are total nightmares and they can ruin a budding love affair, as Sara discovered when she fell in love with Jeff many months ago but ended it because she couldn’t imagine a future with Jeff and his psycho ex. What happens, though, if you kind of like his ex and he still feels negatively toward her; can you be a positive thing in their relationship — especially if kids are involved.

And at what point do you ask to meet the new love — if you even should ask, that is. If you know your ex has a serious squeeze, one who’s spending time with your kids and developing a relationship with them, do you have a right to ask to meet her? Do you hang around places you know you might accidentally on purpose bump into her, or do you just let it go? And, do you make sure your ex meets you new sweetie?

None of these are questions we even think off when we’re divorcing — there are bigger issues then, right? Funny, but then they start to play a role in our new life, and now we’re forced to think about them whether we want to or not.

I’m not saying it’s better to stay married, but it sure can be less complicated!

  • What has been your experience with either past or present exes?
  • What has been your new love’s — past or present — of your ex?
  • Do you believe you should meet your ex’s new love if it looks serious and you have kids?

 

Photos © Angelika Bentin – Fotolia.com

 

May 9

You can’t blame your parents forever

Posted on Monday, May 9, 2011 in Happiness, Honesty, Kat, Parenting, Relationships, Self image

As I was enjoying The Kid’s Mother’s Day breakfast-in-bed he whipped up for me — well, more like lunch-in-bed considering how late he gets up — I suddenly thought how tough the day was going to be for Mia; her mom had passed away last summer, and this was the first Mother’s Day she wouldn’t have her mom around.

So I called Sara and we talked Mia into going on a late afternoon hike with us. She was appreciative, but unusually — and understandably — somber. In every other sentence she was beating herself up for all the things she wished she’d done differently with her mom.

After a few minutes, I stopped her. “Mia, you can’t undo what’s been done. I’m sure your mom knew you loved her. Give yourself a break.”  

“Maybe,” she said, her voice trailing off. “But, I was so angry at her for so long.”

And who hasn’t felt that about his or her parents?

I don’t know about you, but just about every one I know has some sort of a complicated relationship with his or her mom or dad or both. Having parents isn’t for babies! And no matter how much we spent on flowers or brunch — or, in Dad’s case, ties and barbecue utensils; go figure! — on their “day,” we still often wrestle with the ways in which they “failed” us.

Which makes me really nervous because I would hate to think that The Kid will be feeling that way about me 10 or 20 years down the road.  I feel like Gene Kranz (Ed Harris) in the movie “Apollo 13”: “Failure is not an option!

Yeah, right!!!

We parents “fail” all the time because we’re human, and thus make mistakes, and we have to make the tough decisions, ones our kids often don’t like. Sorry, but …

And since you know your kids are going to blame you no matter what you do, just do the right thing and stop obsessing about parenting!

It’s easy to blame our parents for keeping us back or somehow messing up our lives. But, shouldn’t there be a statute of limitations on that? Like, once you hit 30 — give of take — you can’t blame your parents for every failure in your life? You have to own up to the fact that you’ve created your own messes now; the past is over.

OK; some parents really are toxic. So those who grew up with severe cases of childhood dysfunction, like abuse of any kind or alcoholism/addictions, get a buy — but only for so long. At some point, you have to come to a place of forgiveness and compassion and move on.

Most of us have been hurt one way or the other, to varying degrees, whether physically, emotionally or psychologically — or if you had really horrific parents, all three. It may not be easy to get past that, but shouldn’t we try — and keep trying until we can? And at some point, having an a awareness of how our childhood has affected our choices as an adult is important — can’t change what you don’t even know.

We can’t change other people or the past; all we can do is change is how we let it affect us.

Best advice I ever got.

And owning your own bad behavior goes for exes, too; you can’t point your finger at the ex and say it’s all his or her fault if things went bad. Because, would you give him or her all the credit if things were going great? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

If you spent Mother’s Day just sending the obligatory card or phone call because you don’t get along with your mom, please — do some soul searching today and find compassion and forgiveness. You don’t want to be like Mia — regretting that you didn’t make peace with her while you still could.

  • In what ways did your childhood effect your relationships?
  • Do you still blame your parent(s) for your behavior today?
  • If not, how did you work past it?
  • Do you worry about what your kid(s) might blame you for? Do you have idea what it might be?

Photo © Nathalie P – Fotolia.com

Apr 11

Should you live together if you have kids?

Posted on Monday, April 11, 2011 in Happiness, Kat, love, Parenting, Relationships, single dads, single moms, Singles, Women

Sara, her new beau, and Sean and I had gone out to Rancho Nicasio to hear some music, eat and dance.

At one point I caught Sara watching Sean and me in a slow dance out of the corner of my eye.

“You guys are so cute together,” she whispered to me later at the table, when Sean went to the restroom. “When are you going to move in together?”

Good question, because I’m not sure we’re ever going to move in together. But certainly not now.

“I don’t know, Sara; not before The Kid’s out of the house. Plus, his kid’s at home, too, remember.”

“Oh, kids, schmids —That’s so old-fashioned. They know you two are sleeping together, right? So, what’s the difference?”

It seems like a pretty big difference to me. Living together when you’ve got kids is sending the wrong message — that marriage doesn’t matter.    

I know, I know — I’m divorced. If marriage really mattered to me …

No one goes into marriage expecting to divorce. But, marriage does matter, if you’re planning to have kids.

Marriage is under attack lately, perhaps rightly so given the insane expectations people place on it. Fewer people than ever before think it’s necessary. Let’s face it, marriage certainly isn’t for everyone. And people often get married for all the wrong reasons, and sometimes couples marry because they’ve been living together for a while and it seems like the next logical thing to do.

Often, it isn’t.

Couples who live together before marrying tend to argue more and communicate less. If they eventually marry, they divorce more often than those who don’t. Plus, they get fat, and that alone is reason to make me say, no way!

But it you’re going to have kids, it makes no sense to live together without getting married first. Shacking up is marriage lite, with all the daily annoyances and relatively predictable roles of marriage without the commitment. And if you think it’s any easier to split if things aren’t going great, well, just look at Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry.

Scary.

And once you have kids — who’ve gone through the trauma of a divorce — it’s all the more reason to tread very carefully on mixing families. Yes, it sure would be nice to go to sleep and wake up next to Sean more often, and to feel more like a family (although we sure do like our “space”). But I’m aware of the message we’d be sending our kids, and it isn’t the message I want to send.

There are like 5 million or so couples shacking up nowadays, and a lot of them are probably like Sean and me — single moms and dads. So I’m pretty sure we’re the minority. But, I’m OK with that. Plus, there’s none of the real or pseudo “step” or “half” things going on — stepmom, stepdad, half-brother, etc. Or worse — “mom’s live-in lover.”

I’ll bet that’s why we’re still so cute together after all these years.

  • Is it OK to live together if you and/or your boy/girlfriend have kids?
  • Do you think it’s any easier to split if you’re living together with kids than if you were married?
  • Did you live with a parent’s boy/girlfriend? How’d that work out?

Photo © Gorilla – Fotolia.com