Wednesday, March 31, 2004

I met with a divorce attorney last week for about an hour and a half and several hundreds of dollars. What an odd experience. In my professional life, I spend a lot of time with lawyers, personally spending in the low six figures every year on corporate legal counsel. The lawyers work for me in the context of business deals I do, and only rarely do the issues devolve to bare fisted fighting, though we do get the litigators involved on an as needed basis when a threat to the other parties is required (litigators are the circling sharks of the corporate world, the enforcers of civility and contracts, best kept on a short leash).

Divorce lawyers as the circling shark for the unhappy. Once the decision is made to end the relationship, the sharks are brought in to do the bloodletting and fight over the pie. As it is a zero sum game, the size of the pie is fixed, the issue is simple – who gets how much of the pie and the future income stream --- what I win you loose. And of course, the pie keeps getting smaller the more you fight, while the sharks smile and eat and get paid by the hour. Basically, take a good corporate lawyer, strip away all the pretence, add a go for the jugular attitude, and you have a good divorce lawyer.

An initial meeting with a divorce lawyer is basically a cold-blooded discussion about how to maximize your own position to the detriment of the other person. The lawyer I met with is well tailored in an expensive suit, with a clean shaved head and a barrel chest, in his early 50’s, wearing subtle but expensive gold details. Almost a parody of what you would expect. The look of a classy assassin. To those of us who enjoy game theory and negotiating, who engage in the give and take of commerce on a daily basis, talking to the lawyer about your own case is actually quite interesting in an abstract way while being horrifying once you strip away the euphemisms.

The gist of the advice – I am in a relatively good position for about another two years given the laws of my state and then things get permanently ugly. I have time to make decisions. And time to start implementing “a strategy’ to maximize my own position at the time of separation, should it occur. And as I take the first steps on the strategy, as prudence dictates (Wife will not be lied to and will not be harmed by implementing the strategy if we stay together, just get less of the pie if we separate; Child will not be affected), I can’t help but feel dirty.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Cinnamongirl left a long response to my last post in the comments window. She talks about the mental illness that she suffers with and takes exception with many of the things that I said. Her post is very passionate and in part attacks me and in part attacks my friend.

I am fortunate to not suffer from mental illness, though I suppose if you looked through the DSM III long enough, we would all be defined as ill in some way, me being no exception. I do deal in my own way with mild to moderate depression, compulsive and paranoid behavior, and other problems, but I am functional, have never been committed, never tried to commit suicide, and have generally been free of any other obvious manifestation of severe illness.

As her comments do attack me, I feel compelled to respond.

She writes: “you really had my sympathies until I read this post”. Well thanks anyway, but I don’t post looking for sympathy.

“I sincerely hope this woman isn't living on borrowed time, because her blood will be on the hands of your friend.” Wow. She is sick and it will be her loving, adoring, spouse’s fault if she finally kills herself after repeated attempts. Read my earlier post carefully – my friend has blood on his hands, his arms, his clothes, but not because of his actions. His sick wife slashed her wrists and lay down in the bathtub to die, no thought of the life long damage her selfish act would inflict on her young child or her loving and self-sacrificing husband. Think about what would have happened if my friend had not come home early from work, got her to the hospital while she was in cardiac arrest from blood loss, and quite literally SAVED HER LIFE – her three and a half year old daughter would have discovered her blood covered corpse. I am sorry, but as far as I am concerned, that makes her a real asshole, and once she was better and stabilized, grounds for being kicked out of the house and never let back in. But my friend sticks with her and has found, through whatever series of events and advice, a solution that works for now.

“A hell of a way to treat the mother of your children.” Yeah, that’s right. One of the reasons that my friend has two babysitters on staff at all time is so that there are enough people around to prevent her from physically abusing her child and to make sure the kid is fed and clothed when he is not home. Your comment is beyond laughable. My friend is a saint, his wife is sick, who uses her illness to make sure the entire universe revolves around her. Only when she finally learned that people weren’t going to play her horrible games did she pull herself together, make efforts to stop the boozing, take her meds, and make a home for herself and her family. From the tone of her comments, seems like Cinnamongirl may engage in some of the same antics. It would be interesting to talk to her family and get a sense of what life is like in her home.

“And how nice that the mother of his child has been so quickly replaced with a new bimbo. Tell me, is the new twat "normal?" In my opinion, after living through the hell he lived through, with his wife stabilized and given the opportunity to get better or not, entering into a normal relationship was well within the range of what my friend deserved and had earned. And I did meet the ‘twat’, who seemed to be a normal woman.

“What is he teaching his child?” I think he is teaching his child great lessons about how much my friend loves his child and his wife, about the depths humans will go to help family members, how love overcomes all, how creating a stable homelife is extremely important, how devotion can cause pain and joy, and most importantly, how that child has a father that will never, ever let that child down – after all, he has walked through the nine circles of hell to support his wife, and the child experiences it every day.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

I have a friend, a business colleague but not a co-worker, that I get together with every couple of weeks to play a racquet sport that we are both fairly good at and then have a couple of beers. We have been doing this for years and have become good friends. My friend is very successful in his profession, enjoys the respect of his peers, and is financially well off.

He married quite young to a beautiful woman a few years his senior; they have been married at least 15 years and love each in a way that the rest of us should envy.

Of course, under every perfect surface lies a tempest of trouble. Friend’s wife is mentally ill. She suffers from serious depression, chronic alcohol abuse, and has attempted suicide repeatedly. At least one attempt was not a ‘cry for help’, only prevented by the lucky fact that he went home unexpectedly early from work one day last year and found her bleeding out in the bathtub and in cardiac arrest. The three year old child was away with the babysitter at the time.

His wife has repeatedly spent time in in-patient and lockdown care, long stays at some very well known facilities, goes to AA every day that she is on the wagon, takes cocktails of anti-depressants, and then without fail slides back, weeks or months later. The family has had to hire two babysitters – one for the child and one for the wife. And still, at random times my friend would come home in the evening to find her gone. After a search she would be found passed out on the side of the road or under some bushes in their neighborhood.

Friend finally started going to Al-Anon last year and realized that in some perverse way his unconditional love and support for his wife had enabled and even encouraged her swings. What a bizarre world – the women enjoys deep love from a great guy and she rewards him with the worst behavior imaginable. Not that she is in control; she is truly ill, but the irony is deep.

With the support of Al-Anon, he changed the way he acts towards her and after she sobered up the last time and got back on her meds, he threw her out of the house. Actually, he went out and rented an apartment for her a few miles away, furnished it, picked up the tab, and moved her out. Their child was devastated, he was deeply saddened. He also told her that she could only came back if she could stay sober and healthy for six months and make a commitment to doing the things necessary to keep her illness in control.

During the time she was out of the house, my friend looked better than he had in years. He had a great girlfriend, spent a lot of time with his child, and saw his already successful business improve measurably. And eight or nine months later, his wife moved back into the house, and now, several months later, they are still together, she is still sober, and things, for now, seem good.

And then only thing that I can think of whenever he tells me what is going on at home is “I CANT BELIEVE YOU GOT HER OUT OF THE HOUSE AND THEN LET HER BACK IN!” I mean, it is almost a foregone conclusion that she will have another breakdown and his life will be plunged back into the muck and mire. What is he thinking? He could have moved on with his life, found somebody else, but he chose his wife. When I nicely ask him why, he says “I really love her”.

Maybe I am the one to be pitied, because given the relationship I have had with my wife for the past several years, I can’t imagine whay anybody would put up with one half the crap he took and go back in the ring for another swing. Maybe that makes him a better man than me, maybe he is a masochist, maybe he is as crazy as she is on some level, and maybe all of the above. All I know is that I just simply don’t get it.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Random and varied musings to start spring.

I have an appointment with a divorce lawyer this week for a consultation. Wife and I are still together, things improving somewhat, but I had set up the appointment a few weeks ago and am going to spend an hour and a few hundred bucks to hear from a pro what I should think about if things go badly. Better to be prepared.

Cousin told me that we had to cool things down. “You know if we keep this up we will just end up sleeping with each other”. “It would be glorious” was my response. Nonetheless, lucky for both of us that one of us has a brain and slowed the train down before a wreck occurred. We left it that we would talk on occasion and if six months from now there is a new paradigm, sparks will fly.

Wife has been making a full-on effort to pull the marriage together. The massive iceberg that I have become is starting to thaw, just a bit. Didn’t do any knee knocking but I actually entertained the thought this weekend, which is a big change. She has been nice to be around since I dropped the bomb, attentive, looking good, making plans, even offering to do things that I like but she doesn’t. As I have blogged in the past, one of my continuing issues is that I live too much of life apart from her, do too many things on my own without a partner, and am constrained from finding a companion to share things I like because of the prison of my marriage. I told her that this is a major issue and for a change she seemed to listen. But as in the past, I suspect that this is just a passing fancy and she will settle back into her bad old habits. After all, she cancelled her mother’s weekly Friday night sleepover a week ago but Jabba was back the other day (and though I do get along with Mother-in-Law, it bugs me no end that she basically moved in when Child was born and five years later I still haven’t been able to pry her out of the guestroom).

Wife told me that she would start to see a shrink to try to deal with her issues about a second child. I haven’t asked if she followed up, but if true this is a positive development. Maybe she will get some anti-depressants. Of course, she told me to do the same, but I can’t help thinking that those head shrinkers main goal is to try to find a way to make you accept your cage, ala some pathetic character out of a John Cheever story, rather than help you find a way out. For now, I pass.

Business has been highly stressful, which of course adds to the mix. At this moment, I am sitting in an anonymous hotel room, in a right-wing state, on my third business trip in the past seven days. At least I have peace and quiet, and maybe a good night of sleep.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Things go from bad to weird. I dropped the bomb that we should separate for a while, and she has responded with a full frontal effort to save the relationship. Touching. Unfortunately I may have passed a tipping point in getting the state where leaving Child, Home (which I really like), Stability, Money, and Wife behind seemed favorable to another fight in our dirty little war. For now I am sticking it out at home, enjoying time with Child, though I am numb to her efforts.

I am sure I will be castigated by some readers who will tell me that I should respond in kind to her efforts, but when you feel beaten as badly as I do, it is hard to turn the ship around.

Complicating things of course is Cousin’s appreciated efforts to be friendly and attentive. Will the desire for the new win out over the weight of history? Should be an interesting few weeks.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I almost pulled the trigger tonight. For the past bunch of days, Wife has been asking what’s wrong – she senses that something is up. When I have been home, which has not been often lately due to business travel and another ski weekend which she declined to attend, I have been withdrawn and not communicative. Generally, I have avoided the question with short non-answers, but on the way home from the airport earlier today I decided that if the question came up tonight I was going to call the questions “why are we staying together”, followed by “don’t you think we should try separating for a while”, and then launch into the painful, tears and all discussion.

I called a lawyer friend and got the phone number of a divorce lawyer but have not yet called him. One step at a time. But I do need to understand the process and start setting up contingency plans.

I had the whole conversation mapped out in my head, but then chickened out. I was looking forward to getting it done. But it will wait for another day. After all, this is a monumental step and another day will not make a difference.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Thank you to each of you who have taken the time to email or leave a thoughtful comment. I started this blog as a way of talking out loud about my experience of living within a troubled marriage; in a sense, engaging in my own talking therapy without sitting in somebody’s office for 45 minutes each week. I didn’t really expect responses, but the notion of writing to a diary that only gets read after some descendent opens a trunk in the attic seemed like a waste of time – why not share it with the world and see what comes back. Your comments are helpful in seeing flaws in my own arguments and at other times articulating what needs to be said. This is helpful and appreciated.

Keep ‘em coming.

Friday, March 05, 2004

As things deteriorate in any situation, a person naturally starts evaluating alternatives. This is true whether it is a business deal (consider hiring a lawyer or Tony Soprano), sitting in the stands during the middle of a 10-0 rout of the home team (consider leaving or buying a lot more beer), or living in a bad relationship (consider leaving, start an affair, or start checking out the ladies that are letting you know they are interested).

The divorced (female) first cousin of a close friend, whom I have known casually for the better part of 15 years, is an attractive, professional, successful single mother. Every year there are two or three occasions, some family affairs, some more informal get togethers like ski weekends or days at the beach, were we bump into each other. We have enjoyed talking to each other over the years though it has never gone further than that.

Most winter’s, my friend and I go for a long ski weekend together, often spending it with other members of his family and some of our old friends from high school. Lots of beer and vodka, some mild drunken debauch, but nothing that would make the pages of Maxim. Last year, Cousin was there and we spent a fair amount of time in each other’s company, ending with a comparatively chaste but lots of fun reciprocal foot massage at midnight. Big deal you say. You were expecting some X or even R rated fun. Hey – I am a married man and last winter things at home weren’t as bad as they are now – not good but still salvageable, still hope for a better future. Goal was still to avoid those first steps down a slippery slope and all.

Bumped into her again over the summer with Wife in tow, had a nice chat. Then the planning for this years ski weekend starting flying over email. We took into a private chat room (as it were) and agreed to meet for drinks. Had a nice time, couple of cocktail’s, dinner at a hip spot, chaste cousin type kiss goodbye.

Then for the past month or two, a constant steady stream of email flirtation back and forth, ending with her quick agreement to meet again after I put the out the invitation.

During the past two months, I have been increasingly convinced that this whole effort (that being my attempts to hang in on the marriage in the hopes that things will improve or at least stabilize) is ridiculous. Some of my thinking has been influenced by the responses to this blog, though on all the advice seems to run about 50-50 to leave/stay, some of the thinking by yet another recent blow-up of the second child demand, and some by the fact that I am actually getting less emotional about the whole situation. When you stop caring, it is easier to make disinterested decisions. And of course, some of the thinking is because I am just horny as hell. Wife and I rarely touch each other any more, and as I am healthy, fit guy who took a vow of marriage but not of chastity, I am getting seriously annoyed and depressed about the prospect of a sex-free adulthood.

Three weeks ago I started looking at ads for temporary sublets in the area with the thought that maybe we needed to separate for a while. But we had a vacation scheduled to tropical climes, and typically in the past our relationship has always been rejuvenated from these types of trips, so I decided to hold off on the decision. Much to my sadness, and though we had a nice time on the break and Child had a great time, there was for me no sense of rejuvenation when we got home. Clearly we have hit a new low. I think it is getting close to the time to say “Thanks for playing. Next contestant please!”

Cousin and I had a vodka and oyster fueled get together a couple of nights ago. After the first Martini and 45 minutes of small talk, she called the question of what we were doing together and why were we sitting in that spot at that moment getting drunker and closer to each other. Given that she has been through a divorce with children involved, I was curious to get inside of her head and hear about her experiences. After lots of talk, she laid it out there that she was seriously interested (obviously, she was there looking good and she accepted the invite to meet) but would not have an affair with me, though the day I moved out she would be happy to provide me all the things I have become accustomed to missing. Then we progressed to deep talk, the kind you have when you are aroused and half drunk, interspersed with serious kissing and groping. Walked her back to her car, was invited in but declined (we were boozed up and going for it drunk like that just aint cool), had some serious mashing before saying good night. Btw, as an aside and not to be Clintonesque, at what point of physical and emotional connection does an affair actually start (and I know the answer to this question and so do you)?

Taking some steps down that slippery slope…

To her credit, she laid out a well thought out and presented case for divorce and the pro’s and con’s for all parties involved, particularly Child’s, all through the lens of her personal experience. Of course, she is not unbiased in the situation and in her counsel, but nonetheless, there is a lot to think about.

Got a lot of thinking to do, and got to decide how and when to lance the boil that has been giving me all this pain.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?