After blaming himself for a broken marriage, one man with a strong support system and a wise counselor
gets his feet back on the ground and finds love again.
September 7, 2013
Host: Divorce is the end of a relationship. But it can also the start of a lot of good. You might become a better parent, a better businessman, a better person. What’s your story?
Speaker: We separated back in August of ’09. Paperwork, I finally got served papers in December in ’09. And then, the divorce was finalized December 17th of 2010. The divorce took the longest, was because of the son. And we had to go through three mediators back so many times through that. Because of, we would meet with our lawyers, but then, we had to go back to mediation and try to resolve it. And we couldn’t.
So, then we had to go back. And also, my attorney bill was phenomenal. It was, like, over $15,000. I mean, that’s not even counting mediation. Because mediation, you had to pay up front. It was like 50 bucks a pop. We went four times, at least, that I can remember, probably even more than that, that I could recall. But it all starts blending together. You know,50 bucks a pop. That’s $200 for the time there.
We were married for ten years. 1999 to 2009. We got married in June. When we separated, I left the house. I didn’t want to keep my son in the environment. I didn’t want to take him out of his element because he’s comfortable with it because he was only three at the time. And I didn’t uproot and say “Hey, you got to leave, I’m staying in the house.”
So, I went with my parents and stayed there. And I tried to work out and give her space. I tried to say “Can we go to counseling”? And she wouldn’t want to do counseling. I would periodically go to the house, because I still had keys to the house. And I could get in. I went there when she wasn’t there and I would go mow the lawn, clean the house, do certain things. Leave flowers in there, saying “Hey, can we talk”? She wouldn’t respond to my phone calls or nothing.
I surprised her at work with my son one time. We left her flowers in the car saying “Hey, have a nice day” and she threw the flowers away, even though they were from our son. And stuff like that, I try to do and then I finally did a couple days before Christmas, I got served papers. And I realized it was over.
We dated for over two years before we actually married. And we waited, I guess she went to Western and we waited til she got out of school. Then we got married the month after she graduated. And then seven years later, we had our son. We’ve been trying to have a kid for seven years and we finally had, we call him our “miracle baby.”
I’m old-fashioned. I get married once and I’m done. But it changed, you know, me. That the one girlfriend I’m with now, I’m just like “Wow.” I can see marrying her and everything. And we are. We’re going to get married. We’re just doing things backwards.
It scarred me at first. I mean, I was so heartbroken, because she was using him against me. My son, threatening to take him away from me. I wasn’t dating. If I was dating, she would, the whole year of going through the divorce. It was hard. I actually went through friends and dated. And my friends hooked me up with people. I dated people, a couple weeks here on a night, I said, I came out front with them and said “I got a son. He’s going to make or break [inaudible 00:03:45]. If he doesn’t like you, he has to like you. If he doesn’t like you, I want him to like you. You’ve got to like my son, because he is my life.”
And I, first view, didn’t really want him around. So, then I went to girls that had kids and that worked out good. But then it started getting to where, when I would spend time with my son, when I had him come over when I was staying with the girlfriends that had the kids, her kids were getting jealous that I was spending more time with my son and not spending time with them. I said “I don’t get him. I get to see you guys every day, but I don’t get to see my son every day.” So, that was kind of hard, too.
My girlfriend now, though, she doesn’t have kids. But at first, I told her, I said “I have a son. I don’t want to introduce him to you yet. I want to get us, see how we are” and then, you know. She was fine. We went out to eat and I went to the bathroom. When I came back, they were in a full conversation. And then, from then on, he loves her. And that means the world to me.
And she includes him on everything. She basically treats him like her own, which is phenomenal. That made me love her even more. Because the ones that had kids, no girlfriend has ever really gone the extra mile for my son. You know, kind of like most people, they’re like “I got kids. I don’t have to worry about your kid.” But she understands “Hey, you need to go spend time with your son.” This and that. And she’s like “Even though we’ve got a kid a way, you still need to go have your bonding time with him every once in a while.” She gets it. It’s amazing.
First girl I dated. She was never married, but she had a kid. And I kind of felt like broken goods, like no one wanted me. She was really pushy. It just felt like it didn’t make it work. Why would someone want to be with me? Okay, he was married and he got divorced. I don’t want to be with him. He couldn’t make it work.
I felt like nobody wanted me. I felt like I didn’t try hard enough. I went through counseling through my parents’ pastor. He was a counselor, very helpful. It opened up my eyes. I look back at my marriage and things that I could have done. Maybe change things. So, he goes “Look at this book, what do you see”? “I see a cover with words on it.” He goes “Ask me what I see. I see a back of a book with nothing on it.” He goes “You have to see, also, what I see.” And I wasn’t always doing that in my marriage. But I did respect my wife. I never cheated. But I didn’t always see her side.
I use that now in my relationships. And I always try to look at the other person’s side of the situation. Avoid arguments and like “I can see how she thinks that I got the way I said that, it sounds after I said it.” And then I think about it. I’m like “Yeah, okay.” I didn’t do that before. We would just keep arguing.
He opened up my eyes to a lot of things. He goes “You’ve just got to see it from the other person’s perspective.” That did, that was a big, big thing that I hurdled. And he opened up my eyes to a lot of other things. “Just don’t hesitate on feelings and don’t hold back. God works in mysterious ways and He has a reason, a purpose in life for you.” And I started believing in it. He goes “You’ve got to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re not going to get anywhere and you’re not going to get anywhere in a relationship.”
To him, back, in like, October. Because it was two months after we separated. I went to him in October and I met with him for, like, two months. I met him once a week for a couple of hours. Sometimes, we went four hours. It was once a week for two months straight. He goes, “I had a hard habit. Certain habits I had, I grew up with them. Parents dumped [thing].”
I think I went through, because I dated quite a few girls and I kept learning lessons through those girls that I dated. It was probably a good year. I was trying not to rush into anything with them. Sometimes, I would rush a relationship, fall in love with them real quick. And I would get to know the person better. Just try to figure out what they like in life and try to like things, you know? Try not to judge them. Little knickknack things here along the way that I would pick up and try to… you know, that he would say. That was the big thing, try not to over-judge.
I’m like “Once I make up my mind, that’s what I’m doing.” He goes, “You’ve got to not always do that. You’ve got to be flexible.” And that what I was trying to do. Because once I get my mind up, it’s that way and I’m done. It made me more flexible because I was always, when I was done, I was done. I didn’t try to work at it.
I dated a girl that was ten years younger than I was. And people didn’t like it. I’m like “Why does it matter? If you love somebody, you love them. It doesn’t matter. Age is just a number.” But that was a big hurdle. She was younger than me. Didn’t want to do the party scene. I already did that, I didn’t want to do that. I wasn’t judging, but people, my friends and all that, were judging me. But we love each other. It shouldn’t matter what the age is. It shouldn’t matter what people were thinking and it didn’t.
But she kind of just had to do all the partying. And I finally just, I didn’t want to it. And so, we kind of broke it off before we got too serious and everything. So, that was that one. But then I just, I basically just try to stay around my age. But then, I would just go slow. And I would just learn from there. We’re not going to spend every waking moment together.
Because that was me before. I wanted to spend every waking moment with you. You’ve got to have your own time, go out with your own friends. I have my friends, you’ve got your friends and then, we’ve got our time together. I wouldn’t say “Hey, we don’t have to do this every day.” I would talk to the girl I was dating and say “Hey, how would you feel about not being together all the time”? Kind of get their feedback on how they feel about it.
Some always wanted to be with you. Because they had the kids and wanted to get out. I’m like “Well, I want to be with my friends, too.” Because my friends, through my divorce, for my support group, they were there for me. My true friends. There were friends that we gained together that came with me and everything. So, I gained all those friends that we made together when we were married, because they know what happened and they came with me and they stayed my friends.
I always tell the girls I’m dating, I go “I want to spend time with my friends. I want to spend time with you, but my friends helped me get through my divorce. They were there when I was down, when I felt miserable. They would always come and cheer me up.” Some got it and some didn’t. If they didn’t like it, I’m like “Hey, I’m sorry.”
But, my girlfriend now, she goes out with her girlfriends and I go out with my buddies every once in a while. And we don’t do it all the time, because we’re living together now. But we get it where, you know what, you’ve still got to have that time apart. You’ve got to do that. Because otherwise, you go crazy.
She goes out maybe once or twice a week with her friends for lunch. And then, they’ll go out and have a girl night. And I’ll go out and have a buddies night. We go golfing or whatever, and it works.
That’s the big thing. And family, my family. I said, that’s another thing that I would tell girlfriends that I would date. I said “I’m a family person. I love spending time with family.” I said “If you don’t like spending time with family, I’m sorry.” That was one thing that was bad in my marriage is that we always spent time with my ex’s parents all the time, hardly mine.
We were over at hers three, four times a week. And then, we may have seen my parents maybe twice a month. I was in love. I think my love, I didn’t want to make her mad. And that was part of the thing I had to work on after the divorce. I said “You know what? My family, I’m going to incorporate them. I’m not going to let that happen again.” That was a thing I had to work on, too, because my family has always been there for me. And I said “I’m not going to let that happen again in any other relationship.”
I had to work on that. That was a big thing I had to work on, too. I was afraid because I didn’t want to argue about it, I think. I think there was this big thing, as I tried to avoid argumentations with her, my ex. So, I’d say “Okay, let’s go.” Or I was like “We don’t have to go, that’s fine.” Sometimes, she wouldn’t come with. And then, if she did go over there, she wouldn’t do anything anyways.
I would actually do stuff with just my mom on my off days, when she was working. And then she harassed me about that. I said “You don’t have to worry about going. I’m doing it on my time when you’re off.” And she didn’t like that, either. I said “I’m trying to spend time with my family when you don’t want to, but I want to.” But, like I said, I worked on it after we got divorced and I spent more time, because I actually moved in with my parents after my divorce. We got closer again.
I’ve always been close with my parents, but closer. Now, it’s even closer-closer. My girlfriend now, my parents just love her and she loves my parents. We go to her parents once a week. And we go to my parents once a week. And then sometimes, we can’t really get her dad out as much, as he has MS. We try to get together as a big family, maybe once a month or something. And that’s what I love.
Family is a backbone. They get you through everything. My family and friends, I don’t know what I’d do without them. They opened up my eyes to not everybody is judgmental. People are nice and kind. And other people are always willing to give you a helping hand. People love you for you. You don’t have to change. People will love you for who you are. You don’t have to change and try to make people love you, I think.
Don’t think that life won’t go on. Like I said, after the divorce, I would say a good six to eight months after the divorce was finalized, that I was talking with the pastor. And he would just say “Just keep thinking. Just try to work on yourself.” But when I was working on myself, too, he goes “Don’t change your personality. If you’re an outgoing, funny person, don’t try to change that. Be outgoing. You don’t have to be a quiet person.”
My friends started seeing, I think it was more of a gradual thing over the six months. Because my friends were seeing it slowly. They were like “Hey, it’s nice to see your personality coming back slowly.” Because I kind of put up a front when I… Halfway through my marriage, my friends started seeing that I wasn’t the same person. They told me this after we separated. They were like “You’re not the same person. You used to be funny and outgoing.”
And I changed. My ex-wife didn’t like that. Because she always told me I was too flirty, I would always joke with my buddies’ wives and stuff, and they would joke back. She told me I was flirting with them. I said “I didn’t know that was flirting when you’re joking with each other.” And my buddies, they never kind of said anything. It’s just stuff like that.
When my friends would say, “You’re not flirting. It’s play flirting, but it’s not a serious flirting,” and stuff like that. But I didn’t mind it with them. They would do it with her, and it was okay for her to do it and not me. And they caught that on. And like I said, they were telling me stuff after we separated. They were telling me this and that what she would do, but it’s not okay for you to do it.
It hit me. Like I said, I said “You know what, if people who don’t love me for who I am.” I forgot who told me this a long time ago, saying, “Treat somebody the way that you want to be treated.” And if I want to be treated nice, I’m going to treat you nice. If you’re a butthead, I’ll treat you like a butthead. But I’ve always kept that philosophy. I’m going to treat you the way I want to be treated.
I kind of got away from that, like I said, but I think, here, because I was with her and I think that kind of made not care. Like I said, after the divorce and like I said, with all that getting back to my normal self again, I started going back to that. I started treating people better. Because I would just come up to strangers and start talking to them. And they would say, “You’re a nice guy. Most people don’t always just come up to you and start talking to you. You seem like a very nice guy.”
I opened up a lot, just through people and stuff like that. I always, I would just go up to total strangers and start talking to them. I still do. Before, I wouldn’t do that. I stopped doing that during the marriage. I think that I’m not afraid of love anymore. Because after that, when I did it, I thought I was damaged goods. So, I think that opened up my eyes. I said “Hey, there is always somebody out there for you. And I found her.”
I get the feeling in my heart, I think what makes our relationship so strong is that we have the same background that what happened to us. She had the physical affair that happened to her. And I can’t prove it, but it’s an emotional affair. And it helped us bond beyond belief. Our love is so much stronger for each other.
She was afraid. We moved [inaudible 00:17:02] at first. We wouldn’t kiss, we weren’t doing anything because she was afraid that she was going to get hurt again. And I said “You know what? I’ve only been with you for a month. I can feel it in my heart. The love I have for you is so strong. I get teary-eyed just thinking about you and me. I could never cross that line.” And I had to keep reassuring her that I would never leave. I said “My mom,” she even told her. She said “When he loves somebody, one-woman man. And he will never be away from the love. And if he tells you he loves you, he means it.”
And I do. I mean, if I tell you I love you, that’s coming from the bottom of my heart. And I think that keeping reassuring her and her reassuring me that she wouldn’t leave me. Joked for a while there saying “I’m not the one that’s going to leave. You’re the one that’s going to leave.” We did that back and forth for, like, two months. And just knowing that our love…
And it’s just the little things that she does, makes me love her even more. But I fell totally in love with her when I introduced her to my son. And he was just talking away to her and I just fell in love with her even more and that made me love her even more. And knowing that she would treat my son well. Like I said, that was a big thing for me, for a woman to come in without a kid and accept that kid. I said “If we’re going to make it work, I want you to accept, because he is a part of me. You have to accept him, too.” I said “You can discipline him and all that. I don’t have a problem with that.”
And she was afraid at first, but she disciplines him, too. And everything works out. It’s working great. And she does little things here and there for me. I’m not used to that. I said I never had somebody do, like these tiny little things. Putting notes on my lunch bag or stuff like that, I’d never had that.
This whole divorce, I’d actually, if I see friends down and having a hard time with something, it actually gave me a problem to solve. Kind of sit back and say “Okay, let’s analyze. What are you having a problem with at work? What can I do better to make something better”? I would think more. Like, at work, I would think “Okay, what can I do to make this better for people at work and how can I help this person out with something?” I would sit back and think more. Before I would be like “Ah, I’ll just let it go.”
Now, I think more when it comes to my friends. If they need help or just say “Hey, maybe you should do this.” I give out more of a helping hand. I would drop what I’m doing and go help them and do something. Now, you’re telling me, if you’ve got to dig a hole, I’m there. Just tell me when. I would drop it and before, I’d be like “I’ve got to do this, I can’t get there, I can’t do it.”
Now, I’ll be like, “Hey, you tell me when you need help, I’m there.” Just me and my brain function a lot more. It opened up my brain to start thinking. It would always shut down. It opens it up to everything.
Passing things on to my son that I’ve learned. So, hopefully, maybe he won’t go through certain things. I’d say “Hey, I learned from this.” Just pass things down to him. Looking forward to, hopefully, which we are planning on getting married, and just making my marriage work even more, hopefully growing old with her.
And if you were to ask me three and a half years ago that I would be this happy today, I would tell you you’re lying to me. At that time, I’ve got a kid on the way. I’ve got someone that loves me with all their heart. She would do anything for me. I’ve got a loving son. Things are coming back around with him. It was a rough stretch.
The bond I have with my friends now, even more strong than it was before. And the bond I have with my family. Like, even my brothers. I don’t get to see them every day. When we do see each other, it’s like we’ve never been apart. And it’s just, money can’t buy love and you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Host: Thanks for listening to Divorce Redemption. Tune in next week. What’s your story?