Breakdown, break-up, and get-togethers

This week has been busy in a non-stressful way. I’ve had to take daughters to see the dentist. I had a lunch that I will discuss later in this post. And I had a coffee morning with a friend I have known since shortly after moving here. She is a widow and didn’t date when her boys were young. I was pleased to learn that she now has a boyfriend because it removed any possible misunderstandings about intentions on either part for our occasional meet-ups. One thing I like very much about her is that she is just so easy to talk to. Conversations wander and time flies, and that’s a a good sign when talking to any friend.

Next week, I will be back at work again. My heart really isn’t in it and I could do with more time off, but if I don’t show up, I will lose my job.

A tiny part of me would like that. I’ve never been unwillingly without employment since I turned 16 and started working part-time at my local grocery store. While I was studying for my degree, and after moving countries with or for a loved one, I took up to 6 weeks off work before starting a new job. But that’s it. I’ve been here 10 years now (almost to the day) and worked for the same company the whole time. It started with a 3-month consulting assignment and it has been extended and extended since then. I’ve worked on different projects and with different teams, I’ve led some of the teams and run a small part of the company for a few years. Somehow unemployment has eluded me. *sigh*

Next week I doubt I will be enthusiastic. Yesterday I was updating my calendar to show all the drop-off and pick-up times for my two school-aged daughters for their various Band practices. Just that alone had me worried; where will I find the time to be ‘me’ with the time commitment it takes to support the kids. Perhaps one solution will be to work hard and play hard: to do the hard work but to find the time to go away more with the girls and find some time for me to get away by myself or with friends.

My runaway wife has been the subject of some questions as I have not mentioned her recently.

I rarely see her, but since I have ‘fallen down’ she has been supportive and has called a couple of times. She even asked me if it was her fault that I stopped working and took time off for this short breakdown.

She only sees the girls occasionally and they never stay overnight with her, just an hour or two at a time. When we have crossed paths and she has seen the girls, she has been smiles and hugs, but is quite stiff with me. Sometimes I wonder if she misses them when she’s alone at night, or if she only realizes she misses them when she sees them face-to-face, or whether she doesn’t really miss them at all. Everyone, without exception, focuses on this specific issue, when my situation comes up. It’s a very reasonable thing to focus on as it’s so unusual.

I don’t see any chance at all for things improving between us over time. It’s been 6 months now since she ended things and nothing significant has changed. Maybe the gentlest outcome is to find a way to make a separation into a quiet divorce when the time is right.

Yesterday, I saw a divorce lawyer for an initial consultation to understand what my rights and options are. I did this partly because so many people asked me why I hadn’t done this already. They were right; there are some important questions to which I needed some answers and guidance.

I wanted to understand how custody arrangements work. What happens, for example, if I want to or need to leave here with the girls for somewhere else in the USA, Canada, or Europe? I wanted to understand whether or not my wife could force the sale of the house to extract her equity from it. I wanted to understand whether I would be required to pay her spousal support (alimony) and what might her obligations be in terms of child support. I wanted to know if my oldest college-age daughter figures in the equations or not.

I did my online research in advance to frame the kinds of questions I needed to focus on. In a single visit, I found out almost everything I needed to know. As I am not the only person to have gone down this route (no surprise to anyone here), there are procedures and guidelines for everything, and a formula for each question about money.

The surprising thing that came out of the discussion with the lawyer is that I have been wrong to not spend much time worrying about whether or not she has been involved with another man. If another man was even partly responsible for this break-up, in Virginia this changes everything.

Earlier this week, I met with a different friend for lunch.

She has been divorced for a while now and is dating. She is very open with me. She was married for a long time, unhappy for a long time, and I gather her needs weren’t met with her ex-husband. This is double TMI: I know him and see him occasionally, and I don’t want to know about her needs. She has also opened my eyes onto a world I am not interested in. I assume that I unconsciously stared a lot when she was telling me these things.

I learned that some of the small wine bars in this area are places where ‘active’ local singles get together to organize a get-together, if you see what I mean. I learned that some local doctors provide a “Verified” certificate or badge of some kind that indicates a disease-free, virus-free body ready for mingling (which grosses me out at one level, while I see the practical reason for it at another). I learned that some single people I know around here are regular attendees. Ohhh.

I won’t be joining them. Not only am I not interested in playing the short-term game, I’m fairly sure that one day a new long-term relationship will not come from going after what I might *want* but will come from understanding what I *need* (and can offer in return). I hope the distinction is clear. I think that many people approach relationships quite differently and are surprised at the outcome.

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About Single Dad

I married young. Now, after more than 20 years of marriage, 3 wonderful daughters, and many ups and downs, my wife has decided the marriage is over. The "About Me" and "My Background" pages on my blog have more details.
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17 Responses to Breakdown, break-up, and get-togethers

  1. mysterycoach says:

    All good things… You know it’s good you went to see the lawyer, I’m glad for you at least that gives you some guidance. Confusion and not knowing is awful and adds to your stress. There was a time I took off myself for a while as well. I’d like to say I was fortunate and I think I am but e people I was planning on working with all had to go back to work as well, so what we were planning didn’t come to fruition. Agh… well…

    I always want to know, as I believe you may want to consider as well, where that “rascal” has been insofar as an HIV test goes. Figure if someone is offended they may not take their personal health all that seriously. I certainly would not want to catch anything at this juncture in my life, especially since I’m selective. yup… you should know what you need and can offer. This is a very good mindset .:)

    • Sorry to hear not all of your time off worked out for you. I assume you are referring to what you said in your past posts about the web-site you and some others set up. At least you got out there and gave it a go — good on you for that! Not everyone has a good idea and tries to make it work.

      As far as thinking about tests to protect myself or someone else against any kind of infection: Aarrgh, I am nowhere near thinking about that yet! Yes, you’re absolutely right, but it’s been so long since I even had to consider anything like that, I’m completely unprepared for any of that harsh reality. I’m going to have to settle for the promise of romance without any icky realities for now. And maybe not even “for now”, perhaps “not yet” is better…

      • mysterycoach says:

        In so far as dating goes, for myself… I watch people and I’ve realized, even through seeing and hearing the things my daughter talks about? That … nothing has changed in 30 years. Sure things seem to be and are more out in the open these days, definitely, however nothing’s changed honey. What is more difficult it seems are schedules and working things through and the whole, when we get to a certain age, we … I have much less tolerance for nonsense. As it should be, so we select more carefully. Hopefully. šŸ™‚

        Not thinking about romance seems very wise to me. Companionship, friendships and the like, very wise. I mean you have so much going on right now, I think it would be difficult to siphon through anything romantic and make any sense of it.

  2. Lady E says:

    Sounds like this week off was just what you needed, and understand your lack of motivation to get back to work…Like Mystery Coach, I believe finding out what you need and can offer sound like good starting points. Just a thought though, could you trust what you want to be what you need?
    PS. Have you found that counsellor yet? x

    • E,

      I was quite confident you’d appreciate and empathize with my lack of interest in heading back to the office at the moment…

      Re: “Could you trust what you want to be what you need?” Alas, I’m sure they’re usually very different things. One objective clue might be in the relative success of arranged marriages where — based only on the Indian friends I have talked to over the years in the UK and USA — couples are selected for each other based on their parents’ perception of their suitability. Another clue is that it’s common for the people that most strongly appeal to us to be people we realize are not right for us (or vice versa). Hence, *maybe* the hard part is figuring out what we need in someone else (objectively) and trying to turn that it something that we want. It’s just a theory of mine…there may be good arguments why this isn’t sensible.

    • Oh…and, no to the counsellor. This would have been a good week to research that, but I completely let it slip my mind. Thanks for reminding me!

  3. Online Dating Circus Expert says:

    Wow! How were you able to keep it straight when your friend told you about the “mingling parties”!! Not sure how I would have responded but reading about it in your blog made me gasp! šŸ™‚

    • Hi ODCE,

      I did say that I think I was doing a lot of staring when I was told all this.

      First, I hadn’t realized that my area was a hot-bed of singles activity; I thought it was basically Family Town. After all, in this suburb, almost everything is closed by 10pm, and most things are closed by 8pm.

      Second, I had not considered any of this. In my tiny little mind, I had made some wild assumption that sometime in the future, I would somehow magically meet someone and all would be simple and progress without problems. To that idea: Hahahahaha! But I hadn’t really considered the more awkward realities of meeting and mixing and matching with other women. I can tell you that I told my coffee morning friend about my divorced friend’s lifestyle (they don’t know each other). My coffee morning friend told me that she was like me and couldn’t really go for the ‘active singles’ thing either. She just ‘fell’ into her relationship with a local guy over time. So at least I’m not alone in thinking that there may be a less messy, if more time-consuming, way of meeting someone new…

  4. goyagrrl says:

    OK, I gotta ask….do people wear these “badges” at the events? Is it like a tag that says “Hello – My name is So&So and I am VERIFIED!” ???

    • OMG GG! (hey, that has a real ring to it)

      I have no idea how this information is communicated! And I don’t want to! I’m not even ready to think about condoms! (Eeek!) I know I’m acting like an early teen still being grossed out by kissing or sex, but this whole ‘Romance Meets Reality’ thing makes my head spin. The ‘Reality’ part of this is something where I am a *complete amateur* by comparison with every single reader of this blog, every blog I comment on, and every blog I’ve read in the last 6 months. And it’s only quite recently that I’ve realized this.

      I am going to fail over and over at this until I get approval to remove my training wheels. I’m going to offend by comission or omission every woman I try to romance. I’m going to mix friendship and romance at the wrong times. I need a training manual for the 21st century so I can start over and not make dumb mistakes…or some extremely good luck for success with my very first endeavor. Oh well…

  5. First thing: It’s good you went to see the lawyer. Even if the two of you manage to stay civil throughout a divorce, it’s never nice with surprises in situations like that.

    Second thing: I’m surprised that you’re surprised about all the action in your neighborhood! The more nice and clean cut and white picked fence-ish things look, the more dirty and perverted they usually are underneath. There’s a reason why it’s always the quiet family dad, who get’s caught tied up in chains with dog collar around his neck šŸ˜‰

    • Re: First thing … you’re right, avoiding surprises is best for everyone. I wonder what will happen when my runaway wife visits a lawyer and realizes how it will pan out for her. That will be a surprise she has to adjust to.

  6. It’s so hard for me to think about what must be going through your mind. I read your posts and wonder what your facial expression is when you type these things…whether you’re calm and numb, or hysterical and scared…or a combination, perhaps.

    • Hi BE,

      To some extent, life in my head is wilder and move active than in real life. Unlike when I was young, I live a reasonably steady life these days, even more so since my runaway wife left. This is mostly because I don’t have much time left for anything else and because I’m still adjusting. I assume my social and ‘outside’ life will pick up again by next year.

      To your point, I’m calm when I write and generally in life, not numb or hysterical or scared…resigned might be closer to it. I’m heading as fast as I can towards acceptance. Some other guys who have blogs that I follow seem much more upset and angry but I don’t see how that helps me so I don’t go down that path at all. My goal, especially in writing, is to get back to dry and funny, which is my favorite style of writing. In my blog, much more leaks through than when I write columns.

      Thanks for asking about this!

  7. kimberly says:

    i wholeheartedly support your last paragraph; i was honestly skeeved out reading about those get-togethers.
    i do love sex as much as the next person…although with *one* committed person, thanks šŸ™‚

    • I don’t get the point of the get-togethers at all, but I guess it’s entirely up to them. I just know that the group of women that goes there won’t be part of my “pool” of potential future partners. The committed-to-one-person approach works better long-term…

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