Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Response

It seems my last post has caused quite a stir. A reader has taken to reacting quite emotionally to my comments regarding Mrs. Joe and our separation. Unfortunately, the poster was anonymous and I could not respond to their statements directly in an e-mail. So I will try to respond to some of their comments here. My apologies if I rattle on.

“I don't wish to sound hard but I can sympathize with her viewpoint. Her career was obviously important to her by the way you described her enthusiasm at the Career Day. I can see you were trying to praise her in that post but it was belittling and patronizing ("she can do something she likes and make a little money").”

The post you refer to is rather old. Thank you for being a loyal reader. Yes, I was praising Mrs. Joe and although you may think I was belittling her, I was not.

“The way you suggest that she should feel the same satisfaction from being a mother as to being successful at work highlights your lack of comprehension of your wife's feelings.”

She should not feel the same satisfaction from being a mother. She should feel MORE. Being a mother is the most important job in the world. So no, I cannot comprehend her feelings.

“Suggesting she reduce her hours would only have made her feel worse - it suggests you didn't really see her job as a worthy career and may as well cut it further.”

If my career caused problems with the raising of my kids I would make sacrifices to solve the problems. And by the way I have, more than once.

“She was looking for a way to balance the two and not be made to feel as if she had her priorities wrong.”

I have praised her more than once for trying to balance the two but in my opinion her priorities were wrong. The kids come first, not the career.

“In the same post you sum her up as "Mom and Wife", and you seem to think she should be happy with that. For many women this is not enough; there is clearly more to her that you didn't acknowledge and she wanted to be respected and loved for who she is, not just for being your wife and the mother of your children.”

I knew Mrs. Joe for over ten years before we got engaged. We were engaged for over a year before we got married. We were married for four years before our son was born. I believe I know her well enough to know her career was important to her. I guess my mistake was not knowing the amount would create such a rift.

“The very way you call her "Mrs Joe" indicates that you see her as a part of you, and not a person in her own right. She would have begun to see herself this way too and eventually something obviously snapped.”

Do you read any other blogs, or just mine? Everybody has pet names for their family members.

“It is easy to blame her for the breakdown of your relationship but you must take responsibility for how you treated her and made her feel. You say you wish she had come to you with these feelings - it sounds like she did but you weren't interested as they didn't fit with the "wife and mother" role.”

Maybe you are not the loyal reader I thought you were, because if you were, you would have read the multiple posts that point out my faults as well.

“I'm sorry that you and children are going through a difficult time but perhaps if you look at it from your wife's point of view it may be easier to understand.”

I’m sorry as well. Even looking at it from Mrs. Joe’s point of view, I cannot understand what she has done to me and our children.

“And unfortunately it isn't true that there is always time for a career later - if you wait till your children grow up and leave home and try to start a career at 40 you will find it very difficult. Of course children need their parents, I wouldn't say any different, but why should Mrs. Joe be made to feel selfish and inadequate as a mother for wanting a career?”

She is being selfish because her career is affecting the raising of our kids and she is not addressing it.

“It is important to have a life outside of your house and kids.”

Yes it is and she does. Did you read my pilates post?

"It's also about being independent - not everyone wants to rely on a husband to support them and not everyone likes to live life through their children. It is entirely possible to have a happy, stable family life and a happy and successful work life.”

But what if the happiness isn't there? You don’t ignore your husband’s attempts at addressing it. And you definitely don’t run to another man.

“Obviously I am an outsider and we've only got one side of the story but I don't think Mrs. Joe should be condemned for wanting to be more than "Mrs. Joe".”

There is no condemnation, just a request for balance between home and career that doesn't affect our kids.

“The comment is anonymous because I don’t have a blog and my name is irrelevant to the discussion.”

You should start one. I would love to read more of your opinions.

“Yes, I am in a loving, faithful long-term relationship and no I have never had to go to work or not go to work for my family.”

Then how can you comment on how important it is for one to work?

“My comments were not based on my own experiences as I have not been in this situation; I have been reading this blog for a while (not “jumping on one post”) and have simply interpreted Joe’s telling of the story and read between the lines.”

Please don’t read between the lines. Remember, you know what happens when you assume…

“It sounds very much as if she did try to tell him how she was feeling (they surely wouldn't have ended up at counseling if she’d kept her feelings to herself?) "

I initiated the counseling, not Mrs. Joe. And yes, we did talk about her feelings. The problem was the response from the counselor. She incorrectly directed us in ways that did not help our situation. But how were we to know at the time?

“Mrs. Joe’s affair was very wrong of course but that wasn't the issue discussed in the original post. Just because she eventually cheated doesn't mean we can automatically condemn her every action previously, nor does it mean that Joe is above blame just because nothing he did was as bad.”

I have never condemned her every action and again have taken blame in many ways.

“If he’d really wanted to wish her a happy birthday he would have done so and not posted a petty message designed to appeal for sympathy from the readers of the blog so you could all leave comments telling him what a great guy he is.”

Do you know if the post was the only birthday wish? Please stop assuming. Maybe you have never been in a situation where you look to your friends for comfort. If so, I envy you. And yes, my blog has, at times, turned into an appeal for sympathy. Under the circumstances, I do not regret it in the least.

“It is evident that even now he still doesn't understand where his wife was coming from; she didn't want to “come in out of the rain”, she wanted to be out, to run around, get wet, LIVE.”

If she wants to be selfish and run around in the rain, fine. She can do it on her own time. Unfortunately, Mrs. Joe has two beautiful children who could catch a cold in the meantime.

“It sounds like most of us have been fortunate enough to find someone who wants the same out of life as ourselves but sadly this isn't the case for Joe and his wife.”

I thought I found that someone but I guess I was mistaken. And it seems that a lot of us are in the same boat with the divorce rate at 50%. Please consider yourself lucky.

If you would like to e-mail me and discuss this any further please do. I would rather do it there than on my blog. I look forward to a reply.

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Blogger womaninawindow said...

Ah, Joe, you are a better person than I. I can hear you hold your temper even through a typed response some days later! I've been pissed since that first morning!

I'm learning by blogging that there is an intimacy between writer and reader. As writers we're not looking for a battle (mostly) but instead an audience. Who wants to put on a show in an auditorium and then have the shit kicked out of them? No freaken body, that's who. We want an ear, a eye, a heart, a disembodied person somewhere in the world who might appreciate what we have to say. Maybe people who don't blog simply don't get it.

I like you Joe. It's a journey you're on. I'm glad to be a disembodied person somewhere in the world reading about your terrible decency. I wish you and your kids the best.

(I only say "terrible" decency 'cause it seems to have gotten you in a bit of a predicament.)

Tue Sep 30, 10:27:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Angie in Texas said...


Tue Sep 30, 10:29:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Ben and Bennie said...

Good response Joe. One thought: could Anon be Mrs. Joe?

Wed Oct 01, 08:34:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous TwoBusy said...

To echo Woman in a Window... you're uncommonly decent, Joe. And I think you handled this little situation pretty gracefully. I hope she (Anon) will take you up on your offer: I may not agree with what she said, but she said it thoughtfully -- and there's always a place for intelligent dialogue.

Wed Oct 01, 09:18:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous stepping over the junk said...

IT WASN'T ME!!!! :) Nice post.

Wed Oct 01, 03:02:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Mike said...

Dude, Great post. Responding to the comments with your own voice is the only way to go. And if someone hasn't been in your shoes (and I have unfortunately) they don't understand the issues.

Where you once saw a family you now see a broken home. There is no excuse to cheat I don't care who you are. She knew going into this relationship that her responsibility was home and family first, just as you did. Career cannot and should not every be first. If others believe that then PLEASE do not marry.

Again, great post and you've got my best wishes for you and the kids. I hope your Mrs. realizes that the "grass isn't greener."

Wed Oct 01, 03:16:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Mom 2 Divas said...

I'm sorry you had to stoop so low as to explain yourself based on a bunch of assumptions from a person who obviously doesn't get it and isn't courteous enough to e-mail you. I'm with Mike. No matter what the issues, there is NO excuse for cheating. As if her career was first, then why have children? It's not to say she doesn't love the kids, but her priorities are messed up.

Thu Oct 02, 09:27:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I’m not exactly sure what kind of reply you expect. You have responded to all the points I put forward. I fear we may end up going in circles.

I am not emailing. I don’t wish to share any personal information with you and besides, it would deprive your readers of much entertainment.

No I am not Mrs. Joe but perhaps you should bear this in mind when writing about her on the internet and posting pictures of her children. She could come across it very easily, and if nothing else some of the things you’ve written would perhaps be damaging to your divorce proceedings.

As womaninawindow points out, you don’t expect to have the “shit kicked out of you” if you put on a “show”; this is an interesting choice of word and very appropriate. However, if you put your life on the internet, don’t be upset if someone doesn’t like the sound of it.

Womaninawindow has spent a week being angry about a comment from a person she doesn’t know to a person she doesn’t know; I’m inclined to think that this is an example of what I was talking about previously. Perhaps she needs to extend her life beyond the house and the cat and the dog to gain some perspective.

Back to Joe’s reply:

“She should not feel the same satisfaction from being a mother. She should feel MORE.“

Preaching to your wife and the internet about how she should and shouldn’t feel doesn’t sound like a supportive and loving partner and certainly not the way to resolve problems.

“If my career caused problems with the raising of my kids I would make sacrifices to solve the problems.”

Why was it only your wife’s career that caused problems? If you were so adamant that the children should have a stay-at-home-parent could it not have easily been you? You must have been disappointed to hear that Mrs. Joe didn’t want to be a full-time mother but then it seems that if you carried on working you didn’t want to be the full-time parent either. Mrs. Joe is slated for her choice but for you it’s different?

Indeed I read many blogs and I have yet to come across an author who names their partner after themselves. You could have given her a nickname that relates to her, rather than to you. I note that your children are not “Joe’s Son” and “Joe’s Daughter”.

“You would have read the multiple posts that point out my faults as well.”

None of your posts points out a solid, exact fault; there are plenty about Mrs. Joe but about yourself you are vague, saying such things as “it wasn’t all my fault”, “I gave a lot more to the marriage”. In the reply to my comments about her career you say “I guess my mistake was not knowing the amount would create such a rift.” Yes you acknowledge that you made a mistake but you immediately turn it back onto Mrs. Joe.

“Maybe you have never been in a situation where you look to your friends for comfort.”

Of course I have, and friends are exactly who I turn to, not anonymous strangers at the end of a computer. You make take comfort from their sympathy but remember that it is not real because they do not know the real you, only the version of you that you inject into your internet personality “Above Average Joe”. Meaningful solace will come from your real-life friends; the downside of course is that it is likely they also know Mrs. Joe and you are unable to put the same spin onto your situation.

“If she wants to be selfish and run around in the rain, fine. She can do it on her own time.”

When exactly is her “own time”? It doesn’t sound as if there was any in the marriage, apart from Thursday evenings of course.

“Unfortunately, Mrs. Joe has two beautiful children who could catch a cold in the meantime.”

She certainly does, but this is another example of how you are unable to mentally separate Mrs. Joe the mother from Mrs. Joe the person.

I don’t know if this was the reply you were looking for but I won’t comment any further. I will continue to read your blog and see how things work out.

Fri Oct 03, 06:42:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous bea said...

Anon deserves no consideration. Perhaps require email addresses from commentors? I so enjoy reading your blog, Joe, and am looking forward to the next post.

Fri Oct 03, 03:04:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Susiewearsthepants said...

I have commented before. I am a single mother with two children. I work full time and have now taken on a part time job. I have worked and I have stayed home. My view is this: If Mrs. Joe was feeling resentful or like she needed more than being a mother to be happy, she should have made her feelings very clear. Her telling you AFTER the fact serves no purpose. I wonder if she said that to make you feel bad? I don't know I am just throwing that out there. No matter what problems a marriage faces, cheating is never OK. I have a major problem with people who expect others to read their minds. Forgive me if I am wrong, but the whole reason for blogging is to give others a view of YOUR world, from YOUR perspective hence my personal motto, "Making this blog all about me,....me me me". Good luck, I will continue reading your blog

Sat Oct 18, 11:27:00 PM 2008  
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