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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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stormy Seasons


One blog I do not read enough of is Oh, The Joys. Jessica is a great writer and her stories have made me laugh as well as think.

A recent post struck me like lightning from the summer’s first thunderstorm. If you didn't read it, she talks about living your life in seasons. She questions if she is focused enough on her career but notes that now is her season of motherhood.

What a great way to describe it.

This was the greatest challenge Mrs. Joe and I had after The Champ was born.

Mrs. Joe started working in retail while in high school and attended some college. She succeeded through hard work and good judgement. Over time she secured a middle management position that she enjoyed and did very well.

After the birth of The Champ, she stepped down from her management position and took a clerk’s position that allowed her to keep part time hours that could be worked around our family.

I've learned that’s when the storm clouds began forming.

Since she moved out, she told me that stepping down from her management position at work was very difficult. The challenges and rewards she once enjoyed through her job were no longer there. She said she felt demeaned as a clerk but tried to endure it for our family.

I asked why the challenges and rewards of being a mother did not replace those lost from her work. She said it wasn't the same.

I have always had a hard time understanding this. Being a mother is the hardest job in the world. How could she not feel a sense of accomplishment?

We tried counseling. In the end, it did more harm than good. The counselor’s advice left Mrs. Joe feeling worse off than before. She kept these feelings from me, leaving me to think it helped. I was wrong.

A few years passed and along came Peanut. I seen her struggling and tried to help. I changed jobs, cutting more than an hour out of my workday. It helped a little. But with everything she was trying to do, the kids, the house, church, PTO and her job it seemed to me something needed to be sacrificed.

More than once, I talked with her about cutting back on her hours at work but nothing happened.

She later told me that asking her to cut back on her job was my biggest mistake. She said she needed her work. She needed what little sense of accomplishment her job gave her after the stressful times at home. She began to resent me for trying to take that away from her.

Mrs. Joe had a difficult time with her change of seasons. I just wish she would've come to me sooner with all of this and not tried to weather the storm all on her own.

If only she would have come in out of the rain.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hope


I hope you have had a good day today. I hope your friends took you out for dinner and drinks. I hope both your parents called.

I hope you get everything you wish for.

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Joe.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Truce


Although it isn't on the level of the Jews and the Palestinians, there was a truce brokered today.

And Jimmy Carter had nothing to do with it.

Today is The Champ's 7th birthday. I had the kids last night and before we started reading bedtime stories (Berenstain Bears AGAIN!) I asked him where he would like to go for his birthday dinner.

"The 99", he replied.

Good, some place with beer.

Earlier today while at work a thought came over me. Why don't I ask Mrs. Joe to come with us to dinner. I figured he would like both of us to be there and I know I could handle it so I figured why not.

Mrs. Joe picked them up after school today so I drove over there after I got out of work. As they were getting their shoes on I asked her if she would like to join us for The Champ's birthday dinner. It would be the first time we did anything as a family since she moved out in March.

At first she declined.

"It's not about you and I, it's about our son and you know he wants all of us there", I quietly snapped at her.

I mean seriously, the way I look at it, we are still his parents no matter what happens and both his parents should be there. We both should be able to put our differences aside for an hour or two and enjoy our son's 7th birthday, right?

She must have understood and decided to join us. As we entered the parking lot of the 99, The Champ let us in on a mistake he made.

"This isn't the restaurant I wanted to eat at. It must have been Applebee's".

So back across town we drove to Applebee's.

Good thing gas is under $3.75 a gallon here.

The four of us had a good dinner. The kids enjoyed hot dogs with ice cream sundaes for dessert. The crew came out and sang Happy Birthday. I enjoyed my first Sam Adams Octoberfest of the season.

Mrs. Joe & I got along well. We talked about The Champ's birthday party that we will be having this weekend as well as his progress in school. We left, I dropped her off at her apartment, came home and got the kids ready for bed. As I write this, she sent an e-mail thanking me for asking her to join us for dinner.

The evening was definitely a step in the right direction.

Only if I knew what direction that was.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Open Mouth Insert Broken Foot


GBD & I have enjoyed each other's company quite a bit lately. We have talked alot about our marriages and the best way to handle the challenges they bring.

With talking to her, I become more secure with where I am going. With her, she is starting to admit to herself that something should be done.

She admitted to me that she will be looking for a divorce. I don't expect our relationship to advance whether she acts or not. I know the last thing I want is a relationship any more serious than what it currently is.

This past weekend, she asked me if I wanted to go out to dinner with her and another couple. I had to take The Champ to soccer practice but was free after that.

I have met the other couple before. I know GBD & the girl work together and her boyfriend is a salesman for Harley-Davidson.

The one thing I learned before dinner was the boyfriend recently got hit by a car while on his bike and seriously broke his leg. He went through 2 or 3 operations and won't be back on his bike until next year.

So GBD & I were sitting at the bar having a drink as the other couple arrived. The boyfriend was on crutches. We all exchanged greetings and GBD excused herself and went to the ladies room.

As the three of us were standing there talking, (remember, the boyfriend is standing there with a broken leg), the girlfriend asked me how The Champ did at soccer practice. My brain decided to take a momentary vaction as I answered.

"Hey, he didn't break anything."

Yes, that did fall out of my mouth.

I apologized and thankfully he laughed it off. The last thing I want to do is piss off this guy. We all enjoyed a great dinner and good conversation.

And I did my best to keep any additional stupid comments to a minimum.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Every Morning Is Now Saturday Morning


Respect the classics, man! - Fillmore, from the movie "Cars"

One thing about The Champ as he approaches his seventh birthday is his mastery of the television remote control. Gone are the days of me having to turn on the t.v. and finding the cartoons for him.

Although, one thing that I wish would go is the time he wakes up in the morning. Like clockwork, he still wakes by 6:30. The one saving grace now is that once he wakes up he will go downstairs to the living room, turn on the t.v. and watch some cartoons.

Thankfully, he hasn't found some of the other channels yet.

As I came downstairs Saturday morning, The Champ was in his usual spot. I kissed him good morning and asked him what he was watching.

"Blue's Clues", he replied.

He then followed up with a statement that made me feel like someone dropped an anvil on my head.

"Dad, I found this other cartoon channel and I watched Tom & Jerry."

"Really?" I replied.

"Did you know that Tom & Jerry was around when I was your age?" I told him.

"Yeah, it seemed kinda old-fashioned."

I then added some Metamucil to my coffee, opened up the paper to the obituaries and looked for anybody I knew.

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