Posts Tagged ‘divorce


Loosening or Tightening the Knot

I dislike absolutes in life, especially casually tossed out, hyperbolic blanket statements. They dig under my scalp and into my brain like psychic chiggers.

I know, I know…given past experience, you probably figure this is a post that’s going to be about racial stuff. And then you go back to the headline and get confused and wonder, “Is it about lynching somehow, whether literal or metaphorical?”


The blanket statements and knots I’m talking about relate to marriage (or any other similar relationship between two people—any theoretically committed, long-term gig to be by each other’s side, in each other’s bodies and juggling each other’s hearts).

I’m a veteran of marriage, having been in one for more than 14 years now, and having dated my amazing (and lovely, and talented and smart and yes every so often frustrating and infuriating) partner for a couple years before she became my wife. I don’t think that makes me an expert, but I have enough hours logged now that I can say a few things with authority.

First, no marriage fails in a vacuum and second, no marriage is doomed.

Save your retorts for the end; give me a chance to explain. This isn’t one of those religious “You can’t ever let your marriage go to pieces” posts.

You see, one of the people I follow on Twitter (and who follows me) is going through a separation (her second with this man, I guess) and probably to divorce. We’ve traded a few tweets and I’m sure many other people on Twitter have communicated with her too, with support, commiseration, questions and maybe even criticism.

She seems to have a pretty healthy outlook overall about the situation, even though it’s stressful, obviously. But she made a tweet today that took me aback, about how she wasn’t innocent in the breakup, and that it is entirely her fault.

No, it isn’t.

I can say this with assurance, and it goes to the first of my earlier assertions: No marriage fails in a vacuum.

Just as it takes two people to make the relationship (well, usually two; it can be more, of course), it takes both of them to tear it asunder. In the heat of emotional things like this, it’s easy for both parties to point the finger of blame, or even for their friends and family to assign the role of villain to one person.

But I’ve come close to the abyss in my marriage. There have been some rough times in recent memory and moments I thought it was all over. My wife and I have come back from the brink, and I have a very good feeling that we either won’t get to the brink again, or we’ll figure out again how to avoid going over the edge if we do.

Something interesting has happened for me in the travails I’ve faced in my own marriage: Realizing where I’ve gone wrong (mostly because I was willing to look inside myself and my actions in the context of the marriage; many people aren’t willing to do that). Now, I’m not going to say who was mostly to blame for the near ending of the marriage. But while one of us was noticeably more responsible for the dilemmas we faced, neither of us was anywhere near guiltless.

Fact is that in any relationship like this, no one is blameless. One person might be 99% to blame and the other 1% to blame, but there are always contributions and failures on both sides, and rarely is it so lopsided as to even be 80% or 90% in one person’s corner.

And that is part of the reason why no marriage is inherently doomed to failure (my second assertion). Because there is blame to go around, there are opportunities for both parties to fix things. If both parties are willing to truly look at themselves as honestly as possible and at the other person, those people will be able to get to the heart of what’s causing the rift.

Once the causes (and rarely is it just one thing) are identified, they can be fixed.

I don’t care how dire it is. They can be fixed.

However, the question is often: Should they be fixed?

And another question, perhaps more central to the issue, is: Are both people willing to do what needs doing?

Both people can make the commitment to change whatever needs changing in their behaviors, attitudes, perceptions or whatever else. They can save the marriage.

The question is never “can a marriage be saved” but rather “is it worth the effort/pain/time to save it?”

In our case, it has been worth it. Some major changes have been made. Changes that many would not be willing to make and that some might even say neither person should have been willing to make.

As to the former, not everyone can make the necessary changes. That doesn’t make them bad people or failures. We can only go as far as we feel we have the strength to go.

As for the latter point, whether the changes should have been made, well…that’s no one else’s fucking business. It only matters that we felt the marriage was worth keeping and that whatever discomforts might come with making changes were worth the payoff. No one looking from the outside toward the inside can truly judge whether there’s something worth saving; only those on the inside can really decide.

That’s not to say people on the outside can’t help with insights, observations and advice. But they don’t get to make the decision, and they sure as hell shouldn’t be coming out with “I told you so” comments if an attempt to save things fails. Because, bottom line, it isn’t their marriage; it isn’t their call.


Keeping it Together

couple-embacingMrs. Blue and I have had our moments over the years, as have all married couples. With the decline of income over the years and the addition of Little Girl Blue along with Son of Blue, pressures have been higher than ever and, I dare say, we’ve had more big arguments in the past four years than we did in the prior seven we were married and the two during which we dated.

There have been times I was certain my marriage was over. In truth, those feelings have never lasted very long. Both myself and Mrs. Blue love each other and despite the occasional animosity that happens in life, we are devoted to each other and committed to our marriage and family. That isn’t to say that things couldn’t break at some point, but we’ve fought for our relationship, and staying together has always been the choice.

This kind of thing is on my mind a lot in recent months, not so much because of any particular pressures in my own marriage, but in those of people whom I know online (no, not personal, real-life friends, but people I do feel a kinship for online). A while back, it was SocietyVs, author of the Losing My Religion blog, whose wife had cheated on him and left him for a time. The separation didn’t last terribly long, and last I heard, they were still working hard on the relationship and SocietyVs, far from wanting payback for marital infidelity, had used this as a chance to see where he’s gone wrong emotionally and otherwise in the relationship.

On the less positive end of the spectrum, one of my top three or four favorite bloggers of all time, Chez at Deus Ex Malcontent, seems to be at the end of his marriage, after recently bringing a child into the world. He’s posted very honestly, even brutally at times some might say, about the situation. Through it, he has been careful not to lay blame at his wife’s feet but also to make clear that separation or divorce aren’t his choices. They pulled their marriage back from the brink a couple years ago, I understand, but it doesn’t look good this time around.

It’s been long enough that I’ve forgotten most of the responses to SoceityVs when he was posting about his marital travails, so I don’t recall if people were giving him some of the party lines of either you must stay together and fight for your marriage or you must break up now because otherwise you will both hate each other eventually. I seem to recall most comments were in the supportive range and more neutral and useful in their advice.

So, too, comments for Chez have trended toward balance and logic, but there are those who have said things like:

  • You must stay together for the good of the child
  • You must break up or you will make life hell for the child
  • It always takes TWO people to ruin a marriage
  • So, which of you gave us first!

And so on. While not the most common of comments, some of those on the fringed ends of the spectrum infuriate me with their black-and-white approach.

All of that is a very long-winded introduction to what I think will be relatively brief marriage advice from me here to anyone whose marriage is on the rocks or seems to be.

You must be willing to fight.

But you must choose your battles carefully.

And you must be fighting a good fight.

Now, the tricky part is knowing which battles to pick and understanding whether you’re really fighting the good fight. To me, I think it is important that in deciding these things, one must take their own interests out of the equation if at all possible.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t look out for yourself, your sanity and your own interests. Such things are important, but they don’t always involve a “fight.”

What I am talking about is when you make choices like:

  • Will I fight to keep this marriage together?
  • Will I fight for custody of the child or children?

Those are the two biggest fights I can think of. There may be others, but those are the most primal, I think, and neither of them can be made properly if you are considering your own wants and needs.

So, to the first bullet point, which might generally be called fighting for something: Staying together only makes sense if the two of you truly both need and want each other. You must be useful to each other and supportive of each other, whether that support is active and overt or more subsoncsious and subtle. If you aren’t both bringing something invaluable and irreplaceable to the other, why be married? Why be together at all? And this is why you must start by considering what the other person needs before you factor in your needs.

The second bullet point is more of the theme fighting over something, and it, too, requires you to divorce yourself from you own desires. Especially in the case of children, are you fighting for them because they are best off with you, or because you simply want to hurt the other spouse? Scoring points with children is a godawful thing to do, and I personally like the idea of God striking people with a bolt of lightning for using kids as weapons in a relationship. When my parents divorced, they refused to put me in the middle of things, and I will always be grateful to them for that.

I think that those people who stay married “for the sake of the children” are not that different than people who fight for custody in a divorce, just the flip side of the same coin really, and special attention should be paid to whether it really is best for that child that the parents be together. It might be, but it also might be the worst choice you could make. So again, think of the children first before thinking of yourself, or yourselves as a marital unit.

Yes, marriages and custody and the like are often worth fighting for. But sometimes, the war is already lost by the time you realize you’re engaged in yet another battle. Sometimes, there is nothing left to fight for, or fight over, and you need to make sure you aren’t still in a conflict that you are no longer likely able to win.


Stealing Time

We don’t spend much time on this Earth. I know that it may seem like an interminable period of misery and pain for some people, a few of whom are singing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” right now and hoping God would just put them out of their misery and bring them home now, but in the grand scheme, it doesn’t mean much to God. He’s got eternity on the other side.

Our lives here are a speck and He knows it and we should too. But, the fact is, time does mean a lot to us here on Earth.

For those who don’t believe there is an afterlife, for those who aren’t sure, for those who don’t really know if it’s better, well, they have a lot of concern about how their time on Earth is spent.

Even for those of us with either a pretty firm or rock-solid faith that there is a hereafter and that it’s going to be way better (assuming you pick the winning side of the spiritual war…nudge, nudge), time is still important. We may know that we have something better waiting, but that doesn’t mean we want to spend our days in physical or emotional pain, wasting our time, or anything else. We have families and friends who want our time, we want our personal time, and so on.

Yet in this world, there are plenty of people who not only want to waste our time but who insist on doing so, actually do it pretty effectively—and in many cases claim it is their inalienable right to use our time as they wish.

They are thieves.

They are stealing precious time from us and in many cases, this shit needs to stop.

Now, as you can tell, even though I’ve sprinkled some religious talk in here already, this post is going to be a rant. I’m not going to tell you exactly what sparked this rant. Suffice to say that people who are in the know in my life and who read this blog will probably figure out what set me off. If you want something strictly and completely spiritual, scroll down the main page of this blog to see if you missed anything this week, or just check out the post immediately below this one (Cycle of Trees), which offers a heartfelt spiritual message laden with meaning and wisdom—I hope.

So, back to time-stealing dingleberries in our lives.

Time thieves abound in life. Here are a few examples, some of which may be drawn from my life and one of which might even hint at what set me off today.

  • You are an employer or a supervisor and you believe that because the people under you are paid salaries, you are entitled to their time whenever you feel you need it. You don’t pay them hourly, you aren’t required to give them overtime, and you might not even give them comp time for when you keep them late or have them work weekends. Yet you think you own them. You think you can dictate to them whether or not their family time is important enough that they should be able to partake of it. You cancel vacation days and time off and weekends because your higher-up is saying that there is work that trumps everything else. If you are one of these people, you should be ashamed, and doubly so if you are in the United States. Americans work more hours than most folks in the developed world and use less vacation and sick time. We’re killing ourselves slowly and making a misery of our lives for our companies, and we can’t even get decent health insurance from them anymore. Sickening.
  • You are a person who is single, and who gets snarly when a married co-worker with kids (or an unmarried one with kids, for that matter) comes in a little early to leave a bit early for a soccer game or something. You get mad if your supervisor gives them more opportunities to try to make up time or shift around hours because they have daycare hours to contend with or activities to attend or just want to see their kids and give them some love. If you are getting mad and thinking this person is getting a special deal or a free ride, get over your damn self. When you are married, you will see how much damn work it is to keep a relationship like that healthy. When you have kids, you will find out how hard it is to juggle family and work time. When you are no longer single and/or child-free, you will know how glorious family time is and how important it is, and if you have a shred of decency, you will feel bad for talking shit about your family-minded co-workers once you have a personal taste of what they had to give up to work 90% of the workday and you will find yourself wondering why you have to beg to leave a few minutes early to see your kid’s play or celebrate your spouse’s birthday. Do us all a favor and stop bitching now so you won’t have to feel guilty later. And don’t do what some of your fellow single folks might do and backstab and undermine those married and child-rearing co-workers because you feel like they’re your enemies for wanting family time.
  • You are the custodial parent of a child (or children), and your ex gets little enough time with the kid(s) already, even though he or she really wants to spend time with them. You do your best to steal away weekends and cut short summers. You suddenly announce events without any warning, knowing this will inconvenience both your ex and your children and destroy their plans, all because of things like selfishness, desire to hurt the other person, or whatever. Even if you still can’t see fit to treat your ex with decency, please do yourself and the children a favor and stop being so petty. You have most of the year with the child or children already. Cherish what you have instead of stealing what’s not yours.
  • You are a lazy worker. You come in all sloppy to work and leave your co-workers to pick up your slack. You use trickery, lies, subterfuge and whatever else to make it look like you’re doing more than you are but you aren’t carrying the load that you could be. You don’t have a good reason for it; you just don’t care. It’s not that you don’t want to be worked to death but rather that you want to get your pay and do as little as possible while getting whatever you can for yourself, in terms of long lunches, time off, office supplies, etc. You are stealing your company’s time and probably other resources. You are stealing your co-workers’ time by making them do your work. You are a piece of crap and need to grow up and get some responsibility, or move into your parents’ basement and play video games all day.
  • You are at the only drive-through ATM and doing all your freakin’ banking that you should have done during banking hours, while people pile up behind you and are now running late because you want to check your balance—twice, make a deposit (filling out the forms while at the ATM instead of having done them at home), check the balance of another account, withdraw money (and then count it out as slowly as possible), transfer some funds, and then check your balance again. Bonus points for asshole-ishness if the bank is actually still open and you just decided that you didn’t want to get out of your car, you lazy bastard.
  • You are in the 10-items or less line at the store and have at least twice that number of items, possibly three times the amount or more. You decide to also quibble with the checker about prices and then have the gall to pay by check, writing out that sonuvabitch so slowly that we would all swear you have a neurological problem. But it turns out you’re just a time-wasting jerk who doesn’t want us to get home to our families.

OK, I feel better now having got that out of my system. To the person, organization, or other entity who sparked this rant, I forgive you, but please don’t let this crap happen again. I ain’t Jesus, and I have a lot of other pressures in life right now. And I feel like I am running out of cheeks to turn for folks.


Splitsville 2, by Miz Pink

mizpink02.jpgSo yesterday I took the easy way out and used my own F-ed up first marriage to highlight a good reason for divorce: mental or physical abuse. Except for the most rabid fundies most people probably agree with me those are some very good reasons.

But I did also admit that Jesus told us we’re supposed to stay together. One husband, one wife. Well, there’s some gray area in here I assure ya.

Even without the abusive personality, my ex had the emotional depth of cheap carpeting and absolutely no drive to provide even a modest living for his young family. Would that have been enough to justify kicking him to curb? Yeah, and here’s why I don’t think God really much woulda cared.

When I married him, it wasn’t for love or noble reasons. I was young and stooopiiid. It was a dumb move to assert myself and get out from under my parent’s roof (and rules). We didn’t get married in a church. We didn’t even do the Vegas chapel deal, which might at least have set a groovy/cheesy tone. We did it at the courthouse.

Are you going to tell me that an impulsive move like that is a marriage sanctioned and desired by God?

I’m always doing stuff that’s against God. So are you. But he doesn’t tell us “Ya made your bed, now lie in it.” My parents did, but God doesn’t do that. If he did, Jesus wouldn’t be there as an option to keep us out of hell. We’d all be doomed as doomed could be, cowboy.

Someone will probably want to toss the Bible in my face and quote what Jesus said so let me beat you to it. I looked it up, I wrote it down. Matthew 19:6 says: So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.

The “they” are married folks by the way.

Before you go pointing fingers at me, try looking at the “What God has joined together” part.

Do you seriously think that every marriage on earth has a stamp of approval by God? You think every time two people say “I do” that God thinks “Wow, this is a good matchup?” I’m greenlighting this one just because they said some vows. I’m 100% in favor. Yessiree!

No license, no vows, no nothing (not even the fact a marriage took place in a church) guarantees a marriage was meant to be. From where I stand, it doesn’t look to me as if God puts too many people together. Certainly not in countries like the U.S. with sky-high divorce rates. Most people put themselves together and they do so without praying for guidance. They just make a decision based on new love or fiery lust or plain convenience or losing a bet or who knows.

That’s manmade, not godmade. Sometimes breaking those unions is not only NOT against God, it’s sometimes necessary.

So maybe you say I’m giving people an easy “out” by saying all this. So that anyone who wants to get a divorce can just say, “Well, God probably didn’t put us together in the first place.” And then walk away with a clean conscience and not a second thought.

No. I’m not. If someone did that to justify a divorce, that’s just plain lazy and ignorant.

Marriage is some hard work. When trouble comes a’knockin that’s the time to work even harder, unless those troubles are of the your-spouse-might-kill-you-in-your-sleep-with-an-icepick variety. I tried to make mine work until it was clear I was the only one trying. When people don’t try to work it out, they have failed, and if they divorce, they indeed might have torn up what God put together.

Stresses in life aren’t enough reason to divorce. Cheating ain’t enough even. Failure to live up to obligations or make enough money isn’t enough. Very few things are enough to call it quits right away and assume it wasn’t a godmade match. Unless you have truly tried to solve those problems and failed, divorce isn’t an option.

But if your husband (or wife) can’t make the emotional and spiritual connection to be with you and do right by you, divorce is your lifeboat. Don’t stay anchored to something that’s already doomed to sink. And for God’s sake, do better the next time and make sure you let God guide you. No one else.

Sometimes, bad marriages and the divorces that come with them are blessings. I have a wonderful son by the first marriage and a darling daughter from the second. I plan to have at least one more. And since I’m with Christ, I picked someone who was too. I’m better off now. I wouldn’t be better off had I kept with the first guy just because of some license.

(No, that still isn’t me in the picture. Keep dreaming.)


Splitsville by Miz Pink

mizpink01.jpgYou know what this place needs? A woman’s touch. But apparently, the deacon couldn’t talk the missus into blogging here just yet.

So he convinced me I ought to start blogging (my own place to come soon, though I don’t know if the religion thing will really be my bag). I hope ya know whatcha doin, Deke. I wouldn’t want to be in the Blue household when Mrs. Blue finds out you took my bloggerginity.

On the serious side I’ve been assured by the good(?) deacon that as long as I don’t go all heretical on him and keep some sort of Christian slant to things, I can feel free to post one topic a week here. I sorta “forgot” to mention to him that my first topic would be a two-parter. Oops! Seeya Saturday, Deke!

The name is Inda Pink or Miz Pink and I think I have some things to say. And today, I wanna talk about the big D-word, divorce. I have some experience here and I’ve thought alot about what it means to me as a Christ-centered woman.

Seems alot of the hard-core fundie Christians I’ve ever been around have the notion that divorce is no-go. Ever.  Like, only if God comes down and says it’s okay kinda never.

Embracing Jesus didn’t result in me sticking my head up my nether regions. There are plenty of good reasons for divorce. Plenty against it as well. But you have to be some kinda vicious to wanna keep many of the people who want divorces together.

God’s not exactly encouraging divorce either. Don’t get it mixed up. Even Jesus said being married to one and only one person is the way it is supposed to be.

But were are not divinely stuck for life to someone. In some cases, the ties that bind just need to be snipped nice and clean. And quick. And dirty if necessary.

I mean, what about those beaten or emotionally abused spouses? Are they supposed to just sit there and take it until they end up as psychic wrecks, or worse yet dead? I want to start clawing some eyes out whenever I hear some freak say “Oh, the wife needs to stick by her man. Her faith can save him. Her love can change him.”

Free will, baby. The man has free will to keep messing my ass up. And he probably will once he has a taste for it. My sticking around or your sticking around or her sticking around doesn’t equal recovery. It signals that you’re willing to keep taking a beating. Patience won’t change the person. But it could get you killed. Bastard has free will to do the wrong thing to me over and over.

Beauty is, I have free will too. Free to leave. And I did it. Better than using my free will to do something more in the style of that Farrah Fawcett flick The Burning Bed. I have a few scars, physically and emotionally, from my first marriage. I left a few too, but I didn’t want to leave anymore of them. For one thing, I was getting hurt more than he was. For another thing, I just don’t like that kind of merry go round. Why keep fighting back or worse yet keep taking hits, when I don’t have to?

Anyone who says God is loving and tells you to remain with an abusive husband doesn’t really understand love or God. Raise your hand if you think God’s idea of a perfect marriage is yelling and hitting. I have a kid from my first marriage and another one from the second (yeah, I’m on my second husband now but I picked smarter this time), and I like the environment they’re in now alot better than the one my oldest was in.

I didn’t need my oldest get old enough around a bad marriage to start thinking that what his father did was normal (or that my responses were either). Sticking around sends a message that this must all be allright. That’s not the message I want to send. 

Husbands and wives are supposed to treat each other like they treat themselves. Paul said so in the Bible. And if Jesus told us to love our neighbors I sure think he wants husbands and wives to be loving and not fighting all the time.

Sure argument is part of marriage but a pattern of abuse never is.

Okay, got a little bitter there. Bad memories. And yes, I know abuse is an  o b v i o u s  example. And an easy one. So I picked the easiest defense for divorce. Sue me. But this is just part 1 of my rant on religion and divorce. Tomorrow I’ll challenge myself a bit more. Stay tuned.

(No, the picture isn’t really me. But gawd, she’s pink. How could I resist using her?)

Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley


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March 2023

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