Iris – Happy Birthday, Papa Squirrel

You can read Tuesday’s post about Iris here:

https://phicklephilly.com/?p=65472

I woke up on Sunday. It was my 58th birthday. I was alone.

I knew I’d be alone, because I was supposed to have dinner with my friend Sabrina but she was having car troubles and couldn’t get down here. I’ll be writing about her in an upcoming post. Sabrina has several chapters from a couple of years ago. You can search for her in the Search bar and you can read them all. Interesting stuff. But we’ll get to her next week.

My daughter had left me a card in a sealed envelope and a candle before she left for the weekend to go to a music festival with her boyfriend. She left the envelope on Thursday night before she left and I told her I wouldn’t open it until Sunday. I did wait and there was a lovely gift and sentiment from her. I’m surprised and grateful! Thank you Lorelei!

Before she left, she said that Iris had left something here and that she may swing by over the weekend to pick it up. She told me she had given my cell to Iris and I may be getting a call or a text, if or when she was going to come get the article.

“I told Iris I was leaving Friday to go away with Neil, so she knows that if she didn’t come early I’d be gone and she could maybe get it this weekend from you.”

“I’ll be here. I’m not going anywhere.”

I went to my favorite breakfast spot and picked up my bacon, egg and cheese sandwich and headed back home. I just figured I’d spend another quiet day at home working on my next book, Below the Wheel.

Frankly, I was amazed at the outpouring of love in the form of texts and messages on social media. Family, friends, former band mates from two different bands, former co-workers… it was amazing. You know, you get older and are locked up for four months and you think you’re basically forgotten by everyone. But apparently not yet. I’m really grateful for all the birthday wishes I got from so many. Thank you! I was trying to write a piece about a bar band I loved as a teen and was interrupted so many times from well wishers I simply gave up writing it. (If you’re reading this, it’s already been published and it kicks ass!)

The Dead End Kids

At some point early in the afternoon I was doing what I do everyday. Typing away. It’s a grind, but these books aren’t going to write themselves. I got a text on Instagram from Iris. “I’m coming to Philly today. I left my wax there, so I might stop by to pick it up and say hello to my Faja!!”

“Please do. Lorelei told me she gave you my cell and that you may be swinging by.”

“Yay!”

There was some more chatter and somehow the subject of fruit came up. She went on to explain to me that banana flavoring is lost to world now. “The original bananas grown back in the day taste totally different than the GMO produced now.”

“Really? Like real bananas don’t taste like the bananas from 40 years ago?”

“We used to get our bananas from Central America and South America but there’s a certain type of disease that prevented them from shipping successfully so they grew something called a Cavendish which is a type of banana strain resistant to the Panama disease.”

“Mind. Blown.”

“When I learned this, my heart broke. All faith in humanity disappeared.”

“I love bananas, but now it’s got me thinking. Anyway, how are you getting to Philly?”

“I’m going to Uber. I got some credits.”

Wanna go somewhere and get food?”

“Yea!! I can just Uber to you and have my friend pick me up after you and I eat! She’s cleaning her place and whatnot since her man child left for a week to go to Texas for some stupid social media influencer garbage lol.”

“Okay. Sounds good. When are you coming?”

I’m ordering an Uber now!”

So some time later Iris arrives at the Squirrel House as planned. She got stuck outside at first because in the hot weather the front door swells and is hard to open. I run downstairs and let her in. I’m happy to see her.

When we get up to the apartment she drops the bag she packed, because I’m assuming she’s staying over at her friend Allie’s house for the next couple of days. We get ready and head out. Since it’s my birthday, I’m happy I have someone to celebrate it with. The last good birthday I had was when two of my friends set up a little party for me at the Ritz Carlton a few years ago.

Since this was our very first outing together I wanted it to be special, so I suggested we go to Parc for brunch. It’s one of the nicest restaurants in the city and everybody goes there to see and be seen. We get there and I ask the hostess what the wait is. They tell me an hour and a half. Screw that. I hate Parc anyway and all the people who go there. Iris heard some older woman make some sort of a sugar daddy comment. I didn’t hear it, But Iris told me. As we walked away from the place I told her about how Parc, Devon and especially Rouge, (Three restaurants in a row on Rittenhouse square) are all notorious for sugar babies and pros. I told her how an any given night you can see a guy 10 to 20 years older than me sitting at one of the outside tables with someone he obviously paid for. It’s kind of pathetic. Men with real game don’t need to pay for companionship. Companions find them and want their presence. (Thank you, father.)

We’re walking and I’m doing my nervous talking things and telling her some story about wherever we are. I think it was about on of my ex-girlfriends, Annabelle. We happened to be walking by what was once the bar where she worked and where I had met her. But I digress…

I suggest my new hangout, Lou Birds. Iris is down for that and off we go. We walk through the park and it’s a lovely day to be out. I’m happy my birthday has taken this unexpected yet pleasant turn.

We get there and there’s plenty of tables. She lets me pick and I go for the one all the way down on the end in the shade. Incidentally, it’s the table I sat at alone when I finished writing Angel with a Broken Wing. I had my celebratory Manhattan at that very table for the very first time after two and a half months of quarantine.

Our girl Jade the server swings by, (I guess Sarah had the day off) and brings to cups and a big bottle of water. I love that. Gotta stay hydrated on a hot day in August especially when you’re going to have a drink or two. She offers us a choice of several beverages but mentions they have a couple of frozen specials, so Iris goes with the Froze’ (Think, Rose’ wine slurpee) and I go with the lemon and vodka frozen drink.

A cool thing that has risen out of the pandemic is the elimination of paper menus. There is a barcode thingee stuck to the corner of the tabletop. Iris instructs me on how to simply open the camera on my phone, and hold it over the thing. The menu appears in my phone like magic! I think that’s so cool! Technology!

I haven’t had a burger in over five months, so I go with a bacon cheeseburger with fries. They even put an onion ring on that bad boy! Iris went with the lobster mac ‘n cheese. Good call, lady!

Delish! She let me try a spoonful of her mac and of course I let her take a queen sized bite out of my burger. The food’s great! That’s the first time I’ve ever eaten there. Well done, Lou Bird’s! Iris took all the food porn photos and a few selfies to document the event.

We loved our brunch and the conversation was lively. You never know how these things will go, but it was a lovely afternoon. We even ordered another round, and she tried the lemon vodka thing I had and she loved it!

So despite the warnings from my comrades who aren’t parents, I was right along. Something is only weird or wrong in the minds of others. I’ve never let other people’s hangups or fear direct my will. Why change now? If you’re not doing anything wrong and your heart’s pure, you have nothing to worry about. If somebody doesn’t like it or thinks it’s wrong, that’s their trip, not mine. I knew everything would be fine with me spending time with my adopted squirrel!

Iris is a lovely young woman and full of life. She has a great mind and a razor sharp sense of humor. I can see why my daughter loves her. Simply put… Iris rocks.

I paid the bill and was happy to do so. (She kicked in for the tip!) I was honored that Iris chose to spend the afternoon with me.

We headed back to the house and she got her stuff together. We just chilled for a bit to cool off in the A/C but she had to get going and meet with her friend, who was probably waiting for her.

I bid this fair maiden farewell and wished her safe passage on her next adventure. She made my birthday extra special and perfect. What began as a quiet day alone became an afternoon of fun, frolic and frivolity!

Thank you Iris for making my birthday great! See you soon.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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The Top of the Stairs

1970 – Philadelphia

I have three sisters. Janice who’s eighteen months older than me, was born in 1961. My sister April, was born in 1966, and Gabrielle born in 1970.

Sometimes when we went to bed and my folks had people over, we’d leave our rooms, and lie at the top of the stairs and listen to our parents downstairs. It was probably just out of curiosity. What are the adults doing downstairs? What are they talking about? Different voices and laughter. The sounds of adults having fun grownup time with their friends and neighbors. Kids don’t like to go to bed. They want to be up and a part of everything. But we could only listen from the top of the stairs.

Sometimes, we’d lie at the top of the stairs in our pajamas listening to my parents when there weren’t any guests over. Maybe we were hoping we’d hear some secret info about what Santa might be bring us this year. But sometimes, more often than not, there was no laughter. Their voices sounded angry with each other. What could they be angry about? We didn’t do anything. We were in bed. We would hear them fight and argue downstairs in the kitchen. I don’t remember what they argued about. It wasn’t so much their words, but the sound of their voices.

If I think back to the sound of our parents voices when we were little, the sound was more important than what they were saying. Children respond more to tone than to meaning. A young mind only has so much capacity for complex emotion. If the voice is soft and gentle, it’s usually followed by a smile and praise. But if the tone is loud and sharp, it’s probably followed by admonishment or punishment.

Like dogs, we learn the difference in those tones very quickly.

When you’re a little kid, and it’s time to go outside, what’s do your parents always say? Go put your shoes on. We’re going. Where are your shoes? We have to go. Because when you’re a kid, you like to run around in your stocking feet. Normally the shoes come off when you got home, because your mom doesn’t want you tracking dirt all over the house.

One morning, my father was getting ready for work. He couldn’t find his shoes. He looked all over and it just didn’t make sense. His closet was always neatly arranged full of ironed shirts, ties, and suits for his job at the bank.

He asked my mother if she’d seen them. Having no idea what had happened, she joined in the search. They finally found his shoes, and several other pairs stashed away behind some boxes in a different closet.

They began to ask us kids if we knew anything about it. Gabrielle was just a newborn so it couldn’t have been her, and Janice and I simply shook our heads.

My middle sister April, who was a very little girl at the time, but always outspoken, took responsibility.

“Why did you hide daddy’s shoes, April? You know he needs them for work.”

“I heard you and daddy fighting last night. I heard what he said to you. I thought if I hid his shoes he wouldn’t leave. You can’t go outside without your shoes.”

Such a simple act, but what an elegant plan for a four-year-old child to conceive in an attempt to keep her family together, and her daddy from leaving.

I’ll never forget that.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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Tales of Rock – Awkward Family Photos: Punk and Metal Edition

Today is my birthday and I love Rock, so here’s a fun special edition of Tales of Rock!

I’m sure you’ve spent way too much time scrolling through the amazing feed of Awkward Family Photos. So instead of rolling your eyes right now, just admit you enjoy looking at other people’s terrible photos. And let’s be real – the era of the awkward family photo is going to fall by the wayside soon as generations obsessed with perfect selfies delete anything that shows us in a less than perfect state. Gone are the days where if you paid for the photos to be developed, they went in the damn album to be immortalized forever in your family’s storage. With that in mind, enjoy this little collection of punk and metal angst from the good old days…

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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My Father’s Chair

It was 1984. I worked in a video store in Northfield, New Jersey.

I was back from California. I failed as a musician in Los Angeles. The angel that rose up in Philly in 1979 as a singer, then a guitarist in Wildwood was cast asunder. It was over. I was back in Wildwood. The place I left in 1982 that I never wanted to return to I sadly came home to. I was back living in my parents house. The first of many failures in my short life. Like Icarus who flew too high, my wings melted and I fell back to the Earth.

Making the transition to being back at home with my parents was brutal. I remember at first I was welcome, but in time my father was filled with disdain for me. Why hadn’t I ever written a letter to my mother while I was away? I don’t know. Maybe I was too busy having the time of my life for a few years without any of you. I learned about life, and how to cook and look after myself. All the while struggling with severe anxiety and depression.

My father got me a job in a video store. It was one of his accounts at the bank. He knew the principals of Home Video Centers in Northfield and Vineland. It wasn’t a little mom and pop video store that used to exist back in the 80’s. It was a massive store, with 500 titles on VHS and Beta and all of the other things you needed to have your own home movie experience. (Does anybody remember rear projection big screen TVs? What an abortion of an idea that was.)

I was hired as a salesman. I remember when I got my first business cards. It felt good. But I used the name Chaz, and my father didn’t like that. I should have my proper name on my cards. Now it feels like my father might have been part Asian based on the amount of shame in my life growing up. (No offense to the Asian culture, but it is a patriarchal society, and honor and respect are paramount. Hence, much of their porn, like Germany is all about shame and humiliation) But I digress…

I liked the job and the people I worked with and for. We were all a bunch of young guys and girls working in a relatively new retail industry. We had the massive rental business, but also sold VCRs, TVs and video cameras. When I think about it now, the technology was so heavy and clunky back then. Massive machines that weighed a ton. Video cameras that almost seemed absurd, because of all of the gear you had to carry just to make a video of your family at some outing. When I think of all of the set up my father did a decade before all of that when I was a kid to shoot home movies on 8mm, super 8, and eventually 16mm, it boggles my mind.

Now it’s all in our phones. Not much bigger than a deck of cards in our pocket. You can do all of that and better now. Better technology but the content hasn’t really changed. You can just stream it now.

I remembered I saved up for my own VCR. I wanted to take movies home from work and watch them for free. I loved movies. My father taught me about film as a young lad. He even dabbled in making his own creative films for  awhile when I was a kid. I’ll tell those stories in a future post.

I loved movies, and having grown up in an age where you could only watch what was on TV at a specific time or go to a movie theater. So home video was king to me. Now I could take a movie home and watch it when I wanted.

So I purchased a used, refurbished Sanyo Betamax top loader VCR from my company for about $300 which was a fortune back then. Maybe it was $250 but who knows? But I thought it was cheap for what I got. I didn’t care. I was so happy to bring it home and attach it to my little 13 inch Sony TV in my bedroom and watch all the movies I was dying to see as a kid. They were all mine now! I had the keys to the kingdom.

There were two formats back then. Beta and VHS. Sony invented both formats. But Beta was the better format. Better picture and sound. They kept the superior format for themselves and sold it to who they wanted, mostly other Asian electronics companies. Sanyo, NEC, etc. They sold the VHS format off to I think RCA or Sylvania. I actually have no idea. But what happened was, more companies made the VHS systems. VHS machines were more accessible to the general public and the inferior system actually won as the victor of what people watched movies on. Beta died. It was sad to see the superior format lose to the inferior format. But there is simply strength in numbers. Those sort of statistics hold up today. If you have enough money and guys, you can crush you competitor. I’m sure Sony didn’t really care because they probably made all of their money back on patents. (And now look at them!)

Anyway, my dad would ask me about some of the films we had at the store. (video rentals) He would ask if we had specific films and wondered if I could maybe bring them home and we could watch them together.

I leapt at this idea, because for most of my life with my father things were strained. Here was an opportunity for us to hang out on neutral ground, and do something together that we both loved.

I don’t remember what the first film was that I brought home. Maybe 3 Days of the Condor, Straw Dogs, or Kelly’s Heroes. My dad would give me a list and I would let him know what was on tape. He would always pick them because he had a history of films in his head that surpassed my brief life. He would pick these amazing films that I would never have known about without him even thought of.  I worked in the store with 500 titles but there were so many great films now on tape that had been silent for years. Video tape brought them all back to life. It was an exciting time. The humble beginnings of all access, all the time, that we enjoy today.

Let me tell you what it was like.

I would come home from work at the video store with a film. He had already set up the night we were going to watch it.

Now let me give you the lay of the land here.

We had this giant house at the shore. My dad had this cool space that was his upstairs in the front of the house. This was his man cave long before man caves were a thing. This space worked for him, because he could have his own little world in there.

This is a guy who worked his whole life to build a life for his family. He worked in a bank as a manager, had four kids; three daughters and one son. His wife never worked and was a full time homemaker. Yea, things were different back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. But the man needed his space and he built the shore house to create his own little private space there. In our old house in Philly, the basement was his space.

He loved Christmas so much he would have his own tree up there in the apartment. Yes… he would buy two really good Frazier Fir trees and one would be the family Christmas tree downstairs and he would have his own tree up in his little lair. He even ran a string of mini lights down the hallway. So basically upstairs was always Christmas in our house. Not weird, just his happy thing.

So, I would come home and we’d set up our night. I would set up a little TV snack table next to his television. I would carry my VCR from my bedroom and wire it up to his TV.

Let me describe my dad’s cave. He had a living room. a bedroom with an attached bathroom and a kitchen with ocean views. Amazing space. He even had a Franklin stove in the corner of the living room. I always wondered why he had that, and then one time the power went off during a storm and he tossed some wood in that thing and it heated the whole second floor of the house. Genius.

So, we’ve got everything set up, and I would sit at his kitchen table and chat with him while he cooked a special dinner for the two of us. I would drink a beer and so would he. Normally we both liked light crisp lagers or pilsners. He would give me a little fresh bread to munch on but not too much because you never want to eat to much before dinner, because you never want to spoil your appetite!

The windows would be open and the fragrance from the sea would waft in. The air is just so fresh and cool by the sea. I love living in the city but there is nothing like it.

He would get a head of fresh lettuce and cut it up. Simple. That was the salad. just lettuce. He would mix and make his own Russian dressing. Thousand Island? Is that ketchup and mayo?  Whatever it was… it was delish. I was with my dad having a beer and noshing on french bread and for once… he wasn’t mad at me.

He had bought two fresh Delmonico steaks. Bone in. Apparently if the bone is in, the meat is sweeter and more savory, because the marrow in the bone lends itself to the flavor. There is nothing in the world like an amazing steak. My daughter is vegan and I respect that, but there is nothing on Earth like men ripping into grilled steak and devouring the fired flesh of those who would devour us if we weren’t such killers. Hell bent on being number one on the food chain to the point where we kill so much we are no longer in the food chain… but again, I digress…

He would have these inch and a half thick delicious steaks. He would put them in the broiler in his oven and cook them there. I know before he put them in he did something with some secret seasoning that include garlic and some other potions not revealed to me. While the steaks were cooking, and it didn’t take long, I would go quiet. I don’t like anyone talking to me when I’m cooking, so I knew my father needed silence to make his food art for us.

Halfway through, he would slide out the tray, and reach for two shots of Remy Martin cognac he had sitting on the counter. He would douse both steaks with a flash of brandy, and they would both ignite in flames as he pushed them back into the broiler. He told me that this would sear in the juices and glaze the outside or something. (It worked!)

I always wanted this part to go on longer than it ever did. I liked sitting peacefully in my father’s kitchen just chatting with him. We talked about everything. Work, life, music, films, girls, everything. Whatever was going on in the moment we would cover. But as some of you know, when it comes to steak, your window for chatter before dinner is always fleeting.

We would sit at his table and eat the steaks and the little brown bowls of salad. He said that we shouldn’t have a potato because he wanted the focus of the meal to be on the meat. He was completely right. They were some of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. They were cooked to perfection, and I loved every bite. He always served an amazing cabernet with every meal. But more than that, my father and I were sharing one of the oldest rituals in history.

We’d put on some cool classical dinner music. My dad was a master of classical music and opera. He owned so much of that and loved it so much. I think he heard his own passion, pain and triumph in that music.

A father and son breaking bread together. Like in times of old, the father sharing the day’s kill with his only son. He would tell me stories that were only for me. Tales that were only for men. Things and deeds that my sisters or my mother could never hear.

I felt so close to him then.

After dinner, we would retire to the living room. I would fire up the Sanyo top loader and the film would begin. I’d make whatever adjustments were necessary so that the film would play properly, and off we’d go. (Does anybody remember tracking?)

For the next two hours we’d disappear together into the film. A world we could both control. Two completely different guys that somehow got thrown together in this life, and we got along. We found our thing.

He had a really nice padded wooden rocking chair in the room. He liked to sit in a hard chair as he called it, because it felt better on his back. So, I got to sit in his comfy rocking chair to watch the movie with him. I loved it!

There were times we’d both feel so much emotion that we’d both tear up a little bit during a movie. Terms of Endearment worked on both of our hearts! There were times he would reach over and grab my hand as we both felt the pain of the characters in the film. It meant so much to me that I was this connected to my father in this moment. Brought together by a film we both loved. I know whatever was happening on the screen was a feeling we had both felt in our own lives.  Even though we were sometimes worlds apart, we connected in that moment.

After the wine, we would  dabble in a bit of the cognac, and he would offer me a bit of bittersweet chocolate from Rauhauser’s Candies in Ocean City. It was the best damn candy in the world. The butter cremes were like kissing the face of god.

I remember during Straw Dogs one night I thought the snifter of cognac would burst in my hand from the suspense. My dad could really pick the films that rocked!

My father said that those were some of his fondest memories of me. He said for a brief time when I was between women in my life we spent some wonderful, simple times together.

I think maybe at some point my dad realized I was really different than him. I was more like his wife and her side of the family. I know I disappointed my father so many times. I’ll never know what it was like for him to grow up in the world he was born into. A world he never made, or could control. I can’t imagine the grinding frustration of his life with so much responsibility, all in the name of maybe finding peace of mind. That, and trying to build a family the only way he knew how from the ashes of his own fractured childhood.

 

At the end of his life, I convinced him to let me set up a Netflix account for him. There were so many films I wanted to share with him. After some reservations, he finally let me. We had a few years there where he let me to pick all of the movies and shows for him to watch.

So I guess it went full circle.

I’m grateful for all of our conversations about all of those great movies.

I think my dad found peace of mind eventually when he settled things with my mom and they both got along.  But I know once she was gone he lost some of himself.

I’ve been thinking about him lately, and felt compelled to write this.

I like when my dad occasionally taps on the window of my mind and asks me to let him in. He’s always welcome.

 

Thanks for letting me sit in your chair, Dad.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

Instagram: @phicklephilly    Facebook: phicklephilly    Twitter: @phicklephilly

The Four Simple Rules for Dads Getting Divorced

A single dad life coach gives his most common and useful advice for men heading into divorce involving kids. Hope all you guys had a good Fathers Day.

As the man in the divorce, you have an opportunity to lead the process with grace and empathy. You cannot control how your ex behaves, the only thing you can control is your own response to the challenges ahead.

I’m going to make this as simple as possible. It’s the conversation I have every week as I speak to dads about ready to enter in the process (voluntarily or otherwise) of divorce. Most of them are scared out of their wits. They were unprepared for the “filing.” And now they are scared and lacking an adequate support system to carry them through the coming storm.

It’s going to be hard, but you are going to make it. And here are the three top mantras for you to remember.

  1. You have to take care of yourself first. Your health and clear direction is necessary for you to lead your kids through the emotional trouble ahead for all of you
  2. Keep the fight of the divorce between the adults only. Deal with your soon-to-be-ex as civilly as you can, but never debate or degrade each other in front of the kids. Never speak poorly of your co-parent
  3. Let go of your ex completely. She no longer deserves your attention and energy
  4. Don’t go it alone, talk to others, build community, and please don’t isolate

Take Care of Yourself First

Do you know how they instruct you before takeoff on an airplane? “In the case of emergency, oxygen masks will come out of the ceiling. Put your mask on first. Then work on your kid’s masks.” Here’s why that matters. If you lose consciousness (or in the case of divorce, lose your mind) everyone will suffer. As the man in the divorce, you are going to be hit with a lot of unfair rulings and family law precedents. You may want to lawyer up and fight, or you may decide to make peace with the divorce and simply act in the best interest of yourself and your kids.

Also, as the man in the divorce, you have an opportunity to lead the process with grace and empathy. You cannot control how your ex behaves, the only thing you can control is your own response to the challenges ahead. If you can keep your kids in mind any time you are responding to some new request or modification in the divorce agreement, you can relax and make the right decision. Not being reactionary, not buying into potential drama, and simply stating what you need, and what your kids need. That’s the best past forward. Don’t buy into the drama. Don’t try to be detached and emotionless, but keep your kids at the heart of your response. Always think of the kids.

Your Health (Mentally, Physically, and Spiritually) Is Your Highest Priority

What can you do today to start taking better care of yourself? Are you sleeping okay? Are you drinking a bit too much? How is your diet and exercise? Are you getting together with others? Are you praying? What things about your life can you be grateful for today, even as things feel like chaos around you?

Here are the parts of your life you can control easily:

  1. Watch what you eat and drink
  2. Get enough sleep, make it a priority
  3. Get some exercise, anything is better than nothing, start small
  4. Talk to someone about what’s going on

Keep the Fight Contained Between the Adults

You are going to have disagreements with your ex. The idea of co-parenting sounds nice, but in practice, it takes a lot more than good intentions. There are going to be negotiations about holidays and birthdays, negotiations about school and who should stay home when one of your kids is sick. You are going to need the goodwill of your ex-spouse, and often their cooperation and coordination around home life and school life. Complaining about your ex in front of the kids is a lose-lose situation. Just don’t do it.

Work on getting your support team together. Who can you call when you really want to call and bitch at your ex-partner? Do you have a counselor or a friend who is willing to keep your struggles confidential? In all that is going on, your isolation will only make things harder. Make sure you get out of your house and get involved in some activities with others. Al-anon is a great program for emotional healing. Meetup groups can provide activities and new hobbies for your alone time. But most of all, keep the fighting between you and your ex. And when possible, let them win. If there’s no loss for you, just let them get their way. Just to reduce the conflict. If it’s not that important to you, let it go.

The Big Release of Your Ex

One of my last lessons in my divorce journey was to let all expectations about my ex-wife go. She is never going to be a cooperative co-parent with me. She may never get over being mad a me, even when the divorce was her idea. She’s not going to say “thank you” when I do something over and above the call of duty or outside of the divorce decree. She’s not going to celebrate your victories with you. She may be able to celebrate the victories of your kids with you, but more than likely, she’s going to keep most of those to herself. You’ve got to let go of all expectations. The “relationship” with her is over. There is no closure. There is nothing to get from your ex-wife.

As I began to understand my ex-wife’s inability to be cordial, I began to communicate with her only around the logistics of getting the kids where they needed to be. It’s as if they are a convenience store clerk, you go into the store to get milk, you don’t need to know about the clerk’s life troubles. In the same way, you don’t need to know everything that’s going on with your ex. As you can let go of their approval and permissive involvement in your life, you can begin to let go of them emotionally too.

It’s taken me nine years to get clear of my optimistic expectations of my co-parenting ex-wife. I still think about calling her from time to time about something regarding our kids. But I don’t. And I’m not going to call her. She gave me my kids, initially. She can’t give me anything else. As you detach from them, the hope is that your resentment and anger at them will also dissipate. That’s the hope. I’m not sure I’m ever going to be okay with the time I lost with my kids as a result of the divorce my wife initiated.

I’m still releasing, daily. You can begin releasing your ex right now, too.

Return to the basics.

Your health.

The energy and health of your kids.

Moving on to what’s next in your life.

Don’t Go It Alone

Men don’t do all that well at supporting one another when things get hard or emotional. But you can find other men, and even women, who are willing to support you just as you are. In my experience, Al-anon meetings are the best self-help programs in the world. They are in your town, and there are probably 3 or 4 meetings you could attend over the next week or so. Find a place you can go and talk about what’s going on.

 

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50 Words Of Sympathy & Condolences For The Loss Of A Mother

Simply saying “I’m sorry for your loss.” isn’t enough sometimes.

Death is never an easy topic to discuss ― even if it’s a natural part of life. Experiencing the loss of a loved one is so much harder. “Expected” deaths hurt just as bad as the ones that come out of the blue.

What makes death so difficult is realizing that you’ll never get to see them again or create new memories, and knowing what to say — what condolence messages to send for the loss of a mother — can be an impossible task.

I can only begin to imagine how traumatic it is to lose a mother. I know nothing compares to the loss of a mother. Moms are irreplaceable in our lives, because of the large role they play in our childhoods, adulthood, and beyond.

Mothers are undoubtedly real-life superheroes who sacrifice a multitude for our well being. Her sacrifices begin at the moment of our conception and continue for what seems like forever.

I send my condolences to those who have lost their mothers. I know sympathy quotes and condolence messages won’t make the pain go away, but they do provide a sense of temporary comfort.

Although I have not experienced the loss of my mother, I know a thing or two about loss. During loss we all grieve, feel sorrow, and sometimes even feel regret. Loss is truly an indescribable, overwhelming feeling. When you experience loss you feel so many emotions rolled into one.

These emotions are natural they come with a passing of a loved one, especially a mother. It’s really important that you allow yourself to feel your emotions ― no matter how painful and draining it maybe. Bottling up your emotions is a disservice to your healing process.

The only way to learn to live with the loss is to go through it and use the passing time to heal. I don’t know your mother, but I’m sure she’d want you to be happy again and continue to live your life to the fullest.

Thankfully, in our time of sorrow and loss, we don’t have to grief and heal alone. Many are willing to send their condolences and give a helping hand.

As you go through the healing process, I want you to meditate on these words of sympathy that express condolences for the loss of a mother.

1. Your mom will always be with you in spirit.

condolences for loss of mother

“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day.”

2. Your memories make you stronger.

“A family is a circle of love, not broken by a loss, but made stronger by the memories. We are forever blessed that God connected us to you.”

3. Be comforted by the fact that she was in your life.

“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought, and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing that our lives have been enriched by having shared their love.” ― Leo Buscaglia

4. There is power in your tears.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.” ― Washington Irving

5. Losing her will never be easy.

“Losing a member of the family is never easy, especially one who offered such unconditional love.” ― Rike Ninja

6. She will bring people together even in her passing.

“A great soul serves everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings us together again and again.”― Maya Angelou

7. It’s okay to be sad.

“We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression.” ― Confucius

8. She will live on forever.

“Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.” ― Emily Dickinson

9. You’re sad because she added happiness to your life.

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” ― Khalil Gibran

10. Love is worth grief.

condolences for loss of mother

“Grief is the price we pay for love.” ― Queen Elizabeth II

11. Crying heals you.

“Tears are God’s gift to us. Our holy water. They heal us as they flow.” ― Rita Schiano

12. Be grateful for the memories.

“Like a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow” ― Robert Louis Stevenson

13. Speak of her with comfort.

“When you speak of her, speak not with tears, for thoughts of her should not be sad. Let memories of the times you shared give you comfort, for her life was rich because of you.”

14. She has found peace.

“The sun, the moon, the wind, the stars, will forever be around, reminding you of the love you shared, and the peace she’s finally found.”

15. It’s okay not to be prepared for a loss.

“No matter how prepared you think you are for the death of a loved one, it still comes as a shock, and it still hurts very deeply.” ― Billy Graham

16. It’s your right to grief.

“I believe that everyone can appreciate the right of a family to grieve the loss of a loved one in peace.” ― Dave Reichert

17. Surviving loss may be hard, but it’s not impossible.

“When you lose a person you love so much, surviving the loss is difficult.” ― Cristiano Ronaldo

18. Your relationship is not dead.

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”― Mitch Albom

19. Death is a natural part of life.

“It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know.” ― Lemony Snicket.

20. Her impact on your life will last forever.

condolences for loss of mother

“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

21. No one looks forward to death.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it.” ― Steve Jobs

22. Celebrate her life.

“I’ve told my children that when I die, to release balloons in the sky to celebrate that I graduated. For me, death is a graduation.” ― Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

23. Your love keeps her alive, even if she’s gone.

“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.”― Mitch Albom

24. Your tears show that your heart is pure.

“Tears shed for another person are not a sign of weakness. They are a sign of a pure heart.”― José N. Harris

25. Your mother’s love will always protect you.

“Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves it’s own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”― J.K. Rowling

26. Everything happens for a reason.

“God is never cruel, there is a reason for all things. We must know the pain of loss; because if we never knew it, we would have no compassion for others, and we would become monsters of self-regard, creatures of unalloyed self-interest. The terrible pain of loss teaches humility to our prideful kind, has the power to soften uncaring hearts, to make a better person of a good one.”― Dean Koontz

27. It’s okay not to know when you’ll be done grieving.

“Everyone keeps telling me that time heals all wounds, but no one can tell me what I’m supposed to do right now. Right now I can’t sleep. It’s right now that I can’t eat. Right now I still hear his voice and sense his presence even though I know he’s not here. Right now all I seem to do is cry. I know all about time and wounds healing, but even if I had all the time in the world, I still don’t know what to do with all this hurt right now.”― Nina Guilbeau

28. Her legacy will live on.

“A mother’s love is always with her children. Losing a mother is one of the deepest sorrows a heart can know. But her goodness, her caring, and her wisdom live on-like a legacy of love that will always be with you. May that love surround you now and bring you peace.”

29. You will not sink, you will survive this.

“Mother was comfort. Mother was home. A girl who lost her mother was suddenly a tiny boat on an angry ocean. Some boats eventually floated ashore. And some boats, like me, seemed to float farther and farther from land.”― Ruta Sepetys

30. What we deeply love becomes a part of us.

condolences for loss of mother

“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes part of us.” ― Helen Keller

31. You eventually get into the acceptance stage.

“Any natural, normal human being, when faced with any kind of loss, will go from shock all the way through acceptance.” ― Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

32. You will always be connected to her.

“Those we love and lose are always connected by heartstrings into infinity.” ― Terri Guillemets

33. Family is worth the risk of loss.

“A family is a risky venture, because the greater the love, the greater the loss… That’s the trade-off. But I’ll take it all.” ― Brad Pitt

34. You won’t forget the way she made you feel.

“My mother is a never-ending song in my heart of comfort, happiness and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune.” ― Graycie Harmon

35. It’s a blessing to have known and be loved by your mother.

“Though sorrow may impede my heart. It is of great love to have known you.”― C. Elizabeth

36. Your love for her matters more than anything.

“Losing you is most difficult for me, but the nature of my love for you is what matters.” ― Haruki Murakami

37. She’s always going to be at your side.

“Mother, you left us beautiful memories, your love is still our guide, although we cannot see you, you’re always at our side.”

38. Your grief won’t always be this intense.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”― Vicki Harrison

39. A loss of a mother is a different kind of loss.

“I’ve lost lots of men in my life, besides my mother, which is a whole different loss.” ― Patti Smith

40. She will live on in your heart.

condolences for loss of mother

“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

41. You can continue to love her.

“In life, we loved you dearly, in death, we love you still. In our hearts you hold a place, no one else will ever fill.”

42. This loss will make you a stronger person.

“Losing my mother at such an early age is the scar of my soul. But I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today; I understand the journey of life. I had to go through what I did to be here.” ― Mariska Hargitay

43. Your memories of her will never pass.

“The world changes from year to year, our lives from day to day, but the love and memory of you shall never pass away.”

44. Growth is coming.

“With loss comes growth.” ― Julie Foudy

45. Remember how fortunate you were to have her in your life.

“Whenever I am missing you, I also remember how fortunate I was that you were in my life. I wouldn’t trade those moments for the world.” — Cindy Adkins

46. Her hugs will last.

“A mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go.”

47. A mother’s love is powerful, even in her absence.

“Love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”– J.K. Rowling

48. She’ll always have your heart.

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a while, but their hearts forever.”

49. It’s okay to miss her, just know she’s still with you.

“Mom, I am missing you today but I know that you will always be with me in my heart.” — Karen Kostyla

50. Mothers never really die.

condolences for loss of mother

“Mothers never really die, they just keep the house up in the sky, They polish the sun by day and light the stars that shine at night, keep the moonbeams silvery bright and in the heavenly home above they wait to welcome those they love.” — Helen Steiner Rice

 

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Jessica – Cruise Missile

Met a girl through a friend, she asked me out. We go on a date where we quickly figure out we have NOTHING in common, and for most of the date she seems annoyed at pretty much everything I say. I write it off. Two days later, she calls me up and says, “Hey, let’s meet up, I know a good bar near your place.”

Confused, because I really thought we had zero chemistry, I decide to go.

Same thing, no chemistry at all. She clearly doesn’t like me and seems to be doing a very bad job of hiding it. She does order me lots of drinks though. She wants to come back to my place, but even through my drunken haze, I think better of it and say no.

Spider-sense was definitely tingling that night.

So a couple of days after that, she calls me again, and says “Let’s go for a walk and get lunch.” She’s hot, and I’m still kicking myself for saying no to apparently getting hate fucked the other night, so I decide to see what’s up. We’re walking through this park, and I just come out with it, “Jessica, you clearly don’t like me, why do you keep calling me to hang out?”

Turns out, she wanted a baby, she wanted a guy who would be willing to give up his paternity rights and let her be a single mother, and she thought I came from good genetic stock. For real, here are some snippets of the conversation that I can remember:

Her: For example, you have a good sense of humor.

Me: You hate my sense of humor.

Her: Yes, but I like that you have one. You seem smart too.

Me: A smart person would never agree to this.

Her: Don’t be mean, I want a baby, what’s wrong with that?

Me: What makes you think I want to be a dad again?

Her: That’s what I’m hoping, that you don’t.

Me: Are you serious?

Her: Yes, I’ll let you do whatever you want, as long as you come inside me without a condom.

Me:…

Her: I’m not kidding. We’ll meet up when I’m ovulating, we fuck a few times, and then if we don’t get lucky, I’ll see you in a month.

Me: [Jaw agape]

Her: What? Most guys would love that idea.

I have never noped the fuck out of a situation with more nope and less fuck before. Stayed far away. I heard through the same friend that introduced me that she was pregnant around a year later, and I saw her around once a few years after that with a little girl. She seemed happy, but not as happy as me for avoiding that drama train wreck.

I didn’t just dodge a bullet.

I think it qualifies for cruise missile status.

 

 

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Tales of Rock – Rod Stewart was a Teen Dad

Like Charlie Sheen, ’70s rock legend Rod Stewart had a reputation for being quite the ladies man. So, it’s not surprising that he also became a dad in his late teens. According to The Daily Mail, Stewart got his girlfriend of one year, Susannah Boffey, pregnant with their daughter, Sarah Streeter, when they were both 18-years-old in 1963. Stewart, who had yet to find success in his singing career, wanted to give the child up for adoption. Boffey initially refused, and tried to raise baby Sarah on her own, but found it too difficult, and after several months, eventually agreed to the suggestion.

After many years, and several awkward encounters during the ’80s when her true identity was discovered, Streeter and Stewart started piecing their relationship back together around 2010, after the death of Streeter’s adoptive mother. Streeter remained estranged from her birth mother for “20 years,” telling The Mail they “don’t get on.”

“The relationship broke down somewhat because she was a bit awkward and had a big chip on her shoulder which I can’t blame her [for]. But in the last couple of years we’ve become somewhat close,” Stewart told Piers Morgan of his once-estranged daughter in 2011 (via The Daily Mail.) “It’s all water under the bridge now. It’s nerve-racking, too, but just as much so for him as it is for me,” Streeter told The Mail.

Stewart went on to impregnate four other women with seven other children (pictured above), of whom he now says, “It’s the best, proudest feeling to look at your kids.” Well, we sure hope so, Rod, you busy boy, you.

 

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Heather – The Family

I went on tinder to try to get more dates. This was a couple of years ago. I’d been working too much. I just wanted to have more fun.

I got a message and set up a date with this girl. It’s my 5th date from the site, it’s been fun. But this one girl was like one of those love at first sight moments when we met at a restaurant. I saw Heather and she was perfect. I tried to play it cool but I felt like I could just cut ties with all the girls I’ve dated and just commit to her.

Physically she was everything I could ever ask for and exactly my type. Her personality seemed about a 10/10. About 30 minutes into sitting down, we didn’t even order cause we were just talking. The chemistry was as good as it was with my first love when I was 14. It was perfect, sparks were flying, I thought I was done and ready to commit here.

But then she tells me to forget about ordering food, let’s go somewhere else, and she has this idea. She won’t say much and I like surprises so I didn’t ask much. We jumped in my car and drove to this restaurant about 20 minutes away kind of out-of-town. It was half way up a mountain near a ski resort. I’m familiar with the area so no big deal.

We walk in and her family is celebrating her aunt’s birthday. There was only family and a lot of it, about 40 people. She introduces me and everybody was happy to meet me and really nice. Everybody also knew that she was out on a first date. They were asking her stuff like, “Is this the guy?” “Is this your date?” “Is this the one?” All of the sudden I wasn’t so cool and relaxed. I felt pressure to be on my best behavior. It was high pressure to the 3rd degree. But everybody was nice so that helped. We sat down and I started being questioned by her older sister, her aunt, and another lady that I forget her relation to my date. The mom started kind of defending me and telling them to back off and let me eat. But the interrogating continued. After I don’t know how long they turned to my date and jokingly said, “we approve.” Then I was able to kind of get my bearings for a minute.

I was totally off-balance all night, just tense. I was afraid the back of my shirt would get that a big wet spot cause I felt sweat on my back. So the sister brings her cute little girl and let’s me hold her and she and my date started taking pictures of me holding her, and somebody else’s baby boy as well. I started to feel like the tone of it all was that we were a couple. I kind of felt like I was married to her and these nice people were my in-laws.

After a couple of hours probably closer to 3 hours, everybody was kind of tiring out and everything began to wind down, keep in mind her car is still at the other restaurant down the hill. Then her dad suddenly asks me “jokingly,” what my intentions are with his daughter. Though I can’t remember how he phrased the question. Everybody looked at the table looked at me which is about half the people there.

I guess I was exhausted from all the questioning (I was questioned by multiple people, multiple times) and the pressure of it all cause I kind of lost it. He asked the question, I looked across the table at her, and she told her dad to stop it. Her dad smiles and jokingly says that he’d really like to hear my response, and her uncle (I think) also said he’d like to know (jokingly). I looked at my date and said, “Can I talk to you alone for a minute.” To which her dad laughs loudly and says “I made him nervous.”

So everybody is laughing now and I guess it was a big joke. I stood up in place, kind of, it was one of those long bench seats and I couldn’t push it back cause other people were sitting on it. Then her sister (I think) says, “Oh there are no secrets in this family, speak your mind.” People then laugh again and everybody starts making jokes about not having secrets and this man who married into the family somehow tells me that he remembers being in my place and he says, “Let me give you some advice, the best thing to do right now is speak your mind and be honest.” Then others join in and echo his sentiment, all jokingly I think.

So I looked at my date and she says something like, “You can tell me anything here, we’re all family.” She also I think was joking. But I had started to lose my ability to tell when people were joking and when they were serious. So the dad says, “Wait, I haven’t gotten an answer to my question.” So finally I speak directly to the dad and say, “I’d like to discuss that with her first.” But I REGRETFULLY, laughed as I said it. So her dad says, “I asked you first, I wanna know.” I turn to my date and she says something like, “Go ahead you can tell me, I’m a big girl I can handle it.”

So I said ok, and sat down then took a couple of breaths while her dad kind of quieted everybody down. I started with “I think I made a huge mistake.”

It all spiraled down from there. I said harsh things like that I felt like I was having a bad dream where I was suddenly married. I questioned her intentions in bringing me there. I said stuff like, “What were you thinking?” Yes, I liked you, but I just met you, and right now I know your aunt (I pointed at her sitting next to me) better than I know you.”

I think she was humiliated but I couldn’t stop, the more I spoke the more bad stuff came out, total fucking tail spin. I said I want to find someone special but I don’t want to skip the first 29 dates and skip to date 30 which is what I’d done that night.

Then people started interrupting and chiming in and suggesting that she and I slow down and have a real first date. I wasn’t having it, I was out of control. I said, “No, it’s too late for that, I feel robbed here, I wanted to meet this girl, get to know her, date her, and maybe fall for her, but now it’s like we’re engaged and her whole family is here and there are all these expectations. We skipped the getting to know each other, and dating part so I feel robbed.” Then I said yet another thing I regret. I said “It’s a HUGE RED FLAG (with an emphatic gesture) that I asked for minute alone with you to talk, and this is what I got instead.” I added something like “you’re all great and a great family, but the lack of certain boundaries is a huge red flag for me. I would never let my relationship become family business.”

My date interrupts me at this point and says, “Okay, so let’s talk in private, let’s go outside and talk, I’m sorry I didn’t give you that minute, let’s go outside and talk privately, I’ll give you all night.” She was visibly shaken and I could tell tears were inevitable. I stood up again and realizing that I had insulted all of them I just quietly walked out. I felt really bad cause they were all nice and had nothing but the best intentions for me. They love her, and they were literally telling me that I was good enough which should’ve been a compliment, but I somehow took it the wrong way and spat in their face. I didn’t even drink.

I drove home alone in silence.

 

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9 Divorce Myths You Need to Ignore (And What to Do Instead)

It’s not always what you think.

There are a lot of myths about divorce and divorce statistics that keep infecting our society. For starters, despite what we’ve heard, the divorce rate actually is not 50 percent. In fact, that number is actually one that was a projected number based on the fact that the divorce rates were on the rise in the 70s and early 80s.

The reality, according to a piece by the New York Times, is that divorce rates are dropping, meaning “happily ever after” is actually a pretty good possibility.

We spoke to therapist Susan Pease Gadoua and journalist Vicki Larson, authors of the eye-opening book, The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels, to get their insight. Here’s what Gadoua and Larson had to say.

1. One in two marriages end in divorce.

That 50 percent statistic is wrong and was based on a projected number that is far too outdated. I mean, the 1970s were 40 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. While divorce rates increased in the 1970s and 1980s, they’ve actually dropped in the last 20 years.

The New York Times found that 70 percent of marriages that occurred in the 1990s actually reached their 15th year wedding anniversary. Statistics also show that thanks to people marrying later in life, maturity is helping to keep people together longer. At the rate that things are going, there’s a good chance that two-thirds of marriages will stay together and divorce will be unlikely.

So if the divorce rate isn’t 50 percent, what is it? It really depends on when couples married, explains Vicki.

“Just under 15 percent of those who tied the knot in the 2000s have divorced, but many of those couples may not have had kids yet—kids add stress to marriage. Of those who married in the 1990s, 35 percent have split. Those who married in the 1960s and 70s have a divorce rate in the 40-45 percent range. And those who married in the 1980s are approaching a 50 percent divorce rate — the so-called gray divorce.”

2. Divorce harms children.

According to Gadoua, divorce can be stressful on kids, but not so much harmful. What does the most damage is parents fighting in front of the kids.

“Think about it. Who likes to be around conflict all the time? Tension is contagious and kids in particular don’t have the tools or defenses to handle angry exchanges from their parents. There is a great deal of research indicating that what children need more than anything is a stable and peaceful environment. That may be with parents living together, but it can also occur when parents are living apart.

The key is that parents get along and stay present for their children. Kids shouldn’t be caught in parental crossfire, used as a pawn or treated like a surrogate spouse. They should be able to relax and feel confident that their parents are in charge,” explains Gadoua.

3. Second marriages are more likely to end in divorce.

While statistically this is true, Living Apart Together (LAT) marriages and things like conscious coupling are changing that by challenging the conventional norms of how a marriage should be and providing more options for how married people can live their lives.

Gadoua and Larson encourage couples to explore those options fully.

“We’re all for you choosing a LAT marriage — or giving each other space in your existing marriage — because it offers you and your partner exactly what you want: connection and intimacy with enough freedom to avoid the claustrophobia that often comes with living together 24/7 as well as whatever it is that makes many people take each other for granted, whether they’re married or cohabiting.”

4. Divorce equals “failure.”

No way. Whether it’s a starter marriage (a marriage that ends within five years and doesn’t result in kids) or a marriage that has stood the test of time, divorce doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

“The only measure we have to determine whether a marriage is successful or not is by how long it lasts. Yet, there are many people who have healthier, better lives after divorce. Perhaps the couple has raised healthy kids who’ve flown the coop and now they want to take a different direction in their lives.

Why is that a failure? Look at Al and Tipper Gore. The media was clamoring to place the blame somewhere, yet there was no one and nothing to blame. Their marriage simply ended with both of their blessings,” say Gadoua and Larson.

5. Wedding size and cost relate to the length of a marriage.

The New York Times published a piece on the correlation between the size and cost of a wedding and its effect on the length of a marriage. While the authors of the study, Andrew Francis-Tan and Hugo M. Mialon, said that wedding expenses and marriage duration could be “inversely correlated,” they couldn’t pinpoint which wedding, expensive or inexpensive, would have a higher chance of divorce.

Gadoua and Larson agreed, in a roundabout way. Although lavish expenses on an engagement ring and a wedding could mean the marriage will start off with a lot of debt, and nothing strains couples more than money: “What our studies and what research by others seem to indicate is that personalities — being empathetic, generous, appreciative, etc.—and matched expectations are much better gauges of whether a marriage is going to last happily.”

6. You can (and should) divorce-proof your marriage.

As Larson wrote in an essay for WeVorce, “you can’t affair- or divorce-proof a marriage because you can’t control another person’s behavior, you can only control your own.”

When we asked her about this topic she explained: “You can’t control your partner’s behavior and if you could that would really dangerous! You can be the best possible spouse and do all the things relationships experts recommend — from dating your spouse to having great and frequent sex to being a supportive, appreciative partner — and still end up divorced.”

Larson also added that you shouldn’t even want to divorce-proof your marriage, because sometimes it’s healthier to let go and move on.

7. Living together before marriage lowers the chance of divorce.

It has often been said that those who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce, but recent studies say that’s not true.

A 2014 study by associate professor Arielle Kuperberg from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro found that contrary to myths that either living together or not living together before you’re married actually has nothing to do with whether or not those couples will divorce. In her research, Kuperberg found what really plays a role is just how young these people decide to cohabitate, because “settling down too young is what leads to divorce.”

LAT marriages also are throwing a wrench in the correlation between cohabitation and its effects on divorce. Couples, especially older ones, are choosing to live apart, but manage to keep their marriage very happy, healthy, and alive.

8. Infidelity breaks up marriages.

While it’s easy to say that infidelity is the major cause of marriages ending, that isn’t always the case.

As Eric Anderson, an American sociologist at England’s University of Winchester and author of The Monogamy Gap: Men, Love, and the Reality of Cheating, told Larson, “Infidelity does not break marriages up; it is the unreasonable expectation that a marriage must restrict sex that breaks a marriage up… I’ve seen so many long-term relationships broken up simply because one had sex outside the relationship. But feeling victimized isn’t a natural outcome of casual sex outside a relationship; it is a socialized victimhood.”

9. If you’re unhappy at a certain point in your marriage, you’re going to get divorced.

Marriage isn’t easy. It’s something that requires a lot of energy, understanding, and most importantly communication. Just because you’re unhappy at a certain point, doesn’t mean divorce is inevitable – every marriage has a bad patch.

But if that bad patch is more than just a patch and you’ve really given it your all, including attending couples counseling (“three or four sessions aren’t enough,” says Gadoua) for several months or a year, then maybe it’s time to call it quits. However, a short-lived unhappiness doesn’t warrant an end.

There’s no doubt about it: the shape of marriage is definitely changing. Gadoua and Larson discuss several alternative couplings that are becoming more mainstream in their book. These are two less-traditional marriages that are undoubtedly becoming more popular.

“LAT relationships are pretty big in Europe, especially Great Britain, and are also growing in the States. For young people, it generally is a reflection of the so-called emerging adulthood period, when they’re spending more time in school and building careers,” Vicki explains. “But for older people, who may be divorced or widowed, it’s more a reflection of their desire for commitment and freedom, and also, especially for women, a way to not fall into gendered patterns of housekeeping and caregiving.

As for couples who get together to co-parent, some may be romantic partners, but that’s not always the case. “There are websites like Modamily.com just for that purpose,” says Vicki. “We interviewed a couple that was committing to each other and their child for 18 years, with an option to renew, so they could give their child the stability and consistency children need to thrive.

Couples may even transition their traditional marriage into a parenting marriage. “Some couples that are not happy after kids come along and might have divorced in the past are opting to convert their marriage into a parenting marriage,” say Gadoua and Larson.

“They stay in the same home and remove the romantic equation from their partnership, which reduces conflict while allowing each of them to spend time with the children. This week alone, Susan helped two couples transfer their marriage from traditional to parenting.”

 

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