Category Archives: Divorce

My Separation Part 2– What I learned (and how).

 

For those who have read the stories of how my separation started, you will know that Dr. Laura Schlessinger was key in getting me on a more productive path of healing and growing. Some time later, her show was picked up by the radio station I listened to the most, and they carried it for many years. I love Dr. Laura deeply in my heart, for the help she was to me both in my call to her, and over the years on her show and in her books. I learned from her the importance of prioritizing my children’s needs over my own, and the importance of respecting marriage, and preparing to be in a marriage before trying to be in one again. Her butt-kicking style was very comforting to me (after the call). Sometimes people in a bad space need to be reminded of their own power and their own contribution in getting into that bad space, so they can get themselves out permanently. It’s surprising how often the commonality between all of our lives problems is that we are right there making the choices that create those problems.

ACT:

Abuse Control Training was the place where I was taught new approaches to relationships based on equality and respect, rather than power and control. I learned about how gender-role expectations that I had never thought about had guided my belief system, and, subsequently, my thoughts and actions in ways that had been unfair and hurtful to Faith, and to me. I took responsibility for my belief system and made some adjustments to it that made it more comfortable for me. And I learned how to let go of my marriage and Faith, because nothing I could do or say at that point would undo what I’d already done. I created my abuse website around this time as a way of sharing links to useful resources I’d found online in those early days of the WWW. I also generated some questions people could use to assess if they were involved in abusive relationships, and some resources that could be useful to them if they saw that they were. And I spent time online in spaces frequented by survivors of all kinds of abuse, including Child Sexual Assault. After completing the year-long ACT program, I was asked to come back to the program to help co-facilitate the groups, which I did for several years. This continued my learning quite a lot. I found I had useful things to say to men and women who had been abusive in their relationships. And I got involved with the local DV community, making friends and sharing my perspective with leaders in it and with the community.

Early in my time at ACT, I noticed that I was getting lots of information about how to work better with my wife, who I rarely even spoke with, but I needed to learn more about how to deal better with my children. So I looked around and found Parents Anonymous, through which I was able to learn the 1-2-3 Magic program developed by Dr. Thomas Phelan, which was very helpful to me with them, and has proven quite applicable to my work with children since.

Kids:

And then I took my perspective and experience to the Human Services field, through employment in the Child Welfare System, where I’ve been working now for 13 years. I was working with children from homes like the guys from group – in one case, I worked with the child of someone I knew from group. There were new things to learn, but this kept my head in the realities of family dysfunctions, their causes and consequences.

Divorce lists:

A year or two into this, I discovered some mail-lists for LDS people experiencing divorce. I subscribed to one, and found the interactions there quite useful. A while later, I was contacted by some of the list members who decided to leave that list because they didn’t care for the style of the list-owner so they could form a new one that they wanted me to participate in. I was invited in as a co-owner of the list, and that grew to a group of four lists, three that I co-own, and one that I took over after a list-member was encouraging others to treat their ex-wives abusively and potentially murderously. I did my best to report his information to law enforcement, as it sounded like he was planning to kill his ex-wife, quite confident that he could get away with it. I did a lot of listening to the mostly women on these groups, and added their input to my healing/growing process. I developed a much richer and more realistic model for understanding the world and relationships and marriage due to them. And made some life-long friends in the process.

My Separation Part 1 — Overview

Recently, I’ve had a number of people ask me about my separation, particularly why it was so long before it became a divorce. When talking about something that lasted more than 20 years, there’s a lot to say about that. So I’m going to write about it in some useful detail which, I hope, will answer all the concerns about it.

The tldr; version:

I was separated for 20 years for a variety of reasons. One was to have my kids all grown and gone so I would be as available for them as possible. Possibly the most complete answer is that I had to have the time, money and emotional energy necessary to push it through at the same time, and at least one of those was insufficient until the end. During that time, I did a lot of healing, processing and growing, developing a new set of skills with which I could avoid the failures of my first marriage.
Continue reading My Separation Part 1 — Overview

Divorce and Remarriage an Abomination for Mormons? Answering a Christian Friend.

This is a response to some questions from a friend who has been in a number of abusive relationships and marriages, and is a devout mainstream Christian. Her questions sprang from a vow she made as a small child to marry once and forever. Looking at that in the light of some of the statements found in the Bible regarding, divorce, women and remarriage, she wondered if she was now destined to be single forever because she had broken this vow and the rules shown in these statements. My response is closely tied to the questions you’re not seeing, but I tried to put enough context in that you could see basically what I was responding to.

Yeah. Many have made such vows to marry once and forever, and lots of clean and pretty young Mormons with a couple or three small children and a few years into the process look down their noses at those who were not able to make it work. Life has a way of teaching us that there is more to it than we understand. I can’t speak too much to the Catholic perspective. I respect it, but I don’t understand or share all of it that I do understand.

Yeah, I know some folks get hung up on that notion of “wife forever” in a coercive way. I am not a biblical inerrantist, so hanging on a few proof-texts really isn’t my style. My personal theology includes the notion that God is not a jerk. He’s not going to force someone to be miserable through eternity for things not their fault or for bad choices they have repented of. There is a Mormon notion that God doesn’t function through compulsory means, and that individual choice is eternally protected. By “notion” I mean “core doctrine,” in this case. So, there isn’t really much doctrinal support for the notion of wives-as-chattel, and strong (IMO) doctrinal opposition to it. Continue reading Divorce and Remarriage an Abomination for Mormons? Answering a Christian Friend.

A note to Mormons (and others) trying to help friends avoid a planned divorce.

This is what some of them would like to say to you, but don’t necessarily know how:

Thank you for your concerns about me and my family. I know you have the best of intentions for us, and want to do what you can to help keep my family intact. I love that you want to do this for us.

You can’t do this for us. We’ve already tried every available option, looked under ever rock, and prayed as much as we can. We will be divorcing. That isn’t a question. We don’t know what the future holds beyond that. I don’t yet know when or if I will be married again. This is a very difficult time for me, and I’m none too sure what I will be doing tomorrow. I might just cry a lot.

When I say things like “We just grew apart,” or “We’re not in love anymore,” or just generally don’t tell you anything bad about my marriage or my spouse, this is my attempt to tactfully tell you that what you’re asking about isn’t your business. I’m not going to tell you why we’re divorcing, and you should be grateful that I won’t. There are any number of things that may or may not have led into my decision that you don’t want to hear about: emotional, physical or sexual abuse of me, my children or both, addiction, mental illness, infidelity, and a great deal of pain. I don’t want you to think of or treat my ex badly, and I really don’t want to talk about any of this with you. And I really do want you to drop the questions about what we’ve done or not done, or tried and not tried. As I’ve said, this is a very, very difficult time, and your well intentioned inquiries just poke at emotional wounds that haven’t had the time to become scars yet. It feels a lot like getting kicked when you’re down, and this is why many people leave the Church after they divorce.

I have a support system that’s working for me right now. I appreciate your willingness to be a part of it, but right now isn’t the time for that. Perhaps later.

Some ideas on avoiding divorce.

I’ve been perking up to some near-conclusions about avoiding divorce.

One is that there is really no ground to be gained by perpetuating the myth of divorces in the Church caused by silly people who decide that divorce is no big deal, or that they should quit when marriage is hard. Those people represent a very small portion of Mormons who experience divorce, and they’re dumb enough not to recognize themselves in that description. This straw-man needs to be left alone. Continue reading Some ideas on avoiding divorce.

Blain’s Dating Rules

These aren’t really rules in the sense that I enforce them, or that there’s some artificial penalty to breaking them. They are really more suggestions, or guidelines. Rather than fight over what they say, I’d prefer people think about the principles and reasons behind them.

The New Divorce Rule

No dating nor flirting of any kind for at least a year after a divorce is final. You need that year to heal and explore your own contribution to the divorce. You didn’t end up with a failed marriage because you were too perfect, and you’re not going to get better without time, effort and help. Take as much time as you need to get your head straight. Get used to standing on your own two feet, without depending on someone else. Wait until your fear of dating is greater than your fear of not dating, at the very least. Single life isn’t terrible, so find and enjoy the good parts of single life. This protects you from the rebound marriage and the consequent next divorce. Continue reading Blain’s Dating Rules