This Just In…
In the world of PR: I was watching the Today show yesterday and saw an interview with Gerald Rogers, a life coach and motivational speaker who blogged 20 rules he wished he knew during his marriage. His tome of sage advice was written the night his divorce was finalized, so I’m sure it came from a place of real authority.
OK. That was a tad snarky. Let me make amends, sort of.
To his credit, the blog went viral, getting nearly 120,000 hits. I can’t be snarky about that. Good for him!
During the interview, I noticed that his rules took on a fairly “Romance novel” tone, in my opinion. Here are a few of Rogers’ rules (capitalized as he wrote them): ALWAYS SEE THE BEST in her. Allow your woman to JUST BE. BE SILLY. FILL HER SOUL EVERYDAY. GIVE HER SPACE. DON’T WORRY ABOUT MONEY.
True. It is advice from a divorced man. And it’s decent advice. We could all be a little more compassionate and loving. But 120,000 hits good? Really?
The little light went on in my investigative, market-drive mind. So I looked at the comments on his blog and guess what? The overwhelming majority of comments were from women. Yes, the rules are honorable. But they are valued, it would seem, more by women than men – his intended audience.
In stark contrast to Rogers’ list, here are a few rules in my book, DIVORCE – A Survival Guide For Men: Never propose during sex. Do not go on a diet to win her back. Don’t drop acid on your wedding night. Put down the pen, Shakespeare. Fighting hostility with Jedi mind tricks.
Not so much with the Jane Austin vibe, eh?
My advice is based on nine years of living in a divorce so dysfunctional it makes Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger look like amateurs. My book was not written to memorialize my lost marriage but rather show divorced men how actions based in anger and bitterness affect them and most importantly, their kids.
With Rogers as inspiration, I feel this might be the perfect time to offer up one of my 37 rules for divorced men – free of charge. The rest you can get on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle. Feel free to forward this rule to any man OR woman who may be waging a never ending war with their ex. I’m willing to bet there are more than 120,000 of them out there. And if you are listening Today Show, my calendar is open next week.
36. ASK YOURSELF WHY IT ALL HAPPENED
If you can be accountable for the things you did wrong and learn not to repeat those mistakes, then the whole experience was worth it.
If you stopped blaming your ex and the guy she left you for and can honestly say, “I’m grateful to you both for teaching me something about myself and giving me the opportunity to find an even happier existence,” then it was worth it.
If you’ve alienated your kids and no longer need a three bedroom place, then it may not have been worth it – even though you’ll be saving money when you get a smaller place.
But those are if/then scenarios. They don’t answer the question of why your divorce happened.
So why did it happen? How the hell should I know? It’s your divorce. The point of any difficult situation is to learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Divorce gives you plenty of chances to do that.
As for me, my divorce was so wholly unholy, that I have no intention of ever marrying again. I know what you’re thinking… never say never, right?
Seriously. Have you ever heard of a more dysfunctional divorce than mine? I hope not. The only real upside to all the bullshit I’ve manifested, created and endured is that you may be able to benefit from my experience, misfortune and mistakes. If you get two rules that you can put into practice or take one of the things I fucked up and do it better, then the few bucks you’ve spent on this survival guide will have been a great investment. Hell. It could very well save you thousands of dollars in legal fees, thousands more in therapy for your kids, and God knows what else.
All I know is when I ask myself why it all happened I come to a couple of conclusions.
The first is that I probably married the wrong person. Sure. Maybe I should have cut and run when I had the chance. But that’s not a true justification for why I ended up divorced, because I can’t analyze a chain of events that never happened.
On the flip side, there was a time when I was a happily married man. To say my entire marriage was a catastrophic failure would be a lie and disrespectful to my ex.
Final side note: Showing disrespect to your ex is like poking a bear. You might get away with it once or twice, but eventually the lumbering giant is going to take a swipe and cut you.
My ex and I had a lot of fun during the first seven years of our marriage. We went from various shades of dirt poor to financial well being to even owning a home. More importantly, we created three kids together whom I love dearly. When you end up with kids you love, I think it’s impossible to consider any marriage a failure. Maybe that’s the most important thing to keep in mind during those times when you really want to dispose of your ex.
My marriage fell apart because we both stopped caring about what the other person needed. We stopped communicating on any level other than the surface. We let the stresses of life become more important than finding the joy in each other. Instead of remaining allies towards a common goal, we become hostile partners in a turf war. Ultimately, those things and a million other petty issues killed any chance at having a functional monogamous relationship.
It became all too easy for me to wander first and for her to do the same soon after. Not to end this on a cliché, but neither of us lived up to the, “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part” contract. We just gave up.
Does that make us or anyone else who throws in the towel a failure? Absolutely not. Personally speaking, I think marriage was an institution that was much more relevant when you weren’t expected to live beyond 40. Until death do us part is very doable under that circumstance. After a decade and a half together, it’s completely understandable for people to grow a little weary of their partner, especially if they are not perfectly suited for one another.
Like the collaboration that is supposed to be a marriage, our divorce was a co-production. I recognized that almost from the beginning. My ex has never acknowledged such a sentiment, which for the longest time I held in contempt.
For years, I wanted to hear some kind of accountability from the other side and I think not getting that frustrated me and kept things more antagonistic than they should have been.
So when I asked myself why it happened, the real conclusion I came to was that I could only accept responsibility for the things that I did. I even apologized for my part on more than one occasion.
A part of me does wonder if we could have kept our family together if we had both done things differently. But I’d be living a vastly different reality. One I’m not sure I’d even want.
I’ve grown more after my marriage than I did during the marriage. I’m smarter, tougher and more self-reliant than ever. I found a real passion on my motorcycles – something I am pretty sure I would have never done as a married man. I got to live by myself and truly enjoy the company. I’ve found success in my career because there was no one to cast a cynical eye on the chances I took.
So why did it all happen? So I could grow up and become an even better man. Hopefully, the same will happen to you.
RULE 36: Why it happened isn’t important. Who you become as a result is all that matters.