Category Archives: Her Poor Decisions

She’s stalling, and I give an ultimatum

Several months ago I thought the settlement was settled. It’s not. Now she’s asking for other changes and extensions to the timeline. I suspect that she hasn’t been pursuing the divorce because she wants more time for the condo value to come up so she can refinance that, but at the same time she’s holding my life hostage to that. She has no regard for the damage that her singular focus on what’s good for her does to everyone else.

And, the longer this goes on the more the lawyers talk to each other. At several hundred dollars an hour, they can be incredibly prolix. This should have been a done deal. Each side finds out about each other, they polish the settlement agreement, and they set a court date. That’s not what’s happened. Every time I push the issue a little, she wants to clarify some point that we had clarified earlier. Not only is she stalling, but she’s costing both of us money in unnecessary legal wrangling.

For instance, she spent a month asking if she could have a co-signer on the refinanced mortgage. I’d suggested this two years ago, but aside from the pattern of her ignoring the good advice I give her, it’s none of my business. After the divorce she can do whatever she likes to manage her property and finances. It’s not something we have to agree on. The court says the condo is hers and that’s it. The particulars are no longer my problem. Still, I have to pay several hundred dollars.

I’m to the point where I’m ready to reject the agreement. I’ve instructed my attorney to tell her attorney that she either files in the next month or we consider it a wholesale rejection of the current agreement. I’ve also instructed my attorney to provide nothing specific about what I’ll do after that. I want her to think that I’m going to immediately sell the condo, make her homeless, and spend all the money. I want her to think she’s going to be homeless.

At one of the mediation meetings, I told her right out that the more she asked for, the more incentive I had to fight. If she asked for $40,000, I can either give that to her or I can use that money to fight her. Either way I come out $40,000 less. That’s where I am now—I can burn everything she wants to get from me without hurting my position but seriously affecting hers. I hope she remembers that I said that and I hope she still thinks I’m asshole enough to do it.

She’s had over two years without me and she’s still having problems with integrity and getting things done. I wasn’t the problem.

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Cut-off Culture

There’s actually a thing called cut-off culture and an acronym for it, JSC (“just stop communicating”). Maybe Jeff Reifman made it up for Shining Light on Cutoff Culture. When someone just goes away, there’s no closure for the other side.

The person cutting ties gets what they want, but the person getting cut off is left in a situation where what they need or want doesn’t matter.

I find this the most insidious part of my divorce. I think it actually made my wife feel good to be rid of me. It allowed her to come into herself, at least a little. I said as much in therapy. I said I thought she didn’t feel like a complete person because she didn’t have control of her life and that the only way she’d get that is being alone for several years. A different relationship wasn’t going to change that.

In Jeff’s fantasy universe, the one he constructed to explain the sudden and hostile disappearance of his girlfriend of four months, he invokes her past trauma despite no evidence to the contrary.

He quote from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown:

Here’s the painful pattern that emerged from my research with men: We ask them to be vulnerable, we beg them to let us in, and we plead with them to tell us when they’re afraid, but the truth is that most women can’t stomach it.

True dat.

But, four months? How can you have trauma over a woman with whom you haven’t spent more than two seasons? How can you have complaints such as “She didn’t realize the irony that what I wanted had long been irrelevant to her.” or “I cried nearly every day and struggled with sleep for months.” Really? Four months is long enough to cause that reaction? When I got to that point—”four months”—I almost said “Oh, that’s cute.” Then I thought “this guy has some severe transference issues.

I think most of the rest of his article is bunk. My friends, the true ones, have been very supportive. They didn’t expect me to “just get over it” or ignore me in the ways that Jeff implies his did, but he also says he’s an ex-Microsoft person so maybe he has techie friends who don’t get it from the start.

I try to read this articles from the other side, though. A woman you’ve dated for four months disappears and then doesn’t want you going crazy insane on her?

I found Jeff’s article through Cord Jefferson’s equally confused Men aren’t entitled to women’s time or affection. But it’s a hard lesson to learn. The title talks about time and affection, which might be an editor’s decision, but the article talks about closure and explanation, and ends with rapists and murderers.

But I’ve done cut-off, I guess. I go on a couple of dates with women. If they don’t seem interested, I don’t keep communicating. I don’t need to give some closure. But those aren’t committed relationships, either. They aren’t even relationships. But, I also know that a couple of women went a bit psycho on me and they invoked the trauma of my divorce as the reason for my craziness. I didn’t want to explain that when I saw one of them push a toddler out of the way to catch a train that I’d decided to move on. Who wants to have that argument?

Sometimes it is better to just go away.

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Filed under Her Poor Decisions, Separating

My first house guest

I was pretty excited this week to have my first house guest. I’d gotten my place shipshape with some decent furniture, found places for the boxes I hadn’t unpacked, and generally tried to be a nice host. One of my friends (just friends) from Chicago came out to visit. She wanted to visit New York so it seemed that it would all work out.

It didn’t, and in a very bad way for me. I’d made a mistake that I’m seeing as a pattern. I overestimated her ability to deal with life.

Almost from the moment she got here and I met her at the airport it was complaints. She was delayed on the first leg of her flight so she missed her connecting flight, even though she got there two minutes before departure time. I tried to explain that’s not up to the airlines once they close the door, which sets off a series of events recorded by the FAA. The airline got her a flight the next hour, so really, no harm done.

Since she had lived in Chicago at the same time as me, I thought nothing about the buses and trains we might use here, but those too became a constant source of complaints. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the Battery Park—she wanted to see the Statue of Liberty—but she complained that it took too long. When I said it was only a half hour, she didn’t believe me.

My guest made poor decision after poor decision. She’s tight on money, but instead of using a regular pot to heat water for tea, she insists on buying me a tea kettle that I tell her is overpriced. We go to Katz’s with some friends and I offer to pay for her, insisting that many of my hosts in my travels wouldn’t let me spend a dime, but she wants to pay for it yourself. It’s expensive and she continues to pay for it, taking every opportunity to complain about how expensive it was.

It got worse from there, with many other things that I won’t enumerate. My trouble was that I started to realize that I had on my hands the same insolent teenager that my wife had been. Many of her behaviors and poor decisions were the same pattern as my wife’s. The behavior was the same; the blame-shifting was the same. In all, the narcissism was the same. My guest actually complained that in Chicago bars men would chat her up, but not here. The next moment she complained that some men chatted her up (because, the best I can guess, is that she only wants attention from the men she wants attention from and thinks everything else is creepy).

I overestimated her ability to deal with this because she’s been telling everyone how much she likes to travel and wants to travel. She has also complained to me that when people visited her and stayed with her, that they’d hang around the house. I thought she’d be able to handle the travel and would go out to explore New York, but she moped on my couch and watched excessively loud Netflix all day. I have this way of making people realize their own lies. I don’t tell them, but I tend to put them in situations where they can get what they want. See, for instance Gifts, the revealer of reality.

I have this really odd way of holding a mirror up to people, and it’s a trait I don’t particularly like. She said, in an offhand way, that this trip made her realize she doesn’t really like to travel or be in different places.

I recognize my problem here, even if I’m a bit more detached from it than I was in my marriage. My houseguest’s problems with money and life aren’t mine and there’s an end in sight because her flight is on Monday. I’m not stuck with her.

Still, I knew she was having a miserable time so I asked her what she’d like to do for the rest of her stay. I’d change the airline ticket, put her up in a hotel, or whatever she wanted to do. There was no sense in her being miserable, and much less sense in her being miserable about me.

In the end, I paid to change her ticket so she could fly home early. In a parting shot, I heard her tell her mother I told her she had “three hours to get her crap out”. I told her she had three hours because it had always been the plan that we were staying out on Long Island that night. Even if she stayed she had three hours to get her stuff together. I didn’t tell her that my friend on Long Island didn’t want her to come out after meeting her at Katz’s, or that I didn’t want her to embarrass herself or me on Sunday with the people I knew would find her attitude ridiculous. I mean, is she going to complain to my friend who has been an orphan since she was 2 years old and now runs a non-profit to raise Bangladeshis out of poverty by teaching them English and finding them jobs with international airlines? Or my friend who escaped a repressive government in Myanmar? Or many of my other friends who have experienced real horrors and deprivation? I think they’d be nice about it, but my Chicago friend wouldn’t be the queen bee with her petty problems.

This is another big failure on my part, I think.

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Your Divorce Advisor

I’ve been reading Your Divorce Advisor, and like many other divorce books that I’ve gone through, this book spends a lot of time telling stay-at-home women how to make a life on their own.

I can understand that some women need to do that, but I also think that might be part of the reason they have problems. If they are so dependent on their partner, they are not only subverting themselves, but they are making their partner take on more responsibility. This shifts work from one person to another. My wife did that and I resented it for both reasons. I felt like she treated me as a farm animal, and one she didn’t even take care of. Remember, we didn’t have kids and we both worked.

My mother was like that. She couldn’t do anything on her own. She got a small allowance for the household, didn’t know how to do finances, didn’t have her own credit, and so on. I think it’s the reason she was trapped in a bad marriage; she didn’t know how to live on her own.

Even in the best of cases, I think both sides need to understand all aspects of the marriage, finances, and so on. Even if you have the best and most loving spouse in the world, that won’t keep a drunk driving from running them down and killing them, leaving the other partner in the same situation.

Once you understand how things are and how they work, you don’t have to think about it all of the time but you should check up on things every so often even if you let the other person take care of the day to day business.

I pushed hard for this in my marriage and my wife didn’t like it. She was lazy. If things were going well, she didn’t see the need to do any work. Not only did I not want her to be in the situation my own mother was in, but I’d been in the military for awhile and they are all about the spouse being able to take care of business.

VaultCamp

As we are separating, she’s asking me where all the money is. She should already know that because I’d update our net worth document every year for the will we kept in a safe deposit box. It listed all the accounts. I’d made her a joint account holder on everything, but she never created an account or logged in. Now that we’re separating, I’m disinclined to spend the time to explain it to her. I don’t work for her anymore. She’ll have to puzzle it out herself. I don’t feel responsible for her anymore.

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Now she follows me

I just got back from camping in Montana, where I was able to escape from this whole mess for a week. Going through my email when I came out of the woods, I noticed that my wife has followed me on Twitter.

I really can’t say anything other than “Bitch”! We’re married for ten years and now she wants to pay attention to what I write in social media? I could interpret this as her caring about where I am and what I’m doing, but if that’s true, why didn’t she do it while we were together.

This was a major problem for us and I never really addressed it. She never read my books, blogs, tweets, or anything else. If she wasn’t a computer person, I could understand that, but she’d spend hours on LiveJournal, Facebook, and other social media sites. She has had and has used her own Twitter accounts (yes, plural) for years.

I’m trying to be positive, but I can’t help but think she’s collecting information to screw me harder in this divorce. She’s interested now because it’s about what she can squeeze out of me. It’s not about me at all.

Blocking her can’t really do anything good. It’s a poke in her eye but doesn’t prevent her from reading any of it. She could make other accounts.

That’s not what really hurts though, and this process is about getting to the core of what I want and feel instead of acting out in appropriate words. What hurts is the woman to whom I gave my life didn’t care about me. It’s worse than rejection. It was indifference.

It still, and probably always will, bother me that she could have had such a better and marriage if she’d had only tried. It got to the point that I was literally begging her to work at our marriage. My friends tell me that she’s a “entitled bitch” who’s always had everything handed to her such that she knows the value of nothing. I wish she could realize how much she hurts other people, especially me.

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Filed under Complaints, Her Poor Decisions, Internet, Irreconcilable Differences

Genuine relationships

I finished reading
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. The second half of the book wasn’t as good as the author dragged out the ideas that he had already developed. One thought struck me though; the idea that people act differently for different situations and people rely on the assumption that other people want and accept that. For example, acting like a baseball fan is something other people expect you to do when you go to a baseball game. If you’re a boss, people expect (and maybe subconsciously demand) that you act like a boss (i.e. acting your station). If you’re a rock star, people expect you to act like a rock star. More importantly, if you want to be a rock star, you have to act like people expect those sorts of people to act.

I never much cared for my “audience”, as the book terms it, and I have never quite cared for fitting into a role. That sounds laudable, maybe, because I’m courageous enough to do my own thing, but it’s also socially dangerous. Since I don’t identify with any particular group and don’t “perform” to please any particular group, no group really claims me. It’s all the small lies and compromises that bind someone to a group of people, and virtually everyone needs other people.

When my wife and I would go out with her friends, and even her family sometimes, she was a different person. Or, inversely, when she was with me, she was different, which I think is a truer statement. Politically, I’m much more conservative although I don’t identify with any party. I’m for what makes sense, and those ideas can come from either side. However, the people she’s chosen to associate with are usually hard-core partisan liberals. As with partisans from any side, they are uninterested in anything than destroying the other side, even if they are wrong.

My wife would play that role among her friends and family, and I’d mostly hold my tongue. But, afterward, when I’d ask her about a topic, say, like, the government in Egypt, she really didn’t know anything about it. When I would ask her why she thought she had anything worth saying about it, or went along with her friends who thought they had something worth saying about it, she was ashamed and embarrassed. But she would keep doing it because that’s how you fit in with groups. You accept their lies (or, “performance” in the jargon of this book).

I don’t do that. I don’t accept a group’s lies. Usually though, rather than saying anything about it, I just don’t associate with people who can’t back up their beliefs. For some people, I just don’t talk to them about those areas. Very few people are completely abhorrent; Even Nazi officers had good things about them. All people have good things about them. It’s only a matter of how much we value their good things over their bad things.

We all make choices about what is important to us and hardly anyone has truth or right at the top of their list even though they’d like to think they do. I didn’t feel the intense need to fit in; I certainly didn’t feel that need more strongly than I cared about people making ignorant statements while knowing that they are ignorant. If you’ve gotten to my age and still think you know anything about the world, you just aren’t paying attention.

This was a major tension between my wife and I. She wanted to find a group to fit in with more than she cared about being right or truthful. That sounds more pejorative than I intend, but it caused her to act in ways in which she knew were shameful. However, within those groups, that didn’t matter. She accepted their “performance” and they accepted her. That was more important than her calling them on their bullshit.

But, there’s a very important effect: for those sorts of groups, they tend to only accept you as long as you accept them. For the few people I call my friends, we can have long, passionate arguments and huge disagreements but still be friends because our relationship is not predicated on the acceptance of mutual ignorance. Those relationships, while fewer, are also stronger.

I’d argue with my wife about whether her “friends” were actual friends, as in, how many would help her if she needed it? All of my friends would, but she couldn’t even get hers to come over for dinner. Their mutual “performances” were fine for passing the time with agreeable people, but it wasn’t real.

And, having never learned how to handle a genuine relationship, she couldn’t handle marriage.

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Filed under Book, Her Poor Decisions, Irreconcilable Differences, My Own Faults

Taking on the wrong role

I’ve been reading more from
The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, and the gestalt of the book is that you tell people how to treat you, often through non-verbal cues of “appearance” and “manner”.

My wife once said, with genuine surprise, that people treated her better when she dressed better. That seems really obvious, and a little bit sad that a 39 year old would just realize that.

But this leads me to confess to something quite harsh that I told her. I said that if she acts like a victim, people will make her a victim. Bullies, criminals, whatever see what you “express” and make their decision to harm you.

I don’t think bullying is naturally wrong. It’s morally wrong because we’ve set up a system that makes it so, but I think nature uses bullying to weed out the weak and to show the others how to survive. That we’ve kept children from responding to bullies has made the problem worse for those who present a weak “front”.

My wife “expressed” a manner that I honestly think annoys people to the point that at best means they don’t want to be around her, and worse, secretly harbors thoughts of causing her pain. This book goes through how other people’s “impressions” are formed and reinforced by our own “expressions”. She took on a role that caused bad things to happen to her.

It’s a tough thing to “express” confidence, certainty, and strength when you don’t think you have any of those. However, that’s what you have to learn how to do. I used that trite phrase “fake it until you make it”. Get a little confidence and it starts to build on itself. This reminded me of a video by Charlie Murphy, Eddie Murphy’s big brother, on how he had to act tough and ultimately failed as his chief of security.

I pushed this idea too hard and in an unsuitable manner for her (I’m a pompous jerk). She complained that it took work to do this. My responses of “No shit” and “Life sucks” didn’t help, although I stand by those statements. Walking 10 miles to get a gallon of dirty water is work. We Americans have it much better than almost everyone else in the world, so I don’t like this sort of shirking.

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