Should I call off my separation?
You Need A Spanking Not A Divorce
Posted: 02/24/2012 2:12 pm
A year and a half ago I left my husband of 30-years because I was unhappy with what our lives had become. We hung in together through hard times and celebrated many joys, including our grandchildren, but a string of disasters such as a death in our family, bankruptcy, along with my husband's seemingly perpetual dark moods following the end of his career led to a total breach between us. It became an emotionless, sexless valley of despair. So, I decided to spread my wings and fly. I was exceptionally heartbroken, but at the same time I was excited at the thought of starting a new life.
In short, I had an affair, which gave me back my self-confidence as a sexual and emotional being. My new lover and I met on business trips and we developed a strong sexual bond. However, I soon realized he was not "the one" by a long shot. Yet, the experience left me exhilarated and it made me feel alive again. My husband did not know about my fling and was therefore blindsided when I asked him for a divorce. He was crushed and pleaded with me that he could change. It all seemed too little, too late, but I agreed to a separation instead of a divorce.
I secretly joined an online dating site and had a bit of fun in the process. During our separation my husband became involved with another woman. At first I was furious, jealous and hurt even though I knew I had no right to be. I think he ended the relationship because of my reaction. My hurt caused by his affairactually seemed to bring us together as we tried to work through the confused state we found ourselves in. We began seeing a marriage counselor where we discussed our feelings for the first time in years. I told him about my affair but kept my post-separation dating a secret. We both began to change in ways we never had before.
Now days, we meet a few times a week, share dinner and have sex regularly. The sex is not electrifying, but it's good and the feelings between us are comfortable, intimate and warm. This is where I become confused. Agi, I have really enjoyed our separation, my husband has never been more attentive and appreciative. You could say I have it all. I get his steady love, attention and sex. I am considering taking him back; however, I am worried his 180-degree turnaround will disappear if we resume our old roles. I don't want to play the fool again. On the other hand, I don't want to lose the person I have invested so much of my life with and may still have a long future with. Is it just stupid hope, or do you think we can make it? Agi, I'm asking you; should I go back to him, or can I keep the best of both worlds and stay separated?
Dear Still Alive,
Your story is quite unique, mostly because people who have gone the distance and passed the thirty-year mark usually stay put. A part of me admires your moxie for making a drastic change in your life, but the other side of me thinks having an affair was not the best way to achieve it. I can hear your pain and frustration when you share the story of personal disasters; conversely, life is made up of ebbs and flows and the commitment you both made to each other over thirty years ago was not only a contract but an eternal promise:
'I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad (dark moods or good moods), for richer, for poorer (bankruptcy or lottery), in sickness and in health (death in the family or birth of a grandchild.)'
Somewhere along the journey the two of you got side tracked and didn't communicate to each other in ways that may have prevented the collision of your relationship. All that has brought you to the place where you now question whether to take back your husband or keep the best of both worlds. Hmm... Let's look at the obvious. You can't just stay separated forever and expect your husband to hang around and wait for you. At some point you need to have a come to Jesus moment with yourself and decide what it is you really want. In all honesty, you're behaving like a man going through mid-life crisis. He strays and then expects his wife to hang around and wait for him while he continues to go out and taste the fruits of other women. Not cool and not a formula for success. You both deserve better than that after spending thirty years of your lives together. I'm going to try and be gentle about this with you; You have a lot of nerve getting upset with your husband when he began dating after you had an affair and asked him for a divorce. You might as well have taken out the kitchen scissors and cut his twins off.
When a couple spends as many years together as you and your husband have, they tend to create a symbiotic relationship that will either have a negative or positive affect. In your case, it sounds like the symbiosis was turning into a mushy pile of mud. Your husband's dark moods may have been a reflection of what was going between the two of you, or in this case, not going on between the two of you.
I understand you're having fun dating, well, I have news for you -- dating is supposed to be fun! However, dating is tricky business; there are a lot of love addicts out there who are looking for the initial high you get in the early stages of a relationship. Some of them even mistaken it for love, but if you have learned anything through this process you should recognize by now what real love it. It's someone who loves you on Sundays as equally as they do on Fridays. So, if you want a deep visceral connection with someone you can trust, admire and respect for the rest of your life you won't find them by staying in the dating phase because you already have him.
Try being different and give your marriage a second chance. This doesn't mean you have to move back in together right away. Both of you should have to work a little to regain each others' trust. Start by creating some ground rules, which should include not dating anyone else while the two of you are dating. My rule of thumb when it comes to dating:
"If I am sleeping with you we are to be monogamous. Not only out of respect for what we may be creating but for physical safety."
Set up a time frame that you both agree on for moving back into the family home. Once you achieve this, schedule date nights, and once a week each of you are responsible to surprise the other. It could mean an evening of romance or a day of going scuba diving. Sometimes adding a little cayenne pepper to a relationship can heat things up in the most unexpected ways.
I wish you all the best my friend ~
If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your divorce or break-up please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Infidelity Doesn't Equal Divorce
Divorce Over Infidelity? Not So Fast...
Posted: 02/ 1/2012 3:00 pm
I have recently discovered the Huffington Post and I love it. Today I read your article "Does saying I'm Sorry Matter?" The article spoke to me, because I'm not sure saying "I'm sorry" in my current situation will make a difference. So here I am writing you for advice because my whole world feels like it is crumbling into a million itsy-bitsy pieces.
My husband and I are in the process of splitting; well, it really kind of depends on the day of the week. We are in that stage where we both have moments and days where we think that we might be able to make it work and other days where we think, "It's over." Agi, how do we move through this stage and make the best decision for the two of us individually and for our family? We are still living together with young children.
There is a crucial piece of this puzzle I must reveal. My husband recently ended an affair, which I have known about for the past five months. He told me twice before that he ended it when in fact he did not. I feel so shattered and confused. How do I move forward after this affair has put a permanent blemish on all the years we have spent building our lives together? How can I ever trust him again? His covert behavior has made me become someone I don't even recognize. For example, every time he comes home late from work or goes out to the gym, I wonder if he is with her and is still lying to me. What are some good strategies for rebuilding the trust that is lost when there is infidelity?
Thank you for any help you can offer,
Shattered & Confused
Dear Confused You're Not Shattered,
It's obvious that this is a very challenging time in your life. I feel your pain and commend your ability to stay calm and sensible about approaching this life-altering decision. I'm impressed that you haven't gone the route of playing victim and questioning why he cheated on you, because the why doesn't matter. What matters is whether the two of you can find your way back to being friends, partners and parents. Most men and women go straight to the position of victim and try to personalize the other person's behavior. For anyone who is reading this I want to make it very clear; the actions of another person have nothing to do with you ever. I can't emphasize this enough. Your husband's infidelity is a result of an internal struggle heis having and unfortunately, you and your family have been caught in the crossfire.
However, if you and your husband have not been intimate for a long period of time this should have been a red flag to both of you that there is trouble brewing. Intimacy is one of the most important aspects of any solid marriage. Infidelity however, is not the answer. An open flow of communication is crucial to any successful relationship. This doesn't mean he should be banished from the castle and thrown into the dungeon for eternity. However, if he really wants to keep his family together -- and I hope he does -- then the two of you will have to do a lot of work and be fully committed to helping each other rebuild trust again. I am by no means defending your husband, I believe when people lie or cheat there are two things to consider: is this behavior inherent in his personality, or, did he stray only this one time? If he has a history of being deceitful even about mundane issues, then yes, it is probably inherent in his personality and you have to either accept him for this trait or move on. On the other hand, if he has been a great husband, friend and father for all the years you have been together and he chose to make this catastrophic mistake, then maybe the two of you should find a way to reconnect and continue to build your lives together.
Recovering from any form of infidelity -- emotional or physical -- is not going to be easy, but it is plausible. I'm going to suggest a few options to help you with the questions you posed. First, I think it is important to release some of the dark tension this situation has brought onto both of you. Pick a day to spend together sans your children. Plan a fun outing like going to an amusement park or hiking in the mountains with a picnic in tow. During this day neither of you are allowed to discuss anything divorce related including the infidelity or any topic that is heavy. You are simply to have fun and keep your hearts light and free so you can see if you are still a mutual match at the core level of friendship.
If you find a spark of compassion and love for each other then your work as a couple is to stay fully open and honest with one another. This includes your husband's willingness to stay completely transparent with his comings and goings. All phone calls made by your husband should be disclosed to you anytime you need to ask him who is calling. Rebuilding trust is a tedious process and the only way to tackle it is to continue to have open communication -- but this does not include verbally bashing the other. Both of you should write a list of what you want to share with your life partner when it comes to your values and morals and see if you match each others' lists. If there are items on the list that don't match then discuss ways you can both compromise. It is utterly important you accept him for who he is and not try to change him in ways that will not serve either of you. Be aware that your mind will try to control him and the situation and when this occurs you need to stop yourself, take a deep breath and ask yourself, "Where is this coming from?" We are not meant to control anyone, we are only meant to be in acceptance. Do not acquiesce to the temptation of pointing your finger at him by telling him how awful he is. He is, after all, the man you chose to spend your life with, so look for the goodness that lies deep inside of him, the man you once fell in love with. Forgiveness can only begin internally. Once you get to a place of accepting yourself, him and your current situation, you will find a lightness unfold in your soul and it is then that you will realize you cannot get hurt.
This time in your life is an opportunity to recreate newness by allowing yourself to connect with your inner spirit, which has always been there for you. Remember, you are a sapient being whose promised birthright is to be happy. You are safe and loved first and foremost by yourself. Divorce doesn't have to be the only option, but if you both decide to go this route then be in acceptance of it and move forward with grace and dignity. Honor him for the father he is and the man that you once loved. Whatever you do, don't ever stop believing in the love that the two of your share for your children. You are bound eternally by those little spirits, so honor them because they deserve it.
Take great care my friend,
If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your divorce or break-up please email us at: email@example.com
Women & Money
by Agi Smith
on September 1, 2011 in NEWS & CULTURE
Is it true that women can’t manage their money as well as men? Or are we just afraid of it?
Placing boys and their pricey toys on the mental shelf for a moment, let’s be honest: How many times have you yearned for that pair of designer shoes when you couldn’t really afford them? The ones with the black lace wrapped around the cream satin toes and the perfect heels – the ones that make your legs look long and luscious. They cost more than your rent and you know you can’t afford them, but as you slip them on your feet, the dialogue of desire begins:
Self: “I know I don’t have the money in my checking account and I need to pay rent with my next check. Hmm…I can put it on my credit card and I will stay vigilant and pay it off next month.”
“Enjoy your new shoes, Miss Smith, and thank you for shopping at Needless Markup!”
A month later, your credit card bill arrives and the warm fuzzy feeling of gorgeous kicks has turned into a full-blown bunion on your bank account. You find yourself crawling under the covers and praying to the gods above that somehow this week you will be the lucky lotto winner.
Women are earning more than ever, yet money is a topic of fear and discomfort for many of our sex. So if it’s any comfort, you’re not alone. (Although I wouldn’t get excited about this because collectively, we are part of a nation that has gotten ourselves into so much debt we’ve been downgraded from a triple A to a double A, and I’m not talking about cup size.)
It’s silliness to think women can’t budget, invest or manage their money as well as a man, but there are very real cultural factors affecting our gender when it comes to cash. As women, we are taught from early childhood to care for others and place ourselves last. Our natural instinct is to give everything we have away, leaving ourselves with nothing. In love, we give our whole heart away and any other organ we have if it means keeping a man. As mothers, we give our children every last morsel even if it means we starve to death. In life, we give away whatever we have as long as we fit in with the trendy crowd.
I counsel women frequently about money, especially in the wake of divorce, and the good news it’s not such a scary topic it’s been made out to be. Let’s talk about ways to avoid a financial disaster so we don’t have to move in together like Bea Arthur and Betty White in the Golden Girls.
If you are a married woman, I hope you stay in marital bliss forever, I do. But the facts don’t lie; up to half of you will end your marriage in divorce. Don’t shoot the messenger. I have interviewed hundreds of women who have gone through divorce and I can’t tell you how many times I have been told:
“I gave up my dream and went to work to support my husband while he finished school.”
The status quo won out, and these women trusted that their husbands would be the greater breadwinner. So, they put their hopes and dreams aside to build a life for their family. You see, we give, give, give. Nearly all of the women I have spoken to post-divorce have told me their financial situations are in dire straights. A woman is far more likely to live in poverty after a divorce than a man; despite expensive child support and alimony, most men eventually end up faring much better financially a few years out from a divorce than do women.
I pose this question to all of you, married (happily or not) or single:
“Why not prepare for war when at peace?”
The infamous Chinese General Sun Tzu famously said, “In peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace. The art of war is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence under no circumstances can it be neglected.”
As a married woman, you are an executive in your family corporation and you should be involved in all financial decisions.
If your husband is running the financial side of the household ask him to teach you all about it. Assure him it’s not because you are planning an exit strategy, but rather, a lifelong family strategy that involves being financially responsible.
As a single lady, find ways to save money and put it aside. (This goes for married couples, too.)
Every time you get a paycheck make sure you pay yourself first. A good rule of thumb is to take out 10 percent of your paycheck and put it away. Find an investment services company that offers a money market account where you will accrue interest. Many of these companies offer free classes at their local branches on financial planning, stock trading, and more.
The importance of taking these steps is to release your anxiety about money and get to know it better.
We all have fear that we don’t have enough money and we constantly desire more of it. Either way, money is a scary proposition and we are basically at war with it daily. Sun Tzu is correct; war is a matter of life or death and the journey there is either to safety or to ruin. I choose safety, and therefore, my solution for anything that scares me, is to self-educate. Take online courses about financial planning or basic accounting or just read financial magazines. By taking these steps you will subconsciously become more aware of your money and you will have less fear attached to it. On a higher level, rather than resisting information about your finances (“I’ll just put it on my credit card”) practice non-resistance. Whenever I let go of anything that I am holding on to tightly it turns around and begins to flow to me with great ease. The Buddhist’s have a great way of describing this:
“The ocean waves come crashing upon the shore then silently returning to the sea. If you walk into the wave and resist the swell you will stay stuck in it until you tire out and perhaps die. However, if you let the wave carry you it will wash you ashore safely. Your emotions are like a wave, they come crashing in and then they flow out. However, if you resist the emotion you will hold on to it and it will not leave. You must allow yourself to feel it, observe it, and welcome it. Then, and only then will it wash out of you.”
Ultimately, there is only one person you should rely on to take care of you and your financial future…you. Do it consciously.
Be mentally present every time you spend a dollar. Embrace your fear of money (in fact, embrace all your fears and watch them melt away). Trust that you will always be adding to your abundance and through this practice you will create wealth not just monetarily but spiritually as well.
If you have a story to share or a question you would like addressed regarding your fear of money, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Agi Smith is a women’s advisor and author. Catch her articles about divorce, women and business, and learn more about her own personal story of triumph, at the Huffington Post.
Divorce Over A Gay Child? Really?
Silicon Valley Divorce Over A Gay Child?
Posted: 09/06/11 06:44 PM ET
I write you today with great pain in my heart and an ample dose of endless shame. My husband of twenty some years is a high profile Silicon Valley executive and our world is extremely public because of his position. We have two grown children who are both college educated and model citizens that any parent could be proud of. I have always considered my family to be close, open and loving. No, we are not perfect, but we have muddled through difficult times and in the end found our way home to be a family. Our son has brought us much pride since he graduated from school and followed his father into the tech industry as a blossoming young executive. Our daughter has also made us proud when she graduated from college and went on to a successful career too. Recently, I finally realized why my little girl hasn't gotten married yet. It's not because she hasn't found her soul mate, she tells us she finally has, but he is a she.
Our daughter is gay, a lesbian and an enormous shock to us all. How did I not see this? Of course I love her no matter what, she is still our daughter and nothing will change how I feel about her. My husband on the other hand hasn't had the same reaction. He is furious, he feels she has been lying to us and he even told her she has shamed the family. He said he doesn't approve of her lifestyle choice and is unwilling to speak with her any longer. He is furious over how this will affect his public persona and refuses to discuss it further. Our daughter is broken by the words of her father and I am beside myself. I have never felt such anger and disgust for him as I do now. When he began to receive acclaim for his work, I admit, I lavished in the limelight and the accouterments that came with his success. Now, I would give it all up just to have my family back.
I have nowhere to turn because I live in a very public fishbowl and if were to share this with even one friend it will spread like fire throughout this famous valley. I feel desperate, scared and I don't know what to do. I want to break out of this life and shout my pain from a mountaintop but I feel stuck. I don't care about thisfamous life anymore and I want out! How can any parent turn their own child away with such hate in their heart? Does fame mean this much to him that he is willing to disregard his own family? I don't know who this man is anymore. I feel that divorce is the only way for me to proceed in this situation but I need some advice. How do I get out of this? Please help...
Desperate Silicon Valley Wife & Mother
As a fellow mother, this is undoubtedly one of the most painful stories I have read and I thank you for having the courage to reach out and share your family's dysfunction. It saddens me whenever I hear about any form of prejudice. Somehow, I continue to hold out hope that people collectively have matured, and yet we still have to witness such painful ignorance.
Let me begin with the description of your family being close, open and loving; somehow those words do not fit the behavior you are describing. I am guessing your daughter has known about her sexual preference long ago and if she felt she was in an open family then why didn't she share this with you before? Probably because she feared she would encounter the reaction she has gotten from her Father. So, now on top of being disowned by her father her mother is considering divorce after twenty odd years and she will have to bear the burden of this too? Listen, I don't mean to sound harsh, well maybe just a little, but you can't honestly tell me you didn't see this coming? I used the word dysfunction earlier for a reason when referencing your family, because it is clear to me that your family has been defective for years. Imagine the burden your sweet daughter has been carrying all this time. Not being able to share her true self with her own parents. The most important responsibility we hold as parents is to love our children...no matter what. Your husbands behavior is outrageous, and quite frankly, disgusting.
I would imagine your husband has always held prejudices towards many situations, so you couldn't have been all that shocked when he held it against your own daughter. Where in the book of 'parenting' does it say that you get to choose how your adult child should live? If I may conjecture for a moment; I would guess you have more than one pink elephant living in your house. I'm not sure divorce is the answer to your problem in this particular situation. Your husband has shown you who he is long ago and his inability to show support to your daughter has put you on the spot to react...finally! Okay, I will stop lecturing now and try to give you some advice that will help you and your family send this elephant back out into the wild.
Your job right now is not to focus on you and your emotions. You must buck up and be emotionally present for your daughter. The first thing I recommend you do is tell her how very sorry you are that you never made it safe for her to come to you before. Let her know that you accept her completely for who she is and your pride of her is endless. Even though she is a grown woman she needs her mothers love and you should wrap your arms around her and hold her tight. When was the last time you held your daughter? Invite her to sit with you and bundle her up in your being for as long as possible. I promise you in that moment you will witness the miracle of love and the healing powers of physical contact.
Now let's deal with the anger at your husband. Anger is simply a mask for the fear that resides deep inside of you and it may also be a reflection of how you feel about yourself. Ask yourself what you're so afraid of. Money and power can be very seductive but it can also be a dangerous drug that can destroy the beautiful spirit you were meant to be. I believe you lost your purest self long ago, but the good news is, she still resides inside of you. So my dear, the choice is yours, you get to decide how this story ends. Let me offer an alternative to ending in divorce... Starting over with love. Here's how;
Your husband clearly had a knee jerk reaction that was tided up in his ego. My belief in both the human spirit, and your husband, is that he will come to his good senses and love your daughter just the way she is. I suggest you have a heart to heart with your stubborn husband (are there any husbands who aren't stubborn) and start with the hugging exercise. No words, just wrap him in your arms. Remind him of the day your daughter was born and the joy the two of you sensed when you first laid eyes on your precious little girl. Reminisce how you both felt when you held your baby girl and how both your hearts broke the first time you heard her cry. Now, ask him when was the last time he held his little girl. Even his Silicon Valley persona will not be able to deny the love he has for his daughter. Finally, find the laughter and joy together. Life doesn't have to be so serious. Ask him;
Who say's it has to be Prince Charming to make our daughter happy? Maybe, it's Princess Charming who will make her happiest!
As a parent all we want for our children is health and happiness. From what you've described your family has it all. My advice to you both is to find gratitude in your daily lives. Ask your Silicon Valley hotshot husband what his neighbor Steve Jobs would do in this situation. I am pretty sure Mr. Jobs might tell him to live and love everyday as if it were his last...
Divorce doesn't have to be the solution for all marital woes. Sometimes reminding ourselves of where we began can jolt us into the present with a renewed sense of appreciation. You are a woman with many blessings, start counting them...
I wish you all the best my friend ~
If you have an outrageous marital situation and you live in Silicon Valley email us at: email@example.com
Life is a fast moving train; we live, we love, we work and we die. The in-between better be good. Ask Agi for advice to help make your in-between exceptional!