All Articles Tagged "divorce"
In the morning, I’ll fumble out of the bedroom and try to catch a glimpse of her putting on her makeup in the bathroom, the crackle and hiss of the baby monitor the only real sound in her whole damn house. I try to be sly about it but I know my slyness has worn away over time. Plus, f*ck it. What do I have to lose now?
I met Monica one sweaty August night more than a decade ago and married her like a freight train six weeks later. She was a western girl, born into the madness of a land called Utah.
We were like a magnificent cowboy movie from the start.
There wasn’t all that much thought involved the wedding. We didn’t sit around her mama’s kitchen table looking at catalogs of wedding gowns or catering menus or any of that sh*t. We spotted each other as the sun went down on a crazy desert town and we started firing at each other right away.
Close to the bone, that’s how I like my love affairs.
I know that now, because I was lucky enough to live through, to survive, our marriage — and divorce 10 years later — to come riding back up over the mesa of our years together with one badass sunset sinking down behind me. Most people spend their lifetimes in the back lots of their imagination wishing away what they have for something bigger to come along and sweep them away.
Most people simply dream of falling in love hard and fast and for real. But most people never even get a taste of it.
I’m not saying they don’t fall in love for real, that would be a stupid thing to say. I’d say I’m way more of a dreamer than a thinker, but even so: I never ever dreamed I could fall in love quite the way that Monica and I did. We found each other in a hail of bullets and arrows and we never once thought twice about jumping off that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid cliff together.
Fact is, we were probably always the kind of people just looking for the damn cliff; we just needed a partner to take the leap alongside us.
Now, three kids and a divorce later — and with so much anger/laughter/sadness/joy/trash talk/dirty talk/Friday night couch pizza/HBO binge-watching/dog love/dog loss/money trouble/personality-crushing/soul-sucking/daily heart reincarnating/Sunday sunshine/bring me a beer-ness — behind us, I find myself watching her getting ready for work in the morning and I whisper to myself, “Dude. That’s your girlfriend. She’s a f*ckin’ hoot, too. Lucky bastard you are, bro.”
And it means more to me than anything I can tell you.
For me it’s purely gravitational, this natural pull to be with my ex-wife. I believe it took us killing something ‘legal and official’ in order to be able to stumble upon this reincarnated version of ourselves, of our thing together.
Love — or even the possibility of love — is fickle. And even when we were divorcing, I never wanted to be apart from her. She means too much to me. We click. And we’ve learned a lot about the art of staying clicked when the sh*t hits the fans.
These days, we keep two separate homes, two different economies, and we specialize in our three kids.
We’ve carved out a more satisfying scenario for ourselves this time around; in so many ways, we’re dating the person we lost long ago in the muddled confusion of a failed marriage. That’s pretty cool … and pretty damn rare.
Listen, all of this is like a supernova blowing up in my face and I dig it. I dig it because I don’t even have a sliver of the intelligence or the sage-like qualities that it would take for me to comprehend why my heart wants what it wants when the only thing it ever seems to want is the same thing that the signed divorce documents show that I didn’t really want anymore.
But divorce be damned, to hell with the formalities.
We are two cliff-jumping sons-of-bitches. And listen to me: there is real magic buried deep down inside the electrifying awkwardness that slams into us whenever we roll down the road in my Honda, some Radiohead CD going off, our kids rubbing snot into the seats like Roman blood into the ruins of something wonderful and real that will take time to appreciate.
Monica rolls her fingers up on mine and I look over at her and she holds back the teenager smile that she always holds back and I’m good, dude.
I could date a bunch of women, for the rest of my days, but I don’t suppose I’d ever wander back onto the set of a Western quite like this one.
Even when we tried to quit it, we couldn’t quit it. Even when we tried to roll the credits, the credits refused to roll. Look, no one in their right minds would ever give us a fighting chance at this point. But that’s why they ain’t us. Me and Monica, we’ll be fine. We were fine, we got un-fine, we found the fine again. True love, she rolls that way. I have to believe that; I do believe that.
While the rest of the world dreams up another love story, we’ll be sitting there up on a rocky crop watching another payroll train all splayed out across another sunset valley.
There will be awkward silence for a sec and then we’ll find our way.
“Let’s rob it, yo,” my girlfriend will say as the rough warm wind kicks up hard across her pretty little knees. And I’ll just toss my cigarette like a badass and it’ll land on the back of a six-foot curled-up rattlesnake sleeping by a cactus. Then I’ll kind of say what needs to be said, what we’ve been saying all along, really.
“Oh yeah, baby,” I’ll tell her. “Let’s go rob us a train.”
Have you experienced being divorced and dating your ex? Would you consider dating your ex?
Reprinted with permission from YourTango.com
I promise you, I wanted to kill my friend’s husband when I first heard they were getting a divorce. While I’m well-versed in soothing a friend’s broken heart after she catches her bae sliding into someone’s DMs, I was way out of my depth with the legalities of splitting assets and family finances. In most cases, I’d share tubs of Talenti with her, cry it out over Love Jones and unleash a diatribe about her ex’s aint sh*tness. But even though I desperately wanted to make my friend’s soon-to-be ex-husband the enemy, I found it difficult to channel all my anger toward denouncing him, because as this nightmare of broken martial bliss spiraled, she needed me more than I needed to be angry with him.
I’d never seen my friend so broken and threw on my cape to rescue her from emotional devastation. Except, it’s not possible. I quickly learned that divorce is as much of a deep, dark emotional journey as it is a legal battle and no one can be saved from it. She will mourn as if a family member died. If she has kids, she’ll panic about being a single mother. She’ll cry, scream and allow her anger to runneth over, and in those times, I can only stand as her rock, not necessarily her protector. That’s not to say it’ll be easy, though, especially since it’s a new experience for the both of us. If you find yourself in my shoes, know that helping a friend wade through the divorce process is a learning curve. Here’s how to be a solid support system as your BFF ventures through her post-divorce blues.
Listen and be present.
As your homegirl loses someone she considered her life partner, she will want to talk about it incessantly, and all she needs is your ear. Even when she only intends to sit in silence, your presence alone will soothe the loneliness she feels after a failed marriage.
Keep you mouth shut.
Maintain your friend’s privacy. Don’t blab about her divorce to everyone on the block, even with the other folks who are well aware of her relationship status. Unless your friend is depressed and needs medical attention, or you need to plan a girls’ night out to help her shake off the sadness, honor the girl code of silence.
Don’t bash her ex.
Leave calling him every name but a child of God up to her. You may agree with her at the height of her heartbreak, but don’t chime in, especially if kids are involved. She might become defensive about the man she said “I do” to. In fact, she may get back with him at some point, and you won’t want to be the judgmental BFF she can no longer lean on.
Plan something fun.
Take her mind off of things for a while with a shopping trip or girls’ game night. Chances are she won’t be gung-ho to slip on a dress and grab drinks, but do something she enjoys that will remind her of life outside of lawyers and legal documents.
It takes a village to raise a child…and to get over a divorce. Quotes, lyrics and positive affirmations from women who’ve overcome marital woes can help your friend feel empowered. Though her man might not come running back to rub her feet, she may find strength in a few replays of Lemonade or reading Nora Ephron’s Heartburn.
Remember it’s about her, not you.
Sorry, but there’s no space for your feelings during your friend’s divorce. It’s not that you can’t have an opinion about how she’s throwing herself into her work or distracting herself with Tinder, but how she decides to deal is solely her choice. Of course, as a friend, be sure she’s not harming herself or others, but ultimately, your only job is to love her through her flock of feelings.
Thinking about divorce and throwing in the marriage towel? I get it — that thing is often sweaty, dirty and tired. But before you give up on your relationship, be sure to exhaust all of your resources for saving your coupledom. Dr. Stephanie Knarr of The Relationship Repair Shop shares on a few tips to keep your marriage from hitting the rocks.
1. Log a complaint.
“Most marriages are on the rocks because one (or both) spouses have not resolved each other’s relationship complaints,” says Dr. Stephanie. She advises couples to visit the “Customer Service Counter” for their marriages and literally log complaints with each other like a car in a repair shop.
2. Ring the alarm.
Dr. Stephanie encourages couples to ring the alarm bell which is necessary to give each other an opportunity to resolve their relationship complaints.
3. Be specific.
“Tell your partner what resolutions you need to see in order stay in the relationship,” says Dr. Stephanie. Consider it your wish list or your needs list, but either way, be clear about what you need from your relationship and be prepared to listen to your partner’s needs as well.
4. Make your actions speak louder than words.
Get their attention with your behavior because some people do not react to words, explains Dr. Stephanie. “For example, tell them you are going to take some space for the weekend or for a few days to give them time to think about your complaints and your resolutions,” she suggests.
5. Give an ultimatum.
“Sometimes an ultimatum can be a positive step,” says Dr. Stephanie. “Explain that you need changes and resolutions to happen or you may leave permanently,” she explains. “Taking these steps is ringing the alarm bell because you have told your partner you are thinking about ending the relationship — and you have told them exactly why.”
6. Visit a marriage counselor.
Make like Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick (yes, the reality couple) and get yourselves to a marriage counselor, pronto. “Even if your spouse won’t go, it’s a great idea for you to go alone to discuss possible changes that you can make to change the dynamics in your marriage,” explains Dr. Stephanie.
“I have coached people to make behavioral changes in their marriage that have ultimately led to better outcomes, even while meeting with me individually.”
7. Be the change you want to see.
“Remember, for marriage and family relationships to change, it’s normal for one person to push for the change to occur while the other person resists,” she says. “In some cases, you have to be willing to withstand conflict and resistance in order to see the changes you desire.”
8. Be persistent.
“Some people have only filed a complaint one time even though they are ready to end the marriage over it,” says Dr. Stephanie. “But you are worthy of receiving good service at the Marriage Customer Service Counter! So keep filing your complaint until it gets resolved.”
9. Focus on the outcome.
With all this talk about complaints, it’s easy for couples to get trapped into thinking that complaining just to complain is productive. Instead, Dr. Stephanie advises couples to log the complaint but focus on the outcome of the behavior they hope to see changed. “I encourage people to keep the complaint brief — and to focus instead on asking for the desired resolution,” she explains.
10. Re-frame whining.
Dr. Stephanie is adamant that complaining, fighting and whining can have a positive purpose in a marriage. “Whining actually has a positive side,” write Dr. Stephanie on her blog. “This may seem silly, but some of this stuff is a part of intimacy.” She encourages her clients to use the 5:1 ratio suggested by Dr. John Gottman and to be sure to have 5 positive interactions with one’s spouse (like a hug or a compliment) for every 1 negative one.
Originally posted at YourTango.com
When a couple decides to end their marriage, with the exception of co-parenting, they typically aren’t looking for ways to reinvent their relationship. However, after Ken and Wanda Bass split up after 15 years of marriage, the ex-couple eventually became business partners.
According to the Huffington Post, after their divorce in 2002, the former couple argued, a lot. But they eventually decided to make a change for the sake of their children.
“Co-parenting may not require friendship right away but it does require cooperation in order for your children to grow up in a socially healthy environment,” Wanda told the publication.
In an attempt to extend an olive branch of sorts, Ken wanted to send Wanda a greeting card; however, after scanning the aisles of different drug stores, he realized that there weren’t many options for divorced couples. When searching for a Mother’s Day card for Wanda, he faced the same problem.
“I knew if this was a problem for us that there had to be others out there with the same problem,” shared Ken.
Out of this need, the pair’s greeting card business, Xcards, was birthed.
“Xcards became that stepping stone for forgiveness, healing, and restoration for us,” said Wanda.
The cards cover every major holiday from Father’s Day to Christmas. There are also cards that assist with mending fences between exes.
“Our sons are just as excited as we are about the positive impact Xcards can have on families,” she said. “Attitude really is everything. The amount of time spent fighting as parents is counterproductive. Instead, try engaging.”
Xcards are for sale beginning at $2.75 and are available for purchase at cards4x.com
Should I stay or leave?
This is a question that crosses the minds of people in long-term relationships more often than they probably care to admit. Sometimes, these concerns are fleeting. They are often the result of temporary frustrations or other random feelings that missing out. Other times, it’s something deeper.
“The only thing determining whether to stay or leave is how we feel, which can be a pretty hard matter to work out for ourselves,” says philosopher Alain de Botton in a video from The School of Life. “Our feelings have a dispiriting habit of shifting and evading any efforts at rational clarification.”
For those who have seriously found themselves at a crossroad, and are wondering whether or not it’s really time to peace out, the Architecture of Happiness author recommends doing a self-check by asking yourself the following questions presented in the video below.
During Monday’s episode of “The Talk,” Aisha Tyler opened up about her impending divorce. Though the actress and comedian admitted that she and her husband, Jeff Tietjens, have been living separately for over a year, she says that they really fought to save their marriage.
“My husband and I separated over a year ago, but we were really fighting to stay together,” she said.
Unfortunately, the pair came to the realization that they want two very different things out of life, and decided to move on.
“As you can imagine, it’s pretty frustrating to have people talk about your private life who don’t really know anything about it, and speculating and saying lots of crazy stuff. I met my husband when I was a teenager. We’ve been together for more than half of my adult life. He’s been my only adult relationship, and other than my parents, he’s the person who has influenced me and cared for me the most. In fact, he’s cared for me even longer than my parents have cared for me. It’s very hard when you love someone very much but begin to realize that you want very different things for your lives.”
Tyler admits that she wanted to handle the divorce privately for obvious reasons, but also, to protect her husband, who is a private person; however, the media catching wind of the filing changed that.
“It’s strange for people to understand why you would want to protect someone you’re breaking up with, but I love him and I’ll always him.”
She emotionally continued:
“We loved each passionately and we lived life fully, and we’re trying to let each other go in the kindest way we possibly can,” she said. “He’s a wonderful person. He’s been my best friend for almost my entire life.”
After twenty years of marriage, Aisha Tyler and her husband, Jeff Tietjens, have called it quits.
According to TMZ, the “Talk” host and Tietjens have been living separately since January 2015. Ultimately, it was Tietjens who pulled the trigger. He filed for divorce with the L.A. County Superior Court and cited irreconcilable differences.
Tyler’s spokesperson, Lisa Morbete, told TMZ that she and her husband will continue their friendship despite the fact that their marriage is ending.
Tyler and Tietjens, who were college sweethearts, tied the knot in 1994 when she was just 23 years old. At the time, she was sure that she didn’t want children, but as she approached her 40s, she experienced a change of heart.
“I was with someone at 19, and I was married at 23, and I didn’t want kids when I was in my 20s,” Aisha shared back in September. “I wasn’t mentally prepared to take care of them; I was focused on my career. And then when I got to be in my 40s, and I thought about having kids, I wasn’t able to have kids naturally. I don’t regret it.”
The couple tried IVF for a while, but they were unsuccessful, and eventually, decided to give up. It is unclear if this played a role in their breakup.
Before my divorce was even final, before the ink and the tears had dried, there was another “d-word” that I was preparing myself for– dating. Just like the divorce itself, I knew it was something that I wanted to do; something that I probably needed to do, but I didn’t know where to begin, or more importantly, if I was really ready.
After diving into the dating pool headfirst and somehow landing on my behind, I had to get up on my feet, dry myself off and ask myself some important questions. Questions that anyone getting out of a marriage — or any long-term relationship for that matter — should consider before moving on.
It’s inevitable. When something monumental like a divorce happens in your life, everyone and their mother will try to tell you what you need to do and how you need to do it (yes, I realize the irony here). And at some point, someone‘s going to suggest that you get out there and start dating. Being the stubborn one that I am, I was the one telling myself that I needed to see other people, despite what everyone else was advising me to do…or not do. I may have been wrong (lesson learned), but at the end of the day, it was my life. It was me who was going through the divorce, so ultimately, it had to be my decision; good or bad.
Am I doing it out of fear?
After my divorce I found myself going from the thought of being with someone “till death do us part” to the paralyzing fear that I’d die alone. Fear is a b–ch! It can make you do crazy things; like looking for someone — anyone — to have a relationship with, even if you know it isn’t right. That’s how I ended up getting married in the first place, but I couldn’t let fear drive me into another relationship that would ultimately lead to more unhappiness. This time around, I had to face that fear, assure myself that whether I’m in a relationship or not, I’ll never truly be alone, and move forward looking for the right someone; not just anyone.
Am I doing this just to cheer myself up?
It’s easy to think that getting back on the dating scene will make you feel better; better about yourself and better about your situation. Getting dressed up, having men shower you with compliments and tripping over themselves vying for your affection? Yeah, I want that! Who wouldn’t want that?! But the reality is that there are just as many lows as there are highs when it comes to dating. Even for the best of us, there is a little thing called rejection. Rejection hurts. Rejection hurts worse when you’re still dealing with the end of another relationship. You start doubting yourself; losing your self-esteem, feeling worse than you did when you started, drowning your sorrows with wine (or maybe that’s just me) asking, “What am I doing wrong?” “What’s wrong with me?”
I know. It’s harsh. And probably not the best way to word it, but at one point or another you have to ask yourself what you did wrong in your relationship? What was your role in the divorce? Yes, even in matters of infidelity. Bear with me….
As it turned out, my best friend ended up going through a divorce at the exact same time that I was, but hers was a very different situation. Her husband of seven years had been cheating on her over the course of their entire marriage…with multiple women…including his secretary, whom she later found out was pregnant (#scandalous). It wasn’t her fault that he cheated. He was and still is a complete jerk (keepin’ it rated PG). There wasn’t anything that she could have done differently to stop him from cheating. But after she took a step back and really reflected on everything, she realized that she knew what was going on all along. Not to the extent that it was happening, but she knew something. There were even times when she questioned him, but he always managed to manipulate the conversation and turn things around so that she was the one who was hysterically crying, begging him to forgive her for making the accusations. She doubted herself. She was constantly putting herself down, calling herself stupid for believing the murmurs around town about his “extracurricular activities.” She never stood up for herself. She was never really able to find her voice, and it was something that she had been doing in all of her relationships.
Regardless of the circumstances, everyone has something that they can learn about who they are after a divorce– if they’re truly honest with themselves. There’s always something to work on; something you can improve upon so you’re not bringing the same bad habits into your next relationship. It won’t happen overnight. It may even take a little therapy. Bad habits can be hard to break. It’s an ongoing process, but definitely a necessary one.
Am I just looking for a caretaker?
It’s one thing to be afraid of being alone. It’s another to be incapable of being alone. Throughout my marriage I thought that I practically did everything on my own. I told myself that I could hold it down with or without my husband because, according to me, he hardly did anything anyway. When we separated he left me with a busted sewer line, a broken gate in the backyard and a car that I had no idea how to take care of. I was beyond overwhelmed. I panicked. The first thing I thought to do was find another man to come take care of it all–and to take care of me. It was a cry for help to my mother who talked me down off the ledge and got me to realize that yes, maybe I did need some men in my life (and women too — not to discriminate). It didn’t mean that I needed to find a date; what I needed was to find a plumber, a handyman, a good mechanic, and to learn a few new skills on my own so I could really hold it down.
I have four kids and a busy life, so I had to take an honest look and decide if I realistically had the time to put into dating; and if not, if I was willing to try to work out ways to make time. It was a difficult decision. As a mother my first priority always has and always will be my children, so it was hard to even admit to myself that yeah, sometimes I wanted to take some time to go out. It was even harder to get myself to realize that wanting that didn’t make me a bad mother, just human.
It’s something that every single mother has to deal with– deciding when to get the kids involved in your dating life. Was I going to let men pick me up at my house for dates with my kids around? When should I introduce them? Do I do it early on so I can see how they interact with one another, or should I wait until I know the guy is going to be around for awhile? Knowing that I wasn’t looking for anything serious at the time, for me the answer was simple. I didn’t want a revolving door of men coming in and out of my kids’ lives (not that I was going through them like that!). I chose to keep my dating life and my home life separate until I was ready to commit to a different kind of relationship. When it became something a little more solid, they were simply around to pick me up every now and then, or my kids knew them by name and who I was talking to on the phone, but they were always introduced as friends; nothing more. If and when things progressed from there, that’s when I finally let my dating life and my home life intersect.
Somewhere along the way in my premature post-marriage dating experience, I met a man; a fine man at that (just sayin’). We hit it off really well, getting closer and closer over the course of a month, but we seemed to be heading into the friend zone, and I couldn’t figure out when or why things went left. Eventually he spelled it out for me. It was clear to him that I wasn’t over my marriage, because during every phone conversation, over every cup of coffee, at every dinner date, there he was– my ex. I was constantly talking about him. Not always in a bad way. Sometimes it was just random memories, but all of my talking translated to one thing: My ex was so present in my thoughts and conversations that essentially I was still in a relationship; all I was missing was the physical aspect, so that’s all that I was really looking for. He was right. It wasn’t that I wasn’t over my ex. I was over him long before the marriage actually ended. What I wasn’t over was the fact that the marriage had actually ended. I wasn’t over the idea of me being divorced and what that really meant. I had to come to terms with the finality of it all and let go.
It didn’t take me long to admit that I was looking for something that was mostly physical. I guess you could say a friends with benefits type of thing. The truth is, not everyone is looking for their happily ever after right after ending a marriage. Some (like me) want something casual or short term, and that’s perfectly fine. But I had to acknowledge that that’s what I wanted moving forward so I could be honest and upfront with my dates and there wouldn’t be any unrealistic expectations going into it. I didn’t want to waste the time of someone who was looking for a wife when all I wanted was– well, you know.
Who am I looking for?
The online dating scene can be a pain to get started, and somewhat disappointing in the end, but the one thing it did was force me to sit down and decide what I was looking for in the person I was hoping to find; even if it was only for something temporary. All of those little checkboxes and dropdown menus mapped out the person I was looking for, my type, which as it turned out, did not match up at all with who my ex is (what is it that they say about hindsight?). There were things that I hadn’t really taken the time to consider. Did I want someone with kids? Did I want him to have a certain kind of profession? Yes, I wanted to be “open,” but I also wanted to be realistic about what would work for me, my personality, and my lifestyle.
What are my dealbreakers?
While I was willing to compromise on things like height, weight, and race, there were some things that I simply refused to settle on. They were my dating dealbreakers. Smoking– deal breaker. Not having your own place– dealbreaker. Unable to carry on an intelligent conversation– dealbreaker. I wasn’t in the same mind-frame as I was before I met my husband, when my dating criteria was a car, a job, and a pulse. I grew up. I now had standards. I wanted someone I could respect and actually enjoy spending my time with. I wasn’t going to fake it anymore. Because after an unsuccessful marriage, isn’t that the point…to stop faking it? To ultimately get what I really wanted? What would truly bring me happiness?
Whether it’s dating short term, long term, or going it alone – it’s all about finding your happy. Divorce is hard. Dating is hard. Life is hard. None of it, however, is impossible. I may have learned it the hard way, but I did learn it nonetheless.
Have you ever wondered what the number one predictor of divorce is? Hint: it’s not screaming matches, money-related disagreements, mismatched parenting styles or in-law disputes. The number one predictor of divorce is good ole contempt.
According to Marie Claire, after four decades of studying couples at the Gottman Institute, Dr. John Gottman found that harboring feelings of contempt or disgust towards a partner causes marriages to come apart at the seams. Of course, it’s natural for feel frustrated or even annoyed with your mate from time to time, but once feelings of disdain develop, you’re in unhealthy territory.
“All relationships involve ongoing, perpetual problems that will resurface,” explains Gottman researcher Mike McNulty, Ph.D. “Partners who do not handle discussions of these problems well are at the most risk of divorce.”
Wondering if contempt might be eating away at your union? Think about the reoccurring issues that continue to surface in your relationship, such as disciplinary differences or debates about spending. How do you or your partner behave when discussing these matters?
“Partners who are headed towards divorce have the following tendencies: They become angry and use what we call the ‘four horsemen of the apocalypse or negative patterns of communication, which are criticism, contempt, stonewalling, and defensiveness,” said Dr. McNulty. “This leads to something we call ‘diffuse physiological arousal’ or ‘flooding’ [which involves] one or both partners’ bodies releasing hormones as heart rates accelerate, muscles become tense, the skin becomes hot or sweaty, and the stomach feels nervous.”
Not to worry, though. If you and your partner are still engaging in heated arguments, it means that you may still be in a position to save your marriage.
“Relationships die by ice rather than fire,” said McNulty. “Some couples eventually stop trying to dialogue. They find working on key conflicts to be too difficult or painful. They give up. They grow more distant, and live more like roommates than spouses.”
This means that if you and your partner are still fighting, you still have a fighting chance.
“If you’re both still arguing you haven’t yet reached the point of surrender,” said McNulty.
For advice on how to nip contempt in the bud, click here.
Parental gatekeeping isn’t a term that you hear too often, but we see examples of it every day.
Let’s say a couple gets divorced. They have three children together. The mother has primary physical custody or placement, but the two have worked out a visitation schedule that gives the father ample time with the kids. Everything is going well for a while, but one day, the parents have a disagreement. To get back at her ex, the mother decides to keep him from seeing the kids; either by telling him flat out, issuing an ultimatum, or creating an excuse for her to have them for a longer period of time.
When they finally work things out, or when the mother decides to let go of the issue — whichever comes first — she finally lets the father see his kids. But weeks later, there’s another disagreement, and in retaliation, the mom takes even more time away from dad.
See where we’re going here? Sound familiar?
That, my friends, is parental gatekeeping.
Restrictive gatekeeping is supposed to be used for a child’s protection. For example, if dad is drinking heavily or there are concerns about some kind of neglect or abuse, mom (or whomever the custodial parent is) has the right to restrict contact and/or communication with the kids to keep them from harm. When there’s no suspected endangerment to the children, though, the power is being misused.
And according to some, this misuse of parental gatekeeping is considered child abuse. Why?
The first time the kids are kept away from their father, it’s not a huge deal. When they see each other again, they pick up right where they left off and all is right with the world again. But as the number of times they’re kept apart increases, the more the children get used to him not being around, and in some cases, think that it’s because he doesn’t want to see them. They’re hurt. Resentful. And sooner or later, the relationship between the father and the children becomes strained…possibly to a point where it’s irreparable.
It’s not physical abuse, but it’s definitely psychologically damaging; and in many states that’s equivalent to serious physical harm, and the parent could end up losing custody altogether.
In some states, like the state of California, that kind of unreasonable gatekeeping is punishable; especially if it includes a false accusation of substance abuse, neglect or abuse against the non-custodial parent, but it’s not looked at as a form of child abuse. It could, however, result in a change in the custody agreement. California Family Code 3028 allows for compensation when a parent has been “thwarted by the other parent when attempting to exercise custody or visitation rights contemplated by a custody or visitation order, including, but not limited to, an order for joint physical custody, or by a written or oral agreement between the parents.”
Meaning: The mother could end up having to pay the father a minimum of $100 plus his legal fees; share physical custody; or worse, custody could be awarded to the the father if the judge decides that he’s the parent who’s more likely to allow the child “frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent.”
Is this the better option?
Where do you stand on the issue? Should unreasonable parental gatekeeping be considered a form of serious child abuse in every state? Tell us what you think!