Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

The Data Set of My Divorce: Adding Things Up


We were married for over ten years. We spawned two great kids. But I’d have to say there were very few years that weren’t somewhat tumultuous. It seemed like I was always begin accused of some transgression: not doing enough of the chores, asking for sex too often, not being honest, not being responsible enough. And while these weren’t leveraged at me as an excuse for not wanting to make love, it was more often than not one of these complaints that shut her libido completely off. Zero.

What she failed to mention, well into our “lunches” that got progressively more flirty, is that she was living with a man.

But there has been a lot of time since then, and you think I’d let go of it, but some parts of the divorce and thus marriage still have big question marks for me. Could I have done more? Was I at fault? Was I a child? In trying to examine these things about my role in the relationship, I’ve come to discover there were a lot of things in her story that didn’t add up. There were some key pieces of information that were being left out at various points along the way, that have me wondering. Was it her fault? Was she dishonest from the beginning? When she told me, in couples therapy, that she’d already seen a lawyer, was it couple’s therapy or divorce counseling we’d been doing?

The first big X was when we were just getting re-acquainted with each other. We’d known each other in high school and had started “doing lunch” on a semi-weekly basis. What she failed to mention, well into our “lunches” that got progressively more flirty, is that she was living with a man. Not just dating him, but living in his house.

The second big X came during one of our hardest moments. As 9-11 had torn everyone’s financial stability to the ground and I was struggling with how I wanted to reenter the workplace, she began a series of lunches with a young man she worked with. It wasn’t that she was having lunch with him, it’s that she wasn’t telling me about him. And the day I stumbled onto an email about “his depression” and “my loneliness” I knew I was discovering what emotional infidelity felt like. We weathered this one, she admitted her mistake and vowed to never do it again. But a deep fundamental trust had been broken.

So three strikes of dishonesty and deceit. And I was the one always being accused of being untrustworthy.

The final X came when she confessed to consulting with an attorney while we were in couple’s therapy. She didn’t let on that things were that bad IN therapy, and only admitted her “discovery phase” because I asked her. She was not being honest. She was not opening up in couple’s therapy. She was planning her options. She wanted to know what she was going to get if we divorced. It’s a fear she had expressed to me earlier, in some moment of wine-induced honesty. “If you leave me, I’ll have nothing.” It was a false statement, but it was an indication of just how deep her fear went.

So three strikes of dishonesty and deceit. And I was the one always being accused of being untrustworthy. Sometimes it is projection that shows up. If she was feeling unfaithful, untrustworthy, perhaps projecting those fears on to me help her deal with her own guilt.

In the dataset I see, she was withholding and misrepresenting herself all along. This is a hard nut to swallow at this point. But it’s easier than trying to figure out what I did wrong. Because I was the partner who was still ALL-IN at the end. She’d made a decision to leave, made plans to cover her needs, and then with the backing of the State of Texas, she ripped my world in two.

I was given a 1/3 – 2/3 parenting schedule. (Called the Standard Possession Order). I was given the non-custodial parent role, that comes with a large child support payment. And I was asked to leave the house I funded. Because it was “in the best interest of the kids.”

What was not in the best interest of anyone was the bad deal I got. Rather than cooperating during tough times, she decided to file on me after three months of being late. I was telling her she would get paid. I was showing her my bank statements and my pursuit of new business. But she was impatient and entitled. So she let the dogs loose on her ex-husband. And while this big X doesn’t show up on the chart, it’s the biggest one. I can never trust her again. Perhaps my biggest mistake was trusting her after she told me she was living with a guy.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling relationships. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce dating journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.

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2 Responses

  1. J.-C. Daigle

    I just stumbled upon your blog today and spent a good part of my time going through a good number of your posts. My own circumstances are very similar to yours, except I am the one who announced an end to the relationship in couple’s therapy after a year and a half (about 40-45 hours) of sessions. Our separation agreement should be ready to sign next week, and I am putting an offer in on a house on Monday. We are telling the kids next week when the school break starts.

    We met in our early twenties and married after 6 years of living together. Have three kids: D-12, D-11, S-7. She was the “withholder” and has expressed affection with ever diminishing regularity throughout our 23 years together. Like you, I spent years trying to figure-out what I was doing wrong. But it was a fool’s errand.

    My own course of individual therapy allowed me to clearly see that I was enabling the dysfunction in our relationship by staying in it. Much of what you’ve described about your ex rings true with mine. But mine has a label: the Wendy Complex. And no, I am not Peter Pan.
    Now how this complex plays out in a relationship depends on the level of maturity and sense of responsibility of the other partner – the higher the level of maturity and sense of responsibility, the longer it takes for the relationship to fall completely apart. But fall apart it will, because it is not a relationship involving two adults.

    A Wendy is a woman who wears the face of an adult, but is emotionally stunted and immature. She suffers from an under-developed sense of self and experiences underlying anxiety for which she compensates by obsessing on external locus of control. A Wendy can have the best of partners but will still find repeated faults in him to bring her down below his level. The higher the level of her initial admiration for her partner, the more she must drag him down because it assuages her fears of abandonment.

    That “another in a long list of disappointments” mentality is Wendy. The condemnation in camera for petty annoyances that she heaps onto the ever-growing pile you are completely unaware of isn’t a manifestation of a private agreement you’ve somehow broken, but a sealed indictment for violating made-up “rules” that she uses to justify her on-going passive-aggressive campaign to make you feel as bad about yourself as she continuously feels in her ever calcifying shell of a person.

    There is no partnership in these relationships because Wendy is a hollow, undefined person who is simply making everything up as she goes along. She acts mostly like an adult through a public persona driven by how she wishes to be perceived instead of who she actually is because she has no idea WHO she really IS. Every element of social interaction is a game where Wendy tries to be on the side that’s winning. Manipulation is her mainstay approach to avoid personal responsibility at all costs. The goalposts shall be moved frequently.

    Wendy cannot handle criticism in any form. For it triggers her profound insecurity and results in various evasive responses (immature defenses) that make it impossible to assume a team oriented approach to resolving problems. For there can be no “we” when there is a missing “I” in the partnership. In short, you are never dealing with an authentic person; you are dealing with an emotional parasite.

    I am leaving my marriage and cannot wait to get under a new roof without the woman who uses a “man-child” projection to shield herself from her own lack of development and growth as a person. Her issues are deep-seeded from her family of origin and they meshed perfectly with the hidden influences in my own background, my desire to make things work, and my tendency to accept more than my share of responsibility. The kids will be shocked when Super Dad™ moves out. But I doubt they will be overly surprised and, in short order, will adjust to the 50-50 custody arrangement.

    I’m sorry you’ve had to endure two failed marriages. One is enough for me to swear-off the insane asylum institution. And while it is good that you look into yourself for answers, I think you might benefit from asking whether you need to be monogamist to begin with. That’s what I’m asking myself at this point.

    Take care and thanks for sharing so much. It really brought me back to my state of mind of two years ago when I was still trying to intellectualize my emotions. And it is refreshing to see you navigating the same course as much as I had. Keep strong, keep feeling and keep striving to live authentically. Vulnerability is not weakness, it is strength.

    March 5, 2016 at 11:21 pm

  2. J.-C. Daigle

    Ugh, “bring him down to her level”

    March 5, 2016 at 11:24 pm

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