Archive for the 'divorce' Category


getting married in a hurry

Reader E. E. writes:

I have two friends who are eloping and it really bothers me. I just don’t think they’ve thought it through. She’s not pregnant (that I know of) and I just don’t think it’s wise to rush into a marriage, especially given the current divorce rate. How do I get them to think about it?

Dear E.E.:

By the time two people have announced they’re getting married, it’s far too late in the game to tell them they need to “think it over”. In fact, the more you tell them you don’t approve, the more likely they are to go through with it and just not invite you to the ceremony or the after party.

Telling someone you don’t think they should get married is just like telling a friend you don’t like their significant other — it’s going to drive a wedge between you. People who have decided to get married are every bit as headstrong as people who are dating, if not more so. If you are that certain that this elopement is going to completely ruin their lives and you’re willing to sacrifice your friendship over it, then by all means, tell them.

One ring to rule them all

Image: vichie81 /

If you were a parent or direct relation to the engaged parties, your say might have a little more weight. You could withhold inheritance money or something. And in fact, if it’s really that serious to you, saying you can’t be friends with them if they’re making this decision might sway them, although I doubt it.

I can understand your concern, of course. According to every statistic out there, our generation takes marriage about as seriously as we take reality TV (by which I mean, not at all). Britney Spears can do it in Vegas and get it annulled six hours later; gay people aren’t allowed to do it; half our friends and family members have gone through divorce, and it’s never easy or pretty, even if it’s mutual.

But don’t believe for a minute that eloping means they’re not taking marriage seriously or that they haven’t thought it through.

First of all, the fact that they’re not having a giant, stressful wedding could be a life saver for their relationship. We put a lot of pressure on people to make their wedding days the best days of their lives, and sometimes that’s a death knell.

Second, the length of an engagement is not a good gauge for a couple’s commitment level. We all know stories about people who met and got married within a week and are still together 50 years later. It’s not how long you’ve known each other that makes a marriage last; it’s how willing you are to work on staying together.

Third,  they’re adults, and you have to let them make their own decisions, whether it’s going to be a complete mistake or the best idea they’ve ever had.

Finally, try to take a step back and see if you feel like they shouldn’t married because you wouldn’t be ready in this situation, or because you really think they’re not ready. Your feelings on marriage are your own for your own reasons, and they’re perfectly valid, but remember: you’re not the one getting married. I think you will have a much better time with this if you ask your friends their reasons for getting married rather than telling them you think they’re too hasty, which comes across as judgmental. Talking with them about their reasons for such a quick wedding might actually put your mind at ease; just don’t plan on your input changing their minds at all.

My best advice: be happy for them. Whether they’re going to last together or not, they’re going to need your support and love, and that’s all there is to it.


le book club divorce

Reader M. E. writes:

I just went through a pretty nasty break up with a girl. She has some really cool friends that I still want to hang out with. Actually, as weird as it sounds, she got me hooked on this really great book club that meets once a week, and I don’t want to quit going to the book club just because we broke up. I really like the people I’ve met there, and I have a great time every week when I go. It’s honestly the highlight of my week. What do you think?

Dear M.E.:

Are you insane?

And I’m not saying that because a book club is the highlight of your week.

I’m talking about the awkwardness you are going to cause yourself and everyone around you if you insist on continuing to go to an activity where your ex gf will assuredly be, with people to whom she introduced you, and to whom she has probably talked in large amounts about how much she currently hates you.

book club

These people are dead to you now. Image: br3akthru /

Here’s the deal in bad break ups: the only classy way to go through one is to relinquish any non-mutual-before-you-dated activities, friends, or places to the ex, especially for the first few months. If she had a favorite bar she introduced you to, tough cookies, pal, you should take it off your list. I’m not saying you can’t go anywhere in town anymore, but if she had an absolute favorite dinner place she took you to, you should probably eschew going there for a while. Even if her friends actually want to still be friends with you, the right thing to do is cut ties as much as you can without being uncivil. Sure, stay Facebook friends with them. Hang out with them in casual settings and say hi to them when you run into them in public. But do not deliberately show up in a place where your ex is supposed to be and hope her friends are going to choose you over her. Because that is exactly what you’d be doing by going back to that book club. And that is terrible.

The fact is, in break ups, and especially really bad ones, one ex must demonize the other ex entirely, or it’ll just hurt too much. One of my therapists once told me I should just have ex-bashing sessions with my friends to help me get over the break up. You are officially a monster now, and the whole book club has probably heard it. Showing up to the book club knowing full well that it is your ex gf’s activity and that she will probably be there only makes you more of a monster. Why would you want to be so monstrous? And why would you want to hang out with a bunch of people who now officially get an earful as often as possible about how much of a monster you are?

It’s hard, I know, but if the break up is really as bad as you’re saying it is, your presence at the book club is going to be awkward for everyone there, not just you and your ex. Why drag yourself through the drama? I’m sorry to say it, but you lost the book club in the divorce.

I’d like to think that we are all adults, and the adult thing to do after a break up is just carry on with life as we know it. That would be an ideal world. We don’t live there. Save yourself a lot of drama and awkwardness and whatever other bad things could come your way, and be the bigger man. It is far more adult of you to relinquish this book club than to make everyone uncomfortable and angry by insisting that you get what you want all the time and nobody else’s feelings matter.

The bright side is: there are plenty of book clubs in the library. And even if that’s the only book club in town, you should be able to find a new activity that will satisfy your social needs without having to drag those book club friends (not to mention your ex) through your mucky drama. If her friends were the only people you were friends with anyway, you’ve got bigger problems than thinking a book club is the highlight of your social week.



Reader X. W. writes:

I just recently got divorced and I’m considering keeping the diamond from my engagement ring. What do you think?

Dear X.W.:

Engagement rings are technically gifts, so as long as you went through with the wedding, that sucker is yours. You already know this, but I find this fascinating. If you had decided not to go through with the marriage, you’d have to give it back to him. That is amazing to me. It’s a promise of the intention to marry, but not necessarily a promise that the marriage has to last forever.

In any case, sure, keep the diamond. Obviously you’re not going to want it as a ring anymore, so I’d say remove the diamond from the setting and either melt down the gold, sell it, or make it all into something new. You can keep it as long as you want, but you can probably only sell it once, so keep that in mind. I honestly think that re-purposing this relic of your past life into something for your new life is the best thing you can do with it. Whether that something new is a new piece of jewelry featuring the diamond, or a big fat check is up to you.

engagement ring

Image: Graeme Weatherston /

Personally, I wouldn’t want to wear something so emotionally charged, even if I had it remade into a pendant or brooch. It’s an item, and I don’t believe it is endowed with the powers of the love you had for your ex husband. It’s not magical just because it was once part of an engagement ring. But it can still mean a lot. It was supposed to cost him 3 months of salary. It was supposed to be representative of your love for each other and all that jazz DeBeers has been selling us since the 1920s or whatever. If you can make it into something new without bursting into tears over it, go for it.

Of course, any type of real jewelry can be a good investment. Definitely get it appraised and see what it’s worth. The gold may be worth something, too, so figure that out. It’s probably going to be hard to re-sell as an engagement ring — again, they’re full of symbolism, and buying someone’s old engagement ring can be a bit weird, especially if the couple got divorced. If you get it turned into a new ring or something else, the diamond is probably going to retain the same value it had in the ring. (I’m not really sure about that — if someone out there knows jewelry better than I do, let us know!) What I’m saying is, even if you get it re-set, you can keep it as investment jewelry. You don’t even have to wear it. You can keep your diamond (in whatever form you finally decide on) until you need the money and sell it when you’ve got something in mind you really want, like a house or a nice vacation.

But I also want to know why you want to keep it in the first place. Your motivation to keep this diamond means a lot about your feelings about the former marriage. Are you not ready to give up the relationship? Or are you just ready to keep this diamond for investment purposes? Clearly an engagement ring is a big part of any girl’s life. They hold a lot of meaning as a symbol, but also a lot of memories personally. My first instinct is to sell, sell, sell, just because a divorce means that there’s a lot of hurt going on.

But as I said before, it’s a THING. Keep this in mind. You have complete control over what this thing means. If you want to keep it as a memento and give it to your grandchildren (which is kind of sick, if you think about it — “here’s the engagement ring I got from the man who wasn’t your grandfather”), you have every right to do so. You can also make money off it, and spend that money however you wish. You just have to be careful with your heart, which is infinitely more important than this object.

If you’re ready to move on, take this diamond and make something happy out of it. Don’t let it symbolize a divorce or failed love. Do whatever you can to make your life new.


more ex-etiquette

Reader C. D. asks:

Is it appropriate to ask your friends not to tell you when they see your ex? It seems like there is such an inclination to say, “Hey! I saw (insert asshole’s name) at the bar on Saturday.” The truth is, I don’t want to know because then I start wondering, “Who was he with? Why was he out? Was he with a girl?” Or should I just accept that my friends will see my ex and will continue to tell me they saw him because we are in the same social circles?

Dear C.D.:

I think it is perfectly appropriate for you to ask your friends not to tell you when they see your ex.

However, they will probably forget that you’ve asked them and tell you anyway.

Part of being human is that we want to share stories that excite or titillate us. Seeing your ex is a piece of drama that may just be too irresistible to let go, especially if the person doing the seeing thinks your ex is an asshole, too.

I’ve heard it many times myself: “Oh ugh I just saw your horrendous asshole of an ex at some bar with his horrible new girlfriend!”

I don’t want to know he’s alive and well and has a new girlfriend, regardless of how ugly she is. If you see him in a terrible accident or being mauled by dogs, by all means, let me know. Otherwise, keep his happy goings-on to yourself, kthx.

Of course, I just smile and nod. “Yes, she must be horrible to date him, huh.” And we all laugh.

Even though it hurts to know he’s still living and breathing and capable of doing fun things, remember that your friends are just telling you because they care. When they see him out, they think of you, whether you like it or not. They want to tell you because it’s on the list of things they know you care about. Friends who really care about us are like living Google news feeds. They make lists of things they know we care about and then give us the news feed, whether it’s going to hurt our feelings or not.

I’ve had a similar problem with an ex and not wanting to hear or see anything about him, which is particularly difficult if you have some of the same Facebook friends. Nothing quite like going to post that you like someone’s status and seeing that your asshole ex already has. I don’t want to have my name on the same page as his. Why don’t my friends recognize this? How are they still friends with someone who was so clearly awful?

Image: Salvatore Vuono /

I know this is what you'd really like to do. Image: Salvatore Vuono /

But you can’t ask people to defriend others on Facebook, regardless of how much of an asshole said ex was to you and your family (and continues to be, for the record).  Just like you can’t ask your friends not to go to bars where your ex may show up.

So what I did was I blocked him. When you block someone on Facebook, you don’t see anything they post on other peoples’ pages, or anywhere on Facebook. Sometimes this can be quite funny, as when someone responds to something he’s written on one of their posts, and the response now looks like it was made to thin air. Thus I have made lemonade out of lemons. I have turned what was once a stomach-turning event of rehashing all the horrible things he’s done and continues to do into a funny scene, like watching a drunk bum talk to himself.

Of course, there is no “block” button in real life. And while you can tell your friends that it hurts your feelings to hear anything about him, you are going to have to steel yourself against the inevitable: they are going to see him and want to tell you about it. In fact, you may have to deal with actually seeing him yourself one day.

So let’s find you some lemonade punch to make. Maybe even a champagne punch with lemon zest.

Here’s how:

Be so fabulously happy in your own life that it doesn’t matter if he’s out with someone else. This takes time and practice and a straight face. Sometimes you have to act the part before you actually believe it. It will take time to stop caring about him. And you may never fully stop. But at some point there are going to be things that are more important. And that is what matters.

Start laughing if your friends tell you they’ve seen him out. Pretend they are drunk bums talking to themselves. Tell them you didn’t really want to know, but thanks for thinking of you. And laugh. If you can’t laugh about him or at him, laugh at how silly the situation is. Better yet, find something really funny that always makes you laugh, and laugh at that. Mine is a Strongbad Email from about writing a children’s book. If I need to break myself out of a mood, I simply say to myself: “No two people are not on fire.” Instant giggles.

And in time, the sting that he’s still out and about with all his limbs in tact hurts less because I’ve got my own life to live. And you do, too.

Of course, you could just dump all your friends and move to an exotic locale where no one knows you.

But that’s a bit over the top, don’t you think?



Reader K. Z. writes:

I just found out that my wife had has her own apartment for two months. She has even taken half the pots and pans and tried to hide it by saying they were “put away”. I just found out about this apartment and now she wants to get rid of it. She wants me to help her pay three months rent in advance so she can get out of the lease. Should I kick the bitch to the curb (or her apartment), let her stay at the house as long as she wants, or what? And what about paying for her to get out of the lease?

Dear K.Z.:

weighing the options

Image: jscreationzs /

Wow, she’s been hiding her own apartment from you?

That’s my initial reaction.

Here’s the deal:

I can understand the need for “my own space”. This is why I think two bedroom apartments are a great idea even for couples who love each other. Sometimes ya’ just gotta’ have your own space, even after you’re married. Carrie Bradshaw kept her apartment in “Sex and the City”, and obviously she’s the ruler against which all women should be measured, so…

(I’m kidding.)

However, the fact that she got this apartment after you were married and without telling you about it kinda’ cues me in that you two have problems.

Basically, what I think is that when a couple starts having huge secrets from each other, it’s over. Sure, you’ve got your little secrets in the back of your brain (that time you made Jimmy eat a worm on the playground in second grade, the pencils you stole from your first job when you were 19; you know, little secrets) that you may never have shared. But once secrets start being current rather than past, and once they reach a certain level of magnitude, the relationship has taken a turn it will probably not recover from.

“Kicking the bitch to the curb” might be a bit strong of a verb, but I would definitely look into a good counselor, and possibly a good divorce lawyer. The fact is, your wife got caught in her lie (about the pots and pans), and instead of owning up to her reasons for doing what she did, she renounced the whole arrangement. Obviously if she signed a lease long enough that she’d have to buy out of it, she wasn’t planning on relinquishing it anytime soon. And if she wants to give it up since you found out about it, either the thrill is gone from keeping the secret or she was using it for nefarious purposes.

And you’re probably not going to trust her ever again.

As far as what to do… it all depends on certain factors.

Are you willing to work on the marriage and at not keeping secrets from each other? It’s going to be a long, soul-searching journey, and for her part, the fact that she got an apartment might be a hint that  she has already given up on things. (I’m not sure what her reasons for having a second apartment are, and I’m not sure if you two already have some history of not communicating.)

Do you have the money to buy her out of the lease? If she’s been paying rent on it with her own money (which she has, or you would have noticed the drain on the mutual bank account pretty quickly), I think the financial responsibility lies entirely with her. Perhaps it will be less expensive just to let her keep it, even if it’s not going to be her primary residence. In fact, if you’re going to work on your marriage, she might be willing to let you use it once in a while, which could be nice if you have a big work project, or just need a night alone with the TV, or if the apartment complex has a really sweet pool.

You’re obviously rather upset, and it might be good for her to have her own place for a while as you work through things. I’d say keep the apartment for the time being. If you’re still together when the lease runs out and you want her back home, by all means, drop the apartment then and start over.

But for now, it sounds like she needs a haven anyway.

And it sounds like she’s got a lot of ‘splaining to do.

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