Saturday, June 13, 2009

1 Day, 2 Friends, 2 Conversations - 2 Notifications Of Impending Divorce

Yesterday was a dramatic day for me in regards to the personal details of two close friends of mine. In two distinct conversations two of my male friends noted to me that their marriage was on the skids and that he had planned to move on from his long term relationship with his wife. Irreconcilable differences and the need to be free from conflict at home was the common problem.

I am selfishly concerned about the loss of their relationship because their wives and their children play a significant part in our gatherings among friends. 10 years ago most of as couples were either without kids or our kids were young. Thus we gathered together in large groups to watch the "Mike Tyson fight" or the various investment clubs that both of these two guys that make up distinct group of friends had going at the time. At least every other Saturday or Sunday, it seemed, there was some sort of dinner or cookout that we attended together. Today our gatherings have diminished to possibly one gathering per year.

Beyond their children. Beyond the stability of having a home to focus my male friends' attention upon, the conflict with their spouse and the unhappiness therein is a force that trumps their will to stick it out. Both of these friends are the "man of the house". For one of them his lawn is his key investment in time. For the other the furnishing of his basement and his boat occupies his. The conflict would cause them to walk away from these foundations that they have shown so much pride in.

In my small attempt to tell them about the "costs" of their decision I reminded them about these things. I asked them about the thought of having another man raise "their kids" if his wife were to move on as well.

Whereas I realize that there is nothing that I could say in my role as a "marriage councilor" to keep them from making such a move (there is no physical violence involved in either of their situations) I did offer some guidance to each of them.

Once their wife gets used to his absence and even takes steps to go on the defensive in protection of her own interests, the ability for them to walk back into the door unscathed is diminished. The best solution is to prevent the relationship from degrading to this point in the first place.

The Common Thread

In both of their cases their personal appetite for sexual relationships with other women is an important variable in the equation. I don't have a view into each of their relationships to understand how much their wives understand their outside activities but from my own experiences - I can't imagine how this cannot have something to do with it. The loss in trust from their wives is a very likely reason for their difficulties.

As a normally functioning man I am amazed (and tacitly envious) of the list of women that both of them have been involved with over time. I have to admit that I have been used as their alibi to get out of the house on several occasions. With one of them we have a long running joke about how about 14 years ago when he was married and I was not we were in a bar talking to two women. I asked out loud "What about Stephanie?", his wife. This was my own little "booty blocking" attempt in defense of his wife who is a friend of the family. In the long term I realized that I have no impact on what he is going to do.

With this same friend I have degraded to pushing him to make sure that he uses a CONDOM every time since he is going to do it outside of his marriage. Throughout the years he has told me about the new woman he has met while he was driving and she was standing at a bus stop or while both were shopping. After my amazement of his "numbers game" the first thing I ask is "Did you use a condom?". I could not believe how reckless my friend has been in this regard. Once again - I have no control over what a GROWN AZZED MAN is going to do. I would not choose to put myself and my relationship at risk as such. All I can do is to remind him about the AIDS threat and that he should think about the consequences of bringing something home.

In hanging out at a local sports bar with the other friend there was two nice looking young waitresses in the place. He told me that he had gotten with both of them over time- according to him. I hang out with him on occasion and we talk with a table of two or three single females. The next time I see him - there seemingly is always a report of how he has "gotten with" the one who gave him her number. His business trips and/or 3 or 4 day stays at a company conference in another city always has a new female involved. In fact right before he told me about his rocky relationship there was a story about going over the house of a married woman who's husband seemingly a mirror image of himself - handsome, physically fit and always on the road. While I am stunned at his ability to play the numbers game as well - I always wondered - "At what cost is all of this being done"?

I give them both credit for their ability to 'go straight for the gold' with regard to the women that they are interested in.

In the back of my mind, however, as I evaluate my own situation I always figured that this type of lifestyle had to come at some cost. With so much time running the streets there must be some severed relations back at home that were left untended to.

I don't pretend to be a complete angel in my decade long+ marriage. Having a conversation with a new woman absent the tension of a relationship and having a bit of flirting going on is indeed an ego stroking event.

Though I am an angle compared with some of my friends this "little bit of dirt" on a comparative basis means nothing to my wife who has a "zero tolerance" program in place. Even her knowledge about the doggedness of some of her own friends husbands is not enough for her to say "my husband is not that bad after all....I'll give him some slack".

For me it is the balance of not wanting to lose what I have at home over some "dumb stuff" and (at least in my view) a means of more self control which I try to make use of which keeps me from allowing my relationship to degrade to this point of divorce. I suffered through years of harassment in college from my frat brothers. If there was a case of beer in front of us and I stopped at 3 or 4 16oz cans they used to keep pressuring me to keep going and keep up with them. I held my ground instead.

My parents are still together after 45+ years of marriage. I also have a set of 4 siblings, each of whom are married with stable homes. I would feel a tremendous sense of shame to be the one sibling who got divorced because of my own actions.

(Oh - and "Yes I love my wife" and that's a part of it as well. I've learned over time that women inspect this entry on the list of "why I am not a dog like the other guy" . :lol:)

I do wish that our extended group of friends could restart our social activities. While, again, no one can control what a "grown azzed man" is going to do - I do believe that these more frequent adult friends and family events would give my friends more structure to plug into.

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