I was a happily married man. I had a wonderful, attractive wife who loved me unconditionally and who made me happier than I had ever been. We had everything in common and we were set to spend the rest of our lives in wedded bliss.
And then I woke up. I hate having good dreams because it is always a bitter disappointment when I come back to reality. This is why I hope for nightmares every night, because waking up is such a relief, like divorce except without the financial drain.
I will not use this book as a way to spread negative stories about my ex. Who am I to say that I was “right” and Cathi was “wrong”? We were both at fault. No matter what we tried, it failed. Therapy. Talking things out. Vacations. Crystal meth. The bottom line is that we each had a certain lifestyle that was at odds with the other’s. I liked to go out drinking and spend countless hours at home making beer. She liked to ride horses. Some of my friends told me that I gave her too much during the relationship: a minivan, a piano, thousands in cash, and so forth. To this I say, so what? Lots of husbands buy their wives things, so I didn’t do anything special. I was a selfish bastard toward my wife. Just ask her.
The purpose of this book is to illustrate the absurdity of marriage. The reason there is so much heartbreak and bitterness is that people have unrealistic expectations from their nuptials. If we would just realize and accept the fact that you can’t make two people live “happily ever after” by putting handcuffs on them, then we could stop the ridiculous ceremony and legal obligation of marriage. Yeah, I know that lots of people stay happily married for life, but would they be any less happy if they simply lived together? What good has come from weddings other than bachelor/bachelorette parties with the requisite strippers, porn, and unprotected sex with strangers?
Getting married is the equivalent of backing a wild animal into a corner. You’re trapped. It’s a prison. The shackles of marriage force you to deal with someone whether or not you want to. It’s bad enough that we have legal obligations to our credit card companies and Uncle Sam; do we have to add an even bigger one? Adding marriage to your life is about as intelligent as adding logic to a religious gathering.
No one has ever given me a good reason to get married. None of the supposed “reasons” are reasons at all. For example, the idea that marriage “proves” someone’s devotion is bullshit, as evidenced by the fact that literally half of American marriages end in divorce. People are willing to go through psychological and financial hardship in order to break the marriage contract, which shows just how badly they want to be divorced and how little devotion there is. I mean, I paid tens of thousands of dollars to split from my wife, but I won’t pay three grand for LASIK, which just goes to show that I’d rather be legally blind than married.
Many people believe that if they plan to procreate, then marriage is necessary because it makes the children “legitimate”. That is an old-fashioned, ignorant notion. Children should be born of love, not marriage. Anyway, children aside, I see no reason to get married. Unless your significant other is a millionaire.
Most people are surprised when they hear that a certain couple is divorcing. “They seemed so good together,” is a common reaction. Don’t kid yourself. All we see is the face that couples put on in public. We don’t see the arguments, the resentment, the sleeping on the couch, the excessive drinking, and the silent treatment that go on behind closed doors. No matter how happy a couple might look to you, they go through the same shit you do with your spouse when no one else is around. And yet every day, thousands of people get married. It’s as though we’re all bent on self-destruction. “My life is great. I’ve got freedom, money, and no worries. I think I’ll get married!”
If you’ve ever been divorced, then I’m preaching to the choir here. If you’re single, let this book be a warning. If you’re married, then it’s too late for you – you’re already exactly where you shouldn’t be. Maybe you shouldn’t read this, as it will only alarm and depress you. You know, like your marriage is already doing.
CAUSES OF DIVORCE
|Man #1:||“Have you ever considered divorcing your wife?”|
|Man #2:||“Absolutely not! Murder, yes. Divorce, no.”|
If I were to write about all the causes of divorce, this would be the longest book I’ve ever written, and fat chance I’ll ever put out the effort to write a book that’s thicker than an IHOP menu.
Many divorce causes boil down to one thing: change. People behave differently from the way they behaved before marriage. A lot of people are good actors who make you believe they’re a particular way, but after you marry them they unleash their real intentions. It’s called bait and switch. Whether it’s spending excessively or nagging you or gaining lots of weight or diminishing the amount of sex or becoming a lazy couch potato, you are now stuck with a partner who misrepresented themself. And good luck trying to cover your bases by writing this into a prenup. No court in the world will uphold a contract that says you can divorce your wife without owing her a penny if she gains more than 30 pounds or fails to give you at least two Lewinskys a month. Believe me I tried.
The solution? Don’t get married. If you stay single, then as soon as your partner stops being the kind of mate you want, you can walk away without having to endure months or years of legal paperwork. But once you marry someone, what incentive do they have to put effort into being the great partner they currently are? If they know that you will have to pay them lots of money if you divorce, then they can stop putting out; but if they know that you can kick them out of your house with no money any time you want, they have incentive to please you. It’s like a salary job versus a commission job: people who work on commission have incentive to produce, but salaried employees tend to slack off. I know I do.
My telling you not to get married won’t do any good. You’ll think, “Well, perhaps other people’s spouses have changed dramatically, but mine won’t.” Yeah, and Dubya was a great president.
Sometimes divorce happens not because of change, but because of lack of it. Two people disagree on a major issue or have quirks that bother each other, but they believe that these things will resolve themselves during the course of the marriage. Well, they won’t. In fact, they’ll get worse. Over time, your partner’s flaws will irritate you more and more. You will also probably not change your stance on certain issues. The four major issues that immediately come to mind are children (whether to have / how to raise), religion (which one / whether to follow any), sex (how often / what types), and money (how much to spend/save). I’m sure there are others, and what they are varies from couple to couple, but the four I listed seem to be universal deal breakers. For example, no matter how much you love your partner, if one of you wants to have nightly orgies and the other only wants to have them once a week, then you cannot have a successful relationship.
The belief that problems will resolve themselves comes from the idea that “love conquers all”. It does not. This is one of the biggest lessons I learned. Merely loving someone does not mean that you can live harmoniously with them. People have many facets, and unless you love every single one of a person’s facets, long-term cohabitation can make you sick of this person. The only way to live indefinitely and successfully with anyone is to proactively talk about what bothers you and resolve the issues. And drink heavily.
No matter how great a relationship is, it can be next to impossible to keep the magic. We all become accustomed to the status quo. Even if a man brings his wife flowers every week, she will not be ecstatically happy all the time. The flowers will become routine and expected. So not only will his gesture go unappreciated, he will actually create negative feelings any week he forgets. It seems that the only way to impress anyone is to be a bastard most of the time, and do nice things only occasionally. This way your efforts will rise above the norm and will thereby astonish your mate, eliciting responses like, “Thanks for the flowers, honey! They’re so much better than the beatings and sodomy you usually give me!”
Money is the number one issue that couples fight over, and is a leading factor in American divorces. Why? I think it’s because money is such a limited resource. If your spouse bothers you, you can go somewhere. If the sex isn’t good, you can get it elsewhere. But once money is spent, it’s gone. Money was certainly the biggest factor in my divorce. I’m not going to name names, but somebody decided, right after the wedding, to buy a horse, a horse trailer and a truck. This person also bought lots of things on the Web, and we were getting several packages delivered every week. It is no coincidence that UPS’s stock went up during our marriage. The compulsive shopper persuaded the other spouse to kick in lots of money to help with expenses. Furthermore, the spendthrift sold the minivan that his or her spouse had bought for him or her, and then bought a more expensive vehicle. Like I said, I’m not going to name names, because that would be wrong.
Divorce rates seem to be higher for well-to-do folks than among the poor. And the reason is simple: economics. Wealthy people can afford to split up. A well-to-do man can afford to pay alimony and child support, and live elsewhere; whereas a poor man can’t, so it’s “cheaper to keep her”. Meanwhile the wife of a wealthy man knows that she can get a portion of his wealth; whereas if he’s a cashier at Taco Bell, she knows that getting money out of him would be about as easy as getting a confession out of OJ. Thus poor folks go on living in poverty and misery, while people of means are able to get away from the beasts they’re married to. So if you want to stay married, give all your money away. You might think I’m kidding, but consider this: if you have any money when you get divorced, your former spouse and/or lawyers will get it. Wouldn’t it be better put to use helping the blind, or feeding the hungry, or housing the homeless, or providing breast implants for your secretary?
This is not to say that a woman can break away only by getting money from her man. Women have advanced academically – and thereby financially – since the early 1970s, and it is no surprise that divorce rates have been significantly higher since then than before. With more earning power, a lot of women can now afford to leave their man even if they can’t get money from him; whereas when they were uneducated and unemployed, divorce was more difficult. So if you want to keep a marriage together, the solution is simple: marry a moron. There are plenty of morons available. Me for example.
Divorce rates are also higher among secular people than among religious folks. So if you don’t have a religion, get one! Statistics show that Catholics have the lowest divorce rate of all. Of course. Catholics love to suffer. They feel obligated to drag themselves to a place of worship every week, and live their lives feeling guilty. They might as well be Jewish.
A significant percentage of couples are in therapy. I might be a closed-minded ignoramus (at least that’s what everyone tells me), but my feeling is that if you and your partner need therapy, the relationship is over. Doesn’t it tell you something when the two of you are unable to handle your issues yourselves? No amount of intervention can hold you together from without; you must be bonded from within. My wife and I went through years of couples therapy, and it was all a waste of time and money. We didn’t resolve a single issue, mainly because we could not change who we were. A therapist can tell you that you “should” do this or you “shouldn’t” do that, but you cannot and should not change who you are in order to accommodate someone. If you cannot be yourself with someone, then the two of you don’t belong together. Now, I know that some couples claim that therapy “saved” their marriage, but I question how happy they are. Are they suppressing their true selves in order to “keep the peace”? Is this healthy? I mean, let’s say that a man enjoys watching football with his buddies, but his wife doesn’t want him to. Should he diss his friends in order to keep the marriage together? No. He should bitch-slap the ho.
The philosophy of divorce: It is better to have loved and lost than to live with that bitch for the rest of your life.
Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. You’ve come to the conclusion that there is no way you can be happy with your spouse. This is when divorce is necessary. Do it for you. Don’t stay married for the sake of public appearance, or your children, or your religion, or any other reason. Forget what your friends and family think – they don’t have to live with this insufferable bastard.
While marriage brings a wide spectrum of emotions (ranging from anger to extreme anger), you will experience even more emotions when you decide to split. I’m sure some psychiatrist has written a list of emotional progression that we supposedly go through, but we don’t all follow the same emotional patterns, so I will tell you what I went through, thus reliving this horror for your benefit. I hope you appreciate the pain I’m going through for you.
The first thing I felt when my wife and I decided to divorce was relief. I had been burdened with a bad marriage for years, and I felt like I was being paroled. I could breathe deeply again. The tic I had developed in my left eye disappeared immediately.
Over the next several months I felt a sense of freedom. My wife and I continued to live together as roommates, but we had separate lives. I was no longer obligated to spend time with her. We still often had dinner and watched movies with the kids, but only when it fit our schedules. She still shopped and ran up credit card debt, but it didn’t bother me anymore. We were very good roommates. Roommates who had sex, but roommates. Eventually she started having sex with her boyfriend, so she and I stopped, but that was just fine with me; she still picked up groceries and cooked and did laundry, which at my age is more important. I got to live my single life of partying and brewing beer and wrestling, and she got to ride her horse and her boyfriend.
About a year after we decided to split, she told me she’d be moving out several months later. I had known that she’d move out someday, but now that a target date was set, I felt a sense of loss. I started crying spontaneously. I’d be washing dishes, and a song like Everybody Plays the Fool would come on the radio, and I’d lose it. I hadn’t cried so much since they took Married With Children off the air.
After a few weeks of that I reached inner peace. Until she brought up the issue of giving her money as a divorce settlement, which brings us to...
Call me a cold-hearted bastard (you wouldn’t be the first), but the only reason I was ever averse to marriage was the possibility of it costing me a lot of money in a divorce. Whenever I seriously considered divorcing her, the only thing that stopped me was the money it would cost me to get rid of her. Love, emotions and the children were of no consequence; money was the only thing that mattered. When we were dating, no problem – I could just dump her with no financial consequences. But once you enter into that legally binding contract, your spouse has rights to your wealth. And what benefits are there to getting married versus just living together? You get to share insurance policies. That’s it. You save $2000 in insurance premiums and then lose $92,000 in the divorce, which is about as smart as getting married in the first place.
Marriage/divorce is an income redistribution system whereby the person of greater means gives a portion of their wealth to the person of lesser means. It’s exactly like welfare, except at least with welfare you never have to meet the people you give your money to or put up with their shit. If you are the main breadwinner you give your spouse money, and if you get divorced you give him/her even more money. Don’t kid yourself that it won’t happen. Even if your fiancée claims that she would never take any of your money if you divorce, it might still happen. It certainly happened to me. When my ex and I were dating, she told me that she would never try to take any of my money if we got divorced, and that statement turned out to be about as accurate as Enron’s financial reports.
The legal system enforces the financial connection between you and your spouse. The less wealthy spouse can hire a lawyer to sue the wealthier spouse for money and/or property because he/she provided domestic services or gave up his/her career in order to raise children. Even without those reasons, the less wealthy spouse is, in the eyes of the law, “entitled” to some of the wealthier spouse’s assets merely for having been married to him/her. For example, Paul McCartney paid Heather Mills $80,000,000 when they divorced. Now, do you think she deserved that much money after a 4-year marriage? Did she suffer hardships or give up a career? Were the sex and companionship she provided worth twenty million dollars per year? For that much money, she better have put out more often than Madonna at an NBA party.
Incidentally, even if you don’t actually get married, some states recognize something called common law marriage. But don’t worry – the definition is very narrow: the couple must be heterosexual, they must live together for a significant amount of time (the exact amount of time is not specified), they must publicly present themselves as husband and wife (use the same last name, file a joint tax return), and they must intend to be married. Furthermore, common law marriage is recognized only in Alabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only), Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Utah.
A lot of people have bitter break-ups and hire lawyers to go after each other’s assets because they cannot come to an agreement themselves. This is the worst-case scenario. The lawyers bill hundreds of dollars per hour, and I’ve seen couples run up literally tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills wrangling over assets, child custody and child support. I have a theory that lawyers are all in cahoots with each other to take our money. They decide in thirty seconds how to divide up their clients’ assets, and then spend the rest of their billable hours socializing:
|Lawyer #1:||“Mr. Kramer wants the kid and $500 a month.”|
|Lawyer #2:||“Well, Mrs. Kramer wants the kid and $1000 a month.”|
|Lawyer #1:||“This is a tough position. What are you going to do?”|
|Lawyer #2:||“I think I’ll use a five iron.”|
|Lawyer #1:||“You think you can get over that sand trap?”|
|Lawyer #2:||“I think so.” <swing>|
|Lawyer #1:||“Nice shot!”|
|Lawyer #2:||“So what about the case?”|
|Lawyer #1:||“What case?”|
|Lawyer #2:||“The Kramer case.”|
|Lawyer #1:||“Oh, right. Whoever wins this hole wins the case.”|
|Lawyer #1:||“So how’s Mildred?”|
|Lawyer #2:||“Pregnant again.”|
|Lawyer #1:||“Wow. Another four years of Harvard tuition coming up.”|
|Lawyer #2:||“Tell me about it.”|
|Lawyer #1:||“Better bill Mrs. Kramer another ten hours.”|
|Lawyer #2:||“Way ahead of you.”|
Now, I’m sure that this doesn’t happen in every case. As far as I know, there are lawyers who are very diligent in doing the most for their clients in the least amount of time, so they deserve the $300 an hour they charge. And I’ll tell you how to locate them as soon as I find out what planet they live on.
If you and your ex-to-be can remain amicable, I highly suggest writing your own separation agreement. My ex and I did this. We listed every one of our assets in a Word document, made two columns and decided who got what. We each kept our own vehicles and other personal items. I kept the house (because I paid for it), the dogs, and the beer. She got various furniture pieces, and I gave her a large sum of money in exchange for her agreeing not to go after a portion of the house’s value, my pension, etc. Now, you might wonder how she would ever be able to get a portion of my house’s value. Don’t forget, we were MARRIED. All property obtained during a marriage becomes community property, regardless of who paid for it. (Likewise, all debt becomes marital debt no matter who incurred it.) If I had bought the house outright before the marriage, perhaps she wouldn’t have been able to get any of it; but I made mortgage payments during the marriage, plus the equity increased, and you never know what a judge will do in a case like that. Perhaps she could have gotten half the appreciation that occurred during the marriage. Perhaps she would have been “compensated” for making the house a “home”. When you are the one with more wealth, you are the one who is more vulnerable to being screwed by an unfair court decision, and since she threatened to hire a lawyer to go after a portion of my house and pension, I agreed to pay her off in order to avoid that scenario. My ass still hurts.
Merely writing a separation agreement isn’t enough. A few other steps are necessary. First, you must get a lawyer to take your agreement and add all the necessary legalese. You see, your ex can always hire a lawyer to dissect anything you’ve written yourself so that it won’t hold up in court. This is how these sleazebags make their living. For example, let’s say your agreement originally said,
“Wife accepts $100,000 cash in lieu of taking any part of the value of Husband’s residence or pension.”Now, to non-lawyers (i.e., humans), this is plain English. No one with an ounce of common sense and decency could misconstrue that statement. But remember that we’re dealing with lawyers here. The woman could hire an attorney who tells the judge, “Your honor, this statement is invalid. First of all, which residence? Does it refer to 1313 Mockingbird Lane? 704 Hauser Street? The Taj Mahal? Second, ‘pension’ does not specify which job the pension would come from. His current job? Any future job? And finally, what is a ‘lieu’? It sounds like a Hawaiian toilet.”
The way my ex and I did it is we hired two lawyers: “her” lawyer to write up our agreement with legalese, and “my” lawyer to look it over. We had to do it this way because no lawyer will represent both parties. I asked one of them why, and he mumbled something about “conflict of interest”. Of course. Hiring just one lawyer would conflict with the legal field’s interest of sucking as much money out of the rest of us as possible.
Once you’ve gotten the legal papers drawn up – and paid the outrageous legal fees – you and your ex must get them notarized. This means signing the papers in front of a notary public. A notary public is an officer who can witness and authenticate documents. After you and your ex sign the papers, the notary public will sign and stamp them. This will prevent each of you from being able to claim that either of your signatures was forged. The fee for this service will be about ten dollars (depending on how many pages your separation agreement has). Why is it so inexpensive? Because a notary public isn’t a lawyer.
By the way, you cannot protect yourself by keeping separate accounts. During my marriage I made sure we kept separate bank and credit card accounts, thinking that this would prevent my wife’s spending from costing me anything. Boy was I wrong. I ended up paying off all her credit card debt (via the cash settlement). If we had gone to court, I would have had to pay off at least half the debt because it would have been considered marital debt, plus I would have had to pay whatever cash settlement the court ordered. Yeah, getting married was a great idea. Thanks, honey.
Once your separation agreement is all done and notarized, you are protected financially. Later, when you file the divorce papers, neither of you will be able to renege on the agreement.
It is not always the case that the husband gets screwed when a couple separates. I mean, the woman might get the minivan, furniture, television, dinnerware and cash settlement, but the man gets his clothing, his pets, his beer, and his autographed picture of the Greaseman. So it’s an even split.
There are ways to avoid an expensive divorce. The obvious way is to not get married at all, but since nobody bent on marriage ever takes that advice, I’ll save time and ink by not suggesting it.
Another way is to marry someone wealthier than you. This way you will be the one receiving money. It always works out well. Look at Nicole Brown Simpson.
You can have your future spouse sign a prenuptial agreement, or a “prenup” for short. In it you can specify that in the event of divorce, your “life partner” waives all rights to the assets you specify. As with a separation agreement, it is in your best interest to have a lawyer write it up with the necessary legalese, and get it notarized. Of course, if you find it necessary to have a prenup, then you don’t implicitly trust this person so you should not be marrying him/her in the first place. Rather than signing two legal documents (the marriage license and the prenup), why not sign zero? Just don’t get married. Then a prenup won’t be necessary. This isn’t rocket surgery, folks.
A third method of protecting your assets is to hire a hit man, also known as a contract killer. With your spouse dead, you would not have to pay him/her anything. Contract killing can be used to establish an airtight alibi for the person who hires the hit man, because at the time of the killing, he/she can be far away and in the presence of witnesses. The usual fee for a hit is in the tens of thousands of dollars, so it’s not worth it unless your divorce would cost you more than that. There are amateurs who charge less, but they can be sloppy, leaving clues that lead to their clients’ conviction, so you’d definitely want to pay for a professional. Not that I’ve researched this, mind you. I’d much rather give tens of thousands of dollars to my ex than a contract killer. For one thing, hiring a hit man would be wrong. For another, she deserves the money for the years she spent putting up with my buying her things and providing a nice house and community for her and her children to live in. But the most important reason I would never hire a hit man – and this shows how morally upstanding I am – is that I could be caught and sent to jail.
Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, someone kills their spouse. Their emotions take over and they just have to kill the person who is driving them crazy. Don’t do this. Yes, it avoids an expensive divorce, but it will also land you in prison for a long time. I used to be appalled whenever I heard about someone who had killed their spouse. Then I got married. Now the only thing that amazes me about spousal killings is that they don’t happen more often.
THE ACTUAL DIVORCE
|Judge:||“My decision in this divorce is that I'm going to give your wife half of everything you’ve acquired since you got married.”|
|Man:||“Good. Let's see how she likes half an ulcer.”|
Once you’ve done your separation agreement, the hardest part of splitting up is over. You’ve come to a legally binding financial agreement, and even if you’ll end up paying lots of money, at least you know how much money it is; your spouse cannot get any more. The bitch.
The divorce itself is a separate issue, and will merely involve paperwork. Not only that, you don’t even need a lawyer to do it. All you need are the proper forms. Which forms you need and the fees involved vary from state to state. If you live in Maryland, you can call the Office of Family Administration at 410-260-1580, or visit http://www.courts.state.md.us/family/forms/divorce.html.
In order to get divorced, you need grounds. This simply means a reason, and can be anything from adultery to desertion to cruelty to insanity. In most cases the grounds are voluntary separation. That is, no one has committed a blatant infraction, but the two people just can’t stand each other. Some states require that the two parties live in separate residences and do not have sex with each other for a certain amount of time before divorce papers can be filed. For instance, in Maryland, the amount of time is one year. Yeah, that’s intelligent. The waiting period for a divorce is a year, while the waiting period for purchasing a handgun is five days.
In Maryland, the first step in a divorce proceeding is the preparation and filing of a complaint. The legal document is called a “Complaint for Divorce”, which is very appropriate since I spent half my marriage complaining that I wanted a divorce.
The person who files the complaint is known as the plaintiff. The other person is the defendant, and that person must respond to the complaint in a formal document known as an answer. The defendant may want to complain that the plaintiff was at fault, in which case he/she files a countercomplaint. This is usually followed by discovery, which can include written questions (known as interrogatories, requests for admissions, or requests for production of documents) and face-to-face questioning before a court reporter (called a deposition). As you see, things can get hairier than a European lesbian, so it is best to stick to the complaint and answer.
The quickest way to file a complaint and answer is for you and your spouse to walk into your local courthouse together. One of you files the complaint (which cost $105 in my case), then the other files the answer (which is free). The court will give you a case number, and you can then leave together, arm in arm, skipping as you exit, amid awkward stares from people who think you’re retarded.
The next step probably depends on which state and/or county you live in. In Anne Arundel County Maryland, you must contact a standing examiner to schedule a hearing. A standing examiner hears divorce cases in order to lighten the load of judges, who otherwise would have to listen to your pathetic story. For $150 the standing examiner will take the plaintiff’s testimony and file the case into the court system. The defendant need not appear at the hearing. The plaintiff needs to show up with a witness who will confirm that the two of you were once married and that the grounds you claim for divorce are true (e.g., for a voluntary separation, that the two of you have lived apart, without sexual intercourse, for at least one year). In my case, my best friend and I went to the standing examiner. It took less than fifteen minutes to give testimony. I paid the examiner’s fee as I had paid the court fee a few weeks earlier. What the hell, I had already paid my ex a small fortune; what was another $255?
After the hearing, the court will grant the divorce in month or so. Thus the entire divorce process can be completed in just a few months, which is less time than it takes Congress to decide when to hold its next session.
About a month after my visit to the standing examiner, I received a letter in the mail with a gold seal stating that I was divorced. Winning the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes couldn’t’ve been any better. I jumped for joy and did cartwheels. My girlfriend was with me, so we tore our clothes off and had sex right there. My neighbors were aghast.
Remember, everything I just described is a best-case scenario. If your divorce is contested (meaning that you can’t come to an agreement on your own and you let the court decide the property, custody and financial matters) it can take years, not to mention more money. It would be easy for me to say that the two of you should work things out so that your divorce is uncontested, but as you know, some people are vindictive assholes who are impervious to reason and will drag out legal proceedings for spite or money. But enough about Johnnie Cochran.
Unfortunately you cannot go to just any courthouse to file the complaint and answer; you must go to what’s called a circuit court. Anne Arundel County Maryland residents, for example, must go to:
Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County 7 Church Circle Annapolis, Maryland 21401 Room #100 410-222-1431/1397
I have no idea why this is. I mean, there’s a court closer to me than Annapolis, but it’s a “district” court. Apparently there are different types of courts for different types of cases. I guess circuit courts are for everyday civil matters, while district courts are for more serious matters, like trials. Then there are courts of appeals, courts of special appeals, the Supreme Court, and even orphans’ courts. That’s just like lawyers to make the frigging court system so confusing that only they can understand it.
If you live in Maryland, you can find your county’s circuit court at http://www.courts.state.md.us/circuit/directory.html
Standing examiners can be found with a Google search. For example, the Web told me that the standing examiners in Anne Arundel County Maryland are:
Penelope S. Dart 410-551-8998 Martin B. Lessans 410-760-5000 Ronald M. Naditch 410-268-3434 Paula J. Peters 410-266-0626 Gregory L. Stephenson 410-768-0430
Of course, the Web also told me that a Nigerian banker wants to give me $21,000,000.
A man in Phoenix calls his son in New York the day before Christmas and says, “I hate to ruin your day, but your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough.” The son screams, “Pop, what are you talking about?” The old man replies, “We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer. Call your sister in Chicago and tell her.” Frantic, the son calls his sister, who exclaims, “No way they’re getting divorced! I’ll take care of this.” She calls Phoenix and screams at her father, “You are not getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” The old man hangs up the phone and turns to his wife. “Okay,” he says, “they’re coming home for Christmas, and paying their own way!”
There is one divorce issue more important than money: children. They are caught in the middle of their parents’ break-up. The nuclear family they once knew is coming apart.
Often one or both parents use their children as weapons against their former spouse. They vie for custody and excessive child support, sometimes filing bogus claims of child abuse. They tell the children vicious lies about their father/mother. They refuse visitation unless other demands are met. For solutions to these problems, see the final two paragraphs of chapter 3.
People who are demanding and petty about other things will be at least as demanding and petty where their children are concerned. My friend’s ex-wife, Satan, makes him drive the five-hour round trip to both pick up and drop off his children every other weekend. The bitch won’t even kick in for gas, despite the thousands he pays her in child support every month and the half-million dollar house he gave her. Repeat after me: hit men.
In a custody battle, it is extremely difficult, time-consuming and expensive to make your case. How do you prove that he/she is an unfit parent? How do you prove that his/her bogus abuse claims are false? Often a mere accusation is all it takes for the child welfare authorities to deny you visitation with your own children, and even if you can prove the accusation to be false, it can take many months or years, and lots of money and heartache. I’m telling you, hit men.
Often a parent will try to get custody of children not because they would be better off with him/her, but because he/she is trying to hurt the former spouse by taking the children away and maybe getting child support. Custody cases are expensive, both emotionally and financially. Even if you win, you lose. Unfortunately your former spouse’s vindictive and bogus case for getting custody must be honored by the court. Sleazy lawyers prey on people in this situation, often telling someone that he/she has a great chance of winning even though they know that he/she does not. In some instances the legal fees are greater than the total amount of child support to be paid. To have this happen to you is a nightmare, and you’ll just want your ex and his/her lawyer to die. (Have I mentioned hit men?)
I’ve heard that, at least in Maryland, the mother does not have an automatic edge in litigation; fathers win half the time. Now, it’s true that women usually get custody, but that is because most men just give up custody and don’t start a legal battle. We’re talking only about litigated cases here. I personally know two men who got custody because their exes were unfit mothers. But what constitutes “unfit”? When I was a kid, all of our moms, including my own, beat the living crap out of us. And when dad came home, he’d take over. Nowadays that would be considered “abuse”, but back then it was called “parenting”. And you know what? I’m glad my parents had enough backbone to set me straight. All those beatings and criticisms and being tied to a pole turned me into the normal, well-adjusted person I am today.
One factor that judges use in deciding custody is continuity of placement. If children are doing well where they are, the judge might not want to move them. If your ex and children are living in the same house they’ve been in for years, and you’re living elsewhere, then you’d better be able to show that your ex is an unfit parent. For example, if your ex is Paula Poundstone.
The parent who gets custody is known as the custodial parent. Usually the non-custodial parent pays the custodial parent child support, and the amount is based on income. Many custodial parents do not spend all the child support money on their children, and of course there is no way to prove this unless the custodial parent is forced to save receipts to show where the money is going. But it doesn’t take a CPA to figure out that a mother is not spending $3000 a month to feed and clothe her two children. Unless she’s buying the food and clothing from a lawyer.
Children of divorce live in two places: their custodial parent’s home and their non-custodial parent’s home. This increases expenses because there are two rents/mortgages and two sets of clothing, toys and birthday/Christmas gifts. Even without this situation we are a bunch of resource hogs, but with the extra demand for land and goods that divorce brings, we are raping the environment faster than Mike Tyson at a sorority party.
Why do we go through so much bullshit in order to be with and support our children? Because they are precious. Often they are the only good things to come out of a marriage. No matter how much you might hate your former spouse, you produced these wonderful children with him/her. You love them, and they would not exist without your former spouse’s DNA. Of course, you could have married a better person and had equally great children, but let’s not confuse the issue with facts. The bottom line is that you have these darling offspring that were made possible by your ex’s demon seed.
Mickey Mouse is suing Minnie for a divorce. The judge tells him, “You say you want a divorce because Minnie is crazy. She doesn’t seem crazy to me.” Mickey says, “I didn’t say she was crazy. I said she was fucking Goofy.”
Sometimes people have regrets about their divorce. “Maybe we could’ve worked things out.” “My friends/family are so disappointed.” “Now I have no one.” “The children need a nuclear family.” “I broke my wedding vow.” These are just temporary feelings, and if you let them get the better of you, your wonderful sense of freedom will get soiled like Bob Dole’s diaper.
Let’s address these possible regrets one by one. First, don’t kid yourself that you could’ve worked things out. That is precisely what you tried – and failed – to do. Do you think another few months or years would have made any difference? Further attempts to reconcile would have resulted in nothing more than additional frustration and possible gunshots.
So what if your friends and family are disappointed? You’re suffering a bigger disappointment than they are: the disappointment of marrying someone who you thought was your soul mate, only to discover that you were wrong. Anyway, life is full of disappointment. If you invest in the Stock Market, you will be disappointed. If you go on blind dates, you will be disappointed. If you cheer for a sports team, you will be disappointed. If you have sex with me, you will be tremendously disappointed.
Do you really have no one? Do you have no friends? Was your spouse the only sentient creature who enriched your life? Really? Then just kill yourself right now. If you’re that pathetic, then I don’t want you on this planet taking up space and breathing my air.
Children do not need a nuclear family. Some of the happiest children are products of broken homes. Plus, having a nuclear family doesn’t guarantee that someone will be happy or normal. My parents never divorced and look how I turned out.
Did you really break your wedding vow? Let’s see, I believe the typical vow is to love, honor and cherish someone for the rest of your life. But you only promise to love, honor and cherish them the way they are. Did your partner remain exactly the same as the day you married him/her? If so, then perhaps you broke your vow. I certainly remained the same selfish asshole I had always been before the wedding, so why Cathi married me in the first place is beyond me. But in most cases, at least one person changes into something other than the person they were when the vow was made. When that happens, the person they were on their wedding day no longer exists, so their partner is divorcing a different person and hence has not broken their original vow. I think wedding vows should be changed to cover this scenario. We could get lawyers to add legalese so the vows would be something like:
I promise to love, honor and cherish the you that you are today. The you that brings me flowers on my birthday and Valentines Day. The you that actually listens to me and not the television. The you who is attentive to my needs. Not the apathetic, abusive, drunken, fat, impotent slob I know you will become.You see, this way neither she nor any of her friends and family will feel that she “broke her vow”. Not only that, this sort of vow would prevent a lot of doomed marriages. For example, Cathi never would have married me if these were the vows she had to recite at our wedding:
I promise to love, honor and cherish the you that you are today. The you that ignores everything I tell him and later claims that I never told him. The you that disappears for twelve hours or even entire weekends at a time when he goes to beer festivals, and then comes crawling back into the house so smelly and disheveled that even the dog will have nothing to do with him. The you that writes stupid books and then hands them out as though people want them. The you that wakes me up at 6 a.m. on weekends when he brews beer. The you that has never bought me flowers or jewelry or even a decent meal. The you that never says anything about my appearance after I spend hours choosing my outfit except to mention that my breasts seem to be hanging lower than usual.Now, would you marry someone like me? I certainly wouldn’t. Jesus Christ I’m pathetic. I am incapable of giving anyone the time and attention they want. This lack of dedication carries over into other areas of my life. For example, I stopped watching 24 because it required me to view it every single week. You see? I can’t even commit to a television program, let alone a human being.
I suppose it’s easy for me to have no regrets because my divorce was relatively painless. We didn’t have children, so there were no custody or child support issues. I was not in love with her, so I didn’t feel as though I was losing the love of my life. All that happened was I paid her a lot of money and she moved out, which shows why I never get laid – I pay women not to sleep with me.
AFTER THE DIVORCE
Some things change after the divorce is final. For example, taxes. You will now file as a single person (or “head of household” if you have children living with you). Child support does not affect your tax status; however, if you pay alimony you get to write it off, and if you receive alimony you have to declare it as income. This system just begs to be abused. For example, let’s say a man in the 35% marginal tax bracket has agreed to pay his ex-wife, who is in the 15% marginal tax bracket, $1500 per month for child support. If they agree to call this “alimony” instead of “child support”, then he can write off the $18,000 per year, thus saving $6300 in taxes; while she can declare the $18,000, thus paying an extra $2700 in taxes but saving $3600 between them (i.e., $6300 minus $2700). Then the two of them can split the profit. The trick to not getting caught is to not stop the payments when a child turns 18. You see, the IRS is not only evil – it is also smart. It knows the ages of your children, and it knows that child support payments usually stop on or near a child’s 18th birthday. So make sure the “alimony” payments stop at least a year before the oldest child turns 18, or a year after the youngest turns 18. You can still make the child support “end” on a child’s 18th birthday by adjusting the monthly amount (increase it for shorter term or decrease it for longer term). The problem with instituting this arrangement is that the recipient might not trust the giver. In the above example, how does she know that he’ll reimburse her the extra $2700 she paid in taxes, let alone give her any portion of the $3600 they saved? They certainly cannot write this up in a separation agreement because it would never hold up in court, plus revealing their actions could get them some serious tax penalties. If only there were a way for her to ensure that he’ll keep his word. (Hit men.)
You’ll need to contact insurance companies, employers, etc and let them know of your change in marital status. If you and your former spouse shared health insurance, you will probably have to get separate policies because most companies don’t allow a client to carry a non-family member on their policy. If you have life insurance, you might want to designate a different beneficiary. If you have a 401(k) plan through your employer, you will want to let them know that you’re divorced in order to prevent the reduction in benefits that accompanies survivor annuities.
If you have negative feelings about your bad marriage and rough divorce, look at the positive things that happened. Remember the good times you had. Consider how much you’ve grown as a person. I have become emotionally stronger. I am happier and nothing bothers me as much as it used to. Thank you, Prozac.
Seriously, I am much better off than I was before I met my ex. I was living in a redneck neighborhood where I had more educational degrees than my neighbors had teeth. I had never been in a serious relationship or raised children. Cathi changed all that. She taught me how to be in a relationship and how to be a parent. She got me to buy a nice house in a great community that has a pool, block parties, and residents who bathe regularly. Thanks to her I live in that environment. I have made many friends there. I am even in a neighborhood band. Well, not a real band. I mean, it is a real band in the sense that several of us gather to make noise, but we’re not a paid group, inasmuch as paying to hear us perform would be like paying to be assaulted.
I’ll pad this book by telling you about my band. Our group is composed of nine guys from the neighborhood. We’ve got a bass player, three guitarists, a keyboardist, two saxophonists, a drummer, and me. What do I do? I bring beer.
All right, I do contribute a few vocals. For example, when our keyboardist sings “Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out”, I back him up with “woo-ooo-ooo”. But other than that my main function is to fill their empty glasses. I am basically a roadie with a mortgage. Plus, all the musical ability I have would fit in Calista Flockhart’s brassiere. Actually I sound almost exactly like Billy Joel, in the same sense that broccoli tastes almost exactly like sugar. No, seriously, I sound just like Billy Joel would sound if he were caught in a bear trap. And had pneumonia.
So why don’t I play an instrument? Because I possess the musical talent of shrubbery. For example, occasionally our drummer can’t make it to practice, and on a few occasions I have volunteered to fill in. Not that I have any drumming knowledge; I figured I could just keep a beat going in order to assist my friends’ playing. They very nicely asked me to stop, mainly because my attempts sounded like someone had used ten metal garbage cans as bowling pins. So you see, I’m not even fit to bang a stick against a solid surface – something a monkey could do. In fact, monkeys are equal to me in a number of ways: they have opposable thumbs, they communicate by grunting, and they hurl feces.
You can actually recognize some of the songs we play if you take your fingers out of your ears. It’s mainly rock and roll tunes from the 60s and 70s -- an era that most people know about only from history class. Why do we play only stuff that was originally released on vinyl and 8-track tapes? Because most of us are in our 40s. In fact, the one young member of our group, who is half our age, sometimes has to change my Depends during “Wild Thing”.
I’m not a musician, so I am always impressed when the other guys talk music. “We’re doing this in B flat.” “I thought it was A sharp.” “Tone down the amp.” “You stink, Jeff.” “Shut up buttwipe.” “I think I swallowed my reed.” “My chest hurts.” And so forth.
While we might lack a few things that normal bands have, like rhythm and talent, we do have enthusiasm. So even though we suck, we at least suck loudly.
We play at neighborhood block parties. We don’t get paid, although one year they paid us not to play. I’m glad to say that our high-volume screeching and off-key singing do little damage other than setting off the occasional car alarm. Actually we go largely unnoticed by our neighbors, who happily yell at each other in order to be heard over the “music” while sipping my homemade beer. But we don’t go unappreciated. After each song we are treated to a fervent round of chirping from deaf crickets.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “I want to start a band. I mean, if Ben and his middle-aged friends can form a musical group, then so can I.” In order to help you, I’ll pass on some of the knowledge I have gained. The bare minimum you will need for this endeavor is:
Now that we’ve done lots of rock n’ roll tunes, I think we’re ready to move on to another music genre. Maybe classical. Imagine the contributions we could make to the music world with “Heart Attack in D Minor”.
A NEW BEGINNING
The greatest thing about a divorce is the sense of freedom. A burden has been lifted. No more nagging, criticism, or having to spend “quality time” together. Both people can relax because they have made a clean break. The negotiations are over and, now that the divorce is final, neither person can go back and try to get more money or get the amount they’re paying decreased. And of course both people are free to find other partners, remarry, and go through this wonderful process again. Or, if you can’t find another spouse, you can simulate the process by banging your head repeatedly against your driveway and setting fire to your wallet.
Now it’s time to enrich your life. Make new friends, or spend more time with old ones. Take classes. Get new hobbies. Don’t sit at home, alone and bored, feeling sorry for yourself. There are lots of great people and activities out there. Go hiking, camping, biking, dancing, or drinking. Join a gym. Travel. Whatever you do, don’t get married again. If you want a wonderful companion who will give you unconditional love, get a dog. Think about it. A dog will always cuddle with you. A dog loves it when your friends come over. The later you come home, the more excited a dog is to see you. A dog will forgive you for playing with other dogs. You can always find a good-looking dog. And a dog shuts the hell up when you tell it to.
If you have even the slightest inclination to remarry, there is a simple way to get rid of it: whenever you’re enjoying yourself, think about how fortunate you are to be unfettered by a significant other. I do this all the time. Every time I’m at a beer festival, or wrestling practice, or a party, I think, “Boy, I’m glad I’m not married. I’m free to have this fun anytime I want, with no one nagging me to spend time with her or getting upset when I come home late.” Of course, I also thought this before I got married, yet I tied the knot anyway, which goes to show what a moron I am.
One result of marriage is that I appreciate my friends more. In particular, I appreciate the fact that I’m not married to any of them. I am blessed with several close friends, and I love them dearly, but if I were married to any of them, I’d end up killing ’em. The reason friends can get along so well is that there is just enough distance between them. An intimate relationship can be smothering because two people’s lives are so intertwined, but friends can thoroughly enjoy each other’s company because they are not burdened with the obligations of family, money, sex, children, and the perceived need to spend lots of time together. If you don’t want to spend time with a friend, you can agree to see each other at a later date. But this doesn’t work with a spouse. If you don’t want to leave a party early in order to have “quality time” with your mate, then he/she will become upset that you don’t find him/her more valuable or worthy than everyone else. And the truth of the matter is that you don’t find him/her more valuable or worthy than everyone else. At least I didn’t. In my view, a spouse is not necessarily the most wonderful person on the planet, more deserving of your time and attention than all your other friends combined. Some people like to dote on one special person this much, but I don’t consider that healthy. When you have many special people in your life, I think it’s best to divide your time among them. This is probably what separates people who should be married from people who shouldn’t be married: the idea of devoting a major portion of your resources to one person. People who are not willing to do this should definitely not get married. This applies to anything else. For example, if you are not willing to spend the time and effort needed to raise children properly, then don’t procreate. If you are not willing to give a pet the time and attention it needs, then don’t get one. If you are not willing to work hard at a career, then get a government job.
Depending on how rough your marriage and divorce were, you might now be mentally equipped to take on anything. For example, let’s say you die and go to Hell:
|Satan:||“I am the Prince of Darkness.”|
|Satan:||“I will make you suffer like you have never suffered before.”|
|You:||“Oh yeah? Are you gonna take my children from me?”|
|Satan:||“Well, no, but-”|
|You:||“Are you gonna spend all my money?”|
|You:||“Are you gonna sleep with my brother and my best friend?”|
|Satan:||“Of course not!”|
|You:||“Are you gonna nag me during the playoffs?”|
|Satan:||“Jesus Christ! She did that?!”|
|Satan:||“Oh God, please don’t send her here.”|
You see, you can use the suffering you’ve endured as a way of seeing how trivial your other problems are. For example, once you’ve spent years living with an unreasonable tyrant of a spouse, you won’t mind having a roommate who chants a mantra for three hours a day and sacrifices small animals to Zorax, the God of Underwear.
Once you’re divorced, there are millions of other divorced people who you can commiserate with. There’s nothing to bond people together like having gone through the same wringer. When I was single, I had nothing to say to divorced folks. Now whenever I meet someone who’s been divorced, we immediately exchange stories. It makes me feel good, not only because of our common life paths, but also because I got off so much easier than most men. I didn’t have children so I don’t pay child support, I didn’t lose my house, my ex and I negotiated our own separation, and we have stayed relatively amicable with each other. Other men have endured loss of property, child visitation/support, legal expenses, and sometimes false accusations of abuse. I sometimes feel a little guilty because many of these men are obvious emotional wrecks, whereas to look at me, you wouldn’t even be able to tell I had gone through a divorce. Until you saw the scars on my wrists.
Another good thing about being divorced is it gets well-meaning but ignorant friends and relatives off your back. Remember when you were single and people told you that you should get married? No matter what you did with your life, no matter how successful you were at your career and no matter how many friends you had, there were always a few morons who would jab a thorn in your side by telling you that you’d be so much happier if you were married. You knew they were wrong, but there was no way to convince them. Well, you got married and it made you miserable. Where are the marriage pushers now? What do they have to say? Do they admit they were wrong? Of course not. If anything, they’ll tell you that you just married the wrong person, and that “someday you’ll meet the right one”. At this point you just want to kick them in the head. Then you want to choke the miserable life out of them, violate their corpse, and throw them in a dumpster.
I’m kidding of course. You should never throw a dead body in a dumpster – that’s illegal.
A man walks into his house with a sheep. When he encounters his wife he says, “This is the pig I fuck when you’re not around.” His wife says, “That's not a pig, it’s a sheep.” He replies, “I was talking to the sheep.”
Dating sucks. Always has. Always will. It’s so bad that I wrote an entire book about it. It’s called The Dating Handbook. Look for it in bookstores. You won’t find it, but look for it anyway.
Dating after a divorce is like rubbing salt in a fresh wound, except more painful. Not only will you get disappointed by undesirable people, but you will also endure the burdensome thought that the chance of finding anyone to spend the rest of your life with is rather slim. When you were single and not yet made cynical by divorce, you at least had hope that you’d find a soul mate. You were wrong, but that didn’t matter – false hope is still hope, and makes you feel good. Like religion.
Is there anything more degrading than finding yourself back at the bar scene when you’re middle aged? Remember how debasing and meaningless it was in your 20s? Well, things haven’t changed, so you’ll find lonely, horny, desperate waifs having conversations like this (my translations in brackets):
|He:||“Hi.” [I want to have sex with you.]|
|She:||“Hi.” [I might have sex with you if you play your cards right.]|
|He:||“You come here often?” [You’ll come often if you let me take you back to my place.]|
|She:||“Sometimes.” [That old line isn’t helping, you cretin.]|
|He:||“Can I buy you a drink?” [Maybe the booze will loosen you up.]|
|She:||“Sure.” [Trying to get me drunk? Oh, that’s original.]|
|He:||“What’ll it be?” [Please say cheap vodka.]|
|She:||“Dom Perignon.” [Sucker.]|
|He:||“So what do you do for a living?” [Like I care.]|
|She:||“I’m an office manager.” [Like you care.]|
|He:||“I own my own software company.” [I can’t believe I’m going through this bullshit to impress a random bimbo when my hand is always available. And cheaper. And less annoying.]|
|She:||“That’s nice.” [So, that makes you better than me?]|
|He:||“Why don’t you and I go somewhere?” [Like my bed.]|
|She:||“We’re already somewhere.” [What a sleazebag.]|
|He:||“Maybe someplace quieter.” [You moron.]|
|She:||“I don’t think so.” [Asshole.]|
|He:||“No problem.” [Bitch.]|
There are different attitudes toward dating someone who’s divorced. Some people think that anyone who is divorced must be a failure at relationships. Others believe that someone who is divorced at least made an effort at marriage, and has probably learned and grown from the experience; whereas someone who has never been married is too immature and inexperienced to be a good partner. I had the former view when I was single, but the metamorphosis I’ve gone through has put me in the latter camp. Yeah, I could have remained single my whole life, but I would have remained an undatable, self-centered prick, and look at all the aggravation and expenses I would have missed out on.
Now that I’m divorced, I prefer to date divorcées. When I was single I considered divorcées to be damaged goods, but now I see them as mature, experienced women. Furthermore, since they’ve already had their hopes dashed and they realize what scum all men are, their expectations are pretty low. Single women, with their childhood ideals, want the perfect man: romantic, well-groomed and polite; whereas a divorcée is happy if the man she’s dating isn’t an unemployed, drunken sex offender. This gives me a chance, because I’m not unemployed.
Another reason I like divorcées is that they tend to put out more. And don’t give me that Ben-is-an-asshole crap just because I said it. Why do you think men and women date? To talk? To cuddle? I can have conversations with my friends. I can cuddle with my dog. I don’t need a woman for those activities. What I can’t do is toot my horn, if you get my drift. That is what I need a woman for. A lot of the single women I’ve met in my life were reticent about sex because they were either inexperienced or full of ignorant childhood ideals. What a waste. I know I criticize women who prostitute themselves by putting out only after a man spends on them, but women who don’t put out after a man spends on them are even worse. I guess what I’m saying is that if there’s anything worse than being a whore, it’s not being a whore.
Once a woman has been divorced, all pretenses of “no sex until such-and-such time” go out the window. Women who used to make men wait until the 3rd, or 5th, or whatever date before getting undressed don’t play those games anymore. They’ve been around the block and they know that everyone else knows it, so why keep up a façade of innocence? The same applies to men. I’ve certainly become an easy lay since I got divorced. Now I’d gladly have sex with a stranger if she were willing, whereas when I was single I at least had to know her name.
Another factor that makes women more sexual is age. Divorced women tend to be considerably older than single women. Older women are more self-confident, more comfortable with their sexuality, and less intimidated by men. Every woman over 30 I’ve ever dated initiated sex, whereas I had to initiate sex with the ones who were in their teens and 20s. So now any woman I date has to be over 30 because I’m tired of having to seduce women with flattery, booze and fifty-dollar bills.
Divorced women are less likely to be looking for a husband than single women are. Many divorcées, like me, have been soured on marriage so they just want to have a good time. This is the pool of women I choose from. One of the first things I find out about any new prospect is whether she is looking to get married. If she isn’t, I become more interested; if she is, I run from her like Rodney King from a job.
You can always find divorced people to date because there are a lot of them. I didn’t realize this when I was single, because I ignored divorcées. Maybe this is why I ignored Cathi – she was already a divorcée when I met her. Maybe if she had never been married before, I would have paid more attention to her. When I look back at the single women I dated (all three of them), I remember actually listening to the things they told me. There was one woman, I forget her name, who told me about her dad who was either a mechanic or a cop. And then there was what’s-her-face, who told me that she really liked shellfish. Or maybe she was allergic to it. Hmmm, maybe that’s why the seafood salad I made didn’t go over so well at her mother’s wake.
Make your intentions known to potential partners right away. If one of you refuses to get married again, and the other is looking for a spouse, then the two of you are wasting your time. Stating how you feel about marriage can avoid this because it will drive off anyone whose marriage intentions differ from yours, thereby saving you from wasting several dates with them. Of course, this lessens the number of people who will go out with you. Since I started telling women that I will never get married again, I’ve gotten zero dates; whereas back when I didn’t even mention the topic, I got three times as many.
By the way, I have always hated dating. You see, dating is dishonest. The whole purpose of dating is to fool someone into either having sex with you or giving you money. Or both. When I used to date, all I really did was pretend to be interested in what women did for a living, where they grew up, how many siblings they had, etc, in hopes that it’d get me laid. It was, of course, a huge waste of time, because not only did I hardly ever find anyone who was willing to have sex with me, but even when I did have sex, it never lasted nearly as long as all the bullshit I went through. What good is it to spend all evening buying someone dinner, taking them to a movie and enduring meaningless banter just to have a chance of doing the nasty? Even if you succeed, going through three hours of torture for three minutes of pleasure is not what I call an effective use of resources.
A lot of people believe that you should not talk about your ex when you’re on a date. I disagree, because you can really impress someone by pretending to sympathize with them when they bore you with stories about their ex. For example, let’s say you’re a man and you are at a restaurant with your date. She starts telling you what she went through with her last husband, which of course you have no interest in; you’re only interested in sex. Now, you could simply tell her to stop unloading her personal problems on you, and although you would certainly be justified in doing so, that wouldn’t get you laid. If you want to have even a shred of hope of getting her clothes off, you’ll have to feign sympathy:
|She:||“Ted was a real womanizer.”|
|You:||“Oh, that’s terrible.”|
|She:||“He was always looking for other women to screw.”|
|You:||“What a jerk.”|
|She:||“Whenever we went – what’re you looking at?”|
|You:||“Look at the tits on her!”|
Oops. Well, I did say that all you’re interested in is sex. But you have to remain focused on her, because if there’s one thing broads want, it’s respect.
If you have children from your marriage, make sure anyone you date is okay with that. More important, make sure your kids are okay with whomever you date. I dated one woman whose 5-year-old daughter liked me a lot for some reason. So much, in fact, that she’d try to steal me from her mom, so we’d have conversations like this:
|Me:||“Good night, pumpkin.”|
|Girl:||“Mr. Ben, would you lie down in bed with me?”|
|Me:||“I can’t – I have to go have sex with your mother.”|
Wait! I’m kidding! I told her that I couldn’t lie in bed with her until she turned eighteen.
THE SECOND TIME AROUND
Too unattractive to get anyone else.
To drive their spouse to an early grave and get the life insurance.
Accustomed to the lifestyle, as miserable as it is.
Sex. Hey, twice a year is better than none at all.
Too lazy to move.
Need to appear happy to everyone else.
A lot of people remarry, which is the equivalent of drinking milk that was sour the day before. They’ve learned a few things from their first fiasco, and they think they’ve got it all figured out now. Forget the fact that the divorce rate for second marriages is even higher than that of first marriages; they’re gonna beat the odds and remain happily married forever – just like they did the first time.
An obvious question at this point would be: what kind of mental defective would ever get married again? They already left the one person they thought they had a chance of spending the rest of their life with. Isn’t it obvious that marriage isn’t for them? Either they aren’t capable of holding a relationship together, or they’re really lousy at selecting a mate. Either way, the choice is obvious: give up.
When we’re in a relationship we learn a lot about what we value. For example, we might never think much about having alone time when we’re single, because we have so much of it. An intimate partner might smother us and make demands on our time, and that can make us see just how much we need alone time. And booze.
After going through a marriage and a divorce, we are more aware of what we want – and what we don’t want – so we might figure that now we will be better at selecting a mate. I say that this is a never-ending process. All of us (or at least those of us who are halfway datable) will have a series of relationships, and there is no guarantee that any one of them will last the rest of our lives. You might find someone who doesn’t have the major flaws that your previous partner has, but he/she might have other characteristics you can’t stand. This is why marriage is stupid. Go ahead and have relationships, but why shackle yourself? Everyone will have at least a few quirks you don’t like, so legally binding yourself to anyone would be about as smart as asking Michael Jackson to baby-sit your kids.
It has been said that second marriages are the triumph of hope over experience. To get up on that altar again after a bad marriage and divorce takes a lot of courage, and by courage I mean stupidity. They say that insanity is defined as “repeating the same actions and expecting different results”. You know, like drinking nine shots of tequila even though you got sick the last time you did it. Or opening the fridge in search of food when you just looked in there two minutes earlier. We all do stupid things, so I guess second marriages are just part of the mix. But marriage is a big one. The nine shots of tequila will only make you sick for a day or two, but marriage will make you sick for much longer.
“Okay, Ben, enough venting,” I hear you say. “Do you have any helpful advice regarding second marriages?” Yes – don’t. When someone suggests that you marry them, run. Run away like a French soldier. Avoid this person like Rosie O’Donnell avoids Jenny Craig.
The only time you should get married for a second time (or the first time for that matter) is when your partner has and/or earns more than you do. This way you will not have to give up any of your wealth if you split, and you might get some of their wealth. Marrying me was the best financial move my ex ever made. She got tens of thousands of unearned dollars that she would never have acquired on her own, merely by going through a simple eleven-minute ceremony. Yes, I timed it. Our entire wedding ceremony lasted eleven minutes. I’ve taken shits that lasted longer. And they were more satisfying.
You also need to be aware of what rights your potential spouse’s ex has to their wealth. For example, your boyfriend might make a good salary and have a good pension waiting for him, but he might be paying his ex alimony and/or child support, and she might get a portion of his monthly pension. This would diminish not only the funds he has available to spend on you, but also the wealth he would have to give you if you divorce. The court will take into consideration his other financial burdens, so the amount awarded to you will be less than if those other burdens did not exist. Thus it behooves you to get your hooks into someone who has never been married and who has never had kids. You know, a nerd. Nerds tend to make lots of money in technical fields, plus they’ll never cheat on you because they’re so nerdy. Okay, so they have no social skills or fashion sense, but does that really matter when you can milk them like a dairy farmer with obsessive-compulsive disorder?
You might think that I focus too much on finances, that I’m implying that many people marry for money and that I am therefore calling them prostitutes. Well, aren’t they? How many women don’t ask for money from their wealthy husbands when they divorce? Even if a man has provided her with several years of cash, gifts, and free tenancy in a great house that she could never afford, she will still ask for money. If life were fair, she would pay him as reimbursement for the lifestyle he gave her during the marriage. It’s not like she has any less money now than she would have had if they had never gotten married. He is actually being penalized for all the money he spent on her. If he had just been a selfish bastard, and not married or spent any money on her, then the court system would not let her rob him.
I’d like to believe that people marry for nothing other than love, but this simply isn’t true most of the time. My case was one of the exceptions. My wife met virtually none of the criteria on my checklist. She was already divorced with two kids, broke, in debt, and not my type physically. She didn’t even like beer. For some insane reason I grew to love her, so when she told me (150 times) that she wanted me to marry her, I did. But in most other cases love is not the only consideration. For example, in many cases a woman never would have married her husband if he were broke. Do you think an attractive woman who marries an older, fat, bald guy is actually in love with him? Do you believe that his big house and bank account don’t matter to her? How many poor older, fat, bald guys get attractive wives? It all boils down to an expression that I made up but which I won’t write here because this is a family publication. Let’s just say it has to do with money making a certain part of a man’s anatomy taste good.
I don’t mean to imply that only women look for money in a marriage or divorce. I’m sure there are men who’ve done it. In fact, if you personally know any man who got a cash settlement or is receiving alimony from his ex-wife, please let me know so I can go over to his house and kick him in the balls.
Second marriages can be more than rich-older-man-marries-attractive-younger-woman situations. They can also make some interesting instant families. For example, at age 53, Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, who had a 27-year-old son named Stephen from a previous marriage, married 19-year-old Mandy Smith (who he had been dating since she was 13, the perv). Stephen was older than his stepmother. Not long after Bill and Mandy divorced, Stephen almost married Mandy’s 46-year-old mother. That nearly made Stephen a stepfather to his former stepmother. If Bill and Mandy had remained married, Stephen would have been his father’s father-in-law and his own step-grandfather.
What follows are the lessons I learned from my marriage and divorce. I hope they help you make the right decisions in your life. They won’t, of course. You will ignore all my advice and either get married or not get married according to your own particular situation, regardless of what I tell you. But I deserve to have you ignore me, because I ignored the people who told me not to get married.
Love does not conquer all. I mentioned this in chapter 1, and it’s worth repeating. No matter how much you love someone, they might still do things that piss you off. The love you have for them will not prevent frustration or anger when your husband makes a remark about your weight or your wife has sex with her boss. Love doesn’t erase these acts of inconsideration. Not only that, love will diminish when your partner does things that irritate you, which brings us to our next lesson.
Love is conditional. The idea of “unconditional love” is an ignorant, childish notion put forth by Hollywood, some religions, the Democratic Party, etc. The fact is that in order for you to love someone, they have to be lovable. Do you love Osama bin Laden as much as you love your own children? Do you love the asshole who cuts you off on the highway as much as you love your best friend? Of course not. (If you do, then get professional help right now because you’re even more screwed up than I am.) You love your significant other, your friends, etc, not merely because they exist, but because they possess characteristics you like and they do nice things for you. If love were unconditional, then you would love everyone – strangers, criminals, telemarketers – as much as you love your own friends and family, which would be not only stupid but also an insult to your friends and family. Now, love might seem unconditional because you continue to love your children no matter what they do. I say that your love for them is very conditional, the condition being that they are yours. If they were someone else’s kids, you wouldn’t love them as much, but because they are yours, you continue to love them through thick and thin. And this is a good thing because if grown-ups did not continue to love their annoying little brats when they whine and throw tantrums, every parent would be in jail for murder right now.
Accept no substitutes. We all have certain criteria – a checklist if you will – of traits we want in a mate. The person we end up marrying rarely has all of them, but someone should have at least 90% of them. Do not accept less. A lot of people get worried that the right person won’t come along, so they settle for someone who isn’t right for them but who is at least available and not a serial killer (for all they know). It is pathetic how people are so needy for a mate that they will cling to Mr./Mrs. Wrong rather than remain single. I say be selective, and if no one comes along who meets your standards, then don’t have a partner, because if there’s anything worse than being alone, it’s wishing you were. People told me for decades that I was too picky because my standards were so high. Well, I avoided a lot of problems by being picky. No psychos. No high-maintenance bitches. No custody battles. Then I met someone who was no more right for me than some of the other women I had dated in my life, but I let her nag me into marrying her. Why? Because I figured that although she wasn’t perfect, at least we loved each other, and love is the most important thing. I lowered my standards to accommodate love, and I paid for it. And you know what? I still have people telling me I’m too picky. I don’t even bother trying to explain to them how wrong they are, because it just won’t sink in, but take note, readers: if one more person makes a remark about how picky I am, I will stick my foot so far up their ass that they will taste my shoelaces.
No one has to be married. I will say this until the day I die. It is never necessary to get married, even if you have children. Two people, with or without kids, can live together just fine without the state-sanctioned institution of marriage. Marriage equals welfare. Why do you think so many women push men to marry them? Because they earn less. In some cases they earn nothing, or they spend more than they earn. The only people who ever benefit from marriage are the lesser earners. “How can you say that?” I hear you bleat. “A lot of people have great marriages that enrich their lives.” To that I reply that the sharing of love, a house, meals, children, etc is something that any couple can do, married or not. No one has ever been able to tell me what benefits marriage provides over living in sin (other than financial benefits to lesser earners). Some women refuse to spend any part of their lives with a man if he won’t marry them, and I say that this is stupid. I mean, if I had a wealthy girlfriend and she asked me to move in with her and provide cooking, cleaning and sexual services in exchange for free housing, I would have to be retarded not to accept. Even if things didn’t work out and she eventually kicked me out, I still would have gotten to spend months or years in a nice house that I could never afford on my own, and I would be no worse off after getting kicked out than I was before I moved in. I would not be “entitled” to remuneration after the fact because I already got compensated while I was providing services. I hope this message gets out to all the rich, beautiful, horny, available women out there. Both of them.
Dear divorcés and divorcées,
Congratulations! You have ended a dysfunctional relationship. Ain’t it grand? No more fighting, yelling, resentment, or fantasizing about murdering the person who let you down. You are now free. You’ve got your life back.
Marriage is difficult enough with a good partner; a bad partner makes it an exercise in futility. Little did we know when we got married that our partners would turn out to be such negative factors in our lives. What a horrible sinking feeling when the initial elation of marriage eventually turned into disappointment, frustration and regret. “This is not what I wanted for my life!” we said to ourselves. I asked God why people change after they get married, why we can’t have the kind of marriages we strive for, and why so many of us make decisions that mess up our lives, but He couldn’t answer me because He was having a fight with His wife.
Do not feel like you “failed”. You gave marriage a shot, which takes more courage than it does to remain single. You also had enough backbone to break away from the person who was holding you down. Some people remain in bad marriages because they’re too insecure to be “alone”, or for financial reasons, or “for the kids”, or because they’re afraid of what their friends and family would think of them if they got divorced. I say that the most important thing to any of us is our mental health. Not how we appear to others. Not money. Not whether our families remain nuclear. Even our physical health takes a backseat to mental health. Nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ if we’re miserable. You have been successful in making a positive change to restore your mental health; it’s the people who remain forever in unhappy marriages that are failures.
You dated and broke up with other people before you got married. Were those break-ups “failures”? No. You were playing the field, and while those people were positive additions to your life for a while, eventually you discovered things about them that did not suit you. In the case of divorce, you married someone who was a better fit than the others, and it just took more time to find out that this person isn’t a good life mate. So a divorce is just another break-up. The legal contract complicates it with division of property, money and/or children, but it is still just another break-up.
Perhaps you’ll meet your soul mate. Perhaps you won’t. Either way, you are who you are. Recognize your own good points, and don’t wait for someone else to “validate” you. You are a good person, and not having a soul mate doesn’t diminish that.
I don’t know about others, but I will not take sides. I am still just as much your friend as I was before you got divorced. If I was friends with your ex before, then I am friends with him/her now (unless he/she did something horrible to you). There is no reason that a major shift in alliances has to occur. We are all imperfect creatures learning about life through trial and error, and the mature thing to do is to move on with our lives without harboring negative feelings.
Lovers come and go, but real friends are forever. Lovers might have ulterior motives such as money or sex, but your friends love you for who you are. I certainly do. As long as you have me, you will always have someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on, bad jokes to make you laugh or groan, and a way to feel better about yourself (“My life might be a complete shambles, but at least I’m not Ben!”)
P.S. I can’t believe I wrote something this mushy in one of my books. Please don’t let my ex see this – she might think I have feelings or something.
Ben is divorced, and that’s amazing. No, the divorce isn’t amazing. What’s amazing is that he got anyone to marry him.
On the outside Ben might appear to be a pathetic, uncultured, unkempt loser. But that’s not the whole story. He’s also a drunk.
Don’t feel sorry for Ben. He is no more pathetic now than he was before he got married. His hobbies and his nine beers a day keep him occupied, so he never feels lonely. In fact, he has complained of having too much company ever since his house acquired a roach problem.
Do not even consider setting Ben up with any of your available female friends. He doesn’t want them. And they sure as hell wouldn’t want him.
Ben does occasionally go trawling for dates, but he doesn’t look in any of the conventional places like bars or personal ads. He made us promise not to tell you where he lurks, so let’s just say that this would not be a good time to put your grandmother in a nursing home.
We have a lot more to say about Ben, but since he endeavors to keep dirty words out of his books, we’ll shut up now.