So, herewith Part Three of my blogs about the “Big Three” subjects most couples argue about. We’ve done money and sex; now “the kids.” I will declare, at the onset, that this issue is usually more combustible in blended families, though it certainly is present in nuclear ones as well.
For us, we had to deal with me having raised my kids alone for several years and my second wife having not had kids or any meaningful (especially living with them) experience with kids. But, she’s got an opinion and has never been bashful about expressing it (anymore than me).
I recently learned some statistics that surprised me, but upon reflection they really made sense. What do you think the rate of divorce is between first, second, and third marriages? Think about it. I didn’t and came to the wrong conclusion.
It’s pretty much agreed by most experts that first marriages end in divorce about 40-50% of the time. What surprised me is that the divorce rate increases with second marriages to something like 60% and more, while third marriages end in divorce at least 70% of the time.
My first gut reaction was that we would have learned from prior mistakes, we’d be wiser with the experience of living through a marriage and divorce, and maybe, just maybe, we may have learned something about our contributions to the break-up. And, therefore, we’d not repeat destructive behaviors.
Being the stay-at-home Dad is supposedly accepted in our diverse and accepting culture where role reversal has become quite common. But, the reality is different, as this dad has experienced, especially when introducing a new women, my new wife, into the family. Who does what and what we expect from each other is often murkier in reality than in the latest issue of “O.”
In a nutshell, she goes to work; I stay home with the boys. I take them to school and deal with all their extra-curricular activities. I carry the larger load of discipline issues and I do the majority of the shopping. She takes care of the house and does most of the cooking and cleaning. I’m the biological parent; she’s the step. She teaches them manners; I teach them how to burp louder.
I know my column is from my personal perspective, and often about my personal life. Yet I feel this topic is more confessional than many others and affects me too often. I take things too personally. Having this deficiency is truly toxic when you are raising kids or beginning a new marriage, both of which define my present state of affairs.
Let’s give some examples and see how many of you relate to them. Easy ones are when ShortRib (my wife) isn’t smiling, isn’t talking much, or doesn’t respond quickly to an e-mail, or text of mine. I always assume that it’s my fault or something I’ve done.
They say independence comes with the teenage years and I’ve witnessed my teenager go from clingy, in-my-face for every little thing, to closed door, on the phone, not interested in anything from Dad except what’s in my wallet. Oh, and a ride whenever he wants to go somewhere. I know part of this is good, but the other part wonders when to trust they are ready to be on their own?
Trust must be earned. Some things you just don’t trust, don’t take the risk, no matter what. A teen’s brain just isn’t fully developed, as hard as that is to believe, as the brain doesn’t really fully mature till their mid-20s and, in the case of boys and men maybe much later or never. Don’t trust me on this; do the research, as it’s a fact.