Monday, 30 May 2011

Why do married women shun divorcees whilst embracing divorced men?

When my Aunt was only 42, she was sadly widowed.

When it happened, her girl friends rallied round to help her and then suddenly, it just stopped.  Everything stopped.

No more dinner invitations.  No more drinks parties.  Nothing.

And believe me – my Aunt had always been a party animal…

My Aunt was very matter of fact about it.   She concluded that her friends felt threatened by her ‘single’ status.

“I can’t think why!” she exclaimed. “I’ve known these women for 20 years.  They’ve told me exactly how dreadful their husbands are.  Why would I want them?!”

I was only 10 at the time, but it stuck in my mind.  And now, 30 years on, being single myself – I am beginning to see what she means.

I have some fantastic female friends who have been the most incredible support to me.  So I would never suggest that all women fall into this cagetory – BUT…..

There are, without a doubt, a certain number who treat you like a social leper.   Whilst simultaneously flirting with and molly coddling every ‘single’ man they know, they treat every ‘single’ woman like “the enemy”. 

“Poor old Henry – he needs a decent meal after all he’s been through” they exclaim.  The reality is, “Poor old Henry” is probably just an overgrown schoolboy, who is more than happy to be mothered by his friends’ wives.  He’s probably also a selfish, idle shit, which is why he can’t cook himself a decent meal – one of the many reasons his wife left him in the first place.

So, what is it with these women?  Why do they do they behave in this way? 

By the time we reach our 40’s, we’re just not in quite the same shape.  A couple of kids down the line, our bodies are sadly sagging, no matter how long we spend in gym.

And all of us, men and women, secretly want to know that we’re still attractive to the opposite sex.

Poor old Henry is the perfect antidote to these issues.  He will heap these women with praise for their cooking prowess and quite probably flirt with them…

And this is EXACTLY what these women don’t want single women doing with their husbands!

Many years ago I had a flat mate who had a ‘thing’ for unavailable men.  Unless a man was a least engaged (and preferably married) she just wasn’t interested.  I have never, before or since, met anyone so predatory.  

Finally, she persuaded the married man she was having an affair with to leave his wife.  They got married, and I didn’t see her again until a couple of years ago.

She was with her kids and husband in a supermarket.  I couldn’t help craning my neck to see whether he was the same man she had ‘stolen’ all those years ago.

He was!

Then she turned and saw me staring at him and with a face like thunder, she snapped at him to hurry up and dragged him away down to the frozen food aisle!

 As I said, I have never met anyone as predatory as this woman.  It made her the odd one out, which is why I still remember her.

The women I know who have been through a divorce and seen all the ugliness, would not wish it on anyone, least of all their girlfriends.  They just need their friends to rally round and help them regain a sense of normality.

I honestly believe predatory women are a minority who will only be successful if they find a willing party.  And like that old flatmate of mine, I’m sure that they will spend the rest of their married lives worrying that someone will ‘steal’ their husband just as they did.  Their success is also their punishment.

So, married women, take heed.  Invite your single men friends round and have a good old flirt.  If that’s all it is, where’s the harm?  But invite the divorcees too.  The chances are, they don’t want to put anyone else through the pain of a marriage breakdown.  And God forbid, should your own marriage suddenly disintegrate, the people who are best placed to give you sympathy and support are….

The divorcees….

Friday, 27 May 2011

When is it OK for the new man to stay over and how do you introduce him to the kids?

“Hey kids – this is xxxx.  Mummy hasn’t known him long, and he might not stick around.  But tonight I’ll be making him a sumptuous meal and then later I’ll be shagging him.”  is probably not the best approach.

“How do you check that the kids are asleep, without waking them, so that you know they won’t hear you screaming?”  A married friend asked. 

“I’d forgotten that sex could induce screams” squealed another, before spilling her coffee with laughter.

“You could just tell them “Mummy has a ‘friend’ coming over for dinner.”  Then
do it on the sofa before calling him a taxi.”

“Or set the alarm for 6.00am – and boot him out before the kids wake up.”

The suggestions from my friends were numerous and amusing, but sadly not
conducive to a spontaneous and fun frolic.  And with my forty-something hormones in overdrive, a frolic is exactly what I need! 

That said, if all I’m after is ‘a bit of that’, I’m not going to introduce him to the kids anyway.  But going forwards, what if Mr Wonderful turns up?  There has to be a plan.

It’s a minefield.  And not an issue any caring mother takes lightly.

When the Rebound Guy was in toe, I only ‘entertained’ when the kids were away.  As I was aware that he wasn’t going to be a long term item, I didn’t want the kids to get attached, so it suited me fine.  And at the outset of any future relationship, until I’ve established whether it’s ‘going somewhere’ I will do the same.

“How would you feel if Mummy had a boyfriend?” I recently asked my eldest. 

He stopped in his tracks and gave me ‘the look’.

“Don’t panic” I cried “I’m only asking in case I do in the future”.

“Well, as long as he’s nice to us I don’t mind”.  He replied.  “But then, you wouldn’t have a boyfriend who wasn’t nice to us Mum.” he continued.

I was overwhelmed by the sweetness of his response and simultaneously horrified by the enormity of my responsibilities.

What if Mr X is a dream, but the kids hate him?  Would I be prepared to ditch him for their sake – or just skulk around behind their backs? 

Better not to get into the situation in the first place.  But how do you make a sound judgment?  If the new man is “Mr Wonderful’, you don’t want to put him off by treating him as if he’s got an ASBO and sending him home before curfew.

I think that there are some very clear signs of a man’s suitability in this regard.  First and foremost is their relationship with their own kids.

“Don’t judge people by what they say” my Mother always told me “ judge them by what they do”.  And she is right.

A man who has not taken care of his own children and doesn’t spend much time with them, is not going to understand your concerns.  And he won’t be a good role model.

He won’t understand why you can’t “just arrange for them to go to a friends house” at the last minute, or “get a babysitter” during their exam week.

If they’re very involved with their own kids, that’s the first good sign.

Then, it is worth establishing, as best as possible, the nature of the relationship with his previous partner/spouse.

No child is going to like a man coming into their home who doesn’t treat their mother well – and the way he’s treated his ‘ex’ is a good indicator.

Finally you need to establish whether he is reliable.  After all, your kids are not going to be impressed by someone who lets you down.

If, after all this, he still looks like “Mr Wonderful”, you have to just introduce him as ‘a friend’.  See how they get along.  And if you think he’s good to go, you explain it as a sleepover.  Well, we all have ‘sleepovers’ don’t we...?

As important as it is, I sometimes I think we women spend too much time analyzing things.  It’s important to be cautions before introducing a man into the house – but at the same time, we shouldn’t look for excuses to keep him at arms’ length. 

We have as much right to a new relationship as anyone else.  And ultimately, as long as we’re cautious; we introduce the kids gently; and the kids see that it makes us happy; then the kids will probably just wonder why we didn’t do it earlier.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

“All she wants is security”…. Is that such a crime?

A friend of mine recently commented that his ex-wife was re-marrying.  He discovered his former wife having an affair behind his back.  She left him, had a baby and is now planning to marry the father.

My friend is, quite understandably, deeply wounded.

“She’s only marrying him because she wants security.” he said, with not a hint of bitterness...!  His comment lead me to believe that in his mind, her decision to remarry was entirely motivated by the need for security rather than love.

As far as I can establish, during their marriage, his wife made clear that material things mattered to her and he worked long hours to ensure she had them.  And then, of course, she complained that he was never there.  

I’ve said it before… men just can’t win can they?!

My friends’ comments stopped me in my tracks.  Why should a desire for security be regarded as such a crime?  And more importantly, what is it that gives us this feeling?  Money?  Knowing that our children are safe whilst we’re at work, or even the confidence that if we fall under a bus, someone will notice that we’re missing – and do something about it!

It can be a number of things for any number of people.  But I feel sure that it is something that everyone wants.

For women, like myself, who gave up a career to be a full time mother, we want the security that whilst we’re looking after the kids and cooking supper, the bills will be paid.

And for a lot of men, security is the knowledge that they are safe in their job and can earn enough money to fulfil their commitments and provide for their family.

So, here I am.   No longer married, without the career path I once had and with very little feeing of security!

So what to do?  Find a rich man to marry?  And if I did, would that make me feel secure?

If you’d asked me 20 years ago, I might have said ‘yes’.  But as I now know, marriage is not always ‘forever’.  I’m not even sure I want to do it again. 

And so it is that I am getting myself back to work.  Looking up old work contacts and doing my best not to find a short term fix, but a long term career path to make me feel secure.  Like most things in life, feelings of happiness and security have to come from within.

So what if, in the meantime, I fall mutually in love with the man of my dreams, who wants to marry me…?

Well, I’ll give it serious consideration.  Not for the security, but because it’s the icing on the cake!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Why is a hot date for us not such a hot date for them…?

 A few weeks ago I was invited out on a hot date…

In fact, as far as I was concerned it was a sizzlingly hot date - tall dark and handsome, with a kindly manner and a good sense of humour.  Oh, and a devoted Dad to boot.  All the qualities a girl could ask for.

I went round for lunch.  We spent the afternoon talking non-stop.  Then the sun went in and we watched a movie and canoodled on the sofa.   He took me out for dinner and then I left, as a good girl should, before midnight! 

“Don’t forget the rules!”  My closest girlfriends cried.  “Don’t call him. Let him call you.”  Well, as his parting words to me where “keep in touch” as opposed to “I’ll call you” – I decided to forget the rules and just ‘wing it’. 

Now as it happens, I’m a practical sort of girl.  I know that one night a week and every other weekend, the kids are with their Dad.  These days are precious to me, and my social activities are worked around them.

“Fancy doing something on Wednesday” I texted him, trying not to sound too desperate.  Alas, he was busy. 

I gave it one last shot.  “Kids with their Dad on Friday/Sat if you’re free?”  No reply.

“Enough” I hear you scream.  “Let  him call YOU.”  But there’s the thing.  I have to get on with it.  Time is ticking by.

Single women with children, like me, have limited time available to conduct their social lives.  Dates with men cannot be so spontaneous as they were when we were younger.  We also have many evenings at home, getting the kids through homework, bath and bedtime, feeling irritable because whilst we’re going through the motions of domestic life, all we are thinking is:  “Why hasn’t he called?”.

A great male friend of mine always says the same thing:

“Why do you women spend so much energy trying to second guess what men think?  Just call him, or send a message.  You’re going to find out eventually, so just get on with it and then at least you know where you stand.”

Fair point.

Men don’t have the same domestic commitments.  They have busy days at work and arrange a ton of activities to keep them occupied when they’re not at work.  Weekends are full of golf and other manly pursuits and evenings occasionally spent taking women out for dinner. 

And that’s just it.  It’s dinner.  They don’t spend time agonizing and wondering. If they like you, they’ll call.  For the most part, they’re just filling time.  The time that women don’t have because of their domestic commitments, during which we torment ourselves.

So there’s the answer.  A hot date for us is the precious time we have, between juggling all other aspects of our life.  To them, it’s just dinner. 

If a man likes you, he’ll call.  He may not call straight away – but he’ll call. 

It looks like Tall Dark Handsome guy isn’t going to call – so I have to take the best out of it that I can and wish him well.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Rebound Guy

Why do we do it to ourselves….?

In the depths of my despair, having made the dreadful and heartbreaking decision to leave the father of my children and potentially screw them up for life… along comes “The Rebound Guy”.

The problem with them is that they are often predatory, almost always unsuitable, and in my case hard to shake off!

At the beginning he was great.  I was terrified of being alone – but with him as my support, I didn’t have to be.  He hung on my every word; answered my calls at the first ring; cooked me dinner; and we had more sex in six months than I'd had in the previous 10 years of marriage.  Fantastic!

In addition, he encouraged me to buy myself a few new clothes and some sexy underwear (no self-interest there then!), and I was told that I had a “fantastic arse”.  Crude? Yes!  But having felt invisible for the best part of 20 years – OMG it felt good.  

Well, it felt good for a bit… and then… it really started to get on my nerves. 

The helpfulness and support turned into unreasonable and demanding behaviour.  But when you feel you’re drowning, you just cling on regardless.
Finally, I tried to end it and he went all 'bunny boiler' on me.  I was going through a divorce.  He was supposed to support me - but he ended up causing me more aggravation than the ex-husband...  

I just wanted my old life back – well, the bit where I got to see my friends and had a bit of time to myself.

As unbearable as it is to be ignored – it is equally unbearable to be smothered.  Is this just a problem we women create for ourselves?  Not happy if our man doesn’t notice us and irritated if they do?  No wonder men get confused!

Not long after I left my husband, a great friend of mine upset me deeply.  “Your husband may have behaved badly,” she said “but you have to take responsibility too, because you have allowed his behaviour”. 

I was deeply offended.  But I did think long and hard about it. 

I could never have changed my husband and I don’t want to beat myself up about it.  And I made a choice with the re-bound guy at a time when I was drowning and clutching at straws.

And here’s the point I’m trying to make.  When we’re in the depths of despair it is hard to make decisions – and that’s why The Rebound Guy happens but never lasts.

But we women have to take charge and responsibility for our choices. 

Have the Rebound Guy, a ton of sex and a few new pairs of knickers.  Reclaim your mojo.  But when the chaos is over, it is crucial to stand back and look at the patterns of behaviour in our various relationships, to stop ourselves going from one extreme to the other.  In our desperate search for someone to love us, we fool ourselves that problems will go away – that the new man is not totally unsuitable, but a ‘breath of fresh air’. 

Deep down, we all know it’s not true!

But we can break the cycle.  We can choose to and find a man who’s somewhere in the middle.  Or, if the signs aren’t good, have the courage to walk away.

So – as I always think you should be prepared to take your own medicine, my Rebound Guy has now finally got the message and I’m going back out there…  I may be some time…

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