Monday, June 27, 2011

My Father's Wife is Killing Him

Although I can't name anyone off of the top of my head, there were probably men who were killed in the past because divorce either wasn't an option for a wife or a disastrous one. Likewise, while I condemn murder and I blame murderers for murder and I don't believe any woman deserves to be so much as assaulted for using marriage and divorce laws to her advantage, let alone legitimate protection... I do have to wonder if some women who have been murdered by their husbands or ex-husbands would not have been if the laws had been different, or there was a good pre-nup, or something along those lines.

My father has worked very, very hard. He grew up in the rural Midwest in a family of very modest means. Their home was a single room for part of his childhood. My father was not good with his hands, and his father, who did manual (but skilled) labor, told my father he'd never be able to support a family. At the urging of his teachers, my father applied to universities and for scholarships, and was able to go to a good university and graduate. He came out to California to teach.

My father met my mother, married her, and decided that if he was going to have a family, he needed to earn more than what he was making as a teacher. He went to graduate school and got a higher degree. He landed a job in that field, and proceeded to work his butt off. He stuck with the same employer, played the game, and got into management. He didn't stop until he made it all the way to the top.

He was well on his way to that top spot – he was in the last position he'd have before making there, when my parents divorced.

My father has always been an awesome father to me.

When I was in high school, my parents started to have problems. My father couldn't understand why my mother couldn't be like his female colleagues or the wives of his male colleagues and enjoy "social" events related to his job. My mother did not give him the respect at home a husband should have, while at the office he was admired, respected, and he usually got his way. My mother didn't understand the modern office, and that my father had to interact with women in ways professional men of the past didn't, because in the past women were either secretaries or not present in the office; not colleagues or bosses. My father was reluctant to take vacations that were completely personal, with no connection to his professional goals. My mother has always had some personality issues. Counselor after counselor and a great sex life (according to my mother) couldn't prevent the decline of their marriage.

When I left for college, my father moved into my room at home. It wasn't like my parents were staying together for my sake – I had younger siblings. My father later moved out of the house entirely, but stayed close, and then the divorce was final about three years after I had left.

It is a community property state, and my mother, although having retired to the workforce, earned significantly less than my father. So he has payments to make to her for life, as it is unlikely she will ever remarry. She claims she got screwed over. My father never discusses any of that stuff with me.

My father met another woman, who was willing to be by his side at all of the functions and parties he went to. They married around the same time my father finally made it to the top at the office. Several years later, my father was fed up with the board and took his retirement. He could still collect his retirement and work elsewhere, and that's exactly what he did, and my guess is that he makes significantly more in his new position, even though he isn't the CEO.

We don't discuss his finances, but apparently he's discussed them somewhat with one of my sisters, and it sounds like he's been rather foolish. My father apparently didn't know that his wife owed back taxes and back child support (yes, a woman owing child support). From what I understand, when they sold her house and bought another one, it was placed in her name. She works, but she's self-employed and I highly doubt she earns anywhere near what my father does. So the way I figure it, my father paid off her back taxes and child support and is paying for her home.

My siblings have never liked my father's wife, and I don't think they've been fair to her. This is not surprising, since the nexus of that side of the family is my mother and my eldest sister. I've had mostly a good relationship with my father’s wife, and have been willing to give her every benefit of the doubt. But my perception has been changing. There was another recent incident during which she publicly disrespected my father. And it makes me think back to how she acted for a full year after my wife and I married; events around the wedding did not go the way she would have wanted, so we couldn't all get together. After we let her vent at us for something we had nothing to do with, things seemed to be fine and we were willing to put it all behind us.

She had three children of her own. One has opted to make a life on the other side of the world. Another has opted to raise her family close to her father, who is in a different part of the country; a man we have reason to believe is evil. The only one who came back to the area killed himself. All three of her children liked my father. So my father hasn't been the problem, and apparently a man who does unspeakable things to his own children is preferred to my father's wife (but perhaps the daughter is sick?).

My father has been going to counseling and trying to patch things up with my siblings. He's aging as though he's under a lot of stress.

The marriage has lasted more than ten years, so if it ends my father will be paying a second woman for life and will have to find a new home. For all I know her expensive tastes have saddled them with debt and lousy credit.

If my father does want to leave his wife, he may not because of the financial issues.

My wife says that my mother is still in love with my father. My father has a rather bad memory of his marriage to my mother, so it's not like there would be hope of them getting back together.

A definite benefit for my father for going through another divorce would be better relations with my siblings. Heck, they'd probably throw him the biggest party he's ever seen and let him move in to one of their places.

I was taken off guard by how my father was disrespected. I should have said something, but I tend to do better when I've had time to mull it over. I will be better prepared if I ever see that again.

Guys, don't be stupid with your money. If you marry, marry a woman who has good financial habits, and get a good pre-nup that involves full disclosure. Do not pay for anything – a house, a car, anything – that isn't in your name.


  1. It's a shame your father's marriage may be in trouble. From the sound of it, he is a very intelligent man more than capable of making his own decisions- even those his children don't agree with. I'm not sure what hiswife said to disrespect your father, but some men find merely having an independent opinion to be such. More than anything though, i hope your Dad can work out his issues with his children,that is the most important thing.

  2. Thanks, snow. No problem with a woman having an independent opinion. It was disrespect. My own wife brought it up as we were driving away before I could say anything... she didn't like it at all. I don't want to get too specific, but they were discussing the execution of something that had been planned for several weeks in involving my daughter. My father was trying to tell his wife what he thought about an important part of how things were going to be done, based on his observations of the venue, and she kept cutting him off, then saying it wasn't going to happen after all. Then saying it was going to happen. It was this back and forth and she kept cutting my father off. He repeatedly asked, "Can I tell you what I was going to suggest?" It was in front of a bunch of people and it was very uncomfortable.

    My father tried to give my mother everything she wanted. If she wanted major work done on the house, he's find a way to make it happen. She wanted a certain number of kids, a certain number of boys and a certain number of girls, and that happened. She got accustomed to things going exactly the way she wanted. The one exception is that she wanted my father to work less and spend more time at home... but then she didn't like him bringing work home. Once he started saying "no" to her, that was the beginning of the end.

    I'm like him in the respect that he tends to let things go on for too long. He thinks. "I can deal with this. I'll let it go." The only problem is, we can deal with certain things once of twice. But after years and years, we finally explode. Thankfully, I recognized this much earlier in my life than he did.


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