my relationship goals

About five years ago, I gave some advice that I thought was sound…marry for passion – and that’s all someone needed to make a marriage successful.

A friend of mine told me that he was thinking about ‘the future’ with his girlfriend. I had been married for a little over 8 years, at the time, so I thought I knew all about what you should and shouldn’t do…which was basically don’t marry someone because you think you owe it to them because you’ve been with them for a certain amount of time – marry them because you want them desperately…and if you had passion that’s all you needed. (I was sooo wrong!)

I had been missing passion in marriage #1 for different reasons (not necessarily his fault) and so as I divorced my first husband, I thought that if I found that then it would fix the issue I had in marriage #1.

So marriage #2…I married thinking that I was marrying for passion yet what I hadn’t found out yet was that my soon-to-be-husband (at the time) was passionate with a lot of people, not just me. Regardless, looking back I realize that I was looking at one quality in each of my husbands and focusing on just that one trait, putting all hope in that one trait, instead of looking to find someone that was the ‘whole package’.

I’ve had my fair share of issues with both of my ex husbands but the one thing that I will say in defense of #1 is that he tried. He may have had blind spots that just couldn’t be changed but he tried. Even when I told him that I was done, he tried. The issue is that I had been done for months…if not longer. My fault was in waiting so long to tell him that I had issues with him and our marriage. Maybe if I had told him sooner things could have been repaired but even as I ask myself that same thing today, I don’t think that anything would have changed. He is who he is and I am who I am and we weren’t right together. I just wish that we could have figured that out 13 years ago and saved a lot of people a lot of time and headaches…but then I wouldn’t have the two best squirt league hockey players ever. 🙂

My ex husband #2 ran when things were exposed and even to this day, instead of admitting when he’s done things that just aren’t right or sane or kind or normal – he makes things worse. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. He was raised to think that running from responsibilities was normal…that mom and dad and money would fix things…it’s just that the dad with the money isn’t there any longer and the mom didn’t invest her money wisely and instead has flushed it down the drain by supporting three of her four boys without ever getting a cent in return because they can’t keep jobs, take advantage of her and repay nothing.

So as I look to the future and consider who to date and what my next steps will be when I’m ready to even think about a serious relationship, I have some advice for my 24 year old self (the person I was before I was married).

Don’t:

  • Don’t be with someone just because of the passion. If they are passionate with you – maybe they are passionate with everyone?? (keep reading – I’m going to contradict myself soon.)
  • Don’t be with someone for their bank account. Obviously…this can change at the drop of a hat – take 2008 for an example.
  • Don’t be with someone for the ‘hopes’ that you have together. Hope is just that…if it doesn’t come to fruition, you’ll blame them but you should really be blaming yourself for putting your entire relationship on the other person’s shoulders. Marriage is 100%/100%, not 50/50. As long as everyone is contributing fully to the hopes and dreams you’ll probably make big things happen.
  • Don’t be with someone for what you think you can change them into being. Don’t change them…it won’t ever work – no matter how great you think you are at this. You may be able to change them for a short while but they will revert and either hate you for changing them in the first place or hate themselves for letting you do it.
  • Don’t be with someone for the status factor. – This can change fast!! A job can be lost; someone can be voted out of office; someone can sell their business; someone can change their career dreams. And then what’s left…nothing.

Instead…

  • Be with someone for all of it…be with them for who they are today…and nothing more. The person that is standing in front of you is who they will be for the rest of their lives. And you can’t expect them to be any different – that’s not fair to anyone.
  • Be with someone for who you are together. You may be with this person for the rest of your life…if you are better when they are around and visa versa then all is well with the world. BUT if you are better yet you drain them of their fabulousness, then that’s not good. If you are constantly taking and taking from them emotionally, you don’t deserve them. BUT if you return the favor and both of you build each other up…then that’s a different story.
  • Be with someone for passion. I still haven’t changed my stance on this. The only caveat is that the other person needs to be just as passionate (and that’s where I went wrong with my Irish Idiot). And when the passion dies, work your hardest to bring it back to life…this is one thing that can be revived if everyone is trying.
  • Be with someone that pushes you to see yourself the same way that they do and the same way that you saw yourself before ‘your love’ came into the picture. Don’t get your self-esteem from them but get reassurance from them. There’s a big difference. Be you and only you and never apologize. If you have to apologize, then this isn’t your person.
  • Be with the person that stays on your mind (and of course meets all of the above), whenever you have your brain on. You’ll always think about them, you’ll compare them to everyone else, you’ll want to call them during lonely moments, you’ll want to text them after every achievement…don’t ignore this because you think that you can forget them. But…forget them if there is only thing on your mind…..

So to the friend that I gave the advice to five years ago…I hope that your marriage is going well and that you can check off more ‘boxes’ than just passion, as I recommended because I only had a small idea of what I was really talking about. AND two marriages later, I can’t and won’t claim to be an expert…except I can give advice on what didn’t work and what I wish had worked.

What are some of the things that you look for in a ‘significant other’? I’d love to hear your thoughts…especially as I get ready to dive into the dating world again!

Please note that this post and most of the posts on my website/blog may contain affiliate links. Should you decide to click on one of these ads and purchase something through this link, I will get a commission from it (the pricing is no different for you than going directly to their website)(I do not get commissions from sites where you donate money or things). Not all items recommended on this site are affiliate links. I only recommend items that I feel are amazing because I’ve used and tried them. Thank you for your trust and readership!

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mid-week motivation: 6 things that i’m thankful for this week

My #1 man had a big birthday this week. And I sat, the night before, and boo-hoo’d. Not because it was a reminder that I was getting older and my ‘baby’ wasn’t so much of a baby anymore, but because I’m so incredibly proud of him and feel so fortunate to be his mom.

I also reflected that never in my life could I so clearly say that ‘it takes a village’ to raise kids. I’m surrounded by such incredible people and so much love that I thought I’d pause to take a moment and show some gratitude. I’m hoping that this will give you a mid-week ‘bump’ of encouragement…look outside of what is happening and list out everything that has been amazing, fantastic, or inspiring. You’ll be surprised how big the list is…and you’ll have hope that the next day will be just as amazing as today. Seriously, write down things like, “I didn’t stub my toe again” or “I didn’t lose my cool when the parents in car line cut me off”. Those are things to thank the good lord for – trust me, I’ve been there.

I have a ton of garbage in my life right now that is working its’ way out and I realized that even with all of the garbage (my Irish Idiot) I have TWO TONS of amazing things happening in my life also. So here’s my gratitude list to inspire you:

I’m so Thankful for:

1. The Good Lord.
I’m in no way perfect, but my journey toward having a closer relationship with him starts new each day, and I can honestly say that I feel the daily hug; the daily peace that comes with knowing that even when I’m at my lowest point, that I have someone that won’t judge me, curse at me, loves me regardless of my flaws, and will always be there for me. That is something personal and incredible and I can only hope that each of you reading this will experience this one day.

2. My Kids.
I walked into my kids room tonight and saw beauty…really saw peace, tranquility, love, and perfection. There is nothing like knowing that your kids are safe and sound and together. The love that they share is incredible and I couldn’t have asked for more perfectly imperfect children. They drive me insane some days but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t want anything different than the strong-willed, happy, laughing children that I have been blessed with. My life wasn’t complete until they arrived.

3. My Family.
I don’t know how to put into words what my family has done for me. Whether it’s been to help me fix a toilet roll holder, give me moral support during a tough moment, or help me coordinate the who, what, where, when, how, of the kids athletic and school schedules, they are there…always. And when you get a message on Facebook or a text from a cousin just checking on you, life seems not-so-bad. My life is full because they are in my life. I couldn’t do life without them. They are saints!

4. My Friends.
I’ve said this before but my friends are amazing. Simply perfect. They seem to have a way to coordinate who will text me and who will call and who will invite me out and who will stop by at just the perfect time. And even though I know that this isn’t really what is happening, they really do have just the perfect timing. Whether it’s to text me because they care enough to remember that a particular day represented an emotional memory or they invite me to dinner to spend time with just the girls, my friendships couldn’t possibly be stronger. I’m so lucky to have these people in my life. They are saints too!

5. YOU!
All of you reading my blog give me encouragement. It’s hard for someone to put their emotions, life, and experiences to words, hit the ‘publish’ button and wait…wait for reactions, not knowing what they will be. Some of you may hate that I’m discussing my divorce(s) so publicly, some of you have reached out and shared incredibly personal stories about your relationships, but all of you have encouraged me to keep ‘talking’ about what is happening in my world. Every day that my ‘viewership’ grows, and even if it doesn’t and I only get one view, I am encouraged to write again. Someone out there is validating that what I’m saying resonates with them or is entertaining them, of which either one is one of my goals. Thank you for your feedback, positive and negative…it’s been an incredible journey so far.

6. The guy that flirted with me.
Man, that felt amazing! Totally unexpected and not reciprocated, but man did that feel good. 🙂

Try it!

To help you get over the mid-week hump, take a moment today to write down five things or three or even one thing that you are thankful for. The memories that you’ll relive will be enough to get you through some of the toughest days.

xoxo Staci Beth

divorced mom guilt

Divorce, when you have children, includes a HUMONGOUS side of guilt. Especially, if you are the one that decides to divorce.

Everyone experiences it differently – some deal with it by buying everything that the kids want; some take them to every event that the kids want to go to; some ‘fight’ figuratively to be the one that is loved the most; and some fight to be the one that is the ‘most fun’. There’s no right way to deal with it unfortunately because in reality – all of it is wrong. If we excelled at this thing that we called life and marriage, we wouldn’t be divorcing and causing this pain to children that have no control over what we put them through.

Early Choices…first moments of guilt

My boys dealt with divorce when they were still in preschool. Not many can say that. There are some that make the choice to end a marriage as early as I did but the majority don’t make that choice until the kids are roughly in middle school because it just takes that long to make the decision. I’ve found all kinds of statistics online – many say that if a marriage will end in divorce, eight to twelve years is the average mark, and with many marriages not starting until people are in their late twenties or early thirties, a good majority of marriages end when the kids are in early middle school or late-elementary school.

And this is where, unfortunately, a large portion of my friends are at right now.

And ‘statistic-me’, I’m on divorce number 2 (also known as the last time I will EVER marry someone) and my friends are on number 1. Makes me sound like such a winner, right?? I promise – if you met my ex’s, you would completely understand that I let my heart guide my brain WAAAAYYY too much (aka – I have too much faith in people when I should listen to my brain more than my heart). I gravitate toward ‘big personalities’ BUT ‘big personalities’ also translates into the fact that they love attention on ONE PERSON only…and it ends up not being me or the responsibilities that they committed to.

When my oldest son and I have our ‘talks‘ it’s very common that he will mention, multiple times, that he feels the sting of the divorce because he feels like none of his friends live the same life. He hates feeling like people wonder why his mom has a different last name than him (so now I go by my boys last name at their school) and he feels like there is a spotlight on him because he has/had two dads (dad and stepdad). And he feels alone in the pain. And the guilt that engulfs me when he tells me this, is incredible but somehow I can hold it together to listen to all he has to say.

The one thing that I will say is that my #2 man was young enough, when his dad and I divorced, that the life we lead is ‘normal’ to him. My ‘Big D #2‘ is the first time that he will actually remember what happens, so if nothing else, I will strive to not repeat my mistakes with ‘Big D #1’ so that he isn’t as ‘scarred’ as my ex and I left my oldest.

Then guilt continues when my #2 man constantly asks ‘who are we with tonight’? God love him…he’s only asking because he honestly doesn’t keep track (one – because he’s seven, and two – because he forgets the schedule because we have such a weird co-parenting plan compared to most co-parentors because of my old work schedule).

And then, when they realize that hockey is starting back up again this week and they’ll possibly have to see their stepdad at the rink because he works there, they stress. So much so, that their dad and I have had to tell my scummy-soon-to-be-ex-husband that he’s not allowed to initiate contact with them because of their request, not ours.

And it’s embarrassing for them because no one else understands, at that age, what a divorce is…yet (unfortunately). And I TRULY hope none of their friends family’s have to go through this, ever.

And more guilt…

After I remarried this year, I volunteered to go on a field trip for my oldest son’s class. I was selected, and when my son’s teacher asked him what my last name was, he stumbled…because no one had asked him that question since I had remarried and because he didn’t want people to know or ask questions about why my last name was different than his. So not only was he embarrassed because of his ‘stumble’, he was embarrassed because he thought his classmates would think badly of him because my last name was different than his.

We’ve discussed this in detail and I’ve offered solutions to him and it’s fine now but these are the type of things that run through my head when my almost-ten year old asks me for a glass of apple juice. I know very well that he could take care of this, but then, because I’m ‘Mom’ I think, “he’s gone through so much and I’m standing right here, I can do it.” So I do it…for him and for all of them…because of the divorce guilt.

The guilt never ends…

I wish that I could give you the perfect advice about how to avoid this guilt. Unfortunately, the only advice that I can give is to not get divorced, to work it out. If you choose to divorce (and I’m not judging you for that choice)..but if you choose to divorce, just know that we all feel that ping of guilt and there’s not much you can do to avoid it. In reality though, parenting comes with a side of guilt, every day, for something. All you can do is roll with the punches, not diminish your children’s feelings, acknowledge their feelings, help them cope, and keep moving.

All you can do is choose to make the most sound choices for your kids as possible.

my war paint is on

Typically, on Saturdays I post about the ‘adventure‘ of the week that I was able to experience with the kids but this week was different.

I had every intention to complete our adventure, which tied to the start of school, but something got in the way.

I was served. With divorce papers. On a Friday. Somehow my soon-to-be-cheating-abusive-scum-of-a-soon-to-be-ex-husband found the money that should have helped me pay bills, since he deserted us, to pay for an attorney instead. I shouldn’t be surprised but I was for some reason.

I’ve started my process to cope with the loss of my marriage, which is truly like dying inside…experiencing a death of an immediate family member but I guess I wasn’t as far into the grieving/acceptance process as I had thought.

My scummy-ex is lazy. Ask anyone he works with or his customers – he is never on time for appointments or work. He didn’t get the pay increase he thought he should…because he’s late all of the time and has an attitude…irresponsibility is his middle name. And unfortunately, I’m just now realizing what I’ve always known about how sleazy of a person he really is.

As an example, my father is fixing sooo many things that he said he would fix around the house, or that he had broken, for literally years, but he just didn’t ever do it because he had other things to do, like drink or work on trucks or Jeeps that are now sitting in MY garage.

So my guess was that he thought he would continue to ‘cheat’ on me with the soul-less Bethany D. and not take the time or money to actually follow through with the divorce…always knowing that he could try later to be a ‘MAN’ and own up for what he’s done and apologize. BUT…he has decided to act as immature as the trash that he is with and bail…and bail in a BIG way, without remorse.

I’m not ready to go into what he’s asking for, but I can tell you that he’s a disgusting human being and whoever his attorney is, is disgusting too, and shockingly is a woman – I have no idea how she sleeps at night because it’s insane what he’s asking for.

Pathetic is who he has become. And the sad thing is, is that I can only guess that his mom is the one paying for his issues. His mistakes. Literally the one paying for the bed that he has made and she continues to ‘threaten’ to pull back the money but yet pays for everything…all so that ultimately, she gets her way…which is to see her granddaughter, even though she lies like he does. I’m going to get punished for his mistakes, all so that SHE gets her way…all because SHE has more money. Or so they think.

Good luck. State of Florida – Grandparents have NO rights. And I can fight grandparent money with grandparent money. And guess who has no issue doing it because their kid didn’t do anything to cause this. NOT his mom! At least my parents know that they’ll get their money back because they taught their child to be able to keep a GREAT job and do well financially! It must suck to know that three of your four kids have massive issues. And the funny thing is that the three with the issues speak SOO badly of the one child that doesn’t have the ‘mommy-dependency’ issues that they have.

And then I get this text today after he knows that I’ve been served: “We can solve this outside of court by being civil with each other.” Civil??? He wants to be civil??? He wants me to compromise with him when he wouldn’t even try at our marriage?? Shocker – not happening! Another one of the examples that I was apparently married to a ‘Peter Pan’.

Grow up Erik. Grow up McDonnell family. I’ve been through this before (and maybe I should thank my ex-husband (jk)) but I know more than he does and I’m ready for this. My war paint is on.

That sucks to say. That I’m ready for battle. But in reality, that’s what will be happening soon.

I never took marriage as a joke, especially the second time around, and it’s obvious my scummy-soon-to-be-ex did. Like it’s that easy to walk away from when they realize that they have to actually be responsible…to try…to put effort into someone else other than themselves.

God help the woman that marries into this family after me. They will hate life. That’s all I have to say.

BUT after all of the emotion that I went through, God sent two things my way to shake me out of a dark moment…my dad and one of my best friends. My dad happened to be there, ironically fixing Erik’s ‘repairs’ to my house, when I was served and one of my best friends, K, texted me in the middle of my emotions asking if I wanted company, not knowing what had happened to me. God quickly saved me from melting down. I did have a moment that may have lasted 30 minutes (if that) BUT, if you have been through divorce, you know that 30 minutes to deal with the end of something that you thought would last the rest of your life is an incredible feat.

So, while the kids and I haven’t finished our ‘adventure’ for the week, I know we will tomorrow, and I know that it will be worthwhile and it makes me realize that I do have a good head on my shoulders and I really do know what I’m doing in this crazy parenting thing.

So when ‘life’ gets in the way roll with the punches and live it. Life will smile back and show you a better way, another day.

karma can be good or bad: friendship part 2

God has an amazing way to remind you how rich your life really is…even when you are broke as HE double hockey sticks.

I’m going to preach again…specifically to those going through divorce…so forgive me if my opinions come across abruptly.

Those of us going through this (divorce) feel bad…we feel bad and don’t want to burden anyone with our ‘drama’. And when we do finally open up, I promise you, we don’t tell you more than 1/3 of what is really going on…until you probe…until you ask questions…and then we open up and are so thankful that you’ve asked the questions because we need someone to open up to but don’t want to be ‘that guy’ so we wait until we think someone really cares about what we are going through, to tell our story.

And we forget…we get so lost in our life story, marriage, children time-sharing, separation, and divorce, that we forget who we were before our ‘drama’ began…who we were and the life we lead before our divorce.

Friends remind us what we are made of

Earlier this week I was reminded. I had lunch with a woman that I admire, that I look up to, that I want to be like, who hired me for my career…who ‘found’ me. And something that struck me big time and I never thought about it before, was that she was surprised that I hadn’t shared this with her before she read it in my blog. When I reflected, I understood. I mean, I’ve known this incredible woman that led me to my life-career, for over 20 years…and I didn’t stop to pick up the phone to call her to tell her what was happening in my life. But I didn’t do it purely because I have her on a pedestal and I thought my pedestal was so much lower…reality check – my pedestal isn’t lower, in her eyes.

Another reality check…she sees me as her friend. Plain and simple. She cares about me, she knows me, she has lived life with me, we’ve unfortunately sat through two friends funerals together, and I overlooked this because I was trying to diminish my drama.

What I failed to realize is that my drama is her drama. She’s invested in me. She’s my friend. She loves me and all that I am. I should have picked up the phone.

My life lesson to those going through this – lean on those that have pushed you to where you are now because they are invested. Whether that is family or friends, look for them, reach out to them, private message them. You’ll be surprised how many are invested in your success – in life, not just career.

‘Friendly’ Advice

I read an article the other day about divorce and the importance of having friends during divorce. The one thing that the article didn’t focus on was actually reaching out ourselves to these friends. The article was all about how to help those that were friends of people going through divorce, and how to recognize the warning signs of when the ‘divorcee’ needed friends/attention. As a matter of fact, I’ve even written a blog post about it called ‘friendship‘.

The difference between my first post and this one is that unfortunately, I had only been through one divorce. That sucks to say. Sucks that I’m going through my second divorce.

The first was my choice, the second is not, so I’ve been on both sides of the table. And I’ve reread my previous posts about what my recommendations were to readers about how to handle things and I’ve followed through…and if I do say so myself – I was kind of spot on. I’ve put into practice the lessons that I learned the hard way and I’m coping with this loss a lot better than the first and the first was my choice. So I’d say that I’m ahead of the curve.

The article, though, that I read the other day, giving advice to the divorcee’s friends, was missing a few things:

* we want to be invited…to anything, especially something that is typically a ‘couples’ thing but if you invite us on our own, we read that as ‘you think we’re cool on our own’ and you want us there
* we are kind of ok with being the 3rd wheel or 5th wheel
* we need to get outside of our own head so please include us
* we promise not to bring up our ex if you don’t want us to…but if you do, that’s all on you. (and in all honesty, we don’t really have a lot to say about our ex so don’t be surprised or shocked if we don’t ‘trash’ them, even though we are thinking about how stupid they have been that day.)

Divorcee’s: Listen Up – Accept the help!

To the divorcee…and this is the more important point…REACH OUT if someone has said, call us if you need ______________ (fill in the blank) then take them up on it. Put on your big girl pants and pick up the phone and text them to tell them that you are going to show up and then don’t back out with a lame excuse. I 100% promise, that there is NO downside to showing up to a party or dinner or get together because you’ll have something else to think about other than the drama you dealt with earlier that day. It gives you the chance to get out of your own head.

You’ll leave feeling loved and having enjoyed yourself. And even if you hated every second of it – what’s the worst thing that can happen from it…you hate it but are thankful that you weren’t sitting at home in silence flipping through your wedding album??

One big feeling that I experienced the first go-around that I’ve learned to accept the second time, is help. Whether that be in someone dropping groceries off at your home unexpectedly or someone paying the check at a restaurant or someone offering you a place to live while you get on your feet or someone to pass along your resume, just accept it. You won’t always be in a tough spot financially. You’ll be able to repay them one day, whether it be with kindness, an outstretched hand, or financially. So accept it – your loved ones wouldn’t offer if they couldn’t do it or didn’t want to do it. Just remember this and pay it forward and pay it back. God will give you the opportunity.

And remember – as much as those going through divorce want karma to bite our soon-to-be-ex’s on the butt and can’t wait for that day…karma will also grace our loved one’s lives too.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to grab that open hand.

Quick Update:

(And as a little update…the ridge in my bed is almost gone…I just noticed it as I was typing this. It made me smile and I thought I’d share.)