Hey y’all! (Just imagine that we’re in the South on a porch with a big glass of sweet tea and our dignity intact.) It’s me Carolyn, America’s favorite divorced, single mother! (Just imagine that America plays favorites … and doesn’t hate single mothers.) I’m starting an advice column here at Babble about sex, love and relationships — and I want to answer your questions! Now, you might say to yourself, “I’m happily married. On my first marriage. For over 10 years. Why would I ask a divorcee for advice?” Great question! The answer is: because, as they say, the best way to learn how to do things right is by making mistakes. I’ve learned a lot in my 18 years (as an adult, since I turned 18) and I’d love to share some of my hard-earned wisdom with you. (Heh. I said “hard.”)
Let’s get to today’s questions! Readers wanted to know about giving and receiving in the bedroom, staying friends with your ex for the sake of the kids and how to tell if he’s going to marry you. Here are my thoughts:
From Kim: Staying friends for the kids.
I would like to see your thoughts on staying friends with your ex for your children’s sake.
Oh man. This is such a tough one, but something I’m happy to talk about. First of all, the simple answer is, if you can, do. But …
Too often people who go through awful — and I mean awful — divorces are expected to be “friends” with their ex. Now, I could be wrong about this overall, but based on my experience and the divorce stories I’m familiar with, it seems that the woman is usually the one who is looked to to create some kind of post-breakup harmony between the parents for the sake of the child.
The best thing to do if you don’t get along with your ex is to minimize contact. If you’re newly divorced, try to learn quickly how to foster/manage your child(ren)’s relationship with their other parent without maintaining a relationship with the person yourself. If you have a contentious relationship because you’re dealing with a high-conflict personality, communicate via email rather than on the phone. Not only is it easier to keep your emotions out of an email, but then you have a record of your transaction as well.
More on this topic to come, I’m sure!
From Kate: Is he ever going to marry me?
How can you tell if he is really never going to marry you? At what point should you bail if marriage is important to you?
Oh man. (I really like to say “Oh man.” Just go with it.) This is a GREAT question. My gut instinct is telling me if you really want to know if he’s going to marry you, ask him. If he says, “Yes, someday” or “Sure” or “Maybe” or “I don’t know” or “I doubt it” or “Who are you?,” then no, he is not going to marry you. If you are able to have a thoughtful conversation on the subject about his fears and you feel like you’ve gotten a clear “Yes I want to but I’m scared” or “I think we’re still too young,” then you can stay.
My question to you, Kate, is this: why is marriage important to you? Is it because you want security? You want to have a baby? There are lots of reasons to get married, but as a divorced person I can tell you that marrying young because you grew up thinking that’s what people do and finding someone solves all your problems and (in some cases) will provide you with the security you never had at home is a bad idea. Marry for love, yes. But I posted something on Facebook the other day encouraging women over 30 to just go ahead and have a baby if that was what they really wanted to do, and a lot of women really responded to and supported the idea. It’s 2012: you don’t have to be married anymore to have a baby, and marrying someone before you have that baby does not guarantee you’ll have a smooth, problem-free future. I’m of the mind that you can marry someone after you’ve had a child. At least I hope to one day! But honestly, the more time I spend alone, working on myself, healing old wounds, committing to my creative endeavors and my career, the less I think about it. I wish all young girls could grow up knowing that marriage is a beautiful thing if you can make it work, but it is not the holy grail of existence. And if you marry for the status — and in this day and age, the Facebook status — you’re in for a rude awakening, even if you manage to stay together. In marriage, there’s no glory without a lot of guts.
From Carla: Is it better to give than to receive?
What if you’re dating a guy you really like, but he doesn’t ‘give’ even though he ‘receives’. This is in regards to a bedroom deed that rhymes with moral.
Devon responded on Facebook:
A guy who receives and doesn’t give is called “straight” – oh wait, I wasn’t supposed to answer questions – I was supposed to ask one…
In a way, Devon’s right. I think there are some straight guys who just don’t know how to handle themselves down there. Without getting too TMI, I’ll tell you that I was married to a guy who never, and I mean NEVER, did a, uh, moral deed until he committed an immoral act and was trying to stop me from leaving him. While I appreciated the payback as it were, it didn’t stop me from walking away, because a man with a good heart is more important than a man with a full mouth. Because I was never really given, I didn’t really give, either, and usually these things do become, um, tit-for-tat like that. So my final answer to you, Carla, is to stop giving and see if you guys can find other things that you both like. If that bums you out, maybe it’s time to move on? I dated a guy subsequent to my divorce who more than made up for what I’d missed. You can find someone like that, too, if it’s that important to you.
Thanks for your questions, everybody! Leave more questions in the comments below or on my Facebook page!