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Nine secrets your spouse’s ex may not tell you.

Do you have an ex in your life, which makes your life hell? Does it feel like even though your spouse got divorced, that they are still married? Would it surprise you to find out that you put up with more than you have to, simply because the ex says you do?

Below are nine ways to stop allowing the ex to run your life. And, how to remove the welcome mat from your porch and your forehead respectively.

1.  You didn’t marry them; they are not your ex.

This person your spouse or significant other married and consequently divorced, was not who you planned to spend your life with. The word exclude, starts with ex, do just that.        

2.  The ex does not own your spouse just because they share a child.

If your spouse is the non-custodial parent with visitation; it is difficult, but not impossible. Though no longer a team in terms of marriage, they are a team in terms of the child/ren. The ex can only control what the divorce decree says. If the ex has sole legal and sole physical, s/he has the say over schooling, medical and religion. However s/he is required by law to encourage and nurture a relationship with any and all family members of the child’s non-custodial parent. This includes stepfamily, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Better yet, did you know your spouse has a right to daily phone calls with their child, unless noted differently in the divorce decree?  

3.  If you want to attend a school or sporting event – you can. Doctors’ appointments too.

Sporting events are public; anyone and their grandmother can attend. If you want to go, go. Same goes for school recitals, back to school nights, etc. In fact most schools will do separate conferences so that both homes are involved in the child’s educational progress and needs. In terms of doctors’ appointments you can go with a spouse, or have your name added to the child’s file as someone who has a right to medical care and information. It is really no different than having access to a credit card or utility bill that may be solely in your spouse’s name. You can gain information and have some involvement.

4. Your spouse’s visitation time is your spouse’s choice to spend it how they wish. 

The ex-spouse cannot commit you to anything on your time. This includes sports, doctors’ appointments, birthday parties etc. It is a double edge sword though because if by not taking the child to certain engagements will hurt the child in the process, it is a no win situation. But, by no means are you required to do it.

5. Follow your divorce decree, not the ex’s divorce commands.

It can’t be any more plain stated than this. The divorce decree is your spouse’s bible in a sense. It states what is expected, allowed and forbade. Non-custodial parents have more rights than most realize, like rights to medical and school records. Do your research.

6. If your spouse and their ex share joint legal and joint physical custody – your spouse’s say is just as important as the ex’s.

One is not more than the other. In some cases, one parent may have sole physical custody, while both retain joint legal custody. You need to know the differences of these and what your spouse has.

7. The ex can only control what there is no control over.

If a void is visible, the ex will invade. One place the ex will try to invade is your marriage. This is your territory – be territorial enough to remind the ex, this is not their place, and their existence will not be tolerated. Stand your ground.

8. The ex’s issue with you, is a reflection of an issue with themselves.

Any parent who is content with themselves and their own level of involvement and parenting they provide will never limit or control the parenting or involvement of anyone else. This is a well-known fact.

9. In terms of child support, do your own math and research.

Many parents pay more than they should, and feel as though they have to roll over and take it. If your spouse feels there is a substantial change either in their income or the ex’s, request a review. If your spouse is on disability or the ex is on disability make sure the child support office is aware. You’d be surprised how many parents overpay because they failed to double check or request a review.

There you have it, nine ways to limit or exclude the ex’s involvement in your home, your marriage and the relationship with your stepkids.
 

Food Stamps don’t make or break a person. Judgment does.

“My father was a prideful man, and although he and I didn’t always see eye to eye – there is one thing that I saw in his eyes that will always stir up emotions inside me.”

Growing up, it was my father, myself and two brothers. Here and there my grandparents would care for us when my father was unable. Saying my father was prideful is an understatement – something that he and I shared in common. He cared very much how others saw him or thought of him, what the whispers were behind his back and struggled with trying to withstand it all. To the point of where we would take a trip every month to a new place, out of the way, where no one knew us – to get groceries.

Being that he was disabled he received food stamps. Which at that point came in a booklet, that you would tear out individually to buy food. For a gallon of milk, tearing out one stamp worth five dollars was not big deal – but buying groceries for a family of 4-6 for a month was. We all dreaded going to the store, but we would pile in and make a drive to a grocery store out of the way every time.

Picturing his face at the checkout stand still makes my heart heavy. Watching him look around to see if anyone was watching, hearing the remarks and witnessing the looks as the cashier would lay out every single stamp on her stand as they used to do. There wasn’t a non-discreet way of making you feel less embarrassed. It was almost as if they would do it to make a mockery of those that depended on assistance. His ego was bruised every month, in front of his children and there was nothing he could about it.

Now of course, at least where we are from, there is a card that you can swipe just like any debit card – except it says that its assistance on it. Its less noticeable and easier for those that would rather not have everyone know. Being on assistance isn’t something people boast about, if they are prideful honest people. When I see someone in line in front of me with a food card, I never think to myself “I’m paying taxes for you, get a job!” instead I think of my dad. Finding myself looking around to see if anyone is mocking them, or finding a creative way of blocking people from seeing them swipe their card, and always talk to them, give them extra time and remind them that I see them as  a person – and nothing less.

Explain to me, how it is that the judgmental ones know what is going on in that persons life. Do they know why they receive assistance? Do they know how many children are at home, whether they are caring for a elderly parent or family member, whether they live on social security or disability with only a $700 monthly income? I’m willing to guess not, or how about what they buy –  and where does that go?

Think of this scenario which I know to be a fact. A food card recipient buys groceries. While at home they learn of a church member who has fallen ill, they take from their monthly allotment to bake a pie, delivering it to your door offering up prayer for your family. They care for you as a whole, not your background, not what model of car you drive or type of home you live in. Life isn’t about those things – those will never matter in the end. How you treat people, will.

There is a woman I know, I wouldn’t classify her as a friend, because I know one visit to my home would disgust her. Why would it disgust her you might ask, the answer to that is simple – I live in a manufactured home. There are at times, bikes and toys in my front yard – we have kids that play and live here too. In fact my kids hung a bicycle with rope on our front tree a few weeks back – making it a bike swing instead of a tire swing! If this woman would have seen that, she would have suffered a stroke. She is very concerned with how she looks, what she drives, the size of her home, etc. Things that simply do not matter to me at all. Regardless of her status, her outwardly speaking of what is acceptable living by her terms, I still enjoy talking with her – but secretly will enjoy the day when she is choking on her foot. At which point I will bake her a pie, and deliver it to her door.

People talk without thinking, judge without blinking and compare more than we should, myself included. Though it is natural to a certain extent, there is honest, moral guide within everyone that is severely damaged. Where do we draw the line, and remember the other is a person, a living breathing human being that was not only created by GOD, but is loved by GOD as well? Do you think GOD cares if you drive a beat up Chevy, a Mercedes or even a bike? No, he doesn’t care about material items. However, does he care that you care? Absolutely!

There are situations where people take advantage of the system, and yes I agree that it is wrong. The ironic part of it, is that there are just as much “well off” people abusing it, as their are “lazy” people. Take sports for example, in our local community people will apply for scholarships to provide their child to participate – when it is more than possible for them to pay for not only their child but three others. People pretend to be less off, to get benefits – whether food, healthcare or otherwise. It’s simply not one sided, its definitely not black or white.

Personally I have friends on assistance that no one would ever guess were. People that they consider friends, eat meals with, go to when they need a shoulder to cry on, then lump them into their own labeled insufficient characteristics to gain a feeling of empowerment. For what? Do you judge the lady with three kids in front of you for using a food card? Do you judge the man wearing a suit, using a food card? How about this, would you end a friendship because that woman or man is your friend and you just can’t manage the thought of associating with such societal rejects?

In closing, yes there are people who get more than they deserve – and they will be dealt with in the end. It isn’t for us to decide who deserves a free meal, a free doctors appointment or our general kindness. We are supposed to give the benefit of the doubt, turn the other cheek, treat people how you want to be treated, or better yet how you want your children to be treated. The next time your in line at a grocery store and the person in front of you is using a food card, think of how you would feel in their shoes. Instead of reciting a knee-jerk comment like “You’re welcome lazy”, think for a moment, and offer some kindness – even if it’s just your silence.

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