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Big D Energy: How Dad’s Can Do Better in Divorce

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Divorce is the last thing I was prepared for when it came out of my then-wife’s mouth during couples therapy. I could feel the floor falling out from under me in the session. I walked from that meeting a defeated man. I knew that the laws in Texas were going to give my wife everything she wanted.

  • the custodial parent role
  • 70% of the kids time
  • a $2,200+ child support monthly payment
  • the house (if she could get a job)

As a Marriage Falls Apart

What I understood in that moment, was I was going to get screwed out of the most important relationship of my life, with my kids. By a woman who had a history of lying. Even at the beginning of the divorce, we talked about 50/50 shared parenting, but she knew she would never have to accept any compromise. In our state, Texas (like most states in the US) women are given the custodial role 85% of the time. Let’s think about that for a second. She was going to get every other weekend off. I was going to pay for the house. All she had to do was get a job, so she could afford the other stuff.

She’d been foundering around trying to find a job for a full year. Once, the divorce proposition was in her head, she got a job in a week.

As a dad who carried most of the emotional support in the family, I was pushed into a diminished role, that was not “in the best interest of our kids.” My ex-wife understood this. She lied anyway. She had her sights on the prize.

My then-wife also knew that my past experience with lawyers would prevent me from actually suing her. I wasn’t going to do it. I lost. I would’ve lost in Texas if I’d argued for 50/50 shared parenting. The only tactic to win would be destructive and hurt all of us. I did not fight my then-wife’s lies.

What’s Important in Divorce w/ Kids

My kids’ lives were more important than my “win” or my aggressive attack on their mom. I gave my ex-wife the deal she wanted. I wasn’t happy about it. I could’ve spent $100,000 and still lost in family court. So I chose peace.

I did start an anonymous blog ( that ultimately became this blog, once I had learned my most important lesson as a single parent.

Any attack on your co-parent will also hurt your kids.

My ex-wife still does not understand this. Now, thirteen years after the divorce, she’s still as angry as a banshee. I’m convinced she still blames me for her unhappiness. Even now. Too bad.

But as she continued to attack me, send our decree to the AG’s office to prevent me from refinancing my restarter home. She did not care what happened to me. She didn’t give a sh*t that my kids were also losing a home. And, did she consider where I would live, and how I would have a space where I could take our kids on the Standard Possession Order? I’m pretty sure she did not give a fk.

How is it possible that you don’t care for or support your co-parent? How can that much anger be misdirected at the former love of your life? As a dad with a better sense of compassion and empathy, I did not lawyer up and go for it.

I resolved myself, for better or worse, to be the best dad I could be given the time I was awarded by the flawed family law system. And, in the thirteen years, I’ve stayed in my lane. Yes, this blog occasionally strikes out in frustration, but I’ve never tried to hurt her and her new husband. Why would you hurt your co-parent? You’d have to be really angry. You’d have to be blinded by your anger. And, ultimately, you’d have to blame someone else for your decisions and the resulting depression and anger.

I’ll continue to stay in my lane. I can only manage my partnership with my kids. I cannot count on an ally or co-parent. “I will forgive you, but I will never forget what you did.”

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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