As single parents, dating, those choices now are much less dramatic. We can date, decide to continue or not continue dating, and that's it. No big breakup, no big divorce. Just "we're not dating anymore, maybe we can maintain a friendship."
I was raised by strong three women. After my dad checked out via divorce, when I was about five, I was left in the house with my two sisters and my mom. I was far from being a mama's boy outwardly, but I was growing a soft heart, through the tragedy of the divorce and emasculation of my father.
If I had it to do all over again, I'd probably argue with the counselor and my ex-wife and negotiate something a bit more even. You will be advised not to do this. "It's easier for everyone if you just accept this plan, it's been working for families for years."
I had the desire and intention to go the distance with my ex-wife. When I entered the agreement, and we decided to have kids, the deal was sealed for me. And love was never an issue. Compatibility and control could often come up, but I *never* doubted my love for my wife.
Men get a lot of stereotypical flack for not knowing how to be vulnerable and talk about their feelings. And I'd have to say, in our culture, that being a man with feelings can be hard. I'm one of those sensitive guys, and in many situations I've had to learn to toughen up, be hard, unaffected by rage, bullshit, or attacks.
Even though it can be difficult at times, continuing my role as a supportive and cooperative partner is in the best interest of my kids. It's really in the best interest for me as well. A happy ex-wife is much better than an angry one.
My dad died when I was 21 years old. He was afraid to die. And he was angry at God and the world for allowing his death to happen. He was no longer angry at me. He was no longer capable of being a scary figure in my life. He was small, curled up, and very angry. But like today's man, he was no longer capable of hurting me with his anger.
I look forward to having another opportunity to learn about myself "in a relationship" at some point. I'm happy and patient right where I am. But I believe by having my priorities clear and articulated I can do a better job of finding and sorting through the process of finding that NEXT RELATIONSHIP. I wait enthusiastically.