Well, it’s that time of year when we all celebrate the coming of a new year and new opportunities. It’s also the time of year where we reflect on the past, and think about what has gone well, and what has not. And, then the dreaded thoughts start – Why can’t I have a partner who cares about me? And, if I divorce, will I divorce for all the right reasons.
These thoughts may lead to disenchantment with the marriage they forged with their partner many years ago. And, if the thought process continues unabated, thoughts of real divorce are not far behind. The thoughts of ending a marriage are devastating, for both parties. No one escapes the tragedy of divorce once the process starts.
Ending a marriage is one of the most devastating emotional hits a person takes in life. Truthfully, I think it’s worse than death. Death is a natural part of life and marriage; we make a vow to love each other ‘until death do us part’. Happily married couples will avoid even thinking about it except to draw up wills or buy life insurance. Divorce, on the other hand, isn’t natural. What person, genuinely in love, marries another human being with expectations of anything other than building a long and happy life together?
Down in the southern Bible Belt where I was raised, the bedrock belief that marriage is a sacred, forever thing was strongly instilled. D-i-v-o-r-c-e was not even spoken above a shameful whisper. If there were problems between a husband and wife, the solution was that you did whatever was necessary, working together to work it out. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that with the majority of relationships this kind of ‘stick with it’ approach still works. I’ve known couples who value their marriage and buckle down to do whatever needs to be done to restore the happy state of the union. Sometimes in today’s fast and disposable lifestyle it can just seems easier to toss out things that are less than perfect. I’ve seen love thrown away like this and it’s always sad, especially when children are involved. And then there are times when no amount of effort or determination can fix things.
So when do you divorce for all the right reasons?
As an immature 19 year-old, I and my infant son endured horrific abuse at the hands of my first husband. Why did I stay as long as I did? Because I was brought up to believe that a divorce was a straight ticket to hell and damnation. I was afraid I wasn’t up to the responsibility of raising myself and a child. I literally believed him when he said no man would ever want me again. And no one believed me when I tried to tell them what was going on. Not even the police.
Later I married again, this time to a man who, on the surface, appeared to be genuine, loving and kind. It took seven years to uncover that his sole motivation for the courtship and marriage was to gain for himself a manly, ‘good old boy’ veneer in order to survive and prosper in the homophobic atmosphere that was Texas in the last century. He wasn’t gay but transgendered. By marrying me and adopting my son, he could hide and protect his secret. No, he didn’t beat me but the scars he inflicted were just as deep and real.
I may be a woman but we certainly don’t own exclusive rights to victimhood. Statics are revealing a marked increase in the number of reported domestic violence cases against men. Women are finally achieving notorious equality as the perpetrators they’ve always been capable of being.
Male or female, physical, emotional and sexual abuse are the top reasons to run – not walk – away. These are issues that lead to divorce for all the right reasons. It may sound logical and obvious but where the heart is involved, it becomes incredibly easy to ignore wisdom and reason ourselves right into denial. You tell yourself that there’s no way that this person with whom you have shared so much would actually, intentionally hurt you in any way, shape, form or fashion. As a former crime reporter, I can tell you I heard this a lot. Unfortunately in many cases it was too late to hear it first hand.
When in doubt, walk out, and divorce for all the right reasons..
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You’re finally ready to get back onto the dating circuit? Well, good for you! You don’t have to go it alone with man’s best friend by your side. If you don’t already know what I’m talking about, then it’s time for you to get a dog.
Dogs are Powerful Girl Magnets
Dogs rank second only to babies when it comes to attracting positive female attention. Just sit by a dog park some Saturday afternoon. Yorkies get almost non-stop smiles and conversation and no doubt some major flirting. But seriously, can a woman really stand by her man when he’s carrying a Dior Doggie Tote? Believe it or not, the answer just might be ‘Yes! ”
Even Cave Men Knew to Get A Dog
The complex relationships between humans and canines seems to have begun in ice age Europe. Recent archeological evidence puts us and wolves, huddled in caves and hunting wooly mammoths perhaps as far back as 30,000 years ago. From those earliest beginnings, we learned – out of necessity or ingenuity- to breed animals that served a purpose: early Irish warriors and later hunters gained valued protection from wolf hounds; sheep dogs made a shepherd’s job easier and sled dogs literally stood between life and death in the frozen northlands. Side by side, over a long expanse of time, these different groups of humans and dogs have evolved together in an interdependent existence.
Today the relationship between Homo sapiens and Canis familiaris has changed somewhat. While still employed in utilitarian roles around the world, far and away the majority of modern canines serve as human companions. Where once upon a time their ancestors gnawed on bones thrown beneath the trestle table, it is not rare in this day and age to find a pampered pooch eating better than many humans. In place of the hunt, some sport diamonds collars and wear haute couture. The dependence has changed because the Homo sapiens species has – not the other way around. A dog is still a dog. Whether you get a dog from the pound, or a special breeder, you’ll have a loyal companion.
Your Dog Says A Lot About You
We’ve all seen the funny photos showing how dogs and their humans can begin to look alike, but what you may not know is that recent research now seems to be saying this connection could very well be more than just skin deep. In 2012, researchers Jo Fearon and Dr. Lance Workman of Bath Spa University in the Uk, reported the findings of a study they conducted in collaboration with the British Kennel Club. Over 1,000 registered purebred dog owners took part in an online survey which asked them to answer questions assessing personality traits such as their emotional stability, how agreeable or pleasant they thought they were and how they’d rate their outgoingness. They were also asked to provide information on the type of dog they owned. The resulting breeds were then split into seven basic groups and owner’s answers slotted accordingly.
What they found was that our own subconscious might be the casting director when it comes time to get a dog, and deciding what kind of dog we choose. Theories are that living and working together in such close proximity across all those eons brought about a development of social communicative skills between our two species. In other words, you are who you pet.
Of his findings, Dr. Workman said: “We might be able to make predictions about someone’s personality based on the breed of dog that they choose to own. It seems that likely that personality types are subconsciously drawn to certain breeds.”
Let Fido Lead You to Love
Dog breed classifications differ between the British and the American Kennel Clubs but a little research on our end helped to clarify his research a bit. For instance, remember that cute little Yorkie I mentioned earlier? Long thought to be the airhead’s pet of choice, Workman’s discovery was that owners of Toy-type dogs (and Sport breeds, such as the Golden Retriever) tended to be more conscientious and agreeable, with Toy owners additionally open to new experiences. Beagle and other Hound owners led the pack in emotional stability while outgoing, extroverted individuals are drawn to four-legged friends in the Herding group like collies and shepherds.
Having revealed what science aka British academia says about the subject, it only seems fair to offer you a view from this side of the pond: What does the The Dog Whisperer say? Either way, the new big secret to success a’la amour could be what kind of dog you love. Pucker up and whistle, fellas.
Television, tabloids and true crime novels tell tales about the nitty-gritty hard-boiled characters who ferret out secrets: the private investigator. The 1920’s and 30’s were the golden age of tough, fictional P.I.’s; Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade: fedora sporting, trench coat wearing ‘dicks’ who were easily swayed to slap shoe leather for a dame in distress.
Times have changed. The information superhighway is much easier on the soles and with the advent of digital cameras and truly tiny spy devices, just about anybody can get a license. This new golden age is all about the spendable kind.
A Private Investigator Can Save Your Divorce Bacon
If you can afford one, hiring a private investigator during a messy divorce might be a smart way to go. Is a spouse suspected of nefarious activities? An affair? Neglect or abuse? Hiding assets? If true, any of these accusations can and will have a profound impact upon the outcome of your divorce proceedings, assuming, of course, you are the injured party. Suspicions of such behavior alone are worthless.
Unless the extramarital congress was caught on the JumboTron during the Super Bowl you will need more grounds for belief. In a judicial trial the participants are bound by something called “burden of proof”. What this means is to have – to provide to the court – evidence that supports the facts of what you suspect. Evidence that a judge can look at or listen to and decide whether or not he believes that yes, infidelity is or was taking place or there is a secret offshore account in the Caymans to which you are entitled a portion. In other words, can you actually prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that what you say is the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? That proverbial picture worth a 1000 words just may be worth a lot more than that.
What You Get From a PI
So what exactly does a private investigator do? Basically, they gather facts. Many specialize in specific areas like intellectual property, employee background checks, workman’s comp and insurance cases, business practice investigation and skip chasing – finding people who owe other people money, property or services.
Those who handle domestic work primarily tend to limit their investigation to public record searches and conducting surveillance. The former is tedious and time consuming, the later, following people without them noticing, while obtaining surreptitious photographs is not as easy as you might think and once again, runs up a good many billable hours.
Hours that average around $50 US per and can run up over a $100.00. Some will quote you a flat fee for a single service if say you wanted to find out the background of the guy your wife is seeing. Bear in mind that some good public record databases, archives and publications have a hefty subscriber search fee. An investigatory agency will recoup the cost of these annual charges as a business expense through the course of a year’s worth of clients. All of the financial details can be explained and arranged during a sit down with the investigator when you meet to outline your needs. It is important to be as honest and forthright as possible. The more information they have, the better they can produce results for you. Respectively, you can ask to be provided with a detailed accounting of the charges invoiced to you.
Manage Your Expectations
Before you rush off to Google ‘private investigators in my area’ there are a few things you need to be aware of. First of all, forget everything you’ve learned about the private detectives portrayed on crime shows and in movies. Licensed, professional P.I.’s are bound by law. They cannot, for instance, sneak into your wife’s house and copy financial records or snap in flagranti pics in the middle of the night. They cannot, in a majority of states, tap phones or obtain information by what is called ‘pretexting’ – which has nothing to do with sending a message on a cell phone. Obtaining information using a ruse, for example, putting on a uniform, carrying a toolbox and gaining entrance to a private residence or business is considered doing so under pretext and will land both you and your investigator in legal hot water. By hiring him or her you become just as legally culpable.
If you have or are retaining an attorney, chances are they already work with one or several investigators. If not, the smartest thing to do is seek out a licensed, experienced and reputable professional.
Know someone with a sneaky spouse?
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(c) Can Stock Photo / squidmediaro
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For some men, grocery shopping is akin to having a tooth pulled: a dreaded experience to be delayed as long as humanly possible. You put off going until you can’t stand the pain or, in this instance, the cupboard is so bare that the mice have moved out. At least the dentist has anesthesia. But guess what? We’re about to give you some (pain) killer advice to take the “ouch” out of food shopping for you and your wallet.
Grocery Shopping 101: Make a List
Let’s start with the one absolute essential: a list. A list is important for several reasons, not the least of which is actually coming home with what you went for in the first place. In his book Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping, psychologist and market researcher Paco Underhill writes that supermarkets are “places of high impulse buying… Fully 60% to 70% of purchases there were unplanned.” Honestly, I can’t even begin to count the number of times I went to get one or two things, got neither one and brought home three or four “unplanned” sacks. Golden Grocery Shopping Rule numero uno is know before you go.
Store Loyalty Cards
All the big chain stores have phone apps and customer loyalty or reward cards, and you should have one! The app for our favorite local store, Smith’s, has a built in list and loads digital coupons to your card. Kids need shampoo or a notebook for school? If they have the app, you enter your loyalty card number and they can add what they need to the list from their own phone or device like an iPad mini. (Beware the “soda” and chips requests….)
There is most definitely a science to shopping, which grocery stores use to their advantage. When it comes to “getting your money”, nothing is left to chance. Familiarizing yourself with your local store is both a time and money saver.
The stores themselves aren’t just randomly laid out; there are carefully researched psychological reasons for everything – from the placement of aisles and specialized areas for things like produce and meats to how packages are specifically placed on the shelves, counters and racks.
Store brands, bulk and discounted items are down near the floor because things on the bottom shelf typically get overlooked by a majority of shoppers. Why? Because that two-thirds majority often wear skirts in which they avoid bending down. Nowadays guys are cutting into those numbers and grocery stores know it.
The next time you go in, take a peek at the books and magazine rack (near the front by the cash registers where those in line are more likely to pick them up). The Times they are a changing’. Once filled with romance novels, Women’s Day and Cosmo, you are just as likely to find books by Clive Cussler and Steve Berry right alongside Wired and GQ today. The traditional image of a female dominated, domesticated shopping environment is fading. All of this makes it easier for you to be a shopping king!
Men Are Savvy Shoppers
Men armed with just a few insider tips, like we’ve given here, actually make better shoppers. They tend to overlook the marketing tactics that females fall for. Researchers discovered that given a choice between two identical items, women will almost always pick up the one with the most eye-catching packaging, even though it cost more.
The attention grabbing item for men is typically meat and in that department, more often than not, guys make better, more practical choices. On the other hand, men average a lot less time in the store and spend more money. Golden Grocery Shopping Rule number two: slow the heck down! Take time to smell the roses in the floral section and leave less of your own green stuff behind. Or grab a seat at the increasing number of in-store coffee and sandwich bars opening up.
Once upon a time, grocery stores wanted you to shop hungry, believing you’d buy more. Why not use what they already order in bulk in a different way? Customers can buy freshly prepared food to enjoy instantly and the ingredients to take home later. Of course, this isn’t an example of saving a lot of money, but it is a great way to strike up a conversation with the redhead at the next table! You could tell her about Golden Grocery Shopping Rule number three…
The Secret Power of Unit Pricing
Every box, bag, can, carrot or egg carton has a ‘cost per unit’ label located either on the shelf beneath it or attached to the bulk bin and rule number three is to never buy anything without at least glancing at it. This little gem is the single most over-looked shopping tool consumers have at their disposal. It displays the item’s individual barcode, utilized by dozens of apps that can tell you everything from ingredients and allergy info, whether a coupon is available, best local price and MSR to whether or not the manufacturer is on a boycott list somewhere.
Don’t get me wrong, the barcode information is fantastic, but for now we’re interested in the tiny little box in the lower left-hand corner: the unit price. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. The real truth in advertising! Is that sale price really the best price?
Your first task is to define the unit. This might say “per ounce” or even “per sheet” – in the case of paper towels. How is this useful? In about two seconds you can determine how much more you pay for a name brand product compared to the store brand. It tells you that the great deli cheese on sale is actually cheaper than the prepackaged stuff in the dairy case. More is less? You bet! The price you pay for that larger jar of mayo may appear higher, but the cost per ounce is significantly lower. Getting into the habit of quickly scanning the unit price of surrounding items saves you money and takes mere seconds.
Let Someone Else Do The Shopping
Did you know that more and more stores let you shop online and simply stop in to pick up your order? Stores like Walmart and Kroger are offering this service at no additional cost to the customer.
You get to select your items, including review unit pricing, and schedule a time to stop by for pickup. Some stores will even load the car for you. You can’t beat this option for time saved, convenience, and the money saving benefit of avoiding impulse purchases, since you aren’t setting foot in the store.
Have you tried online grocery services yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Know any guys who need help shopping?
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My step-father loved to joke that I had a little neon sign on my forehead that flashed: “Assholes Apply Here”.
I’ve hit a few bumps on the road to True Love – or they hit me. It is humiliating to admit that a woman who prides herself on her intellect couldn’t tell the difference between a prince and a frog; a man and a monster. To describe my first two marriages as “abusive” would be like describing World War II a “minor conflict”. My two epic battles were waged on different fronts: one for my life and one for my sanity. Both blew my self-esteem to smithereens. But, in my defense, both of those men had agendas which had nothing to do with love. One needed a “cover” – a curtain of macho normalcy to hide a gender-confused nature. The other, a former military brat with a brilliant but drug-fried brain, had read manuals on brainwashing techniques he’d stolen from his Air Force father’s files. He wanted a “test subject”. Ironically, years later, I found one of the manual’s contributors listed on another government document: my birth certificate. My birth father. A man so feared by my mother that she denied what few memories I had of him. Maybe my heart was genetically doomed from the start.
How do we know what love is? There is no single answer. We define our idea of it as we grow. I didn’t have a father and my mother had her “career”, so my kid brother and I spent our early years with our maternal grandparents, a quiet, middle-class couple, and a live-in nanny. They showered us with love and attention. Those were the happiest years of my life. Had you asked me when I was nine, I’d have said I wanted a marriage like my ‘Doe’ and Grandaddy’s. From an adult perspective, it has been really, really hard to look at the truth: they were two people who simply lived under the same roof. The only abiding love they shared was for my brother and I. They never spoke to one another unless we were in the room. The abundant affection given so freely and often was never given to one another. As a child, I saw brief glimpses of the reality and either misunderstood or saw and was given an explanation of misdirection. My grandmother was deeply in love with my grandfather in all the ways a woman yearns to be and she adored her daughter but, for reasons lost to time, all that love was unrequited. It was a family of so many secrets, all kept for the sake of my brother and I. Could the truth have made my life any different? Is my idea of love a naive, fairy-tale notion I learned from growing up within a fairy tale? Is it why, at the age she was then, I can recognize my grandmother’s quiet pain? Would I have made different life choices?
We lived with my grandparents until I was nine and my mother came to claim us back. I got my second look at love. Mom had married a man diametrically different from anyone my brother and I had ever been around. We’d never heard a voice or seen a hand raised in anger; swearing, alcohol and “other things” were foreign, too. My little brother once told my grandparents that our new dad was “mean to mommy because he was always grabbing her” but, he added, “Mommy’s brave cuz she just laughs at him.”
Leave It To Beaver meets The Bundy’s.
My step-father was always away working. My former career-minded mother withered into a clinging vine, wrapped around the telephone waiting for his weekly calls. As the jobs took him first out of state and then overseas, my brother and I became the barrier keeping her from a life of travel and adventure. She couldn’t handle it. She pick us up from school with our luggage in the backseat and a pair of bus tickets back to our grandparents. A couple of months and a new school later, we came home to tearful grandparents and Maureen, our beloved nanny, standing by our suitcases, reassigned to a long bus ride to and from wherever Mom was, which was never where my stepfather was. It became a chaotic routine. When one job ended, he’d head for the next one, leaving her in the last town. She’d get lonely and swear she needed us. For awhile. Back and forth, kid-sized yoyo’s bouncing on a string of lies:
“Of course, your mommy loves you, but her husband’s new boss doesn’t allow children to be there.”
“You’re just going to your grandparent’s for the holidays (…or the summer…or the school year).”
We were with mom when, around my 14th birthday, while walking home late from yet another new school, I “shamed” my mother by “allowing myself” to be abducted, beaten and raped. Of course, I had to walk! Wasn’t my stepfather due to call any minute?!?
When I was led into the house, she refused to look at me. She would not allow them to take me to a hospital or allow the sheriff’s deputy to file a report.
“My dear Lord, no,” she sobbed. “What would the neighbors think of us!!”
It was a much more innocent era; I had no idea what had made me so shameful. I understood why my head and face hurt but why did it hurt “down there”?? My mother couldn’t even be in the same room. She relayed instructions and a book through my brother. I was to take a bath, two aspirin, go to bed and not be there in the morning. The book was a thin paperback called “How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex.” Thanks, Mom. Better late than never, I guess.
The next morning, my kid brother stood in the kitchen window watching me leave, his hand pressed against the glass in silent farewell. I don’t know what hurt me more: being allowed to leave or leaving him behind. My backpack felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. I wasn’t old enough to drive and I was homeless.
This was how I learned about love.
I’ve been married to my third husband for 22 years now. We met when I was auditioning keyboard players for a band. We were even more different than my mother and stepfather had been. I knew this but it didn’t matter. I had never, ever felt so wanted by anyone. Before the ceremony our minister counseled us that the “honeymoon period” would last probably no more than a couple of years and we should prepare ourselves to then settle in to “wedded love”. Our honeymoon period lasted almost twelve years. My heart still skips a beat sometimes when he walks into the room. He often reminds me that he’s never broken his vows, as if he deserves a medal. I’m often reminded of the difference between “being wanted” and being loved. We’ve been raising his 9 year old granddaughter since she was a baby and in our home there is an abundant showering of love and affection upon this small beacon of light. She fills the empty spaces…
In the small dark hours of the night, as my grandmother surely must have, I ask myself: “Is this what love becomes?” I’ve come to understand what Henry David Thoreau meant by lives lived in quiet desperation. Children learn what they live. Our experiences shape us. They are the colors that fill in the outlines of who we are. I’d like to believe that at my core, I am a reflection of the deep, unconditional love I experienced as a small child. That small child I may yet be, still in a search to find someone who will love me for me.
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