Post-Divorce Survival Guide for Dads Following a 15+ Year Marriage: Gimme' Shelter
How Did I Get Here? It Really Doesn't Matter. You're Here. Time to Deal With It.
You walk out of the courthouse. You are officially no longer "Mr and Mrs." It is finally done...(record scratch) ... Let me rewind a bit and fill you in on how we got here. I'm 42 years old. I was married for almost 18 years, and I never imagined not being married. We have three kids: two boys and a girl. I was the dad you could count on to be a chaperone for a field trip. I braided hair, I coached football, and I built bonfires.
The best thing I ever did with my life was becoming a dad. My ex and I had a good thing going too: no infidelity, no gambling problem, no drinking problem, no abuse, nothing to trigger a separation. At this point, you might be asking yourself "well, Joe, what in the hell happened?" Well, dear reader, we just got to a point where we just didn't like each other anymore, nothing more, nothing less. That cute little laugh turned into fingernails on a chalkboard.
This Survival Guide will help you along your new path. I need to stress that this is a guide, not a rulebook. These are best practices and guidelines to survive being a divorced Dad. It's not easy being a divorced Dad. It's tough to come home to a quiet, empty house. It's depressing to watch a movie and shout "DID YOU SEE THAT!" to no one. And it absolutely sucks when you run out of toilet paper and there is not a magic little hand to bring you a fresh roll.
Never forget, it's not the end of the world. It may feel like it sometimes. It may feel like you "don't wanna do this anymore." It may feel like there's no point to it anymore, but damn it you're a Dad, so start acting like one. Your kids are counting on you.
Guideline #1: Get Your Own Place as Soon as Possible
When I left the house I rented a room from an old guy that had a big house and rented to guys. I gained custody of our Chihuahua in the divorce and I was lucky to find a place that let me have a dog. This was a fantastic place ... if I were in my 20's. You can imagine what went on in a house with four guys, great parties, dishes in the sink, bathrooms filthy, video games on the 60' TV at all hours of the night, random people coming in and out of the house. You do not want to bring your child to a situation like this. Not to mention bringing a woman back to your house can be awkward when you have roommates.
A slightly less awkward living situation is moving in with family. Living with your family makes spending time with your kids easy. This is the "less" in "slightly less awkward". The dog was a point of contention every day. Now, you are a bother, you don't fit in, you get in the way. Not to mention the looks you get when you bring a woman back to the house.
These two situations lead me to the realization that Dads need to live on their own. They need a place to call "Home" not a place to crash. At Home, you live on your own terms. At Home, you can finally make those pickled eggs like your grandma would make, that stink like hell but tastes like heaven. At Home, you can listen to your music as loudly as you want. Your kids have a place, at Home. If you did your chores when you were married then cleaning your house is not an issue, but don't take that for granted. I did laundry, I washed dishes, I vacuumed, I dusted, I thought housework would be a breeze in my little apartment. I will be the first to tell you, the shower does not clean itself. Not mention the obvious advantages to bringing a woman home your own house.
Advice From a Divorced Dad #1
Laundry Detergent "Pods" are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They make doing laundry easy.
Guideline #2: Ditch the Cable Company
Now that you have your own house, it's time to decide if you want cable or satellite for your TV and internet. I say neither. It does not make financial sense to pay for service for 500 channels you will never watch. We all have smartphones, and now most of them have the mobile hotspot function. Unless you use the internet at home for business or for gaming, which you will need a dedicated internet line, the mobile hotspot function on your phone is perfect for the single Dad.
I am using my mobile hotspot right now as I type this. I have my Amazon Firestick playing youtube. I have my echo dot connected. My Chromebook is connected. My tablet is connected. My TV does not have one bit of lag. You can watch any movie app; Netflix, Vudu, Hulu, Amazon Movies as well as HBO now, Showtime and Starz apps. The monthly cost of these apps does not come close to what you would pay for cable service and you can keep up to date with your shows.
Along with these paid movie apps, there are plenty of movie and TV apps that are totally free. You do have to watch commercials but you'd watch commercials anyway if you pay for cable. These apps offer network TV stations as well as movies that are exclusive to that app.
Advice From a Divorced Dad #2
Some movie apps give you the option of adding users. You can pay for Netflix and a friend can pay for Hulu and you can get each exchange access.
You Made It. Now You Are on Your Own.
A shelter is probably the most important aspect of survival. Communication with the outside world is the next important. While following my tips may not work for everyone, this can serve as a good guide. Stay tuned for the next chapter of The Post-Divorce Survival Guide, turning your house into your home.
© 2017 Joe Matallanes