Thursday, August 16, 2007

Disagreement on parenting can make a relationship fail

My marriage started to fade soon after my first son was born. He was a beautiful and apparently typical child during his early months of development, so all seemed fine when he first arrived in the world--well, except for my ex's child-rearing capabilities. My ex thought that putting my son in a playpen in front of the TV or putting him in a crib with a bottle was the answer to most of my son's needs. I often disagreed with this viewpoint, and it became a source of contention in our marriage.

My ex's desire to have children quickly faded after my oldest son turned one. He had no desire to do activities that took time like swim lessons. He also would pull out jars of baby food instead of preparing a meal. He preferred to spend time on video games or movies. I became frustrated because my belief was that children needed ongoing interaction and attention. I did not believe in quick fixes like TV for playtime.

I am thankful that my mom was around to stay with my son while I was working full-time because she took my oldest son out for walks or trips to the park. She spent hours constantly watching him, interacting with him, and eventually noticing that something about him was just not right--my oldest son was eventually diagnosed with autism.

My ex wanted kids, but was not into kids. My perspective is that he wanted kids like he wanted all the toys in his life--things there for his amusement. He rarely spent time interacting with the kids, just patting them on the head in passing. I think his desire to fulfill an idea placed him into a predicament of choosing between himself and children. He did not want to make space in his life for kids.

My ex and I still have enormous differences on how to raise children. For example, my ex is a believer in letting kids run free in a highly unstructured environment while I believe in structure. These differences were the nails in the coffin of our marriage.

Had I known my ex's positions on raising children, I would not have had children with my ex. He just does not understand kids, and I can't explain them to him. Liking the idea of kids is a far cry from the daily reality of raising kids. I would recommend to other parents or would-be-parents to explore parental viewpoints before kids come along because it will be easier to make decisions together when the time comes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Excessive Flirting Is Not OK!

Over the past week, I found out that my ex excessively flirted with female friends during the last few years at parties we had at our home. The most recent flirt was with a female friend who was visiting from out-of-town--a woman I'll call K. According to guests at the party, K and my ex were rubbing toes under the table or K was sitting in my ex's lap for a good part of the night. Apparently, a number of friends saw this behavior and were disgusted because my ex was still "happily married" at the time. Had I known about this incident, this event would have been the warning that my ex needed to go.

My ex thought there was nothing wrong with this behavior. He said he sometimes flirted--which includes a little feeling around--when he drank. I did not know what to think at first. I was a little surprised because I don't consider this appropriate behavior if in a committed relationship. I also thought that this behavior was degrading to anyone in a committed relationship. My rule for this situation would be no groping outside the relationship.

I realize that everyone is different in what's deemed acceptable flirting. Sometimes, an arm over the shoulder or a small comment may fine. For some people, the act of a significant other sitting on a another person's lap is fine. But where is the line drawn on innocent flirting? When does flirting transition to a pick-up? For me, this definitely includes "copping a feel" of another person's private areas-- a rather obvious place to draw the line. But I also think excessive time spent on the phone or IM may also go too far. In today's world, this is one way to start a relationship based on emotional connection first followed by physical connection. Everyone has their own boundaries about flirting when in a relationship, but flirting should have some boundaries.

Excessive flirting with others outside of a relationship can be hurtful. Why be in a relationship if the desire is to seek out other people? Being in a relationship should mean being committed to another person and only to that person. If there are issues that lead to flirting, deal with the issues first before going too far. This will solve years of future pain and suffering.

To me, flirting is disrespectful. My expectation of a partner is for that person to want to be with me over other people. I expect this choice to be a conscientious choice not made lightly. I understand that the world have millions of people and therefore, millions of choices. If my partner has the choice of being with me, then I expect my partner to respect me and let me know when there are issues. I also expect my partner to have some restraint even when attracted to another person. Restraint in certain behaviors and open communication are two symbols of being respectful. Excessive flirting violates the respect of a committed relationship.

I can't change my past relationship with my ex. I can only carry on what I have learned to a future relationship. One lesson will be I do not tolerate excessive flirting.