Okay, so there are plenty of divorced men who deserve what the judge decrees. I get that. We have absentee fathers running all over the country. I also am well aware that there are men who physically or emotionally abused their wives, hid their finances, or who routinely cheated on them.
But I don't want to talk about them.
I want to address those men who had every intention of honoring their wives, their marriage, and their vows. This may come as a surprise but there really are lots of good, caring, committed men in the United States. Okay, so we are not perfect. Can I be real? A bunch of us just wish to be left alone to do our own thing and we hate when our wives expect us to be something or someone different than who we already are. I confess: That is not a good attitude. The Lone Ranger husband is not the easiest to live with. But I maintain my opinion that the majority of men want to make their marriages work and they do make the effort to see their commitment through.
So what about the guy who gets divorced against his will? He doesn't want to get divorced. This is the same woman he had that initial chemistry with and the same woman who brought him more joy than he could ever have imagined during the good years of their relationship. At some point he decided he couldn't live without her and asked the girl to marry him. Together, their hopes, dreams and plans were positively soaring. Yet along the way there were problems. There's an old Bible story where a guy looks out at the grain he planted and discovers that his crop in now choked by weeds. He wonders: Where did these weeds come from? Have you ever felt like that about your marriage? Everything was once so awesome, so fun, so energizing and exciting. The crop was looking good. And then one day as the issues and problems increase and the love wanes, you wonder too: Where did these weeds come from?
One of the most awesome things about marriage is the sex. (There, I said it. I know. Just like a man!). Awesome sex produces awesome children. The two of you become three of you, or four or however many you are lucky enough to sire. And you're not a deadbeat Dad. No, these new faces on the planet earth are yours and you love them to death. A part of you can hardly believe that you are a father and this newfound responsibility to care and nurture them is the fulfillment of your wildest dreams. (No, I am not exaggerating. Good fathers know exactly what I am talking about). Wow! You hope that it will go on like this forever.
And one day your unhappy wife asks for a divorce.
No, no, no, your mind screams out! We can't do this. We can't do this to each other and we certainly can't do this to them! Yet she persists. Your mind is in a tailspin. What about the vows we took on our wedding day? What about commitment, trust, and until death do us part? But you can't stop it. And then at the county courthouse a judge decides that you can only see your children every other weekend and that you are now responsible to pay your wife hundreds of dollars weekly for a divorce you never wonted!
Am I making all this stuff up, or are these types of archaic, outdated decisions being handed down? Picture it: A woman looks at her husband and thinks, he's a good man but I'm not in love with him anymore. Now nowhere in my article am I blaming women for divorces. They happen. A wife may be unhappy, or she met her true soul mate or whatever the reason, she wants out of a situation that is not to her liking. It doesn't make her evil, ungrateful or selfish. She simply no longer loves the man she's married to and wants a divorce. But now here's the part I have problem with. The husband, (who didn't want a divorce), is now forced to pay exorbitant alimony and child support and give up custody of the children he adores. Sometimes he's required to pay his wife's legal fees. All he wants is what's fair. Most good men desire at least shared custody of the children. A judge is not to blame. He or she is merely following the laws as they are currently in the books. For some reason the one who gave birth to the children is more entitled to the majority of custody. Why is that? Is the mother a better parent than the father? Who says so? And why does the husband have to pay so much for a divorce he never wanted? Is that fair? The best question is this: Why are we as a nation still adhering to divorce laws written in the 1940's and applying them to couples today?
I was walking with my father years back while he was suffering from Alzheimer's. I was sharing the details of my own impending divorce. Dad couldn't understand a word I was saying. At one point I remember stopping and saying to him. These divorce laws are wrong. I'm going to do something about it!
Writing for the Huffington Post is my start.
Dr. Lee Kronert is the author of a novel about divorce titled, 'Mental Cruelty'. He supports equality and fairness in legal decisions involving divorce.