I never expected that I would be in a position to care so deeply about child support laws. As I'm navigating my way through this world of separation, dissolution, divorce and child support, I'm learning that the system doesn't really care about the kids.
So I'd like to step up on my soapbox for the next few minutes and share my frustration with a broken system.
Child support is supposed to help provide basic necessities including food, shelter and clothing as well as extracurricular activities, school expenses and entertainment. It's supposed to help maintain the same lifestyle that the kids experienced before the separation or divorce. The key phrase being "supposed to"
The reality of child support is much different.....especially in the state of Ohio where I live. Ohio calculates child support amounts based on the combined income of the parents. The parents are each responsible for a percentage of the annual support amount set by Ohio.
In my case, my base salary is 25% more than my estranged spouse. But somehow with the Ohio formula, his attorney estimates that he only has to pay 20% of his salary!!!! TWENTY PERCENT!!! A whopping $63.20 a week.....for the care of 2 teenagers!!! While 100% of my paycheck is used for their housing and care. And on top of that I've been informed that as I pick up extra hours at work to make sure that my kids have food, shelter, electricity, internet, transportation, and clothing, his percentage will go down!!!! As I work overtime or work hours for my coworkers to pay for athletic fees, cheer fees and other extra expenses, his contribution will decrease. HIS CONTRIBUTION WILL DECREASE!!!!
Can someone please explain to me how that makes any sense at all????My extra work will not benefit my kids....it will benefit my estranged spouse!!! That really infuriates me!!!
My kids well being is worth so much more than a measly 20%!!! I wish the broken child support system realized that!!
During a military operation innocent people can sometimes suffer injuries or even death. This is known as collateral damage. In our lives sometimes our choices can cause collateral damage to those around us.
A drug addict can overdose and leave innocent children as orphans.
A drive by shooting can take the life of an unsuspecting bystander.
A business owner can make foolish decisions that cause his company to collapse taking away the livelihood of his employees.
A drunk driver can drive recklessly causing a crash.
A pregnant teenager can decide that abortion is the only solution.
An unhappy spouse can look outside the marriage for fulfillment and destroy a family.
"People at war with themselves will always cause collateral damage in the lives of those around them." ~ John Mark Green
My own family is dealing with collateral damage right now. The affair ended last week but the damage is catastrophic.. The other woman has moved on. The reality of her choices have sunk in. The marriage is broken beyond repair and heading towards divorce. The hurt and pain for my children is real and raw. They wrestle daily with how to process their anger. They love their Dad but they don't understand his choices. Deep inside they doubt his love for them. They question how he can claim to love them and do what he did.
"When a marriage is affected by an affair, it can be like dropping a pebble into water. The ripples of devastation grow wider and wider and can last literally for generations." ~ David & Cindy Taylor
As they look at the destruction to the world that they knew, they are confused and not sure what to do next. They are a Carlson...but what does that mean anymore? How do you put the pieces of your family back together when your Dad is not coming back home? How do you grieve the loss of someone you thought you knew?
Over time they will begin to pick up the pieces and create something new with their Dad. Right now nobody really knows what that is going to look like. How long before Dad is with someone new? Will he understand that they're not ready? Will he understand that they need more time to forgive him for the affair? Until he grasps the devastation that his choices caused in their lives, the rebuilding process cannot begin.
Truth has power. It can destroy illusions and reveal character. It can inspire movements and bring down barriers. When we make truth an integral part of our life we become a person of our word. People will trust us and know that they can depend on us. Telling the truth in a moment of difficulty takes great strength and courage. Unfortunately, many people choose instead to be cowards and hide behind lies. They take what seems like the easy way out to avoid the conflict or pain of being honest. But lying will cost you everything. It destroys relationships, damages trust and causes life altering consequences.
"Truth is like surgery. It hurts but cures. A lie is like a pain killer. It gives instant relief but has side effects forever."
Speaking truth is viewed by some as being hateful or harassment or disparaging to them. But being truthful is not hate. It's just the opposite....it's a sign of great love. Speaking truth protects others from a lifetime of pain and regret.
When you force people to face truth and be completely honest with others and with themselves, it can get really ugly. Especially if the person is comfortable in the world that the lies have created for them. When you tear down those walls, you are exposing who they truly are behind the mask.
When our mask is removed, we are faced with a critical choice. Do we admit our failures and change or do we lash out and attack the person who had the courage to speak truth to us and about us?
"The only people who are mad at you for speaking the truth are those people who are living a lie. Keep speaking truth."
Proverbs 12:22 tells us that "the Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in those who tell the truth". Telling the truth brings great delight to our Heavenly Father. It's not easy. It takes courage and reliance on God. Job 27:5 says "I will have the moral courage to make my actions consistent with my knowledge of right and wrong." It takes practice and maturity to be a person of integrity.
"The truth always has a way of coming out in the end, no matter how hard anyone tries to hide it or stop it. Lies are just a temporary delay to the inevitable."
You can try many tactics to suppress the truth. You can bully or threaten those who know the truth about you. You can even try to take legal action against them. But the inevitable will happen. Your lies will be exposed and the truth about your character and choices will be evident to everyone who knows you.
"His grace meets you in the moment and you will miss it if you are worrying about future moments" ~ Ann Voskamp
I am a big fan of Ann Voskamp. Her writing always speaks deeply to me. I feel that she has such a gift of putting emotions and feelings down on paper so that when you read her words you're like "Yes, that's exactly how I feel".
That's the way I felt about the quote above when I read it. In the painful moments of my current life, I can sometimes find myself worrying about future moments. My mind starts running and won't stop. I can worry about finances, my kids well being, life after a broken marriage, and so on and so on. The list of worries can be a mile long.
Or on the other hand, I can see that peace, happiness and contentment will only come in future moments. I can think that if I can just make it through this current situation as quickly as possible then everything is going to be wonderful. Life will just fall into place. I just need to do it all today. It's a race against the clock for my happiness. I can tell myself that I won't have peace or contentment until.....Until what???
Until the affair ends? Until I see true remorse? Until he's no longer my husband? Until I have financial security? Until my heart heals? Until I find someone that truly loves me? Until my kids heal? Until I can look at her and not feel sick to my stomach? Until I move on to a new life? Until what? What is the magic event that releases all of this peace, contentment and happiness that I desire?
It only happens when I open my heart and "come boldly to the throne of grace so that you may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need" (Heb 4:16) God's grace meets me in the moment and changes everything. His grace comforts me and gives me strength. His grace wraps me in it's embrace and whispers "I am here". His grace turns on all the lights in the midst of the darkness of fear, worry and despair. His grace brings freedom from the burden of having to have all the answers and figure out how this is all going to end.
God's grace meets me in the moment and gives me peace and calm right in the middle of the messes of life. I don't have to wait for "someday" or hope for "someone" to take the mess away. I just have to put my hope in the One who is my everything. He has all the answers and knows how each moment will impact my future.
I can live in the moment of today trusting that God's grace will hold me together when it feels like everything is falling apart. His grace will hold me up when I feel like I'm drowning. And His grace will hold me close when I feel lost and alone.
My life is a mess right now. And I've been quite honest and open about the hurt and the pain that my children and I have been going through over the past couple of months. That type of honesty can make people uncomfortable. Believe me when I say that is not my intent. However I feel that shying away from being authentic and real would be living a lie. And I'm done pretending. I'm not going to allow the enemy to convince me that it's better to just bury it all deep inside and plaster a fake smile across my face.
I'm not going to sugarcoat the impact that a husband and father's choices have made on this family. Words have power and I have encouraged my kids to use theirs to express their thoughts and feelings. I need them to be open with those emotions and not stuff them deep down inside because they're afraid or ashamed. And if I expect them to be open then I must be willing to be open as well.
We have wrestled with some hard questions together. We've had to come to terms with some difficult truths. It's never easy to come to the realization that your father isn't who you thought he was. And the things that he taught you your entire life mean nothing to him now.
It's painful to see someone you love walk away from their faith. You begin to wonder if their faith was real. Or has it just been a charade all these years. Was their love for you even real or were you just a pawn in their cruel game? Did they really change that much or did the mask just fall off?
As you ask yourself these questions, you look back over the past and you begin to get some clarity. You realize maybe they were the ones who had been pretending all these years. Because if it had been real, how could they walk away so easily? How could they throw everything away so recklessly? How could they become someone that you used to know?
Their "love" was not a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. It was a selfish, self-serving kind of love. They made themselves the center of your world and expected you to do things their way, in their timing and by their rules. How had you been fooled for so many years? Why couldn't you have seen them for who they really were?
Maybe you believed their lies or maybe...just maybe you had dreams of who they could be one day.....maybe you were just in love with the idea of who they could be. And you were optimistic enough to believe if you waited long enough then one day your dream would become reality. That day never came and now you must face the reality that after two decades you will have to trust God for a new dream.
Today in church, we sang a beautiful song about being in the presence of the Lord. As I sang that song with tears streaming down my face I felt God speaking so clearly to me through these words.
Here I lay my burdens down Lose my worries in Your love
Casting every care on You I have carried them enough
We're not alone Here within His love
Emmanuel He is still with us
When the world becomes too much Near the cross I will remain
Until every fear is stilled At the mention of Your name
Mercy is falling falling Lift up your hands receive it now
Here in the presence of the Lord
I know your past is broken You can move on it's over now
Here in the presence of the Lord
Tired of running running Be still and know He's in control
Here in the presence of the Lord Pour out your heart before Him
Open your arms He'll hold you now
The part of this song that touched me the most is the line that says "I know your past is broken, You can move on it's over now" My past is broken....but it's over now. I don't have to live in the brokenness anymore. I don't have to be weighed down and smothered by the brokenness. I can move on. But not move on to another relationship or another accomplishment. I can move from my broken past into glorious freedom.
I have freedom in Christ....in His purpose....in His plan.....in His timing. He wants me to lay my burdens down. My burdens of emotional pain, mental anguish, and heartbreak. The worry and stress and fear that I've been carrying. I can pour out my heart to him and he is there to hold me in his arms.
Right now I feel like my world has crumbled and I wonder how I will survive. How will I pick up the pieces and put them back together? Will my life ever be whole again?
Upon closer inspection, I realize that I am still standing and my faith is strong. My children are shaken but not destroyed. They show unwavering strength and faith in God. So what am I seeing crumble right before me? That would be the dream of what I wanted my marriage to be. The hopes of the man that I wanted my husband to be. The mirage of our future together. All of that has been destroyed.
However God is telling me that even though my marriage is over, I can move on from the brokenness and pain and find healing in His presence. I can lay down all of the burdens that I've carried for far too long. I can know that His love is never ending and always perfect.
He has a beautiful plan for my future. One that will be revealed as I trust in Him and walk in obedience to His Word day by day....moment by moment. As I spend time in His presence, I can be still and know that He will use all of this pain and brokenness for His good.
"Emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse. The only difference between the two is with physical abuse you are wearing it on the outside for the world to see and the other is felt deep inside. Others cannot see the bruises on your heart" ~ Larry James
Sometimes you hear people say that it's not abuse if it's not physical. If they don't put their hands on you then you have nothing to complain about. They are dead wrong. Verbal and emotional abuse causes deep pain and even deeper scars. Constant criticism and condescension exhausts you and wears you down. It makes you think that you are crazy and irrational. Emotional abuse is manipulation of situations to give another person control. It can be as simple as a disapproving look or deep sigh that tells you that they don't like what you did. Or it can get so severe that you are isolated from family and friends.
Emotional abuse is any kind of psychological abuse that traumatizes a person’s mind or their state of being, forcing them to feel weak, traumatized and helpless.
The ultimate goal of the abuser is to do whatever they possibly can to make you doubt your own thoughts and feelings. They keep you guessing as to what will upset them and bring on a verbal attack. You go through life walking on eggshells trying not to say anything to upset them. There is a constant feeling of anxiety in the pit of your stomach anytime you are with them.
There will always be a double standard in your relationship. They expect to go wherever they want and do whatever they feel like doing without questions from you. However, you must inform them of where you are at all times. If you take longer running errands than expected you get a barrage of accusatory questions. If you get off work later than scheduled you might get the silent treatment when you get home or maybe even accusations that you're being unfaithful.
Emotional abusers have major trust and control issues. They feel that they are entitled to privacy but you are not. They feel that their way is the best way....the only way. And if they don't get their way then they will pout or sulk or throw a fit. They are great manipulators of the truth. They like to tell half truths or twist your words around to mean something that you didn't really say.
You may feel like you're going crazy because one minute the abuser is sweet and caring and then boom a switch is flipped and they become mean and nasty. They start spewing hateful remarks and when you speak up they blame you for their behavior. Emotional abusers never take responsibility for any of their actions. Everything is always someone else's fault.
So maybe you're wondering if the issue you are experiencing in your own relationship would qualify as "emotional abuse". Here are 5 signs that you might be in an emotionally abusive relationship:
1. You walk on eggshells to avoid upsetting your partner.
2. Your feelings and opinions are rarely validated.
3. Your partner is mistrustful of you for no reason.
4. You feel like you are unable to discuss problems in the relationship.
5. You feel "stuck" or confused most of the time.
If you feel like any of these signs fit your relationship then I encourage you to visit Leslie Vernick's website and complete the questionnaire.
Don't suffer in silence and think that you have to continue living the same old way. It doesn't matter if your spouse is a preacher, lawyer, police officer, the mayor or a well loved school teacher you don't have to just submit to your emotional abuser in order to be a good spouse. Reach out to someone today and speak out against what you've experienced. You may be nervous and ashamed that you've allowed it to continue for so long. Don't be. You might be surprised at just who has walked the same road as you.
This was written by my 19 yr old son to his Dad. Even though he is away at college, he is still deeply affected by his dad's betrayal.
Open letter to my cheating Father:
You really left us months ago, you left, and chose your love affair over your children. I gave you a final choice, and you still chose her. That day you turned my world upside down, shook it up, and stood on what remained for good measure. suddenly I didn’t know anything anymore, nothing at all, I was left feeling broken and betrayed. Betrayed by the person who was supposed to love me unconditionally, love me for who I was. why wa...sn’t I good enough!? Why weren’t we good enough for you, what did we ever do so wrong!? Time passed, without so much as a text, an email, a call. You chose her just like that and suddenly we weren’t enough. Everything I have done, has always been to make you proud, to make you glow with pride … what didn’t I do, what made you think so little of us? We hurt so much, that intense hurt of seeing no life without you in my life has slowly started to fade into just a distant emotion that I can’t ever remember feeling. I fought for your approval, prayed you would see sense and realize that your kids and wife were worth so much more than a sleezy affair, until I have no fight left, no desire to fight and no desire to ever want you back in my life ever again. It’s true when people say that the hard times prove to you who will always matter, and who never did. I really hope that you live to regret this so much you can’t see a way past that hurt, because maybe then you’ll begin to understand what you put mom and us through. When I graduate college , When I get married , When I have my first child (your grandchild) I will celebrate without you there, because I don’t need you. I can’t say that there isn’t a part of me that regrets that you won’t be there and wishing that It could be different … but that’s the consequence of your choice. I would do anything and give anything to have a dad that would model how I'm supposed to live and act. I wish I was that 10 year old little boy that still idolized the ground you walked on, but I guess, that my perception of you was a false one, you were never that person. As I finish writing this, I feel tears stinging in my eyes. I don’t know what that means, I don’t miss you and want you back in my life. but I guess my heart can never be fully healed no matter how much time passes or how much my strength grows. I hope that this is the biggest regret of your life, but I suppose I should thank you really, for opening my eyes to the man you really are. Goodbye Dad.
Have you ever heard the quote, "Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it."? Or what about "It's impossible to sling mud and keep your own hands clean."?
Well today I found myself wrestling with the pigs. I climbed the fence and jumped head first right into the mud. I let my frustration and emotions determine my responses. I tried to answer the foolish arguments and in return I became foolish (Prov 26:4)
We all have those people in our lives who know exactly which buttons to push to knock us off our feet. They know our weaknesses and will use those to get a rise out of us. They speak untruths knowing that it's so difficult to remain silent. They have no interest in understanding us, they only want to air their own opinions. (Prov 18:2) When you try to fight with a fool you lose your honor because only a fool insists on quarreling (Prov 20:3)
I hate to admit it but today I lost my honor and acted like a fool. I vented my anger instead of quietly holding it back. (Prov 29:11) I showed my annoyance immediately instead of overlooking the insults. (Prov 12:16)
I ignored the prompting of the Spirit to be quiet and let Him be my defender. The continuous verbal attacks pushed me to be my own defender. The enemy convinced me that I had no other choice but to retaliate with harsh words of my own. So I stooped low and met them on their level. But by God's grace I didn't stay there.
I climbed out of the mud pit and reminded myself that wisdom comes from a spirit of humility. God promises that when I ask Him for wisdom He gives it generously.
Tomorrow is a new day to try again. Tomorrow I will ask God for wisdom and discernment to know when to speak and when to be silent. He also promises that His mercies are new each morning. (Lamentations 3:23) He will give me just what I need to make it through the day.
He will fight for me. All I have to do is be still and trust in His timing. I just can't take matters into my own hands. I must remember that I am a daughter of the King who is clothed in strength and dignity. (Prov 31:25)
The next time I'm tempted to get in the mud pit, I will remember that I have no control over someone's words or actions. However, I have complete control over my reactions and responses.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.