Nailed to the ex

Joey Garcia

After a quarter century of marriage, my ex-wife and I divorced. I’m over $40,000 in credit card debt. I’m so broke that the only thing I can afford to do with our 12-year-old son is chat and drink Coke in cheap cafes. Lately I’ve been stupendously attracted to a lady about my age. She’s self-assured, non-judgmental, open to my interest and beautiful. I have assigned myself these goals: to stop being the doormat of the world; never again to be co-dependent to a bully like my ex; and to be totally honest by telling women I date that they are No. 3 in my life (after my kids). How can a middle-aged, financially bankrupt guy start over with the woman of his dreams? Imagine me on a romantic dinner date with her: “Gorgeous, can you pick up the check? I’m saving my money for a half-dozen credit card companies.” That’s a sure way to make our first date our last and that scares me more than the money problem. What do I do?

Improve your accounting skills. Focus on the value you bring to a relationship, instead of the liabilities. It’s true that financial solvency is an asset that most people seek in a partner. So position yourself as someone who made a choice to finance his divorce with credit cards and is living the consequences of that choice. Don’t blame your ex. It weakens you. Show yourself that you are doing something about your problem and that’s what other people will see, too.

Cash-flow problems can be solved through old-fashioned resolve and penny-pinching. Create a budget that allows you to make serious debt payments and be unwavering in your commitment to pay. You must also set aside a consistent amount of money (this should be a line item in your budget) in a savings account. Do not withdraw these funds; it’s your sanity cushion. Financial problems can put you in a funk but doing the right thing (paying off bills, having a cash reserve) provides relief.

You must also learn to find pleasure in being cheap. Flip through SN&R each week and clip the two-for-one restaurant coupons. Search the calendar for free events and expose your son (and your dates) to poetry readings, gallery openings, concerts and lectures at the local colleges, labyrinth walks, wildlife hikes and free museum days, all of which are better for the heart and soul than drinking Cokes in dives. You also need to secure a second job so you can pay down your debt faster. Consider part-time, seasonal or freelance work to bring in extra cash. Don’t choose a second career that would require any investment from you.

Now, let’s talk about the woman you admire. You don’t know if she is the woman of your dreams or not because you’re not in a relationship with her yet. Get to know her slowly, over time. Give her time to discover your strengths, and your weaknesses will pale in comparison.

My divorce will be finalized next month and it has been rough. I still love my soon-to-be ex-husband. Will I meet someone or go into another relationship?

Hopefully not! If you enter another relationship while still pining for your ex-husband, you’ll be lugging too much baggage into your new romance. So take time to resolve your past by being grateful for the ways marriage revealed your shortcomings and sweetnesses. Then resolve to make the changes necessary to be more available to a man who is a better match for you.

Meditation of the week
A wildlife biologist friend and I went bird watching recently. Northern Shovelers, Cinnamon
Teals, Coots, Lesser Yellowlegs … then finally I spotted a Lesser Scaup. We gasped at
the extraordinary purple sheen of its head. “I can’t believe you like bird watching,” my friend kept saying. #147;You’re always talking about restaurants, plays, movies, nightclubs.”
It’s true. I’m a city girl. But I’m a little bit country, too. What’s in your nature?

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