Divorce Parties are the latest celebration of something that started out with hope and promise. Years ago, I declined to coordinate these parties based on my own Divorce that was a painful tug of war for my son and subsequently, a very painful period in my life. These days due to numerous requests, we offer Divorce Party Coordination and Plamning although I may never understand the “celebration” of a Divorce.

Yesterday, while running to the post office to ship Texas Twins Treasures sale items and fielding calls from North Texas Hospital where my niece, Stephaney has been being treated for Bipolar One and Schizophrenia, a shocking text from Britney forced me to pull over and think about her statement prior to calling her.

“Eddie just sent a text about wanting a Divorce.” I was confused as to how a couple that appear so happy could be so unhappy? Calling Britney for more information, she told me that perhaps Eddie “was having a bad day?” No one dropping the divorce card is having a bad day. Instead they are having a difficult life and reconsidering if their glass is half full or half empty? 

It’s not well known that I’m a pre marital counselor with Two Together In Texas but, my Mediation skills often come in handy far more than you might think in certain circumstances but, only when people listen. 

Occasionally people asking for my advice don’t want to hear it because my advice is impartial. I’m honest and forthright about what will work and what will be required to come to a resolution which can and does require participation on resolution from both sides. 

I told Britney that if Eddie is using the D Word, he’s not having a bad day- he’s having a bad year! Digging in to the issues that they have been having, I would learn that Eddie who had nearly died two months ago from Cardiac Arrest had been arguing with Britney regarding moving his mother in with them to better care for her. This was a biggie. Moving an ailing parent in is and can be a Deal Breaker to a partner that has a volatile relationship with their mother in law.

Talking to Britney, I explained that Divorce is not something to take lightly. Anyone bringing the subject up has given a lot of thought about it before actually voicing it. 

How do I know? Experience. I was married quite young and spent ten years in a violent marriage with a mother in law from Hell. Bending over backwards to make her like me and not making any headway was a miserable and unrewarding experience. Disappointing my mother in law often gave my ex husband a great excuse to beat the heck out of me. She knew this and enjoyed telling him to “keep me in line.” 

It wasn’t unusual for my mother in law to brag about having boxed my ex husbands ears so much when he was young that it was a wonder that he wasn’t deaf. My ex mother in law had anger issues that apparently extended far beyond her mothering skills. She was a control freak and enjoyed the power being a control freak gave her.

After ten years of walking on eggshells and being told I couldn’t do anything right, I asked myself “do you want to die like this?” It’s a very important question for me. Divorce is like death- its final. 

If I made a facial expression my mother in law didn’t like, later my face was slapped for being disrespectful by my husband. If I disagreed with something my mother in law thought was a good idea, far worse things happened. My last visit to Harris Hospital was the final straw for me. 

I knew raising my son alone was difficult but the fear of dissapointing my ex husband or upsetting his mother had become a sick merry go round that I wanted to get off of regardless of how financially difficult the path of a life as single mother would be. Wearily, I realized that one day my son might take my place as a punching bag. 

Leaving the security of a beautiful home was like jumping out of a burning building. Would I survive? Would I be able to provide for my son after going in debt to pay not only my attorney but my sons Ad Lidem Attorney too? How could I find the money to survive while paying two attorneys? I was worried about my future but, being a twin, never paid for day care because Cindy helped me with my son while I worked 3 jobs for 6 years. Yes, it was a struggle but nothing worth having comes easily. Peace of mind is expensive. 

Leaving the financial security and my often unpredictable home life, my journey to find freedom was the hardest war I’ve ever fought and won. Why? My ex husband promised a war if I didn’t change my mind and gave me one by fighting over custody of my son for five years. 

Anyone that’s been through a custody war will tell you that the Divorce was a cake walk in comparison because it is. Divorce is painful but, a Custody Battle is a war. 

You will carry the scars of your battle for the rest of your life. I had no idea why my ex husband wanted to fight over a son he took no interest in after I gave up any and all assets but, fighting over the one thing I couldn’t replace was an actual war.

I asked Britney if she could live with her mother in law and give Eddie the peace of mind he needed and explained that after nearly dying a few months ago and being an only child, I’m quite certain that Eddie was concerned about what would happen to his mother if something were to happen to him.

Britney considered this scenario for a few minutes before saying “I could never live with her.” I rephrased my question and asked if Eddie had made this a deal breaker? Not knowing what I meant, Britney said “if it’s her or me, I will get a divorce and they can live together!” 

Apparently, Britney was immature enough to believe that forcing her hand would give her a winning set of cards but, if someone is considering a Divorce, it’s never a good time to play games. 

Reminding Britney that she had three children, I asked if she could support herself and three children on her own? “Yes. As long as Eddie pays all of the bills.” 

Truthfully, I found myself wondering if any suggestion I made to Britney was being heard and clarified what I was suggesting by giving an example. “Britney if Eddie and you divorce and he’s caring for his mother, he won’t be paying all of your bills as he will be paying for a separate residence for he and his mother. 

You will need to go to work, put the baby in daycare and scrape by on child support. Is this the life you want for you and your children simply because you don’t like his mother?” 

Britney considered the way her life would change for a moment and admitted that she gets to do whatever she wants because Eddie works 90-120 hours a week. 

I quickly reminded Britney of a conversation she had with me when I took flowers to Eddie at Baylor Hospital where he was in critical condition. 

Britney had asked me to accompany her to the cafeteria with her baby and told me that she had no idea what she would do if something happened to Eddie? Losing a breadwinner when you don’t work is an eye opener. 

Britney had good reason to be scared but, Britney was solely thinking of her financial future if Eddie were to die. I wondered what Britney would do if Eddie became unable to work? If Eddie needed a caregiver and breadwinner? Was Britney up to making such a sacrifice? 

My sister suffered a broken back years ago. Due to the surgery, she was unable to walk for a year. Although she wasn’t married at the time, if she had been married to her first husband, Roy, I can promise you that he would most likely would’ve left a wife unable to work.

It’s confusing to me that Couples marrying don’t realize that a car accident or illness can impact their lives. Sacrificing to take care of your spouse isn’t something anyone gives enough thought to. Sadly, they should. Health issues can quickly lead to bankruptcy and job loss can lead to much marital fighting over finances.

Perhaps Eddie was thinking the same thing about his mother? Britney admits that shopping and eating out along with getting her nails done and taking her children to numerous activities for baseball, soccer and other activities is how she spends her life with no responsibilities to Eddie other than picking up to go meals for Eddie when he’s home and a year ago, moving her ex husband in with Eddie when he had fallen on hard times. I would never move my ex husband in and my husband would never tolerate such an awkward idea either. Eddie must be the most easygoing guy I’ve ever met. 

Britney doesn’t work and also doesn’t take her children to school. They ride the bus. A stay at home mom with a life so worry free that dropping off and picking up her children or waiting in the bus line is too much trouble? Now you’re catching on.

I used the “moving her ex husband in” scenario to better explain how Eddie was tolerant of Britney’s idea to move her ex husband in until he could get on his feet and suggested that if Eddie was tolerant of a situation like that- she should be more tolerant of his fear that his health would continue to decline and his 75 year old mother would be left alone and helpless. It was a very real fear for Eddie to such an extent that he was considering a divorce in order to “save his aging mother.” 

Perhaps my Marriage Ceremonies should add “For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health and caring for an aging parent if necessary till death do you part?”

For months now, I’ve been a visitor at Psych Wards in order to see my niece which is similar to entering a Prison for a wedding ceremony. Juggling my schedule to bring my niece clothing and toiletries has been a depressing reality for my sister and I. 

Never knowing what to expect on our visits to JPS, on our initial visit to the Unit, Cindy and I were more than a “little” nervous regarding how Stephaney would act. Would she be overmedicated or undermeducated? 

It was awkward to be frisked prior to entering the area but, for me not nearly as uncomfortable as it was for my sister. Cindy has never been in a Prison and is therefore, completely unaware of the screening process to be cleared into any Unit that I’m Officiating a Wedding Ceremony at. 

We were physically patted down and wanded before being asked to leave our purses in a locker bringing only the key into a Visitation Area where other patients wander around talking to themselves or arguing with relatives who went through an intrusive screening in order to visit them. 

My mind wandered to One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest as I watched other patients wildly waving their hands around at other tables. I wondered if we were in any physical danger before eyeing the guards watching the room. 

Looking around a Psych Visitation Ward, my heart was heavy knowing that we weren’t alone as parents of someone with mental illness or worse, adult children visiting a parent with mental illness. 

Psych Ward visits suck the life right out of you! These visits are awkward and unpredictable because you have no idea how your friend or relative will act much less the other patients.

Stephaney went off her meds six months ago and for six months, Cindy and I have fielded calls from others witnessing “Stephaney acting crazy again” at Arby’s, Walmart, El Fenix and other locations. Stephaney has been through three jobs in six months and the reason is instability.

Over the past two months Stephaney has been committed to JPS Hospital twice and after being released on both occasions, behaved more erratically that we have ever seen in at least 10 years. Hoping she would be released in stable condition, these short stays did nothing to get her back on track.

Two weeks ago, she was transferred to North Texas State Hospital in Wichita Falls. Stephaney wants to be released but unless she is on medication, cannot function in everyday life on her own. We have no idea whether she will take her medication upon her release this time or go off the rails again. The heavy blanket of fear haunts us. Not knowing what to expect, we are more than a little apprehensive about her release.

Although my sister and I have cried a river of tears over this, Britney has consistently “butted in” with advice. The fact that Britney hasn’t ever dealt with a relative struggling with mental illness and much less her own child, Cindy and I have been endlessly upset with suggestions that include “let her go live in a shelter or on the streets. Don’t let her see the twins. Cut her out of your life.” 

For anyone who has a relative with mental illness and addiction, all of the suggestions from others who don’t have a clue to what it’s like to try and get a relative stable, God Bless You and your patience! We know you are going through Hell and need a hug far more than to hear stupid ideas from people that fail to see that your heart is being ripped out.

Trying to be normal is far from a regular occurrence in your life as you go to work and wait for the next phone call announcing another problem with your family member struggling with mental illness and, in many cases, addiction. 

I’ve consistently “strongly suggested” that Britney stop dropping by Cindy’s house to go on yet another tirade of why my sister and I are stupid for trying to get my niece help. We aren’t stupid. We are determined. 

Uneducated or more importantly undereducated advice is unwelcome. I didn’t ask a my pastry chef to diagnose my Thyroid cancer. I didn’t ask my mechanic to handle my divorce. When I have a problem, I see a specialist to get advice. Someone educated and knowledgeable about fixing a problem or finding a resolution. 

Having our friends and family members call, text or drop by with another round of useless advice that won’t help us and certainly won’t help Stephaney and has been an ongoing problem for six months now. 

Cindy consistently posts #Cindyism Quotes regarding the never ending people giving us their opinion regarding a voyage we are effectively, sailing alone. 

Remarkably, no one knows my sister is referring to them. Not friends or even our family see a bit of themselves in these saucy quotes as they like, share, favorite and retweet them. 

Finding my niece help at 31 years old has been a struggle. I worry that when Cindy and I are older how these “off her meds again” scenarios will affect our health and what will happen when we die? 

No one else will be interested in making sure she has a place to live or income if something were to happen to Cindy or I. Stephaney has had no involvement from her father throughout her lifetime much less child support. 

Cindy and I may be the only people on earth who care about “snapping Stephaney out of it.” She’s burned all of her friendships and, all of her friendships. 

Stephaney’s relationship with the twins these past six months has deteriorated to such an extent that when she calls from the Psych Ward, both twins refuse to take her calls. 

When you have an adult child with a problem, you don’t just walk away when they turn 18 years old. You don’t suddenly find yourself free of writing checks and/or solving problems for your children. 

Being the parent you never had is a lonely and often, difficult road. You grow up fast. You learn that the only way to survive is to work hard. Harder than anyone else. Making yourself indespesable to an employer was a safety net for both of us. We were never late to work and we never called in sick. Work was our lifeline. 

My sister and I are workaholics because we have always had to be. Teaching our adult children the virtues of hard work and rewards is another story altogether. Calling in sick because you have a headache? Ridiculous.

Raising two generations of children and by counting our grandmother, three generations of family members gives us far more experience and insight than these well wishing friends and family members who think they have an MBA in business or in problem solving. They don’t. Often, these busy bodies can’t solve their own problems.

Like Eddie, the responsibility of taking care of an adult child or even an aging parent is a responsibility that weighs heavily on those that care for them. It’s a tremendous burden and often, emotionally debilitating when someone who doesn’t have a care in the world continues to make ridiculous suggestions regarding your determination to keep an aging parent who continues to fall down or get hurt home alone on their own or an adult child that goes off their medication and thinks the world is coming to an end stable and safe. 

I understood Eddies struggle. Choose your wife or the only person in his life who truly cared about him his mom. Eddie is an only child. He has no brothers or sisters to help care for his mother. His burden of guilt must weigh heavily on his shoulders.

Britney has it made through life with Eddie shouldering the heavy responsibility of paying all of the bills and trying to care for his mother alone. Eddie doesn’t have a support system in place and, Eddie is sick and tired of being sick and tired. 

Eddie just faced his own mortality a few months ago and is most likely wondering “do I want to die like this?” Wondering who will care for his mother, Eddie is in a fragile state with not only his health but also his life. 

Perhaps Eddie also wondered why Britney showed up at the hospital but, only for a few hours daily while he pondered the viability of his marriage? Eddie like anyone else had to be wondering if he could count on Britney to care for him in the event of a debilitating illness. 

If Britney only had a few hours a day to visit him in the hospital, how much time would she have to devote to caring for her husband? Eddie sees no way out other than Divorce.

Pulling a wagon alone with your partner comfortably sitting on their ass while you do all of the work isn’t a Marriage. I’m always amazed when speaking to a wife with a responsibility free life who thinks she “knows it all.” They don’t. They live in a world where they are pampered and tended to. Sweet talked and sheltered from real life. 

Put upon a pedestal, they have no idea of the sacrifices their partner makes everyday to keep them happy and comfortable. Because of this “spoiling” these Princesses often fall of their pedestal when the other person finally gets tired of doing everything for everyone except themselves. It’s a real eye opener for soccer moms out lunching at the club and shopping when their husband wants a divorce. These husbands get tired of pulling the wagon too. 

People get tired. Parents get tired and aging parents are a problem for any adult child. Choosing what to do in order to help their parents after raising their own children isn’t for the faint hearted. 

The expense of caring for an aging parent often outweighs the expense of raising your own children. The frightening reality is that many adult children can barely afford their own expenses much less the care of their parents.

Caregiving in an assisted living center can easily run $2,400-$3,800 in Texas. It’s a lot of money and most aging parents are on a fixed income that prevents them from living in a luxury assisted living center. The burden of the expense often falls squarely on the shoulders of their adult children.

I explained to Britney that Eddie had (most likely) did the math. Since Britney doesn’t work and is already available at home, Eddie found a solution to caring for his aging mother without the expense (that would be taken out of the marital income) by bringing her home with him.

Since I know Britney and Eddie both, I suggested finding a qualified Marriage Counselor to avoid a Conflict Of Interest. The last thing I want to get involved in are marital problems with people I know. However, my suggestion was strongly objected to by Britney who responded “we did that a few years ago and spent thousands of dollars on Counseling. It didn’t change anything and we still fight constantly!” 

Rather than choosing to point out that Marriage Counseling is only effective if both parties participate, I listened to Britney’s one sided explanation of why it’s got to be “her way or the highway.” Occasionally, I wonder if being poor for a week wouldn’t be a good idea for people who assume that everyone else is put on earth to serve their needs? 

Perhaps learning to survive on their own would be far more enlightening than trying to explain things to them? How can one person be so immature and selfish with three children? I was literally at a loss trying to explain Eddie in this “all about me scenario” with Britney. 

A few weeks ago, Britney joined me on a road trip to TDCJ Stiles Unit. Her comfort and her needs were wildly obvious over a 13 hour window. What do I mean? I was on a timeline and in my own vehicle but, Britney didn’t like my music choices, Britney needed more a/c, Britney was hungry, Britney needed this or that. You get the point. Britney acts like a child and needs to be the center of attention at all times. Britney is a lot of work. 

The truth is that if you are married to a narcissist, you will always come up short. It will forever be “all about them” and never about you. There are red flags in relationships. Stop, Look and Listen! It’s the best advice that I can give anyone.

By evening when walking my feisty Beagle, Foxy Wortham, Britney called me back again to discuss what had happened when Eddie returned home. 

I had strongly suggested not starting an argument and instead having a discussion regarding whether a Divorce was actually necessary or whether Britney would learn that sacrifice is part of life and effectively “suck it up!” If not, Eddie may very well sail his ship alone and care for his aging mother on his own.

By 10PM, Britney had backed down on her “all or nothing” demands and was working on a solution with Eddie although moving his mother in wasn’t even on the table. It’s an issue that isn’t going to disappear. 

I can see Divorce on the horizon for Britney because Eddie is far older than Britney. Far more mature and now, well aware that if something were to happen to him, Britney would find someone else to support her. Caring for Eddie is the last thing on her mind. Maybe prior to his illness, Eddie didn’t realize that his wife was only focused on herself? 

Sometimes, I have to have hard discussions with people who take Divorce lightly. It’s actually a life changing decision. Whether you are a hothead, struggle with narcissistic traits or have infidelity issues- be advised that at your Wedding Ceremony, you promised to love, honor and cherish your partner. Be sure that partner is worth it. Some partners aren’t. If you are giving up everything and they are giving up nothing- you may want to reevaluate your choices.

Your marriage will go through ups and downs, sickness and health along with a host of other unexpected factors. If living with your spouse has become such a miserable experience that you dread coming home, it’s time for you to fly. 

Educating others that their unsolicited advice regarding my niece is the last thing that Cindy or I need to hear isn’t easy. Everyone has something to say about “The Stephaney Situation.” 

Even when we aren’t on a phone call from her counselor or her, this rehashing of an old wound is carried out by not only our friends but, also other family members who fail to realize that these intrusions are like scraping a fresh wound. We don’t need suggestions or accusations that we are enabling Stephaney. 

My sister and I are struggling to keep our heads above water and act normal not only for our clients and husbands but also, for the twins. 

Mothers Day is right around the corner and as usual, standing in the sappy card aisle trying to find an generic card for our mother who chose drugs over her children has very little appeal to me. 

I hate reading all the corny and loving cards trying to find one that fits my own mother. It’s difficult to congratulate someone for being a mother when they weren’t. 

My sister Tammy called to discuss her similar problem trying to find anything that wasn’t lovey dovey. It’s something all of my mothers children struggle with year after year. 

I will never send my mother a card thanking her for being wonderful and loving because she wasn’t. My mother regularly “forgot” her four children while getting drunk at a bar and leaving us in a car until someone or the police noticed us. 

Since everyone asks how we finally got my mom of Heroin, it was fate and not treatment that solved her lifetime of drug abuse and alcoholism. How? In my 20’s I decided to find my mom and give her my view on how her choices had split all four of her children up and, every year on Mother’s Day, depression hit me with the constant reminder of what an idiot my mother was. What I really wanted was for my mom to apologize. 

The catch? She needed money. The arrangement? I would meet her and pay her to answer a few questions in exchange for “rent money.” The fifteen hundred dollars I brought in my purse would be the cause of “The Accident.” 

At the time, I had no idea the money was for drugs but, I will get to that later. Driving from San Clemente to Solvang, I had carefully dressed myself and tried to mask my feelings of anger and abandonment. 

I wanted to appear numb to my own feelings because I rarely if ever, cry in front of anyone. Sharing my pain is a very private matter and since we were meeting in public, the last thing I wanted was a scene. 

The results of this “money for explanations” transaction will forever be referred to as “The Accident.” 

The Accident took place after my mother left the restaurant and went to Santa Maria not to pay the rent but, instead to buy PCP, LSD and Heroin. 

Within hours of a meeting that left me even more miserable by learning she wasn’t the least bit sorry for her choices, my mother was in an accident that took one of her eyes, over half of her cognitive ability and effectively, ended her lifetime of drug abuse. 

“The Accident” phrase is used by all of her children to explain why our mother is no longer on drugs.

For years I blamed myself for The Accident. While in California a few months ago, I admitted to my sister that it was I who had caused it. 

My sister was surprised by this new information that I had only told my twin sister who had refused to attend the meeting. 

Tammy told me what I needed to know so long ago. “Our mother chose to take that money and go buy drugs. We aren’t responsible for the choices of others, they are.” I finally set my guilt aside. 

The one thing Tammy, Cindy and I have in common is resentment regarding our mother. Our brother was far too young to remember all of the things she put us through. 

Tammy like Cindy and I struggles to celebrate Mother’s Day for a mother who doesn’t deserve to be celebrated. 

“Children should be seen and not heard.” It was our mothers all time favorite thing to say to us. “Sit here and be quiet.” Whether we were hungry or had to go to the bathroom, we waited. 

All four of us waited for hours and hours while hoping she would remember us and, she never did. I no longer hate my mother for her choices because it takes far too much energy. 

I try to forgive my mother while wondering if the twins can forgive theirs? The twins have had the stability and love that we didn’t from our mother or grandmother but, is Love enough? Will they wonder why their mother made similar choices to our own? Will Stephaney finally put the twins before herself? 

Unlike our mother, Stephaney has been treatment over and over again. The only treatment our mother ever had was jail. She would dry out, get out and go get more drugs. 

Sadly, our mothers desire for drugs was so strong that when she had no money- she exchanged sex for drugs. 

Cindy had a quote that pretty much summed things up regarding addiction. 

“an ADDICT will FIND any EXCUSE to CELEBRATE, including the GRAND opening OF a PACK of CIGARETTES, it’s UP to THEM and NOT you, to DECLINE the INVITATION, to the PARTY” God bless us all! 

The choices of others affect their children, their friends, their families and their careers. I cannot and may not ever understand why someone chooses addiction over their lives. 

My sister and I have sacrificed thousands of dollars the last 16 years for treatment that never “cured” Stephaney. 

Although Stephaney is mother to the twins, they consider Cindy and I to be their parents. Why? We always have been. 

Stephaney wants the benefits of being a mother without any of the responsibilities. She wants the twins to respect her? This infuriates me because Stephaney’s choices will one day force the twins to hate her if she doesn’t change. 

Respect is earned. Love takes trust. Disappointment doesn’t grant you respect or love.  

As usual, at the grocery store, choosing a non descript card to send my mom that could easily work for a coworker or neighbor is my choice again this year. How can you thank someone for being a wonderful mother when they were a drug addict? 

I always look around at other shoppers on Mother’s Day. Carefully selecting the “perfect card” for their perfect mother. 

Secretly, I envy them. My own mother was a train wreck and the only other mother figure I had, my grandmother was a self involved Princess who instructed us to never refer to her as mother. 

By six years old, we called her mom anyway because our desire to have a mother was so strong. To tell us we didn’t have a mother on our sixth birthday gives you a better clue as to what a heartless arrogant narcissistic grandmother we were “gifted with.” She didn’t want us to call her grandma either. 

Our childhoods were spent with a mother off the rails or on drugs and a self involved grandmother who always put herself first so sending a sickeningly sweet Mother’s Day card to my mom or my grandmother when she was alive isn’t easy and may never get easier. Surrounded by adults who adore their mother, I hate the card lane on Mother’s Day.

We had hoped as children that we would never have to deal with an addict again and became the mothers we had never had only to be sucked back in again dealing with a mental illness and drug addicted daughter for Cindy and niece for me. 

I always say we have never been lucky because we haven’t. My sister and I are resilient. We are passionate and we are committed. Giving up is something that we have rarely entertained. 

When Cindy and I had children, like our sister Tammy, we took everything we had learned about parenting from our families and effectively, threw it in the trash. Our parenting is a one eighty from what we lived. Children learn what they live. Smart children learn to break the cycle and, we did. 

If you are visiting our homes and discussing Stephaney in front of the twins, your thoughtlessness and, your visit will be cut short! Maryssa and Makenna are struggling with their mothers choice to fall of the wagon again. The last thing the twins need to hear are “suggestions” about turning our backs on their mother.

These “discussions” with not only our friends but, also other family members who not surprisingly, haven’t lifted a hand to help us navigate the tricky path of getting Stephaney stable have had plenty of advice regarding a situation that they are completely ignorant about. 

I.E. Unless you’ve directly dealt with an adult child or mother with mental illness and/or substance abuse or worse, both, you have no idea what we are going through. Do us all a favor and shut up. 

Parents dealing with children (adult or otherwise) suffering with mental illness or addiction have a cross to bear.

Children dealing with aging parents while facing their own health crisis have very real fears of what will happen to their aging parents.

Threatening a Divorce if you are asked to get out of the wagon and help pull it is a selfish act. Realizing that it can’t always be “all about you” is an enlightening fact. Marriage is a balancing act. 

One of you might be sick or have a bad day at work. That’s when your other half steps in and shoulders the load. Marriage is a partnership not a sole propriety. 

Bend don’t break and you can salvage your marriage unless of course, there are things you can’t live with and don’t want to die living through them. 

Infidelity and domestic violence are both Deal Breakers for me but, other couples somehow manage to get through an infidelity situation while others feel they have no option regarding a violent marriage. 

I’ve been through both and, philandering and violence are both deal breakers for me. I can handle anything else but, those two sent me to the Courthouse. Cindy had similar issues. We couldn’t live with violence or catting around much less both at the same time. How can you love someone you can’t respect? 

It’s sad but, true that if you are solely relying on financial support from your spouse, you will put up with far more shit than if you were financially independent. I did for years. If I had been able to earn as much as my first husband, I would’ve quickly left the first time he hit me. 

Leaving is a frightening choice but, well worth it. I got my life back. Sure, it wasn’t easy and I juggled a million jobs to take care of my son but, I wasn’t afraid to go home and I wasn’t afraid to find someone else in my bed. 

Divorce ended the sad surprises I tried to overlook. It was priceless and painful but, final. No fear no embarrassment and no drama. My marriage now is stable and predictable. I found a life partner! Don’t settle for anything less ya all because you’re worth it. 

On the Flip Side of not wanting a Divorce, there was a creative request for a Divorce Party from Julia last night. It’s well known that I refuse to coordinate a Divorce Party for my previous clients because I cannot and will not “choose sides” and celebrate a Divorce of a couple that I have married.

Over the years, four of my couples that were so happy at their ceremony have divorced. Last year one of my LBGT Brides contacted me regarding Officiating her upcoming wedding to a man. I declined this invitation as I’m friends with her ex wife. 

When there’s a “conflict” regarding Clients needs, I bump bookings to someone else on my staff as a courtesy. If I’m uncomfortable Coordinating, Officiating or orchestrating a service or ceremony, I don’t.

A few days ago, I was asked in an interview if I have ever turned down work or declined a gig? The answer is yes. Although the question directly addressed Prison Weddings, I acknowledged that the choices my Prison Brides or Grooms make when deciding to marry an inmate are none of my business, 

I admitted that I declined to Officiate a Prison Wedding in Houston last year after the Bride disclosed why her fiancé was in Prison. My reason? She had a child and I was more than uncomfortable about joining her hand in marriage to someone who was incarcerated for abusing a child. 

As a parent, I was far too uncomfortable about the situation and suggested finding someone else. I face everyday being the person I would like to meet and making decisions regarding what I’m comfortable doing or not. If I’m so uncomfortable performing a service or ceremony for you that I will lose sleep over it, I won’t.

My goal and role at Texas Twins Events, Texas Prison Weddings, The Pawning Planners and Texas Twins Treasures is to help families have a Dream Event. Although I’ve never had a Divorce Party, I never wanted to celebrate the end of a Marriage that I had entered hoping for a happy life of growing old together. My Divorce was a war. My husband never remarried and raising my son alone was a struggle not only economically but also emotionally for me.

Ceremonies give closure. From Officiating a Funeral or Memorial to Coordinating a Divorce Party or Officiating a Wedding (whether it’s in a Prison or not), my clients become my friends and, I will not involve myself in something I feel strongly against. 

For previous clients wanting a Divorce Party, if I’ve officiated your Wedding, I refer you to other members of my Team. I cannot celebrate the end of something that started with joy. Sharing your wedding was a happy and memorable day for me. I prefer to keep those happy memories rather than celebrate the end of them at a Divorce Party. 

It’s not uncommon for previous clients considering a Divorce to call me for advice. Divorce is far more volatile than changing jobs. I understand that we live in a disposable society but, finding the love of your life isn’t an everyday occurrence. 

I strongly suggest putting effort into your marriage prior to throwing it away. Put yourself in your spouses shoes. Consider their side and their needs. It takes two to tango.

Years ago, when I married Matthew, everything was perfect. We had built a beautiful custom home with a pool and created a family. Everything was “picture perfect.”

One year into my marriage, my husband lost his business and subsequently, was unemployed for three years. It was a tragic time in our marriage because my husband had never been unemployed and had always earned $200-300k a year. 

His depression over being unable to find work in his 60’s and not having any job skills aside from home building and development had him telling me to leave everyday and find someone else.

I’m not a quitter! I don’t give up on my marriage because there’s a bump in the road and, neither does my twin sister. I refused to leave my husband because he was unemployed and although the timing was terrible, Cindy’s husband, Steve was laid off from Albertsons after 23 years. 

With both of our husbands unemployed at the same time, it was the first time in our lives that my sister and I couldn’t rely on each other financially when we were going through hard times. Neither of us considered Divorce.

Instead, Cindy and I began selling all of our jewelry, furniture and anything else we could sell to “save the farm!” That’s right. We sucked it up, we sacrificed and we took on numerous part time jobs as well as my full time job when not meeting people to sell everything we owned to survive. 

Steve eventually took a job with KBR as a fuel tank driver in Balad, Iraq and Cindy finally was able to replace her furniture. I made a call to Mearl who Matthew had worked with years before starting his own development business and my husband went back to work in the industry he knew so well. 

My husband is very good at development and home building and now has had a stable job and income that allow me to pick or choose jobs. I don’t have to work and, if I never worked another day in my life, my husband and I would live comfortably. We don’t live beyond our means and have put half of earnings in savings and investments the past 7 years. Yes, we planned ahead and prepared for retirement. 

I no longer have to work or worry about money. I choose to work because I work for myself and created an opportunity for my family to work with me while earning their own money. By creating Texas Twins Treasures, Texas Twins Events, Texas Prison Weddings and The Pawning Planners, I effectively created a way to help others while helping my own family make money. 

Cindy and I have an opportunity to spend time together while changing the wedding and events industry one family at a time. By working with my family, I finally have the time to spend with them that I never had working 30 years for someone else. 

I’ve been working since I was 14 years old as has Cindy. We left home at 15 and never looked back. We weren’t afraid of hard work and never have been. 

Matthew and I, and Steve and Cindy all stuck together and weathered the storm. Rather than giving in, we got creative and survived.

Ironically, when Cindy married Steve some twenty plus years ago, our grandmother (whose own son and daughter wouldn’t take in), moved in with Cindy and her daughters. My grandmother lived rent free with Cindy and her family for 18 years and made Cindy’s life a living Hell. 

The grandmother that never lifted a finger to help Cindy or I although she would be the only mother figure we had on our lives living off Cindy? Surprising but, true. I refused to move her in with me but, Cindy’s soft heart got the better of her.

Luckily, Steve was on the road 5-6 days a week or my grandma would have surely run him off! My grandmother often told friends and family that Cindy, Steve and the girls lived with HER. Cindy was so mad about this that she bought a sign to enlighten visitors that it wasn’t grandmas house, it was Cindy & Steves house.

My grandmother wasn’t broke. She benefited financially from the sale of her home, social security and disability from our grandfather. She spent this money on herself, traveling and other interests and never once considered “chipping in” on expenses Cindy and Steve addressed paying the mortgage and utilities as well as buying the groceries. 

But, like I said, people get tired of pulling the wagon and eventually, Cindy did too. 

My grandmother was a moocher, a tyrant and more than a “little hard” to live with. My grandmother was a “Pampered Princess.” She didn’t cook, she didn’t clean. Instead, she went shopping! 

Although my grandmother had no responsibilities, she never drove my sister, brother and I to school. Instead, we walked five miles to school and five miles home. If we were sick, we still walked home alone from school. Grandma, like Britney couldn’t be bothered with such trivial matters of child care that might interfere with shopping and self involved activities. Hmmm, interesting. 

I found myself wondering what actual responsibilities Britney had to her marriage and Eddie? Had Eddie spoiled Britney so much that she would effectively never be able to find another husband willing to sacrifice everything for nothing in return like my grandmother? 

My grandfather had spoiled our grandmother to such an extent her entire life that by the time he died, she became everyone else’s problem. Even my aunt resented our grandmother, her own mother for favoriting our father because boys had far more value than girls. 

Did our grandmother hate girls? Perhaps because she had six brothers growing up and resented other girls as a child and women as an adult? My grandmother was one of the very few people that I have never been able to figure out.

Cindy would constantly call me at work about our grandmother and her demands. My grandmother only thought of herself and conveniently “forgot” that Cindy had two kids and a husband to take care of.

Thank God that I was always at work or both Cindy and I would be rallying around my grandmothers demands. Work has always been my salvation. 

Our grandmother took two rooms for herself in Cindy’s 3 bedroom 2 bath home along with the hall bathroom. This forced Leigh Ann and Stephaney to live in the basement and effectively, share Cindy and Steve’s bathroom. I was lit about this and ever more furious at the endless arguments over my grandmother wanting the master bedroom. Steve was paying for everything! Was he expected to live in the basement? 

My grandmother was a selfish Princess. If she could’ve kicked Steve and Cindy out of that master bedroom she would’ve. For years before they bought their current house, Cindy gave in and let grandma take the master bedroom. 

I threw a fit when they moved and argued endlessly over someone not paying for anything trying to take over the house. Steve us a good ole boy who hates conflict. Cindy had been beat down by my grandmother for so many years that she nearly considered it but, in the end held her ground.

By the time Cindy’s daughter, Stephaney was pregnant at 15 with twins, my grandmother made a deal breaker demand of Cindy that was literally, the last straw. 

Cindy’s main job was taking care of grandma and with twins coming, my grandmother was concerned about who would take care of her as usual. She knew it wouldn’t be me or her son or daughter. They were too busy with their own lives to even consider moving their mom in with them.

Our grandmother wanted Stephaney to get an abortion because if she didn’t, “Cindy wouldn’t be able to meet grandmas needs because her focus would be on the twins.” My grandmother was right.  My grandmother only had the ability to think or care about herself and, her needs. 

Cindy knew that she would basically be raising the twins herself and after so many thankless years of trying to make grandma happy, finally listened to me and kicked her out. It took years. I didn’t have a soft spot for my grandmother. 

As children, the “only thing you are good for is working, doing chores and staying out of my way- children should be seen and not heard.” Yes. My grandmother was a real sweetheart. She was mean and thoughtless, she was self centered and she would take the shirt right off your back or the watch right off your hand if she liked it and throw a fit if you didn’t give it to her. It’s no wonder she never found another husband. 

By the 18th year of our grandmother insisting on taking the master bedroom, Cindy had enough. She called our aunt and our father and asked which one wanted to shoulder the burden of having our grandmother live with THEM? 

Not surprisingly, neither her son or her daughter wanted our grandmother. To save her sanity, my sister found an apartment near her home and moved grandma on an icy winter day. 

Cindy also bought all of the furniture for the apartment and visited grandma at least once a day to give her diabetes shots, take her to doctor appointments and buy her food. Cindy still carried the burden of constant phone calls and demands my grandmother out on her by screaming “get your ass over here- I need this or that!” 

When my grandmother snapped her fingers, Cindy went running with two car seats and two strollers to take care of whatever grandma wanted while I was at work. Cindy’s responsibilities to my grandmother didn’t end until she finally died. 

When grandma finally died, rather than rewarding Cindy for her years of selfless dedication and tolerance, our grandmother left everything to her son and daughter. 

Cindy is sick of taking care of everybody else and with Steve eyeing retirement, sick of saving Stephaney. Cindy already shoulders the financial burden of caring and providing for her twin granddaughters the past 13 years without benefit of child support and sadly, Cindy has to cut Stephaney loose to focus on the twins and herself. 

Making Stephaney accountable for her own life won’t be easy and, she may choose not to level out but, it will be her choice and one that we have learned we can’t make for her.

Sometimes “cutting somebody loose” is essential to saving yourself. It’s not an easy decision but, if you have spent a lifetime putting your own needs last, perhaps the only option you have. 

Cindy (like me) was shocked that Britney had moved her ex husband in with her? Yet, she had a problem moving her husbands mother in with her?! 

Cindy is determined not to move anyone else into her home. It’s too damn hard to move them out! Currently, Cindy’s other daughter and granddaughter are living with her which makes for a full house! 

Cindy has had custody of the twins since they were born and although she’s dropped everything over and over to save Stephaney, has nearly given up. If Stephaney can’t save herself at 31 years old, we can’t either. 

Forcing someone to “grow up and get a clue” is a difficult conversation. While Cindy had hoped for the last nearly 14 years that Stephaney would get stable and pitch in to financially help Cindy rear both her children, she hasn’t. My husband and I have helped financially but, the twins mother never has. Both of the twins parents refuse to pay child support.

Shoes, clothes, braces, medicine and other needs of the twins are a priority for both of our families. The twins come first. Sadly, both of their parents take no interest in the financial restraints that raising two children in your 40’s, 50’s, & 60’s has put on not only us but, also our husbands. Both of the twins parents also struggle with drug addiction and, mental illness. 

I only have two very close friends. Not surprisingly, Cindy is also friends with them. These friends have never suggested giving up on my niece. True friends wouldn’t. I’ve known Tammi and Angela for over twenty years and although I can’t see them nearly as much as I would like. They are my family. 

Tammi and Angela understand the struggles of trying to get Stephaney on a straight path of stability and although neither of them are married, they both understand the important role our husbands play in our lives.

Your friends should celebrate your successes and share in your sadness and mine do. 

Britney has too much time on her hands and not enough responsibility. Changing her view on marriage wasn’t an easy discussion but, it was essential. 

I’m honest and a realist. Being a divorced mother with three children isn’t the path that Britney needs to take. Digging your feet in and drawing a line in the sand is a decision that would’ve had disastrous results for her.

Marriage is a two way street. It can never be all for you and to Hell with them and work.

You will have bad days and good days but, at the end of the day, if you’ve faced your struggles as a team, if you’ve survived heartache and illness and hung in there, your marriage will be stronger for it.

My niece is being released next week and like Cindy, I’m uncertain what the future will bring but, we will rally around while juggling our schedules and hope that she stays on her medication and one day, finds Mr Right rather than Mr Right Now which has been a problem for Stephaney all of her life. 

If you are lucky enough to find a partner to share your life with, don’t throw them away….