The first anniversary of your separation is a tough time. The seasons have gone full circle and for most of us that will bring a flood of second thoughts. I begged both my wives to take me back a year after we broke up. The first one said, Maybe if I hadn’t met somebody else. The second one took me back so we had three more months of hell before we finally broke up for good. She had her boy toy back for a while. I had my mama.

I swore all along I wasn’t looking for a mama by marrying a woman nine years older. Of course I was, my mother had me very young and was quite unhappy when I was growing up. She self-medicated with alcohol and drugs.  She was drunk more and more of the time. So here I was a bunch of years later, trying to get one woman after another to make up to me what my mother couldn’t give me. But we’re big grown up men – what should that matter by now!?

Everything, that’s all! We’ll do anything to find a mom we didn’t have. It took me many years to get to where I didn’t need a woman to be my mother, or I wasn’t angry she wouldn’t or couldn’t be. So lighten up on yourself…we’ve all got stuff to work through. You are lucky enough you get to keep on figuring it out.

CARDINAL RULES: 1) No woman is responsible for making up to a man what his mother couldn’t give him or teach him about women.

2) No man is responsible for making up to a woman what her father couldn’t give her or teach her about men.

The problem is none of us wants to know our parents were only human, so we expect our spouses to be more than human. Those expectations are doomed to fail and far too often take marriages with them.

Life is a process of giving birth to oneself.

Relating to significant others is a part of that birthing.

                    Erich Fromm

Now that you’re near the end of this book, it’s time to look at what could be some more of your part of the breakup. It could be that she got too close, and you started pushing her away without knowing it. That happens because intimacy, especially sexual, taps into our core self, our deepest unmet needs, our pain. That’s where the yet to be healed parts of us dwell in the dark. All our jobs are to keep getting healthier, no matter what.

Even when brilliant psychologists like Dr. William Appleton in his book, Fathers and Daughters, give us a tough reality test, in this paraphrase:

There are two kinds of virginity: physical and psychological. The first is lost in an often nervous act in late teens or 20’s.

Later it’s forfeited (often in her 30’s) when a woman having freed herself of her father’s hold is able to give herself fully to a man.

This is not general knowledge although it should be taught in psychology courses as early as high school. As original husbands, we don’t want to know we may not be the man she gives herself too. And most of us didn’t know and weren’t taught these important psychological insights. We find this out the hard way. We suffer for our ignorance, woman do, children do.

But I’ve had the stuffing kicked out of me by women, and I’ve done some kicking, but I’m still standing. You will be too.

All this divorce. When I meet a man now the first thing I think about is ‘Is this the sort of man I want my children to spend their weekends with?’

               Rita Rudner

Guys, you should be cautious about women the way Rita is about men, but DON’T GIVE UP!!

Review of Some Terms

Abandonment: In a family with children, when a spouse walks out on the other, most states consider that a criminal act.

In an Arbitration both spouses meet with a private arbitrating judge. The spouses agree before the meeting to accept the judge’s decision of their case.

In an At Fault Divorce, one spouse has created a situation the other can’t live with. That included things like psychological or physical abuse, desertion, infidelity, alcohol or drug addiction, or committing a crime.

Beneficiary is the one designated in a life insurance policy, will, or bank account to receive the proceeds on the will holder’s death.

A Collaborative Divorce uses specially trained collaborative attorneys who work in cooperation with both parties to settle a case.

Conversion Divorce: changes a separation agreement to a countersuit.

The Custodial Parent is the one the kids live with for more than half the time.

A Default Divorce is one where one of the parties disappears or does not respond to the divorce petition.

An Executor is someone set up in a will to execute that document as the deceased wished.

A Mediator is a third party affiliated with neither spouse trained to assist communication and negotiation between the husband and wife.

Litigation is a legal proceeding to settle a disagreement.

The Petitioner is whichever spouse files the divorce petition.

The Respondent is the spouse who received the petition.

A Protective Order is a court order forbidding one spouse from coming into contact with the other or the children. It also frequently forbids one from entering the home of the other.

A Restraining Order is like a Protective Order, but more specific. It can forbid visiting the kids, using marital assets, or coming within a certain distance of the other spouse.

Raptus is a term used by the Roman Catholic church to indicate the abduction of someone with the intention of forcing them to marry them.

A Subpoena is a legal term summoning one party to attend court.

Substantial Competent Evidence is proof that one parent is unfit in a specific capacity, usually as a custodial parent.

Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution yet.

             Mae West


This site’s home page links to information to all state’s divorce laws and what’s required. Basic information on divorce with search function to direct you to divorce attorneys, but remember to check those out with friends or others who’ve been through divorce. In spite of a lot of lawyer jokes, there are good ones. But then again, the jokes are based on something.

www.  Gives quick definitions so you’ll be able to understand you attorney and what’s going on in court.

Sherman Burns, M.Ed., Survivor of Two Divorces

Sherman has several passions. One is working with his colleagues as a personal separation/divorce consultant primarily for men. He has enjoyed that work since the early 1980’s when he and a professor from a local university founded one of the first support groups for men in the U.S.

Sherman is also a national change management consultant, based in Charlotte, NC. In addition to his corporate clients, Sherman coaches some of the top entrepreneurs in the U.S. in work/life balance and stress reduction.

With thirty years experience as a change management consultant, executive coach, and speaker, Sherman has helped leaders improve their work habits, build strategic relationships/teams, resolve conflicts, balance work and life (stress reduction), and capitalize on their psychological strengths.

Through newspaper columns and the organization he founded, Manreach, Sherman was one of the pioneers in the U.S. in work/balance. He has a Masters of Education and has incorporated years of counseling studies into interventional and coaching programs. Sherman Burns Executive Coaching was founded in 1989. Sherman’s last book, Under Construction: Life has moving, funny, thought provoking stories on work/life balance.

Here are two comments from the back cover of that book.

I’ve really enjoyed the parts of the book you’ve sent me. You are a very insightful guy.

             Robert David Hall, actor (Dr. Robbins, CSI Las Vegas)

Not just another motivational or self-help book. Sometimes deceptively simple, but this has the flesh, the guts, the inspiration to change your life.

              Marion A. Ellis, Pulitzer Prize Winning journalist

To contact Sherman Burns Personal Separation/Divorce Coach for Men, for Sherman’s availability please email him at  Sherman sees clients in the Charlotte, NC, region and consults nationally by phone. He is available to speak to groups,

Thanks for reading. I hope this material is helpful to you or one of your friends. The reaction of several young guys has been surprising and gratifying who’ve read this in early drafts. They’ve told me the material has given them a better perspective for approaching marriage. Of course, they’re hoping this will help them beat the statistics and avoid divorce altogether. I hope so too.

As a community service, Sherman is introducing the blogsite:  It will contain new material to encourage guys going through this tough time.