divorce, Ex, family, love, marriage

Proud to be a “good strong woman”…

Keb’ Mo’ has a new album coming out. I love his music, so I’ve preordered it. So far, two songs have been released. One is a remake of the Bill Withers’ classic, “Lean on Me.” The other is a song that features Darius Rucker. It’s called “Good Strong Woman”. I listened to that song this morning after having breakfast with Bill. He’s staying home again today, because he’s taking a couple more online classes at the Jung Institute in Zurich. Bill’s chance to study Jung directly from the source is one great thing that has come out of living in Germany. It’s really something he enjoys doing, which is as gratifying for me to see as it is for him to experience.

Below is the video for Keb’ Mo’s new song.

I love this song and its message. I try to be a “good strong woman” for Bill.

Our breakfast conversation was about a letter to advice columnist Carolyn Hax that was printed in today’s edition of The Washington Post. The letter writer is having a disagreement with her father over her treatment of his wife. Below is the letter in question:

Wow… my first thoughts? What a brat!

Regular readers probably know why this letter gave me pause. Technically, I am the stepmother to Bill’s two daughters. I’ve only met them in person one time. For many years, they were estranged from their dad, mainly because their mother is extremely toxic and immature and she was more interested in punishing Bill for not letting her continue to abuse him, than being a kind and attentive mother and a “good strong woman” to her current husband. There is ABSOLUTELY no reason why Bill and his daughters should have been kept apart, other than their mother’s warped and extremely petty vindictiveness. And if I sound bitter and snotty, so be it. I know Bill, and unfortunately, I know enough about his ex wife. I am definitely not the whole problem in our case.

Fortunately, Bill’s younger daughter has come around, and it’s plain that she’s not like her mother. So when Bill and his daughter Skype, I’m happy about it. Usually, unless I happen to be sitting in the room when they Skype, I give them their privacy. Almost two years ago, Bill finally got to see his daughter in person, after 15 years of separation. He met his grandchildren. They had plenty of time to talk privately, because when he was in Utah seeing his daughter, I was in Germany, hanging out with Arran. I encouraged this gathering, and was gratified when it went well. Bill’s older daughter remains estranged, but she’s 30 years old and has to make her own choices. So be it.

It should come as no surprise to my readers that I empathize with the letter writer’s stepmother. On the other hand, I also recognize that there isn’t a lot of information here. We don’t know how old the letter writer was when his dad married his second wife. We don’t know the circumstances of his split from the letter writer’s mother. All we know is that stepmom is only ten years older than her stepdaughter, and unlike my stepdaughters and me, this stepdaughter and her stepmom actually have a relationship. It sounds like their relationship, for whatever reason, isn’t a particularly good one.

I appreciated Carolyn’s response to this writer. I think she hit the nail on the head, too. Below is her take on this situation.

Stepdaughter: If the “so much more” resembles this, then you do owe your stepmother/dad’s wife/24-year family member that apology.

So many times with so many stories, things can go either way, depending on all the details I don’t have. And maybe this one still can, too; I obviously have little to work with.

But then, ooh, I get the Magic Aside, the throwaway scrap in a question that’s the comprehension equivalent of fumbling around in the dark and accidentally bumping a light switch.

“She’s only 10 years older than me.”

Ah.

How dare he.

Form a lasting partnership with someone younger than he is.

Right?

Think for a moment. If you had fallen in love with someone, a fellow adult, and your father was giving you grief because your partner was 20 years younger, would you be okay with that? I doubt you’d appreciate his being in a 24-year huff over it, and still imposing his huff on your family’s guest lists.

Could your stepmother have let this go? Maybe. But, 24 years. That’s how long she’s been part of your family, and you’re still pressuring others (successfully!) to treat her as an interloper. If you want backup for excluding someone from a gathering, then you need proof of malice on her part. Ookie age proximity or old wounds or not being your mom won’t cut it.

No, of course, you “shouldn’t be forced.” But your conscience, your better self, your love for your dad, your enduring peace of mind and your humanity are all inner voices that are overdue to exert some force.

Again, unless there’s malice — and I mean evident stepmotherly ill intent, not just missteps in a time of awkward transition — I urge you to hear the pleas, please, of your better angels for you to swallow your pride, let go, and respect her rightful place.

I know a lot of people who don’t know our story might want to “come at me”. I’ve heard many times over the years about how I should “be the bigger person” and “recognize that I’m an ‘interloper’ in an established relationship” and, even worse, some have even asked me if I broke up Bill’s first marriage. The answer to that question is a resounding “NO”. I didn’t even meet Bill in person until almost a year after his divorce.

In four days, Bill and I will have been married for 19 years. He’s almost eight years older than I am. If had been the mother of his daughters, I would have been a very young mom. But, at this point, Bill and I have been together about twice as long as he was with his ex wife. We are extremely compatible, which makes me very happy, because when I was in college, I went through seven roommates… and even that was with two semesters of living alone.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. One of those roommates basically kicked me out of the room after our first week of freshman year so she could bunk with the party girl across the hall. One moved in for part of a semester because she got kicked out of her room for being busted with pot. That roommate later got kicked out of school for not going to class. And another was a student teacher, who was only at school for a few weeks until she went home to student teach. I got along fine with three roommates, and barely tolerated a fourth. We simply weren’t compatible.

There are always extenuating circumstances, and things aren’t always as they seem at face value. Still, I had friends who found their besties during freshman year and roomed together the whole time we were in college. Some of them are now divorced, even if they’re still buddies with their former roommates. I, on the other hand, couldn’t find a really compatible roommate, but I did find a husband who is just about perfect for me. So what if I came second? Bill and I are married. We love each other. I am now part of his family, and he’s part of mine. And because we love each other and are family, neither of us has to be alone as we get older. I’m so glad that Bill’s younger daughter understands that, and supports it.

When I read the letter in Carolyn Hax’s column today, what really stood out to me was just how self-centered and petty the writer came across. The line about her father’s wife being “only 10 years older” reveals what I think is one of many bones of contention this lady has with her dad and his wife. She mentions there is “so much more to the story”, but chooses to mention the age difference instead of some other reason why she and stepmom aren’t friends. That, to me, is very telling. The age difference obviously really bugs her.

However, if stepmom was a legal adult when she and the letter writer’s dad got married, the age difference shouldn’t matter, especially since they have been married for 24 years. A marriage that has lasted that long probably works well on some level. If stepmom wasn’t a legal adult when she got married, then she was a victim, and shouldn’t be blamed. Either way, it sounds like dad and stepmom love and respect each other, and letter writer should, in turn, understand that, and grow the fuck up.

The fact that the letter writer’s dad is supporting his wife’s complaints about his daughter’s apparent toxic, petty behavior reveal that this isn’t a marriage strictly of convenience. I do know there are marriages that are like that– people get married solely for money, security, or some other commodity. For example, I suspect Ex and her husband have a loveless marriage, based on what I know about her first two husbands and the way she reportedly treats #3. But, based on the letter above, I don’t think that’s the situation for the letter writer’s dad and his wife. It sounds like the dad is supporting his wife. He has his wife’s back, not his daughter’s.

Oooh… now this would be exciting.

The daughter sounds like she is trying to dictate to her father the terms of their relationship. She’s trying to force him to choose between his wife and his daughter. It doesn’t sound like she’s considered the fact that he gets a vote, too. He may very well decide that his relationship with his wife, the woman with whom he shares a home, and presumably, a bed, is more important than a relationship with his grown daughter, who, at least in this letter, comes off as really petty and obnoxious. Like it or not, her dad has chosen to marry someone other than her mother. She should be grateful that he’s found love and isn’t alone. And yes, she should show some basic respect to her stepmother, just as she should to most people. Otherwise, why not simply go no contact?

The comments on this post are pretty interesting. Lots of people are on “team stepmom”. Lots of people are supporting the letter writer. It’s true that the dad/husband is responsible for the fact that his daughter exists. Many people feel that a person’s children should always come first. Personally, I disagree with that, since children usually grow up to be adults, and they need to learn that the world doesn’t always revolve around them.

If the dad decides that he’s willing to continue a relationship with his daughter without his wife’s involvement, that might work out fine. However, based on the way the dad reacted to his daughter’s behavior, it sounds like he’s putting his wife and marriage first. And that’s probably the best thing to do, in the long run. His daughter is grown up, now, so he should focus on living his life, making himself happy, and staying healthy. His daughter can fend for herself. If she doesn’t grow up and stop being so selfish, she may have to do that.

Divorce can really suck. It’s often expensive, painful, complicated, and heartbreaking. However, sometimes divorce is absolutely necessary. It was definitely necessary in Bill’s case. He couldn’t stay with his ex wife without risking his health, or even his life. And he should not have been expected to, especially not for the convenience of someone else– and certainly not for someone who is an adult. Bill’s stepmother had “issues” with Bill’s divorce, because it made it harder for her to see his kids, who technically aren’t even her grandchildren. She doesn’t know the whole story about everything that went wrong, or the most egregiously awful parts of the story, but she also didn’t have to live in that hellish situation. Bill did.

Maybe the letter writer had a legitimate gripe if she was a child when the divorce happened, and the stepmom was legitimately abusive to her in some way. She’s now a grown woman, though, and she probably needs to get over herself and accept her stepmother as a full member of the family. If she can’t or won’t do that, then maybe it’s time she went no contact. Of course, going no contact is a big decision, and it can come with significant consequences. But sometimes it really is the healthy thing to do for everyone involved. Either way, it sounds like dad is sticking with his wife, and she’s going to have to accept that.

I don’t know what went wrong in the relationship between the letter writer’s parents, but obviously, they couldn’t be together. Her dad has now found someone to love, and they’ve been together for a long time, in spite of the daughter’s disdain and disrespect toward their marriage. If the letter writer loves her dad, she should understand and respect that, and stop trying to divide the family with petty foolishness. It sounds like he’s found himself a “good strong woman”, and she should simply be happy for him and try to co-exist with her. I’m sure the letter writer’s dad would want the same kind of strong and supportive partner for her.

Below are the lyrics to Keb’ Mo’s new song, “Good Strong Woman”.

Mama said, “Son, listen to me
That girl is T-R-O-U-B-L-E
So watch out, I know you love her but she’s not your friend
She’ll only be there long as you got money to spend”

Life can be kinda hard on a man

You’re gonna need a good strong woman that’s got your back
Fill you back up when you’re outta gas
A good strong woman goes a long, long way
Makes the right now better than the yesterday
I’m talking ’bout a good strong woman (strong woman)
A good strong woman (strong woman)
A good strong woman (strong woman)
Hm, a good strong woman (strong woman)

She will never leave you if you treat her right
She’ll be there in the morning till the late of night
She’s the kind that’s never gonna let you down
Makes you put the bricks on the world around

Life can be kinda hard on a man

You’re gonna need a good strong woman that’s got your back
Fill you back up when you’re outta gas
A good strong woman goes a long, long way
Makes the right now better than the yesterday
I’m talking ’bout a good strong woman (strong woman)
A good strong woman (strong woman)
A good strong woman (strong woman)
A good strong woman (strong woman)

If you wanna make the bad times better
Make a good thing last forever

Life can be kinda hard on a man

You’re gonna need a good strong woman that’s got your back
Fill you back up when you’re outta gas
A good strong woman goes a long, long way
Makes the right now better than the yesterday

You’re gonna need a good strong woman that’s got your back
Fill you back up when you’re outta gas
A good strong woman goes a long, long way
Makes the right now better than the yesterday

I’m talking ’bout a good strong woman (strong woman)
A good strong woman (strong woman)
A good strong woman (strong woman)
Yeah, I’ll be a good strong woman

Oh, a good strong woman
She’s got your back, strong woman
Talking ’bout a good strong woman
(Good strong woman)

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bad TV, Duggars, Reality TV, religion

Plathville… and Papa Duggar’s dirty dealings in the 80s…

Today’s post will be two-pronged. First, I’m going to write about Welcome to Plathville. Then I’m going to write about J.L. Duggar again. Why? It’s mainly because I have noticed a lot of hits on my previous posts about these two topics. But I also have some comments to make, and it’s also nice not to have to sit here and think about what I want to write. In fact, I even knew last night that today’s post would be on these topics… I love it when that happens. So, let’s dive in, shall we?

Plathville…

I finally started watching Welcome to Plathville in June of this year. I kept seeing people post about this show, which features a very blond family from Cairo, Georgia. Kim and Barry Plath are the parents of nine living children, several of whom are adults. Their toddler son, Joshua, was tragically killed in an accident years ago. He was seventeen months old at the time of his death.

I’ve been watching the most recent season of this show, which remains somewhat compelling, even though it doesn’t look like the Plaths are really all that into “religion” anymore. During the first two seasons, it seemed like they were more of a fundie family. Now, it looks like most of the kids are abandoning religion… or at least they are leaving the hyper-controlled lifestyle they grew up in, courtesy of their parents. I’ve noticed a few swear words this season, as well as more revealing clothing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Anyway, it seemed like in prior seasons, people really seemed to think Kim and Barry Plath were terrible parents. Kim Plath, especially, seemed to get a lot of flak for being super-controlling and for the fact that her toddler son died on her watch.

This season has mostly been about oldest son Ethan and his wife, Olivia, and their estrangement from the family. At the end of season 2, Ethan Plath told his parents that he and Olivia were going to go “no contact”. Olivia and Ethan haven’t had the best relationship, either, and there’s been talk of them separating. Olivia longs to move to a bigger city, away from Ethan’s mother. Ethan likes living in a rural town, in his own house. He also seems to like being near his siblings, even though he doesn’t seem to want to talk to his parents. He especially seems pissed off at his mom, whom he claims is very “controlling”. Having watched Ethan over the past season, I’d say he has a few control issues himself.

The latest trailer.

Meanwhile, younger siblings, Moriah and Micah, who left the family nest at very young ages (in Moriah’s case, even before she was a legal adult), are caught in the middle somewhat. Moriah landed a musical gig, which included Olivia as a keyboard player. Because of Olivia’s ongoing fracas with Kim Plath, there was some conflict. Moriah felt compelled to tell her parents not to attend her concert. Kim decided she was going to show up anyway, with three of Moriah’s siblings.

Ethan saw Kim’s car and went looking for her. He finally figured out that Kim and his siblings were in someone else’s car, listening to the concert, completely out of view of Moriah. Ethan got all pissed off and basically told off his mom. Kim later told Moriah that she wasn’t going to be told where she can and can’t go, and if Moriah is playing a show, she’s going to want to be there.

I was left of two minds as I watched all of this unfold. But before I share my opinions, I also want to say that this whole scenario seemed very contrived to me. The Plaths had a family band, so it’s not like this was really Moriah’s first performance. Yes, it might have been her first solo show, but she’s a seasoned performer. It didn’t look like there was much of a crowd at her “gig”, but as they performed, it didn’t look to me like Moriah and her bandmates had much energy. They didn’t even seem nervous, really… it just seemed kind of forced and scripted, even as Moriah finished her performance and gave sort of a lackluster thanks to the audience.

Aside from that, it seems really uncool that this whole family drama involving Ethan, Olivia, Kim, and Barry was allowed to overshadow Moriah’s solo debut. I think if this truly went down the way it’s depicted on the show, all of them– Ethan, Olivia, and Kim– need to grow the fuck up. At least Barry avoided attending the show, in accordance with his daughter’s wishes.

First off– if Moriah is going to be a performer, she’s going to have to deal with people coming to see and hear her play. Some of those people may not be people she wants to be there. But if she’s in a public venue, that’s part of the deal. Kim Plath was well within her rights to attend the show, even though Moriah (prompted by Olivia) asked her not to come. Kim should not have had to hide in a car if she came for the concert, which was in a public venue. Kim did say that next time, she won’t hide. I don’t blame her.

Secondly– if Olivia is going to be a part of Moriah’s band, she’s going to have to deal with people coming to the shows that she may not like. That’s part of being a professional. I totally get not wanting to be around toxic people, but if it’s that much of an issue for her, she probably ought to opt out of playing with Moriah. She really shouldn’t ask Moriah to tell her mother not to come to her performances. Olivia should not have made her issues with Kim overshadow Moriah’s show. That show wasn’t about Olivia. It was about launching Moriah’s career as a singer-songwriter.

Thirdly– Kim really should have respected Moriah’s wishes, as her husband Barry did. There will be other shows she can attend. Hopefully, Moriah will find someone unrelated to her to play keyboards so her family can come to her shows without issues from Ethan and Olivia.

And finally– Ethan probably should have stayed out of the whole thing. He wasn’t performing. He introduced Moriah, then took it upon himself to play bouncer. Most of the conflict was because of him and Olivia, and it was Moriah’s show. I feel like all four of the “adults” really let Moriah down by letting their interpersonal drama overshadow what should have been an exciting day for Moriah. I hope Moriah will advertise for a new keyboard player so this kind of petty crap won’t be an issue in her subsequent gigs.

This isn’t to say that Olivia is wrong to be upset with Kim, by the way. It’s more to say that this gig wasn’t about Olivia and her issues with Kim. If she wasn’t able to perform for all comers, she probably should have bowed out and/or helped Moriah find someone else to play. But again– I’m sure this entire drama was contrived for the sake of the storyline.

It did appear that Ethan and Olivia were getting along better in this episode… but I also think that if their marriage is going to survive, they probably ought to get off reality TV and move somewhere else. The United States is a big country, and surely they can find a place to live that will appeal to both of them. Or… maybe it really is time for them to cut their losses and find partners that are more suitable.

I think the most adult person on Welcome to Plathville has got to be Lydia. Not only is she very mature and kind; she’s also very pretty. I hope she’s able to come of age unscathed by this reality TV venture. I know a lot of people make bank on these shows, but they seem to cause a lot of families to fall apart. I know… I shouldn’t support this industry by watching.

Now… on to J.L. Duggar

This week, Katie Joy of YouTube’s Without A Crystal Ball shared a revelation about Jim Bob Duggar’s late father, Jimmy Lee (J.L) Duggar. It seems that back in the early 1980s, the elder Mr. Duggar got into trouble with the law and was incarcerated for a period of time. Below is a link to her video about Jim Bob’s dad, and how he wound up behind bars for fraud involving used cars he was selling for other people.

Now I can understand a little bit better why Boob seemed to have so much contempt for his father…

I also noticed in the Duggar Family News group that the group owner, Pickles, wrote a post about J.L. Duggar on her public page, which is open to everyone. It was based on Katie Joy’s video about J.L. Duggar’s past. Pickles asked Jim Bob’s niece, Amy, about the story. Amy wrote back that it was true that her grandfather did do some time. I’m not going to copy and paste the entire post Pickles wrote, but I do want to include this bit, with which I agree:

All in all, Jimmy Lee was human. His issues are all our issues in different form. He probably had an abusive childhood or mental health issues that were never addressed. I wonder if he had a narcissist personality as we see in Josh. Anyway, God sees the big picture. Hopefully Josh’s prison term will come with a professional evaluation and counseling. It may not help but at least he might finally get some real help.

If you want to read the whole thing, you can visit Pickles’ page, which at this writing is still totally open to the public. Just click the link in the paragraph under the video. J.L.’s jail stint, by the way, happened when Jim Bob was in high school, years before Josh was a spark in Boob’s balls. So I’m not sure the elder Duggar’s legal issues directly had that much to do with Josh’s issues, unless Jim Bob’s apparent disdain for his father bled over somehow in how he treats his own children, especially his sons.

As for Katie Joy, I notice a lot of people are ragging on her for being “toxic”, mean, and hypocritical, and a couple of people have said she drinks. I have never seen Katie Joy drunk on her channel, but I also don’t watch everything she does. I’m not involved in any of the dramas involving her. I just watch her Duggar content sometimes because it’s interesting… and a lot of the time, there’s truth behind her commentary. She usually proves it with legal documents, clips from the shows and news, and newspaper reports, or screenshots from people actually in the know.

That being said, anyone who is following this stuff should take everything reported with a grain of salt. The truth is, it’s hard to know exactly what goes on in someone’s life, even if they seem to put “everything” out there. Most of the people commenting, including me, are really just speculating. So always remember that and keep it in mind as you wade through this sordid morass of a story.

No matter what, I still think Jim Bob was a total shit for treating his terminally ill father with so little respect during the last days of his life. That man was dying of brain cancer and Jim Bob turned his last days into reality TV. That was a really rotten way to treat his dad, and not exactly the best example of Christlike behavior, in my opinion. When it comes time for Jim Bob to depart this life, it would serve him right if his children him treated him similarly… although I would not wish that for him. NOBODY deserves that kind of piss poor treatment when they’re on their deathbed, especially on camera. Just my two cents.

Well… the wind has died down; the sun is out; I’ve done the laundry and changed the sheets, so I guess it’s time the dogs got a proper walk. In a few days, we’ll be taking a well deserved (for Bill, anyway) break. I’m looking forward to it, but also a bit nervous for a few reasons. But I look forward to having some new photos and memories… and some stories to share.

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