Because pain makes you self-centered, we have divorce stories where a man wants his kidney back from his soon-to-be ex-wife and an ex-wife spikes her daughter’s teddy bear with a listening device to spy on her ex-husband.
Yes, folks, this is the reality of what happens in divorce — but not often to this extreme. While the media is delighting in these tantalizing morally depraved morsels of family splits and fits, and many divorced parents can privately say, “Well, I wasn’t that bad,” — these stories do serve the purpose of being a cautionary tale.
Having counseled divorcing couples, I try to remind people that the injustice of a divorce is that you are required to muster the strength to be a mature adult at a time when your impulses regress to wanting to be childlike and vindictive. It is why counselors — the good ones — make feuding parents put a picture of their children on the table so they can see what is at stake during the negotiations. There has to be a blinking light that switches on in your head reminding you that you will not make the best decision because of the stresses you’re under and to proceed with caution.
It is also why I repeat the mantra to one and all that you have to love your children more than you hate your spouse
As my friend Dr. Mark Banschick, the creator of the Intelligent Divorce course says, betrayal can blind you and turn normally nice people into thoughtless monsters.
Therefore we have these two stories.
In New York, Dr. Richard Batista, gave one of his kidneys to his ailing wife Dawnell while they were married. Now getting divorced — over her alleged affair with her physical therapist — the Long Island surgeon wants his kidney back, or more precisely, is demanding $1.5 million in compensation for what the organ is worth.
"I saved her life and then, to be betrayed like this, is unfathomable. It's incomprehensible," said Batista, 49, who also claims that his wife made it increasingly difficult for him to see their three children since filing for divorce in 2005. "I feel humbled and betrayed and disregarded,” he said to the New York Post.
Interesting that he used the word “disregarded” since he clearly disregarded how his children will view his actions when they reflect on their parents’ divorce. With his logic, he may want to ask for his sperm back from his children, the ones he wants to see more.
Over in Omaha, Nebraska, William Lewton has sued his ex-wife Diane Divingnzzo after he discovered an audio recorder planted inside the teddy bear of his 4-year-old. The judge presiding over the divorce case refused — thankfully — to hear the recordings since they were obtained illegally. Now Lewton, and several people recorded by the bear, want the ex-wife to pay for the invasion of their privacy.
"I just can't imagine the thought of someone taking that little bear's head off and implanting a device," Lewton told reporter Todd Cooper. "It's . . . incomprehensible."
Indeed. Lewton gave his daughter the teddy bear that “she carried everywhere" and now has been used as a pawn in their divorce battle. He has been fighting his ex-wife for more access to his child. Because of Divingnzzo’s actions, which backfired, Lewton now has joint custody.
Turns out that Lewton also said that his ex-wife had resorted to other antics including hiring private detectives and planting a GPS device on two of his vehicles.
The case continues to have bizarre twists and turns. Divingnzzo now has filed a request to take her daughter out of state since she has a new job — a request that is unlikely to be granted under new laws designed to keep both parents in a child’s life.
What both these cases have done is show how misguided impulses can be. Both parents may think they are doing this for their children when in fact it really is hurting the innocent ones they love. Other strategies can and do work.
Yes, divorce is a bumpy road while you are riding towards your happily ever after again. It is also a process with green and red lights and even yellow ones that shriek “proceed with caution.” In time, the process works, but permanent damage can be done. Parents need to put on emotional seatbelts to prevent their anger to crash and burn their families as these two cases clearly have done.