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IT and Divorce? 943

frank_tudor asks: "I am graduate student and work as a web developer. I am also getting a divorce and I have a son caught in the middle. I believe my profession had a part in it. For my graduate thesis I am writing a paper about Dads who work in the computer industry, divorce and custody. I think our industry causes a high rate of divorce but I need some help from the Slashdot community. My questions are: How many of you computer Dads have also gone through divorce and have retained either half or full custody of your children? Do you think your job had something to do with it? What were some of your hardest challenges and are your kids happy?"
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IT and Divorce?

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  • Besides the obvious? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:57PM (#16426553)
    The obvious being that many geeks make poor (perhaps "premature" is a more fair word) choices in their personal lives. Before you mod me down, consider how many geek friends you know that go for girls that are TERRIBLE matches for them. Many geeks make very good choices too, of course, but it seems there's no middle ground; geeks either know themselves, or they don't, and it seems to reflect in their personal lives as well.
  • my divorce- (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jmahler ( 192217 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @01:57PM (#16426579) Homepage
    I work as an IT person (net admin, specifically) and I went through a divorce with 2 kids.

    I came out with a shared parenting plan and am considered the custodial or residential parent (the 2 kids live with me, and have structured times w/ their mother). My divorce, however, was not due directly to my workload. It was due to the fact that my ex is an alcoholic with violent tendencies... my long hours irritated her, sure - but that's about it. :)

    Long hours suck the life out of everyone - but they are an unfortunate side-effect of what we have chosen to do for a living. This is beginning to change a bit, I've noticed - I can do my work from home when I need to be home with the kids due to a great implementation of citrix and vpns (not to toot my own horn), and my cell phone keeps me in constant contact when needed.
  • by ezkl ( 974098 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:19PM (#16427027)
    I grew up in a household that was abundant in two things; computers and marital tension. My father is an IT entrepreneur. My mother is a teacher. I have a feeling that my father was a lot cooler in college when they met. Of course, when the ex-hippie turned pseudo-philosopher graduates from college and runs into the brick wall of real life, certain decisions have to be made. He runs into computing in the late 70's and it's a match made in heaven, far stronger than anything my parents ever had. As the divorce was happening, I blamed it on tension created by certain members of the extended family, but I was 12 when they separated, so my analysis at the time holds no weight. In retrospect, almost 13 years later, I now see that the computer, or at least the number of hours logged in front of it had much more to do with it. Admittedly, the divorce messed me up for quite a while, as I think they mess up most children (especially at that age) but things are much better now than they were before. Both my parents remarried and are extremely successful now in both their careers and personal lives. My sister and I both lead productive, well-balanced lives and have great relationships with both sets of parents.

    I'd venture a guess that you could make a correlation between ANY job that elicits long, dedicated hours and divorce. It's the way social evolution seems to work. Community -> Family -> Individual -> Online Groups -> Large Online Communities. That may be a little contrived, but hopefully you all get the point.
  • Re:Oh please (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ksheff ( 2406 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:24PM (#16427149) Homepage
    IT certainly doesn't help. Having to stay late to wrap up code for a release deadline, fix a production problem or getting calls from the computer room in the middle of the night didn't mesh too well with a wife who thinks that a developer job is a strictly 9-5 occupation. Arguments with my ex over my job were way too common. Not getting a calls at 5:30pm from an irate spouse wondering why you're still at work at least makes the job a little less stressful. Now, at least I can do what I need to get done at work and relax some when I get home instead of getting into a fight.
  • Re:Oh please (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:36PM (#16427415)
    Seriously, who can we blame but ourselves? What is with our society and the need to point the finger somewhere else? Please bring back the days of personal responsibility.

  • by with_him ( 815684 ) * on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:40PM (#16427507)
    The best gift you can give your child is a stable family. Many people try to buy the happiness for/of their children. Others try to be their best friend. If you really want to help your kid out. Give them security in an insecure world. Model for your kids that life and relationships can be hard, but at the end of the day Dad and Mom are commited to each other and them "the kid(s)". Most of us will, like it or not, end up similar to our parents. How you treat your spouse becomes the norm and comfortable for them. Notice I am not saying the right way or even healthy, only what they are used to and most likely to reproduce. Later in life, despite all of our best efforts, we tend towards the relationships we see modeled around us. Words of wisdom that others have shared. 1+1=1 or 100%+100%=100% When you are fully devoted to building up your spouse and they are fully committed to building you up will both of your needs be met. The struggle should not be on "how do I get my needs met". If we could do that than there would be no reason to get married! From the personal experience, grace can carry you a long way and only when you are both working together do you achieve real happiness. If you want to help your Child, give them security and good model for their future relationships. Never fail to tell them you love them. While you may not like some of the things they do, you should always love them. Final thought before I step down from my soap box: Love is choice, lust or desire are feelings!
  • by AtomicJoshua ( 56908 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:44PM (#16427611)
    Yep. Don't act like you are married (or expect your significant other to) when you aren't. If 8 and 1/2 years have gone by without making a serious commitment like marriage, you aren't the one, just the one for now (or the one until a better one comes along).

    The fact the she was open to meeting someone new tells you everything.

    I'm married and I'm committed to my marriage. That means that I don't go looking for new people to get into a relationship with and I am not open to that possibility with people I meet.
  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:48PM (#16427707) Homepage

    Not necessarily. At least in EU.

    Lack of social skills in IT (and most heavily intellectual industries for that matter) is an American specific thing. That is not the case in the EU.

    Based on personal observations from 2 years in a US Uni and 5 years in a EU Uni the stratification between sporty steroidheads and geeks is much more pronounced in the US. In EU sports are played for fun and there are quite a few sporty geeks or very geeky sportsmen. And quite a few womenisers and party animals (and vice versa) amidst them.

    Till recently most EU companies did not consider it to be a "bad tone" for people to be rational and interested in the material side of the job (shares, salary, etc). That is not the case in the US which is much more like this []. You are expected to be a sociopath, work long hours, be passionate about the job and sacrifice your family and kids in favour of it and if you do not fit this mould you do not get hired. While some EU companies have tried to adopt this model (I had that tried on me in an interview), it has not been particularly successfull (at least till recently). As a result in the US there is job based selection towards sociopathic intellectuals (this is not just IT, in fact biotech is much worse).

    For example in the company where I work less then 5% are overweight, 90%+ play some form of sport, 95% are married and the divorce rate has been 0 per 100 employees (for 5 years span). That is way better than the national average for the UK and many times better than the US.

  • Re:Oh please (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 13, 2006 @02:54PM (#16427835)
    If your workplace doesn't allow this then its time to move on and let them hire a college grad who does not have such obligations.

    that's exactly what they're doing, therefore we older coders are lucky to get jobs at all. where do you suggest he "move on" to? he'll still be competing with more of those same college grads. seriously, what worklplace doesn't want someone who'll work more hours for same or cheaper pay? which leaves us where we are now: age discrimination and offshoring.
  • Re:Oh please (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shmlco ( 594907 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @03:11PM (#16428185) Homepage

    There are LOTS of demanding jobs out there, and plenty where you're "on call". Doctor, lawyer, cop, IT, executive, manager, in fact, practically anything above "Would you like fries with that?"

    IT isn't a special case.

    In fact, I'd say he needs to be careful in his thesis, because there's a chicken-and-egg issue at play: Does IT cause people to have more problems... or are the types who're attracted to IT less likely to have good social/interpersonal skills, and as such be more prone to issues outside the workplace?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 13, 2006 @03:50PM (#16428911)
    Here are some traits I observed which one side, the other, or both had in those cases:lack of communication skills, unwillingness to communicate, unwillingness to listen, self-absorption leading to the exclusion of the other, disjoint financial strategies, unfair domestic workload balance, ho-hum disregard for the children. I never saw a particular job or anything actually interfere.

    I'm a father of a 4 and 2 year old and have been married to my wife for 4 years now(with her for 8 years before that) with no sign of a divorce in site and I have to second this.

    These are some of the things I've seen friends who have gotten divorced pull to give an idea of how these things play out in real life situations:
    Guy has a wife and kids at home and still stays late to play network games with the single guys. Regularly. No excuse, grow the fuck up.

    Guy has a kids birthday/wifes birthday/anniversary/etc... coming up and blows most of his spending money on some gadget/technical project(read: adult toy). You can generally get away with this once or twice depending whether it was something you regretted doing afterwards, or if you are able to con her into thinking you regretted it. When the third time comes, you're in deep shit because the message you are sending loud and clear is: "Everything comes second to my petty desires." If you really don't regret it at this point, then you should view divorce as a good thing.

    Guy has some kind of anger/insecurity/depression/etc... issues that he does not tell his wife about! Guys, that's your WIFE, not your mommy you hide secrets from. If there is one person in the world you should be able to open up to as a man, it's your wife. That's what she's there for, that's what you're there for(not counting the hot sex, baby talk, and all the other fun shit). You have to share each others burdens, as well as happiness. This nearly destroyed my relationship with my wife, until I just got it out. So much shit practically fixed itself after I opened up to her that it was amazing. My friend didn't though, he's a real man who doesn't have any issues. He'll never open up and talk and feel weak because he's still pissed that he got beat as a child, so he'll carry that weight by himself. Not really by himself, he's getting a married a second time so I'm sure this time will be forever and the kids from his previous marriage will just understand what a man he is. :P

    I just wanted to give some examples because sometimes I think people read those words and really don't put two and two together that they are doing things that qualify as what those words are saying. My friend who keeps his anger and the reasons for it bottled up inside is completely oblivious to his inability and unwillingness to communicate what needs to be communicated. He thinks he's open. My other two divorcee friends, the game addict and the gadget addict, think their ex's were "bitches" because they didn't "understand". All three of them tell me I don't know how lucky I am to have the woman I do, and that's total shit. First off, in case she reads this, I do know how lucky I am. And second, If I did what they did consistantly, my wife would drop me like a bad habit.
  • by tj2 ( 54604 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @04:48PM (#16429937)
    These days, people divorce because they argue too much. Or because "the spice" is gone. Or because they don't like arguing about money. Or because the in-laws hate each other. Or because wife gained some weight and doesn't look good enough anymore. Get over it. Man up and deal with it and treat the marriage with the importance it deserves.

    Okay, but what if you're the only one working on it? I'm going through some tough times right now with my wife, and I seriously doubt the marriage will survive. We've tried counseling, and I've learned some shit that makes me want to go out and piss on her dad's grave, and I didn't much care for him before I knew what I now know. But here's the deal: *now*, she can continue forever wallowing in her repressed anger (and taking it out on me and our daughter) and never take responsiblity for her actions when angry, because she has a perfect excuse for being angry. And if I stand up for myself/my daughter/my beliefs/etc, I'm just an insensitive prick.

    I can't even begin to tell you the times I've swallowed my pride so as to "man up" and keep the marriage going. I always figured, in time, she'd get over some of it. Nope. I'm still taking the heat for shit that happened *years* before I met her. We've been married for 23 years, and it's just getting worse.

    The sad thing is, she's great when she's not mad, but there's no telling what will make her mad. She doesn't have a state such as "upset", or "miffed", or "put out". Nope, if she's mad at all, it's instantaneous and unequivocal rage, and it lasts a long, long time. It can be something I say, or don't say, or a commercial on TV, or something she reads. Doesn't matter, I'll have to pay the piper for it.

    Now, after this many years, am I a quitter?

  • Re:Oh please (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:16PM (#16430321) Journal
    If oil and gas deposits produce a happy population then how come Nigeria isn't, or Alaska for that matter?

    Actually, contrary to Norway's Foreign Ministry's sunny report oil production in Norway has peaked []. Though, as you pointed out, they have better gas reserves. Russia still supplies a major part of Europe's gas needs (#1 at 1,680 trillion cubic feet in reserves).

    Production from Norway, OECD Europe's largest producer, is expected to peak at about 3.6 million barrels per day in 2006 and then decline gradually to about 2.5 million barrels per day in 2030 with the maturing of some of its larger and older fields.

    Estimated Reserves (BB):
    Kazakhstan 9.0
    Norway 7.7
    Azerbaijan 7.0

    Maybe the US will live high on the hog from coal [].

    Total recoverable reserves of coal around the world are estimated at 1,001 billion tons--enough to last approximately 180 years at current consumption levels ...67 percent of the world's recoverable reserves are located in four countries: the United States (27 percent), Russia (17 percent), China (13 percent), and India (10 percent).

  • by KlomDark ( 6370 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:27PM (#16430445) Homepage Journal
    Holy shit, that sounds pretty much exactly like my story! I think I'm the only one working on it. She cannot see anything good, only the bad. She cannot let go of the past. I think she has somehow moved my image in her mind to the place occupied by her dead, abusive father. Very nice when not mad, but goes off with no apparent trigger. Got mad and moved out last week when I asked her what her problem was after she gave my daughter (her step daughter) enough shit that she started crying.

    Oh well, trying counseling for the first time next week. But if she doesn't want to try, not much that can happen. Very heartbreaking to have a 3 year old boy in the mix who does not understand what's going on.

    Shoulda listened to my grandma. When I was about 12, I mentioned something about wanting to have a girlfriend, and grandma said "You just stay away from girls. They'll just break your heart and make your life miserable." Best advice I ever got. :)
  • Re:Oh please (Score:2, Interesting)

    by E++99 ( 880734 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @05:56PM (#16430871) Homepage
    but as soon as they enter school, the pressure is off, and you can being to wean them off dependance on you.

    At what, age 6? or is it 4 now? Therein lies the disintegration of America. If you have kids, you are responsible for their upbringing. And yes, we homeschool.
  • by Rikardon ( 116190 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @07:59PM (#16432161)
    I agree that if your family is or wants to be supportive, they don't usually require a lot of time each day. What my wife and kids DO require is some amount of time, however limited, that is theirs and theirs alone (nearly) every day. Also, they need to know that whatever else is taking my time is in pursuit of some concrete, beneficial goal.

    I have bedtime traditions with my kids. Not the same one every night, but a handful we can use on different nights depending on everyone's energy level. Sometimes I wrestle with them before bedtime. Sometimes I read to them out of a slim blue volume of Robert Louis Stevenson's poems for children. With my daughter I'm teaching her a song in French; sometimes we dance around the livingroom and sing together. With my oldest son I'm now listening to him learn to read before bedtime.

    None of those take more than fifteen minutes each, but they happen (nearly) EVERY night, at or about the same time, and my children and I have come to count on them.

    With my wife it's similar. Some nights we're lucky, and all three kids are asleep early enough that we can talk (and do other things) for some time. Other nights we're really tired but we make time to exchange a simple kiss or two when passing in the hallway, or to rub each others' shoulders, or something.

    I guess if I have anything to add to the parent post it's that you need to sell your family on the benefits of whatever else is consuming your time. If your family truly believes that what you're doing is in pursuit of some shared goal, there's less resentment at your being busy. Couple that with consistent time together, even if it's short, and it sends the message "I value you" rather than "I don't have time for you." I myself am very task-focused and tend to deal brusquely with interruptions when I'm focused on something, so when I'm with my family I try to be WITH them, and I apologize when I'm too harsh.

    I'm rambling a bit, and I'm deeply sorry if this post is hard to read for the original poster since he's past the stage where these ideas have any value for his current situation. But I wanted to chime in with my two cents in support of the immediate parent post to this one, which contains a lot of useful wisdom.
  • Re:my divorce- (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Electric Cartographe ( 1013405 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @11:33PM (#16433351)
    It's pretty amazing that the situation of how your marriage ended parallels mine exactly.

    At the time it all ended, I was doing most of the parenting, going to grad school, and holding down two jobs. Then she would get pissed at me because I had homework to do after I put our son to bed. I always tried to explain to her that it wasn't going to be like this forever, but right now that's the way it has to be.

    Her selfish drunken abusiveness was too much to handle anymore. Trust me, I wanted it to work. I stuck it out and held our family together with band aids and string for two years. I begged her to get help but as a typical alcoholic she would just externalize all the problems and blame them on me. It just got to the point where enough was enough. I didn't want our son to be caught in the middle of her anger anymore. Making the decision to pull the trigger and call the cops on her the night it all ended was the hardest decision I ever had to make. Ironically, it all happened about two months before I completed my Grad school and things would have been potentially better. I don't think she wanted us to succeed, I think she wanted it all to fail.

    I ended up with full legal and physical custody of our son. I let her have the house. I'm now a full time single parent with a very good IT job. Between work and my son, I'm am extremely busy all the time but it sure seems alot easier than trying to figure out how to handle or deflect the abusiveness in the household on a nightly basis.

    And regardless of what the other fools in this thread say, you are right, you can't fix an alcoholic if they don't want to be fixed. It took the loss of custody for her to straighten out to any large degree. I certainly didn't want that to happen to her or our family, in fact I offered her a much more amicable proposition, but she decided to be bullheaded and continue on fighting me in court. In the end the courts said she should have zero custody. And she is still extremely bullheaded about most things. Some people you just can't fix and they will fight with you and act contrary to what is best for themselves and the family simply for the sake of being a pain in the ass and a waste of time for everyone.

    And did my job and school have anything to do with it? Maybe, from her point of view it did. But the courts obviously recognized that there were much bigger problems with her than my extreme schedule as it was at the time. And any effort I made to try an fix my external responsibilities to give her and myself more time were usually completely disregarded. She just wanted to be angry and that's the way it was gonna be.

    I'm glad you shared your story. Us single full time dads are an exception to the stereotype. It's sad really. Usually I have to repeat myself when I tell people about the custody situation and they still don't get it. And like I said, it should have never had to happen, but it did. The best we can do now is try and make life for the kids as positive as possible.
  • Some Real Research (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chagatai ( 524580 ) on Friday October 13, 2006 @11:39PM (#16433391) Homepage
    I'm writing a book right now and one of the topics upon which I touch is how the divorce rate is higher amongst executive managers. In the research I did, I looked at the executive biographies for the CEOs of the top 50 of the Fortune 500. Out of these 50 bosses, only 6 of them mentioned their families in any way, shape, or form. They are more proud of their MBAs than they are about having a loving wife or children. Steve Ballmer's mentions that he is a really funny guy, but leaves out any traces of personal relationships.

    Think about wanting to be a manager with that in mind.

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