My hope in writing Boys in the Basement was that it would let divorced men know that they are not alone, and that they can move on from bitterness and pain to build new lives for themselves. So I was touched to receive the following letter from a divorced man who saw our show. He agreed to allow me to post it on our blog if I removed his last name to protect his identity.
Do come see Boys in the Basement in one of our final three performances Nov. 13-15, Click here to buy your tickets today, after you read the letter below.
From an audience member:
My lady friend & I thoroughly enjoyed your production of ‘Boys in the Basement’ Saturday evening and I applaud you for taking on the topic of men dealing with the process, and fallout, of divorce. Having recently gone through the divorce process myself, the show was more good therapy for me and seeing a customer of mine in the cast (Chris Johnson) was a most pleasant surprise.
From my personal experience and those of my friends, there are a couple of angles on this topic that might make the show even more impactful if you plan on future fine tunings.
Firstly, there is a clear double standard in play. Women can walk away from a long term marriage (26 yrs in my case) without cause (no infidelity, abuse, etc) and enjoy the benefit of the doubt from society. They go largely unchallenged while outsiders assume there must be a good reason for their actions. When men do the same thing, the assumptions are there is another woman, or we are irresponsible, or a cad, or a deadbeat, etc. etc. etc. The legal process does not take this into account. As the saying goes, ‘ the bitch gets half’ regardless of whether or not she has good cause.
Secondly, I have come up with the saying: ‘The sisterhood is much stronger than the brotherhood’. Women typically have a wider and deeper network of friends and this network sticks together in supporting my first point above. Other woman stand behind the divorcee and perpetuate the belief that she is the victim. Meanwhile, men typical have smaller, much less vocal networks. The men support each other but not in a much more quiet way. While it is common for woman to bash the man and spread gossip, it is quite taboo for men to bash the woman. Some wives of my friends actually leveraged my experience and put their husbands in cowering mode by making sure they knew how my ex was fleecing me. In many, many other cases men I was pretty close to disappeared from my life. I suspect it was to keep peace in their own marriages. Some woman don’t want their man hanging out with a divorced guy. Relatively speaking, my network is pretty wide and deep but it shrunk considerably after the separation/divorce.
Thirdly, your production touched on the topic of how young children get stuck in the mess of divorce. Woman commonly say their actions are ‘in the best interests of the children’ and go unchallenged in making this statement. I believe woman actually use the children as human shields and safety nets to protect themselves from criticism. People are afraid to question/challenge a woman when children are in the middle. Friends/family give the woman a pass because they are concerned about the impact on the kids. My kids were young adults when my wife left (ages 18 & 20) and my own parents and siblings were afraid to challenge my ex on her actions for fear of how it might impact their relationship with my kids. My ex used this dynamic to her full advantage.
In hindsight, I would have invested a lot more time with my kids to offset the third point. I was too busy providing for the family and trusted my ex to be supporting my role with the kids. As it turns out, she was building up resentment toward me with them and it was not apparent to me what was happening until it was too late. My kids would not engage with me for the first 2-3 years after the separation but things are getting better and I am confident we will end up in a good place together.
Your production and other voices like yours will go a long way toward balancing the field on this topic and I’m grateful that you took on this issue. Thanks!