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Dr. Jane Greer Headshot

The Outlaw Is Back: When Does The Divorce End?

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The marriage might be dead and buried but that isn't stopping Jesse James from kicking up the dirt and making a mess all over again. Wasn't it enough the first time? Apparently not for him, the self-proclaimed outlaw is at it again, continuing to hurt his ex-wife, Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock.

The truth is that it is almost impossible to come out of a divorce unscathed. Each member of every former couple feels injured; there is no other way to feel when something as big as a marriage has been lost. Each person comes away licking their wounds and feeling like a loser. When someone feels that low, very often the way they may attempt to reclaim their self-esteem and self worth is by putting down other people. Sure enough, Jesse James has taken aim and is shooting off his mouth yet again about the woman he once shared a home with. His recently released book called American Outlaw is full of overly personal stories about his marriage to Sandra, descriptions of his numerous affairs and a detailed telling of how Sandra reacted when she found out. He goes so far as to diminish the sex life he shared with Sandra by saying his new wife is "one hundred percent" better in bed.

Some people have speculated that Jesse's main motivation for writing the book was to make money. I think it is more about trying to regain his own value and self worth, but at what expense?

Jesse claims he is a victim. In an interview with ABC to promote the book, Jesse said "I can't worry about her anymore. I think I've spent a good chunk of the last five or six years worrying only about her, and what she thinks, and what I should do ... controlling all my movements and everything else ... I think it's time to worry about Jesse and making sure Jesse's happy."
It is clear that he felt controlled by her and yet he is the one who is consistently engaging in out-of-control behavior. I imagine he feels justified, but in truth he is attempting to make Sandra a victim as he once again betrays her trust and violates her by speaking openly about intimate, private things. While he feels like the wronged party, it doesn't make it all right for him to lash out in anger at Sandra with no regard for how it might affect her, children, friends and other family members, all of whom are affected by the fallout, which I think of as acid rain.
It would be wonderful if some criteria for a civilized divorce could be created whereby thoughtful considerate behavior for one another is the norm, even while you may feel bad about yourself and still mad at your ex, in order to preserve not only what you once shared but also to prevent doing more damage to everyone involved. Then, in the same way that Sandra and Jesse and so many other now-divorced people took marriage vows, these divorce vows could be taken:

• I promise to always show you respect no matter how angry or wronged I feel.
• I promise to keep our personal life to myself even after we separate because at one time it meant the world to me.

In the end, really, this is the only way to move forward. For now, Jesse James is rooted in the past, kicking up the dirt as he goes. He is the extreme, but for anyone going through a divorce, probably not unrecognizable. In the same way that Glamour Magazine tells you "what not to wear," Jesse's divorce path is a good lesson in what not to do.

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