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Seventy minutes that changed my life-1996 (52)

Seventy minutes that changed my life

 

It was early September. Jeff Newman and I met at 6:30 in the morning every two weeks at the base of Camelback Mountain, a ten-minute drive from my home at 4339 North 39th Street. We would climb up and down the Mountain, never reaching the top, talking and sharing.

Confusion or denial?

This time I told Jeff, “I don’t know whether or not I’m really confused or I’ve already made a decision that I don’t want to admit to myself. It’s about my relationship with my wife Yuko. Would you just listen to me talk, give me feedback and ask questions, to help me get my head clear?” Jeff had been the best man at my wedding to Yuko on March 20 of 1993, as I had been his best man at his wedding years earlier. “Of course,” he said.

Jeff was great at listening and asking questions

We climbed Camelback, mostly with me talking and sharing. Jeff asked some good, non-judgmental questions regarding the ongoing unhappines and conflicts I was having in my relationship with Yuko.

Confronting "being a good guy"

Yuko and I had gone to several counselors. We’d tried to work things out. At one point, several months earlier, I had asked her, “Yuko, you’re not happy with me. Why haven’t you asked for a divorce?” Yuko, according to her Sukyo Mahikari religion and also influenced by Buddhism, replied, “If I divorce you, I will have to pay for it in my next lifetime. Even though I’m suffering in this life, I know I must stick with it to learn something important for my next life.” It would have been so nice and easy for me if Yuko had “left me,” but I was having to confront head-on my identity as a good guy by initiating the separation and divorce: “Good guys don’t leave their wives.”

"I can see clearly now..."

By the time we had climbed up and down, it was 70 minutes later and I had made a clear decision. I was going to separate from Yuko and get divorced.

I was so happy. I knew there was a ton of stuff to work out to get everything finished. But I was complete. My relationship with Yuko as her husband was over. 

We're going to have a great divorce!

I created a new commitment to our relationship and I shared that with Jeff: Yuko and I are going to have a great separation and divorce!

Biggest and most important thing first: separation

Separate first. Divorce later. The divorce would take more time. No problem. In my mind, I was already divorced. The first thing was to move out and have my own place. That was more than 95% of what I wanted anyway...to end the “living together” part.

Best to move out first, let her know second

I really didn’t know how Yuko would react to my unilateral decision to separate and get a divorce. But because we had previously almost broken up roughly a year before and that was accompanied by her “going ballistic,” I didn’t want to risk the chance of being at the effect of that possibility when I was still living with her. 

Our previous almost breakup

At that time, I had refused to pick up Lucas’ toys that he left out on the living room floor when I walked through and I just moved them aside to make a path. Later that day, after I had gone out for a while and came back, I found that Yuko had trashed my office and stolen my schedule book that had all my client appointments in it. My response at the time was to move out. Forty days later I decided to move back in and give our relationship another chance.

Living in secrecy for five days

I made the decision to move out on that Tuesday morning after talking with Jeff. Later that day I found out that Yuko was going to be out of the house for about four hours, starting from 9:00 AM on Sunday morning when she would go for services with Lucas at her Sukyo Mahikari church.

I love logistics and planning

I had a lot of logistics to handle in those five days, making calls when Yuko was out of the house and would not overhear me.

 

First I needed a place to live. One of my friends and former clients had a big house in Cave Creek, just north of Phoenix. We made an agreement where I would have my own room with house privileges in his home.

 

Next I needed help moving. I called three friends who were men. I explained my decision and asked if they could come on Sunday morning just after Yuko left for her church to help me move everything that belonged to me out of the house and into a moving van. They would also help me unload my stuff at my new home. Finally, I arranged to rent a moving van (Uhaul) for that day.

The biggest choice of courage in my whole life

Choosing to leave Yuko was the biggest choice of courage of my entire life, up until then and since. At the time I was puzzled with the level of fear that I was dealing with, especially during those five days. What I discovered was that I was acting against my identity of “being a good guy.”

My fear was bubbling out

I remember one evening, maybe it was Friday evening. I was not hiding my fear very well from Yuko. My teeth were almost chattering. She picked up on it, asking me about it in a caring way. I made up some simple story about feeling extremely nervous about juggling all the things in my life. She listened and tried to reassure me. I was grateful to her for that.

Timing was important

Everything was in place by that Sunday morning. I couldn’t predict exactly when Yuko would leave with Lucas for church, although I told my friends to arrive by 9:00 AM. I wanted us to have plenty of time to finish before it was likely that she would return. I cautioned them though, that if they still saw her car in the driveway, to drive around the block until she was gone. It turned out to be about 9:10 am when she left with Lucas and two of them did have to "drive around the block."

Amazing what we did in three hours

I gave two of my friends instructions on how to start moving things out of the house. The third friend, John Bowling, drove with me in my 1972 Oldsmobile to the local Uhaul rental place. I drove the Uhaul truck back and John drove my car back right behind me.

Within three hours the four of us had moved all my furniture and other possessions out of the house and into the Uhaul.

 

I had previously written a four-page letter to Yuko, expressing my gratitude for the difference she had made for me and explaining my decision to end our living together relationship. I also gave her the phone number at my new place where she would reach me. I expressed everything in a non-judgmental way. 

 

I also wrote a one-page letter to Lucas, who was eight at that time, expressing my appreciation for him and our relationship. We cleaned the house and I left a vase of fresh flowers for Yuko on the living room table.

Moving to my new home

I drove the Uhaul to my new home in Cave Creek, just north of Phoenix, and my three friends followed in their cars. 

Ready to create a new life!

I was feeling so happy! So free! So excited about my new future!

Yuko was concerned about Lucas feeling abandoned

At my new home, with my three friends, plus my new house mate, we began to unload the truck into my room in the house. During this time, I got a telephone call from Yuko. She had gotten back home and read the letter that I left for her. She said she was concerned about Lucas feeling abandoned by me and asked if they could come up to visit for a few minutes so that Lucas would be reassured. Although I could have been wrong, I didn’t think Lucas was going to feel abandoned by me. But Yuko feared that he was. So I said, “Sure, no problem.” They arrived within thirty minutes and I visited with them a bit as my friends finished unloading the truck.

For me moving out was at least 95%...just smaller things to negotiate and details to handle later

Moving out was the big thing. Even though agreeing to the property separation details and the legal stuff still remained, we were already divorced in my mind. Every new day I was not living with Yuko was a new life for me.

Yuko and I remained cordial and I visited with her briefly a few times to pick up several belongings that I had missed when we had loaded up the truck. 

Part of creating a great divorce: a non-contentious property settlement

Within a month of separating I presented Yuko with a property settlement proposal. It included three months of “money to live on” until she could get a job again. She was already receiving support money from her ex-husband because she had primary custody of Lucas. I also agreed that she could continue to live in the house, which was in my name and a hold-over from my previous marriage with Louise, until I could get it sold. After giving her my written proposal, I said to her, gently but firmly,

An offer she couldn't refuse?

“Yuko, I’ve thought a lot about what would be fair for you in our divorce settlement. In this proposal I've written up, I think I am being generous to you in what I have outlined. However, this offer is only good if we do this without lawyers. I won’t get a lawyer unless you get one first. So, if you get a lawyer, my offer will no longer be valid and I will get a lawyer and we’ll go to court. You can check out the guidelines that apply to property settlement issues in circumstances similar to ours. What I think you’ll find is that, if we use lawyers and the courts for this, you will not get as good a deal as you would if you don’t get a lawyer.”

Inspired by and grateful to Yuko

I was hoping that Yuko would be smart instead of getting righteous. I was both inspired by her and grateful to her that she agreed to my proposal and we didn’t get lawyers or the courts involved.

All urgency was gone

Once the agreement was operational, even though we weren’t divorced yet, neither one of us felt any urgency in finalizing our divorce. Also, I ended up taking two long holidays in Japan, the first for 40 days in 1997 and the second for three months in 1998. It wasn’t until the fall of 1998 that we both decided to just go down to the court house together in Maricopa County to wrap everything up.

We "prayed together" for a good result

We drove to the courthouse in Yuko’s car. Just before we got out of the car to get everything finalized, Yuko invited me to pray with her that everything would go well for us and including “all the spirits of the universe and divine providence.” Although I couldn’t personally relate very closely to her spiritual beliefs, I could totally align with her basic intentions. So I closed my eyes and bowed my head as she spoke her invocation.

Go here. Go there. Sign this. Sign that. Pay money.

In the court house, we went here, we went there, just following the instructions of the different clerks. Signing this, signing that. Paying some money. Within an hour it was all signed and complete and we both had our “Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.” Both of us were happy. My intention and commitment to have a great divorce was fulfilled. It actually turned out better than I thought it could.

Keeping my new name

On October 26th of 1994 Yuko and I had legally changed our names together, as an expression of our partnership at that time. We had created together a new family name of “GoldWinde." Previously I was Jackson Dwight Minkler II. I became Jackson Dwight GoldWinde. She had been Yuko Nagai (the name Nagai was from her first husband; I was her third husband). Her new name was Yuko Kaname GoldWinde.

I liked my new name more than the one I was born with. I have retained that name ever since. Yuko eventually returned to using her maiden name, Yuko Halada and still lives in the Phoenix Valley.

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