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since June 19, 2001


Excerpts from The Secondhand Man, by Karin Jaeckel, Ph. D.

Book information

There should be a law …INGE, LISA, JANA [p. 36]

INGE: I find that there should be a law

15 years.  Orphan of divorce for eight years.  After the divorce of the parents she lived, together with her siblings, with her mother.  When the latter entered a new marriage after three years, the relationship between the children and the new partner of the mother developed negatively.  The mother gave the sons to a foster family and gave Inge to a sister of the father.

Father: Unemployed, lives in Spain

Grounds for divorce:  separation upon the wish of the mother on account of emotional neglect by the partner

No joint custody  

When my parents told me that they wanted to divorce because they didn't love one another anymore, I had a dream during the night.  I dreamed, that my father; my mother; my two brothers and I went on a vacation together.  In the beginning everything was quite beautiful.  But suddenly the road became steeper and steeper, and my father drove faster and faster.  He had his right arm on the armrest of the passenger seat and only his left hand on the steering wheel.  My mother was already quite excited and said that now he would better have both of his hands on the steering wheel.  But my father only yawned and didn't listen at all to my mother.

    We rushed up a mountain.  When we arrived at the top, the road suddenly was a channel of ice, just like one that the bobsled racers use.  My mother grabbed my father by the arm, shook him and cried, he should brake.  But then we all noticed that my father had fallen hard asleep and didn't have a hand on the steering wheel any longer.  Our car accelerated into the ice channel.  My mother tried to put one of her feet between those of my father's, so that she could step on the brake pedal.  However, she couldn't manage that.  Suddenly the car was hurled over the edge.  And we were all in it.  I screamed so loudly that I woke up.  That's when I noticed that I had just been dreaming.

    A few days later I discussed the dream with my aunt.  She said that I had recognized in the dream that my father was an irresponsible person that one can't rely on.  My mother had always tried to change him.  However, nothing had helped .  My father had never taken her seriously and had never listened to her.  And that exactly on account of that my mother would divorce herself from him, because otherwise he would cause misfortune for all of us.

    At that time I was seven years old.  Today I'm fifteen.  I haven't seen my father for eight years.  Actually, I know of him only what I dreamed of him in that dream, and a few other things, that he for example won a doll for me at a shooting gallery in an amusement park when I was still small.  I would love to discuss this dream with him, and about how it was between him and my mother.  But my father emigrated forever to Spain.  He has no firm address, because he has no steady job and lives here and there.  Therefore I wouldn't even be able to find him and speak with him.

    I find that there should be a law that forbids parents to become divorced.  People who have children should remain together at the least until the children are of age.  I think that now there is the pill and all.  Perhaps people don't have to have children anymore as before.  Who gets a child now must commit himself to it.  And children don't only need a mother or a father.  Children need both.  Because they love both.

    Because that is like this round disk with the black and white halves that intertwine.* And namely only then when they are together and augment one another can they show you whatever life is about.  Everywhere there is this  principle that two opposites belong together.  If my parents would have grasped that, we could all still be together.  And I would be able to tell him about that in the dream.  And perhaps he would tell me that such dreams are made only from fear and don't have any other meaning.  That would be beautiful.

* Yin and Yang

LISA: Can you arrange that?

12 years.  Child of separation for three years.  Lives with her mother and her mother's boyfriend.

Father: Has changing relationships

Grounds for divorce: extra-marital affair of the mother and her wish to separate.

Joint custody  

My parents did not really get divorced, because that would have been too expensive.  However, they separated and don't want anything to do anymore with each other.
    My mother has a boyfriend.  My father has a girlfriend.  Both are fairly happy with that.
    However, I find that the friend of my mother is a little touched.  He grabs me in funny ways and always wants that I kiss him, and then he sticks his tongue into my mouth and says, that's what all daddies do.  But that's not true.  My father would never do anything like that.  I would love to tell my mother about this, or my father.  But then my mother is sure to cry her eyes out, because the friend that she now has is the man for life.  And maybe my father will beat him to death.  Then he would have to go to prison.  I don't want that.
    I find that there should be a law, that no mother may be allowed to marry a new man, or be allowed to have him live with her, if her child doesn't like him.  However, a child must take everything and can't do a thing.  That's surely not fair.  Can you arrange that?

JANA: That's really mean

8 years.  Orphan of divorce for six years.  Lives with her mother

Father: Re-married.  Lives with his new family

Grounds for divorce: Extra-marital affair of the father and her wish to separate.

No joint custody  

In my class are many children, who are divorced.  Some see their fathers and some not.  That is quite varied.  I don't see my father.  He has a new family.  I have a brother too: he is with my father.  But, him too I don't see.  That I find to be stupid.
    If we ever meet and fall in love and make children, then we'll get children who are nuts, because he is my brother and I'm his sister.  That's forbidden then.  And then we must leave each other again.  Even if we didn't know anything about that.  And that will surely break our hearts.  And then we'll die and lie in the grave together.
    That's really mean, because it is only because our parents have done that with us.  Parents should always stay together and not treat their children like that.

Next: Socially uprooted: TORE, OLLI, MASCHA  

See also Karin Jaeckel's summary of the consequences of the 1977 German Marriage Law Reform

About the author, by the author

Posted 1999 06 07
2001 02 08 (format changes)
2007 12 16 (reformated)