Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | January 12, 2010

It’s Not Fair!

[I hesitate to post this entry. Alimony is one of those topics that can act as a third rail. It does for me. It does for any number of current and pending divorcees. Some are being screwed because their ex-spouses aren’t paying their child support and/or alimony. Some are being screwed because they’re being required to pay an exorbitant amount. And I know plenty of both men and women on both sides of that equation.

Since Penny and I haven’t gotten that far, yet, I have no idea what burden, if any, I might have beyond half of the dollar cost of providing for the kids. Penny and I have ostensibly agreed to try to split everything down the middle, which would mean no alimony and close to equal child support — and we both agree that if one ends up substantially better off financially than the other, then it’s reasonable for that one to pick up some slack in providing for the kids. To the extent that one of us may find a job well before the other, we also ostensibly agree that the employed party will pitch in, within reason, until the other party gets back on his or her feet financially.

I bristle at the notion of formal alimony however, because Penny should have been working for years and deliberately withdrew from the work force at the time we most needed the additional income. Notice I assume, by this statement, that alimony (or, rather, palimony) would not flow in the other direction — to me. I can’t imagine a scenario in which it would. Or should.

I hesitate to post this because I don’t want you, dear reader, to think less of me because of my own feelings about Penny. But, this is where I’m at today. Tomorrow… who knows?]

Yesterday was going well. At some point, Penny went off to take care of some work-related issues at the office — when you own your own business, there’s rarely such a thing as a day off — leaving me to mind the kids. The boys were remarkably well behaved, and everything was going relatively well.

Penny phoned from the office at some point about one work-related thing or another, and then the conversation turned to our divorce. She had, while at the office, ended up on Facebook chatting with a mutual friend who is experiencing similarly brutal financial constraints. (Her own business tanking, and she, like us, is about to lose her house. In her case, to a short sale.) This woman also had a rather nasty divorce (the husband was a Grade A douche bag, and his kids are going to suffer the emotional scars of the fallout for years to come), but this woman can also be a bit… intrusive? Invasive of one’s personal space? She’s a bulldog of a real estate agent, so it can be good to have her in your corner, but you don’t necessarily want her in your personal matters because, well… because.

Penny feels the same way — as an introvert, perhaps moreso. So, Penny was (guardedly) chatting with this woman, which brought up a lot of issues concerning our house, our future, and our divorce — Penny thinking about the implications, but not willing to divulge too much to the friend. The resulting conversation between Penny and me was rock solid. We were on the same page. We were talking about when to tell people. We were talking about future holidays — she suggested, for example, that until significant others become an issue, we may want to spend the holidays together with the kids, etc. All very positive.

So far, so good. A good day.

My future ex-wife then got home and made dinner (oh, and by the way — I do cook family dinners, too. Just so you know. I hate that gender stereotype, among others. But on this occasion, Penny cooked the dinner.) I got the kids’ baths going and came back downstairs. She brought up the subject of alimony, as it pertains to other divorced friends of ours.

My brain crawled into it’s cave.

Many, many friends of ours have gotten divorces. Who knows how many others are currently, like us, in the midst of one? But while she brought up the subject as it pertain to others, I couldn’t help but feel like there was an undercurrent concerning our own situation.

Without going too far into detail, let me mention a few issues here:

  • We’ve both been working on/for our business, but Penny (by her choice) spends more time on the kids than on the business. In an ideal world made to my order, it would be the other way around. She knows this.
  • When previous joint business ventures of ours have hit hard times and one of us has had to go back to the work force to make the mortgage payment, she has always insisted that it should be me, because my earning power is better than hers. This, of course, does become a self-fulfilling situation as we run through the cycle a few times and her skill set becomes increasingly out of date. Oh, and then there’s the whole breast feeding issue. Hard to argue that one.
  • My skill set for my own industry is currently very out of date, which is a big problem, and I am looking at other career possibilities as a result — but that essentially means we’d both be starting fresh in the job market.
  • Penny doesn’t like looking for work. Neither do I. But I do what needs to be done. Thus far, in this particular arena, she has not always done the same.
  • Penny is very, very competent. And she has done well in the work force when she has chosen to do so.

But as we talked about the alimony of others, she was getting upset when I pointed out that with the advent of equal rights and women breaking the barriers of formerly traditional roles, most states no longer automatically grant alimony. It’s not fair, she was saying, as she became obviously more upset. Society punishes women who stay at home to raise their kids — the women who do so are behind the proverbial eight-ball when it comes to catching up in their salaries, because they’ve been out of the work force.

While this is undeniably true, I was nonetheless hearing alarms shrieking in my head. Because while what she said was true, it was clear that the only remedy that was on her mind was alimony. And although the ostensible topic at hand was our wealthy, divorced friends, I kept hearing, “you need to take care of me.”

That’s not what she was saying. But it’s what I was hearing.

And… I don’t want to take care of her. Because I feel like that’s been the entire story of our entire messed-up marriage. And I want out.

While I was pointing out some of the flaws in the logic of her specific argument, she was becoming increasingly upset. I wasn’t acknowledging her more general point, that it’s not fair that women bear an unfair burden when it comes to child-rearing. And I was becoming increasingly upset, because the general point isn’t the point. Specific cases, for me, are the point. If you want to talk about C—- and L—–, then let’s talk about them. If you want to talk about L— and L—, then let’s talk about them. If you want to talk about us, let’s talk about us. But every state is different, every marriage is different, and every divorce is different. And arguing that “It isn’t fair,” is a hopeless proposition.

Because: Life. Isn’t. Fair.

It’s not fair that I foolishly wasted my love and my time on a woman who didn’t have much more use for me than as a sperm donor and a paycheck.

It’s not fair that me acting with good faith and integrity meant that she held my sexuality hostage. For fourteen. Goddamned. Years.

It’s not fair that I am a more involved father with our kids than any of the other fathers we know, and yet she doesn’t respect me as a provider.

It’s not… well, fuck it. The thing is, I was raised with the mantra that life isn’t fair. There are peaks, and there are valleys, and most lives spend time amid both. The songwriter Mark Knopfler captured the sentiments of my paternal family succinctly: Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.

Penny, who has somewhat of a penchant for learned helplessness, rails at the unfairness that has been dealt to women she doesn’t know (because, quite frankly, the women in the cases we were discussing are doing rather well for themselves), presumably because she identifies with them. Her tendency toward learned helplessness has become a raw nerve for me, but particularly in this case. Because, if she’s going to complain about how our divorcing presents a hardship for her, how does it escape her that it presents a hardship for me, too? That our entire marriage presented a hardship for both of us?

I’m not as bitter as this post might make me sound. I don’t typically wallow in, “It’s not fair.” Not as a general rule.

But the whole conversation touched a raw nerve with me. The fact that I threw away my love, my affection, my attention, my working life, my parenting life, and so many other efforts and hopes and dreams on a woman who ultimately could not love me back? That’s not so much “not fair” as it is… an unfortunate error on my part. A mistake. There is no blame. There is no fault. There are choices, and there are consequences. I am responsible for the choices I’ve made and I am now, finally, making new choices.

My apologies to those of you, my readers, who have genuinely suffered at the hands of the courts granting too little or too much in the way of support, or at the hands of ex-spouses who aren’t fulfilling their obligations (legal or moral) to you or your children. I won’t be that guy. I will make sure my kids are provided for financially and emotionally. I will make sure to meet my obligations.

But as much as I know I need to set my small amount of bitterness on the subject aside, when it comes to providing for Penny herself, well… I feel that she’s made this particular bed with years of her own choices, and it’s up to her to sleep in it.

Without me.

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Responses

  1. I’ve been reading your blog since the New Year. I have a young marriage, one kiddo, and many friends who are divorced and come from a family where my mother is 2 of 10 kids to have gotten a divorced and remarried.

    You’ve got such a clever following; this blog family who’s dedicated to supporting you and sharing their stories in an effort to relate and help us all make better decisions. So, I know whatever gets said here, you’ll get some great feedback.

    I volunteer for an organization that deals with crisis situations and the law. The first thing we do as hotline volunteers is listen to others stories, compassionately. The second thing we do is tell them what the law says. The third thing we do is tell them to have a dialogue with the other party, in writing about said dispute.

    I’d like to offer the same advice to you: patiently listen with compassion and write down what you’ve decided, together.

  2. It sounds to me like Penny got some bad information. Alimony tends to be granted if the woman (usually) was completely at home with no employment prospects and a great lawyer. You both work at least part of the time, and are currently partners in a profit-making enterprise. I doubt that a judge would see fit to impose alimony on top of this, especially if Penny goes along with the business merger (if that is still pending). At this point, she is working and you aren’t, which would put you in the position of being able to ask for alimony (it does happen! Really!).

    You might want to mention this to her. If she’s working and you aren’t, she could pay. Does she really want to go there? If your name was Gates or Buffett, I could see asking. I somehow doubt that is the case.

    Then there is the most practical reason not to go there. Unless Penny has found a method to extract blood from stones, what are you supposed to pay alimony with?

    There are times I wish there was a specific extractor for people whose crania have become lodged in their dorsal ports. It sounds like Penny could use that service right now. When she returns to Earth, maybe then you can resume negotiations.

  3. I never wanted alimony. I’d be thrilled with some child support though. Yeah. I do it all on my own. The ex is a financial mess. And I can’t afford to take him to court on it right now. So, it’s all me.

    We’re doing okay. There is some satisfaction in knowing that I can make ends meet. There is also some fear in recognizing that I have no safety net.

    Kudos to you for being involved with the kids, and committing to help them as much as possible.

    Chin up.

  4. I agree – I think the hearsay Penny is getting is just making this whole alimony issue a bigger issue than it should be – at this stage in the game. Once you speak with a lawyer and get it all out on the table, you will know more about what is feasible, what is not, and what’s fair to you both. I was amazed myself, at least in my case, how fairly it can, and usually is, done, especially when both parties are amicable throughout. I hope you can continue to be as amicable as possible as you lead into the divorce proceedings, especially when you are both armed with the information you need to make sound decisions.

    And I applaud you 100 times over for being so devoted to your children. That is the most important in all of this – how well supported the children are, financially, emotionally and mentally.

  5. This is another area where I’m worried… As I’ve said before, Penny has the ability to make this divorce nasty and ugly. I’m afraid she just might take that road. Plenty of divorces and break-ups start off on a “friendly” path, but quickly end up on the other end of the spectrum.

    And, as the friend of plenty of women who are left with men who cannot or will not help take care of their children, I am impressed by your devotion to them. They’re lucky to have you!

  6. I don’t usually comment here, but this hit a sore spot for me. The first words out of my mouth when walking into my attorney’s office were “I will not pay alimony” to the man who quit a high paying job at a growing company because it was ‘his turn’ to stay home. Fortunately, my four years of ‘staying home’ involved an income that matched his salary, so I was in a fine position to rejoin the work force. His turn to stay at home produced no income, only debt. He’s still paying off his debt, I’ve never paid a dime in alimony.

    For me, it comes down to a matter of CHOICE. If BOTH a husband and wife decide together that either partner will stay at home to raise children and sacrifice current and future career and earning potential, then isn’t that what alimony is supposed to provide for? If a spouse CHOOSES, independently of the other spouse, not to work, or contribute financially to the well being of the family, he/she should not expect to be supported after divorce. Similarly, if a spouse CHOOSES to engage in behavior that causes the end of a marriage (drinking/infidelity/criminal activity/general moronic behavior, whatever), he/she should not expect to be supported after divorce, no matter what his/her earning potential may be. Just my two cents.

  7. neverrains, don’t argue with Penny., You two have spent 14 years distancing. Agree to have a single sitting, perhaps once a week to air all matters related to divorce. I also strongly suggest you explain to Penny that any disagreement you two might have and cannot agree on will be decided by a judge in court [and that you both will be dissappointed with the decision]. Last you either get a lawyer each, or get a single one to air your doubts and advise you. At the very least when it is all said and done you will each get what the law requires…and you should not give any more or any less. Use that as a departure point for any negotiation / conversation. So yes you do need a lawyer. Take child support it will be a percentage of your income, it is a mathematical formula (plus all other expenses related to child rearing). It just is. I assume it’s the same for alimony. Penny is entitled to what your state laws will grant her. You need to become comfortable with this. I am sure you can negotiate some of these things and as long as the agreements protects the rights of everyone involved the judge will go along…but you are trying to run before you walk. Inform yourselves and learn what you are entitled by law not what you each think is fair, or what an attorney says you “can” get.

  8. I had two thoughts as I read this.

    One, you better be doing all you can to make sure that Penny nevers finds or learns about this blog. I’m actually a bit scared for you there. There are a lot of things you’ve written about that perfectly arm her with ammunition.

    Two, the thing that’s missing from this post is your acknowledgment of your own choices. Penny may have encouraged or downright pushed you in certain directions, but throughout your relationship, you have been a grown man. And the choices you’ve made have been your own, no matter how much you may regret them now.

    It’s easier to place blame than accept responsibility, but you grown more from the latter.

    Still sending good thoughts your way.

    • imgonnabreakyourheart,

      Yes, you’re right about the blame/responsibility thing, and I accept full responsibility for my choices. I wrote this post not trying to make a case so much as to vent; I was tired and, well, emotionally spent. (And extroverts recharge by engaging with other people.)

      I stayed in this situation way too long. I heard the warning bells even before we married, and still I went forward. The best thing for me to do is to learn the appropriate lessons from this and move forward with my life — and to set as good a role model for my children as I possibly can. I can’t go back in time, and blaming Penny (or the economy or social conventions or whatever have you) for my situation doesn’t get anybody anywhere — never mind that there’s no blame to place upon any of them, regardless.

      The catch, which I still haven’t figured out a way to adequately articulate, is that I likewise choose to allow Penny to take responsibility for herself. That’s actually harder than that sounds, even setting aside the concept of alimony, etc.

      In our conversation the other night, Penny did not say she wanted alimony. Penny was railing at the unfairness of how our society views divorce, and how our society seems to treat stay at home moms. She simply inadvertently touched a nerve with me.

      My rant was an attempt to shake that off, which it has.

  9. Hmm, I had to ponder this a bit. I wrote a post last month on prenuptial agreements (I’ll post the link below in case you care to read it) and my views on them. Personally, I’m all for them- because they avoid situations like this. You’re lucky you guys can sit and talk about this like adults but most can’t.

    Anyway- that’s getting off track. You are responsible for your children, not for each other. You are both choosing to divorce which should be granting each of you a fresh start. With that comes a lot of oppourtunities as well as some struggles. That’s the consequences to getting divorced. You don’t dissolve a marriage so that you can still support your spouse or be supported by your spouse. Any current finances and assets/debt should be split appropriately, but anything a person has once they’ve exited that marriage should not be property of the ex-spouse, and that includes money. It is your job to make sure you are doing your part at raising your children, not raising your ex-wife.

    Personally, I would be ashamed to be receiving alimony from an ex-husband. I am perfectly capable of standing on my own two feet now and I will be in the future if I ever get divorced. I think alimony is simply a “he makes more and I feel entitled to it” cash grab.

    Does that make any sense at all? Sometimes I feel like I’m talking in circles! Haha

    http://quarterforherthoughts.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/prenuptial-agreements/

  10. Hi there — I’m a new reader of your blog, so I dont know the whole back story to your situation.

    For me, where I sit right now, I wouldn’t want alimony. For me, part of the whole point of getting divorced was to carve out a new, independent, separate life for myself.

    My ex and I share 50/50 custody and equally split expenses relating to our children. This is both a blessing and a curse; it means that he and I end up having more conversations than I would like when it comes to purchasing things like winter boots and school clothes. But such is life, I suppose.

    In any case, this is something that you need to look into, legally, so that you are fully aware of what your rights as well as your obligations are. It can never hurt to arm yourself with information.

    • Thank you for dropping by, mammasunshine. I’ll have to put up links to the “most important posts” to help new visitors get up-to-speed on the story so far. It’s amazing how far things have come in just a mere two months.

      Your arrangement sounds like what Penny and I will likely end up with. Hopefully, though, we can avoid tussles over purchases like you describe. We’ll see.

      Thanks again for dropping by. I’ve been enjoying reading your blog!

  11. I don’t know the laws in Seattle, but my ex husband is an attorney who now lives in Seattle, so I could ask him. We divorced years ago on friendly terms (with no outside attorney), and have remained friends ever since. I know it’s rare, but it happens!

    That said, I doubt any judge will grant Penny alimony. The situation doesn’t fit. Alimony is for the spouse who stayed home and “worked” at child rearing and/or keeping the homefires burning, while depending entirely on the other spouse’s income (again, in an agreed upon situation), and now needs to get back on his/her feet.

    You and Penny were (are?) basically co-owners of a business. Doesn’t much matter who spent more time at home or who spent more time at the office. That can’t be proved anyway.

    I agree with the person(s) who said to set aside time each week to discuss, and write down what you’ve agreed to.
    I don’t agree that you need lawyers. They will drain what little you have left finanially.

    I think you may want to be firm with Penny, and point out that if she doesn’t work this out with you fairly and amicably, it will be VERY expensive for both of you, and even more harmful to your children.

    • Wow those are facts talking. To dove tail with Leah, I remember in my case spousal support came up while attending a hearing in the state on the right coast. Basically I would pay spousal support until the divorce was complete, “while she got on her feet”. I was lucky my attorney on the left coast advised me to refuse such arrangements.

      My ex wife left the state on the left coast voluntarily, her name was on our lease, and she could return any time to the left coast. Well, Once on the right coast I refused the agreement and stated that in the left coast state which had jurisdiction over the matter she had no such right.

      The attorney’s looked at each other. We went to the hearing, the judge agreed with me [sorry it sounds cocky but that is exactly what happened. My attorney on the right coast was elated. She would not have known what to do but the attorney on the left coast did as she had experience with interstate matters]. It took a bit over two years to finish the paperwork. had I agreed I would paid spousal support for all that time. So it is good advise to base your actions on factual information and sound legal advise.

      I also have to say courts are really tough on parties not adhering to the process or not playing by the rules. This applies equally for men and for women. The system was abused for a long time first by fathers then by mothers…so the courts have gotten smart and put checks and balances in place. If ever in doubt let the judge decide but be ready to be a bit disappointed. He or She won’t give you what you expect (sort of cutting the child in half measures) so you may as well explain that to Penny and decide for yourselves.

  12. This sounds like a similar conversation my ex and I had when we were getting divorced.

    We were both doing very well in the workforce and I actually made more money until I was laid off. We both decided I would stay home with the kids (I soon became pregnant again).

    I had been home 3 1/2 years when we decided to divorce. My skills were WAY outdated and I couldn’t go back to my previous career because it required travel. He traveled all the time with work as well. A single mom can not travel. I didn’t have a resource to keep my children while I was gone so I had to take a lesser job with lesser income.

    But before I found this job, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I told him that I would probably need him to take care of me. He got upset, just as you did. I went to a lawyer to talk to her about it and she told it like it was…. when I told her my education and previous career accomplishments, she said,

    “You need to get off your ass and go get a job.”

    I thought she was a bitch.

    Turns out, it was the slap in the face I needed. I am so glad to be working again. I am so happy that I have this job. Yes, the pay is much less than before but I am blessed with so much more quality time with my girls.

    Its FEAR that is causing her to shout, “Its not fair!” She’s terrified and doesn’t know what’s going to happen. Stick to your guns. She doesn’t need you to take care of her and she knows that deep inside somewhere.

    • T, I suspect that there are many similarities between your divorce and ours, despite the fact that they have (had) completely different causes. Thank you for this very thoughtful post!

  13. I feel like you’re bitter toward Penny for wanting to stay home with the kids–and I’d just like to point out, that’s a GOOD mom. I don’t think she should have to be working more than spending time with her kids–those are some really screwed up values. But I do see that you feel some resentment toward her for not putting in her fair share in the money department.

    Um, yeah, my mind is all over the place right now, and I can’t seem to make sense of it. I get your side, but I also get her side.

    I guess–don’t be mad at her because she did what moms do, and that’s take care of her kids. But DO be mad at her for wanting to all of a sudden be taken care of by your money post-divorce, because that screams ‘laziness.’ she needs to pay her own way now.

    • Hi, Erika.

      Yes, as you say, that *is* a good mom. In fact, she’s a Very Good Mom. That’s not the source of my bitterness. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the source is found in the cracks between what I’ve mentioned here so far. It really is worth an entire post or two on it’s own… we’ll see.

      Penny and I have always agreed that, when possible and prudent, we favor raising our kids ourselves rather than letting them be raised by daycare. But when your business is failing and you risk losing your house, at some point you have to recognize that a compromise is at hand. Something is going to give. My bitterness does not stem from her choices of what should give, so much as from the notion that I should be the one to take care of it all, and any of my own needs/desires are subordinate to hers. It’s like this: for this marriage to “work,” I need to be the husband, but Penny needs to be free from being the wife. And after years of that, yeah, I’ve gotten a little bitter.

      And as another commenter said, since that has been the nature of our marriage, my preference is not to continue that arrangement beyond the divorce.

      I’m not mad at her for taking care of the kids. I love her for that.

      I’m mad at her for not taking care of me, while expecting me to take care of her. If that makes any sense.

  14. Wow. I am so very sorry for your sorrow and frustration. I can only imagine how blindsided you felt, and how hard it was for your to hear how unfair Penny felt life it.

    Truthfully, divorce is hard on everyone. No one gets out of it in better shape — although traditionally men have fared better than women and children. I can see what she was hoping to be her point. However, as a feminist, I always strongly caution women from “opting out” of the workforce to be stay-at-home mothers unless that is the only/best option. The losses are extreme in many areas.

    That aside, I suspect your anger was really due to the fact that you’ve already TRIED to take care of her and haven’t gotten what you needed in return. The mere idea of continuing this process for an extended period was just too much for you to bear at that time. As you say, you’re ranting. Intellectually, you know what’s what. Emotionally, however, you’re already fried and vulnerable. You saw this as one of Penny’s many roadblocks and reacted. It’s OK. I get it.

    I hope that today was easier and better.

    • Suzanne, yes, that’s exactly it, and yes, it was. (As in: today was better.) Thanks!

  15. Don’t know about the laws in WA, but the lawyers that I consulted said that I could get out of paying spousal support to The Former Mr because he was WILFULLY un/under-employed. He was the one with the university and college education, whereas I was earning more even tho I’ve got only a high school diploma.

    I told The Former Mr that if he ever went after me for spousal support, I’d sue for full custody because there was NO WAY I was going to fund his lazy-ass lifestyle. I was bringing in 80 percent of our income and went back to work when The Mook was 5 months old (tho I qualified for mat benefits til she was a year old) and sacrificed time with my baby so that we could keep a roof over our head.

    Sorry…still somewhat angry.

    • Good Mummy,

      I like the way you handled the spousal support question with The Former Mr. And I can completely empathize with you still being angry.

      I’m given to understand (having spoken with a couple of lawyers) that Penny would not actually be entitled to any alimony, if she were to pursue the matter. But if she were to pursue the matter, my anger would be at her pursuing it, regardless of the outcome.

      FWIW, Penny and I have very similar educational backgrounds, and both of us have had decent salaries in the past….

  16. I am late reading this, but my thought is, what if, all Penny meant was what she said and you did read into it because of you fears. Sometimes (I Laugh at this) men and women think very differently. 🙂 You yourself said that it was not what she said, but what you heard.
    Try not to read anything into anything right now, it could sway your mood, (as it obviously did) and make things worse.
    I hope the best for you, and you never have to apologize for what you write here. These are your feeling, good, bad or ugly. We read because we care!

  17. Given that this is a big sticking point with a lot of people getting divorced… Can someone explain to me, really, how being at home with “raising the children” makes one a “good mom” (or “good dad”)? I don’t really understand the sentiment of “I’m not going to have STRANGERS raising my baby!”. This, as far as I can tell, is an ECONOMIC QUESTION. Not a question of parenting.

    Not EVERYONE has this choice, and it seems to me that a very select few women/men have the ability (economic long-term stability) to make this choice.

    That aside, I do live in an area where stay-at-home mothers are the norm. I regret to say, my child has been on the playdate where “mother’s little helpers” were used (alcohol). I haven’t found that stay-at-home parents are any better at having clean homes, home-cooked meals, well-read/educated/experienced children, or, for that matter, WELL-BEHAVED children, than parents who work.

    Please explain this to me. Because from my casual point of view, it really does just look like opting OUT of work and not OPTING into home and family.

    In case you haven’t already guessed: I work. I work as a teacher. Some of my greatest students have working parents. This year, two of my biggest bastards don’t “because it’s important to stay home with them.” Uh, ma’am, your child is with ME all day…

  18. Actually, NeverRains, this particular blog stayed with me all day yesterday. I’m a big Feeler kind of person on the Myers-Briggs personality types and this one struck a chord, yet I couldn’t quite place my finger on “why” until I dwelt on it a little bit. I think I have it.

    Divorce is not fair.

    I believe it is beginning to dawn on Penny (very, very slowly) that she is going to lose some of the comfortable things she took for granted–and that the reason she will likely lose them is her own choices. Now, as this dawns on her she may try to squirm out of it by trying to blame or deflect to someone else’s behavior or choices, but facts is facts. She’s going to lose some stuff that’s valuable to her, it’s going to hurt, and it’s because of choices she made. Inside the head of an entitled person, “That’s not fair!”

    Just to share with you a little of my story, I was in my 30-somethings when my ex decided he loved one of our customers more than me. Like you, we had a business that we owned and worked together. We had two younger children so I worked 3/4 time around the kids’ schedules, and he worked full-time or more. He had his degree (1 credit from an MBA) and I had an associates in bookkeeping and executive assistant. He had about 2/3 of the family’s income, I made about 1/3 and I think our equivalent degrees and work experience and our filed taxes reflected that. And yet, I did not get alimony.

    I believe that sometimes people who initiate the divorce think, “I will be free of my spouse and get to keep the house, the kids, the stuff, and the money… and they will disappear from my life. It will be just like it is now except I’ll meet someone who makes me feel happy.” First, they don’t realize that the decision to be happy is their choice–not something your spouse “makes” you. Second, they don’t realize that when you divorce, it’s not fair and you WILL lose some things that are precious to you. You won’t see your own children at least half the time. You won’t spend holidays together anymore. You will have to work yourself and not depend on someone else to provide for you! :O You won’t live in the big, beautiful house. You won’t have half of the furniture.

    Divorce is not fair. That is just a fact.

  19. i’ve wanted to comment on lots of you posts and probably will more in the furture but in this case?

    alimony?? unheard of unless there is substantial financial resources.
    i know your kids are still fairly young but still she has a professional background and can earn money.

    unfair?? in some ways

    but i learned the hard way and i now tell all my younger child bearing friends…including my daughter…

    if you are going to have a baby…husband or not…you have to always have plan B in the back of your mind for how you are going to raise them….

    people divorce, men die-suddenly or of illness…life throws curveballs and you need to step up and take responsibility.
    what she may not understand is that her kids will respect her more in the end.

    you both need to earn their love and respect…

  20. I would encourage you to look at this from your children’s perspective. What do you want their lives to look like? What time do they start school? How will they get to school? What time do they finish school? How do they get home from school? Who will be home when they get home? And then consider what this means for both of you working.

    Can you work with their schedule and both work full-time? Do you both need to work full-time financially?

    Maybe if you approached this from what is best for your children, it would help you make an objective decision rather than one driven by emotion.

  21. I’m sorry I’m a bit late to this one. Everyone else has commented on marriage/divorce/kids etc. I know nothing about those things. One thing I do know (not that I’m qualified, just been around the block!) is relationships. You are no longer in a position to be arguing with Penny, or even trying to convince her of your view point. You need to keep your distance on topics this sensitive. If this relationship is really over, start acting like it is over. You can and should be friends, but only couples argue about these types of issues.

  22. Hey there,
    Really enjoying reading. I’m sure your statcounter will show I’ve started from the beginning and have been working my way through tonight 🙂

    I’m going through a divorce myself, and am doing a lot of soul searching and have to say, reading a man’s perspective, of what you’re going through, has really helped me a lot.

    In terms of this post, I could feel the anger coming off the screen and I’m glad you’re feeling the emotion. 🙂

    Few things, from someone you don’t know.

    1. Might I suggest finding a local atty, someone you trust, know, maybe? a friend can recommend? Set up a ‘consultation” $180 should do it (I know money is tight), but just go in with your list of questions, worst case scenarios, etc. I did this prior to filing for divorce b/c I was FREAKED out and it was the best money I ever spent. (I’m in a similar situation where I am now paying spousal support. We were married 15 months. heh)

    2. Another commenter posted this, but be careful with the anonymity of this blog. A few other commentors have also pointed out things may start amicable, but they can go south, quick.

    3. In terms of WA divorce laws, remember each state is different, you may want to do some online research (or go for a consult) to really understand what you’ll be faced with.

    From reading this evening, I have no doubt you’re gonna do right by your children, but you’re right, you also have to take care of yourself.

    Take care

  23. I’ll tell you what’s not fair.
    It’s not fair that you stay in a marriage because you think “things will change”. And then one day “things” DO change.

    Your spouse is diagnosed with stage III cancer – their life could end in 2 years, in 10 years in 20 years…at this stage there is no knowing.

    You have young children. You want out. But your spouse has cancer.

    It’s not fair.


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