Posted by: itneverrainsinseattle | April 14, 2011

Divorce: The Other Shoe Dropping

I am feeling very unsettled tonight. It’s been a rough couple weeks for a number of reasons, but today I heard the sound of the proverbial other shoe dropping.

This past Friday, Penny had a rough morning, so when she picked up the kids from my house (I worked from home so as to keep an eye on the kids while she attended the court-ordered parenting seminar that all divorcing couples with kids in King County must take), she was strung out and stressed out, and she had to tell me something.

She had seen a lawyer for a quick consultation. [Removing 678 words worth of details about what her lawyer advised.]

But that wasn’t the other shoe dropping. That was merely a hint. The other shoe dropping came this afternoon.

On Friday, after she told me the news, it was clear we would have to talk about what her lawyer had advised, so I AGAIN had to postpone our (presumably penultimate) session with our (particularly pathetic) mediator. So she and I had that discussion today.

We do not see eye-to-eye on a key issue (having to do with whether certain payments are called “maintenance”.) But it was another issue that has me feeling particularly off-balance right now.

Penny brought up the fact that we spent more on my [something] than we did on her [same something], both before our financial separation, and that we should adjust for that. Okay, I said, but should we also consider the (expensive) new [something else] she bought just before the financial split.

The words (regarding her other expense) were barely out of my mouth when she started yelling. I’m obviously not being fair about this. I obviously plan to screw her. I’m not willing to be reasonable. Obviously, she’s going to have to get a lawyer and we’re going to have to settle this in court. And so on. It was frightening to see such a whipsaw change in her.

And for her to jump to the conclusion that I was trying to screw her… that, my friends, is what I found most unsettling of all.

—–

It has been my experience that those who lie tend to be the first to suspect and accuse others of lying. While this situation isn’t the same — more likely fear is causing her to jump at shadows — it has set off more than a few alarm bells in the back of my mind. At the very least, she has revealed that she has entertained the notion of going to court.

—–

I first began writing this post a week ago. The first section above, I’d completed after several starts and deletes and re-starts. I remain unsettled. And earlier today, we had our first mediation session in months. In the days since I wrote the above, I, too, have consulted with a lawyer. And in mediation, I have conceded far more to Penny in an effort to keep the peace than I ever would have imagined at the beginning of this process, and far more than she would be able to secure from a court. FAR more. She continues to act out of fear. And our mediator continues to reveal a very overt bias toward advancing Penny’s interests at the expense of mine. (Which Penny has again acknowledged after today’s session.) Even so, I try to quell her fear with concessions when I know, deep down, they can’t fix what’s broken when she refuses to acknowledge the real problem.

The evidence is growing that Penny and I are good, capable co-parents. But for all that our separation so far has been “amicable” (Mandy at Since My Divorce… had an excellent comment here a few months ago where she made the distinction between amicable and civil, and yes, civil is likely the best we can hope for at this point), I find myself re-entering that stage of grief labeled Anger.

I am appalled at having my integrity or intentions impugned when I’ve been nothing but transparent and above-board.

I am galled at how Penny insists that she continue to enjoy the financial benefits of having me yoked to her, but that I should be deprived of any such safety net.

I am angry that, in her mind, I am to remain a wage slave while she should have every right to remain in her protective cocoon, shielded from ever having to work for The Man if her entrepreneurial efforts should fail.

…That I should shoulder all the risks, while she is free to reap any rewards exclusively.

…That she doesn’t have to support me in our marriage, but I nonetheless should be required to support her in our divorce.

—–

She’s scared. I get that. Not everybody is good in a crisis.

But this still sucks, and I’m still angry.

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Responses

  1. Ugh. This sounds terrible. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this right now.

    Divorce causes people to act in terrible ways. And if she’s got “friends” who are advising her, that’s likely also colouring her judgment right now. Hopefully, given a little time, she’ll come around a bit.

    My ex, too, walked away from things with me making many more concessions than I had to. I did it purely for the sake of “keeping the peace” and speeding things along. The ironic part is that he’s STILL finding ways of holding up the process even though we’re supposedly having a “civil” divorce. Some people never change.

    In any case, hang in there, friend. You’re allowed to be angry! That’s a natural reaction to what’s happening and how you’re being treated. Just do your best to deal with and express that anger in appropriate ways. 🙂

    *hugs*

  2. I am scared to see how divorce and especially the financial part of it changes people…

    I’m a bit behind you with the process, the finanacial part will come any day for me, and I am scared because I don’t want to fight and argue, and I don’t want it to be nasty, but I can see from your blog that my hopes for amicable divorce may remain just that, hopes…

  3. Oh boy, this is one thing that I am very afraid of. Is it not obvious to her the damage to your relationship and thus your children’s lives this conduct can cause? I am constantly shocked at the behavior of some people during and after a divorce. My thoughts are with you and your kids.

  4. Sigh. I’m sorry to hear this turn of events. As Sunshine said, you’re more than allowed to be angry. I don’t blame you. From what I’ve seen and heard from you here, you HAVE done everything above-board, and far and beyond what most people would do in your situation. Hopefully that gives you some solace and hopefully she calms down a bit and comes to her senses.

  5. I am sorry, inris. I am in complete sympathy with your emotions. It is appalling how society penalizes the breadwinner and supports to one who claims to be needier. I coughed up a huge flat sum so as not to pay “maintenance” but still have to pay child support, even though we have completely shared custody. I have let the bitterness go, and ex-Pat and I get along better than we have in years. I hope that the same happens for you and Penny. He did, at one point, threaten to take me to court, after he saw a lawyer who told him he could take me for so much more. Lawyers do more harm than good when people want to be fair and amicable.

  6. Sigh. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss of momentum, faith, and energy. I’m so sorry that she has returned to being an emotional vampire, and it’s your emotions on which she is feeding. I’m also sorry that, while society is more “feminist”, that the same feminist movement will (as you so aptly stated) cocoon her from her responsibilities rather than force her to face them. I understand your anger, because I feel it’s quite justified. Worse, you talked yourself out of this state when this all came up earlier in this process. That has to sting.

    I have no advice, no world experience to impart. You have only my sympathy, empathy, and overwhelming desire to bitch-slap her into the 21st century where “stay at home mommy hood” should NOT be the highest thing one can aspire to be. (I’m going to get beat up for that one). I can only hope that you are able to talk her down, get things rolling in a positive direction, and find a way to move on from this.

    You’re a strong man and a good person. This will hurt, but don’t let it define you. Keep the ball moving towards divorce. Now, go work out so those emotions don’t find their way into your home for too much longer.

  7. INRS, I’m sorry to hear what you’ve had to deal with. However it looks a bit like you’re starting to paint yourself as the victim….and in a failed marriage, BOTH parties are victims (maybe not to the same degree, but nonetheless both partners end up losing something that was once of great value). I only say this because donning the victim role makes you look less than reasonable and empathetic, and that can be a trigger for a lot of people’s anger. Showing understanding by giving Penny money will only get you so far….if you can find a way to *sincerely* acknowledge that she too has faced a lot of loss, it might help smooth things over with her. You will have to do it more than once and find various ways of communicating this until she’s able to hear you. Otherwise you risk her viewing you as nothing but a man with a chip on his shoulder who is only concerned about cash, which could have a bad fallout.

    I hope this post doesn’t offend you, as that was not my intent. I just wanted to give you another viewpoint….I trust you will either apply it or discard it as you see fit.

  8. If it’s any consolation, you are not alone. Our entire country is experiencing this “phenomenon”. Some of us feel like you do. And then, there are the Penny’s of this world who feel entitled to a net, while the rest of us work hard to make sure it’s always there.

    Are they scared? Or just lazy? The reason hardly matters.

    Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about the way Penny sees the world. But to keep caving in will ultimately ruin your life….so dig in, get a lawyer if you have to, and stand up for your rights!!
    Your kids need at least one parent who “gets it”.

  9. money is where things have forever and always been dark, scary, angry and manipulative between the ex and me. we can go along for awhile being nice to each other, but then out of nowhere, a week of arguments, passive-aggressive comments and yelling will erupt because of something in our (supposedly already settled) financial arrangement. i gave up a lot financially to get out of that marriage. i agreed to pay alimony to that man, for god’s sake, largely as an “if i do this for you, will you just GO AWAY?” gesture. but it never seems to be quite enough.

    i’m thinking of you, through it all. it’s so hard.

  10. I’m sorry to hear you are going through this and I am glad you are writing about your feelings. I think it is an important part of working through the process. Maybe letting your frustration out and sharing your feelings here will bring relief and perspective. It looks like you have a lot of support here and you are not alone. I hope that knowledge brings you some comfort.

    I hate to see anyone feel cheated. It sounds like you saw a lawyer, so I am glad you are being counseled in that regard. Even when things are amicable, it never hurts to have a professional look things over because they might be aware of things that you didn’t think of.

    You know that old saying, something to the effect of: If neither party is happy then it was a fair settlement. I’m not saying that it’s totally true, but I often wonder if there is some kernel of truth behind it.

    Hope things get better soon.

  11. I don’t really know what to say, other than it’s obvious that P has been hit with a hard dose of financial reality. What the eff did she expect was going to happen, her shit was just going to get itself together? (I don’t know why I just avoided one curse word only to say another… but seriously!)

    I understand your frustration- and I’m sorry for that. I had a feeling that this would happen at some point though, because judging by what you’ve mentioned here about her plans to only work at your business and move into a house of her own, I don’t see how she thought she could support herself like that.

    Well I suppose this comment isn’t really going to do you any good now is it? lol.. Just smile. 🙂 You’ll get through.

  12. Motherhood by many accounts is a leading predicator of poverty in women. You have indicated that neither you nor Penny have been “well off” during your marrage, and very near financial ruin. I know you are co-parenting and trying to split things as evenly as possible – but statistics show that women fair worse after divorce than men do.

    I just want to re-emphasize that Penny is, as you have indicated, scared shitless. The business isn’t working (right?), new household, selling old household, routines upset. Everyone is s.t.r.e.s.s.e.d.

    I get that you’re angry — I just wonder if you could eek out a little more empathy – not conceding, recognizing that you get she’s scared and telling her that – while you continue to finalize these last pieces.

  13. It’s all a process. Everything will turn out fine. Trust me.

  14. I wish I could offer some sage words of wisdom but you nailed it. She’s scared. And she’s blaming you for her fear. I’d love to say to her, “This has nothing to do with him and everything to do with you. Only YOU can decide not to be scared. Only YOU can decide that you’ll be okay.”

    Because at this point, there’s probably nothing you can do that will bring her peace. She has to find it herself.

    Divorce sucks. Plain and simple. I don’t blame you for being angry. But stick to your guns. Take care of you. Honor YOU. You don’t have to concede anything just because you’re a man and she’s a woman. Figure out what YOU need and don’t bend.

    Good luck.

    xxoo

  15. Your wife should retain a lawyer to advise her while she is making financial decisions that will have repercussions for the rest of her life. Going to court is a given. I retained a divorce attorney to guide me through mediation and an eventual settlement conference. We never went to court. My attorney also strongly advised me to consult an accountant versed in tax issues resulting from divorce.

    The fact is, now that you’re divorcing, what is in your best financial interest is not in hers, and vice versa. You want the best possible settlement in your interest, and she wants the best possible settlement in hers. You may be settling this amicably, but she (and possibly you) need expert advice from a lawyer on what to ask for and what to compromise on.

    I still remember the moment I realized I could no longer count on my husband as an ally who would do what was fair. Days after he revealed he wanted a divorce, he took an expensive trip to meet the woman he’d “fallen in love” with over the Internet. He spent many thousand dollars in marital assets on this trip. The one thing he promised me, when we started mediation, was that all the money he spent on his sex trip and all the subsequent money he spent from our joint accounts on dating other women (clubs, restaurants, jewelry, flowers, show tickets) would be his sole responsibility in our eventual financial settlement. Well, when the moment came, and I reminded him of his promise about putting the trip and his dating expenses on his side of the financial settlement, he just said no. His promise meant nothing…he was out for what he could get in his own best interest. That’s when I realized I had to look our for my own best interests in the settlement, and not worry about the impact on his finances.

  16. I meant to say “going to court is NOT a given.” Sorry!

  17. Don’t be afraid of going to court if you have to.

    If you two cannot agree, someone hast to make you. The judge will do everything by the book, even if it means leaving both of you unhappy.

    Hold yourselves to a higher standard do what is right and fair for the other, agree to what is lawful, no more, no less. if after this and reasonable discussion you cannot agree, then let the judge decide.

    One way or the other, the divorce will settle.

    Don’t do what the father of a friend of mine did. He contested his divorce all the way, long enough to put himself trough law school, represent himself in court, as an attorney, and die of a heart attach before the divorce was final. [foreign country of course]

  18. I’ve never been through a divorce, and I truly don’t know much about you and Penny. But seriously, how do women get off so easy in divorces?! I just don’t understand it. They should have to work too! They shouldn’t get the same benefits as being married! I understand that it’s probably for the kids and all that jazz. But seriously, I think she should have to work for her financial security since you are no longer her partner. I’m sorry you’re going through this. We’ll just have to drinks your cares away next weekend in Seattle! 🙂

  19. I’m getting to the party late, so I won’t say I told you so.

    I expected that at some point Penny would become hostile and less cooperative. I’m sorry to see that my expectation is being met. I say this because it appears to me (not knowing the specifics and not yet having read the next post) that Penny’s complaints are somewhat minor. She’s led you into a tit-for-tat battle (the amount you spent on X more than she spent on Y while ignoring Z altogether). The debate of what constitutes maintenance.

    It’s clear to me that she’s worried about money, and I suspect that her adjustment to her new economic status is just finally hitting her consciousness. You need to keep Sir Galahad watching the kids while you defend your boundaries. I wouldn’t give in to Penny if her approach to you doesn’t become more diplomatic no matter what legal threats she makes towards you.

    I suspect that you will find your diplomatic skills stressed to the limit. Not to maintain in the face of this new adversity will prove the worse for you.

    I’m going to go read the next post now. More to comment upon there, I’m sure.

    • Just want to add that I didn’t read the other comments here until after I finished at the next post. I see that others advised you similarly. We can’t all be wrong!


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