Advice about Divorce
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Advice about Divorce
Parents - Can anyone offer me advice about divorce? I am so
brokenhearted about this, but I have tried for years to fix
a marriage that cannot be fixed. My husband just can't stand
me, and rages at me constantly - and in front of our child.
And yet for some reason he resists divorce. I haven't wanted
a divorce, but it has been years and it's just getting
worse. And yes, we have seen counselors twice, to no avail.
I need to somehow find the courage to leave.
I don't know what steps to take. I have tried to talk to him
calmly about us separating. I have asked, courteously, if he
would consider moving out, and he says no. So although I
know it's recommended that women try to stay in the home, I
think I need to just leave. I have no idea what steps to
take, if any, before renting a place and moving. I need to
at least have joint custody of my little one, who is my
world and only 3. I don't know what I need to do to make
sure I don't risk losing this. And I am a little concerned
about my husband's temper - not that I fear physical
violence, but over the long haul I worry about how he will
behave alone with our son. His temper just seems so bad.
Anyway - if anyone can tell me anything helpful, I will be
so grateful. Thank you.
You say you don't fear physical violence, but it sounds
like you might be a victim of domestic violence
(verbal/emotional abuse) from your description. This can
be very damaging for kids to witness/experience, so for
your protection and that of your child I would urge you to
seek help. There are a number of programs in Alameda
County--A Safe Place has a 24-hour hotline (510-536-SAFE)
and a shelter. Perhaps getting some support and advocacy
around the domestic violence issues might help you get
organized to take the steps you need. Advocates at
shelters are really good at helping make safety plans, and
in supporting people through tough situations like this.
I was in a situation very similar to yours a few years ago. My child was also
around 3. I am now divorced and it was definitely the right decision. From
my own experience I would advise the following:
Get the support of your friends and family. Let them know what's going on
and that you will be needing their help.
Get your finances in order. Start saving money for yourself and your child.
Get your own bank account and credit card. You might also want to get
another cell phone.
Get a lawyer. Explain to them about your husband's temper, what you want
for custody etc. Lawyers around here are not so cheap but I found it was
good to have someone who had real authority running the discussions, also
they set up child support, spousal support etc.
If you can afford it, see a counselor on your own. They can help you plan
when to move, and also help you deal with your emotions about leaving your
After this stuff is in place, I would start looking at apartments.
Good luck. Your own happiness and the happiness of your child is worth it.
The first step is to calm down and consult with a lawyer,
there have been plenty recommended in the BPN archive. In
California you do not need a reason to get divorced, you
can basically just file, serve, wait six months, judge
confirms, and that's that.
My divorce lawyer didn't even want to hear any reasons or
emotion at all, just the facts about income, kids, and
There are formulas for child support and who gets what.
Try not to stress about all the terrible things that could
happen, hope it goes smoothly and look toward the future.
You're not asking for therapy, but it sounds like you should
first push your husband to therapy. He may be oblivious to
the pain he is causing you. My husband doesn't have a
violent temper all the time, and to most people he appears
to have a calm demeanor and easy-going nature. But to me, he
expresses loathing and disrespect. He would tell anybody
else that HE doesn't get respect. Honestly, having gone
through a divorce previously, and having observed the kids
in school whose parents clearly loathe each other (guess
what? the kids usually lose), I'd say unless you are
positive you want to leave, I'd push for counseling first.
Get a therapist who will challenge you to either figure out
whether you really should separate or figure out how to be
together in mutual satisfaction and caring. (There are more
lame therapists out there than really effective ones, plus
there's the personal compatibility thing). If you do the
therapy you won't have to spend years later wondering if
you'd done the right thing, or participating in mutual
loathing that will help convince you that you'd done the
right thing. Regardless of what youdo, always ask yourself
if you'd regret what you're doing (including whether you'd
regret being awful to your husband--don't be mean and
petty-not worth it for your self-worth or your child's. And
remember your child loves his daddy too. I'd also get your
finances in order (including a separate account), maybe
before you tell your husband that it's counseling or
nothing. If your husband is truly violent, you should be
prepared to be on your own the moment you give him an
ultimatum. Read through all the books you can get your hands
on from Nolo Press before you make any decisions. Protect
yourself financially, and protect your kid. Figure it out
ahead of time. Be fair.
Hello - It's excellent that you know what is right for you, even tho it will be
hard. Your husband can't ''veto'' a divorce, if you want one. Talk to a lawyer
with experience in Family Law about the legal realities of your situation.
Also, read and research as much as you can. It is much better if you
understand what your legal options are. Also, expect your lawyer to keep you
informed of EVERYTHING that happens in your case. Even if you hire a
lawyer, check out ''collaborative divorce.'' These are teams of lawyers, child
development experts, etc., who help couples negotiate a divorce. To keep
your claim to custody of your child, try to avoid moving out of your house.
Otherwise, move yourself and your child out together. It seems that the law
views moving out by yourself, even temporarily, as abandonment of your
child. Especially for mothers. Check out your finances carefully. Is your
name on each bank and retirement account and property deed that belongs
to you alone or jointly? Do you have any verbal agreements about money or
property that are not in writing? Did either of you bring money or property to
the relationship that you have agreed to share? (The law will assume that
whatever each person brings to the marriage is their own separate property at
divorce, unless you have a written agreement to the contrary.) Make sure
you have access to your share of the money. If you don't have enough $ to
support yourself and to hire a lawyer but your husband does, you can lose
everything - even if it is ''rightfully'' yours.
If you are at all afraid of your husband, or if you are afraid for your child in
the least, talk to a domestic violence (DV) expert. Make a specific plan for
leaving with a counselor - whether or not you or your child have ever been
hurt. Planning will make everything go more smoothly. DV counselors are
more aware than most people of all the decisions and preparations you will
need to make.
Finally, line up good solid personal support - friends who will check in on
you or send your cards or e-mails, people you can talk freely with, people
whose company you like, people who think well of you. This is a difficult
process, but very worthwhile. I wish you strength and success.
Been There, Too.
If you decide you need to divorce, stop asking the other
person's permission. I would issue one ultimatum- counseling
and serious change, or you will get a divorce. But don't
issue ultimatums unless you really will act on it.
Let's assume the ultimatum gets you nowhere. Say nothing
and find an attorney through the BPN Reviews- must be in
your county and must be a divorce and family law specialist.
See them for one hour, and ask what papers to get together.
Really, a lot of divorce at first is photocopying your
darned financial documents. Get your data together, bring it
to your attorney, and ask what's next. (Wait until January
2- this will be hard enough as it is).
Best of luck.
I am also going through the 1st steps of separating. Among
the tough parts of this is the fact that most of my friends
are still married with kids (the impenetrable nuclear
family, like we used to be), so I am having to go outside my
friend circle to find others going through similar
struggles. It's not that my friends aren't supportive but
many of them just don't know what to say. Also, I need to
start filling my time with ''refueling'' activities so that I
can be there for my 5 year old as much as possible. So if
you'd like to talk and share strategies for coping, please
contact me. Hang in there.
To make a very long story short, after 23 years together,16 years
of marriage, three children, 2 years of couples counseling and
his two affairs(one night stand and 3 month fling- so he says) I
have decided that I can no longer stay in this relationship. I
am missing three key ingredients to a successful marriage:
trust,respect and love (TRL). We have both caused each other
many hurts over the years and we both have worked very
hard to stay together. But I am ready (and scared to death) to
call it what it is: over. (advice wanted April 7)
We bought our house back in 1993. After our third child in 2000
I have been pretty much a SAHM. I have had a couple of temporary
jobs;filling in for people on maternity leave. With the state of
the economy and me not having a job it has been hard to reach the
decision to break up. But after much thought and finding out
about these two affairs,which he insists meant nothing to him, I
am ready to move on. And I actually got offered a temp position
last Friday. I'll take it as a sign. I am hoping I can get my
foot in the door and when this position is over I can find
another one, hopefully permanent.
OK what is my question you are wondering? This is it. Is there
any chance/hope that I can keep the house? I have checked
rentals and there is not much you can get for what we pay in
mortgage. Definitely can't get a 4bd/2th house. I have looked
up options and what I have found is these three:
1. Sell the house
2. Buy the other one out
3. Co-Own up to a certain time (ie. youngest reaches 18)
I don't want to sell because there is nothing affordable that I
could buy. I can't buy him out because I don't have the money
and if we refinanced to get more money so I could buy him out,
then the mortgage would be too high. I am wondering if there is
anyone out there who has co-owned. And what are my chances of
such a deal? My main concern is for the kids (his too) and I
know they would be happier and feel more secure if they could
stay in the home they have always known.
You can ask for the house in the settlement and you have a
strong case in that you wish to maintain stability for your
children. Doing what is best for the kids is always the
overriding concern. But, be careful what you wish for. Figure
out how much it will cost you to pay mortgage, taxes, equity
line, home insurance, repairs, maintenance, etc. In our divorce
settlement, he had the big career, took all the stocks, IRAs,
etc. and I took the house. After a year or so, I realized I
couldn't pay the taxes on my meager salary. I started renting
out rooms, eventually moved into an in-law unit and rented the
main house, and finally had to sell. It was actually a relief
to have a modest apartment that I could maintain myself. The
kids got over the reduced space and I found a complex which had
a pool so that made up for reduced space for them.
Upshot...removing the emotional considerations, be sure you can
afford the house on your own.
Miss my house, but better off without it
I am sorry to hear about your troubles. And I have had quite a
lot of experience in the divorce/house issue. My ex-husband and
I settled on something slightly unusual that could potentially
work in your case, provided your husband is willing and able to
work with you. I would really suggest working with a mediator on
this one (Judith Joshel or Eva Herzer are people I have worked
with and liked).
I assume that your husband is the one leaving the home behind (I
was the one who left in our case). I am also going to assume,
just given what you have written here, that the court will order
child support from him to you based on your respective incomes
and you will also probably be able to get spousal support based
on the length of your marriage (half the length of a long
marriage is a rule-of-thumb payment period, though it's
negotiable), also based on your respective incomes and your
potential earning power for the future. In our case I could see,
as you can now see, that it would not be possible for one of us
to buy the other out. Nor would it be possible, given the
present housing market and our reduced incomes, for us to find a
living situation for our child as nice as the house I had left
After a lot of soul-searching, I decided that it was most
important for my (12-yr-old) son to be able to stay in his
life-long home. I also felt that forcing my son's dad to move at
a moment when he was emotionally and financially very vulnerable
would make it harder for him to get work (he had not been
employed during our marriage) and be a good parent. It was in
the best interests of our son, definitely, for me to give up for
the time being the idea of selling the house and getting my
So we made an agreement to continue to co-own until my son
graduates from high school. It was hard to give up access to my
share of the equity at a time when I had accrued debts by moving,
buying a car, and paying a lot of support. So we made a clause
in the agreement that said that my ex would sign onto a home
equity loan in case I needed to take out some portion of my
equity before the sale. And we also said that if he were for
some reason unable to keep up payments, we could sell, with the
first buy-out option belonging to me. And -- and this was very
important to me -- we negotiated a steady reduction in spousal
support year by year so that I could anticipate how much I would
be obligated to pay and for how long. Your case is rather
different -- you were a SAHM for a long while, you had three kids
instead of one, you were not staying at home in order to forward
a career that failed (as did my ex, a writer), etc. But this
could be a negotiating point nevertheless.
Note that all bets may be off if your ex decides he wants to buy
you out -- if he can do that, he might be able to push hard for
it. But you have strong arguments on your side, given what you
have said about your circumstances. I live in a reasonably
priced, reasonably OK apartment less than a mile from my ex. It
has been hard to accept that the house I paid for is no longer
available to me, and I can't buy another for now. But my son's
best interests convinced me. Maybe your kids' dad will be
convinced as well. It's definitely worth negotiating.
First, congratulations on reaching what must have been a painful
what may seem like daunting logistics.
I have known a couple of couples who have rented out a studio/1BR
the rent on that between them, and alternated weeks at the family home
you're at the house with the kids, your ex is at the apt., and
Speaking as a divorced single mom myself, the house needs to be
there if at all possible to provide stability for the children.
You have three kids - youngest is 9? The house could be
considered as part of spousal/family support. If your kids are
there primarily, he needs to pay substantially toward that
mortgage, for the sake of the kids. Besides, it's a bad time to
sell anyway. But most importantly, even if your kids spend 50%
time with their dad in another residence, the house is there
stability & it would be very hard on them to move/sell at this
stage. Maybe in 3-5 years when they have adjusted?
I have been divorced for almost 15 years now, despite their dad
moving several times over the years, my house is presently still
their ''home'' whether they live there or not. I definitely
think it helps them cope.
Divorced single mom
i am in exactly the same situation as you are regarding the
house. i thought about buying my soon-to-be ex-husband out but
realized my mortgage would go up and i would not be able to
afford living in the home. divorce is definitely going to bring
change for everyone. in my experience it has helped my kids cope
to take one step at a time, instead of changing everything all at
once. my ex and i separated 2 years ago and i stayed in the
house. we weren't ready to make any decisions about the house
yet as we were taking time to grieve and get used to the split.
it was agreed that the kids and i would stay in the house and i
would be responsible for the mortgage and the house itself. now,
two years later we are finally filling for divorce and ready to
move on. i am ready to move out of the house into my own place
and so we will stay on the loan together as co-owners and rent
the place out. this way on taxes we will be splitting everything
50/50 and we can each claim HH since neither of us will be living
here. we will sell the house once the market gets better or if
my situation changes once i start working maybe i can afford to
buy him out and keep the house as a rental. whatever you agree
to, get it in writing, email, whatever, so that you have records
of everything. good luck and take care of yourself...
My husband wants a divorce and he wants it ASAP. But, we have
two young children and I want to make sure
they are well taken care of. I've been at home with the kids
for the last 5+ yrs. My husband works long hours as a litigator
but says that he wants the kids 50% of the time. I'm pretty sure
his motivation there is financial, so what can I do?
I was a preschool teacher before I had kids and have started
subbing this school year. I didn't make much $$ before we had
kids and I won't make much in the near future. So, I want to
make sure our divorce agreement takes that into account. Plus,
I obviously have no benefits or healthcare alone.
Also, we have talked about the house and about keeping the kids
in one home for as long as possible (maybe up to one year).
Hopefully, we will do well selling the house a year from now,
but I'm wondering how to make sure everything works out fairly.
Getting a divorce ASAP is HIS agenda for his possibly cliche
reasons, and not yours. Your agenda is planning for the support
of you and the kids. Get a lawyer now! Don't talk any more with
him directly, put him off as much as you can citing (honestly)
what a big decision this is, and if possible serve him with
papers first. I'm sorry if I sound jaded but the ASAP and 50%
seem like red flags to me that he's not in it for your or the
kids' well-being. Plus, he's a litigator!? Uh-oh. And I'm
sorry, it's scumbag behavior to leave a woman when the kids are
so young. (There you have my bias.) All the things you mention
are valid and are customarily considered. But get an attorney!
Get a very good divorce lawyer....
You are raising several complicated questions: child and
spousal support, selling a home, custody and visitation. You
should consult with a family law attorney as soon as possible
to understand how these issues work. It's money well spent.
You definitely have substantial rights here, and you need to get
your own lawyer. Everyone will tell you that. And as a divorced
mom, I understand your angry feelings toward your children's
father, but I would urge you to avoid assuming that his desire to
have the children half-time is motivated by money alone. Let
yourself believe that he really wants to help raise his kids (you
probably have to let him do that anyway legally, so you might as
well support the idea). If it turns out that parenting is not
what he wants, he will probably want to change the custodial
relationship later. In the meantime, you have significant rights
to support even if he is a 50% custodial parent: both child
support and spousal support, I would guess. Child support is
state-mandated and is based on respective earnings; spousal
support depends on the length of time the couple was married and
their respective earnings or earning-power. My ex-husband and I
were married for fifteen years, which is considered a ''long''
marriage, so I (the main breadwinner) am obliged to pay him
spousal support for half that time. Spousal support is, however,
negotiable, and so this is where you really need a lawyer to
coach you. You will also need a lawyer to help you with division
of property (half the house and half his retirement earned during
marriage may be yours), staying in the house, etc. Since your
husband is also a lawyer and a litigator, you had better look for
a good representative. Usually I urge people to go into
mediation, but in your case you might want to be careful -- you
could broach that idea, but if your husband is not on board, it
might not work. Good luck with your struggle.
After several years of ignoring the little voice in my head, I
have finally reached the point where I am admitting that my
marriage is not right and I should take steps to end it. Although
I am very sad to confront this reality, I feel sure of my
decision. My immediate concern is that I suspect my husband will
be totally blindsided by the idea of separating or divorcing
(despite the fact that we have not had sex or much physical
affection in at least 2 years and have an amicable but distant
roommate and co-parent relationship). I love my husband as a
person and do not want to cause him unneeded suffering. I would
also very much like to be able to pursue mediation or NOLO
options for our split and shared custody, etc, but I recognize
that I am at a completely different place in terms of
acknowledging and accepting the depth of our problem and the
situation. What I am looking for here is concrete and practical
advice from anyone who has been on either side of a 'surprise'
break up, regarding what to (or not to) do or say in breaking the
news and having the subsequent needed conversations. I know there
is no way to make this process painless, but I would like to try
to avoid any big errors that will just make things harder in the
future. Thanks for any words of wisdom you can share.
don't want to burn the bridge
Instead of dropping the news of your desire for a divorce like a
bomb, first point out that you have not had sex in two years, and
that you would like to go for counseling. Then, let the
counselor bring up the idea of a divorce gradually, based on the
facts presented. After all, maybe your husband feels the same
way you do, but hasn't wanted to say anything because he loves
you as a person.
My husband instigated a 'surprise break up', as you call it, and
the most painful thing for me was the fact that he had already
worked everything out in his head and made a unilateral decision
before telling me. The fair thing to do would have been to tell
your husband before you were sure you wanted to break up, to give
both of you a chance to work at things together. After my husband
told me he did not think our relationship was going to work out,
as you say he was 'at a completely different place in terms of
acknowledging and accepting the depth of our problem' and
although in words he acknowledged my hurt, in practice he
expected me to accept the situation much more quickly than was
reasonable, since he had it all worked out in his head. It was
horribly unfair (particularly because of the particular
circumstances I was in, which I won't go into). When he agreed
that he owed it to me to go to couples counselling, it was of
course not much use because his mind was already made up (even
though it did finally make him glimpse the enormity of what he
had done). He did not give me the chance to discuss things or
suggest possible changes. I would urge you to reconsider your
certainty about your decision and give your husband a fair chance
of discussing your problems with an open mind as to what the
outcome might be. I found it a horrible breach of my husband's
marital vows that by the time he spoke to me he did not even
consider the possibility of staying together, as we had worked
through a lot of problems together in the past and I expected we
would continue to do so. You owe it to him and to your children.
been there, still hurts
I am among a group of men who have all been blindsided. We all
shared some common feelings. We were taught that marriage is not
all roses, woman have many emotions that we don't experience
(maternal bonding, post partum, super mom inadequacy)so we need
to give them time, and if we work hard are faithful /committed
everything will work out. It doesn't.
All of our ex's said things like, I have had enough, I can't
take this, but none was direct and clear about the possibility
the marriage was over. We all resented that our ex's had
already decided to end it before telling us, so there was no way
to save it. We all resented that our ex's friends and family
knew about our marital problems before we did. Didn't we vow to
Advice: Bring it up with him tonight, be direct, don't use
another relationship to help/justify ending this one, give
yourself time before starting a new relationship, find out why
you are so unhappy (it is not all him), give him specifics if
there are things you feel can't be fixed, be prepared to
happier, and also be prepared that he too might be happier. Good
Signed: That would have been nice to know
Seems like you are jumping ahead and skipping the conversation
that is ''I'm unhappy and need things to change in order to stay
in this relationship. Can we do some counseling or something to
see if things can be improved?''. Maybe you've already done this,
but it didn't sound like it from your msg.
I had this conversation under much the same circumstances three
years ago, and I believe it is probably a very difficult
conversation no matter how you approach it. My ex-husband
simply refused to hear what I was saying for about a year.
Even when I moved out of the house and had said clearly that I
was not coming back, he would ask me when I was going to come
back. So denial is certainly possible. And he may also really
want to first go into counseling, etc. I did this with my ex,
and my mistake was not making it clear that I was not going
into counseling to fix the marriage. He felt betrayed when I
explained that I went into counseling to help him understand
that I was leaving. Prepare yourself for anger also -- I had
hoped for a situation in which we could remain on good terms,
and that didn't happen. Your idea of going through a mediator
is excellent. Larry Rosen is often cited as a mediator who
helps couples work through emotional as well as legal issues,
and though I didn't end up using his services, many people
recommend him. We did use mediation, and I agree that this is
the very best way to go -- NOLO is really only when you have a
firm grasp of the law, lots of time to fill in forms, and a
cooperative ex-spouse. It would never have worked for us, and
you need to consult with a lawyer, in my humble opinion, even
if you make your own agreement.
Good luck with this very difficult time in your life.
I completely understand your post, and felt exactly the same way.
I found it helpful to see a (new) male counselor with my
then-husband;i spoke very briefly with the therapist in advance.
I told him that i wanted a divorce, and wanted to discuss
it/announce it in an environment that was supportive for both me
AND my husband. Having a third person in the room over a few
sessions both helped me speak openly and honestly without fear of
an extreme response, and also ensured that we were both heard and
had support in speaking our minds.
We then used a mediator to file and that really worked for us. I
wasn't interested in fighting over what assets we had (few)... I
was interested in making a deposit in our ''good will'' bank, and
steering clear of legal battles was a strong step in the right
direction. Today not only do we have a very accommodating joint
custody arrangement but our child knows that we are on the same
team, looking out for him and loving him.
I dreaded the divorce conversation when i thought about it... but
looking back, our process went as smoothly as it could have.
Feel free to contact the moderator if you wish to talk.
It sounds like you've made this decision to divorce absolutely
unilaterally, in which case there's no way to break it to him
without it causing hard feelings. I think you should take a
step back and start talking to him -- not about getting a
divorce, but by letting him know you're not happy and that you
want to go to counselling. From what you've described, it
doesn't sound like either of you have made a big effort to solve
your problems, and you really need to go through that step
first. It's not fair for you to jump to the end decision of
divorce without giving your partner a real opportunity to
understand your feelings and respond to them, and for him to be
able to express his feelings without the decision of divorce
already haven been made by you.
Perhaps start with counseling to address some feelings you're
having, then bring it out in that setting?
We are divorcing and unfortunately my husband has turned our neighbors
against me and I feel really sad about this. We have been very close
for a long time, and although they don't know the whole story, as no
one ever can, they have decided that I am the bad guy and have
apparantly said demeaning things about me and have also yelled at me
on the sidewalk. They are very nice people, but apparantly do not
understand that it is not helpful to take sides. In my discussions
with neighbors and/or mutual friends, I have said explicitly the only
side is that of our children, and although I discuss my perspective, I
make it clear that it is only my perspective. My kids have been very
close to these people since they were very little. Now it is awkward
when we run into them. I try to be polite, however it is obvious to
the kids that something has changed. I also miss their friendship. I
don't know whether to approach them or to just let this run its
course. My kids are in grade school, and I will be staying in the
home I have lived in for 15 years, before I even knew my husband. sad
Good gravy. I am distressed at how people will take sides in
other people's divorces; it happened a little in mine, too. It
is particularly uncomfortable when the side-takers are as
obvious about their feelings as your neighbors seem to be. I
would ask to speak with them. I know that it's not
comfortable, but I think that if you can get them to sit down
and talk to you, you can explain that 1) there are two sides to
every divorce story, though you do not want to criticize your
ex-husband and add fuel to the flames 2) that the children are
your first consideration and the hostility expressed by your
neighbors is painful for them and 3) you live in a community
together and you really need to get along. You do need to get
along -- neighbors are important for security and mutual aid,
and communities in which neighbors don't get along are diseased
communities. You don't want for your children to grow up in
that kind of environment. So do try to summon courage and get
them to speak to you if you can.
treading the neutral course when sides are drawn up
That sounds like a very awful situation to be in. Having had people
talk behind my back and have people take sides is no fun. It sounds
like you have done all that you can to remedy the situation by
explaining your side. I don't think that ''nice'' people do mean
things. You may need to just ride it out. Let the neighbors see that
you are not an evil and awful person. As far as your children this is
a teaching moment. You can talk to them about point of view and how
important it is to get all the facts before making a judgement about
somebody else. You can talk to them about how to be a good neighbor.
Yes, your children may have realized that things have changed and you
can help them process this new discovery because at some point in
their lives they might have something similar happen to them. I
suggest riding it out and say no to any verbal abuse. Hold your head
high and still be nice to your neighbors. Things will hopefully get
better. It did get better for me in my similar situation.
Wow! Your neighbors whom you've been ''very close to'' and you
describe as ''very nice people'' are talking behind your back and
yelling at you on the street?! Don't confuse these people as
even FORMER friends and they certainly don't deserve being
missed. You have a lot of healing to do and for them to turn on
you like that lets you know that they should not be trusted
again. You will probably have to come out and tell your
children that not only do marriages end, but sometimes
friendships end, too. They really should be ashamed and
embarrased about what they've done and if they can't come
(crawling) with a heart-felt apology for listening to only one
perspective, judging prejudicially, and so thoroughly crushing
the relationship you thought you had with them, let them be.
You have better things to do and better people to meet. Enjoy
your home. Hold your head up. And if they ever accost you on
the street again let them know you'll call the police.
So your neighbors are ''very nice'' but have ''yelled at you on
the sidewalk'' ? How do you think that those two things fit together ?
Did you commit adultery on the front lawn ? Hit your husband in
their presence ? Shoot heroin in the front parlor ?
Unless your behavior was very, very egregious, your neighbors
should be a lot more circumspect about taking sides and not do things
like yell at you on the sidewalk. If your behavior included things
that are over the line for most people, and very public, then you need
to be more honest with yourself. If not, maybe they are not very nice.
In any case, why do you want to stay on this street ?
This is a realy dificult subject. Unfortunately, this happens
in so many divorces. It happened to me as well. It hurts no
matter how you look at it. Times heals all. The discomfort of
confronting your friends will slowly disapate. When the time
is right, share your feelings with your friends. Explain to
them that your ex-husband is angry right now and he probably
said somethings that were not true. Express to them how much
their frienship means to you and your children. Let them know
how uncomfortable you are feeling through all of this. They
need to understand that you have feeling too. If they are true
friends, all will be forgotten. If they are not true friends
then, they are very small minded. Most of the time, talking
things through works wonders. I believe in time your ex-
husband will become best friends with you. Right now, a lot of
anger and hurt feelings surface. Give it time to pass. I wish
you the best.
It's too bad that your neighbors have treated you so
disrespectfully, but they've done you a great favor. Really,
you don't need people like that in your life. Judgmental,
critical people really having nothing to offer anyone other
than being condescending and loyal to tale-spinners. It's too
bad your husband poisoned your relationship, so just let go and
go on with your life. When you see them on the street, just
act lady like and dignified and move on with your life. Good
luck to you as you go through this tough journey that will
someday be a blur.
Oh my gosh, I am really shocked! How inappropriate. I think your
only choices are to not speak to them at all; catch them alone
without your kids or theirs and tell them it is none of their
business and how dare they yell at you on the street; tell your
husband to tell them to shut up. I don't know how bad it is
between you and your soon to be ex husband, but maybe he talked
to them as friends and vented his spleen, but did not intend for
them to attack you. No matter what you did, it is not their
business. Just tell yourself that and them too if you get a
Our 13 year marriage has become unbearable for many reasons,
primarily my husband's unwillingness to contribute income and
''maintenance'' to the family in the form of giving me (the
unwilling but de facto breadwinner) a break by taking care of
household management at least so that I can spend some fun time
with my daughter, myself, my husband, friends, etc. He has also
become mean and intransigent and dug in about his lifestyle of
choice--doing whatever he wants whenever he wants. In other
words, he doesn't even pretend that a grown-up parent has a
responsibility to generate income while our daughter is in school
so that I can take time off, and/or take over household
management for the same reason--my sanity. There is nothing left
between us, but he says he doesn't want to divorce. The worst of
it is that he insists upon dragging our daughter through every
gory detail of what he thinks is wrong with me and how all I do
is complain and then, he says to her that, ''mommy's kicking me
out''. He says he refuses to leave before the holidays, even
though I made it clear during the summer that we are through. He
has no access to money, as I finally had to take his name off all
of our accounts as he ran up thousands in credit card bills every
month. I have offered to pay his attorney fees if he moves out
(my house before we married)--he declined, however I know if I
get a court order, he will drag our daughter through a meat
grinder and use her as a weapon in his war against me. I know, I
chose a looser, but should I get him out NOW and cause my
daughter to suffer through her favorite time of year, or, should
I just quietly move out and see my daughter when I can, and let
the lawyers work out the final agreement and then move back in?
Broken-hearted and finished
You sound like you are in a tough situation to say the least,
but are you really thinking of moving out ''quietly'' and only
see your daughter when you can? Did I understand that
correctly? I rarely respond to question but feel very strongly
that you must NOT slip out and leave your daughter...even if
she was to be there with a responsible husband. Big deal if it
is holiday time. It's going to suck, but there will be lots of
Christmases (or whatever you celebrate) in her life (and yours!)
How did you end up with this guy in the first place? Get rid of
him (sorry to be so blunt). He's lazy, selfish, immature and
just wants you around to support him forever and always. Move on
and pull your child out of his poisonous influence. You will
find support structures to help you through it.
There are better options
I am sorry you are going through such a hard time. I would
urge you to seek the advice of a family law attorney in
addition to any words of wisdom that may come from other BPN
members. Any actions you take could have legal consequences and
it would be wise for you to know exactly how your decisions
will impact your legal rights down the road. There should be
recommendations in the archives and you can also contact the
Alameda County Bar Association for referrals.
family law attorney
I'll just respond to part of your post... Do not leave the
house without your daughter. Keep her with you. As for getting
him out and keeping your asset, get to a lawyer right away. The
victim game and badmouthing of you is really really bad. Maybe
family counseling if you could both go, even if you have to
induce him by some less than straightforward means, would be
good just for the purpose of protecting your daughter from his
behavior. Perhaps a therapist or counselor (preferably male)
can help guide him (both of you, you'll have to go with him and
not make it about him). I did this last thing when I was
divorcing and it really reduced his badmouthing of me to my
child because my then husband wanted to appear grown up and
equal in integrity with the therapist. After the divorce and me
with almost full physical custody, he did everything he could
to hurt me, but at least I had him out of the house. Good luck.
I would gently suggest that you take swift, immediate steps, to move towards
getting him out of the house. There is no good time-holidays, 1st of the year,
summer, or otherwise. It's tough either way. This I know as the child of divorced
parents from as young as the toddler stage. You do what you must do to protect
the future of your child. Yes, it will be a rough road for awhile. Better to have that
than the constant uncertainty of 'what dad/husband is showing up today'? And
please don't forget, your health, happiness and future are SO important too!
Your email says it all. You've already made the decision. Now, make it happen.
Take back the power. Consult a GOOD attorney (preferably a referal) and find
someone who will fight hard on your behalf. You and your daughter deserve better!
Married almost a decade, but wanting to end it for a long time
(retained a lawyer a couple years ago!)The divorce papers have
now been filed and I'm ''scared'' to take the next step - telling
husband that I'm going forward. I have been saying this for
many months - told him again very seriously in March. Him
having a female ''friend'' past 6 months makes it a bit easier
(do I really believe he is sleeping on her couch?)He denies
everything and says he doesn't want a divorce. It's been years
of arguing and verbal abuse. Not good for our nine year old.
Spent many years alone and in couples therapy. Another big
reason has been due to finances...his ''retail therapy'' has put
us into debt since early on. I have a small $$ cushion, he
doesn't (maxed out cards-no savings). Little equity in the
house - which I want to try and keep - but will he leave? I
have to write him emails-he cannot talk calmly; might react
violently. Not sure how to tell our child. I have great support
from friends. Sorry if this sounds choppy..looking for
advice/someone's experience with ending a marriage. Thanks
moving slowly, but getting there
I think it would be a great idea to try to get your husband
into divorce mediation. Mediators are lawyers, but they do not
bring suit against the other party, they try to help you hammer
out an agreement together. Because you will still need to
continue parenting together and it sounds as if you have a
great many unresolved emotional issues between you, you could
use some help. The way you describe your financial situation
brings up some concerns; unless you owned the house before the
marriage he probably has a share in the equity, for instance.
So you should consult with your lawyer -- a mediator would be
able to tell you both what your rights and responsbilities
are. Ask him to come to mediation with you to work out the
details of your divorce. Two good mediators in Berkeley are
Judith Joshel and Eva Herzer.
mediation before litigation
do it, do it do it. i went through the same situation, except my
husband was extremely violent one time at the end, never in the
marriage. but we were incredibly toxic for each other and our
nine year old son. we finally mediated and signed a divorce
settlement last week. and there is nothing as relieving.
some things to be aware of: the debt is both of your, you are
both liable. the money you have in both 401k's and your little
cushion is both of yours, unless you can negotiate.
the equity and the mortgage are both of yours.
i cannot refinance, but he is staying on the mortgage and signing
a quit claim on the deed. and he is taking 1/2 of the cc debt we
there are no hard and fast rules, i would really suggest going
through mediation rather than lawyers. divorce lawyers can be
nasty and cost A LOT of money. even though my soontobe ex husband
and i have a lot of animosity, we were able to negotiate in
i have to tell you no one will get exactly what they want, but it
is worth it to end a bad marriage that just hurts everyone.
I would recommend moving into your own place ASAP and selling the
house. Once you are out of the house, it will be so much easier
to finalize the divorce. It doesn't sound as if you have enough
money to buy out your husband's share of the house in any case,
so it's better to bite the bullet now and end a bad situation.
Your son will be happy to have the situation resolved, especially
if your new place is right across the street from his school or
has a pool. Your husband can continue to ''sleep on his
After about 10 months of being totally withdrawn from the relationship
and not willing to talk about why or go to counseling, my husband
finally told me he thinks we should split up. Outside the relationship
he seems like a nice guy, which in many ways he is, but the burden of
raising our child, taking care of our home and finances fell to
me. I've always wanted a parntership where we shared responsibilities,
but relented when he seemed so overwhelmed with work. I thought I was
being a supportive wife and felt okay about shouldering most of the
responsibility until I realized that he is obsessed with his work and
was really quite comfortable having me do everything, and I mean
everything except some kind of special project and taking out the
Long story short, I became resentful, asked him to take on some of the
responsibility, he'd say okay, never follow through, and the
resentment would build. There's lot's more to the whole dynamic, but
to some of you the familiar theme of wife as the ultimate nag must be
resonating, no? Here's one of my burning questions- how do other women
take it all on and not resent it? Personally, I really can't do it all
and even if I could, I don't want to.
After a few weeks of trying to sort out what my life will be like
after a divorce, I think my husband is having second thoughts. I have
been through the wringer emotionally and this is not the first time he
wanted to bail on the relationship. Over 6 years ago we went through
couples counseling for a few years when he wanted out before. The
relationship flourished for some time, but with really tight finances
it was impossible to do the once a week date thing, and he would never
initiate anything anyway. So, here's my second question-for the sake
of my child do I give it another go even though my hearts not in it?
My third question-just how bad does it feel to have to move out of
your own home, have to shuffle your child between two households, and
know you may never be able to buy another home in the Bay Area? If
the relationship can't be saved, I would at least like to find a way
to keep my home. For those of you who have been through the same and
can offer some helpful advice I would really appreciate it, including
referrals to lawyers. Thank you!
I moved out of my marriage of fifteen years a year ago. It was
my decision and I am happy with it; it surprises me now how
little I miss a relationship that once was the center of my
life. I simply lost my love for my husband after years of
suffering criticism, chilliness, ambivalence, and other
griefs. A few issues have been difficult. One is that my son
has suffered and continues to have problems about the divorce,
though he seems to be getting better now. That's toughest to
handle. Another is that my ex is very angry and very bitter,
which makes dealing with him difficult. I think I naively
imagined that we could be calm and reasonable about the break-
up, but he couldn't. The third thing is finances; as you say,
it is very difficult to stay in the housing market, certainly
at the level one enjoyed before. But I am getting adjusted to
the idea that I made a trade -- my house for my freedom. It
seems a good trade to me, as long as I am able to craft a life
I can enjoy in other ways. Home ownership is not the be-all
and end-all of existence, though people often seem to think it
is. Now I am contemplating a better school for my son instead
of getting back into the housing market. I think it's
important to stay open to possibilities and not to cage
yourself because of fear.
happily single again
Yes, he can call you the nag and be right with his
passive/aggressive behavior. With the workload that childcare
is, he doesn't have to do anything at all and be the nice guy
doing it because the default is that it's dumped on you. I've
been there and could not accept the lack of respect behind a
98/2 division of labor.
''How hard is it?'' It is hard. It is hard in different but big
and life-changing ways. Several factors affect the difficulty
level - family in the area, owning a home, independent income
producing capacity, his personality/degree of spite he might
display through financial fighting/withholding, flaunting a
girfriend, using the kids... The home ownership thing is major,
although if you are half owner of a house, you have some
leverage and a lawyer could tell you how to best use that. BTW,
why must you and the kids uproot yourselves, couldn't you kick
him out? The courts favor stability for kids. Personally, I
wouldn't change my decision to leave the guy like that in my
former life (with kids and no home) because being so untrue to
myself I would die inside.
All that being said, it's not to be taken lightly obviously.
See that lawyer so you know where you stand AND if there is a
shred of a chance that counseling could help - if you have not
closed down and don't love him any more - the expense of
counseling is a tiny fraction of the expense of divorce,
especially for the woman sorry to say. It sounds like he did
respond to having his behavior monitored by a third party
before. Inner change is preferable but there may be hope there.
If there's a chance, I'd beg, borrow, or steal the money to go
to counseling. As they say, you can't afford NOT to.
I am seriously considering divorce after less than a year of
marriage, which is
devastating to me. We have tried counseling, but my husband has
techniques we've learned there as ''stupid'', is angry about the
time it takes away
from his work, and I've realized that his past demons (being
abused and more) preclude him from committing to our marriage,
being present, or
even dealing with the day-to-day. And he has said that he's not
interested in how I
feel, is not able to fully commit because he needs an exit
strategy. So it's not all
guess work on my part.
So I now find that I need some advice from a family law or divorce
attorney on how
best to protect myself and my preschool son, whom my husband has
legal claim to (he is not his biological or adoptive father) but
has threatened to
press for shared custody - one week with me and one week with him,
my husband is gone most nights. Not a good situation for my baby,
I made a career change to be able to work from home and be near
complicate things, we have a new baby coming in a month. Whom my
no feelings for whatsoever - and has stated that in front of
others - but will fight
for as a possession. I'm freaked out, and worried about money - I
am the primary
breadwinner and own most of the house based on monthly
downpayment, but I'm worried that my husband will be vindictive
and fight me every
step of the way. I need an attorney who can tell me how to prepare
for all of this and
protect myself and my kids before I formally file for divorce.
I know this is long and more information than anyone needs to
know, but having
the devastating realization that this isn't going to work has left
me a bit incoherent.
I will also not have the support of my family, which makes it
worse. Thank you for
any advice or attorney names you can provide
It's unclear from your post whether it's you or him who wants the
divorce. The point I'm making is that one or both of you may be acting
too fast. Divorce is too serious a thing to do without stopping for a
moment and thinking. Could it be that your therapist is not working out
and the two of you need a new therapist? I hear you saying on the one
hand that your husband does things you don't like, but on the other hand
that it's not guess work on your part. It sounds like you're not sure.
What is definite is that you're feeling angry and desperate which is
normal when there are problems in a marriage. However, could it be your
interest in seeing an attorney is less about protecting yourself and
more about securing an exit strategy? I know you mentioned it as
something your husband is considering, but given that you're not sure,
it seems that you may be the one in the marriage who is thinking about
leaving and not him. There may be good reasons to end the marriage and
from what you said if you were to divorce, you would probably need a
However, by all means, do give marriage therapy a chance before throwing
in the towel. It is often tempting out of fear and frustration to give
up and become defensive, but until you and your husband have turned over
every stone which you haven't yet, you should not be considering
divorce. My advice is to first talk to your therapist about how the
therapy is not working. If your therapist isn't responsive, then you
will need to find a new marriage therapist. I know you are afraid but
you must be strong and hold on to the hope that you and your husband can
save the marriage and the love that brought the two of you together in
the first place Anon
Andrea Eichorn is a wonderful, sharp attorney based in Piedmont/Oakland.
Her number is (510) 652-0220. She does not do litigation but does
mediation and collaborative divorce. And she can advise you even if she
doesn't end up representing you.
Good luck. It's a tough situation.
Best divorce lawyer I know of is Bradford Baugh in Mountain View,
California. There are other good lawyers in the archives. Get yourself a
really really good lawyer and lock down everything that you can before
you announce that you're getting a divorce.
Good luck to you!
My heart goes out to you. I am going through a divorce right now from a
much longer marriage, and it is emotionally very difficult, even though
I wanted the divorce and my husband didn't. I, too, was the
breadwinner. I, too, have a vindictive former spouse. I would advise
you to seek out a strong network of supportive friends and both legal
counsel and therapy. Your pregnancy makes you that much more vulnerable
emotionally and financially, and you are in great need of supportive
voices, since it sounds as if you have had plenty of destructive voice
in your life.
You should consult a lawyer to figure out which rights and
responsibilities each of you has. If you have been the breadwinner, you
may have to pay spousal support, though your marriage was short enough
to perhaps avoid that.
I hope you have friends to support you if indeed your family will not --
don't assume that they will not without asking however, because I was
surprised to find that my conservative, religious family members
supported me to the hilt. I was narrow-minded that way. You can ask to
contact me via the parents' network if you want to talk.
sending good wishes your way,
another divorcing mom
After being quite unhappy and badly treated for a long
while, I finally filed for divorce from my longtime (20 years)
h. He claimed we should stay together for the kids, etc. I
agreed that he would buy my value in the house, and I moved out
to a rental at the first moment after my temporary support and
a 50-50 custody division had been agreed to.
I thought this was going to be amicable because he will
finally get the sexual freedom- ie promiscuity- that he had
always wanted. However, he has managed to get very angry at me
for requesting my half share in the value of the antique
furniture and for wanting a slightly higher settlement value
due to his successful professional practice.
Do people always get angry during divorces ? I told him I
wish to return to work (stopped working after the kids were
born) but he seems to see me as some sort of leech despite the
fact that his adultery made divorce a necessity rather than a
I am sorry you are experiencing the horrible feeling of rage directed
against you; I am divorcing right now and I know (I
think) what you are talking about. I, too, left a long-time marriage
because I had grown very unhappy in it and felt I had to try to make my
way outside the marriage, though I hesitated for fear of hurting our
child. My ex is enraged, can't really make eye contact, issues
judgemental and poisonous e-mails at regular intervals, is paranoid
about me, criticizes me to our child, tries to alienate me from friends
we both used to share, grasps at every penny, etc. But mostly he just
expresses, through physical and verbal language, rage and bitterness at
almost every turn. It is exhausting to try to defend oneself against
Mostly I just try to create distance. The difference in my situation is
that I was the one who had an affair, which you may find to be a
definitive difference. I had hoped that after I supported my ex for a
good portion of his adult life he might part from me in a reasonably
amicable way, but this is not quite the case. So if you want to talk to
someone, contact me through the moderator. I think that it takes a very
mature person to acknowledge his role in the break-up and accept it in a
non-brutal way, but that is just not the case for many people, I
also thought we could be reasonable
Don't know if this has any relevance to your situation, but my husband
gets angriest when he is feeling guilty about something. It took me a
long time to realize this -- it's so different from how I behave. When I
feel guilty about something I've done, I react by trying to be nicer to
make up for it, but he's the opposite. So now when he gets mad, I try
to think, what did he do that he's feeling bad about? In your case, your
husband could be getting angry with you because he feels guilty about
having wronged you and your kids. If you try to focus on whatever is
good in him, he might be easier to deal with as you go through the
divorcing process. Of course he did a bad thing, but you aren't going to
get anywhere by harping on it. Tell him he is a good dad; he might
start acting more like one.
I'm sorry you are going through a difficult divorce. I can't speak to
all divorces, but my (one) experience was the same as
yours: my first marriage ended because my husband got involved with
someone else, but on some level he didn't want to believe he had done
anything wrong or there would be any consequences for his actions, so he
responded with anger and defensiveness whenever I asked for (or even
suggested I might ask for) anything from him in our divorce. It sounds
like your husband, like mine, wants to do what he wants to do and not
pay any price, and he is shocked that you might stand up for yourself
and your needs/rights. My advice to you is get a good lawyer and try to
make the whole process as impersonal as possible, though I know that is
difficult. Looking back, I responded to my husband's emotional blackmail
by backing off instead of sticking to my guns, because I was used to
caring about what he thought of me--but the truth is, our marriage was
ending and his feelings shouldn't have mattered to me anymore. Your job
now is to take care of yourself, not him. I wish you all the best.
Yeah--most people do get angry during a divorce. That's just the way it
is. Look out for your rights (and your kids' rights) and don't let him
get to you. Get a therapist, coach, lawyer, whatever support it takes
to help you stay clear on what you want from the settlement and to keep
from letting him manipulate your emotions--otherwise you're going to be
sorry down the road --Been there; done that
My husband and I are divorcing, but waiting several months
because we don't have the money to live separately quite yet. We
are wondering, however, what kind of difference (if any) marital
status will make in our income taxes--should be trying to file
before the end of the year for tax purposes or should we wait
until 2007? Does it make any real difference? (We are already
short on money, and don't want to put ourselves at even more of a
disadvantage by planning this wrong.)
The date you file your Petition for Dissolution is irrelevant for tax
purposes. Beginning in the tax year in which you get a Final Judgment of
Dissolution you can no longer file joint returns. It takes a minimum of
6 months to get a Final Judgment. So even if you file now, you can still
file jointly for 2006. If you get the Final J in 2007, you must file
single for 2007 Hope this helps
If your incomes are about the same, you will pay less tax filing as
single. In order to be able to file as single, the divorce must be final
as of 12/31 of the year.
If you are not divorced as of 12/31 of the year, your only choices are
to file ''married filing jointly'' or ''married filing separately''.
Filing separately usually results in higher tax liability.
If you have dependent children, it is possible for one of you to be a
''head of household'' (saving you some tax), and the other one ''married
filing separately'', but only if you did not live together at any time
during the last 6 months of the year, which is not your case.
Given that you still live together up through October, I don't think it
is likely that your divorce will get finalized by
12/31 (check me on this one). If you can't get divorced by
12/31 and trust each other financially, then filing a joint return will
generally result in a lowest tax liability (assuming about the same
income level for both of you) Maria U. Ku, CPA
I am miserable. I am a SAHM and have 3 kids under age 9. My
husband is a very controlling person, and without going into
the details, I feel horrible. Many years ago, we moved to the
Bay Area, and I have been without a career since I became a
parent. My husband controls all the money now, pays for
everything, and watches me all the time when he is home. He is
suspicious when I use the phone, and he tries to log into my
files onto the computer (some of the passwords he knows, others
he doesn't). I cannot buy anything without him finding out; I
have no money of my own. He is not violent or physically
abusive, but he is verbally abusive and always has to have his
way. I do not have any way of starting up my old career, so I
cannot be financially independent; I have only one local friend
(the others are long-distance) and I am too humiliated to talk
to her about my problems. I cannot pay for a therapist. For
reasons that I will not go into, my parents are no help in this
matter. I am afraid that if I were to leave him or go into
counselling, he would try to take the kids. I cannot bear
that, so I have to live with the status quo. Is there any
support group out there or even an on-line group that I sign up
for and can confide in? My only lifeline right now is my
Run, don't walk to the National Domestic Violence Hotline - www.ndvh.org,
You are in what sounds like an abusive relationship - things you mention
abuse, monitoring your computer use, and controlling access to money are
flags, even if there is no physical violence going on.
The website has some general information available, and if you call the
will be able to get referrals to local services in your area. It is a
You can get help, and you don't have to live with your situation. Most of
should know you are not alone - many women (and some men) have been
this and there are resources out there to help you.
In your e-mail you offer no hint that your husband also finds
the marriage unbearable or that he would go to couples'
counseling. You sound as if you really need to escape and have
no confidence in being able to talk to him. In physically
abusive relationships I believe women are counseled to
formulate an ''escape strategy.'' Can you ask your local friend
to sit for your kids and arrange to talk to someone who doesn't
charge -- perhaps someone at a non-profit women's center or
even women's shelter? They could steer you toward the help you
need, either in terms of getting back into your career or
getting psychological help or legal advice.
Your husband has no right to take your kids from you. But you
will need to establish some way of living independently where
you can have your kids with you, and people who work with women
in your type of situation will have suggestions about that.
I would really urge you to break your silence with your friend,
first of all. You need someone to understand you and someone
on your side. Don't be humiliated -- be active on your own
former spouse of a control freak
If you can't afford therapy, perhaps you could seek out a minister or
rabbi whom you
would feel comfortable talking to. Most clergy have training in
My partner and I have just deceided to split up after eight years
and two kids together. We're not legally married so there will be
no divorce. Our couple's counselor will probably help us flesh it
all out but I would love to hear other people's stories of
successful civil break-ups and what custody arrangements worked
or didn't. How do you equitably split finacial responsibilities
when you have dad working and mom not with not much cash between
them? (Obviously I'm going to go back to FT work). I'm not all
that good at civil so if you have any tips on structured ways to
suss out who gets the kids when, how to split up money and other
complications like that, I'd appreciate it.
mama trying to figure it out
First, I applaud you for wanting to work towards a civil divorce.
It takes ongoing effort, but it is possible. My ex- and I have been
doing so for 12+ years. Here are my thoughts and tips:
-Learn to say a*****e after you have hung up the phone.
-Things may be easier once the focus is on raising the children and not
on the relationship between the two of you -Remember, your children are
more important than money or things or everything being 'equal'
-We lived our agreement for quite some time before making it legal. This
enabled us to flesh it out, and make it a more solid agreement.
-Consider a 50/50 split for both money and time.
-On the $$ front: We created a list of what costs for which we would
share equal financial responsibility. In the 12 years, there has only
been one thing we added to the list (car insurance for teenage drivers)
-We have a 'money manager model' for handling the finances.
Essentially, a checking account in my name only for which we both do
direct deposit. I handle most expenses. If he needs to be reimbursed, he
tells me the amount and I write a check. We are prety relaxed about $$
and have basic trust.
-As the children have grown, the details of the 50/50 split have
changed. From switching every few days, to week-on-week-off, and
two-weeks-on-two-weeks-off. We've also changed what day to switch
(currently Monday nights) -We have a 'hand-off' discussion when the kids
Mainly, this is to share info about how our children are doing.
-If possible, live close to each other. Definitely have a shared
commitment to stay in the same area.
-Be sure to keep each other apprised of any behaviour issues with the
kids. My kids know that if they do something wrong, they will discuss
it with me and separately with their dad. For really big issues, we have
gotten together to address the problem. This is really powerful.
-We are flexible. If one of us has had a business trip and needs to
change the schedule, we have always tried to accomodate the other person
-And finally, this is ongoing work. Some times it is easier than other
divorce has worked for my family
The last year has been the absolute worst year of my life except
when I was 15 yeras old and my Dad left my mom for an affair he
Last June my wife of 10 years told me she was unhappy in our
marriage which caught me completly off guard. For 6 months we
wne to therapy only to find out that she was having an affair
with a younger man who was also a co-worker. She says she fell
out of love with me and loves this man because he treats her
like no other man has.
She moved into a crummy apartment about a mile away a few months ago.
She told me at the time she was ''torn'' but now says she wants a
divorce. We share custody of my poor 7 year old son. I have told
her repeatedly that she will have to do all the dirty work in
the divorce. I do marriage, atorneys do divorce.
She just turned 40 when all of this went down and I feel like
the ghosts of her parents marriage are haunting her. She says
she was not happy and is not happy at all in her ''new'' life.
I feel like I have come a long way in the past year and seem my
faults but she is still doing the blaming game. I guess I need
to move on but I feel like need to do everythign I can to
salvage this marriage but I can't do it by myself
My husband could have written your message, except for the difference of a few minor
details. So while I feel for you, I think I can present a couple of things from your
wife's side of the situation. I apologize if my comments are wounding.
It sounds to me as if your wife is gone from the marriage. She had the affair and
moved out, and it seems that she knows what she wants. Your position that ''she is
going to have to do the dirty work'' reveals your resentment of what happened, but not
the understanding you claim you achieved on reflection. Do you really now understand
ways in which you were at fault, as you claim? If you do, you should be able to
accept her need for the divorce and your need to be part of the divorce process for
your own good and your son's. The ''dirty work'' you write of is nothing less than
the work you need to do to ensure your son's best situation, your own and your son's
financial security, etc. You owe it to him and to yourself to be an active part of
the process, though I realize it must hurt terribly.
Your use of the phrase ''my poor son'' worries me a bit. Yes, your son is most likely
very sad about the break-up and will continue to mourn the loss of his family. But
your wife hasn't left him -- she left you, and your tone about him suggests that you
feel he is in precisely your position: abandoned. I assume that she hasn't abandoned
him, that she wants to have shared custody -- perhaps that isn't the case, in which
case your son will really struggle. But your attitude is going to be important to
your son's development, and if it is a self- pitying, blaming attitude, then that's
the role he'll adopt as well.
I'll suggest what practically everyone else in the Bay Area will suggest, namely
therapy for you (also to deal with the issues left from your parents' marriage -- you
seem to be replaying those) and for your son.
I'm sorry if I sound harsh, but I think a different position, a stronger, more mature
one, will really help you work through this.
the other half
My condolences to you and to your son.
IMHO, your ex-wife sounds immature and selfish. She needs to make herself happy and
look real hard at herself. Until she really understands who she is and what she
wants, she will NEVER be happy no matter where she is.
You sound like you still love her deeply and miss her. As hard as it is, you cannot
fix her. She must fix herself, and she can't do it with you. Talking to her about
how happy or unhappy she is isn't your concern anymore because she isn't your wife.
She is your son's mother - that is ALL. What did I do when that happened to me? I
expressed my pain when I found out. Then I focused on my daughter and refused to deal
with his social life and angst about all of my flaws. I made our relationship
strictly business. IT HURT ME to do this at first, but then it got easier. He was
angry and he also played the blame-game, and I told him, ''What you say may or may not
be true, but it doesn't matter anymore. It's over. Please tell me when you want our
child so that I can plan my life. You are a good father and our child needs you.
Let's communicate for her.'' I wanted to cry, and I did sometimes, but I enforced
business and hung up or walked out when he started the old cycles of conversation.
He too rejected his new life and begged to come back. I allowed him in only after he
proved to me that he really wanted OUR life, and it took a long time. I still don't
trust him completely, and he's still earning back the trust he destroyed. I snoop,
and he knows it. Do you really want a woman back who you can't trust? Do I? No, but
life is not simple. Right now, this second, we are together, but we aren't the same.
Ironically, he feels we are much stronger - I'm not so sure. If you choose to take
her back, make sure she is independent and knows herself. Please DO NOT take her back
if she's moving from his bed to yours. Only do it after she's had time to know
herself. And if you don't, shut her out emotionally, keep it strictly business, and
protect your son.
Oh yeah, and ask an attractive woman out for drinks. See what the attention of
someone else is like for a change. Stop focusing on her.
I am sorry to hear about your troubles with your marriage. If your wife does not wish
to reconcile, don't try to force her. Be sure you have good counseling and support for
yourself and for your son. Try to enlist the support of family and friends to surround
you with love right now. Try not to criticize your wife too much either, as she is
struggling, too, with her own identity and self.
If your wife is not happy in her new life, perhaps she would be willing to try
counseling again? If so, I recommend a very humanistic therapist--Dr. Hans
Stahlschmidt--to work with you. He can be reached at (510) 848-5347. He is terrific--I
was hesitant to see a man at first, but I have come to really trust and like him. I
have learned a whole lot more about myself than I have about my relationship with my
partner in the year we have been doing counseling...it was a big eye opener that each
partner alone is responsible for his/her happiness in a relationship (barring abuse,
violence, etc.). I have learned that I am the one who must change to be happy in my
relationship, and funny--my partner has learned that he is the one who must change to
You should know that repairing the relationship is impossible unless both parties are
totally committed to resolving their OWN issues. It won't work if you continue to
blame each other. If your wife is not in this place, any attempt to repair the
relationship will not be successful. It is hard to accept it when this happens, but it
will only make things easier when you begin to open to the truth of the situation.
Best wishes to you
I was in a similar situation and it's taken over 2 years to begin healing. My spouse
of 20 years caught me off guard by asking for a divorce; he was having an affair with
one of his employees many many years his junior. Similarly, it was up to him to do the
dirty work. I was hopeful that something in the marriage could be salvaged. The
turning point was when I was served divorce papers.
I retained an attorney who forced me to engage in decisions that would affect my
future. I was no longer the victim and had some control of the situation.
I think it's especially important that you have the support of friends and family.
Some mornings I would not have made it out of bed except for their ongoing support.
Don't expect answers. I just needed someone to validate my thoughts and feeligs.
I suppose the critical question is if trust in the relationship could ever be
restored, or worth expending energy on.
no longer the victim
You are better off without her. Honesty,loyalty and trust are important in a
Move on. There are other women worth more your time than her.
That is very sad and it seems especially so because you didn;t see it coming. You
need to take care of yourself now and if that means getting a lawyer you should do so,
unpleasant as that may be. Good luck anonymous
I don't know if I can give you advice, but if you want to talk I would be happy to
listen. My husband and I are trying to reconcile after him revealing that he had been
having an affair for 7 months with a co-worker. This started when our daughter was
just 4 months old, but I found semi-inappropriate e-mails that go back before the
birth of our daughter. He has the same ''happiness'' issues. Yet I know that we were
happy before this mess.
I am in the same boat as you, where I feel like I am the only one really working to
save our marriage. The problem is that we are not the ones who need to do the work.
And that feeling of helplessness leaves us feeling completely unempowered and more
I'm not posting my e-mail to the whole group, but perhaps the moderator could send you
my e-mail address if you want someone to talk to.
My husband and I have been married for five years, and we have a
baby son. When our son was born, I came to the hard realization
that my husband and I have nothing in common, and that I had been
able to ignore this by involving myself so deeply with other
things. Having the baby, I found myself homebound and suddenly
dependent on him - I changed in terms of my needs, but he didnt
really want to change in terms of his giving of time or of
himself. We started going to counseling after I insisted on it,
but almost a year later, things are worse rather than better. We
really seem to hate each other. We fight about everything,
although we try to refrain in front of our baby. We both adore
our child, there is no doubt about that. I am financially
dependent on my husband, and aside from that, I worry that my son
will grow up with only one parent. I wish my husband and I could
reconnect and patch things up, but I doubt that either of us is
really capable of it. Yet, perhaps its better to wait until the
baby is older to take steps to end the marriage. Any advice
would be welcome.
I can't say what is best for you personally, but thought of
three things when I read your post.
1) I dont' remember where, but I do remember reading that
couples are most at risk of divorcing during the first year with
a baby. What you are experiencing is not uncommon at all. I know
that my husband and I fought a lot more during first 2-2.5 yrs
after each of our two children were born. I suspect that part of
that was due to the combination of sleep deprivation and what I
thin was post-partum depression on my side, and part to issues
he had, and we had, that we needed to resolve through counseling.
2) After one year of counseling we still weren't there. You
might want to give it more time. Trying a different counselor
might help too. With our first couples counselor we spent so
much time (2 yrs) fighitng the issues that we never got to
teamwork. Then we spent one year with a new counselor who really
helped us work on emphasisng and finding the things we liked
about eachother and nurtured the caring part of our
3) When thought I wanted to throw in the towel someone told me
this... Once you have a kid your relationship with your spouse
doesn't end with a divorce, all the problems with the other
person are still there, but with none of the good times that
make them easier. Plus life is just harder ie: finances are
tight, and your time with your child is rationed.
Obviosly, I decided to stick it out... but only you can decide
what is right in your situation
Get the divorce, a legal separation basically justs doubles the
costs of legal fees. And there is a six-month waiting period
before a divorce is final anyway -- divorce comes with a built-
in separation period.
Regarding custody, all parties (me, my ex, and our daughter) are
very happy with our arrangement. I have 100% custody, but my ex
visits with our daughter a couple of days a week for homework,
soccer, walks to get dessert. Once a month or so we have a
family outing or dinner together
much happier divorced
Deciding whether to divorce or not is a huge decision. And
ultimately, one that only you can decide (or I guess, your
But getting educated on how to view your options is the best
bet. You could get online and do some research to find mental
health professionals that help people make educated decisions
whether and how to go through a divorce.
One place to start is with Susan Pease. She has a thriving
professional practice designed around supporting women in your
situation called The Transition Institue of Marin. Her website
My lawyer held up my divorce proccess because I didn't pay them.
The reason I didn't pay was because I thought a court date will
be set up, so I wanted to pay after knowing the court date.
Later, I found out there was a court date set up, but dropped
without my knowledge. So I was late to pay 2 months, last bill
was in August, but when I received October bill, I saw they
charged the time they omitted in June, which was $1000 more. I
complained about it and they withdrew their service. My divorce
in on hold right now.
My divorce was supposed to be simple, with no joint property or
money issue. We have one child and we came in terms with custody.
We had one mediation session with the lawyer and most of the
times, it was e-mail or phone communication. I was very shocked
when I was told the divorce similar to may case should not cost
no more than $1000, because I have already paid $3500 and they
are asking for more! If you know the average cost of a similar
case, please let me know! I may complain to the Bar.
Confused and frustrated
If your divorce is as simple as you make it sound, $3500 sounds like too
much money. I think initiating a fee dispute with the bar makes sense.
$3,500 to $5,000 is probably about average for an uncomplicated divorce.
It would be different if the lawyer told you up front that it would be
about $1,000, but if the bills appear reasonable, you should pay. I
assume you have a fee agreement that probably obligated you to keep
current on the bills.
Although it's a hard concept for non-lawyers, lawyers are paid for their
time, not always for something tangible. Would you expect another
professional to work for you if you didn't pay the bill? Do you expect
to walk out of a store without paying for something you take with you?
You hired the lawyer for a service that they are apparently trying to
provide. Given that they agreed to reduce the bill when you contacted
them, I don't understand why you would go to the Bar. Pay the lawyer
and be done with the divorce.
A Frustrated Lawyer
I am an attorney who just left a family law practice a few months ago to
be at home with my newborn. I don't know who told you that your divorce
should be able to be handled for only $1000, but I've never heard of a
divorce costing that little unless the parties had absolutely everything
agreed upon when they came in, and just needed the lawyers to write it
up and do the paperwork. The fact that you had a court date in your
case suggests to me that it was not as simple a dissolution as you might
think it is. For the simplest dissolutions, it is not necessary to ever
have a court appearance. Once the parties start having hearings and
going to court, the costs always sky-rocket.
I know that this is a very difficult time for you, and I wish you the
best of luck in resolving this. I'm probably not ever going to return
to family law litigation myself, after five years of the practice. My
recommendation to anyone who truly has a simple divorce but wants an
attorney to make sure that the filings are correct and that nothing is
overlooked is that they should go to an attorney mediator. This was a
big part of my practice, and I really enjoyed it. More importantly, I
think that it is the answer for a lot of divorcing couples but that they
are unaware of the option.
Best of luck to you-
I'm considering divorce and my husband is also. We both suffer
very much because of this, but it seems like we can't work it
out. I don't even know if it's worth trying anymore.We've
discussed our problems, needs, etc. hundreds of times already.
I'm very unhappy. I was so inlove with my husband that I used to
tell him - if you die first, I will want to die too. We've been
married for over 2 years and togheter for another 4 years,
before that. There are too many differences between us: he
doesn't believe in God and he's mocking His name, he does't want
kids, he has no respect for other people's feelings or the way
they choose to leave their lifes, he's very angry when I want to
see my sister or spend time with her, he doesn't help with the
household at all, he doesn't want to travel or spend time out of
the house anymore. All he wants is to work and make money.He
tells me all the time , ''joking'' , that I don't make enough
money and that he has to go to work to ''pay for his house''. It's
like I have no contribution to any of it. I cook as much as I
can, I work full time and go to school at night, which he
doesn't appreciate at all, I take care of himself and the house
by cleaning, paying the bills, making all the phone calls. He is
really mad when I make mistakes about being late with one bill
or forgetting to make a phone call etc.
I still love him, I guess, and I burst into tears when I think
of separation. We've just bought a brand new house, which is
lovely. There are times when we are VERY happy, and times when
we are VERY unhappy. 80% of the time, lately, we are both VERY
unhappy with each other. I don't feel like making love to him
anymore and he's blaming me for this, threatening, as a ''joke''
that he will find someone else to ''help'' him with that.
We don't have kids and we are pretty young - I'm 26 and he's 29.
We're college sweethearts and we've come to buy the house and
everything else on our own, with no help from others. Please
tell me if you think we're rushing. I'm afraid I'll regret later
that I didn't leave him earlier.I'm afraid of ending up alone,
trying to find someone on ''mathmaker.com''. I don't want to have
kids who will feel neglected as I've always felt with him.He's
very hardworking and smart, and I think he loves me in his
selfish way, but is that enough?Thank you.
No one but yourself can make the very difficult decision on
whether to divorce or not, but I hope my experience can help you
with your decision.
I spent 5 years of my life (3 dating, 2 years married) with a
narcissistic man who like your husband had no spirituality (or
rather claimed he had it and suddenly became an 'atheist' after
we married - typical behavior of a narcissist), was cruel to me
(very indiscreet and open gawking and flirting, often right in
front of me), never happy with me, my looks, my career or how
much money I made, was obsessed with money, judged everyone by
how much money they made, etc. I married him at 33 and our
divorce was finalized at 36.
I am telling you this because what I didn't realize then and am
so painfully aware of now was that I gave my last good years of
fertility to a man who had no business having them. I never
wanted to have children with him because I, like you, was very
worried about how this man would treat them. (I know, people
always ask if he was so bad, why did you stay with him and marry
him? Well, it's easier to explain that with several years of
therapy behind me, believe me.)
I believe you said you were 26, but my dear, if you have any
desire to have children I would encourage you to evaluate your
situation soon. I don't know how long you've been pondering this,
but I wouldn't spend more than 1 more year of your life getting
clear on this. I would cut that in half if he refuses to get
counseling so you can try to work this out.
I say this because now, happily remarried at 41, I am having
great difficulty having children and it is painful to me to know
what I gave away to someone so undeserving.
Divorce is awful and painful and I hope you don't have to go
through that, but if you do, know that you will make it through
and your chances of finding someone else at 26 are pretty high. I
did it at 38. And I even met him online (craiglist - yeah!), so
it can happen. Blogs are a great way to connect with people these
days... if I was single, I would include that in my repertoire
Anyway, I don't mean to go on like an old hen, but you do have an
important choice to make and I hope that what I've said can help
you to avoid the pain I am going through now.
-- been there
I don't want to be a pessimist, but I think if you are unhappy at 26 years
old with no kids, chances are slim that you will be happier when you're
35 with 2 kids. From your description, you are not appreciated much
less supported by your husband. I think you two should split sooner
rather than later.
wish you luck
You want kids, right? Then you need to pair up with a man who
kids naturally like and you intuitively feel would make a great
father. Your current husband does not want kids, correct? Maybe
for a good reason, because he would like to stay in the center
of it all and continue to make decisions based on his needs. A
child would immediately change all that. Why would he ever want
to change that, if he was raised to expect that he gets what he
wants? A lot of wants can be purchased - no wonder money is
high on his list. Other wants can be achieved through
domination, control and manipulation and it sounds like he is
quite skilled in that too. (He possibly couldn't stand having a
small child around experimenting with the same techniques. What
a competition that would be! You'd never see your husband then,
he'll be working all the overtime he could find). Rid yourself
of your insecurity that it would be hard to find someone else
to deeply love. But keep in mind that finding the right father
for your unborn children doesn't happen on your timeline, it
happens in cosmic time. Given that, look carefully at yourself
and decide how important it is to you to raise children some
day. If you feel that it is a primary need of yours, you now
know what to do. He cannot be their father based on his values
and view of life. Your children obviously deserve better than
that. Please just let him be who he is. I feel that counseling
would be a waste of money in this case.
I was moved by your message, because I've been there. I decided
to stick it out with my husband although he had an affair 3
years after we were married, and we clearly had major issues.
Now, 10 years into the marriage and a couple of kids later, I
often regret I didn't have the wherewithal to leave when things
first got bad. I probably will stick it out because its usually
tolerable, but never great, and I love my children madly, I have
to honestly say that the reasons I held on to the marriage
(which were that I had once felt he was my soul mate, we had the
most beautiful wedding, we had just bought a house we loved and
were working hard to fix up, I really wanted children, I didn't
want to be divorced, I didn't want to be single looking to meet
someone else) now seem totally short sighted and sort of
ridicules when I look back. I look back now and think I was
incredibly young, had so much to give, we easily could have sold
the house, I probably would have met someone else much more
compatible with me, and I probably would have had children
anyway, in a happier marriage. Divorce would have been very
difficult and sad, and there may have been a couple rough years
starting again, but I would have moved on and probably would be
in a better place today. Someone once told me that once you
begin to question whether your marriage will survive, it is
already starting to die. I just want to give you this
perspective: at 26, you are still very young; there are
tremendous possibilities to find the life you want with someone
who is compatible with you. It doesn't have to be about blaming
you or him, but if you feel you're not in the right
relationship, you probably are not. As wonderful as children
are, having them adds new layers of stress you can't even
imagine now, and that makes a difficult marriage even more
difficult. Good luck, but listen to your heart.
Have you tried couples counseling? I would definitely recommend this before
proceeding with divorce. You may still come to the same conclusion, but at least
counselor can help you guys negotiate difficult waters so that you can separate
from a place of more peace and less anger.
All my best to you both.
You are very insightful and brave to look for advice, and I
truly feel for you. I was in a relationship that sounds very
similar to yours four years ago, but was unfortunate enough to
bring a child into it. From your description it sounds like
your husband is very controlling. Men like this often try to
make their partner feel worthless in order to satisfy their need
for control, and to protect their own fragile ego. In the
initial stage (at least in my experience), these men are
incredibly charming, affectionate, attentive and loving. They
want to spend every moment with you and make you feel as if you
are the most important person in the world. The I would die
without you intensity is very common. But this love and
affection is dependent upon your willingness to make him the
center of your world. Men like this usually try to separate you
from your support system and discourage relationships with
friends and family (Why do you need anyone else but me? I want
to spend that time with you, and I dont like doing whatever
activities your friends or family want to do, etc.) For me,
bringing a child into a relationship like this was disastrous.
My ex felt threatened by the attention our newborn needed, and
his need for control skyrocketed. He became abusive physically
and verbally, cheated on me openly, and tried to use our child
as a point of control when I finally left after he attacked me.
Men like my ex see their child as their personal property,
despite the fact that they did not want the pregnancy, and do
not have the maturity to contribute any effort to the work of
raising the child. After finally leaving him, I have had to deal
for years with threatening phone calls, an absent father who
provides no financial help and rarely sees his child, and yet
constantly makes demands on me, and a nightmarish process of
obtaining custody. If you truly want children, run, dont walk
from this relationship. Think about how he treats you, and
realize that a man like this will treat you this way (most
likely even worse) in front of your children. Your child would
grow up in a household where you have no respect and no power,
and most likely, your ability to leave him will diminish
significantly in the future. You and your child will be
financially dependent on the support, and like most women, you
probably will not want to leave the child without a father.
Pray, listen to your heart and your inner voice. It will tell
you what to do. You are stronger than you know. Finding the
strength to leave made me a stronger, better and more whole
person, and although the hardest part of my life, it was the
best thing I ever did.
While it doesn't sound like you're rushing, it also doesn't
sound like you've tried counseling, which I strongly recommend.
It may be that the counseling can help you to feel better about
your choice of divorce, or it may help you rekindle and work
with each other. I went through a divorce a few years older than
you, and what I can tell you is that (as I was told), this is
definitely going to be a time of personal growth for you.
(''another F*ing growth experience'' is what I started calling
them...). But really, if you seek out happiness in a
compassionate way, you will eventually find something much
better than you've got. It sounds likely that both of you have
some serious growing up to do (and my personal opinion is that
any man who threatens to satisfy his sexual ''needs'' outside of
the marriage has a LOT of growing up to do). The good news is
that it is easier to divorce and find new love when you are that
young and without children. And I promise you, if you do
divorce, you WILL find something better (even if you don't
divorce, if you work for it you will be in better shape). You
are far from too old, and live is big and wonderful and you will
be able to find yourself a little more and find love that fits
you well. Honestly. Fear is no reason to stay in a marriage. The
bad news is that it will hurt, badly for a while, and you will
have a lot of grieving, both for what you loved about your
husband, and for the financial strain, and the pain of actually
breaking up (which counseleing can also help with), and it may
seem for a while like your entire world is falling apart because
everything will change. But be nice to each other (and if he
can't be nice to you, be nice to him anyway), be honest with
yourself, be nice to yourself, read some good self-help and
relationship books, get some good counseling, look forward to
some hot baths and good Saturday nights with a great book, get
to know your friends a little better (and start making new
friends),find a counselor to cry to (because even your friends
get tired of the complaints all the time), give yourself some
time, and most of all, keep in mind that you WILL get through
this.... it just may not end up as the fantasyland that you had
in mind. And you WILL lose the things you love about your
husband too. Your next partner will have different strengths and
weaknesses (hopefully, because we hope you don't choose the same
person with a different name next time, or else you'll be going
through the same process again!)
BEST WISHES TO YOU. I've been there.
I hope that writing, and re-reading your post gives you some clarity in
this situation. If I were in your shoes I would get out now. The
differences between you two, and his response to those differences, is
sufficient cause. The time to leave is now before you have children who
will be harmed by his verbal ''joking'' and your eventual decision to
Whatever you fear about being on your own, its not as bad as what you
are tolerating --- and you may find that BOTH of you are happier single
If you are really torn, you might consider separating -- in my experience
that will push the relationship one way or the other, and either way is
better than where you are now. You're not married, you're stuck.
You're already Gone
Given you don't have kids and all that you described, part ways
NOW, before you impact childrens lives. One would question why
you got married to begin with, noting that ''in love with'' is
never enough to sustain a long term relationship when factors
such as desire for children, religion, descency to others, life
goals polarize you so.
STart over now, while you still can and maybe you can each find
someone who mirrors your life goals.
Don't just rush, RUN now! What you describe sound like serious
problems. They don't get better over time without a serious
committment to intervention - therapy. And things get much,
much more difficult after having kids. You don't have kids,
you're young. Yes, it's sad when love dies, and scary to start
anew. But leave now before it's even harder and could affect
Wish I Knew Then, What I Know Now!
I married when I finished a masters at college, and since then
have been dependent on my husband, for financial support for me
and the children.
I'm finding this really hard to deal with; I feel guilty and
humiliated at having to beg him for money; we used to have a
joint bank account but he decided last year that I
was 'extravagant' because I went out for coffee and bought my
daughter Barbies...I never spend any money on myself, but
always have tried to look after the children properly. I'm also
confused and upset as his depiction of me as 'extravagant'. I
haven't had a haircut for over two years...my clothes have
My oldest child has now reached eighteen, and my husband is
completely refusing to support the child any more. He claims
this is not because she's a stepchild - and yet I think this is
the real reason why. This is really hard on the child, who
hasn't even finished high school yet. My husband says that the
child was a nightmare as a teenager, and doesn't deserve any
He has a 'good' job at a college, and there is surplus income
after paying the mortgage and food and household expenses. I
feel upset at his lack of trust; before the marriage I had one
child, and had lived alone supporting my daughter without any
of these problems. I managed the finances and was able to save,
and my daughter never knew there was a problem; although there
was little money, she never felt short of anything - and I
never felt criticised or unhappy with my spending.
I have not felt able to take a job, as it would have to be a
very good one to cover the cost of childcare. Also I wanted to
be with my children when they were young. I now find a lot of
time has passed, and I have a lot of accumulated fear about re-
entering the workforce. I have lost a lot of confidence, and
don't know where to begin. But the overwhelming reason that I
do not feel able to work is that at present I take full
responsiblity for the childcare, supporting my husband in his
(highly prestigious) academic position.
In my emotions (as you can see from that 'prestigious'
comment), I am feeling bitter, sad, and quite frankly, used.
This man has taken my time, my confidence, my happiness.
I would have liked to go back to college myself, to do a PhD,
but again, the childcare responsiblities were too great.
Is it wrong for him to support me and the children? I feel
that there is no moral reason why on earth he should give me
I've been feeling quite desperate, wondering whether to
Are there other stay-at-home mothers who feel the same way?
Is this a problem of pride? I feel so terrible having to ask
him for money, having none of my own - and I can't see how to
start to change this.
I have come to see the institution of marriage as
humiliating and distressing. I was so much happier as a single
I also do not like at all the example that all this is
setting for my children - I feel compelled to leave to show
them that women do not have to live like this.
Amazed to find myself writing this
Wow. What you are going through sounds really, really hard, and
I can only imagine how difficult it is to decide what to do next.
Your situation sounds similar to what a close friend of mine
went through a few years ago. She ultimately decided to leave
the marriage. I'll try to explain how she articulates it now.
Her decision to stay home and raise their children was based on
the idea of shared responsibility for the family. Caring for and
nurturing one's own children does not pay the bills, but it is at
least as important as as the job that does. In her case, she
realized that pre-children, she and her husband had thought of
their money separately (ex/ the mortgage came out of ''her'' money
and car payments came out of ''his''). When she stopped working,
they didn't transition to the idea that the single income, while
earned by her husband, belonged to the whole family. He gave her
an allowance from ''his'' money, and like you she was put in the
position of having to request more when needed, and often being
turned down. She was being made to feel like a child, not
capable of earning or handling money. And while her husband did
not want her to return to work, he was adamant that the money he
earned was ''his,'' and that he could decide exactly how it would
be spent. Ultimately, this was a huge control issue, and one
that my friend's husband had no desire to resolve (refused
marriage counseling, etc.) I certainly hope that this is not the
case for you and your husband, but I would urge you to see a
counselor together to work through this. No one should have to
live in a relationship where one person has complete control.
There is a very good reason why he should give you money - you are his WIFE!!!
Because of your presence and your contributions, he has not had to hire a nanny,
cook, and housekeeper. Your contributions are real and concrete - don't let him
convince you otherwise.
You didn 't say how old your younger children are, are they now in school? If so,
after-school care isn't that expensive. I think you would find that you
don't need the best-paying job in the world to cover the cost of after-school care,
and I think having a job would do you a world of good, psychologically.
However, given that you have been out of the job market for a long time, you might
need to take a graduated approach here. I think you might want to start with some
counselling to help you rebuild your shattered self-esteem. It sounds like your
controlling husband will probably refuse to give you the money (grrr...it makes me
angry just to type that!), but there are places that will do it on a sliding scale.
sure someone else will write in to suggest where! Next, you might try volunteering
somewhere, just to get back into contact with the working world. You can probably
arrange to do volunteer work while your kids are in school. Once you have some
experiences and some contacts established, you can start looking for a job.
If your children are still young, you could aim for doing some volunteer work when
they get old enough to go to preschool. Lots of studies have shown that children
benefit enormously from preschool, so you would actually be doing your children a
favor by sending them to preschool and gaining some time for yourself.
Your husband would probably benefit from counselling too, to deal with the covert
hostility that he is taking out on you, but I suspect he probably will refuse to go.
you need to take steps to look after yourself.
Hang in there! Change is hard, but it can be done!
Hi - this is not normal behavior. I'm not a SAHM, but in my
marriage, went from a confident, independent feminist to a woman
who couldn't decide where to go for dinner - out of fear that it
would be the ''wrong'' choice (anything but what he would pick!).
I recommend reading ''Men who hate women and the women who love
them''. I can't remember the author and no longer have the book,
but after my husband and I both read it, we realized his
behavior was at the mild end of controlling behaviors described
in the book. Money is a huge issue and some men routinely use it
to control their wives. My husband recognized himself in the
book and promised to change, but I had had enough - several
counselors and years of this! Now we're divorced and I'm much
happier - and hope he really has changed for the next woman!
Anyway, maybe it isn't too late for you and your husband.
I agree completely with you about how he treats you - you are an
indentured servant. Anyone would feel miserable and depressed in
your situation. Good for you for seeing that you are setting a
pattern that your kids would likely follow. Good for you for
thinking you should get out. I hope you do.
And no, it is not wrong for him to support you financially. The
way I see it, he is greatly in arrears considering the time and
effort you have likely put in to those children.
Both my partner and I concur we'd be outta there.
You can do it!
Um, for starters -- it's not ''his'' money, it's the family's
Could he have his prestigious job if you weren't there to look
after the kids? I don't think so. He works outside the home,
you work inside. The whole idea that you have to ask him for
money because he has the salaried job is really bass-ackward.
You sound really burnt out. Do you have a friend or relative
you could go stay with for a few days -- without your husband or
kids? Go get that haircut and eat some ice cream and take a few
long walks. Sounds like they're all old enough to muddle along
for a few days without you, and you need some melodrama-free
time to sort out your priorities. It's very hard to assert
yourself as a SAHM and say ''Look, I need some personal time!''
but sometimes it has to happen!
Deep breaths. Good luck.
For heaven's sake, leave! If you were happier as a single
parent, you resent having given up your career, you want to set
an example for your daughters, then go! I'm sure it will be
hard, but it will be so worth it to be able to control your own
Get thee to a lawyer pronto. You have a long road ahead of you
should you decide to divorce. You can do this if it what you
decide to do, but you need to plan ahead. Get a credit card in
your name only and build up good credit for yourself. See a
lawyer to help you determine your husband's assets. This is a
community property state, and you deserve financial support and
half of the assets gained during the marriage. Take your time
and research your options. Good luck.
Wow, I really appreciate the difficulty of the position you are in, and can
completely understand why you are feeling angry with your husband. Your
eldest doesn't ''deserve'' to be supported any more? I think of what our child-
rearing specialist said ''children deserve, parents EARN.'' Which is to say,
parents must EARN their children's love, respect, etc., children DESERVE all of
that, by virtue of being children. Nothing else, period.
As for the institution of marriage, my husband and I believe that the point of
being married is to support one another achieve one's hopes and dreams. Not
just one of you, BOTH of you. If this is not happening, then perhaps some
Marriage counseling is in order? Would your husband be willing to try? Frankly,
some of the things he says don't sound supportive, but sound motivated by a
desire to undermine your self esteem (the ''extravagant'' thing).
However, I do have to add that your husband didn't ''take'' anything from you
that you didn't GIVE him. I would just reiterate, before you go for a divorce,
look into marriage counseling. Read some books (I recommend ''The Good
Marriage'' and ''Getting the Love You Want''). It sounds like some serious
communication between the two of you is needed, but you probably need an
objective facilitator (therapist, counselor, whatever) to help with this. You both
need to air your concerns and needs and be clear about what those are. If your
husband won't go with you, go on your own, and then decide what to do. If he
won't give you the money for it, find some one who will do a work-trade with
you, I'm sure they're out there.
Best of luck!
I was a stay at home mom for nearly 17 years, taking care of
three children. My husband was building his career as an
attorney, with my support and encouragement, and from a legal
point of view, with my direct assistance since I took care of
the children and he could/would not. I never imagined he would
take off, but he did. It has been five years since he made his
announcement, and the financial consequences have been
significant. After he said he wanted to go, I immediately began
looking for work, and just made the children adjust. I worked
until the end of the school day, but it was still horrible.
They resented the change, mainly because it meant I had no time
for them sicne after picking them up, I still had to do all the
things I normally did while they were in school. I had earned
$40K when I was last at work all those years ago; now I was
lucky to command $20/hour. That rate was only b/c I was working
part-time. The most common jobs for women returning to the
workplace pay about $12/hour, and there are many employers,
especially in the suburbs, who are eager to hire women in this
situation. Also, if you look at the statistics, you will find
many, many college educated women are working at support jobs,
rather than management - there was an analysis of this published
recently, in the past year. At any rate, it was horribly
depressing. I chose to go back to school, taking two years of
classes at Cal to rebuild my academic track record (since it had
been so long)and then getting admitted to Mills College for a
master's program. I aim to teach community college, competing
with 150 other canddiates for any full-time permanent position,
against the many, many other adjunct teachers out there. It was
the best career reentry program I could come up with, and it is
not a sure thing by any means. I love teaching, but the salary
will come nowhere near my previous standard of living. I may
lose my home, and really, I feel quite pessimistic about the
future. I used the equity in the house to pay for the program,
and to uphold the standard of living my children were accustomed
to when the judge ruled that living on 50% of the prior income
was still living at the same standard of living. By the way, my
husband left for a woman who earns over $100K; that was a
critical factor. You have an equal right to the checking
account if you are married. That is the first issue. You
should consult an attorney. Rebuilding your career skills is a
process, and does not produce immediate results. Lawyers have
been successful in assigning unrealistic earning capacity to
women. There's lots more to say, but please call or write if
you want to discuss: Judith 333-6881, or email@example.com. I
can only wonder why women are not speaking to each other about
these matters - I find them to be highly political and worthy of
discussion. The women who chose to raise their children are
punished at the end of the day if the men chose to leave. I
believe taking care of children is actual work, and I feel
strongly that it should be recognized as such.
I could have written the same letter 4 years ago. Your situation
is eerily similar to mine. I'll tell you what I did:
This is my second marriage. I also have a daughter from my
previous marriage and we have an 8 year old son together. Like
you, I raised my daughter on my own for 10 years after I left her
father. You know, sometimes it's just easier when only one person
is making the rules, even though we struggled financially. Then I
met Mr. Right, or so I thought. Unfortunately, he and my daughter
never really got along. Now I know that he was too immature and
abusive to make the relationship work. Fast forward 8 years, to
where you are now.
He began to talk about not supporting my daughter through
college. He told me to work. So I gave him an ultimatum: Either
he support her, or we sell the house (which had appreciated
considerably) so that I could use my 1/2 to pay for her. He
caved, but it could have gone the other way. And you know what?
If it had, I would have gotten a job to support her. I will not
get a job just to ''satisfy'' him.
I was then a SAHM, like you, and he also after a temper tantrum,
opened his own account. It took anger management counseling for
him to begin to give me the household money every month BEFORE I
asked. He was told that I had a right to ask for a sum without
justifying every penny, and also a right to have it without
asking for it.
The trick was getting him to go to counseling. It took the threat
of legal action. One day he poked my chest with a car key, he
knocked the wind out of me and I went to the E.R., where the
doctors filed a domestic violence report. I was very very close
to not pressing charges,my mother pressured me (''he'll get angry,
what if he loses his job?'') but I called the Abused Women's
hotline and they talked me through the whole thing. IT SAVED MY
LIFE. This had been the only physical incident, but the emotional
abuse had been going on for a long time and that's the worse,
because you know what? Wounds heal, but emotions are another
thing.You're slowly beaten down. It's normal to feel powerless,
trapped and weak in a relationship like yours which is clearly
The doctors in the ER did what I wasn't able to do for myself.
And I did for my daughter what I couldn't do for myself. Maybe
it'll give you strength to think of it that way.
Now it's 4 years later and he's making noises again. He's again
threatening to close our joint account, which he opened after he
got tired of giving me money every month. Now he threatens
divorce. This time, I told him that I would see a lawyer
immediately to get support during the separation period. That
stopped him, for now.
I really thought we wouldn't go this route again after 4 years,
but I know that men relapse after stopping anger management
counseling, which he attended for 1 1/2 years.
Why I stay. We have similar values, want to provide a home for
our son and most of the time, he's great. However, I am seriously
thinking about making an ''escape'' plan in case he falls into the
same abusive pattern. I don't want another ''incident'' that will
force him to go to counseling again.
I really feel for you. I know you will get lots of other good
advice and information from others in this group so I'll end it
now. Please know that you deserve respect and have value as a
human being. He is in a bad place and is taking it out on you,
but it doesn't have to be the only way. You are not alone.
First of all - whether or not you can think of a moral reason
why your husband should give you money because you are a
resident in California you have a legal right to a share of your
husband's assets. California is a community property state -
this means in part that in the eyes of the law your husbands
earnings are partly your - that was the deal when you got
married -a ssets that you accumulate together (through his
wages, a home etc...) are shared jointly between the spouses.
This law is too complicated to explain fully here and I don't
have the knowledge to get too specific, but you should know
that the law does not view your husband's income soley as his
property - if you divorce you will probably get some alimony
from him for this reason...
Also it might be valuable for you to calculate what it woud cost
your husband if you were to go to work. How much would full-time
daycare really be (going rate for a nanny for infants is about
$10/hr. - it adds up fast) add to that costs of a cleaning
person - someone to drop-off/pick-up dry cleaning so he looks
presentable at this ''prestigous'' job and I bet you're going to
be saving your family about 60K /yr. by the time you ge
tthrough - my friend went through it this way and I'll tell you
it opened her husband's eyes to the ''true'' value of the work she
Ultimately - it also sounds as though your husband is being
somewhat abusive in his controlling behavior - both over you and
over your access to money.
If you can, I would go see an admissions counselor at the UC
(or whatever school you were thinking of) and lay out your
situation - many shcools offer fantastic low-cost full time
daycare for students (many UC PhDs with small kids extend their
time as student in order to take advantage of the daycare and
housing benefits)- so your dreams may not be as unattainable as
you imagine -
Good luck - it sounds like you've hit a really rough patch and
you schoul absolutely try and talk with your husband about hte
way his actions make you feel - failing that do what you need to
do to take your life back into your hands - youv'e been
confident before and it will come back again once you start to
take care of yourself.
best of luck
rooting for you
Wow. What a tough situation. You must feel a bit abandoned by
your husband, or that he's trying to change the rules on you
midstream after you've distanced yourself from your career,
making it much harder and more complicated to reenter the work
world. I'm going to go out on a limb and offer a slightly
different perspective from the other posts, though: it sounds
to me as if you and your husband have lost your sense of
partnership along the way. I am guessing (from complicated
personal experience I won't bore you with) that he might be
feeling enormously pressured about being the sole financial
support for your family, including his step daughter. Even
people with high paying jobs these days sometimes feel no
financial security, and it's quite common for someone to be in
the work world to assume anyone who is staying at home has it
much easier. That breeds a lot of resentment and distrust,
especially if he's not completely wild about his career or
current job situation. It's not the ideal reaction, but it is a
common and human one. I agree in principle with the previous
comments that in CA you are legally and morally entitled to half
of the income accrued during your marriage. Whether or not your
husband is obligated to support your daughter from a previous
marriage (I'm assuming he didn't adopt her?) is a bit fuzzier.
Morally, it seems yes--legally, I'll bet ''no''. You didn't
mention whether her biological dad is living or in the picture,
but there may be an avenue to seek child support from him, and
just attempting to do so might get your husband to see you're
being proactive in caring for her without relying on him. Even
if you decide to leave him, you and she deserve that support
from the person responsible. Another suggestion, if you feel
you want to try to hold your marriage together, that might give
him a better appreciation for what you do: look into buying
meaningful life insurance for yourself. First, since he is not
likely to continue supporting your daughter if something should
happen to you, you owe it to her. Second, a good broker will
make you think through what the value would be of replacing the
work you do, when hiring people from the outside. The idea of
life insurance should be to provide financial cover to replace
you (there is no emotional cover!). Childcare, cooking,
shopping, cleaning, driving, tutoring, laundry, bill paying, you
name it. When your husband sees what it would ''cost'' to replace
you, he might have a better appreciation for all you do to
contribute to your family's financial well being. It might be a
bit more neutral way to remind him than confronting him on the
more emotional issues.
been there, no longer doing that
After 7 years of a difficult marriage, I have decided to
separate from my husband. Besides feeling incredibly sad about
my decision (although im certain that it is the right one),
there are financial considerations.
Here is the deal: I work to support the family and my husband
takes care of our 15 month old son on the days I work. We
stumbled into this situation after my husband was laid off and
not able to find another job.
So now im trying to figure out what to do. He has insisted that
since im the one who is leaving, i should move out with my son.
He plans to stay in the house; however, both our names are on
the lease and he does not have a job, so im worried as to how he
plans to work this out for himself. I was open to discussing
creative ways we might be able to make an alternative family
situation work, possibly sharing a duplex, living close
together, etc., (he is a wonderful father and I want him to
remain close to his son) but he does not want to discuss this.
He has said that I needent worry, that he will come up with the
$$$, but its difficult for me not to worry.
Im writing to get feedback from others that have gone through
similar situations. We will continue to live in the same
apartment until I figure out what to do, and I need to find ways
to remain level-headed and forward-looking. And we both need to
maintain our composure for the sake of our son. Please do not
write to tell me to reconsider my decision about separation.
If you haven't already done so, you need to see an attorney
asap to get a realistic idea of what your potential liabilities
are. Your husband could be entitled to spousal support and
child support. You should also not assume that you will get
more than 50% custody of your child, especially if your
husband has been the primary caretaker. You will need to
have all of your financial information (assets, liabilities, etc.)
in order. I strongly reccomend not moving out of your home
until you have a separation agreement with your husband.
I would ask a qualified family attorney these questions before
you move or do anything. Such choices may be relevant factors in
custody decisions. Ask several lawyers and see who gives you
the best and most reasonable answer. It occured to me that your
spouse is not worried about money because he figures you'll pay
If you're the one who moves out, get your name off the lease.
If he ends up not getting the money to cover the rent as you
fear, the landlord can come after you as long as your name is
still on the lease (and you'll end up having to pay for both
your new place and your old place).
I will not talk you out of leaving but I do want to say that I
think it's selfish of your husband to stay in the home. You are
the one that decided it was time to seperate but you will remain
the primary caretaker of the child and are the only one
financially able to maintain the house so you should stay. I
would move immediately to do the following: (1) get his name
off the lease and inform the landlord of what's going on and
that he has no income to prove he can afford to maintain the
place. 2) If he is uncooperative with this decision, go to
court and know that no judge will let him live there with no
income. It does not make sense...
divorced mom with two kids who didn't get the house because I couldn't afford it
My marriage is nearing its end, but I seem to be unable to
take the first real step towards getting a divorce. Im hoping
someone can provide some advice on the steps to take to
For background we will be married 5 years in October, we
have a 10 month old son. I work part time (at a job I love),
but do not make enough money to live on my own in the Bay
Area. I have looked for full time work without success.
My husband struggles with chemical dependency issues
(alcohol and marijuana), and consequently tends to be
irrational, paranoid and mean. Without his knowledge I met
with a divorce attorney 6 months ago after he shoved me.
Her advice then was based on a fear of more abuse (which I
don't honestly have now). I didn't act because suddenly
things improved considerably, and truthfully I wasn't ready to
take off with a 4 month old.
Lately my husband threatens to divorce me on regular
basis, but never follows through. I think we both know we
can't go on like this, but are afraid to give up the good things
the other contributes to the marriage.
I suspect the easiest thing would be for me to move out, but
I would like to keep our house, which I owned before we
married (its in both of names now), and again, I dont think I
could afford to live on my own before a settlement is
reached. Also my husband loves our son tremendously,
and has threatened to try for full custody. While Im confident
tht won't happen, I don't think he'd let me take him without a
If rational conversations were possible, I'd probably still be
trying to save the marriage, so having a straightforward
discussion about the situation is not option.
anyone provide some guidance on how to get the ball
rolling? Is it possible me to file while we're still living
together, and if so under the circumstances would that just
be stupid? Is there any way (short of experiencing more
physical abuse) to force him to leave?
Clearly Im terrified about my ability to start a new life. Im
hoping that hearing some of your experiences will give me
the confidence I need to get moving.
I believe that you can get a summary dissolution, and avoid a
fair bit of the paperwork, etc., if your marriage lasted five
years or less. If you've tried counseling and so forth, or
you're fairly sure that divorce is what you need regardless,
that time frame might provide some ''incentive'' to act fairly
soon. You are certainly strong enough to do this, no matter how
scary it seems!
If you need someone to talk to, email me anytime. I can't tell
you to get divorced, and I can't tell you to stay together - but
I CAN tell you that you have the courage and strength to do
what's best for you and your child, no matter how hard it may
be. That's why you wrote your post in the first place, after all.
I want to say that I think that you should seek further legal
cousel before you do anything- you are at a different place now
than 6 mos ago, and you have at least 3 pressing issues to deal
with: your son's welfare and custody, your home, and your fear of
Since you owned your home before your marriage, and your finances
are strained, I would like to see you regain full ownership of
your home to expand your options. You can do this if your husband
will sign a ''quit claim'' deed relinquishing his share of
ownership in the property.
It doesn't sound like he will do this easily, but perhaps you
have some leverage in his drug and alcohol problems. Clearly,
this has to be approached very carefully since he is unstable.
I think that an effective approach, taken with the advice and
help of an attorney only, might be simply to put it in terms that
you won't dispute his right to joint custody, in spite of his
substance abuse problems, if he will sign the quit claim. This
puts a bit of a positive slant on it since you are offering him
something he wants- equal parental rights for his son- in return
for something you want- your home (which I think is rightfully,
if not legally, yours). I think that this could be done without
presenting it as an attack.
The fly in the ointment would be if he has something to hold up
against you that would endanger your own right to custody of your
Don't move out- it sounds like you'd never get your home back-
unless an attorney tells you to do so for your own safety. Your
safety has to come first. But since this is a very emotional
situation for you, you could use some help sorting out your
fears, which right now are all mushed together. The right
therapist or counselor can help you with reality checks as to
whether you are either exaggerating or minimizing your husband's
potential for violence because of your other fears.
My experience with 2 past marijuana-addicted boyfriends is that
they threaten much more than they actually do, I think because
marijuana reduces motivation and the ability to act. But the
threats can be pretty awful to have thrown at you. If there is
anyone whose support you can enlist, like someone in his own
family who he respects, that could help you. Just try and be
rational yourself, don't trash him, and don't throw threats back-
that will escalate everything and you will feel guilty later.
Best of luck,
It is terrifying to contemplate divorce, but it sounds like you
are being very rational about the whole thing and are making
some good decisions! I went through a similar situation some
months ago, and here are the words I remember using that got the
ball rolling: ''I'm sad that things between us can't work out,
and let's try to think about how to make this split manageable
for you.'' (Or something like that..) The key to all
conversations was to make sure to give control to the ex, bring
my feelings in (because they are inarguable...he can't tell me
I'm not sad, if I say I am, then I am!), and let him feel like
he was somehow ''more right'' about everything (even if I didn't
think so). Also, start your new life now! Find child care and
start your baby in it, expand or change your job situation so
that you can meet your needs without him. As far as getting him
to move out, be patient, but try to set a time limit. Say
something like ''when do you think you would be able to find a
new place to stay'' or ''where do you think you might like to
go''. Just try to be deliberate and logical about the whole
thing. Have little goals for each conversation: ''now we're
going to figure out where you'll live'' ''now we're going to
figure out what will happen with the house''. Finally, try to
only have these conversations when you both are sober.
OK. I need advice from anyone who has filed for divorce and
lived under the same roof together. Our finances are too
strained to have two houses, we both work and have three
children. My husband can't handle marriage.
It sounds strange, but we're considering this to clean up
finances and responsibilities.
My ex- and I lived in the same house for over a year after we
seperated. We had the advantage of having what amounted
to a studio apartment in the basement of our house, which I
moved into - my own entrance, kitchen, bath. We split
custody of our son, and in general, it worked fine. For us. In
that house. Your Mileage May Vary.
The main predictor of emotional health for the children of
divorce is low levels of parental conflict. If you can keep your
relationship with your spouse civil, go for it. Otherwise, I
hope you think of your offspring and their needs before your
own, and do what you gotta do to keep their lives livable.
Been There, Done That
My ex-husband and I did this for a year and a half after we
separated. We also have three kids, and in an odd way I think it
helped the transition from one big family to two homes with
separated parents. The key is to set down the rules early for
who pays for what etc. My ex, for instance, never bought one
roll of toilet paper the entire time he lived here, nor did he
clean the bathroom or kitchen, both of which he used. Our
situation was financially complicated (and still is) but we
managed the arrangement until he met his current girlfriend (who
lives far away and needed to be able to visit him in his home).
This brings up another question for you: what happens when you
fall in love again?
IF you are able to set down ground rules the way you would with
roommates, if you are able to separate the finances, arrange the
billpaying, grocery shopping etc, if you have the space so that
you won't be in a negative environment which would make it worse
for the kids, I think it is totally workable, at least in the
short term. If paying off outstanding debt from the marriage is
part of the plan, put it on paper, though. In fact, I'd find a
notary or an attorney and put the whole arrangement on paper the
way you would with any legal lease type arrangement.
Living together after a divorce could be perfectly reasonable
depending on the reason for the divorce. If you are getting
divorced because he constantly yelled at you, and he continues
to yell at you, then it is not a good idea. But if you are
getting divorced because he was stepping out on you, but you
don't mind now that you are divorced, then living together could
work fine. You aren't the only one doing this. There was a show
on tv about it a couple of years ago.
Hi, you didn't give a lot of specifics so I'm not sure if you're
planning this as a long-term thing or just until you get your
finances on more solid footing. My sister and her ex-husband
divorced 2.5 years ago and still live under the same roof. No
kids, the divorce was amicable, but like your husband he couldn't
''handle marriage.'' The biggest problem for them (if you call it
one) is the rest of the world: neighbors, friends who want to
pick sides or just think it's too weird, potential dates, etc.
Sure, there are days when she just wishes he'd move out, but then
she remembers the money thing. Good luck with your arrangement,
and be ready for the neighbors to squawk when you bring home
You know, I consider my husband to play three important roles in
my life- husband, father to my child, best friend. There are
times when I think he sucks at the first, but my friendship and
admiration of his desire to be the best father he never had,
always makes me overlook his faults as a husband. I hope, and
not that I want it to happen or plan for it, that if anything
were to go wrong between us, we can remain close friends for the
sake of our children and our friendship. Too much has happened
between us and we've grown up together (we're high school-
college sweethearts) that losing his friendship because of our
inability to live together as a married couple would be
unbearable. Of course I say this now. Who knows how I would feel
if I were in your situation.
I always tell my friends. Do what you think is right for YOU.
Regardless of what everyone else thinks or says, do what you
feel is best for your well being and that of your family, and
know that I am with you every step of the way. Make the decision
that best works out for you, and lean on those close to you to
help you through the bumps.
Generally, your first instincts is best.
My ex and I moved back in together for a year after having
lived apart for 6 months. It definitely helped for sorting out
finances and responsibilities, but we were still unable to get
along. We went back and forth on ''working it out'' and ''being
just housemates''. Finally after a particularly bad fight
regarding a phone call, he got his own place. 2 months later he
wanted to try again, 2 months after that he gave up for good,
and now I wish I'd been smarter and really made an effort to
get along. Oh well, the positive thing is that we now both have
our finances in order and responsibilities are well defined. My
advice is if you are going to do this, to really commit to
tolerating what you don't like about each other and get along
for the sake of your kids, while still being clear that you're
not ''together'' -- that is definitely my biggest regret.
After my divorce, I became involved with my best friend and we
moved in together. The romance didn't work out, but . . . the
friendship wasn't permanently damaged and we're pretty good
coparents for my son, so we decided to try to continue living
together. It's been nearly two years, and it's worked out pretty
well (besides being more cost-effective!). The only thing is,
if we hadn't been able to maintain our friendship, it would
never have been possible.
Hi, just my two cents on this. I think that if you get along OK
and won't fight so much that you feel uncomfortable and of
course YOU want to it would be great for your kid(s) My
parents divoriced when I was six and I know that this would
have made it much easier. My advice would be yes, if you
Moving child away from divorced parent
I am a single mother of a two year old boy. I am planning to move back to
Berkeley this summer to finish school (we live in Texas). My problem is my
son's father. He knows that I have considered moving back, but he will not
even begin to have a discussion with me about it. He plays a very active
role in our son's life and this is a big concern for me should we move. I
don't want to leave him in the dark about my tentative plans, yet I have not
found a very successful way to discuss the issue. Any advice would be
To the mother who is considering moving away from divorced parent.
I just wanted to share with you my experience with regards to a moving
My child's father moved away, granted only 200 miles, but it has been the
most difficult situation for my son (5) ever. He is pretty close to his
father, and not being able to see his father on the spur of the moment is
very hard on him. He constantly blames himself and thinks his daddy doesn't
love him anymore, why else would he move away! I am left to pick up the
pieces because my son cries often, and he told his therapist (yes, I even
had to take him there as a result) that there isn't a day that goes by that
he does not think about his daddy. I separated when my son was two, thinking
that he won't remember how we all lived together, but children do know.
Divorce/separation is hard enough as it is, but actually separating a child
from his parents in terms of physical distance is even more difficult. If
there is any opportunity for you to finish your schooling in Texas, I would
highly recommend it. I don't believe it is fair to your child and his father
to be removed from one another, especially if the father currently plays an
active role in your child's life. My family lives very far away, I am
actually the only member of my family to live in this country, but I made a
conscious decision to live as close to my son's father as possible, even if
it means passing on the opportunities for myself (including my family). I am
very hopeful that when my son is grown-up, he will appreciate all I have
done to ensure he and his father are as "close" as possible.
I wish you and your son lots of strength in this difficult situation.
Your child has an involved father -- why is this the right time to
uproot him for your education? The stability of your child's life is
paramount, or should be, at this time. Can you complete your degree
where you are? Or, just wait. Maybe the reason you are having trouble
bringing this up is that its only the best solution for you right
now. Good luck whatever you decide.
Well, since you didn't share more details, I can only
ask why you need to move away from your child's
father. If the father is very involved in the child's
life, it's probably in the child's best interest to
continue to have the both of you involved in his/her
life. Can you continue your education in Texas? Just
You didn't say how long you have left in school, if
you plan to return to Texas, what the father's job
situation is, or what the custody situation is, so I
will assume it is fairly permanent, you have physical
custody, and the father can not also move.
I think you have to put yourself in his place. How
would you feel if he said he was moving away with your
child, and you could not follow?
Ruling out the option of finding a school in Texas,
probably the only way to resolve this is in the
courts, and I would try to make that the very last
resort. It will create a financial burden, delay any
move for an indefinite time, and create much hostility
in your relationship with the ex. If you have to do
this though, you should come up with what you think is
the most fair plan, maybe even one favoring your ex,
write it out, and give/mail it to him so he can read
it and let it percolate without you being there for
the initial angry reaction. I would also consult a
lawyer beforehand for advice on how to follow up.
Good luck to you both.
I would like to add to the chorus of people urging you not to deprive
your son of close and constant contact with his father. My
stepdaughters were denied frequent contact with their father (my
husband) starting at 6 and 8 years old, when their mother moved to
Canada. The matter ended up in the courts, which cost alot of money
and created bad feelings that still persist. The girls are now in
their 30's, and I believe their mother's decision has had lifelong
negative repercussions for them. Both girls were very angry with her
as teen-agers, and ended up moving here. The younger one still has
difficulty relating to men. Young boys tend to act out or get off
track in more extreme ways, when they lose a father's close support
There is a great university system in Texas that you can take
advantage of. I think (and I believe a court would conclude) that
your son's best interest lies in staying where he is, and that if you
feel compelled to move then your ex-husband should have custody,
because he is more able to unselfishly create a stable environment for
I recently submitted an email asking for advice on how to engage my son's
father in a conversation about a tentative move to Berkeley from Texas. The
responses I received seemed to misunderstand the advice I needed. I
appreciate the point of view that everyone had; however, there are a few
points that I would like to add to my predicament. I am a single mother of a
two year old boy,and his father and myself have never been married. While
visiting my family in Texas I became pregnant and decided to take time off
from school to have my child and spend as much time as possible with him
while he was still little. I chose to do this in Texas because of family
support and obvious financial reasons. It has been almost three years since
I left school, and I am ready to continue where I left off. I know there are
schools in Texas where I could continue if need be, but I would rather finish
in Berkeley. My son's father Knows that this is what I would like to do, but
he won't talk to me about it. I would like to know his opinion on the
matter, so that I can plan accordingly. As far as what the courts would see
as the best for my son, I have to disagree with what others have to say.
Although the two of them have a good relationship, he is in no way ready for
the responsibilities of full-time parenthood. he only started paying child
support four months ago, and has worked a total of eight months since my son
has been born. My wanting to return to Berkeley is motivated by the fact
that I am the one that has had to and will continue to support him, and
continuing my education at a good school will open up more possibilities for
us. Yes, I do realize that my son could suffer from not seeing his father,
and because of this I plan to invite him to come with us. I think it is very
important for children to have both parents in their life. So much so that I
have put up with a great deal just so my son has a relationship with his
father. The advice I need is on how to approach the situation with his
father or advice from someone who has had similar exerience .
I read your letter and the first letter, and all the responses --
nobody who responded seemed to misunderstand your situation, we just
all seemed to agree that the best interests of the child are
paramount, and your desire to return to Berkeley is secondary. Its
wonderful that you have made so many good decisions in the last 3
years. Before you commit to returning to California, I would urge you
to remember that the cost of living and child care and education
systems here are problematic, and that you are moving away from all
the support you have, to return to a place that will be very
different from when you were here before.
There is a lot of advice and speculation available about what to do in a
situation where a child's parents are not in a traditional family, or where
the "father" does not live with the child. Things I have learned as a
teacher of young children and separated parents. 1) you can't protect your
child from suffering, you can only be with your child in a loving way as s/he
faces the challenges that life gives them. Including the effects of
conscious decisions--like returning to school in another state--that parents
make. Our children come through us, they don't belong to us--to paraphrase
Ghibran. If you can grow in love through being with your son as he grows and
experiences the good and the hard in life, you're giving him a lot.
2) your own self esteem and wholeness is one of the most important things you
can give your child.
3) talk clearly and honestly about your intention to return to school in CA
with your son's father. Let him think about it and decide how/what to do in
response---don't invite him along, let him take that initiative. He needs to
be a partner with full adult buy-in to this next phase of child-rearing.
4) whatever you decide to do, stay in touch with the father in whatever way
is possible. If you make this committment in yourself you will have done all
you can to assure your son has access to his biological father.
5) biology is important but it isn't everything, biological determinism as
the key factor in you son's emotional/psychological develpment may not be the
most important dimension of his relationships with men. Sometmes
"god-fathers" and "uncles" fill real gaps. (I'm not saying fathers aren't
important, I'm saying you can't make someone ready to be a "father" through
Friend's Divorce - Husband Recording Phone Calls
I am in the middle of divorce too....I started with a mediator which
proven to be a mistake..I am a graduate student with no income and
with two daughters 7 and 10 for your friend's sake, she should hire
an attorney right away....she should borrow some money at least to
start the process as soon as possible..then her attorney can demade
the money back from her husband..I dealt with the mediator for five
months and I felt that I got very little ... I can say that the
attorney protects my and the children's rights better than
the mediator....Also, the mediator could work better if both sides
agree if there is a disagreement ...the mediator could not work for
the dissolution of the marriage.....
This is probably obvious, but anyway...I would urge your friend to
keep looking for an attorney who seems to have the right attitude,
and who is responsive (i.e. returns calls promptly)--don't settle for
someone who doesn't think it's a big deal. She's going to be working
with the attorney for probably over a year, and possibly needing help
with the most intimate details of her life, so it is important to
choose carefully. Also, for what it's worth, it doesn't sound like
telling the truth comes easily to the guy, so mediation--which is
based on mutual agreement--may prove frustrating, although perhaps
worth a try anyway, because it can be so much less expensive than
I have found that I can get quite a lot of basic legal information
from attorneys by calling a few--I focus on those who advertise "free
consultation" in the yellow pages--and just asking my questions--kind
of a pre-free-consulation. In this way I've found out information
about whether there is probably a case, what fees will probably be,
what-all would be involved--not to mention get a feel for whether the
attorney (and his/her staff) are people I want to work with.
As you wrote, I think it is outrageous that this guy systematically
recorded your private conversations with your friend. You may have a
cause of action against this fellow yourself. It is my definite
impression that ever since Watergate, it is illegal to record
telephone conversations without the conversants' informed consent.
Even if you don't have enough steam about it to go through with a
lawsuit yourself, just throwing the idea around might put pressure on
this fellow to do right by his family--but that might be unethical
too, you'd have to check on that.
Best of luck to your friend on getting through this ordeal!!
I was surfing the net, looking for information about common-law
marriage, and found the attached URL contains good basic information
consistent with my experience regarding divorce. I made lots of the
mistakes Trent describes.
Considering divorce - Verbally Abusive Husband
I am considering getting a divorce and it's not an easy decision as I
have a three year old who loves her dad, and I am 6 and a half months
pregnant with our second. My husband is constantly verbally abusive,
and even threathens me physically once a year or more. I feel it would
come to more if I didn't retreat from his outbursts and bullying in
I think I might probably make the break if I was more financially well
off, and if I didn't have a child who will suffer the separation. If I
didn't work full-time, and could be there for her more, it would be
easier. And I do not have any family here to help. I am entirely on my
I am willing to see someone, and so is he, but I feel that nothing can
change a man like this. I also feel that the person we see should have
some experience and knowledge re this kind of problem, which is why I
am putting this request out here...in the hope that someone may have
had similar experience and success with finding a good therapist who
could really help. If anyone out there knows of such a therapist,
please post me a message here. I would appreciate it very much. Thank
You said "...
My husband is constantly verbally abusive,
and even threathens me physically once a year or more. I feel it would
come to more if I didn't retreat from his outbursts and bullying in
That may or may not be true. His outbursts and bullying ARE the problem,
not your fear. Maybe if you stood up to him, he'd back down, then again,
maybe he'd get worse.
I worked for years in the battered women's shelter movement ... what you're
describing is a complex and difficult situation, but you are right to try
to protect yourself AND your kids.
What I'd suggest right now is that you do all you can to ease your own
life, get yourself and your child support NOW, without even deciding about
divorce just yet. For example, I'd recommend going to CARE services and
asking for a recommendation for a couples counselor but ALSO an individual
counselor for yourself. You can see a CARE person initially, for free, and
then that person can help you assess further needs and plans.
I'd also recommend you see an attorney right now. NOT to file divorce yet
(you don't seem clear that you want that) BUT instead to ask for advice on
ways you can strengthen your financial and legal situation NOW.
I'd also suggest that you ask your department if you could telecommute
one day a week. My boss lets me do that. We are very upfront about
the fact that I have laundry running at the SAME time I'm doing my
reading and editing at home, that instead of going out for coffee with
a colleague twice a day, I spend those two 15 minute chunks of time
washing dishes and mopping the bathroom. It's called "multi-tasking."
I DON'T keep my daughters home on my telecommute day; I'd get nothing
done. But then when Saturday comes, I can spend more time with them,
be more present, instead of doing huge mountains of laundry.
Before you ask your department, ask CARE services for the official,
written, UC policy on work and family. It helped for us (me and my boss)
to know that UC officially encourages supervisors to be supportive of
flex-time, telecommuting and other "family-friendly" options.
I have found that the telecommuting day has made a HUGE difference in my
life. I'm happier at home and more invested in, committed to my job, a
less worried, more "present" employee.
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