Happy New Year, Ex-Husband, I Need More Money
The first day of the new year hadn’t cooled before my ex-y was laying down the law, making spreadsheets and requests for more money. It was a lot like how she was in our marriage. But I was just a bit too fresh to my new year, celebrating that I wasn’t hungover or depressed, to respond in a loving way. (“It’s just about the kids.”)
I tried deflecting the conversation.
She responded with more heat.
I took a different approach.
Another hot response.
And here’s where I had the ability to end it. And I did. I laid down my boundaries. “I will make my payments as scheduled for January. If you want to send me the spreadsheet of extra expenses you are asking me to pay, you can pause the send until February and you’ll get a better response.”
Fact One: One of the reasons we’re no longer married is our hardship in navigating such emotional and murky waters.
Fact Two: I have an obligation that I agreed to in the divorce contract. Some days I feel like it’s too much money, or that it’s unfair. Other days, like today – even, I am optimistic about my prospects and I let it roll off the proverbial back. Like a duck.
Fact Three: I can set my boundaries in a different way than I was able to do while we were married. We ARE still in a relationship, that won’t end, but I don’t have to jump and scramble to her urgency to solve this issue today, tonight, the first day of the new year.
I’m not real clear about how much “stuff” I’m still carrying into this negotiation. So for now, a PAUSE is best. I can take a breath. Stretch my mind and heart with some yoga or chat with someone else. But I don’t have to give her an answer this minute. I don’t have to give her the answer she wants.
She said something quite insiteful in one of her responses. (paraphrased) “This is not about you and me. It’s about taking care of what our kids need.”
Yes, she’s right. The request is about a summer camp tuition for our daughter. The issue will be solved. We will pay for her to go to camp. But today, with my finances still a bit out of whack, I don’t have to answer.
Did money play a huge role in the stress of our marriage and eventual divorce? Absolutely. Was the economic recession after 911 the hardest economic times for most people? Yes, and we’re still digging back out. Do we have to deal with money issues with drama or crisis-like urgency? Nope. Not gonna do it.
I have the pause button. Not to abuse or neglect her efforts to do what is right by our kids. She is not doing this to be angry, nor to attack me. It’s a difficult negotiation and discussion that we will have plenty of times over the next 10 years or more. And the best response for me is to step back, not poke out a hurtful reply, and regroup. We can try again tomorrow.
I’m learning this.
The Off Parent
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)
Note: Writing this post in the heat of the moment, I needed to step back and look at my intention. Here’s what I came up with.
This blog is not written to my ex-y. While she knows about it, my guess is that she stays clear of reading it. So, I’m not writing TO her, or intentionally trying to communicate to her through the blog. It is only with this distinction that I feel I can write from the hot core, rather than skim over the surface so as not to hurt any feelings.