Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “economic recession

I Am Failing In One Critical Area Of Life

divorce financial troubles - the off parentAnd it’s not my best area, money.

I was listening to two men today in some kind of mentoring conversation. I heard one of them mention the areas of life work.

Spiritual Health
Mental Health
Physical Health
Financial Health

And I was like… Uh oh.

You see, I’ve got a problem. It is a big problem. And perhaps one I’ve had my entire life.

I’m kinda crazy about money. And at the moment, while I’m feeling so solid in the first three areas of life, I’m about to go down the black hole of financial melt down. And here’s the rub. The divorce has a lot to do with it. (Maybe My Ex Is Just Unhappy)

On Monday, I will declare chapter 13 bankruptcy to keep Wells Fargo from foreclosing on my house. It’s the only asset I have along with my car. And in the middle of this, while I try and negotiate a “catch up” plan with my ex-wife she’s holding up the “sorry but it’s out of my hands” card. She’s turned our child support “issue” over to the Attorney General’s office.

Another example of “oh, I’m sorry that didn’t work out for you.” She cloaked it in “I know this is not a good time for you…” The velvet has worn thin on the gloves. There’s no courtesy from her. No consideration of my struggles. And I guess that’s okay. She’s got her own issues, her own money requirements, and my reduced income over the Summer didn’t help her either.

I’m not proud of my necessary intervention. But it doesn’t diminish my obligation to her. And still, she says in sympathy, “I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this.” But she really means, “Where’s my money, mf?”

The one thing she could do, to help me get the terms of the bankruptcy in a safer place, is to negotiate an agreement about the back owed child support. (About 10k.) The agreement actually secures the debt with a note tied to a family asset I still have potential claim for in a future sale. It seems like a way validate and secure her accounting of what I owe her. (She’s really good with spreadsheets.)

When I was talking to the financial attorney, I said, “Oh this should be easy. It’s actually good for her. And we’re still friendly.”

Her email tonight put the relationship in starker terms.

“The document I signed when I submitted the application to have the AG manage the child support process, one of the things the form said was I was forbidden to negotiate with you about anything related to child support.”


Thanks hon. You’ve essentially turned us over to the state’s attorney for negotiation.

Again, perhaps this is for the best. I will go another route to get my bankruptcy affairs in order. And I will remember, YET AGAIN, that I can’t ask her for anything. It’s just business. And in the business of things I owe her money.

The last 5 times I’ve tried to get us together to talk about things, her response has been very simple. “About what?” All she wanted to know was, “How much can you pay me?” And, “When can you pay me.” That’s it.

Maybe that’s the way it needs to be. Maybe she’s dealing with pressures I don’t know anything about. Maybe she’s just mad at me, still. Either way, she’s “sorry I’m having to deal with this” AND “it’s out of my hands.”

I give thanks for this illumination. I may have to get the message tattooed on my arm, so I can remember what I’ve learned. If she needs something she will always ask, regardless of my situation, or if it’s best for the kids. When I ask for something, I’d best not count on a cooperative response.

Calm down. It’s okay. I’ve survived this far. And even with the child support burden set at about 2X what I was actually earning, I’ve managed to get this far. I’m not going to give my house back to the bank and go live with my mom. I’m gainfully employed. I could be MORE employed, but I’m working on that too.

I’ve got three of the four areas of life pretty well in hand. And the last one, I’m struggling with a bit. But I won’t let a little money trouble get me down. Things don’t always work out as we planned. I’m the kind of man who gets back up, with a positive attitude, and gives it another go. Alone for now.

Reflection: There was a moment, during the roommate period before divorce that I asked my then-wife, “Do you think we’re going to be able to afford two houses in this neighborhood?” We’d struggled mightily, just a year prior, just to keep the one house. Of course, she would receive financial help after the divorce. What I guess I was saying, where do you think I’m going to live? And now that I’m edging towards losing my house in a neighborhood that’s “further out,” I know that my lament was closer to the truth than I’d like to admit. No one wants to fail. No one wants to miss a payment (car, rent, child support). The shame is present and real for me at this moment.

Update: I’m now in the process of petitioning the state for my bankruptcy. The good news is I didn’t lose my house. The gooder news is, I’m going to get my financial house in order by the order of the court. The not so good news, my ex-y has filed her petition with the state’s attorney general, so we’ll see how that all shakes down. Fun times.


The Off Parent

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Happy New Year, Ex-Husband, I Need More Money

Money Issues Don't End After Divorce

Money Issues Don't End After DivorceThe 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


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.