Sometimes I am convinced the United Kingdom’s 1997 handover of Hong Kong back to the People’s Republic of China was a less involved process than the typical handover of my children to their father at vacation time.
I am now in the process of preparing my kids to go on a weeklong vacation with their father over winter break. Because he doesn't live in the United States and doesn't maintain a residence here, the responsibility of preparing our children, both emotionally and otherwise, rests solely on me. And my ex is A-OK with that. After all, it's my job. Or, at least, that's what he believes.
Every month I receive alimony which, I am pretty sure to my ex, means I am still on his payroll, much as I seemingly was during our 16-year marriage.
“You will never live as my wife again,” my ex once raged at me in a heated argument during our separation.
“Is that a threat or a promise?” I angrily retorted.
So, why, then, more than six months after the finalization of our divorce, am I still being called upon as though I am the dutiful and, yet, still unappreciated, wife?
I am frequently asked to pick up his prescriptions at the pharmacy, send packages to him, make phone calls on his behalf, and purchase sundries for our children in preparation for his family vacations. The most egregious request, however, came this past summer when he rented a beach house with his significant other (once upon a time his mistress) and our children, and requested I supply all of the children’s bedding and towels for the week.
“It’s your vacation,” I reminded my ex. “I don’t ask you to supply items for my family trips."
“But it’s for the kids,” he urged.
“You mean our kids?” I reminded.
Such requests usually come on the cusp of a handover, that time when I volley our children to their father for a visit, and he brings them back a week to 10 days later, bags of dirty laundry in tow. As for last summer’s beach rental? I stood my ground and refused to supply the three sets of bedding and towels. One could say I won the battle. Not so much for the war. At the end of the trip, I was greeted not only with my children’s dirty bed linens, towels, and laundry but with his and his lady friend’s dirty bed linens and towels as well. I was advised to store these newly purchased items in my attic, should he need them again for later use.
For the upcoming vacation this Saturday, I was already asked to purchase the children’s toiletries in advance because he won’t have time. Hmmm.
Early on, when I resisted such directives, I was duly warned.
“Just wait and see what you get from me,” he once threatened, as though I was a small child who had refused to do her weekly chores.
I reminded him I would get exactly what I am due as per our settlement agreement.
Alimony is not a gift from the paying spouse. Its purpose is to compensate the spouse who may unfairly suffer economically as a consequence of divorce. In my case, I stayed home to raise our three children, a decision we made together, forgoing my most valuable earnings years.
My ex isn't a bad guy, but sometimes I just don't think he gets it. I am not his wife anymore. When I said, “I do” many years ago, I meant it. And when I said, “I don’t” back in June, I meant that, too.
I now pass all employee benefits on to his future wife.
(Check out minutes 18:30 to 19:55 for a good laugh.)