Nearly eight years after it happened, I remember the moment like it was yesterday. I was at work, telling a coworker about my divorce.
“You’ll want to be sure and get support,” she told me.
Her suggestion took me by surprise. I knew she wasn’t referring to the emotional variety of support. She was talking about money. Alimony, to be exact.
“No,” I insisted. “That’s not necessary.”
“But you never know,” she cautioned me. “It would be nice to have a little extra, just in case you need it.”
She meant well. She spoke from decades of experience as a single mother, and she wanted to save me from the struggles she knew too well.
I, on the other hand, felt a bit offended. Personally, I hated the idea of alimony and I wouldn’t have accepted it even if my ex had offered.
To begin with, I didn’t feel it was fair for my husband to pay me out of his salary. We were separating, and beyond that fact I wasn’t going to be enriching the quality of his life. He owed me nothing. And on top of that, he worked hard for his money. The thought of holding out my hand after he’d put in a week of 14-hour days made me feel… eh, not too good about myself.
My second reason was that support was simply not necessary. I lived alone and supported myself before he and I began dating. In the years we spent together, I moved a few steps up the corporate ladder. By the time we separated, I brought home a decent amount of bacon and I didn’t need the supplemental income. Of course, it would’ve been nice. Of course, our separation would affect my standard of living. But the fact was that I was completely capable of supporting myself. And I desperately wanted to support myself.
Part of the problem in my marriage was that my ex expected a more traditional arrangement. He wanted to financially support our family while I eventually stayed home to raise our children, and that idea terrified me. I felt suffocated by his suggestions of moving toward his vision. I suppose you could blame it on the fact that my parents were divorced and I grew up with a working mother. In any case, there was no part of me that wanted to give up my own flow of steady income.
When it came time for us to separate, I looked forward to the independence that awaited me. I joyfully accepted hand-me-down furniture and downsized my car. I tightened the strings on my budget and moved closer to work (a move that both took me away from our small town and saved a lot of gas money). I was eager to live within my own means, on my own terms. Who needed alimony? Not me!
In the years since my divorce, I’ve gone back to school, bought more vehicles and upgraded my furniture. I’ve also taken vacations, improved my home and financed a few new hobbies. I did it all without a monthly cash infusion from my ex, and I’ve never been sorry that I didn’t take the advice of my co-worker. I think my ex is probably pretty happy about that too.
Let me just note that I’m well-aware there are differing opinions on the subject. I realize, like my coworker, not all exes experienced the same circumstances I did. Therefore, I’m not advocating that all women forego alimony. I think the issue is a deeply personal one that ultimately should be discussed and decided between each individual couple.
More on alimony and child support:
- Child Support Reform: What Side Of The Fight Are You On?
- 7 Reasons You Should Sell Your Diamond After Divorce
- 10 Things To Consider When Negotiating Child Support
- 10 Ways To Protect Your Post-Divorce Assets From Your Ex