I have been divorced for 13 years now. When I first got divorced my children were very young, not quite 7, 4, and 2. And we had already been separated for 6 months. So, we were in the thick of a very traditional Mommy stays at home marriage at the time. My then husband had an executive level job with good pay and traveled a lot.
So when we set up our divorce agreement, he agreed that because he travelled so much with his job, I would mostly raise the kids but that I should get a part-time job as they started going to school. The child support I did get was no extravagant amount, it barely covered the bills. I thought that was fine because I was no freeloader. Now thinking back, that was stupid, I should have made it easier on myself.
That was one school of thought, go for more money. However, over the next few years he had a few slips of being late with money. And eventually 7 years into the divorce, he disappeared and stopped paying all together. The advice I kept getting from my family at that time was that I was stupid, all along I should have not been counting on his money. i.e. I should have set myself up financially so that if I did happen to get his money it was a bonus. At first I did feel stupid, I should have known. Everyone had me guilted into think it was my fault for not being prepared. How could I be so irresponsible?
But then as my life started to turn around, I began to ease up on myself. I thought yes, they are correct, from here on out I should not count on his money but back then I had every right to depend on him for money. Jesus Christ, we had been married, he had a good job, we had 3 small children, it was his freakin’ responsibility… how does that become my fault? What was I supposed to do drop everything with raising pre-schoolers and go out and work 60 hours a week to hoard money because I might not be able to trust him? What world are you living in?
Sure I can see if you are someone that already works a good full-time career and you are getting divorced from some deadbeat who does everything he can to not pay like hide income and assets. So through his adept hiding, the judge only manages to justify his portion as a measly $200 a month… then yea, don’t count on it but it’s a nice bonus if you get it. Me? Basically I had been hired to raise our children by him. Really, that was the deal. So, it’s my fault for counting on my employer? I tried to be responsible for a little cushion, but how does one safeguard themselves against hallf their income?
As a strong independent woman, I’ve always tried to take responsibility… yes I picked him, the divorce was partly my fault. Yes, I should have been independent and worked or moved back home away from the kids Father, the money issues were partly my fault. Yes, I should have been more welcoming and alluring at home, his infidelity was partly my fault.
Wait, what? No! Ya’ know what, screw this! I’ve been guilted into everything being my fault. Why can’t I blame him? Jesus Christ, can someone give me a break and tell me “That’s awful, I’m sorry that happened to you, you didn’t deserve that” instead of “You should have known, you should have been prepared”. Who the fuck foresees everything in life? Yes, you all have such great hindsight. But give me a damn break. The people around me were so focused on always being responsible and not being a victim, that it came 180 degrees to feeling guilty that you are to blame for everything. That’s not healthy, and it’s not fair.
At what point do you say, “I should have been able to count on that person” or “I should have been prepared to do it all myself”? From here on out yes, I am being cautious and trying to budget so I’m not depending on things that may not come. But don’t tell me I’m an idiot for trusting someone I had a long standing economic and living arrangement with when we were in love and created a family together. That’s just mean.