Divorce Sucks. It’s The Death of Your Dreams, Your Future

divorce sucks

 I’ve thought a lot about this post. If I should, if I shouldn’t. I’m opening myself up to a lot of hate and judgement, and a lot of hurt. But I can only hope it might be a little cathartic too, because I am still hurting three years later, and that hurt is an everyday part of my life.

 

This is part of my journey to India, and part of the reason I’m leaving Christchurch. Almost three years after I left my (ex) husband, I’m still awaiting a settlement. Any settlement. I can’t move forward and buy a house because my deposit, and the money from my wages that paid off some of the mortgage, is still locked in that house. My ex changed the locks on our house three days after I left and has given me possessions back at his leisure, or not at all, in case of my beloved Jimmy Choos, my piano, my cookbooks, and the sparkly apron my sister gave me for Christmas one year. He holds all the power. I’ve been paying rent every week while he lives mortgage-free in our house.

How is a marriage equal when one person earns far beyond the other? How, when you divorce, both parties split the marital assets equally despite financial disparities between earning power? Because in a marriage of any significant length, the partnership is equal. One provides (more) income, the other provides something more intangible. It might be cleaning and cooking so that the other has more time to spend making money. It might be that one person is planning the holidays so that the other doesn’t get burnt out. It might be one person holds up the social obligations of the couple, ensuring family and friends are still in contact. It could be all of these things.

Emotions cannot be split, you can’t reimburse them. You can’t expect a salary for cooking meals, vacuuming, entertaining family and friends, or cleaning. The woman’s role in a relationship typically is reduced to nothing amidst a divorce. The man uses his dominance over finances to control and punish the woman. The woman, burnt and exhausted from battling and fighting, caves in and lets her husband take the money. It’s far easier.
Anyone who says that 50/50 split of marriage assets isn’t fair, is poorly educated, misogynistic, and backward. And likely male.

Divorce Sucks, Don’t Do It

Back to divorce. My advice is, don’t do it. It’s messy, painful, and by far the most stressful thing that’s ever happened to me (and I’ve had some fairly stressful situations in my life). My marriage counsellor (who I attended but my then-husband refused to) said that any marriage is salvageable if both parties WANT to save it. The problem was, I didn’t want to save it any more. I was so tired of fighting for our marriage on my own. There had been a chain of events leading up to The End. It started before we got married. I wanted to address what was a fairly serious issue but he said it was MY problem, not his, HE was ok, therefore HE did not have to attend counselling.
I can assure you that couples counselling doesn’t work when you’re there on your own, and it’s a fairly lonely place to be, in a couples therapy office, in tears, on your own.
The other problem in our relationship was that he is an incredibly successful businessman. He’s intelligent, charming, and SO good at what he does, part of what attracted me to him. The other side of the coin, for successful CEO’s and business owners, is that they have psycho/ sociopath traits and tendencies. Narcissistic, egotistic,  manipulative. Have you ever tried arguing with a sociopath? They make you feel like you’re crazy. Every argument you clearly, calmly put forward, is decimated so quickly, you’re left believing you are wrong.
Being married to a someone owning a business also means you become part of that. 6am, alarm off, he’s checking his emails. He’s got constant meetings. Your social life becomes part of a never-ending quest for new customers, new contacts. S/he lives, breathes, the business. You will always be second. I thought that I would be OK with that, being second. Turns out, I was not.

Divorce Starts With Something Unrelated

It started three years ago, almost to the day. I got a call on Sunday that one of my best friends had been killed in a car accident. I was beside myself. I have never known such overwhelming shock, grief. To realise that someone so beautiful, strong, funny, talented, and someone that was such a huge wonderful part of my life, was dead, was almost impossible to comprehend. My boss came to see me at home and saw how distressed I was. She held me. She said it was going to be OK. She did one of the most beautiful, touching gestures I’ve ever had, and she gave me two handkerchiefs- it gave me permission to grieve. She told me to take the week off work.

Monday rolled around and husband asked what I’d be doing today. I replied that I had to get out of the house, I couldn’t be there, but likely I’d go to the beach. I asked for him to stay home and look after me. He had meetings and he headed off to work. A friend texted and asked how I was. I replied that I was struggling, and then, he was there. He took me to the beach, we sat and watched the waves, and talked shit. To my forever regret and shame, we kissed. It was the start of an affair that taught me:
1) I’m naive and stupid sometimes
2) I was miserable in my marriage
I’m not a victim. I’m not using anything as an excuse. It was inexcusable behaviour that I never thought I would sink to, still don’t quite understand how I got there.

I won’t thrash out the details of how I told him I was having an affair, or how I left him, or how I left the man I had an affair with (knowing all along he was not long-term-partner material). It still hurts. The tears I cried- am still crying now- would fill an ocean. The depth of pain I feel for causing my husband hurt, I don’t have words to describe. Because I did love him, he was a wonderful man in so many ways. He loved me, he cared about me, he wanted the best for me. Now, he hates me. He wants to hurt me. Hurt animals lash out at the thing that hurt him. And the best way he knows is by having power and control over me in the only way he can- financial. I didn’t even have a bank account when I left him. I stupidly thought that he would forgive me, and we could be amicable, and fair, and we could both move on.

Do You Know What Else Sucks? Lawyers Suck

It leaves you stuck. Even with the very best of intentions to not live waiting for settlement, it hangs over you, a steady, grey, leaden weight on your shoulders. Tied up with that, the guilt, the hurt I caused, the very real pain I still feel, it’s an enormous burden to carry. Thinking about it causes my heart to constrict, my breath gasps, my stomach roiling.

I’m here. Stuck. Not moving forward, unable to, learning legal terms that I don’t want to learn, being stopped at every juncture by a man who wants to punish me. When we were breaking up he said that I’d never find a man as good as him. He also said that he’d personally ensure that I’d never get a cent of our house, savings, nothing. Initially, it was never about the money for me, I just wanted out of the marriage, I was sad, and couldn’t see myself living like that for the rest of my life. It filled me with dread. I just wanted out. Once the logistics of ‘out’ were done, many months later, I started to understand I would need something from the marital assets if I were to ever move forward in life, or be financially secure. I wish I’d been cleverer, or sneakier, and planned ahead, but I didn’t plan on the events happening the way they did, I didn’t want things to happen like that. I’d quite like to have married a man I loved and worked at the marriage, and still be married now.

But I didn’t.

And I’m not.

I’m going to India because I won’t have to live with the daily reminder that I’m flatting again, that monthly bill from my lawyer, that the Christchurch Family Court is so under-resourced that dates are cancelled, after being booked for 6 months. I’m going to India so I can breathe without feeling like I’m being crushed.

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