All That I Have I Share With You… Or At Least Split It Down the Middle, Part 4

When I first read Mandy’s story, and throughout the years, I always wondered what the point in being married was if you were going to live like she did. Marriage is supposedly about being a team and combining your resources. Not much of a team effort when everything is separate or must play to the lowest common denominator. Now, having had my life systematically dismantled by a cheating man who held the wallet in our marriage, I see the benefits. Despite the flaws in her thinking I admire how smart it is to never purchase anything you alone cannot pay for. I look back now and I realize none of it was ever truly mine. It was all given to me by Jerry Lee and when he decided he was done with me I lost everything. No more nice big house, no more pool, no more vacations, no more outings with the kids, no more shopping sprees for them, no more financial freedom.

Yes, I understand that me tending to the home while he went out and worked allowed him to concentrate on his career. I completely understand and agree with the idea that if not for me he might not have been able to climb as high and as fast as he did. I get the whole “we’re a team” thing. But when that team breaks apart some of us quickly realize that our contribution to “the team” didn’t mean squat in terms of financial security. Nobody hires us on our ability to help our spouse achieve career success. When you split up that career success all goes to the person who is actually working. They leave and continue to make big bucks. The person who supported them are left behind, scrambling to find a job and figure out a way to support themselves and their kids.

I’ve written before about never dating again, never marrying again, and me not wanting to lose everything because the next guy can’t keep it in his pants, or he just decides he’s tired of me. Well, you know how the “never dating again” thing has turned out. I’ve even relaxed my stance on never marrying again. But, losing everything because he walks away? That’s a huge fear I continue to have. I absolutely do not want to give up my spousal support, be completely financially dependent on the mobster, buy a house, create a fantastic life together, and then have him walk out the door, leaving me destitute again and knocking on my mother’s door because I can’t afford to live on my own. It terrifies me. Financial independence is an absolute must before I ever consider living with or marrying the mobster (and he knows that for those of you who might worry he’s just now learning this).

Then I zigzag right back and I think, “Why bother?” Why bother creating a life with someone else if everything is separate? Isn’t the purpose of marriage to be a team? To combine resources? All that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you. Those were my wedding vows twenty plus years ago. All in. Not half assed. 

If I make $35,000 and the mobster makes $65,000 together we have $100,000. Doesn’t that $100,000 go farther than my measly $35,000 or his $65,000? Or even if it’s a lot more equal and I make $60,000 and he makes $80,000 together we make $140,000. Sure, we could both do okay on our own, but wouldn’t we do a lot better combining our incomes instead of living like we were single? Again, there would be two incomes paying household bills, two incomes going towards retirement, two incomes to contribute to savings, two incomes to pay for vacations, two incomes to help put kids through college.

Lately I’ve been seeing lots and lots of benefits of being married. For example, a co-worker at the bank just got married a little while ago. She was able to move from her home in the city to an adorable little house out in the country with plenty of space for her 4 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 pigs. She loves it out there and is always posting cute pictures and videos of her animals in their new home. She’s also gone down to part-time instead of working full-time. All of this has been possible thanks to her new husband. He is why she can buy a new house out in the country before selling her old house. He is why she can work part-time instead of full-time. She definitely could not do that on her own.

I have a cousin who had an amazing job at this tony military retirement community as an activities director. She remarried a little over a year ago. I know this because her husband, for their first anniversary which is paper, presented her with tickets to Hawaii. Nice. She has now quit her amazing job to take some time to take care of herself. She’s busy posting pictures of the bread and other goodies she’s making and talking about all the projects she’s tackling. Again, this is made possible by a husband. A husband who has no problems supporting her and her son. I suppose we could switch it around and say a man could also do this if he had a wife who made good money, but most men don’t tend to do that.

I’m happy for both of them. Honestly. After what I’ve been through I’m also a little scared for them. I keep thinking, “You better hope the bottom never drops out because if that happens you are going to be screwed!”

Then again, neither of them is as stupid as I was. My cousin is in her 50s and has been married twice before this. She’s struggled and she’s worked. She’s done it on her own before and I have no doubt that if she had to, she could do it again. The co-worker has worked full-time since probably age 18; she didn’t marry until her mid to late 30s. I have every bit of confidence that she, too, can re-enter the workforce in a full-time capacity if she needed to.

It’s everywhere- this benefit of marriage. Partnership. I see person after person who is benefitting from being paired up.

I look at one of my best friends who is a chiropractor. Before meeting her husband she was a single woman in her late 30s, working 70-80 hours a week. Soon after meeting him she quit her job to go into practice for herself. She became a mom to his three children and was the one doing laundry, making dinner, and getting kids to school and sports. Now she is teaching at her kids’ high school for a discount on the tuition. Maybe it’s free. Nonetheless, she has gone from working 70-80 hours a week making almost 6 figures to a teaching job making about a third of what she was making but where she has summers off and plenty of down time during the school year. She leads a completely different life. Thanks to a husband.

Another woman from high school just got married. They’re building a house.

Another one of my best friend’s is thinking about letting her ex turned on-again/off-again boyfriend move back in with her because the little bit he contributes to the rent and utilities helps her out considerably.

Yet another friend lost her full-time job during the coronavirus shut down. She’s been living with her boyfriend in another state during the week and then coming back to our town on the weekends to work her part-time job which she really likes. From prior conversations it’s apparent that he wants to take care of her. I have no idea if he’s helping her with her bills during this time but I know she’s looking for a job in his state and would move in with him for good if she was able to find something there.

It’s a complicated situation. On one hand I don’t ever want to be financially dependent on a man again. On the other hand, I see by all the examples outlined above, how beneficial it is when you work as a team instead of as a single person against the world. But then I think, “What happens if I’m discarded again?” Yeah, it’s nice to have a home of your own. It’s nice to go on vacation and buy things you want and need. But when the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with walks out on you and drastically changes the socioeconomic path of your life you get a little gun shy.

15 thoughts on “All That I Have I Share With You… Or At Least Split It Down the Middle, Part 4

  1. Hi Sam, I rarely comment, but I follow your blog and read every post. Your latest post has been intriguiing, because while I get where you’re coming from, I also know bad things happen to couples as well. That’s another story and I should probably reactivate my blog to write it. But I digress.

    Should you and the mobster ever choose to go forward with formalizing your relationship into significant financial interdependence, what about a prenup? I know it’s unlikely to have done much to help you with your former spouse, but you have a completely different perspective than you did when you married and built a life with him. You and the mobster understand what divorce means financially. Not to be morbid either, but since you both have children from prior marriages, a prenup or something like it would be good roadmap to have to address your pre-marriage assets/stuff just just in case one spouse dies before the other.

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    1. Hi Janelle! I’ve missed “seeing” you around. Did you catch where I’m exercising? And no longer eating Fruit Loops with marshmallows. Now I’m dying to hear your story.

      He’s offered a prenup. As I said to Anne I’m more just thinking about what the purpose of being in a partnership is when you’re supposed to be financially independent. That’s the real problem for me. I don’t make enough at my job to financially support myself. I have somewhere around $250 a month left over after I pay my bills- bills that do not include living expenses. So if I move in with him and give the spousal support up I really have nothing. I don’t even have much to contribute to our partnership.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Sam, and YES! I have absolutely been following your fitness journey and must say I am bursting with pride for your progress. I have put my blog on what feels like perma hiatus, because life is busy to do much other than read my favorite journeys and ponder a once-a-month blogging career.

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  2. Why get married? Just live together.
    No matter what you will always be scarred by your divorce. Yes,you will ask more questions and want more involvement and independence.
    That’s fine.

    Being a couple can be useful. Someone ends to take out the garbage or cook dinner. Two incomes to pay bills. Etc.

    If you want that, take it. It’s ok to hope for the future. You deserve it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Living together without marriage causes the exact same conundrum though, Anne. I did that for thirty years. Zero difference had we been legally married. I get where Sam is coming from, as the less powerful economic entity in my relationship, too. And my, “never doing this again” stance, like Sam’s, is being tested. Pre-nup or not, we lost decades of economic equity because of our belief in the relationship unit. Not much use when the other partner doesn’t value it. Or us.

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    2. I can’t live with anyone either or I lose the spousal support. That would be amazing if I could live with him, not marry, and still receive it but Virginia likes to keep you chaste.

      It’s really not about getting married vs. not getting married. It’s more about ruminating on what the purpose of being a couple is if you want to be able to afford everything on your own.

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      1. I’m not sure I ever thought much about the financial side.
        Craig and I met at university and I actually worked for the first few years while he went to school.
        We combined our money from the start and that continued.

        No one stayed home with the kids outside of maternity leave, which is 12 months in Canada. I considered it, but I liked my job and was able to work reduced hours.

        It will always be risky to rely on someone else for your economic stability. They could leave, die, become a drug addict, etc. At the same time, sometimes we have to trust things will work out.

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  3. Just living together as a couple has advantages – one house, readily available support and help with bill paying just to name a few. Unless your spousal support disappears because of cohabitation, there seems to be little reason to formalize anything. Even the ‘married filing jointly’ tax advantage won’t make up for lost spousal support. Something to consider?

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  4. This is all sad and weird. I get it. I really get it, even though support wouldn’t have been for me but against me… it’s still huge and scary. I think… you’re maybe funneling all your fears towards financial justification because then it’s easy to be really black and white. When really it’s about being vulnerable to sharing and being at risk. Currently the risk you have is minimal emotionally but you’re on the hook with the ex. The flip would have you being emotionally vulnerable, and economic support is a conditional related affected side of things … but I think it’s the change in your mindset that is boggling you. How do you feel emotionally connected when your economics stay segmented. Well. Part of that is just choice. If you approach money as a compromise space in your relationship, a place where you and your partner choose to meet together and be a strong unit- like two Assembly workers. They don’t have to do the same job but one pours the jam, the other puts the lid on. It’s not good if either of them doesn’t contribute. I like that you’re exploring this because …. it’s good thought. I don’t know what I think. TDF and I aren’t going to be living close anytime soon. And that hurts my heart. I wonder if your support agreement allows you a roommate? Like- if you were going to live on your own, could you own a house with a finished basement and rent it out? I have some friends who do that kindof thing to subsidize their income, help them gain security, and then… they are mainly living out of their partners, but their house is theirs. I have one friend who lives alone. I have another friend who has her basement suite rented out, but also rents her upstairs extra bedroom out because she’s rarely home. It’s her safe spot . Just in case

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  5. I guess what I’m saying is- much like your mindset to food and exercise/ your options aren’t limited to the black and white you’re laying out- be depending on man, or be destitute with mom. You might have to be creative and change your expectations of what ‘normal house’ looks like. Lots of my friends here in Toronto live with people. These people make near 6 figure salaries and are living as pods of singles so that they have a nice house and garage- because owning one will ‘never’ happen and they can live together cheaper than a shitty apartment apartment. Or families who have to learn they don’t get bedrooms for everyone. Or two married couples sharing an upstairs to a house and letting the basement to three Mexican dudes. Did they think this was optimal? Nope. But do they recognize it’s probably best for a time or indefinitely to help their independence? Lots of people in my area consider their real estate as their retirement plan. Own their house as long as possible. Rent out the basement apartment or whatever to pay the mortgage. Then hopefully that continues into old age. But if some point they are infirm or poor, they can sell, and live off the proceeds to pay their rent. Not every real estate market merits that. But thinking about how you might qualify for your own mortgage by changing your living situation expectations … might help

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