Why Not Getting a Job Might Not Be the Wisest Choice

I frequently see women who have been stay at home moms advised by well meaning people who have been through the hell of betrayal and divorce NOT to get a job. Many times they are advised by their lawyers not to get a job. I was advised not to get a job. As my first attorney said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I want to put you up on that stand as a stay at home mom with no income.” Let me tell you why I think this is bs.

First of all, I get it. I understand *why* the lawyers give us that advice. Child support and alimony calculations, many times, are based upon the difference between what you are earning, and what you need to continue living the same lifestyle you and the kids have been living. Your lawyer is trying to get you the best deal possible. In regards to child support it’s usually a set formula but when it’s an income share model the more you make the less he needs to pay. That’s why Jerry Lee was insisting upon current numbers when I first tried to modify child support. If I was making $1.00 more per hour that would mean his support would be cut. It wouldn’t be cut by much but any amount he could get out of paying was worth it to him.

With spousal support you are looking at all of your expenses and what you need to pay your bills. Every dime you don’t make is a dime that your spouse is, in theory, supposed to make up. Scratch that. It’s actually the difference between what you are earning and what you need to pay your bills. When Jerry Lee lost his job, forcing us out of the house, it benefitted him greatly. As my second lawyer told me it wouldn’t matter how much money he made. If all I could show was $3000 in monthly expenses then the judge would only award me the difference between what I was making and $3000. Obviously my expenses were higher when I was paying a $2100 a month mortgage, plus utilities that ran anywhere from $400-$600 a month. Regardless of how much or how little your monthly expenses may be it  stands to reason you want as much help as possible, especially if you haven’t had a job in years. You should receive more help when you make $0 than if you’re making $40,000, or $100,000. That’s what the lawyers are looking at, and that’s what the well-meaning people on support boards are talking about.

Let’s look at the big picture though. Most of these stay at home parents have been out of the workforce for years. 10, 15, 20 years. Many of them don’t have a college degree, and we already know that a college education won’t necessarily get you a great job right away if you’ve been at home for a considerable amount of time. My main point is even if they do manage to get hired right away chances are they are not going to be making anywhere close to what the ex is making. If you’re one of those women that has supported your husband throughout the years while he’s climbed the corporate ladder, or you helped put him through school while he earned his law degree, medical degree, or other doctorate, he’s light years ahead of you. He’s been making money and getting steady increases in his pay over 10-20 (or more!) long years. You’re starting out at square one. He is going to be making so much more money than you that it really doesn’t matter if you’re making $30-$40,000 a year. Compared to the $150,000 or more that some of these men are making it’s a drop in the bucket.

You also need to consider the likelihood that he’s even going to pay. I’ve seen it more times than I can count where women are counseled to not get a job because that will affect how much they will receive in child support. We keep ourselves in poverty on the promise that child support and possibly spousal support will be more. Sometimes we luck out and he is ordered to pay a significant amount of support; however, being ordered to pay and actually paying it are two completely different things. Ask me how I know.

According to the US Census Bureau in a report from 2018 only 43.5% of all child support recipients reported that they received the full payment. Honestly, I was shocked it was that high; at one point I believe the stats were somewhere between 25-35% of support recipients received payment in full. More than 30% don’t receive any support at all, although I was unable to verify if that included people who have never filed for it, or if that was strictly people who had an order that was not being followed.

I know anecdote doesn’t equal data but back when I was still a teller I remember looking around at my co-workers. There were four of us. We were all lined up in a row. At least three of us had been married to the father of our children; I’m not sure about the fourth. Not a single one of us was receiving regular support. I think I had the best situation out of all of them, which is a sad thing if you think about it. Some didn’t pay at all. Some would toss the mother of their child $30 once in a while. Make a random payment here and there. I will never forget that image. Four women working hard to provide (barely) for the four sets of children left behind by the four fathers who didn’t care whether their kids were provided for or not. Maybe they just figured we wouldn’t let our kids starve. Maybe they didn’t care one way or the other. Kids fed and doing well? Great! Kids starving and doing without? Not my problem!

Those statistics become even more important when you consider so many states don’t have spousal support. You can spend your entire marriage supporting your spouse’s career and taking care of the house and the kids, but once he decides he’s done with you and he’s onto the next willing victim there is nothing for you. Nada. So you’d better hope that child support is generous and is paid in full.

I’m not saying to go against your lawyer. God knows, if you’re paying hundreds of dollars an hour you should probably follow their advice. I am saying it might be a good idea to question your lawyer on why they are giving you that advice.

Most of these women are terrified. They have no idea how they’re going to make it once they’re divorced. I get it. I was one of those women. I was living in a nice big house. I had a nice, cushy life. I had no money problems. Then **POOF** it was all up in smoke. I went from going on shopping binges to fill my house with furniture and putting a $57,000 inground pool into my backyard to wondering how I was going to pay for insurance and where would my kids and I live? How would I pay for my daughter’s graduation party? How would I afford college (in a state that will not order college to be paid for)? How could I provide for my children? All questions I was wondering about while my lawyer wanted me to appear in court as a fragile little stay at home mom.

In hindsight the best thing I could have done was start searching for a job right away. What I probably would have made wouldn’t have prevented us from losing the house but it may have given me more of a cushion. I was actually pretty good at staying on a budget. When he did lose his job I would have had something to put towards bills instead of having to begin draining my savings. Even if I ended up having to leave my job six months later I would have still been in a better position to get a job once I moved to Indiana. Trying to get a job after a long absence in the workforce is a nightmare. This idea that when you’re finally ready to get a job you’ll find one is a fairytale. In a lot of cases it takes a long time. Far better to start that search before you want to, so that when you need to you’re well on your way. I also might have been in a better position to ask for more money. Between having more relevant work experience and having had an actual paying job I might have been able to make more, or at least been confident enough to ask for it.

It’s well meaning advice but I don’t think it’s very prudent. The difference between what a man who is making six figures will be ordered to pay you when you’re making nothing versus making a fraction of what he makes is not worth putting yourself in potential poverty. The chances of him actually paying out what he’s court ordered to are less than half- 43.5% to be exact. And finally, just because you start looking for a job doesn’t mean you’re going to find one right away. Once you find one it doesn’t mean it’s going to pay well. It took me almost four years to finally get to the point where I’m making enough to support myself on my own if I had to. Save yourself. Don’t wait on the man who cheated on you and abandoned your kids to rescue you. It probably won’t happen.

































































































I’m a Big Girl Now

I did a thing today. I bought a bed. Not just any bed either. Oh no! I bought myself a Simmons Beauty Rest plush pillow top, the softest mattress they had in that line. At the urging of my mom I went all out and even bought the adjustable control instead of the platform, so I can adjust the head and foot of the mattress. I can just press a button and the head will raise up as much as I’d like. I can sit in my bed comfortably and type or watch TV. Isn’t that amazing? 

I was going to be practical. I was already splurging by buying the more expensive Simmons over the perfectly fine Serta. The Simmons was just so comfortable. The adjustable “frame”, or whatever it is, was an additional $800 almost so I wasn’t going to do it. Then the lady that was helping me said, without any provocation from me, “I could probably go down to $X for both, but I couldn’t go any lower than that.”

Well hell! Sign me up! I’ll take them both! And then… I bought a damn headboard!

This was all encouraged by my mother who is a very practical person. And very frugal. She reuses plastic baggies, for crying out loud! Here she is egging me on. “You deserve it! Fuck the kids and their vacation. Do something for yourself!”

So I did! Even though there was a perfectly good headboard out in the garage from when we moved in. I bought a new one. My very own. My own personal selection.

My wonderful, loyal readers, this is the very first time I have ever selected bedroom furniture for myself. I am 52 years old and I have never picked out bedroom furniture for my own bedroom.

The bedroom set I shared with Jerry Lee was gifted to us by Tammy Faye and Pastor Fake as a wedding gift. I didn’t mind at the time; I was thankful they bought it. We had that set the entire twenty years we were married.

We did eventually upgrade from a queen mattress to a king, but we never bought a headboard. 

We did purchase two plain wooden nightstands from Meijer about two years into our marriage. Jerry Lee picked one out for himself and I decided to go ahead and get one as well. But, of course, I left that behind when I moved. 

Now I have this amazing bed that I can hardly wait to sleep in, and I have a beautiful Victorian headboard. I’m just waiting for it all to be delivered.

For five and a half years I’ve been rotating between two couches, my Mom’s bed when she was in Florida, and my daughter’s bed when she was away at college. With Rock Star moving out I’m officially turning her room into my room. I’m installing new flooring, painting the walls, and either replacing or painting the closet doors. I’m finally going to have a space- and a bed- of my own once again.

Got Kids?

“You’re lucky you don’t have kids with him/her.”

Whenever someone finds out their spouse is cheating, or they’ve just left their cheater, and it turns out they don’t have children with that person, they are frequently told what a blessing that is for them. They’re “lucky”. They can go no contact. They dodged a bullet.

Naturally, some of those people don’t feel that way. For some of them, the fact that they don’t have a children, is a crushing blow. In a lot of cases they’ve spent their fertile years with their cheater. Now he’s gone and he got someone else pregnant; he’s created a new, happy little family. Meanwhile, their chance of ever being a parent is gone.

It reminds me of the argument that would occasionally break out on an email support group I was a part of over twenty years ago.

The group was for women who had suffered multiple miscarriages. Some were already mothers. Others, like me, didn’t have any children. We all had our own unique set of problems. Those who were already mothers felt they didn’t get a lot of sympathy. They didn’t appreciate the people who would tell them, “Be thankful for the one(s) you have.” Many people didn’t understand how they could be so upset about a miscarriage when they already had one or more children. Meanwhile, there were those on the no child side that felt their pain was greater because they didn’t have a child yet; every time they miscarried they dealt with the reality that they may never become a mom.

I fell in between the two groups. At the time I had no children. I was one of those who wondered if I would ever become a mom. I also knew I had a balanced translocation; this meant I had a 50% of miscarriage each time I got pregnant. So, if I ever did become a mom, chances were good that I would be in the other group one day. Ironically, although it took us four years to finally have Rock Star, it only took about 16 months to get pregnant and stay pregnant with Picasso. No losses in between them, and because the early stages of the pregnancies were so stressful I didn’t have the fortitude to attempt to have a third child.

People going through a divorce are a lot like those ladies on the multiple miscarriage support group. There are those who have no children with their cheater. Obviously, they aren’t going to have to navigate the joy of co-parenting. They don’t have to stand by silently while the OW or OM plays a major part in their child’s life. They won’t ever hear their child talk about how nice that person is. They can completely cut their cheater out of their life because there is no need to talk about shared children. And yet I realize that for some of those people they desperately wanted children. Maybe they already had a child but they wanted more and now that’s not going to happen. Maybe they didn’t have any and now it’s too late. Having been in a situation where I thought I was never going to be a mom, I can sympathize and somewhat understand what they’re going through.

Then there are those of us who do have children with the cheater. Some of us have older children. Others have very young children. Some people deal with 50/50 custody and others have had our children abandoned by the other parent. All of those factors mean we have different issues to deal with.

As a parent whose children were older at the time of the divorce I was fortunate that my kids were able to have a voice. I’m sure a lot of this was influenced by the fact that Jerry Lee moved out of the state, but my kids were able to have visitation at their discretion. They’ve never spent a single day with him. They’ve never met Harley. They’ve never met her kids. 

They were also aware of what had happened. At their ages I couldn’t have hidden it even if I wanted to. My kids were old enough to form their own opinions on what their dad was doing and on the reactions from his side of the family.

On the other hand, because my kids were older, the mobster and I will never truly blend our families together. Three out of his four children live in their own homes. Two of them are married and the other is living with his girlfriend. My daughter apparently no longer lives at home. There may be very occasional moments when all six are together but for the most part my kids are separated from his kids. Had we met each other when our kids were much younger we probably would have been able to blend our families together. The mobster would be a father figure to my kids, and I would be a mother figure to his kids (assuming, of course, that everything else remained the same with our spouses abandoning the kids). They wouldn’t remember anything different. 

Then again I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to hand your young child over, even to their other parent, for long stretches of time. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to miss holidays with your children. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be if your children have another life that is completely separate from their life with you. I would absolutely hate missing half of my kids’ lives, especially when they’re little.

I also realize that the above is all about me, and what’s convenient for me. I know I have an ideal setup for me. I have my kids 100% of the time (or I did until Rock Star went to college and then moved out on me). I get 100% of the holidays. They have no relationship with their dad, his wife, or her kids, their step-siblings. I don’t always think it’s the ideal situation for them. Having a parent who walks out on you is incredibly hurtful. I’ve spent a lot of money on therapy for my kids. I get that it needs to be this way because of his choices, but ideally he wouldn’t have abandoned them. Ideally, he would step up and be a dad. They would have a relationship with him. He would interact with them. He would let them know he loves them and that they are important to him. And yes, I realize that even parents who do stick around don’t necessarily do those things; however, as I said, in an ideal situation he would make them a priority.

Ultimately, I guess I understand the sentiment behind, “Thank your lucky stars,” and “You dodged a bullet.” I can empathize with those who wanted children but didn’t get them. Unfortunately, as the mom of two children whose dad basically abandoned them, I tend to agree with those who say, “Thank your lucky stars.”

As painful as everything I went through was it’s not nearly as painful as watching your children be destroyed by a fuckwit’s choices.

Random Thoughts- Rings On, Vows Kept

One of the most common questions asked after D-Day is, “How soon is too soon to start dating?”

The best answer I’ve ever seen to that question was, “When you’re ready.”

Alas, there are always those who insist you shouldn’t date until you are officially divorced. You are married until you are no longer married. Some proudly talk of wearing their rings until the divorce was finalized. Others insist upon referring to the lying, cheating spouse as their husband or wife instead of soon-to-be-ex because “I’m still married and that person is still my spouse.”

Funnily enough dating seems to be the one line in the sand that many draw when it comes to being separated but not yet divorced. No one ever says, “I would love to have fresh flowers all over my house but my husband always hated that. I’m still married so I need to respect his wishes.” Or, ”I can’t take up belly dancing until I’m divorced. Married is married and he’s always hated my passion for belly dancing. I need to respect that until the ink is dry on the divorce decree.” We don’t wait to get a new job or redecorate the bedroom or even get a new apartment until we’re fully divorced. So why the hard on for dating? I digress.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and I’ve broken it down. I would really like to thank that commenter over on Chump Lady who talked of the two parts of marriage- the legal and the spiritual parts. I truly believe that and that’s how I separate the two parts of a marriage.

First you have the legal part. As long as you have a marriage license, or a “permit” as it may be, you can go into any courtroom and have a judge marry you. It’s a little more complicated than that, but the important point is there is no need for a big, fancy church wedding. There doesn’t need to be a lot of planning. Once you have that license, that legal form, you can get married pretty much whenever. It’s a legal contract which gives you certain rights.

Then you have the spiritual part. It doesn’t have to be a church wedding in order for it to be spiritual. The important thing to note about this part is that the spiritual part concerns your feelings for this person. It’s all about love. You’re not getting married because your parents have arranged this. You’re not trying to combine your families’ fortunes. In other words, it’s not a business deal (see above regarding legal marriage). You’re marrying because you love this person.

Because you love this person you trust them. You make plans for your future with them. You might buy a house with them, have children with them, move all over the country or world with them for their career. You think of one another as a team. You’ve got each other’s backs. You plan on growing old with this person.

When your partner cheats on you they betray you. All of those things you’ve planned- together- they take away without your knowledge or approval. Having sex with someone else is only a tiny part of it. It’s everything else that accompanies that that makes it so hard. You feel like you’re going crazy because of all of the lies and the gas lighting. There may even be health implications if your spouse gets an STI and passes it along to the unsuspecting spouse. Your life as you know it is over. Many times the cheated on spouse is left in a vulnerable financial situation- how will they support their children, where will they live? Will you be able to keep your house? Will your kids have to leave their schools and their friends? Who will hire you, especially if you’ve been out of the workforce for most of your marriage? Bankruptcy and poverty are not unusual events when a spouse who has been the primary breadwinner leaves. And of course, the most obvious, they’ve been planning this new life with the new person while you’ve had no clue. You were still invested in the life the two of you shared while they were busy creating a life with someone else behind your back. All those dreams go up in smoke when your spouse steps outside of your marriage and leaves you for another person.

For those who insist that even if your spouse has moved 1000 miles away and has two children with the side piece you should remain chaste and faithful to him because you’re still married!!!! I say, “You’re delusional.” This isn’t about the fact you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold while a lying cheater does everything in their power to delay a divorce as they skip happily off into the sunset with the whore. It’s about this idea that cheating is not about the sex. It’s about the betrayal and the discard.

That’s where the legal and spiritual parts of marriage come in. Your marriage does not automatically end in the legal sense because the other person was out fucking the neighbor. Or their cousin. Whomever. That’s very true. You are still legally married. You have to have a judge sign off on your divorce. But while you are waiting for that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dating if you are ready for that. 

You haven’t blindsided anyone. Your “spouse” is not happily planning a future with you while you are busy planning one with another person. They’ve already done that. They’ve left. They’re off living their very best life with this new person. You are not Plan B. 

Furthermore, you’re not lying to them and gas lighting them. There is no sneaking around. You’re not telling them that there’s no one else. You’re not letting them invest in you while you take, take, take knowing full well that you are not faithful to them and/or are planning on leaving them.

As long as you don’t sleep with your STBX you have no chance of passing along an STD.

They are not financially invested in you while you’re out dating. You’re not siphoning off marital money to give to your new boyfriend or girlfriend, and you’re not using marital monies to fund your dates. More importantly, you dating someone is not going to lead to your STBX losing their home, having to move, and wondering how on earth they are going to support their children. They don’t have to worry about any of that because they’ve already left. There are no ramifications of you dating someone else. Nothing happens to your STBX or their life because of this.

In other words, if you choose to date while you’re still going through your divorce it’s all above board. No one is being played. It’s not being hidden. You’re not lying to buy yourself time to deplete marital funds. No one is being lied to. You and your STBX aren’t planning a future together when in reality you’re planning on dumping them. Everything is out in the open. 

I know there will be those out who disagree and insist that you are still married so you shouldn’t date, and if you do date, then you are no better than the cheater you are divorcing. To those people I say, “Bless your heart,” as I hand them a cookie as a reward. It’s got to taste better than those shit sandwiches they’re choking down.

Stupid Facebook Posts

A divorced friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page. 

I’m reading this and I’m thinking to myself, “Seriously?”

It will be a cold day in Hell before I run over to Jerry Lee’s house with gifts in hand to make him breakfast and celebrate his birthday. I don’t think ol’ Harley would appreciate it either. Maybe I should tell her to rise above it and be a good example. Nah, too late for that advice. 

I also don’t want anything from him. I’m 99% sure my mom would shoot him if he came into the house and tried making breakfast for us. Any gift he attempted to present would be trashed. It wouldn’t be about me at all. It would be about him trying to look good. See? I’m a great guy! I’m scrambling eggs- and making toast!

No, despite not recognizing him on holidays and birthdays I’ve got my shit together. I don’t need to kiss his ass to prove that. I’m already raising decent human beings. I’m doing it all by myself, too. One of the ways that I’m raising decent human beings and trying to set an example as far as relationships go is by not cheating on their dad. It’s a high bar but some of us are up for that challenge.

These posts are so infuriating. They completely discount the crap some of these people have put their former spouse through. They act like we haven’t already eaten a ton of shit and chide us to eat even more. I think of my friend who moved across the country for her husband’s job, only to be told a few months later that he didn’t think he could be married to her any longer. Oh, and he had a new girlfriend. That’s why he took the new job and moved them all across the country. I think of another friend whose then husband attempted to strangle one of their daughter’s while he was drunk, and who had been abusive towards her as well. I think of the mobster’s ex and how she walked out on her kids without saying a word. “Come on, kids! Let’s run over and make your mom breakfast on her birthday! I want to show you what it’s like to have no boundaries and no self-respect!” I think of my own situation, very similar to my friend’s, where he moved us thousands of miles away and then took up with Harley less than a year later. He walked out of the house one day in February 2016 and has seen his daughter once since then; he hasn’t seen his son at all.

This is the kind of shit that makes good people who are doing the hard stuff in life doubt their choices. “Am I doing enough? Should I be more forgiving? Should I try harder? Oh my gosh- I didn’t buy my ex a birthday gift; I’m going to ruin my children. I’ll do better; I promise.”

The people that need to read this and take it to heart will never think it applies to them. The ones who are going to take it to heart are the ones that don’t need to. Stop trying to guilt them.

You want to set an example for how to treat your ex? Don’t badmouth them in front of the kids. Don’t interfere in their relationship. But even before that maybe try one of these: Don’t cheat on them. Don’t try to financially destroy them. Don’t drag out the divorce. Don’t lie and gaslight. Don’t blame the victim when you’re the one out there screwing around. Take responsibility for your actions.

I am not friends with Jerry Lee. I am not going to act like we are still married. I’m not going to set him on fire the next time I have to see him, but I’m not going to make him breakfast either. Just like I didn’t make him spaghetti for dinner after I found out about Harley. I have boundaries in place for a reason.

This person doesn’t seem to realize he and the former wife are divorced.You want to model good relationship behavior? Model it with someone you’re actually in a relationship with! You want to be an example to your kids on how to treat their mother? Maybe try working on your marriage and not getting a divorce. The horse is out of the barn at this point.

At the root of this is image management. Look how good I am! Look at all I do for my ex. Aren’t I fabulous? Don’t you wish you could be as magnanimous as me? Obviously I love my children more than you love yours. It’s too bad you can’t be a mature, respectful adult.

Yeah, fuck that. I’m not friends with people who lie to me and cheat on me. I’m not going to model eating shit sandwiches to my children.

Boundaries are a good thing. It would be nice if that was respected a little bit more.