New Wife Signs the Alimony Checks

The other day I was doing some research when I came upon a series of checks that were clearly labeled as alimony. What I found interesting was that the new wife was the one who wrote and signed every single one of these checks. $25,000 a pop.

Huh. One part of me says, “What a cunt.” Does it make her feel good writing those checks out to the ex? Letting her know there’s a new bitch in town? Ha- I took your life. You get the table scraps.

The other part genuinely wonders how she likes writing out that $25,000 check each month. The ex gets $300,000 a year. How long? I don’t know. But she’s getting it right now. Good for her!

Of course, if she’s getting $300,000 a year from him I’m sure he’s making much, much more than that. Hopefully, in addition to the monthly payments she receives, she also received at least half of everything they owned together.

Does the new wife resent writing that check? Or does she feel like it’s a small price to pay to garner herself a high earning husband? Does she ever wonder if he’s thinking she wasn’t worth the $300,000 per year he now has to pay his ex? Probably not. They all think they’re super special.

I will admit, that despite knowing the money spends the same whether it’s the whore or the whoremonger writing the check, I’m thankful that throughout my entire ordeal over the last 6 1/2 years I’ve only had to deal with Harley writing the check once.

I cashed it. Didn’t make a big deal about it. Hell, didn’t make any kind of a deal about it. Told myself it all spends the same. But still…. there’s just something about the person who has stolen your life writing a support check to you.

I have no proof of this but I would not be surprised to find out that Harley was not happy about the amount of money Jerry Lee was supposed to pay me.

In the beginning of their affair he was handing over more than $5000 a month to her. She had quite the time. They both did. And then court happened and suddenly he was handing over about 65% or so of his check to me. Harley got a pay cut. A big pay cut. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find out she didn’t enjoy writing that check. At the very least, let’s say it was a hell of a lot easier for me to cash it and spend the money than it was for her to write it and watch all of that money go out of her bank account.

I think back to the various times Jerry Lee decided to modify the agreement on his own. He never stuck to the original agreement which was to pay twice a month, every other week. When things came up, like his mother’s funeral, he just didn’t pay what he owed until the following month. Then he cut child support in half. That gave them almost an additional thousand dollars a month to spend on themselves. Then he lost his job (again) and cut spousal support off. Once he finally began paying again he shorted me by more than a thousand dollars each month.

All that time he and Harley were living it up. They never downsized their house. They never downsized their spending. Her kids certainly didn’t do without. No, it was always taken from me and my kids.

So when I was finally able to take him back to court I’m sure it was quite the wake up call. He went from being able to pay whenever it was convenient for him to having to directly deposit my money into my account twice a month- the 15th and the last day of the month. He went from modifying my spousal support to whatever amount allowed him and Harley to live as they felt entitled to live, back to paying the full amount he was court ordered to pay. He went from cutting child support in half to finally being modified to the correct amount- and having to pay over $20,000 in arrears from all that time he had refused to modify the order. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when his lawyer told him to sign or be prepared to go to jail. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Jerry Lee had to break the news to Harley that they were going to be out a hell of a lot more money than they had planned- and if he tried to get around paying he would go to jail, thanks to the clause I had put in there.

Maybe she had no reaction. Maybe she was fine and dandy with losing over half of his paycheck once again. Maybe it made absolutely no difference in their lifestyle. I’d like to think her head exploded though. Just like I hope it chafes the second wife’s ass to write out those $25,000 checks to the first wife each month.

Beating A Dead Horse

Honestly, I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but I am astounded.

“Why?” you ask.

I would love to tell you. I see women come to support boards. They’ve been a stay at home mom for years. Some of them homeschool. They are at the mercy of the very man who cheated on them and left them in financial disarray. And then they ask, “Will the judge award me enough child support (and/or alimony, in some cases) that I can continue to stay at home with my children?”

You continue the conversation and let them know that they are probably going to have to get a job. That’s when they hit you with, “But I homeschool!” or “But I have young children! They’ve never been in daycare.” Or even, “How can I even consider getting a job when daycare costs will eat up everything I make? I might even lose money!”

Honey, the judge doesn’t care. I know this wasn’t what you had planned. But it’s your reality now. For every one woman who tells you she is able to manage to get by on support payments alone you’ll hear from over 100 that will tell you they had to get a job. No judge is going to award you 90% or more of your ex-husband’s paycheck. You’d be lucky to get half and that’s a rare occurrence.

I get it. I really do. You’ve been blindsided. Your whole world has been turned upside down. You are grasping desperately for anything that might provide a semblance of normalcy.

I say this as gently as possible. You must let go. Holding on to that old life of yours is doing you no favors.

I was that woman once upon a time. I found out my husband was cheating on me six days after our $57,000.00 inground pool was finally filled. I lived off of what he was willing to give me (what he had incorrectly been told he would be ordered to pay) and the money I had transferred into my own account. And then I lived primarily off of the temporary spousal and child support, which gave me a lot more room to breathe, my half of what remained of his bonus, and the remaining savings. I found out in August and still didn’t have a job in June when my world turned upside down yet again.

I believe I’ve shared with you before that my plan was to start looking for a job right around the time my daughter was able to drive. That way she could get herself and her brother to the places they needed to go and they wouldn’t need to lose out on cheerleading, gymnastics, and band because I had a job and couldn’t leave to take them.

Of course, we all know how that panned out. Terribly. Jerry Lee lost his job. Stopped sending money. I had to sell off everything I could and what I couldn’t sell I left behind when the kids and I moved 600 miles away to Indiana, in with my mom. My kids received free lunches and free textbooks. We were on Medicaid. I might have been able to qualify for food stamps.

My advice is based on the shit storm of my experience. DO NOT RELY ON THE PERSON WHO BETRAYED YOU!

When you are reliant on child and/or spousal support you are at the mercy of the person paying you. You disagree with him? You refuse to go along with whatever it is that he wants you to do? He holds the support payment hostage. Or maybe he doesn’t hold it hostage; he just doesn’t pay if he has something better to do. You know- taking Schmoopie on a fancy vacation, buying toys or bikes or dogs or cars for her kids to impress them, putting in a pool, buying a new car. Whatever strikes his fancy because child support is simply a suggestion and it’s the bill he pays after he buys whatever he wants. Now what are you going to do? You can’t take him back to court when you have no money. Sure, you may be awarded court costs but you have to pay your lawyer in the meantime. How are you going to do that when your only source of income has dried up?

Let’s say you are fortunate enough to be awarded enough child and spousal support that you don’t have to get a job. Let’s even say you’re able to be comfortable on what you’re awarded. All worked out, right?

Until he stops paying. Or he modifies it on his own. Or he dies or becomes disabled.

My temporary orders gave me $6600 a month. While that sounds like a lot my household bills, including our credit cards, mortgage, phone, insurance, and utilities totaled approximately $5000. I had $1600 a month for food, gas, pet food, and anything else we might need. I was planning on staying at least until Rock Star graduated. I was willing to stay until Picasso graduated if he decided he wanted to stay. At that point I would have probably moved back to Indiana. I could have managed just fine on $6600 per month without working if I was no longer living in such an expensive house. Living with my mom? Oh, I definitely wouldn’t have had to work.

I received the court ordered amount for all of five months. Then he lost his job, stopped paying, and decided it would be more advantageous to him to force me and his kids out of our house and go into this divorce with no job. I lost everything.

The lesson there? There’s a big difference between what you’re awarded and what you actually receive. The last statistics I read were 43.5% of people who are awarded child support receive the full amount. That leaves 56.5% who do not. Statistics also report that 30% don’t receive anything.

Let’s say he pays in full as he’s supposed to and it’s enough for you to live on. Great! You’re free to homeschool and be there to take your kids to all of their extracurricular activities. You get to be a stay at home mom despite the fact that you are divorced.

Have you thought about what’s going to happen when your kids are no longer in school? At some point they’ll graduate. The child support will stop. You are then going to have to support yourself. On what? You’ve been a stay at home mom now for twenty years, give or a take a few years. Who is going to hire you? When you get hired how much are they going to pay you?

I was out of the workforce for 15 years. I had a college degree. I stocked shelves at Target for $11.00/hour. I went in anywhere from 2 am until 4 am. That was the first place that called me for an interview. I put in endless applications and heard nothing back.

It took me four years at the bank before I began making close to decent money. Four years and five promotions.

Maybe these ladies will be very fortunate. Maybe one or more of them has a pharmacy degree or a nursing degree and they can go back to work and make fantastic money. I’m pretty sure pharmacists are making six figures now, and depending upon your nursing experience you can definitely make six figures. But from the way they present their situations I don’t think they’re going to enter the workforce after being out for 10 or 15 years and find a job making a huge salary.

All those years you spend at home, living off of child support, are years you are NOT advancing in your career. It’s years you are not being promoted or earning raises. It’s a longer period of time where your resume is blank.

And don’t even get me started on retirement! You might be able to live on child support but can you also save for your retirement? That is doubtful. Again, we’re back to years of NOT contributing to your future. You’re only going to be eligible to receive half of your husband’s retirement, and depending upon how long he’s been working and how much he’s contributed there may not be nearly as much in those accounts as you’d think. No job means no Social Security benefits of your own, and even if you were married 10 years and one day (and don’t remarry) you only get to collect half of what his benefits are.

I can tell you now, almost seven years after finding out about the cheating, that there is nothing more satisfying than knowing you can support yourself, if need be. I spent years being at his mercy. Wondering if this was the month he wasn’t going to pay. When his mom died he paid about a fourth of what he was supposed to pay because he was busy paying her funeral expenses. Didn’t have the common decency to ask if I would be okay with that. Didn’t even have the common decency to tell me that’s why he would be late. And then had the nerve to act indignant that I asked about it. He would pay when he wanted. He would modify payments when he wanted. He frequently waited until the very last day of the month to make his final payment. I dealt with 2 job losses There was always that fear that he would stop paying and I would have to go back to working two jobs and running myself ragged. Now, if he decided to test me and see if I really would throw him in jail (spoiler alert: I would) I might have to tighten my belt but I would make it. My bills would be paid. I’ve been fairly smart and I put money aside for taxes every month and I put money into savings. I won’t have to go get a second job if I don’t want to. That is an amazing feeling.

Yes, when you have young children daycare costs may eat up most of what you make. But you’re still advancing. You’re still getting raises. You’re still putting your name out there and creating a resume for yourself. Your children won’t always be in daycare. And as someone pointed out daycare costs are separate from child support; they’re also usually income based so if he out earns you by a significant amount he may be paying 60%, 70%, even 80% of the costs while you pick up the remaining amount.

We tend to focus on our children when they’re little. We don’t think about the future and what happens when they grow up and move on. We never seem to see what lies ahead. Please look out for yourself, and don’t rely on the person who tried to destroy you.

A Woman’s Responsibility

I have another circumbendibus story for you. I guess it’s not that circumbendibus but I’ll let you decide.

Once upon a time in 1969 there were three precious babies born within 5 months of each other. Spoiler alert! I was one of those babies. The other two were my cousins- one born in January and the other in May.

The cousin that was born in January had a birthday- obviously. I believe he is now retired from the fire department and he has taken to driving buses. He doesn’t drive just any kind of bus. He’s not transporting kids to school. Oh no! He’s driven Lorrie Morgan, Luke Combs, Kane Brown, and Jesse Keith Whitley.

Because I’m Facebook friends with him I saw his message on his birthday where he talked about Jesse Keith (son of country legends Lorrie Morgan and Keith Whitley) calling him up on his birthday and singing to him. It turns out he’s actually friends with this guy now. Like, he’s not just Facebook friends. They go back and forth with each other.

Now, I don’t remember how I came to see this but in the not so distant past I saw a video of him singing his father’s song. I liked it and I downloaded it.

“That’s fascinating stuff, Sam, but why are you telling us this?” I’m sure you are asking. Hold your horses! I told you this was a circumbendibus story!

Because of the exchange between my cousin and Jesse Keith I looked up another YouTube video. In it, he had his mama on stage and sang his father’s hit, “Tell Lorrie I Love Her”. As I am oft to do I began reading the comments.

For those of you who have no idea who these people are I will give a brief overview. Keith Whitley was a country singer who also happened to be an alcoholic. His career was brief, but filled with hits. Maybe some of you might recognize his song, “When You Say Nothing At All.” Allison Krause covered it back in the 90s. He was married to Lorrie Morgan for approximately 3 years, from 1986-1989. They were considered a country superstar duo and then he died of alcohol poisoning.

I have now given you all the background information I need to get on with my main point. Ready?

As I was reading the comments what struck me were the number of people commenting on the relationship between Keith and Lorrie. Many talked about how you could see how much she loved him and how difficult it still was 30+ years later. Others made the comment that if she had loved him so much she shouldn’t have gone on tour. Apparently, it was while she was on tour that he died. And apparently, knowing he was an alcoholic she should have sidelined her career and babysat him.

Look, I have no idea what went on in their relationship. I have no idea how much he had been drinking before she went on tour, and I have no idea if she knew how bad the drinking had become. Hell, who knows if her breaking her contract and refusing to go on tour would have even saved his life? But to have someone actually call into question the love she had for this man because she went on tour? WTF!

Seriously? We women are caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand we’re told no one is responsible for supporting us all of our lives, and especially not after you’ve been cast aside for the newest model; on the other hand, we’re supposed to give up our career for the sake of our husband if that will help him. Or at the very least, we’re expected to put our career on hold so we can take care of our husband.

I hate all the pretentious talk about “the patriarchy” and how it keeps women down, but damn! This is the kind of shit that drives me nuts. As women it’s our duty to disregard what might be best for us and concentrate on what’s best for the man in our life. You’ve got a tour with hundreds of people counting on you for their livelihood? Oh, but hubby needs you. Just cancel it. You have a job that you find fulfilling and allows you to support yourself? Your husband was just offered a promotion 1000 miles away. Looks like you need to leave that job behind in order to make that move. You want to go back to school in order to get a job that pays you well, one that you find personally rewarding as well? Oh, hubby needs you home to take care of the kids, do his laundry, and make his dinner. Just put a pin in those plans until the kids are older.

Most states in the US have no long-term alimony. I know Texas doesn’t. Indiana doesn’t. From what I understand quite a few will award “alimony” while the divorce is in process but it ceases once the divorce is finalized. Others will award rehabilitative alimony for a few years. Basically, the breadwinner has to pay alimony until the dependent spouse has had a chance to either go back to school or otherwise managed to get a job that will support them. It is the courts’ belief that this should only take a few years. Of course, they don’t really care if they have anywhere close to the same standard of living. It’s enough to merely be able to pay rent and buy groceries. If you’re living in a one bedroom apartment in the roughest section of town, who cares? You’re supporting yourself! Congratulations!

It suddenly has occurred to me that we’re not going to make the changes in the courtroom or in Congress. Too many cheaters in power. No way that they will pass laws that hurt themselves. But we can make a change with women. Maybe. Hopefully.

Women, stop putting your husbands first. Start putting yourselves first. Go to school if it betters your career prospects. Get a job. Keep it. Don’t buy anything that you cannot afford on your own. If that means you live in a shittier house than your husband wants- too damn bad. Have him put that extra money aside in savings so that if he gets a bug up his ass and decides to leave for some floozy 20 years younger you’ve got one hell of a savings account to split. Don’t quit when you have children. Don’t move all over hell’s creation for your husband’s career. Don’t be the only one to drive kids all over the place. Don’t be the one picking up dry-cleaning all the time. Don’t cancel your plans for his plans. Don’t be the one who tries to do it all. Period! Make your life count. Make your needs count.

I know it sounds selfish. That’s because we’re used to putting our spouse ahead of ourselves. Don’t.

Not long ago I was reading a woman’s story. She had helped put her husband through med school or law school. Something big. She’d helped him build his career and as they often do, once he became successful he tossed her aside for a newer model. One that hadn’t helped build shit but was going to reap the benefits of that woman’s hard work. The woman was actually chiming in to thank another long time member of the group. She said she remembered sharing her story and that member said to her, and I’m paraphrasing, “Imagine what all you can accomplish if you put as much work and focus into yourself. You helped your husband succeed. Now help yourself succeed.”

And so she did. She took that member’s advice and put all her time and energy into herself and her own career. She went back to school to become a nurse. Her standard of living is nowhere close to what it used to be but everything she has from here on out is hers. She’s not dependent upon a man that will turn on her the minute she’s no longer of use to him. She’s going to be far better off than most of us.

I will leave you with this wise advice I got off Twitter:

Shock and Awe

My boss: Do you have time for a quick call?

Me: Yes.

Inwardly I’m groaning. Oh shit, what have I fucked up? Am I not doing the new task correctly? Am I too far behind on my alerts? Oh boy! What have I done?

She called me right away and asks, “Do you remember during our one on one how I told you I was going to make you an Analyst II?”

I replied that yes, I did remember that and once again I’m inwardly groaning thinking, “Oh crap. It’s not going to happen. She didn’t get approval.”

Well, folks, I’m an Analyst II now. One fucking week after she tells me she’s going to flip me over to a 2 in the next six months! Best part? I kinda figured I would get somewhat of a raise. Keep in mind I”m used to Deposit Services offering me $0.25 an hour as a generous raise. Yearly raises of around $1300-$1500. Yeah, that’s right. Per. Year. With that in mind I was thinking that maybe I’d get a 5% increase. Remember, I just got a raise a month ago. When I let myself go crazy I’d think maybe I might get 10% and that would be real nice. 18.74% is what I got. She told me my new annual salary and I just about cried. I don’t know why, because I already knew what 10% would be.

She laughed and said, “It’s a lot better than when I plucked you out of Deposit Services.”

I told her she was my fairy godmother.

She told me I deserved it and I work for it. She never has to worry about me or fear that I’m not going to get my work done.

I am making double what I made in my last year in Deposit Services. Slightly more than double. I am making over three times what I made when I first began at the bank.

Remember when I first got hired in this department and I said that I had almost closed the gap? I have completely closed the gap now. The next step is to get CAMS certified and get another nice bump.

I cannot even begin to tell you how good this feels. I have gone from being a stay at home mom who was convinced she would never make enough money to support myself and my kids to a freaking BSA Analyst II. Between spousal support and my own salary I am almost bringing in six figures. Me! The party of the second part who relied upon the party of the first part to supplement my lifestyle because I was incapable of living on my own merits. Jerry Lee is still supplementing that. The asshole tax remains high and he’s still got another 12 years of paying. But I truly believe that if I’m willing to keep working hard and willing to take chances I can be making close to six figures, or better, in the next 3-5 years. And that sure as hell beats the last 5 years!

I still remember those first days after finding out about Jerry Lee and Harley. I had no idea what I was going to do, how I would make it, who would hire me. I remember applying for job after job and not even being called for an interview. Then finally I got lucky and got hired on at Target. I remember getting up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work at 4. I remember going in at 2 am when we had double trucks. I remember working 2 jobs during the Christmas season in order to make sure my kids had a decent Christmas. I remember getting 36.5 hours at $11.00/hour when I first started working at the bank. I remember going into work at Target from 4 am until 7 am, running home to pick up my daughter to take her to school, and then returning home to get ready for my day at the bank. I clearly remember those days when I didn’t have enough money to take my kids shopping for new clothes. We couldn’t go out to eat or to the movies like we used to do. I was exhausted all the time. And then I transferred over to Deposit Services and thought that I had hit the jackpot. Only I really hadn’t. I still didn’t make enough money to support myself and my kids without Jerry Lee’s help. I remember that day he told me he hadn’t sent the second half of my spousal support because he had lost his job. I remember sobbing in my car in the garage because I just couldn’t deal with the thought of returning to Target and having to go into work at 4 am once again. I remember him modifying spousal support for over a year and me just being so grateful in the beginning that he was at least paying something. I remember being dependent upon him. And I remember feeling like a failure because despite everything I had endured I still wasn’t where I wanted to be financially.

That has all changed. I’m so excited and yes, so proud of myself for all I have accomplished. I was promoted from Analyst I to Analyst II in just over a year. Never in a million years did I think that would happen. I planned on a solid two years before I got bumped up. I spent three years in Deposit Services and never went from Rep I to Rep II. So I find this promotion to be amazing, especially the speed with which it happened.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you right now. I promise to write about something else in the near future. I’ve got lots of things to tell you and I even got a new computer. Just need to set things up. Until then….

It’s That Day Again

There were so many different things I thought I was going to write about.  I started off thinking I would write about the fact that no matter how much I try to train my brain that today is just another day there’s always a little part of me that recognizes today is the day I made the biggest mistake of my life, aka my now defunct anniversary.

Then I tried to find a new pair of jeans. I was going to write about that. Shopping in the age of a pandemic is not easy. All of my old jeans are too big; I really need some new ones. Truth be told I can usually wear the old jeans for about 30 minutes to an hour and then they begin drooping and falling off my ass. It’s a good problem to have, I suppose. Much better than the old problem which is where I couldn’t zip my jeans up because I was getting too fat. Nonetheless, I’d really like to find a few pairs that fit. After nearly two hours of trying to find a new pair of jeans, ones that would fit just right- not too tight, not too loose- I gave up and headed to the Chick-Fil-A in the food court at the mall. I was already there and my hope was that it would be less crowded than the other one.

As I waited in line for my food I got a notification on my phone. It was Jerry Lee. 

No, he did not text to commemorate our former anniversary. He was letting me know I should check my Venmo. Mississippi finally sent the money back and he was finally sending it back to me.

I find a certain poetic justice in that. Turning over a big chunk of change to me on what would have been our 26th wedding anniversary. I always find it humorous when he pays me alimony on our anniversary. I wonder if he realizes that? Do you think he’s connected the dots and ever thinks, “Jesus, Joseph, and Mary! If I’d just kept my dick in my pants and stayed married I could keep all of this money,”? Probably not. I’m sure if he even remembers the past significance of this date he feels it was a good deal. 

It won’t happen again though because it’s automatically deducted out of his paycheck now but you have to admit as far as anti-versary gifts go this one is a doozy. I got a nice big pay day and the saga with Mississippi is finally over. Plus, he has to pay me again on Tuesday. To cap off this fantastic day I’m getting on a plane tomorrow afternoon and flying down to see my love. Happy former anniversary to me!

I’m Alive, Part 2

My lovely daughter has started therapy and seems to really like her therapist so far. It’s been one session but she didn’t hate her and said that things went really well. She doesn’t have another session until November 10th, I believe, but then she’ll meet weekly at least for the first month.

I’m trying to get a handle on how often she will be going because I have an HSA account. Currently I put a huge $20 in every paycheck. I have another $20 going into a former direct deposit account. I was going to just have them deposit my entire paycheck into my regular account but then I thought, “Hey! I could double my contribution and I would never miss it.” Then I realized, these therapy bills are going to have to get paid one way or another. It would probably be wiser to up my contribution and put that money into my HSA account, instead of paying for it out of my regular account. Money that goes into my HSA account isn’t taxed. If I raise my contribution to $150 or more per paycheck that’s $3900 going into my HSA, and it’s $3900 that I don’t have to pay taxes on. I don’t know that it would make a huge difference at tax time but every little bit helps. It’s a little scary because as I’ve often mentioned I don’t make much money at my job. So losing another $300 per month is going to mean that when I finally pay my car off I’ll still have about $250-$300 left from my paycheck after bills are paid. I will be completely at the mercy of spousal and child support. Eh, actually no more than I am now. I was just looking forward to having a little bit more money. That never seems to happen for me. There’s always something new coming up which diverts my money from my bank account.

Speaking of money, does it surprise anyone that I still don’t have the money that was taken by Mississippi on August 31st? I finally emailed Jerry Lee to see if he had received it. He says he has not. I contacted the caseworker. Much to my surprise she emailed me back that same day. She has now reached out to the caseworker down in Mississippi, so we’ll see what happens.

I had somewhat of a rough week a week or so ago. One of my co-workers is moving departments. This move is not a huge promotion or anything like that. She’s simply moving from being a rep in our department to being a rep in their department. But the move to this department comes with a $3/hour raise. 

That’s an actual raise. That’s over $100 a week more. Over $400 more per month. I am happy for her; however, it just highlights how very little we are valued in our department. I’ve been in that department for almost 3 years and I do not make $3 more per hour than what I did when i first started back there. I barely make $3 more an hour from when I started four years ago!

Most of us (I believe) tend to get fifty cent raises each year. It ends up being a little over $1000 for the entire year. When I moved from my former desk to the overdraft desk I got seventy cents more for that. I know. That’s very close to $3; I shouldn’t complain.

At the beginning of the year I was told by my former supervisor that she wanted to bump me up to a Rep II but because the person who is over our department head wouldn’t go for such a substantial raise that she was going to do that in May before she retired. Well, as you all know, Covid-19 hit, and supposedly all raises have been frozen. I have not been bumped up to Rep II. I have not been given another raise. And to be fair, while my initial yearly raise is usually a little more than 50 cents, we do tend to get another raise later on in the year. I got three one year. I got a whole 24 cents more as an incentive to stay, and then I moved over to the overdraft desk. So last year was actually quite nice. Still no $3/hour nice.

It also bugs me that I’m still only a Rep I. Most everyone in the department is made a Rep II within 2 years. A few of us have not. We should have been promoted this year but we haven’t been. Hell, after everything we went through after our first six months I think we should have been promoted at the one year mark.

We were a pod of four. After six months they moved the two most experienced people in our group into the brand new Fraud Department, leaving me and the other newbie to do the job on our own. What took 4 people to do was now being given to 2 people. We had to ask for help from everyone in order to get our reports done. And then, another 6 months later our reports changed and we went from mostly paper reports to a brand new system where everything was electronic.

Another thing that I didn’t share with everyone is that back in July I applied for the open supervisor position. Didn’t get it obviously, but I put myself out there. About a month later the Deposit Services manager schedules a meeting with me to catch up. I thought it had been scheduled because of the new boss who has come on board. She had met with all of us via computer chat and I had told her that being downtown was kind of lonely and isolating. I thought our boss was just trying to stay in touch.

Instead she told me how impressed she was with me as a candidate. She said that she and the HR lady that does the recruitment for our area were both amazed at all I have done and that I was like a hidden gem. She told me that they weren’t sure what they were going to do with the supervisor position because this was a chance to completely restructure our department. She asked me if I would be interested in perhaps being a project manager instead of a supervisor. She also assured me she was trying to get me more money.

This was back in July. I am not a project manager. I am not getting paid more. I have not been promoted to even Rep II. At this point I’m not even sure I’ll get my normal fifty cent raise come February or March. They finally hired a supervisor for that spot, but our other supervisor quit and now they’ve posted the job for that position.

Between the slow pace in which they operate and the fact that I know this co-worker of mine is getting $3 more an hour in her new department I’m really thinking I need to make a change. I’m not confident that I will ever get hired on in a different department so that means I’m going to have to start looking outside of the bank.

The problem of course is that I’m not qualified to do much of anything. I have a Bachelors Degree in communications which is almost 30 years old. I have a lot of volunteer experience but it’s mainly through PTA and most people that are hiring don’t really seem to think that’s anything to brag about. I have supervisory experience from twenty-five years ago but my previous work experiences don’t seem to matter either. That leaves me with my nearly four years at the bank. 

I was a teller and then I found and identified fraud among other things, and now I’m working at the overdraft desk. That doesn’t really translate into marketable skills. It’s a pretty narrow focus. Although, considering that the new person they brought on board has absolutely no banking experience whatsoever and she is now over our Deposit Services manager and has most of us in the department reporting to her maybe experience is highly overrated. Then again, perhaps when you get to a certain level it doesn’t matter. Apparently if you have no idea what you’re doing they’re willing to put you in charge of things, but they’re not willing to take you on as an entry level person.

They also really don’t seem to give a shit about attendance. I’ve missed zero days of work due to illness since I’ve been back in the workforce. I have missed for the occasional kid’s doctor’s appointment. I did go with my daughter when the Health Department notified her she had tested positive for Hepatitis C antibodies (she did not have Hepatitis C, nor did she have the antibodies; it was a false positive test) and I went with my son to ensure he got put on anti-anxiety meds this past summer when he was saying he had nothing to live for. I also left early once when my daughter ended up in the ER, and I took the next day off because I had been with her until almost midnight and it was a three hour drive back from her apartment to my house. I’ve also missed a couple of hours due to appointments of my own. I’d say all total I’ve used maybe three days of sick time. Doesn’t seem to matter though.

Anyway, all of that to say I was in a funk a few weeks ago knowing that my co-worker is making a hell of a lot more than me now. I’m sitting here realizing how very little we’re valued in that department, and knowing that nothing will ever change. So I will have to make a change, and I’m really tired of change after this year. It sucks.

All That I Have I Share With You… Or At Least Split It Down the Middle, Part 5

I freely admit I got badly burned. I barely made it through the first time. I don’t think I could take losing everything all over a second time. Financial independence is a must for me. I’m willing to downsize; I’m not willing to be homeless if I don’t live with my mom or someone else. I know that’s ironic considering I’m still reliant on spousal support, but if I remarry or live with someone I have to give that up. The spousal support I receive now gives me financial independence in my relationship with the mobster. I can afford to buy my kids things they need and want because of that money. I don’t have to ask the mobster for it. If I want to go somewhere or I want to buy something, I can do that. I am not reliant upon the mobster for it. Ultimately though I want to be financially independent even if there is no spousal support. Quite honestly, I would love to make more money than the mobster. He jokes about me being his sugar mama. I would love to be in that position.

I keep going back and forth. Is it important to be able to do it on your own? Yes, I think it is. Do you have more buying power when there are two of you? Yes, I think you do. How do you merge those two? That is the million dollar question. Maybe it comes down to not buying anything tangible that you cannot afford on your own but being willing to co-mingle money when it comes to the intangibles. Maybe. I don’t know. What I do know is I have no desire to lose everything all over again, and it seems like two becoming one is the surest way to do that. 

Maybe the real trick is to make sure marriage benefits both of you. Hell, even looking back at my own marriage I could see that it benefited both of us.

I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home with my kids. That was my main benefit. I got to do all kinds of amazing things with them and I was very involved with their school. I’m sure there are many working women who can say the same. I’m not one of them. It’s like I told Picasso not that long ago, “I used to be a good mom.” I don’t have the time to devote to them. Period.

I also had 100% access to his paycheck. I could book tickets to fly back to Utah. I could pay for gymnastics for my daughter. I could pay for hockey for my son. I could buy them whatever they needed and plenty of it. I could also buy them most of what they wanted. I didn’t have to worry about money, and I never had to ask either. I was free to do whatever I wanted with it within reason.

As for him, he was able to climb the corporate ladder. He was able to make an excellent salary, far more than I will ever be able to earn. He never had to wash a dish, do a load of laundry, pick up a kid from school, take a day off work because a child was sick, run kids around for activities, make a meal, or even fix his own plate or put his own clothes away. He never had to worry about trying to juggle working full-time with raising his kids because I was at home taking care of everything. 

Obviously, the benefits were lop-sided, and he ultimately benefited a hell of a lot more than me in the end.

Perhaps the real indictment is against ever being a stay at home parent. I had nothing of my own to financially contribute. The entire financial burden was carried by someone else. Everything I had was paid for by someone else. And then- POOF- it all went away. Maybe if we had been bigger savers the hit might not have been so bad; there could have been money in savings to split- if he didn’t blow it all on Harley first. If our house didn’t go into foreclosure when he lost his job, or if he hadn’t walked out one fucking year after we bought the damn thing maybe we could have sold it and I would have had a little bit of money to sock away. Shit, I had over $10,000 socked away at the time he lost his job. If he’d kept working none of the bullshit that happened would have happened. I probably could have kept the house, even though it wouldn’t have been a prudent financial decision. My kids wouldn’t have been uprooted. I would have had a $10,000 head start in regards to my divorce.

It’s easy to blame it all on staying at home but even in the prior examples those people are taking risks. My best friend is earning a third less than what she could be and the longer she stays out of private practice the harder it will be to build up her practice again. My cousin might very well not find another job as great as the one she left behind to “take care of herself”. My co-worker could find that she’s no longer being considered for promotion because she no longer wishes to work full-time. All of those decisions require taking a risk and placing your faith in the person you’ve chosen to trust and share your life with.

Not to mention even if you’re both working you’re getting something out of being married in most instances. I make $100; you make $100. Together we make $200. Twice the money to put into savings, put towards vacations, pay household bills, raise children. I know it doesn’t work that way all of the time, but in a lot of cases it does.

Maybe another answer is this. Be able to be self-sufficient. Earn enough money to be able to pay a mortgage on your own. Be able to afford your car payment. Be able to fund your retirement and put money into savings. But if this marriage truly benefits both of you then you’ll both lose something if the marriage ends. 

Perhaps that would be the difference this time around. If I make $35,000 and the mobster makes $65,000 and we bought a house based on what we make combined, then it doesn’t matter if I can’t afford the house payment on my own; he couldn’t either. When I was married I could afford nothing and Jerry Lee could afford everything because I had no job. Maybe this time around I’ll be the one providing the insurance and contributing a good chunk of the retirement funds. After all, there was a period of time in the beginning of our marriage where both Jerry Lee and I worked. Our combined income didn’t come close to what he eventually made but we were young and had no children either. We didn’t stress about money. One paycheck covered our bills nicely and the other paycheck allowed us the freedom to go out, buy gifts, and do all of the little extras. It was a team back then. Honestly, I think we were much happier back then, back when we both worked. Him being the sole provider meant an immediate power imbalance. As much as I miss my free time and the ability to get shit done in the middle of the week I know I will never go back to that.

I don’t know why I puzzle over this so much. Even in this woman’s story, when it comes right down to it, she’s going to marry again- for financial reasons. It doesn’t matter that she can pay her rent, or that she refused to buy a home with her husband that she alone could not pay the mortgage on. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t rely on her ex’s $250 a month for child support. It doesn’t matter that she could support the family when her husband was out of work for a few months. It doesn’t even matter if she continues this mindset with the new husband, refusing to live in a house she alone cannot pay for, refusing to take on any bills she can’t cover. She doesn’t have a well funded retirement and she doesn’t like paying out hundreds of dollars a month for insurance. So she’s getting remarried. She’s teaming up with someone else. Where she falters, he will help her. She can continue to pat herself on the back for being self-sufficient and doing it all on her own, but in the end… she’s not doing it all by herself. She needed help and she’s going to get it- by getting married.

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.

All That I Have I Share With You… Or At Least Split It Down the Middle, Part 3

Like Mandy. She was super proud of the fact that she could cover the mortgage when her husband was out of work. Good for her. She was also “fortunate” enough to land a house that had been foreclosed on. Much nicer house for a lot less money. 

She was constantly patting herself on the back for not needing child support from her ex; she said there were times he would apologize for being out of work and not being able to send it and her reaction was, ‘I didn’t even realize he wasn’t sending it,’. What she didn’t factor into all her blustering was that her ex did a lot of extras for their son- bought him clothes, took him shoe shopping, took him on trips, took him on excursions, bought him a car. Plus, there was the fact that they kept everything out of the courts and they agreed on $250 a month for child support. Hell, if I was only getting $250 I could probably brag about not missing it, too. There was also the matter of her being in her early 20s when this all happened; she had plenty of time to build a career and find ways to make money. Nor did she go from living on six figures down to next to nothing. She lived with her parents for a period of time (probably until she moved in with her husband). 

She also didn’t give much credence to the fact that being married allowed her to be self-employed with no thoughts to how to pay for insurance. She might have been able to cover all the bills, but she couldn’t cover all the bills and save for retirement apparently. And, even though she could pay for everything by herself she didn’t have to. Not only were the bills split between them, I’m sure her husband bought her things she wanted, took her places she wanted to go. There were two paychecks paying for those vacations. Two paychecks contributing to savings. Two paychecks paying for home repairs. If one took on one burden, the other could tackle something else. In the end, despite being able to stand on her own two feet, she’s getting remarried for the financial benefits. She’s getting married again because she wants great, low cost  insurance and money for retirement. She can pat herself on the back and toot her own horn as long as she would like but she’s not doing it all on her own.

Little Miss Lululemon, from the same board, who can discuss child support and how it’s way too much until she’s blue in the face, also talks about how she and her husband both contribute to the cost of raising their child. They both contribute to the household bills. Unlike those slutty single moms who try to live off of those men they tricked into getting them pregnant.

Bull! She’s basically a teacher’s aide who works nine months out of the year. Her husband makes the bulk of their income. She doesn’t own a home in one of the priciest cities in North America because of what she’s done. She owns that home because she’s married. She’s not buying $80 t-shirts, $100 flip flops, or $90 leggings because of her job. She’s able to buy them because of her husband’s job. She doesn’t take $7500 vacations every other year because of her amazing job; they take those vacations mainly because of his job. If her husband ever decides to leave and take his good paying job with him, I don’t care what her Google search tells her, she’s going to be in a world of hurt.

I think it’s a fantastic idea to be able to stand on your own two feet. Sadly, I’m not there yet. I also think there are very few people who can truly say that they could.

I had one friend in high school whose parents both worked. They saved one paycheck and lived on the other one. I never thought to inquire if their paychecks were equal. Maybe they were. Then again, maybe they lived on the larger one and put the smaller one away.

There are definitely some people out there who ended up divorced and found they were able to save more money now that the spending spouse was gone. Ironically, I have more in savings than Jerry Lee does and he earns almost 5 times what I do. And he has a wife that makes around three times what I do also contributing. There are people out there who are the breadwinners and found themselves divorced and also found that life didn’t change that much because their partner hadn’t contributed that much. It’s possible. But I think the reality is that most couples tend to combine their incomes. You make $50,000. I make $50,000. Together we are a $100,000 income family. Of course, it gets a little dicier when you make $25,000 and he makes $75,000 and you’re a $100,000 income family. 

Then again, I think unless you are making a tremendous amount of money any money your spouse brings in is going to help. Jerry Lee makes $140,000 a year. I think most people would think that was great money, and would ensure you could easily stand on your own two feet. However, the fact that his wife works and brings home a paycheck means that even though he’s taken quite a pay cut his standard of living hasn’t changed because she can make up the difference and then some. 

Harley makes somewhere around $80-$90,000. Again, plenty of money to be able to stand on your own two feet; I certainly would be happy making that kind of money. But by marrying her cousin her household income has more than doubled. Together they’re bringing in over $200,000. As a bonus, Harley no longer has to worry about going to jail because she overspends and writes bad checks because she’s got another $140,000 coming into her household.

There’s also the fact that no matter how much money you make if you marry and your spouse contributes anything to the household you’re going to be worse off if that person leaves. Will you be destitute like me? No. But take another look at ol’ Jerry Lee and Harley. Because of what he needs to pay me he would be screwed if she left. He certainly wouldn’t be living in a huge house in a sweet little subdivision. Without Jerry Lee’s money Harley would be dodging the police again because she can’t stop spending money she doesn’t have, and she, too, would have to give up the nice house in the nice subdivision. She’d be back to renting junkers. Marriage benefits them, even if they both earn good incomes on their own.

Sometimes it’s not about the money. My former supervisor worked for the benefits. Her husband’s job did not offer insurance. She covered both of them. My brother’s ex-wife worked for benefits as well when he quit his full-time job and bought his own business. He has done very well for himself but until he got hired on at the fire department he didn’t have insurance. She did, so she was the one that covered the entire family. It’s not an uncommon thing.

There are other benefits as well. As yet another woman from the debate board once pointed out, having a stay at home wife can be a value add to a household. Jerry Lee never had to worry about turning down opportunities because he was saddled with child care. I was there to pick up any of the pieces. Me not working allowed him to climb the corporate ladder. And even if both parties in the couple are working, again, that’s twice the money to go towards savings, retirement, college funds, vacations, Christmas gifts, household bills and repairs, groceries, etc.

All That I Have I Share With You… Or At Least Split It Down the Middle, Part 2

I have met the most amazing man. I always like to say it’s too bad that Jerry Lee no longer feels Harley is worth the money he has to pay me each month. In my case, the mobster is worth giving up that money. And yet… I still hesitate. He says over and over again that we could build a beautiful life together, free from Jerry Lee’s money. Realistically though? Together I think we could do really well for ourselves, especially once neither of us has full-time kids to consider. If he decided to leave me, or for some reason I left him, he would be fine. He could make it on his own; he already is. We’ve discussed this before and he admits that his wife walking out the door didn’t affect his life financially, not the way Jerry Lee walking out on me had on mine. He still lives in the same house. He still has enough money to pay his bills. He went through a brief spell where he worried about losing his house but he refinanced and ultimately picked up several additional stops on his route; he’s actually doing better now than he was when he was with her. His job pays him enough that he wouldn’t be reliant on me. I, on the other hand, would be screwed if he ever decided to leave me. I’d have to sell off a house, sell my possessions, and move back in with my mom. There would be no spousal support to fall back on this time. I would have the meager paycheck I get from my full-time job and that would be it. I don’t make enough money at this job to pay a mortgage, even in the bad neighborhoods. There’s no way I could buy him out of our house. There’s no way I could buy another house, or even afford rent.

I’ve told the story before of the woman (let’s call her Mandy) who was so proud of the fact that she would not buy anything that she alone could not afford, even though she was married. The house they bought? She could pay the mortgage on it by herself if it came to that. She paid her car payment. For many years they split utilities and food. She was very, very proud of the fact that if her husband disappeared tomorrow it wouldn’t affect her financially.

When I first heard this I thought, “Wow! How incredibly sad. What an awful way to live when you’re married.” Then I got divorced and lost everything and I thought, “Wow! She is the smartest woman in the world!”

Here’s where it gets interesting. She and her husband divorced. She let him keep the house; she moved into a luxury apartment. Everything should be fine for her, right? Well, it wasn’t so much that she couldn’t do it on her own. She did, however, come to find out that paying for your own insurance can really suck. Despite all of her bravado over doing it all on her own, or being able to if she had to, she never factored in that her husband covered her and her son on his insurance. She was self-employed. She quickly tired of paying out a bunch of money for coverage.

A year or so after her divorce she ran into an old boyfriend. Keep in mind, this is a woman who swore she would never remarry if things didn’t work out between her and her husband. Hey, we all say things we don’t mean, right? Look at me! I said I would never date again. We also tend to find that we change our minds once a little time and distance has passed. Lo and behold they are talking marriage. Funny thing is she made mention of the fact that she didn’t think she would ever marry again but he had great insurance, and while she was able to meet her bills and her thrills with what she makes, she hadn’t put much away for retirement. You may have guessed it already. This guy has a lovely retirement portfolio as well. I’m not reading anything into this. She actually came right out and said, “I didn’t ever intend to get married again but I’m self-employed and paying for self coverage sucks; he’s got great insurance and he’ll put me on it. I also don’t have much saved for retirement and he does.” I’m sure that in the years to come she will still be congratulating herself on making it on her own and always being able to pull her own weight. When she’s living a comfortable retirement I have no doubt she will go on and on about all of her hard work and her efforts while ignoring the fact that she latched onto someone who could help her in the areas where she lacked.

What it comes down to is this: Marriage, with its benefits and its pitfalls, is a complicated beast. I really don’t know where I stand on this issue anymore. It’s easy to say, “I don’t want to buy anything that I can’t afford on my own,” but actually doing that is a lot more difficult. I know I want to be financially independent but is anyone who gets married really financially independent?