I work with a lovely woman who has been divorced for 7 years from her philandering husband. I know nothing about him except that he called her on a Monday morning and said “I’m moving out, I’m moving in with my secretary and filing for divorce”. They had two daughters, one a Senior in high school at the time. My friend was a stay-at-home mom & she was totally blindsided.
Now, seven years later, she is still not “over” him. Denial is a deep abyss, and it holds her in it’s clutches. She tells me he is really a great guy, he’s a terrific father and he’s left her well off financially, so she has nothing to complain about. She also states she is “thankful” that he is generous in the alimony he pays her.
All of which makes me want to slap her.
Here is why:
- A good guy does not have an affair with his secretary.
- A good guy does not break up a 25 marriage over the phone.
- A good guy does not choose his daughter’s senior year of high school to call it quits on his family.
- A good guy does not set up a scenario in which his ex excuses his behavior. A good guy admits what he did wrong, and takes responsibility for it.
- A good guys accepts that anger is inevitable, he has created it, and he needs to deal with it; not suffocate it to appease his own conscience.
Most annoying though, is her claim that he is “generous” with her in terms of Alimony. Here is what I want people to understand about Alimony.
Alimony is not a “gift”.
Alimony is the stay at home parent’s retirement fund. Alimony is money you earned by helping your mate become who he/she is. Alimony is your payment for years of cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children, running the errands etc.
Alimony is Not A Gift.
Alimony is payment for service rendered.
If, instead of being a stay at home partner, you had worked, you would have received a paycheck, benefits and payments towards your retirement. As a stay at home partner you received none of that. You are owed that money.
If, like my friend and myself, you are divorcing a narcissist, the payment of alimony will become a weapon in their arsenal of devaluation methods.
The narcissist creates the narrative, and the rest of us are expected to assume the roles he’s assigned. In my friends case, her narc created a story in which he is a generous ex and a loving father. He has created a war inside her. On the one hand she knows that he is a dick. The part of her that knows this wants to rage and complain. That part is silenced by the role he assigned her: the obedient, accepting ex who espouses his generosity. My guess is that any time she started to exhibit anger he responded by pointing out his “generosity”, and chided for her for behaving badly. He then grabbed on to whatever her triggers are and shut her down. And this is Ludicrous!!!
He behaved badly and now he will pay for his behavior with Alimony. It is a payment she earned -not a gift.
I’m packing to move and I came across a series of letters between my ex and I shortly after he asked for a divorce. The 1st two I wrote are humiliating. I’m was so entrenched in the role he’d assigned me I have pages and pages of apologies for my failures. His responses also addressed my failures. Any faults he admitted, like being a liar and having affairs, were followed by why he was entitled to do so, because I was a neglectful wife who hated him. By the 3rd letter I’d figured out that something was not right. While I did not yet understand the depths to which he had gone to brainwash me, I did understand that I had nothing to apologize for – he was the one who owed the apologies.
Some of my favorite parts are:
You are truely a gutless person. Yes, I do tend to hate people who neglect me and place me at the bottom of their priority list. Fuck you for never owning up to that. It’s really crappy that you insist on pretending that you are innocent and I a bitch, especially when the truth is that living with you is like living with a teenager. You’re a mopey, sulky person who can’t be bothered interacting with anyone unless it’s all about you.
As far as what to tell the boys I think you should come up with that. This was your idea, your decision not to work on our marriage, and your affair. If you leave it up to me I will tell them we’re splitting up because you are a lying sack of shit who takes his toys and goes home when he doesn’t get his way. Do NOt try to make yourself out to be a hero here. You are not. You abandoned me years ago and they will figure that out on their own.
(in reference to money)
As far as what “we” can afford, I Can’t Afford Anything you stupid son of a bitch. I paid off your last marital debt, spent my grandmother’s money on our 1st house and the rest of my savings on your dream, and am now sick and with nothing. I get less than $2,000/month in disability benefits, 800 of which will be gone in a few years. I have no car, and I don’t even have an engagement ring to pawn. So it’s not really your call anymore what is “affordable”, is it? I am 52 years old, haven’t been in the workplace for 18 years and I am continually sick. I have no way to support myself, let alone myself and the kids. So don’t tell me what there is and isn’t a “need” to cancel (expenses)
M, the woman you swore to love for better or worse (might want to leave that out in any future vows, seeing as the “worse” part isn’t really your thing).
I believe it was this letter that started me on my road to recovery. This was the 1st time I confronted him regarding how badly he had treated me. This was the first time I actually stood up for myself, shut him down and called a spade a spade.
And you know what? He Owes Me. Much more than he’s paying. Actually, he owes me more than he could even begin to pay.
I feel grateful for having this sudden outburst of rage. Had I not, I would not have gone to therapy. I never would have learned what a pathological narcissist he is. I never would have come to understand truth versus his fictional story.
Had I never had this outburst I, like my friend, might feel “grateful” that he is paying alimony.
I call bullshit.