Why I Don't Believe in Alimony
Life,  marriage

Why I Don’t Believe in Alimony

Why I Don't Believe in Alimony
On my wedding day fifteen years ago

This month marked ten years since my divorce. Ten years. How the hell did that happen?

I don’t really think about my ex-husband too often. Last I heard he lives about a mile from one of my parent’s houses and in addition to being a successful banker and college professor (you’re welcome for the grad school education), I don’t know anything about his life. We didn’t have kids-thank gawd- and despite the circumstances the divorce was somewhat amicable. Heck, we sat next to each other in the courtroom calmly answering those seven questions that severed our marriage and then grabbed lunch at a Bennigans. The hurt and anger had faded, replaced with other things like triumph and even retribution. New lovers, new discoveries and best of all new freedoms replaced “what the hell happened” and  the tears that had become my bedmates night after night.

He and I met in Hawaii at a wedding. It was an instant connection. Despite his blue eyes and blonde hair not falling into the “my type” category I made an exception for his astounding physique. From opposite corners of the country we declared we would make it and off I went to the Pacific Northwest with a couple of suitcases, a lot of idealism and the glaring naiveté of a girl of twenty-one. Practicality be damned.

And oh how I fucking hated it there! This Miami native needed her sunshine and 364 days later we were on our way to Florida to get married and build a life. And build we did. We built success by our standards. We built a large bank account. We built houses. And then THE house.

When he left to Wales for a portion of that international grad school program in which spouses weren’t encouraged to attend on a quintessentially hot and humid Florida summer day, ever the supportive wife I waited until after I drove away from the airport to cry. Three weeks without my husband seemed like an eternity and the nauseatingly co-dependent emails and calls between the two of us commenced mere moments after he landed. Then almost abruptly they stopped. I didn’t hear from him. And I knew.

I.just.knew.

Then the email came…

From: 19 year old HER (to 31 year old him)
Subject Line: Hey
Body of the email: smiley face

…accompanied by the punch in the gut. The crazy thoughts. The lump in my throat. The constant nagging thoughts and the inability to sleep.

Two days later the excuses came via phone…then the fight. And the deafening click.

Another two days later the request for a divorce in the airport parking lot. You couldn’t have waited til we got home?

And just like that my marriage was over.

He never admitted he cheated. Apparently the relationship hadn’t started until “after” we separated. But there was that time I went to OUR home while she was so easily making it into hers, cooking for him; declaring their future to me, still his wife, along with her reasons why THEY were going to make it.  I laughed to myself. Nineteen. So naïve. Just like I was when I had gotten on that plane seven years prior…

As we toured the 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom perfect home we had built from the ground up; every detail chosen just for us-the home in which we’d never live-I wondered how he could throw it all away so easily. Forsaking all others… right.

Two years later as we sat across from each other at dinner he told me I was right; he regretted what he had done. Two years later as he cried on my shoulder because she cheated on him with their co-ed softball coach, I thanked him. I told him he did the right thing. I told him how much happier I was. His regret and what it meant hadn’t resonated with me until long after the conversation took place. Both of us going through break-ups at the time leaned on each other. We used each other. Being there with the ability to walk away at anytime was my pay back. He wanted ME. The woman he used to have ALL of he’d never “have” again. Keep wanting. Take that, both of you.

There were no more ties to bind us. When the houses sold, he actually got more than I did. As he built more success, without me, he declared, “I know I would have nothing I do now if it weren’t for you.” No shit, Sherlock.

I have been asked time and again why I didn’t pursue alimony. He cheated. I should have taken him for everything!

Hell. the. fuck. no.

I am better than that and there is no way I could justify it – not to a court, but to myself.

Sure, I know women who receive alimony and don’t deserve it; weak women who I’d pity if I wanted to spend my energy on that sort of thing. They manipulated the system, pat themselves on the backs and forget about this little thing called karma. They spend their child support on anything but the child, too. Either too insipid or just too damn lazy, they have reduced themselves to a court-ordered dependency, most lacking a back up plan for when the gravy train leaves the station.

So did I really deserve alimony? Did I deserve to kick my feet up because my husband decided to tap out? We were married five years; not twenty. We didn’t even have a dog. There were no mitigating circumstances other than him not being able to keep it in his pants, actually not so mitigating, even then. I was not “accustomed” to some sort of lifestyle I had to keep because he paid my way through life. In fact, I find the idea of alimony downright insulting. I didn’t need to be maintained. I’m not a car.

I was better than a pay-off. I was better than a monthly reminder that my marriage failed because he failed me. I was better than a hand out. I was better than the idea that I need HIS money to sustain myself.  I was better than tying myself to a person who would intentionally screw betray his wife. I was better than being enslaved to a monthly auto-draft.

But most and best of all, I was so much better without him. And that is the best damn “settlement” I could ever want.

__________________________
Postscript: For those newer to the blog, I am now happily remarried.

18 Comments

  • Kathleen Gordon

    Ditto. I never understood why people want to punish each other as part of the divorce process. It’s not as if the money could ever make you whole emotionally. I can see if you took significant time out of your career to stay home with kids, and practically speaking you need a temporary buffer while you get back into the job market, or if the other party took marital assets and spent them on someone else, but that’s a matter of equity, not punishment. You did well to get the heck out with as little drama as possible and move on with your life.

    • Heather W

      Thank you so much, Kathleen. These were my thoughts, exactly. It would have been much different – as you wrote – had we had kids and responsibilities I had stayed home for. That wasn’t the case at all I am so happy to have departed that marriage with my grace and dignity in tact. Thank you again.

  • bluemoondc

    I’ve been asked the same thing about my divorce. I don’t have proof he cheated, but he screwed me over emotionally at the very least. But at no point did I have any interest in getting alimony from him. I didn’t want that dependency on this person who violated our trust, and I didn’t want to HAVE to have him in my life. In spite of how much he hurt me, I also never had a desire for vengeance. To each their own, but it wasn’t for me, and I’ve never regretted the choice.

    • Heather W

      I couldn’t agree more with all of your points. The dependency you write of, I don’t think I’d be able to look myself in the mirror to rely on someone like that. You are so right. They didn’t deserve to be in our lives, even if they’re “paying” for it, literally and figuratively.

  • Allie

    Huh. I initiated my divorce, and I accepted alimony. I would not have asked for it since I work and I had requested the divorce, but he offered and I took it. Why? I work every bit as hard as he does but in the non-profit realm. During our ten years together, I had focused on jobs where I could make an impact and be fulfilled, and his attorney job made that privilege possible. So he provided two years of alimony because I couldn’t change to a more lucrative career or move to a cheaper city on short notice. I feel no guilt over this and greatly appreciate his generosity.

    • Heather W

      Hi Allie. Thanks for stopping by, reading and for your comment. I hope it was implied in my paragraph asking if I deserved alimony that this feeling applies to me. Your circumstances were very different. I do want to write that I also have made an impact in my community for over twenty years through sitting on various boards and executive committees of charitable organizations and through tireless volunteer efforts. That is how I choose to give back. For myself, I was taught to never rely on a man to financially sustain me and I did not want to compromise that belief. I did just fine on my own and there was no need for alimony. In fact, I made more money than he did so didn’t really see the point of asking for alimony to punish him. It just seemed petty.

      Again, your situation was different than mine and it’s great you feel no guilt because you shouldn’t nor would I imply that you or anyone should.

      • Allie

        Ok. I certainly don’t think making money and benefitting society are mutually exclusive. My ex husband, for example, spent several years prosecuting child pornographers and still made a great living doing so. But your post had an “alimony is punishment” theme. I didn’t punish my ex, nor was I lazy. I accepted the help he offered.

        • Heather W

          Allie, if it was not obvious this post was in relationship to myself and why I would not take alimony. I absolutely do not believe in relying on a man for money. It was the way I was raised and there was no point in punishing my ex for “revenge” because he screwed up. FOR ME that is all it would have been. I did not imply that “just anyone” taking alimony is lazy. There are SOME women who are. I know these women and I find them despicable. Frankly, it seems to have struck a chord with you and you are reading way more into it than is there. I am sorry if you are offended, but again this was in relationship to my own experiences. If you are happy with the choice you made to accept help from the man you chose to divorce, I am not judging you for it. It is just a choice *I* wouldn’t have made because it is was not the right chocie for me (thus the point of this post).

  • Beth

    thanks so much for your honesty! So glad you are happy now!!! I think you are so smart to cut ties completely – you have moved on to bigger and better things!!! Even a break up for me felt like a divorce – and it can take a while to get over 🙂

    • Heather W

      I feel very lucky it didn’t take me (what I consider to be) very long to get over it. I think deep down I knew it was the right thing, I was just really ashamed. I’m so sorry that your break up was as bad as your divorce. That really sucks, but I am sure you’ve definitely moved onto better things, too! 🙂

  • Heather Garcia

    When I got divorced I never even considered alimony. I just wanted nothing to do with him and thank God every day that we never had children together. Good riddance to a cheater!!

  • ToThirtyOne

    Haha girl yes. I had the opposite problem…. I got divorced after a year and 3 months and HE went after me for alimony. I had to pay him a relatively small settlement, and I could not believe he went after me. But at the end of the day, fuck it. I know that 2k meant a hell of a lot more to him that it did me!

  • Elizabeth Dietz

    So glad that you are so happy now! As much as it stinks to be cheated on (especially when you are in another country… granted it was only my bf at the time that cheated on me while I was in Europe), it is awesome that you are now so happy and that you don’t harbor any bad feelings. When it comes to alimony I think it can be a sticky situation, with everyone making the decision that is right for them. I am super happy that your decision not to accept alimony worked for you and I hope that your story will help others in similar situations figure out what it is that they need to do to move forward with their lives after divorce.

    • Heather W

      Oh I agree. A friend once told me (and her husband cheated on her while she was having surgery – that very day) she’d rather eat ramen and be broke than steak with his money. I couldn’t agree more. Like I wrote – it’s not like we were married for years and years and I had stayed home to take care of the kids. This was the right choice for me most definitely.

  • BritishMumUSA

    Ok, if the Hubs is reading this, honey we are in this together 🙂 Hey Heather, this is powerful and well written. As always you have told and shown us you view point, with your experience. For anyone to get their knickers in a twist, well suck it up buttercup. 🙂

    I hope I never find myself in this position, and if I did….. It would be a fifty fifty split. We grew up together, and built together. I would ask for nothing more or less. That would be fair.

    I love how you make us think deeply…. Thank you…

    xoxoxo

    • Heather W

      We are so right there! 😉 Exactly, 50/50 – that is what is right when you build a life together. I so appreciate your thoughts and feedback.