At what point do you go from being fair to being a sucker?
I have always considered myself a fair man. Actually, let me back up a bit. Not always. I can not claim that I have always been the way I am today. In fact, until too late in life I was a very flawed man. But I did change for the better around the time that I took a real hard look at my life and realized that I was trying to be something I was not and it was then that I made some adjustments. As I told my 25 year HS reunion coordinator looking for a quote in the absence of my attendance,
“I spent so much time and effort in the attempt to find myself only to one day realize that I was me all along.”
As I took stock of my life, one thing I vowed to do was always take a moment to consider the perspective of others before making snap judgments and to always be a fair man. It’s worked for me professionally and in my personal life, in particular in my marriage. Lately, I have begun to think that in my marriage, I have evolved from fair to being a sucker.
Two years ago, when my wife and I finally decided to divorce we sat down and discussed the terms. We were already maintaining separate residences, not even close to being a couple, and I was sick and unemployed. She told me that she wasn’t going to pursue support but asked that in the event that my SSDI application was approved would I give her some of it? I agreed, even though my SSDI application was never guaranteed. I am not the type to leave her hanging because she wasn’t doing much better financially than I.
Fast forward 20 months. I was living with mom and also living off of her. I had no income. My health had further deteriorated and I had been denied SSDI and I was pending a hearing. Additionally, I had just come out of a extended hospital stay that almost ended with my leaving in a bag.
When I came home from the hospital the first thing I did was open my mail. There was good news and bad. The bad news was that my health insurance had been cancelled. Enter the other piece of mail. I had been approved for Disability, to the tune of a 32k back settlement, which was the reason for them cancelling my insurance (apparently I was a rich man at 2100/mo).
Unbeknownst to me, my ex had also received a copy of my approval letter.
She called me the next morning looking for a check. I had already decided that I would honor my word and give her half. But before I could be nice, dare I say magnanimous, she demanded her half and proceeded to tell me how she would not even settle for less than a stipend of 800/mo. I was floored. All of the wind was drained from my sails. I told her so and hung up. A matter of hours passed and I wrote a check for 15,700 and mailed it. I then paid my mother back everything I had borrowed in the past 18 months. I then paid off my credit cards and I had 3k left and I needed tires for my truck. That was 800.
On the next conversation I had with ex-wifey I cautiously told her that there would be a time, in the near future, where we would need to discuss the arrangement. I was paying support for 2 minors despite one of them being almost 20 and the other turning 18 in 3 months. I called it child support and if you’re paying attention that means that I don’t have to do one and I am close to not being required to the other. I’m fair and I have honor. But the time to revisit the arrangement is right now. I have given her over 24k in the last 12 months as I suffer financially.
The catalyst for this conversation occurred last week she called and told me that her boyfriend was going to move in with her. It was part of a giant brouhaha. My youngest daughter, who lives with her completely objected and was beside herself upset. My oldest daughter was in her corner and fighting with her mother. Ex wifey didn’t care that my daughter was upset, she did her usual “I’ll ask for approval and then do whatever the fuck I want to anyway” move. She wanted my approval. I didn’t give it to her. I was never a fan of her new guy, a convicted felon and a very recent user of drugs after failing rehab. Him living with 2 of my kids infuriated me. At am impasse, the conversation ended quickly.
Then it hit me. A guy with no job, no money, a drug problem and a record was going to live with her partially on my dime? No, I say no fucking way. I briefly thought about cutting her off but I do have an obligation to pay her for my youngest for a while. I needed to do something, but what is fair?
I decided that I would cut it in half. The oldest boy is working and makes decent money. He buys his own food so she can’t claim she’s supporting him. The other half is going to be deposited in my youngest daughter’s bank account, which I just set up, where ex-wifey can’t touch it. I then called my ex and told her what I was doing and that her able bodied boyfriend will have to pick up the slack. I told her that any self-respecting person, whether they rent a room or stay at a house, pays rent. Jesus H Tap-dancing Christ, her mother is paying her rent in full!
The best part, my kids suggested that I do this.
Boy, was she pissed! How could I, after all?
My response? For once, I am doing what is fair to me.