Lately I have been working with a few clients that no matter what we say are determined to screw themselves in their divorce. In these particular cases both are women and both, I can surmise, have been emotionally abused by their husbands.
Now that their husbands have left them and have moved on with other women these men are still trying to control their current wives, my clients, by trying to force them to sign off on overwhelmingly unconscionable agreements. One husband is even trying to get our client to agree to a cohabitation clause in their agreement. This clause basically states that if she lives with anyone (doesn’t say man or woman or for how long) he can stop paying her maintenance (alimony) – and guess what, she was actually going to agree to it! I’m not exactly sure how he planned to enforce that other than making her report to him. However, he not only has already moved on with a new woman but is on vacation with her and the my clients and his children in the exact spot they used to vacation every year, he told her he was going on a “family” vacation. Talk about rubbing it in her face. Yet, she was so concerned that her daughters might be mad at her if she fought back that she was willing to go along with it “for the sake of the children”. (her kids are 18 and 21 respectively so not exactly “kids” anymore)
My take on it is that she was married to him for 25 years and he probably controlled her all those years, so she knows nothing else. She is afraid and has lost all self-esteem she may have ever had. He has beaten her down and she doesn’t know how to get back up.
It makes me very sad when I see client’s like this, and yes I have had a few that were men as well, but mostly women. I think when you allow an ex-spouse to continue to control your life well after your divorce even after he has moved on, you have bigger issues than worrying about making your children mad. As I explained to her, your kids are watching you, what you do now they will use as a template in their own lives, if you give up and allow your spouse, or soon to be ex spouse in her case, to control your life then what are you teaching them? You must stand up for yourself, you must take care of yourself, and most importantly of all you must take control of your own life no matter what that entails. If you have to leave a spouse to gain back control then do it. If you have to deal with the courts to enforce this, then do it. Once your marriage is over, its over, time to move on and you cannot do that if you are allowing an ex to hold any power over you after your divorce.
I get that after 25 years it is a very scary proposition to be out on your own and it may seem like the easy thing to do is to continue to let your ex make all of your decisions for you but it is not the smart thing to do. When divorce happens it is time to see what you are made of. It is time to stand up and take control of your own life as hard as that may be. And there will be many unpopular decisions to be made and many mistakes as you try to get your footing again, but the bottom line is if you don’t do it who will? As the flight attendants always tell us, if in the event the cabin looses pressure and the oxygen masks come down, put your mask on first then take care of everyone else.
Put your oxygen mask on people, its going to be a bumpy ride.
“Everything that happens to you is a reflection of what you believe about yourself. We cannot outperform our level of self-esteem. We cannot draw to ourselves more than we think we are worth.”
― Iyanla Vanzant
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.”
― Harvey Fierstein