My Fiancé: The Ball-less Wonder

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Dear Robin,

My fiancé “Bob” has no balls when it comes to his insane ex wife. He pays this woman a ton of money in child support and alimony yet she is always hitting him up for more and he gives in. It’s not huge amounts but if she needs cash perhaps it’s time to work more than a part time slightly above minimum wage job and stop buying luxury cars.

He says it’s easier than fighting with her. So it’s easier to fight with me? Nope, he just hides it from me. We had a blow up when I found out he was still giving extras and he says he’ll stop but 1) I don’t buy it and 2) what is he getting out of this with her? I don’t get it.

He will fight with her over other matters and I feel like he should ignore her unless it specifically has to do with the kids who are old enough there should be minimal contact. I do love him though Robin, but how do I deal with this?

Please don’t use my real name if you happen to publish my whine.

-Redacted Name

Dear Redacted Name:

Thank you for your letter and the additional information you gave me regarding the last three years of their 17 marriage being “open,” the fact they have been divorced 3 years, that he pays more than he has to under the statutes in child support and that money is most definitely an issue so he can’t really afford this generosity.

You also told me you live together but keep your finances separate.  Keeping your money separate is smart and I’ll follow up on that in a moment.  First things first:

DO NOT MARRY THIS MAN ANYTIME SOON.

He is still married to his ex-wife, whether the courts say so or not, and second marriages have bad enough failure statistics (around 68%) without going into them bathed in emotional and financial strife.

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It seems clear he is laboring under some degree of guilt regarding the breakup of his family, which helps explain why he whips out his wallet every time his baby mama asks him to even though he already pays her one-third of his total income in child support and Welfare for Grownups, also known as alimony.

Marrying someone who hasn’t processed and isn’t over their divorce makes about as much sense as quitting the practice of law and deciding to become a famous writer and radio personality.

:-/

Sometimes ex-spouses take advantage because they know they can.  You told me he was the one who finally got sick of the “open” marriage and filed for divorce, making his ex angry because that relationship allowed her to have her cake (purchased by her husband, of course) and screw it too.

Even though he was absolutely correct in ending the marriage, clearly there are residual feelings of obligation and guilt towards this woman who was no longer playing by the original rules of the marriage game.  He was the one who finally took his balls and went home, or so he thought because according to you he is lacking in the testicle department.

I am concerned that he lies to you about giving his ex-wife money and even more concerned that this is a constant source of dissonance in your home.  You told me when we emailed that his kids are 13 and 17 and that he is 3 years into a ten year alimony sentence.  Those facts indicate this will be an ongoing source of significant strife for you and your fiancé unless and until you get it worked out between you.

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But wait!  There’s more!  By moving in with him and with your eventual marriage, you put yourself in the fun legal position of potentially being responsible for his ex-wife’s care and feeding!  Imagine the following scenario:

You marry Bob and soon after, Bob loses his job.  Sorry Bob, that’s just the way things go!

Bob can no longer pay alimony so he files for a modification.  Unfortunately for him, his barnacle of an ex-wife (let’s call her Sue) doesn’t think it’s fair she should have to get a job and stop buying pretty cars, so she fights the modification even though she knows he can’t afford to support her.

How does she do that?  One way is she tried to get you to pay.  In many states, the leech can investigate the assets and income of the new spouse and make the argument that even if the payor can’t afford the alimony, their household can – meaning YOU.

Yes, you can write up a pre-nup, but that won’t always protect you.  See a lawyer before you get married and find out what the laws are in your state.  Continue to keep your finances absolutely separate and get yourself a pre-marriage contract.

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Romantic?  Not very.  Smart?  Absolutely.

If you really love this man, and I believe you do, don’t get married until you have done some very thoughtful analysis of your relationship as it pertains to his ex-wife. I know this is hard to hear (read) but I have to ask you:

You do know this has absolutely nothing to do with money, right?

This is about fear, distrust, jealousy and envy.  He shares two kids with this woman – you have none together – and I wonder if this gnaws at you and makes you overreact to his communication with and support of his ex.

While I agree with you that he shouldn’t give her any more money than he is legally required to, I also found it interesting when you told me the amounts.  We aren’t talking about a huge deal of cash here, so what is more likely the issue is this: you don’t want him communicating with his ex anymore.  About anything.  Why?

They have two kids together and maintaining a good relationship is in the best interests of those kids, so I would caution you to tread carefully in this area.

Most important, you and your fiancé need to come to terms with how you will handle the subject of his ex in the future, because lying and fighting about her will tear you apart faster than an alimony recipient cashes a check and heads to Nordstrom.  See a therapist and get to the root of the problem before you get married because I don’t think it’s really about the money.

And get yourself a prenup!

-Robin

 

 

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Alisa Whiting

    All I can add is – Amen!

  2. chad

    Great article Robin!

Comments are closed.