You’re not the boss of me! Money and the Ex-Spouse.

One hallmark to being a stratospheric “D” personality type (from the DISC Personality Test for those who have never been laid off) is that we can be supremely opinionated and sometimes controlling, with giving little thought to what people think of it. For my “Directive, Decisive, Driven” kin folk, it also means that if we don’t keep that bit of magnificence reigned in  we could very well end up being opinionated, controlling and alone.

The predominant characteristics of the “D” personality include:

  • Wants to be in charge and in control. (dislikes being told what to do).
  • Sets high standards (themselves and other people’s).
  • High level of confidence bordering on arrogance
  • Make decisions quickly.
  • Is impatient with people who “waste time” or who seem incompetent.
  • Don’t mind telling people they’re wrong. Extremely candid and blunt.
  • Can get angry quickly (but usually get over it as fast).

A gander over this list and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why a lot of “D” personalities are also single personalities. I mean really, you might want to go into battle with one of these people but who wants to be “till death do us part”? Research estimates that 10% of the population falls into this personality profile. Which is a blessing otherwise we’d have a world full of reincarnated Napoleon’s vying to run the show.

Yet being lumped in with this group has done wonders for my career. It’s helped me achieve goals that otherwise might not have happened. But it hasn’t always helped make my relationships rainbows and butterflies as seems obvious. And being divorced and a “D” personality is like putting nitroglycerine on a roller coaster. Like most men, the financial ramifications of divorce make me contemplate murder-for-hire. When I first got divorced I was sending, what I considered, a serious amount of money to this woman and had no input on how it was spent. To go from the husband who managed all of the finances to the ex who was essentially writing blank checks was like a junkie in detox.

Initially this frustration helped propel me into an anti-depressant popping free-for-all, forcing confessions of my soul to a 60’s hippie rocker turned psychoanalyst. While the court system implies that child support is ‘for the children’, I just couldn’t see how new furniture, cars, and vacations were helping to support my kids. At any point when the conversation between her and I turned to finances, I reverted to a neanderthal state which involved howling, wailing my arms, or what some might call an epileptic seizure.

Last month marked the six year anniversary of being a single dad, which is almost as long as the Jap and I were married. It’s taken me almost this long to understand and finally come to grips with the feeling of helplessness in certain matters brought on by divorce. I still pay her, in my opinion, an offensive amount of money but what she does with it is of no consequence to me. As long as my children are provided for I’m satisfied. My attempts at trying to control that side of the equation are over and it has resulted in a relationship with the Jap that is as drama-free as ever.

But getting to this point came only after I began taking my emotions out of the situation and started approaching this post-divorce relationship like a business transaction. While on the surface that may sound sterile and systematic, it has been extremely beneficial for the kids and has kept me from going totally medieval on the woman.  I have limited my communication with the ex to emails and texts unless phone calls are necessary. I have her child support payments wired into her account and I celebrate my birthdays and holidays separately from her and the Trainer. Ours is a relationship dictated by pick-up and drop-off times, medical visit de-briefs, school concerns and sporting events. I can literally go a week without setting eyes on or talking to her.

With a “D” Personality and no fear on confrontation, I realized that the more superfluous our communication the greater the chances of saying or doing something that would set one of us off. Ex spouses are “ex’s” for a reason with most being able to push certain buttons in us that others can’t reach. Knowing what situations are likely to send my blood pressure rising and staying away from them makes for a much happier Papa. Because like it or not, I must co-parent with the Jap for of the next 12 years and I can make it easier on myself or I can make it harder. The choice is mine.

Fortunately this approach meant the end of my love affair with Zoloft and I was able to give my shrink another hour of his life back to practice Bob Dylan covers.

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28 responses to You’re not the boss of me! Money and the Ex-Spouse.

  1. Lori

    Oh, the money question. My ex pays a lot, too, and sometimes I feel guilty. And then I remember I left his 401K intact. And for I got the house (and mortgage, and negligable value, and HELOC) and I didn’t make this choice. And then I go back to feeling guilty, because that’s a lot. And then I remember that I am filing married jointly for last year, I didn’t contest the divorce and his total lawyer fees were $5K, tremendously cheap comparatively, and he’s living with the woman he cheated with. So I stop feeling guilty for a few days. And then I start again. Gee, it’s fun. Here’s hoping to disengage that mental cycle…

  2. wow…. my therapist was a hot hippie chick girl who liked the WideSpread panic.

    If I told you how much my ex gets per month you’d fall over. I don’t complain about it. I know not every dime helps my 7 yr old, that’s sad, but it’s what I should give. The bad part is, after 5 years I am well over the issues that required the divorce, my ex is not. Co-parenting is not an option with her and that’s sad because it affects my daughter.

    I take the business approach too. My daughter is starting to figure out the truth.

  3. Dude… I totally get you.
    It gets easier I promise. I am 16 years down the road. But if you think it ends when your child reaches 18, you’d be mistaken. Sure the checks might cease to go her way, but believe me, dealing with the Jap will be a lifelong engagement. Get used to it.
    Great post.
    Best of luck

  4. This sounds just like a post my man could write. He has similar frustrations with his ex as well.

    I agree, even though we divorce, we aren’t fully “divorced” from our ex-spouses as long as children are involved. We DO have to establish some sort of new relationship, with firm boundaries and allowances, in order to co-parent successfully. It is really a live and learn approach until it becomes a smooth operation, right?

    Glad to see you worked it out.

  5. […] You're not the boss of me! Money and the Ex-Spouse. » ChopperPapa … And being divorced and a “D” personality is like putting nitroglycerine on a roller coaster Like most men, the financial ramifications of divorce make me contemplate murder-for-hire. When I first got divorced I was sending, what I considered, a serious amount of money to this . With a “D” Personality and no fear on confrontation, I realized that the more superfluous our communication the greater the chances of saying or doing something that would set one of us off. […]

  6. 3girlknight

    I do empathize with the frustration towards how my ex manages her money. (Still need to come up with a blog nickname for her.) I would like to think I couldn’t care less about the money itself. I don’t mind helping financially, but it’s preventing me from actually hiring a lawyer to file the divorce. But from what I hear, I’m getting off lucky. I’m paying around 40% of my income towards child support and no alimony. Granted, we’re not actually divorced yet, but my state generally doesn’t award alimony anyway. (They do for situations were one spouse can’t generate an income.)

    Good post CP.

  7. Lyttlthingsmttr

    Just found your blog, read this post and a couple earlier . . . I like, I think

    Why is the ex’s nickname the Jap?

  8. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you come back again!

    “Jap” is the name the ex used to describe herself while we were married. She wore it almost like a badge of honor. Before I met her I didn’t even know what it stood for until she educated me — Jewish American Princess.

  9. 3GK, I’d be happy to give you my thoughts off line. C/S does change state to state and 40% (with 3 children) may be well within the range set by your geography. I wish you the best in this. If you want to discuss more off line, you know how to reach me.

  10. It is somewhat a continuous work in progress, as the children age situations change and so does the relationship. I have found that if I can keep it sterile and in a ‘business-like fashion’ then things usually work out for the best….most of the time.

  11. I’ve kept it to a tolerable level and it appears to be working fine. Fortunately for me she has the Trainer to deal with many of the headaches that may come. Her getting remarried was definitely a good thing.

  12. Understandable emotions, if you can get to a state of the ‘business situation’ I’m convinced that your pangs of guilt will start to go away.

  13. Thanks for sharing this honest reflection on finances. It comes at a perfect time because my ex and I had a fight over finances last night. I don’t know all of your situation, of course, but let me tell you that on my side of things, the few hundred dollars a month that he pays me keep me and the kids afloat. Unfortunately he doesn’t always see it that way and has this image of me living a lavish life. Sometimes our anger, frustration, and need for control can color our perspective of things.

    I very much support the way that you have kept your anger in check. That is great for both you and your kids.

  14. Sheila

    Great post, it’s almost as though my ex were writing it. He too feels as though he is bank rolling me. I didn’t create the figure our attorney’s did and he agreed to everything that was laid out in the parenting plan and then he tries to make me feel guilty for what he signed his name to. I told him I would be happy to go back to mediation although that would entail having to show his current salary which could actually backfire on him since he makes more now than he did when we divorced 2 yrs ago.
    I started taking a divorce care class after being divorced for almost 2yrs. I highly recommend it for someone like myself who needs to take the emotion out of it and deal with it like you said as a business deal. I actually tried to break down my expenses for him and show him exactly where his money is going. I think he just has a problem b/c I am making it without him and am much happier without him.

  15. Thanks Molly! My anger wasn’t always in check in the beginning I certainly let it get the better of me more than I care to admit. But when I finally was able to approach it from a business perspective and simply realize there are things out of my control my attitude really began to change.

    Thanks for reading!

  16. Sheila, I think your situation is similar to many. In the end it is just that control that, mostly husbands, aren’t able to manage. I found that when I disengaged from the relationship and only communicated when necessary about specific topics that the frustrations subsided. Given that she has yet to find a 40 hour job since our divorced 6 years ago I would have to admit that I am the bread winner in two families. However, I have moved on from that and my kids have benefited from her staying at home as long as she has.

    Good for you seeing going into the divorce care classes. With two years under your belt you will certainly be an influence on others going through it for the first time.

    Hope all is well with you and the kids!

  17. Women who think that JAP is a badge of honor irritate the hell out of me. They just don’t get it. My daughter is my princess and proud to be Jewish. But you won’t ever catch her acting like her crap don’t stink.

  18. The Jap is only Jewish by birth, she MIGHT set foot in a synagogue on the high holy days, maybe. Looking back I think it’s kind of strange that she felt that way about herself.

  19. margaret

    I never met a D I like unti now….you may be changing my mind here.

  20. Anonymous

    Papa – Is anyone ever happy with the way child support is handled? It seems that there are legitimate complaints from both the payee and the payor. Do you have suggestions for how the system could be changed to make it work better? How do you ensure that you children’s needs are being met?

  21. Mandy, I could write a book on this topic. Many states have moved to a formula that takes much of the subjectivity out of this process and I think that is a great start. Neither party is going to be happy in these situations, and while I can only speak for myself, seeing that after 6 years she has yet to posses a full time job speaks volumes to my fairness in the child support arena.

    As a father (or payor of said child support) there is no way to ensure that the needs of the children are being met. The payee is in no way accountable to anyone on how those proceeds are distributed once they have been paid and the court system (while the best our society has to offer) is inherently flawed and the family court system failures are the result of that.

    In summary the more objectivity you can inject into the process the less resistance you will have to it.

    Thanks as always!

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