UPDATE: Thank you all so much. I lurk here pretty much daily but don’t post that much so I didn’t really know what I was expecting when I wrote it. I definitely wasn’t expecting so much support and empathy and that so many people had such similar experiences and feelings. I’m still having moments where I don’t feel confident about my decision around spousal support, but I’ll come back and read your replies and that should cure me. Thanks again, everyone who took a min to respond to this very longwinded post!
(This turned out to be really long...) My relationship of 9+ years ended about a month ago. It shocked me. It maybe shouldn’t have, in hindsight. I was waiting, and pushing-oh-so-gently for him to get his shit together, start listening, get some therapy, be more considerate of me and others around him, fold his own underpants and pick up milk sometimes, start addressing the constant misery and anxiety that he brought into nearly every second I was with him. But he ‘felt stalled’. Not by the 5 surgeries he’d been through in the last three years. Not by his constant working. Or his untreated anxiety disorder and poorly managed stress. But by me, who stood by him through all this shit. Who was in it for the long haul. Who made every excuse for his shitty behavior while he was stressed and tired and whatever else he was feeling, not just to myself but to others as well. Outloud. “It’s been a tough few years, our mutual friends. That’s why he’s being a bully, a jerk, a self-absorbed, needlessly aggressive asshat...” Me, who didn’t want to have children with him if he continued to work 60+ a week and travel multiple times a month and wouldn’t talk to me about money, or future plans. Somehow he decided I was the thing holding him back, not his own choices.
I know that last part is legit (that he wants kids, and I will never have them on terms he wants) but I still think he’s a self-absorbed asshole.
I moved out last week. I’m doing okay, but the issue right now at the front of my mind is spousal support. He makes more than double what I do (probably triple now, since he came home a few days before my move to tell me about his new bespoke hat and a very expensive pen he just got to celebrate his raise). His name was on our lease (why to bother to add mine?) which meant I had to move out at a super shitty time to be looking to sign a lease. I had to do everything; All the paperwork, all the time off work, all the expenses with moving. I also had to pay a premium for dog-friendly since he decided “our dog” is now “Mleek’s dog” which fine by me but also... not something that reflects well on him, especially since “Mleek’s dog” needed some pricey Xrays right after he dumped Mleek.
I was homeless and he complained to a mutual friend that I wasn’t grateful enough when he brought home my favorite chocolates.
And he kept walking away and shutting down conversations about money. Sure, I wasn’t pushing that hard; I was a captive in an apartment with my ex. But I opened that door several times, and he never walked through. If he’d done what so many other people I’ve seen do in this situation (offer to split dog’s major expenses, offer last months rent covered, offer some support for moving costs) I I probably would have just let it go. But all he did was tell me the cookbooks I thought had been gifts to me, actually weren’t. So they stayed.
So on Sunday, I told him I’d be pursuing a separation agreement and spousal support. He lost his shit for a bit. He asked “What do you need? You never told me what you needed.” I told him I need a separation agreement. With spousal support.
Despite my clear requests that he speak to a lawyer, that I’d prefer a mutual negotiation, that he should seek out some information... it’s 100% clear to me that I will also need to do all the administrative work involved in this as well. He will not exercise any agency. I suspect he’d prefer to tell the story where this happens to him. Where it’s a mean thing I do to him, instead of a totally reasonable expectation of some very short-term equalization.
In the end he got his head on straight. I’m glad I did it face to face and stood my ground. I’m surprised how correct I was about what his response would be, but I’m frustrated that he still acted as if it was soooo unreasonable and sooooo shocking of me to do this to him. It’s not. It was nine years. We were engaged. I was planning for a lifetime. I was living a lifetime.
I also think he believes I’ll only be asking for the few grand it cost me to physically move. He’d be happier if I’d just ask for a gift, or handed him some receipts he can declare to be valid, so he could frame it as a charity or ‘expenses’. Although I will not be seeking anything like a maximum, if this work falls to me I will absolutely be having something written up that is a bit more than the cost of the truck and two guys. Sesh.
And through all of this, I feel like a shitty feminist. I am supposed to stand on my own two feet right? And I could. I can live within my means, but this took a toll and the cost of it all seems so unequally applied. I was the only one who had to, in the literal sense, pay for it. But maybe I was already a shitty feminist, folding his laundry and picking up his dry cleaning, and making myself smaller and quieter and less intrusive, and nodding along with his accomplishments, staying out of his spotlight, not taking any credit for the support or labor I did that enabled him...
I’m glad it’s over, then the excuses are done. This is who he is. Good for him. Who I am wants a damn separation agreement. I don’t think that is evil or unfair, but at some moments it feels that way.