I’m Walking Away From This Marriage With Nothing

It’s worse than I thought.

Jennifer M. Wilson
May 1 · 6 min read
Photo by Maha Pau M. on Unsplash

Don’t mind me over here, Dear Reader. I’m just in the middle of a massive anxiety attack. So what do I chose to do? Write of course, because it’s either that or step on the street and start screaming.

I agonized over the divorce decision for years. Eventually, I hit a breaking point and decided I could no longer live each day waiting to die.

Despite Joseph being livid, his quality of life won’t change much other than not having an executive assistant, mother, doctor, accountant, and maid in his life.

In California, during a divorce, spouses are entitled to receive their inheritances back. When my mother-in-law died, the various payments spread out over a few years so I wasn’t quite sure of the amount. The original bank account the payments were deposited into is closed so there was no record.

Until now.

I had a rough estimate that I’ve been working with this entire time. And even with that estimate, I melted down at the disparity between the two payouts. Turns out, it was very far off.

Joseph got the receipts needed to show the amounts he received. Let me break it down: we’ve had three houses throughout our marriage, each one earning equity, each one I paid into the mortgage with my paycheck.

For almost 20 years, I have been renting my homes because I will get nothing back from our home equity after his inheritance payout is calculated. The inheritance went towards the house purchase, things for the kids, and home renovations.

If I had known any of this, I would have told Joseph to put that money in an account that I never want to see.

I wish I could explain my level of fear and rage. Fear is the obvious part because I won’t be able to buy anything other than a one-bedroom condo. Rage because I fucking did everything. Everything. If there’s one piece of feedback I get as I announce my divorce through various social groups, it’s that I was a single working mother who did everything because Joseph wasn’t around. I could write a college thesis on the amount of work tied to my son’s therapies, insurance company battles, endless paperwork that could only be faxed because businesses refused to leave the eighties.

Hell, I gave up higher-paying jobs because it would take away my ability to be available to get my kids at the drop of a hat or the benefits wasn’t enough to cover my autistic son’s treatments.

The irony is that during the renovations for this home, I’m the one who did all the work of dealing with contractors for over six months and trying to cook the kids dinner every night with a microwave in the living room. It was like a full-time job, playing project manager to construction.

I’m a saver. Putting money aside each month, being a cheapskate, that’s what I do. My kids use the same furniture I used when I was five years old. My son also has a dresser that I bought from Salvation Army for $100 in college, 25 years ago. I’m wearing used jeans gifted by a friend; the pockets got holes in them but I sewed them up when I figured out why I was losing lip balm on the regular.

When Joseph was unemployed for six months, I’m the one who did the work of selling a ton of stuff on eBay while still working a full-time job. I did two fucking jobs during a time where he told me if he had to quit his industry (and thus, be closer to the family but with a different job), he’d divorce me.

This divorce is 100% paid for by the money I’ve made from Medium, eBay, and Etsy since last summer. Meanwhile, he’s been blowing money out of guilt on endless toys for the kids.

When we got married, he was $13k in debt. I had no debt. Joseph’s credit score was in the 500s while mine was a little over 800. He had a stupid timeshare that was practically impossible to get rid of a decade later; how many maintenance fees did I pay into with my paychecks?

Since there’s no housing inventory at the moment, I’ve taken advantage of that and began saving like a motherfucker to make sure I’d have enough to buy a detached home. Nothing big, but detached; a condo or a townhouse have HOA fees that would bring the monthly total to the same as a detached home’s mortgage. Renting is out of the question unless I want to live in the ghetto far away from my kids’ school.

In the end, everything I paid for was temporary. Oh, need me to pay for the time you crashed my SUV? Sure, I’ll pay that because you get to keep your inheritance. Need me to pay for monthly childcare? Sure, I’ll pay that because you get to keep your inheritance. Oh, you need me to pay for the appliances? Sure, I’ll pay that because you get to keep your inheritance.

With each pregnancy, I never used a single vacation day or sick time so that I could accrue those days to put towards my maternity leave. I didn’t care if I felt like garbage; making sure I was able to bring in money while on maternity leave was more important. And yet, Joseph was the one who took vacation and sick time during my pregnancy.

I think I’m angry because Joseph has never, and will never, acknowledge the level of work it was for me to play single mother to a special needs child and his temperamental sibling for a decade. I often fantasized about being in a coma so I could get a relaxing break while he was stuck arguing with the internet company over not receiving the speeds we paid.

To add insult to injury, this inheritance doesn’t acknowledge the hell put on our family because of his siblings. Like the time I had to get an emergency hotel for a week because his drug addict brother showed up at my door demanding money (Joseph, of course, was not home…it took him over two hours to drive home from work that day). Or the time my first Mother’s Day with two kids was spent driving up to visit his mother. Or every single holiday spent driving ten hours to visit his family and paying for a hotel for a week instead of staying home because using my time off to actually relax wasn’t an option. I forgot to mention that my in-laws' house was dilapidated, reeked of urine, had flies, and had cigarette ash everywhere; even a Motel 6 would have been a vast improvement.

It must be ironic that I made half the calls to my mother-in-law’s friends to let them know she passed away only to end up getting fucked over with the inheritance. I deserve at least twenty bucks for every person who flipped out on the phone over the news.

This entire marriage, it was like he paid into a savings account and I paid for everything else. Now, 20 years later, he has a fat bank account full of cash and I have nothing. Between all of our equity and our savings, Joseph will receive 70% of it. Our 401ks are relatively equal so nothing is split there…if anything I might have a bit more because he preferred to spend his money on comics and toys rather than save.

And I’ll continue to pay half of the “rent” until I can afford to move out.

Excuse me as I step away to hide in my bathroom and have a nervous breakdown.

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