This back and forth is killing me!
September 12, 2017 5:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the process of divorcing from an abusive Ex. He's threatened me with a horrible scorched earth divorce. In the meantime, he claims that he still loves me and wants me in his life, but is driving me crazy by telling me about all the dates he is going on. His jerking me around is cruel. Even though I've been involved with someone wonderful, the Ex is driving me crazy and I don't know what to do.

As you can see from previous posts, I had an extremely verbally/emotionally/mentally abusive husband. We were married in 2014, together for another year before that. He is 40, I am 39. His second marriage, my first.

I cautiously extracted myself from the house and the marriage over the past two years. I officially moved out early this year. It's been the best thing I ever did. My life has been substantially better and happier. The Ex took it hard. Recently, I've reconnected with an old flame from 18 years ago. We've rekindled a friendship and are taking things extremely slowly. The new relationship has been so healthy. He's the antithesis of my Ex. He's been patient and understanding about everything going on with my Ex. He's been supportive, kind, and empathetic, a true friend.

The Ex and I are still in negotiations with my divorce attorney; Ex hasn't retained counsel. It's been so slow mainly because Ex has been flip flopping back and forth about several matters, some financial, some emotional.

He's tried on several occasions to rope me back in. I told him I'm done; I've moved on and he should do the same. He claims he doesn't want a relationship with me or anyone else, but then says he wants my friendship and companionship, and always wants me to be a part of his life. We tried being on friendly terms a couple of times, but he predictably ended up reverting to his abusive tantrums and drunken rages, at which point I just left and cut off contact. A few weeks later, I'll get a text asking where things are with the divorce, and then I get sucked into another cycle of him saying, "I love you"/"You're fucking me over". My lawyer is also pretty slow to act on things, which doesn't help.

Ex also threatened me with hiring the same powerhouse attorney that he had for his last divorce. It was similar; she was poor, he makes a lot of money. His lawyer was ruthless. Even though she was dirt poor, she was awarded zero support. Currently, he has a new job; he makes about $96,000.00/yr. I have a great job in my field area that I love, but it only puts me around the poverty level. (This is okay for now because I am renting a house from my boss for only the cost of utilities. Not a permanent solution until they can take me on full time, hopefully in the near future!). With everything going on right now, I'm quite happy this way. My lawyer would like him to pay somewhere in the range of $250.00-$500.00 per month for one year to help me get on my feet. He claims that this amount is ridiculous and that it would leave him destitute.

The only reason I've maintained any contact with the Ex is because I need at least some temporary financial assistance. He's been letting me transfer about $50.00-$100.00/week from our joint checking account (which he is the only one using) into my separate checking account (which I got long ago). I'm afraid of him cutting me off completely, which he would do if I cut off contact with him. If I can keep him at an arm's length, I'm hoping to obtain a modicum of assistance in the divorce, and then just cut off contact with him completely. Until then, if he gets mad, he'll hire his awful powerhouse lawyer that will leave me with nothing.

About two and a half weeks ago, we talked on a friendly basis and it went surprisingly well. He made a very generous offer to assist me. I told him I'd be grateful for anything that he could afford; I'm not looking to drive a Rolls Royce or financially screw him over. He broke down and cried and said that he still loves me, that he will always love me, and that he never wants to see me go through any hardship, financial or otherwise.

The next day, it was like I never existed. He bailed out of every plan we had to meet over the week and work out the terms of the divorce. Prior to this, he'd been in constant contact, even when things were difficult, typically several times per day. All of a sudden, he dropped completely off the radar. No facebook, nothing.

I finally emailed him a week ago to see if he would like to meet up and work out the divorce details, completely at his convenience. His response was that he couldn't because he had "plans" on Friday and Saturday night. I thought that was a very odd response... I never asked him about Friday or Saturday night! I'd kept it open. I figured he'd just started dating. Oh well, fair fucks to him.

Something else about it bothered me, though. At first I thought it was because he was dating (and we all know how weird that can be), but it's more than that. He completely blew me off when he had agreed to prioritize settling our divorce. (That in itself doesn't even completely surprise me because he's always run the other way when he needs to deal with reality.) It bothers me more that he blew me off after bawling to me that he still loves me, misses me, and always wants me to be part of his life. It felt like every word he said was completely disingenuous.

I didn't respond. I was still processing my thoughts. Then he texted last Friday and asked if I still wanted to meet up to go over divorce details. Instead of just telling me when he was available, he told me when he wasn't. He said he couldn't do it on Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night, or Sunday morning, because he (who never makes plans for God or Man), said he had "plans".

I feel that in informing me of his dating schedule, he was throwing it in my face. It was unnecessary and cruel. I haven't even mentioned anything to him about the wonderful man I've been seeing. It's not his business. His dates aren't my business either, but it was as though he was forcing it on to me when I didn't want/need to know. It just seemed callous, mean, and petulant. It was compounded by the mystifying fact that only a few days earlier he was bawling his eyes out that he loves me like crazy and always wanted me to be a part of his life. So much for that.

Biting the bullet, I texted back, "It sounds like you're dating again. That's great!"

He said he hadn't want to say anything over text, but it was the advice of his therapist and he was not comfortable with it. He said there are some crazy people out there and that he was going to tell his therapist at the next session that he tried it and it's not for him. He said he was using a dating app. Then he asked if I could meet up on Sunday night. He knows that I play guitar and sing at an Irish place in town with friends on Sundays. I reminded him of this, and then the text conversation ended. I never reached out to him after that, and he never reached out to me to finalize any plans.

He showed up at the Irish place on Sunday. I was so disappointed to see him. He asked why I was so disappointed. I said we didn't have plans. He said yes we did. He pulls out his phone and looks at the text message exchange, and he admitted that maybe we didn't actually have plans after all.

But he sat down and ordered us (?!) a bottle of wine and started to talk. (Yes, he's exhausting to deal with.) He admitted to having gone out on a dozen dates or so over the course of the past week. Wow, that's a lot, I said. He said it was exhausting. Each date was with a different woman. Each one he said he hated (they were fat, they were ugly, etc., although he did not seem bothered by the ones who lied on their profiles about having 4 kids at home). He blamed his counselor, saying that he "forced" him into it. He said indignantly that at least he'd done his counseling "homework" to make the counselor happy and that he'll never do it again, and that he deleted his app/profile. (Darn, and I was really hoping that he was going to become someone else's problem!) I told him I thought he must actually be enjoying being out there again, and he said he is miserable.

Above all, I am upset about the fact that he says one thing and does another. He can't afford to support me, but he spent hundreds of dollars this week on all these dates (I still have access to the joint account). He will always love me and always wants me in his life, but not really. He says he isn't ready to date yet, but he went on a dozen dates anyway. I guess it's confusing that he's not actually seeking true partnership with someone else, either. I mean, a dozen dates with random people in the space of less than a week seems odd for someone who said that he always wants me to be in his life. This guy is making me crazy!

I am bothered by all of this and am having a difficult time figuring out exactly how to process all of this. What is really going on here? Why do I even give a shit what he does when I am happy on my own journey of moving on? Is he trying to keep me from moving on? Why do I feel so upset by his actions? Is he just being shitty? Is he seeking me out just to hurt me and annoy me? Why is he being so disingenuous?
posted by chatelaine to Human Relations (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Closed communication divorce. Your lawyers should talk only. Block his phone number and email or route directly through your lawyer. Lawyers are useful if one party cannot handle communication appropriately (him).
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:28 PM on September 12, 2017 [60 favorites]

For all the reasons you are divorcing him, all the reasons, and how he behaves, this has gone on long enough, and just let the lawyers talk, and he can scorch all his own earth and ties, he wants to, if you have to get out of town to get through this, then do so. Do not make the mistake of ever speaking to him again, even to accept sheepish apologies.

People have a difficult time realizing they went on too long with a person that is abusive, that is bad for them, and they want a rosy conclusion, there is no such thing. Once he knows he can not mess with you any more, or get anything from you, or that you don't rise for the bait; he is not going to be nicer. You had the awful best he had to give, while you were under his power, he wasn't good then, he won't get better, he is not capable of being good. Cut the ties, and stay safe.
posted by Oyéah at 5:39 PM on September 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

Do not count on him following through on any promises that aren't enforced by the court.

Pester your lawyer to request immediate financial support, and let your lawyer know they may need to be ready to file for wage garnishment. (They can't ask for that at first; they have to get a claim for the payment, and then have him fail to follow through, and then file a complaint, and then wait for him to not respond to the complaint, and THEN file for garnishment - and wait for him to have a chance to challenge it. It's slow. Start early.)

I second the suggestion of going dark; let your lawyers do the talking. If he has no lawyer, that's not your problem. "I'm sorry; I can't talk with you because of the ongoing legal case. Please refer any questions to my lawyer." Block phone and social media contact; leave email open-- but just forward those directly to your lawyer.

Demand every shred of spousal support and other accomodation that your lawyer remotely thinks you might be able to win. If that seems "mean," tell yourself that you can be generous later. If you get a ruling that he has to pay you 50% of his income, but you only need 30% - you have the option of giving it back to him! Or, if that's too complex because of tax reasons, you can get the ruling changed AFTER you get the divorce finalized. Demand the moon; let his lawyer argue that you've only got the right to half the moon.

There is NO advantage to being "nice" to someone who's playing these kinds of headgames. Take the scorched earth approach yourself, as much as possible, before he has time to make promises that aren't legally binding, and hurt you when he fails to act on them.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:42 PM on September 12, 2017 [32 favorites]


Everything he says to you is painstakingly handcrafted to fuck you up because it delights him to see you dance. If you must interact with him, you have to remember that.

If you want to keep getting the little bits of money for however long it is fun for him to give it to you, you need to proceed with a memory longer-lasting than a goldfish. Pretend you're buying it, but stop actually taking everything he says and does to you in wide-eyed good faith. Not everyone in the world is being nice when they sound nice. People who abused you are never, ever actually being nice. They're just setting you up. They're making fun of you.

Better would be to give up on the money, but if you absolutely must play along for your survival you need to only play and stop believing anything. Use a critical eye. But it would be much better, given how good he is at playing you, to give up on the money so you can go no-contact.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:45 PM on September 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

I don't understand why you are still talking to this man at all! Like, literally, why haven't you blocked his number? For $400 a month? (The same $400 he says he can't afford?!?!) You are worth so much more than $400.

How did you get into multiple relationships (ex, boss, possibly attorney) in which other people control you with access to money that you deserve, either through your work or your legal ties? I think you should give your ex the cut direct and spend the resulting time and space working on yourself and coming up with a plan to stabilize your life emotionally and financially.

I hope things work out for the best for you.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 5:52 PM on September 12, 2017 [20 favorites]

Best answer: He'll never give you the money and he will hire that cutthroat attorney. Count on it.

There. Now the band aid is ripped off and that threat has no teeth because you can not not not avoid him turning on you. There is no bargain you can make.

He does not love you because this is not how people who love you act. Stop talking to him. And everything Snarl Furillo wrote.

I've started over and I understand how brave you are being. Stay strong, take care of yourself. Stay safe.
posted by jbenben at 5:59 PM on September 12, 2017 [34 favorites]

He's a jerk. He'll keep you hooked as long as he can because he finds it entertaining. Because he's a jerk who gets off on the powerful feeling of causing you pain.

It might be worth talking to your lawyer to see if you can transfer yourself a lump sum from that checking account and cut contact, then tell him to you are going to communicate through attorneys only. Be up front about what you've taken so that it can be counted in the final settlement. Even if it's less than what you would get over time, it's worth it to be free of this guy.

Get yourself out of this entanglement and then get to work on stabilizing your own situation. You deserve it.
posted by rpfields at 5:59 PM on September 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What is really going on here? He is doing his thing. All you need to know is that you are divorcing him for good reason. Until the divorce is final, do what you need to do and then you will be done with him.

Why do I even give a shit what he does when I am happy on my own journey of moving on?
Because normal caring people care about others. That instinct is leading you astray here.

Is he trying to keep me from moving on? Maybe. Or maybe he is just doing random jerky things that have the same impact. It doesn't matter. You are moving on anyway, whether he likes it or not and one day soon he will be out of your life.

Why do I feel so upset by his actions?
Because it takes practice to learn to let go of this stuff. Look how much practice he is giving you!

Is he just being shitty?
Yes. Or close enough that it doesn't matter.

Is he seeking me out just to hurt me and annoy me? Why is he being so disingenuous?
Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn't matter. You are moving on anyway, whether he likes it or not and one day soon he will be out of your life.

Just keep repeating that over and over - none of that really matters. You are moving on, he will be out of your life soon enough. In the meanwhile, do what you need to do to take care yourself and practice not caring about things that are not really about you.
posted by metahawk at 5:59 PM on September 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

you need temporary orders for alimony. ask your atty to set up a hearing.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:49 PM on September 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

Those of us who aren't assholes seem to always ask why those who are assholes have to asshole all the time. You will never get the answer to those questions you're asking. You are asking the wrong questions. Why are you still letting him dictate the game? Stop playing his game. Start playing your own. Stop talking to him. Let your lawyer talk to him. If the lawyer won't do what you need them to do then get one who will. Brace yourself that when you stop playing by his rules he will up the ante with his own new lawyer. Accept that it is the price to pay for your much deserved freedom. You are almost at the finish line. Hold steady.
posted by teamnap at 6:49 PM on September 12, 2017 [9 favorites]

I hope I am not out of line here, but...

You also seem to get caught up in drama. You are getting something out of his back and forth. I see it in this question and previous ones. That's ok. We all do it. We all get confused. This is a perfect time to trust your lawyer, or, even better, just trust the comments above. Engaging with him again is about trying to fill a need of your own, not resolution.

And agreeing: you are worth more than the extra $400. That's not nearly close enough to put up with this manipulative crap. Best thing to do is to never speak directly to him again.
posted by Vaike at 6:53 PM on September 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

PM sent.
posted by Jubey at 6:55 PM on September 12, 2017

That $250-500 a month your lawyer wants him to pay now, which he says will leave him destitute, is less than 5-10% of his income after taxes. That's a clue to what's coming.
I think you know what everyone else here seems to know: You gotta cut loose, and hard. Otherwise .. well, per the previous comment about drama, it take two to dance this awful tango.
You can do it. You have a life ahead of you.
posted by LonnieK at 7:59 PM on September 12, 2017 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I've run out of my retainer. Legal costs in excess are piling up.

My attorney informs me that we've been assigned a horrible judge who never awards support to anyone for any reason, no matter how dire. There will be NO alimony. My lawyer said that we will have to settle this outside of court if I am to get a dime. Filing a junction for another judge would cost another $450.00 that I do not have right now.

Dealing with Ex myself about the divorce has also been the lawyer's idea, in hopes of keeping my costs down. I've already told her I want nothing to do with him. She's happy to comply, but it's going to cost me. She bills about $500/hr.

As far as ending up in a scenario where I'm not making fuckloads of cash? I've worked the soulless shitty jobs that paid me well and sent me into suicidal depression. I'm done with those. I will always choose the job that makes me happy, where I am respected for my knowledge and expertise, even if I make less money. I'd much rather have that than to be in a financially secure situation where I pray for death. I work for a fabulous non-profit, involved exactly in a rare and specialized field of experience, for more money than I made being a museum director for fuck's sake. I have a wonderful boss and co-workers. Maybe in that way, I'm the richest girl in the world.

And as far as the drama, I am probably a sucker. As stated by one of you wonderful people, we all do it. When the man you married falls apart on you and begs for something you can no longer give, you better believe it pulls at you in parts of your innards you were never aware of before. When that man is a professional abuser, all bets are off. This is not a rational person we are dealing with here. Help me make sense of the irrationality, because that is what is going to give me the strength and impetus to kick his ass to the curb forever.

And frankly, for the stress and all it entails, I'm a bit terrified.
posted by chatelaine at 8:03 PM on September 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

He's going there hire that cutthroat attorney, probably already has, lawyer up. And maybe because that movie was on the other day, team up with his last ex and have her help figure out how the last alimony went wrong?
posted by TheAdamist at 8:37 PM on September 12, 2017

I MeMailed you.
posted by epj at 8:40 PM on September 12, 2017

Possibly a stupid question but why can't you call cutthroat attorney? If they're as cutthroat as you think, maybe they can get your future ex to pay court costs. And I'm out of my depth here but I think if you talk to cutthroat attorney about representing you, your ex cannot hire them because they will have a conflict of interest from having talked to you.
posted by kat518 at 8:43 PM on September 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

Your problem is, even if you do have a settlement where he agrees to pay x,y and z, he can simply not pay (or give token amounts) and there is a good chance he can get away with it without consequence.

Your attorney may not be on your side, after all, she has to deal with the judge in the future, and she sees that she won't get anything past the retainer.

A few resources that you really should pay attention to, and if possible have a friend also go over to talk about it with you.

The Proper Person youtube channel. Short, clear tips for dealing with court.

Bedrock Divorce - lots of free resources, based on his Forbes column. Books are worth reading.

One Mom's Battle has a good list of resources.
posted by Sophont at 9:00 PM on September 12, 2017

Best answer: I've been in a messed up relationship, and they truly are bewildering.These questions that you ask are so indicative of dealing with an abusive relationship. Have you already read Lundy Bancroft's book
Why Does He Do That?
If not, I strongly recommend it.

I have no answers for you, but I so remember this feeling of being at sea, of constantly trying to figure him out.

He is toying with you because that's what he does. You care and are trying to figure it out probably partly out of habit but mostly because some aspect of your survival (this money) feels like it depends on him. So you're trying to figure out how to have that go well. That -- trying to figure out how to behave such that you get treated well and the outcome for you is fair -- is also part of the essence of being in an abusive relationship.

What helped me stop thinking about him was reminding myself that I no longer needed to. I no longer needed to figure him out. I didn't have to deal with him. I think the sooner you can get to that place, the better.
posted by salvia at 9:01 PM on September 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

I'm also wondering why you're paying an attorney $500/h to get $3000-6000. It seems guaranteed to cost more than you receive. And in the meantime, you have all this stress.

You talk passionately about "even if I make less money. I'd much rather have that than to be in a financially secure situation where I pray for death." How does dealing with him make you feel? Wouldn't you rather have less money than be in a (slightly more) financially secure situation after submitting yourself to this man's abusive irrational behavior, to his toying with you?

There are way better ways to get $3000-6000. Working a second job one day per week could earn that amount in a year or less. And then that profit wouldn't get eaten up by legal fees. And you could find some good coworkers rather than be exposed to him.

I imagine that I'm missing something obvious (like that you have to pay this lawyer the same amount either way?). In any case, good luck getting free from this situation!
posted by salvia at 9:11 PM on September 12, 2017 [15 favorites]

Read through the columns and comments at Chumplady. You can start over and you can refuse to engage with his drama. Your life and your heart aren't his. He's trying to con you into thinking you need him, and you don't.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:33 PM on September 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you must deal with him directly, without your lawyer, don't feed into the drama. His personal life is no longer any of your concern, and your personal life is no longer any of his business. As far as scheduling a meeting, all that is relevant is when you are available, and when he is available. The reasons why either you or he are unavailable at certain times are irrelevant. And try to meet in a place which is less conducive to social chit-chat.

Him: I can't meet up Friday evening, or any time Saturday.
You: Oh, you must be dating again! How nice for you! Please tell me all about it!

Him: I can't meet up Friday evening, or any time Saturday.
You: How about Monday morning?

Him: That's no good, how about Sunday evening?
You: I still play in that band at O'Reilly's Irish Pub, 123 W. Chester St, at 7 p.m. Sundays.

Him: That's no good, how about Sunday evening?
You: I'm not available then. Does Tuesday afternoon work for you?

Him: I know a cozy little bar we can meet at, have a few drinks...
You: Sounds good!

Him: I know a cozy little bar we can meet at, have a few drinks...
You: How about the public library instead? It has study rooms which make good meeting rooms.

[When meeting]
You: I'd like to talk about detail X of the divorce.
Him: Let me tell you about this date I had Saturday. It started well, she seemed nice, but then...
You: Oh, I'm sorry it didn't go better. Tell me more about it!

You: I'd like to talk about detail X of the divorce.
Him: Let me tell you about this date I had Saturday....
You: Look, I'm very busy and I'd like to get through this as quickly as possible. Here's how I'd like to handle X...
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:42 PM on September 12, 2017 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: Amazing how I say all the "Right" things and never said the "Wrong" things and here I am anyway. Seriously.
posted by chatelaine at 10:37 PM on September 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

This may sound unduly harsh or even ignorant but.... you're a 39 year old adult married for barely three years and with no children together. What exactly do you need financial support for? Isn't the point of divorce that your lives are separated and you can go your merry way?

If the man is no good for you, then maybe you should look at a clean break with nothing to do with him going forward. Not even his money.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:00 PM on September 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Not to threadsit, but I have told my lawyer that I just want to walk away without any financial support and she says that is simply not an option. I just want this to end, months ago.
posted by chatelaine at 11:07 PM on September 12, 2017

Has your lawyer explained why that is not an option?
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:28 PM on September 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

The only reason I've maintained any contact with the Ex is because I need at least some temporary financial assistance [...] I'm afraid of him cutting me off completely, which he would do if I cut off contact with him.

Let go. Find a better lawyer and let him or her negotiate on your behalf. Move on.
posted by Kwadeng at 12:17 AM on September 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Your lawyer sounds like they're not really on your side here. They let your retainer run out and don't tell you that you're racking up bills? They tell you that you've got a judge who never awards support and your case is hopeless, but that not asking for support isn't an option? This stuff doesn't add up. It sounds weird, like either you're misunderstanding something or else your lawyer is just not doing a good job (and is possibly unethical as well). You may need to look for a new one. If you don't, I think you need to get a lot more forceful about advocating for yourself with this one, because they seem pretty half-assed about standing up for you. Given that "standing up for you" is literally their entire job though, that's pretty not-great.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:39 AM on September 13, 2017 [16 favorites]

It sounds like you are stuck in the drama of this relationship rather than making choices to get away from it. Why would him telling you he still loves you have any effect on you at all? After what you have told us here the guy is a total psycho loser and is someone to avoid at all costs but you get pulled in. I suggest you sort your feeling out about why you still cling to his words and actions so much. There may be insecurity that you won't find anyone else, which is common during a breakup, so big space and no contact with him will be your biggest ally. Dump your lawyer, too, and file the paperwork yourself. My husband and I did it with no lawyers--like you we had no kids so there was no reason for a support order. If there are any issues with the forms the magistrate/judge will rectify it with you. People do this every day. Don't use this lawyer as an excuse to cling to this highly dysfunctional man.
posted by waving at 5:36 AM on September 13, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: As somebody currently attempting to extricate herself from an abusive relationship (though thankfully not married), I just wanted to add a voice of support to you here. It's so hard when they turn on the 'pity me' routine. If you're anything like me, the sight of anybody crying is difficult enough, let alone somebody about whom you have really really complicated feelings. I don't think you're 'addicted to drama' or whatever. I think you're trying really hard to be a good human in a situation where, sadly, the other person involved won't give you the same courtesy.

Things do sound very confusing with your attorney, though maybe we just don't have the whole picture here. On the offchance that we do have the whole picture, I'd probably have a conversation with attorney asap trying to get clarity: maybe even sending an email with a list of clear questions that you need answered, so that her opportunities to hedge are limited.

As for your husband... he may not be directly conscious he's doing this, but he's clearly a very damaged person and he's enacting that on you. He's behaving in a way that's manipulative and abusive, even now, and I'm not hopeful that he'll stop any time soon, since he seems to have programmed you into his brain as a target for these behaviours. Walking away might be the best option. If that's not possible for you right now, I'm wondering if there's a way you can enlist a good friend to be a proxy for communications, and to accompany you to meetings? He may well be on his best behaviour in the company of others, and it takes a little bit of the pressure off you in terms of being directly exposed to his games.

I'm so sorry you're going through this, and I wish you so many good things.
posted by the north sea at 5:48 AM on September 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

He's been letting me transfer about $50.00-$100.00/week from our joint checking account (which he is the only one using) into my separate checking account

Letting you? If it's a joint account, he's got no choice -- that money is as much yours as his. I'm with rpfields -- if you can, grab a bunch of that money for yourself for divorce expenses and then cut contact. Really, there's no point in being "nice," after what you've been through and are going through.
posted by JanetLand at 7:51 AM on September 13, 2017 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, honey. I feel you. I understand so well what you're going through.

I went through a very difficult divorce with a husband who was mostly sweet and lovely the entire 20 years we were together - and then during the divorce became pretty unhinged, to the point where he landed himself in jail for criminal harassment. He too would swing between threatening/bullying/verbally abusing me and breaking down in tears, begging me to stay with him.

It's been 2.5 years since our separation, 1.5 years since our legal divorce. He has remarried. He STILL does this to me. Not at the same level he did during that year, but he still does. In many important ways, he has not let go of me and probably never will. Did you read the part about my ex being remarried? Yeah, it made no difference. He now says he's moved on romantically but wants us to be "friends". He wants me to speak to him in "soft" tones rather than the "businesslike" tone I use now. He wants to share casual chit-chat and ask me how my family is doing, and gets upset when I have no curiosity about his life. He too, drops hints about how great his new partner is. It's ridiculous and childish.

We have to be in touch because we share children. But by God, if I could cut him out of my life completely, I would.

I get why you still engage with him. You're a good person; you care(d) about him; you probably feel guilty for leaving him (even more than the average person because he abused you and probably made you feel guilty/responsible for a lot of things). You're also human, and it's HARD not to engage in drama when someone is repeatedly baiting you. But here's the hard truth: YOU HAVE TO STOP CARING. ABOUT EVERYTHING, INCLUDING HIM, INCLUDING THE MONEY.

The only way I can keep my sanity with my ex is by having zero expectations and engaging in bare minimum conversation. He's supposed to pay me monthly child support; he's never on time and I NEVER ask for it; that would give him leverage and an opportunity to converse with me. You need to do the same. The money part is hard. Find a way. You said, "Biting the bullet, I texted back, "It sounds like you're dating again. That's great!" . Sorry, this was the wrong answer. What you need to do is become a robot. Ignore, ignore, ignore. DO NOT ENGAGE.

You think that being decent with him now will pay off later financially...I tried that many, many times (in my case I didn't want his money but wanted a decent relationship for the sake of the kids). It hasn't worked. He's nice sometimes. Then he's a jerk sometimes. Overall, on balance? He's a jerk. An immature jerk with emotional problems. So is your husband.

Your lawyer sounds very sketchy. You should absolutely be able to walk away without asking for money. Shared assets and liabilities, yes, you have to split. But waiving support? Anyone should be able to do that. I would recommend you at least TALK to another lawyer to get a second opinion. That shouldn't cost you any money.

Good luck, stay strong. Be a robot. There's no way a person like this will change.
posted by puppet du sock at 8:27 AM on September 13, 2017 [11 favorites]

(Side comment: puppet du sock, keep records of those troublesome child support payments. Unlike spousal support, that debt never vanishes; I have an aunt who gets a $50 payment from her long-time-ago ex every week - garnished from his ages - which she considers her "Friday fancy dinner" money, for a child who's now in her 40s.)

Otherwise - yes, agreed to all of that. Being decent to him gets you NOTHING but possibly temporary reduced hassles. If it's less stressful to talk to him than to tell him "go away; I do not wish to talk to you," then maybe do so - but you will get no benefits from it in the case, and you may be giving him information that can be used against you.

At best, he is confused, scared, and prone to lashing out at his easiest target: you. At worst, he's deliberately trying to keep you off-balance and scared so you'll come back, drop the lawsuit, and let him run your life.

Start with requesting 50% of his income as spousal support; even though the marriage was short, you went into it assuming that you were sharing assets for life. Let his lawyer negotiate down from there.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 1:49 PM on September 13, 2017 [4 favorites]

I remember replying to your (very disturbing) post a few years ago. I am so glad you have finally cut this horrible person out of your life!!

Except... you haven't cut him out of your life, have you?

He knows he can manipulate you by withholding money. And you play right into his hands, dancing like a little marionette while he pulls your strings.

Get away from him. Do not communicate with him. Cut all ties. You might be poor, but there are worse things than being poor. Living under a bridge would be better than having your ex jerk you around for as long as he can drag it out. The money isn't worth it.

By the way, how is the dog??
posted by LauraJ at 8:53 PM on September 13, 2017

You wrote this in November 2014: "The good behaviors and the bad come and go like the flip of a switch. It's completely disorienting." Similar to the present day, no?
posted by salvia at 11:06 PM on September 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

How much is in your joint checking account? It's a joint account - empty it. Then cut contact with him and let your retainer run out on the lawyer who can't get you alimony but won't accept you not paying her to go after it on your behalf.

It can be over. You're not going to get anything. When he realises it's really over he's going to scorch the earth. At the moment he's continuing to manipulate and taunt you and hoping he will win you back or at least keep you hooked at the level you still are. I totally get what you say about "saying the right things" - skilled abusers are reading from their own script and are incredibly good at saying what they want heard while completely ignoring what the other person is trying to say. Why Does He Do That as recommended above will illuminate why he does what he does.

You can either try to manipulate him back (which might work if you use the tactics of whoever messed him up so bad in the first place) and get money that way, or cut him loose and get it all sorted asap without pursuing support. The former doesn't sound like something you'd want, you still care for him, and will cost you a bit of your soul. The latter is how is probably go if I were you. Just tell your lawyer you don't want alimony and you want to be legally divorced, like, yesterday. He will be marrying a new victim in a few years. Don't stick around to watch.
posted by intergalacticvelvet at 3:42 AM on September 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

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