Seven years; that’s how long my spouse and I have been together. Ten months; that’s how long we’ve officially been married. Eighteen months; that’s how long we’ve been in court to modify the original divorce decree with my husband’s ex-wife.
When we started this process back in December 2015, we were a mere six months away from our wedding. The hope was we would be finished before our ceremony, and free to enjoy the rest of our lives together. While we are still enjoying the rest of our lives together, court has continued to haunt us. More than likely, we will hit our first anniversary without any resolution to it.
My spouse’s divorce dragged on just as long, but to be fair it made sense when you’re dividing up property, money, and working out a custody agreement. In the end, my husband received a verdict of paying child support, and a significant amount of alimony, without specific term limits. It was said to have been only for a couple of years, so his ex-wife could re-train and find a job since she’d been at home raising the children. However, it was never put in the documentation, so now we sit trying to modify it.
Over the last seven years, we’ve struggled financially to make sure all bills were covered. We’ve made sure the kids had new clothes or shoes if needed and we saved to go on various trips without ever actually getting ahead.
I’ve been labelled the “homewrecker.” My husband’s ex-wife told my stepdaughters that their dad left them to be with me; that he chose me over his family. None of which could be further from the truth. They struggle with who to believe because, let’s be honest, no one wants to think their mother is a liar. I’ve tried talking to our oldest, but I don’t think she believes me either. I firmly believe there is parental alienation going on, but proving it would be difficult.
Now, we’re in the middle of another court battle. One that has again brought out lies. In the end, my husband wants to remove the alimony. He was more than willing to pay and take care of his children, but his ex-wife won’t find a job and has given 101 reasons as to why she can’t work. The excuses are comical and all the while frightening. She came to court last fall saying that not one, but both of my stepdaughters had brain lesions. I’m sorry, come again? Yes, that’s right – both of them. And this was the first time my husband had heard about it. Did she have scans or doctors to direct us to about these terrible brain lesions? Nope. Do the kids get sick? Sure, just like normal kids; one has IBS, and the other low iron, but brain lesions. That’s a new low.
One example of possible parental alienation is that during this court proceeding, his ex-wife revealed that she told my stepdaughters that their dad was taking money from them. In other words, hurting them because he is so selfish. I’m sure they’re being told I’m the reason he’s doing it all of it, too.
We’ve put our lives on hold in many areas because of the continuing court case. We’ve put off having our own family, we’ve put off moving and switching jobs just to be sure nothing can come back and bite us in the butt. I’ve struggled with some of these things, and yes we’ve fought over them from time to time.
So, how do we as a couple move forward and continue on with each passing day without a resolution?
My husband and I learned very early on to communicate with each other.
There have been times we needed reminding, and a trip to visit a counselor was needed, but we always found our way back to it.
He was legally married when we started dating, but the “torrid affair” that has been tossed around never happened. So, in order to keep our relationship sane, we talked about it all.
As crazy as it is, we do try to laugh about it. We now say he has his “5-week check-in” at the courthouse. And, because my work schedule is crazy, I try to make sure I’m home those evenings in case he needs to let out any frustrations.
However, it’s not all about him, and those wives out there need to remember to take care of themselves. You’re useless to everyone if you don’t.
I’ve taken up the new practice of coloring! I bought a coloring book with positive affirmations and some markers. I sit on the couch, watching some stupid reality tv, and color. It really does help with the anxiety of day to day life. I’ve also started writing a lot more. It helps to put my feelings onto paper, along with sorting out my thoughts, so it’s less jumbled.
I’ve made a point of talking with my friends about different things going on, too. I know not all of them understand, but I do have a great group of people who surround me.
Most importantly, however, my husband and I take time for ourselves, away from it all. Just over the weekend, we took a day drive to the wine country about an hour from our home. We spent the day checking out the shops, eating, wine tastings, and remembering that we’re a team.
I am all in, and he’s all in.
The lies will continue, the hurt feelings will subside, and we will be able to move on, hopefully, sooner rather than later. And no matter how many more months this thing drags out, we’re good.
*Names have been changed.*
Kari Michaels is a stepmom of 2 teenage daughters residing in the Midwest along with her husband and their two rescue pups. Kari works in the nonprofit field, actively volunteers, and always enjoys a good reality tv show.