When I separated from my wife a year and a half ago, I agreed, because I was the one working at the time, to continue to support her and my son, as I had always done. At the time I felt it was he right thing for me to do. I believed, perhaps naïvely that our financial arrangements, since my wife had take early retirement in 2005, did not really need to change much. But a year and a half later, I am seeing things differently.
It had not occurred to me back when I was living with my wife, that once my son went to college, which he did this past Fall, that she would not go back to work. One of the reasons she wanted to take early retirement was to be able to be home for our son during critical years in his development. I had assumed that once he went away to school, she would go back to the job market. But that did not happen.
At 59, she had decided that she does not want to work. She joined the board of a non profit organization and is spending a lot of her time supporting the non profit. That means that my salary is supporting our house, my apartment, and my son at school—all of our expenses. . Nothing from my salary is left over a the end of the day. While I have not pushed a job with my wife, I find it an increasing source of anger. Why am I working so hard while she does not? Why is my income being fully consumed for all our costs while she contributes nothing?
When I moved out of our home, paying the bills seems like the price of my freedom. But it has been a year and a half. The reality of funding everyone’s life at the cost of working so hard that I have little time for myself no longer feels acceptable.
I feel that my wife will say that I made a promise to take care of her, which I did with little more thought at the time then wanting desperately to get out of my marriage. So the question now is how to move forward and get to a level of fairness. How does my wife and I move from a welfare state, where I am the state, to something more equitable? It will not be easy and will require my best skills at interpersonal relationships. But it is what has to be.