Breaking up with someone is hard enough. Then with marriage, there’s the legal process to deal with which works reasonably well if both spouses are interested in coming to a resolution but it only takes one spouse with a “winning” mentality to turn the process into a living hell.
My current guest Donna F. found that her husband had that winning mentality and at times that made her feel like she was the one who was crazy. Here’s Donna:
I was pretty convinced he was mentally ill. It became apparent that he had not been telling me for five years that he didn’t agree with me on things.
I’d seen some passive-aggressive stuff in his work environment and it turned out that that was our own relationship too. He was agreeing with stuff he never agreed with and then it culminated with “That’s it. I’ve never agreed with this,” and I had no idea, because we’d have conversations and agreements.
We’d gone to a couple of different counselors in the beginning and with this one counselor, we walk in and we sit down and we talk for the hour and then we’re getting ready to leave the guy goes, “Well, I’m not really sure what your issues are, but he seems like a really nice guy.” And I go, “Oh yeah, we are not coming back here again,” because my husband did have the ability to really convince people. He was very patient, well-spoken and he could convince people to believe him. It was just an interesting situation.
Another counselor we met with through the city, he was sitting there with the both of us and said to my husband, “Can you see that you’re not even emotionally available or can you see that this is tearing her up and you’re just going to give her the stuff?”
During the divorce he convinced my family that I was crazy and he had my family testify against me in court. I wasn’t going to get into explaining myself. I thought, “I’m an adult, I’m going to take care of my daughter and if my family can’t just stick by me because they’re my family then, you know what I mean?
It was horrifying. It was a horrible experience. There was a misconception about network marketing companies which I was involved with. I still take that product. It still has been something that has saved my life and saved the life of friends. It’s a nutritional product. But it was like, “Oh, that’s a pyramid scheme.” He got them convinced in that way.
My mom and my older sister and my dad did back off from supporting him at one point.
We did end up having some conversations and on the phone. They sent me some really hurtful letters. My little sister actually went to court and testified against me that he was a good dad and I was in love and I must really be influenced by this other group. It was one of the reasons why for me it was really hard to not feel crazy at times. He could convince me of things that weren’t really true.
Something in his reality would happen that he didn’t like and so he would change the story. He would really convince himself and everybody else that that second story was the reality. I think that’s how he survived some of the extensive abuse as a kid.
The bottom line was that it didn’t really matter what he did or what I did, the court really likes to favor the “Let’s work together and let’s split everything” mode.
Mediation never worked, because again, there really wasn’t any compromise. For him it was about winning and so we went to mediation, we went to court. We got tested. We had the whole evaluation thing. He didn’t finish his evaluation, so they couldn’t really diagnose him.
Mine did look horrible: like selfish and some different things. I was devastated by how those evaluations came back and made me look. No one’s a perfect person. But I was thinking, “Well, he didn’t even finish his.”
Ugh … Can I just say how much I dislike stories about family members taking sides against their blood relatives?
Is there a way to predict what your legal process will be like? I think so:
– where on the continuum of resolution to winning do you think you are?
– where on the continuum is your spouse?
– If both of you are close to the resolution end, then there’s a high probability you’ll be able to come to a reasonable agreement;
– If one of you is towards winning and the other towards resolution, there is the possibility of agreement but chances are it’ll be lopsided because the one who’s interested in resolution won’t have the capacity to negotiate for a more balanced agreement;
– If one spouse is at the winning end and the other is towards the mid-point, then there’s going to be conflict;
– If both spouses are at the winning end, watch out! This is going to be high conflict and very expensive.
Need a visual ?
How accurate do you think this is? Where would you and your spouse fall?
Photo Credit: 2013© Jupiter Images Corporation; Conflict Predictor 2013©Since My Divorce