People are often hesitant to research divorce before they’ve made the decision to end their marriage and yet, the more realistic you are in understanding what divorce means both from a legal and a practical standpoint, the better positioned you are to make that decision about your marriage. You especially need to know what to expect when your spouse is a controlling person.
My current guest, Lisa Thomson was married for eighteen years. After almost a year of evaluating her marriage, it was Lisa who initiated the divorce. Lisa says the legal process turned into quite ugly because of her ex’s controlling behavior. Here’s Lisa:
Throughout the marriage my husband was a fairly controlling person. He’s eight years older than me, so even just going into the marriage, he was already in his 30’s, I was in my early 20’s. Sometimes I would chalk it up to the age difference, but quite frankly, there was quite a big personality difference. He is and was a very controlling man and likes to have things his way and if they don’t go his way, he’s not a very happy person.
Those personality traits really had an impact on the unfolding and the process of the divorce itself. What’s happening is they are losing control and they don’t really have a choice anymore in what’s happening, so they get very frustrated during the divorce and they’ll seek out their lack of control by trying to control other things. It does become rather challenging.
The first thing that he wanted to control was he wanted to ensure that I didn’t get anything. He started to view everything as his, that he had earned it. So, control over finances was the first initial response that he had. Some of the comments he made were, “I don’t have to pay for you, you’re not my wife.” He did used to be quite—I would call it degrading during the marriage, because I was a stay-at-home mom and I really did love being a stay-at-home mom. I cherished that role but unfortunately, what comes along with that sometimes is you lose a little bit of independence and that’s a whole other topic.
He did used to make comments even then about money. Someone would compliment me on a hair cut, for example, and he would say in a social situation in front of these people, “Well, I paid for it.” So just really embarrassing.
While he’s building himself up, he was really putting me down, making me feel small. What I’m getting at really is that money was an issue during the marriage. It’s not that we didn’t have money, but it’s like he wanted to control it. So, of course, one of the first things that happens, and I think this is quite common, especially when the woman decides to leave the man, I think the man is angry and he says, “Well, OK see you. Too bad, I’m not paying for anything.”
We all know that’s not how it works, that your former wife or former spouse is still the father and mother of your child. So, obviously there are still some ties there and some legal responsibilities.
The process started with that and then it did spill over into the kids. He was very controlling over when he wanted to see the kids. We had come to an agreement initially about shared parenting. I wanted him to be in their lives and I didn’t see that he should have any less than half the parenting, but he almost had a fear in the beginning. He said, “Don’t take the kids away from me.” I said, “I would never do that.” I was astounded by the comment, because where he would get the thought that I would even have that in my head was really surprising to me.
With that, I think what I saw there was some insecurity and fear. His way of dealing with that was to turn it around and in fact try to take the kids away from me. So, it was quite a shocking process and this happened over a couple of years.
The Divorce Coach Says
The more you know what to expect going into divorce, the better prepared you can be. Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst behavior in any of us so the best advice I can give is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
One of the key preparations, and this applies as soon as you know divorce is on the cards, is to secure your access to funds. This is especially important if you are financially dependent on your spouse and/or your STBX has the potential to be mean and vindictive. There are at least three things you should do:
- Consult with an attorney to understand your legal position such as what are considered marital assets, what money you can withdraw and what temporary relief may be available to you with filing for divorce. This could be one of those situations where it’s smart to move ahead faster with the legal process.
- Have your own bank account and secure your access. If you only have a joint account, get your own account. If your spouse knows your password or PIN, change it. If your spouse does close down the joint account you will still have this account.
- Get a credit card in your name. You’ll be able to use this in a worst case scenario to fund legal fees and in a worst case scenario, you will need competent, legal advice.
If you’d like more tips on preparing for divorce, I have an awesome free audio program “What You Need To Know About Divorce Preparations.”
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