Divorce and FIRE: 47 Year Old Male With Kids
Thank you for stopping by for another installment in my Divorce and FIRE series.
I have been thrilled with the support and comments shown by my readers to these individuals who have really opened up and shared with us a very traumatic time in their lives.
Every person who has submitted their story has told me that they were touched by the outpouring of comments.
I hope that this inspires others to continue this series by submitting their own tales of divorce.
Given the prevalence of divorce in today’s society, it is safe to say that everyone knows someone who is, or about to be, a divorcee.
This particular submitter is actually a member of my social circle and was gracious enough to accept my invitation asking him to write about his experience on my blog.
I will now turn this post over to him so he can share his story with you:
I want to thank XRAYVSN for giving me this forum to talk about my divorce.
I’m a 47 year-old male who recently went through a divorce.
I’ll try as best I can to follow the outline provided by XRAYVSN, but who knows where this entry will take me.
My ex-wife and I met in a bar on a Thursday night back in the spring of 2001.
I was out with some friends to meet another woman who, by the way, never showed up.
As I was scanning the room, my eyes made contact with a woman that would literally change my life.
She was on this little stage dancing with some friends, her long curly auburn hair whipping back and forth.
She saw me and winked at me and smiled.
I smiled back, but wasn’t sure if that wink was meant for me or not.
Minutes later and after a 2nd wink, I decided to walk on over and investigate.
As I approached her I probably uttered one of the cheesiest lines known to man, “Has anybody told you that you look like Grace from Will and Grace”?
Her response was, “Yeah like a thousand times”!
So I decided that I would just introduce myself and see where things went from there.
Before our night ended I was able to get her phone number.
I’ll be honest, I was skeptical that our future would go any further than that one encounter.
But I figured that I had nothing to lose.
I called her a couple of days later and we went on our first date.
We dated about eight months before I proposed.
That by far had been my longest relationship.
I was approaching 30 and I thought to myself that THIS must be the “ONE”.
We married that fall just two months, almost to the day, after 9/11.
Officially we were married 15 years, although our marriage was probably over a few years before the actual divorce.
We both had good jobs and had similar salaries.
Unfortunately we never had a financial plan.
We never sat down and discussed our financial future.
We simply worked, got paid, and spent.
Saving was not something that I did much of in my life.
Throughout our marriage we didn’t save much either.
Our savings was comprised of year-end bonuses and tax refunds.
Our divorce can probably be explained in three words; Communication, Communication, Communication.
Our communication, or lack thereof, obviously led to other issues with finances and fidelity.
Looking back I honestly believe that if we had communicated openly, honestly and frequently we may still be married.
I can’t stress how important the ability to communicate with your spouse is to a successful marriage.
To me strong communication is like the root system of a tree.
If you nourish the roots your tree will grow strong and bear fruit for many seasons.
You neglect the roots and the tree will wither and die.
That lack of communication led to other issues that ultimately caused our marriage to fail (i.e. financial, family, infidelity).
I look back at the conversations/arguments we had in my marriage, I can still picture myself just standing there, staring and not saying anything.
And anytime I did say something it was usually an attempt to say what I thought she wanted to hear and usually not what I felt in my heart.
I don’t know that I’ve ever satisfied myself as to why I communicated so poorly in my marriage.
For whatever reason the one person in the world that I should’ve felt confident and safe enough to speak my mind to was the one who I feared the most.
I remember that feeling in my stomach anytime we started having an argument or conversation.
It was like knots and I just looked for the quickest way to end it.
This typically meant I was just agreeing with her that I was wrong.
I felt I had to just do or say whatever I had to so we could go back to being a “happily married couple”.
The lack of communication led to the one major issue that eventually ended our marriage and made me realize that divorce would be the only solution.
We had issues in our marriage from early on.
The only honeymoon period we really had was the actual honeymoon.
I remember the night in our living room when she told me.
I just stood there almost zombie like hearing the words.
“You forced me to find love with somebody else”.
That wasn’t the exact quote, but that was the gist of why she cheated.
I wasn’t romantic enough or passionate enough.
I was in complete shock.
I didn’t do anything or say anything.
I just stood there like a statue.
All I remember from that night was waking up the next morning and moving on like nothing had ever happened.
It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that at that moment my entire world had imploded.
I felt as if the foundation that I had built my life on (i.e. love, honesty, trust, etc.) was made of sand and had collapsed.
At that moment, I stopped loving her.
Or better said, my love for her began to die a little each day until many years later we ended our marriage.
After that first affair we both changed.
I quit caring about anything when it came to my marriage.
I was numb.
I didn’t really have any emotion one way or the other.
I never got that happy or that mad.
The only joy or emotion I displayed going forward was related to moments spent with my daughters.
Aside from those moments, it was a pretty sad existence.
I went into a dark place in my life until I gave in and had an affair myself.
I thought I had found the love that I had lost with my wife, but it was short lived.
All I did know was that I was the complete antithesis of the man I thought I was or wanted to be.
We both grew apart and any love or passion we once had was now long gone.
We were basically roommates.
The only things that we had in common anymore were our daughters.
And as I’ve seen and heard countless times that’s not enough.
In the last few years I could see that she had changed in that the sweetness that she once displayed towards me was gone.
And that was a mutual feeling so I guess what she was giving was also what she was getting from me.
Ultimately, our marriage just fell into a coma that it would never come back from.
It’s been about a year and a half since my divorce papers were finalized.
Looking back, I probably walked away from about $10,000.
I come to that amount by taking the 50% of the equity of my house and subtracting from that 50% of the value of my 401k.
She would’ve owed me about $10,000, but I realized that was the cost of my freedom.
I could’ve drawn out the divorce proceedings, and gotten the money, but I realized that having my life back was worth it.
I haven’t sat down and done a detailed calculation, but $10,000 was just the immediate amount of my lost assets.
I eventually bought a house.
I had to take a loan of approximately $15,000 from my 401k for the down payment.
And I cashed out the cash surrender value of my whole life insurance policy to basically rebuild my life (i.e. furnish my house).
That was about $20,000.
Finally I’ve been leveraging on credit card.
I’ve carried a balance of about $5,000 for the last couple of years.
Part of the reason I’ve agreed to submit this entry to this blog is to try to get back on track with my life financially.
I need to stop the vicious cycle that I’m currently in financially.
I think I’ll need two years to get back on track financially, maybe more.
I need to settle the credit card debt, pay off the loan to consolidate some other debt and repay the 401k loan completely.
My head hurts as I think of all that I’ll need to do to get out of this hole, but I know that I need to start somewhere.
I’m not completely sure of how my ex is doing financially.
I assume she’s doing ok, but we don’t really have those conversations.
Initially I was dead set against ever getting married again.
I have to say today, I’m not 100% against it, but I know my heart is not anywhere near ready to love again.
I’ve had a few dates and been with a few women, but I’ve realized that I haven’t really gotten back to that point in my life where I’m ready to let myself fall in love again.
So although I haven’t shut the door on remarrying, it’s definitely not something that’s on the forefront of my mind.
If you are lucky enough to still be married, the best piece of advice I can give you to prevent a divorce is to communicate.
I can’t stress that enough.
Have those difficult conversations, don’t hold anything back.
It’s so important for couples to discuss anything and everything.
It’s also important to let each other talk and be heard.
Try to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes and see things from their point of view.
Also, I think every couple needs to go to therapy.
I think it’s sometimes a good thing to talk with an independent 3rd party in the room.
It will allow both of you to perhaps see thing from a different perspective.
If you’re unlucky to be going through a divorce, please know it will get better.
No matter how dark you think it is right now, you will eventually pull out of that darkness.
For me those dark days actually came the last two years of my marriage.
If you and your spouse are going through a nasty divorce it may take longer for the light at the end of the tunnel to become visible.
However, don’t lose hope.
Find somebody to talk to whether a friend or a professional.
Sometimes just having an ear to bend can be invaluable to your recovery and sanity.
I’ve often wondered, knowing what I know now, if I would’ve worked harder to save my marriage or moved forward with divorce.
Obviously, for my daughters’ sake I would’ve wanted to make it work, but with the qualification that it was for the right reasons.
Had I still had any measure of love for my ex-wife I would’ve fought harder, but that was not the case.
Besides that, I feel I have made the right decision.
I don’t think either one of us could’ve turned back the clock and started over with each other or rebooted our marriage.
I think that my divorce has definitely put a dent in my overall financial journey.
As I stated earlier, I need to get a handle on my finances and right the ship while I still have the means and the time.
It will take me a few years, but I think that will be time well invested.
The only thing I wish to say or to share, is that I’m grateful for the opportunity to share part of my story.
This is obviously an abridged version of my journey, but it’s been a wonderful experience to put this down in writing.
I hope that my story may help someone that’s going through a similar experience.
I also want to once again thank XRAYVSN for this platform on which to share.
If you, or someone you know, would like to submit a Divorce and FIRE story, I would love to hear from you.
You can remain anonymous unless you specifically give permission to reveal your identity.
I have created an outline of some of the topics you might want to consider elaborating on in your submission.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN