In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons divorced couples stay at odds is because of child support. Why? Because when a man by law is required to give his ex-wife a check every month, many times he feels overwhelming resentment, anger and bitterness.
I can say this with authority because I see it everywhere. I see it from men who are struggling financially, all the way to men who have millions. It doesn't make a difference. Most hate to pay.
Why? Let me paint the scenario. A guy thought he and his wife and kids were relatively happy. The marriage wasn't perfect, but it was okay. That was life. All of a sudden, one day, his wife says, "I want a divorce." He finds out she is in love with another man. The ground beneath the guy's feet gives way. He now has to find an apartment and move out, not see his kids every night, AND the worst one, give his wife (who is happily in love and living with their kids full time) a check every month, otherwise he will go to jail.
Okay, so I get that. I understand it. But, here is what I want to explain, being a woman who receives child support. Guys, you aren't giving your ex-wife money. You are giving money to your children. I sometimes feel that ex-husbands think we are sitting around on our asses collecting money, buying whatever we want and laughing about how great we have it.
In my case, I am working harder than I ever have in my entire life, with more hours, more intensity and more stress than ever. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do, and I couldn't feel more fulfilled, but I also need the jobs. If I don't perform and I lose the work, I'm screwed. And for me that means meeting deadlines, producing quality work, keeping my blog fresh and updated, and finding new ways to market my books.
Here's the thing. Divorce (besides having so many other downsides) is expensive. It's a financial nightmare for most people. So, with financial stress and fear, comes anger and resentment.
But I hope men who read this will think about the fact that when they give their ex that monthly check, they are giving it to them so that they can house, feed and clothe their children.
Also, think about this scenario. A woman was a stay at home mom. The husband left her for another woman. Now, the husband expects her to go out and get a job, which is fine, but do men realize how hard that is? Not only is the woman traumatized that her husband of two decades just dumped her, but now he expects her to go out and find work, like it's easy.
I can tell you firsthand how difficult it was for me to gain employment after staying home for 10 years. I was insecure with zero self-confidence, I had no current computer skills, and I was scared to death. I went on dozens of interviews, including my old company, that had an open position and who never even called me back for a second interview. Factor in the horrible job market and it's a nightmare to try to find work after staying home for so long. So, I guess what I'm saying is, please understand that it's not that women don't want to work, it's just hard to find jobs.
I do want to take the man's side for a second. Guys, I know it's frustrating (in certain cases) when you have to give a check to your ex, who left you, and who you know for a fact isn't even looking for a job (again, in certain cases) because she just doesn't want to work.
Ladies, you got divorced. Whether it was your choice or not, this is your time to step up and attempt to work. I know it's not easy, but it's your obligation to contribute (in certain situations.) Plus, working will bring you renewed self-worth and happiness like you never could have imagined. I can attest to that 100 percent.
I also want to bring up something else. I think that the way child support is structured is really bad. The psychological aspect of a man having to hand his ex a check every month is just plain old mentally unhealthy. Why not set up an account that is for the use of kids only? A guy can put the child support check into that account and the woman can write checks against it for rent/mortgage, food, utilities and kids expenses? This way, the guy who is writing the checks can see firsthand where the money is going.
I have a guy friend who is extremely wealthy. His wife left him for another man and he had to pay her child support. He hated paying it so much, that he gave her a lump sum for three years, which I thought was really smart because he was done. He didn't have to think about it anymore. Obviously, most people can't do this, but the point is, he took away the psychological problem of child support.
In closing, every divorce situation is different, and I don't know your personal story. What I do know is that divorce brings a financial hit, and both the man and the woman should be obligated to financially support the kids. Our kids should always be our number one priority.
So, next month, when you hand the woman who broke your heart and ruined your life the check, try to remember that you are handing it to your children, not her. And ladies, when he hands you the check, just say thanks. That's all. Let him know you're grateful.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of the comedic novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE, about life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)