I was 52 when I separated from my ex-wife. The divorce was finalized the following year after what we both thought at the time was a long and protracted process. In hindsight it was actually smooth compared to other couples we knew who had also divorced. The ending of our marriage was thankfully no War of the Roses. We were both relieved that we accomplished it with very little sniping or arguments.
Maybe because our experience was so incredibly amicable, I’ve begun to think that what has transpired since borders more on a type of reverse karma or Bizarro World struggle. My ex, a/k/a “The Revisionist,” spins a narrative about our financial and alimony arrangements that differs greatly from my own understanding of them. When I hear her version, I am inspired to go beyond being the plain vanilla blogger I am and become more like a J.K. Rowling or a Stephen King — filled with imagination! There is truly a certain excitement and charm that lends itself to fiction writing. Instead, my own narrative takes on the role of a David McCullough or Doris Kearns Goodwin in order to preserve the historical record of events. It’s no fun being a dry historian when one can go the creative writing route instead.
I won’t bore you with the details of my spat with Revisionist. Or perhaps that’s just my way of saying I fear her attorney. But suffice to say that while official divorce documents are helpful in explaining how much, when, and under what circumstances money shall be paid, even the best of agreements do require a certain amount of interpretation when milestone events such as retirement actually begin. Although I had done my very best ahead of time in discussing how the retirement would impact her, Revisionist heard our phone conversations and read the emails differently.
Our divorce agreement calls for alimony to be paid for the rest of Revisionist’s life unless she remarries (If you are a single male who can breathe and has an income, please contact me). Additionally, she will also receive a percentage of the annuity from my pension. While we have a good estimate of what that percentage will be, the actual amount won’t be decided for a few months yet. In the meantime I am currently receiving an interim payment from my former employer.
The agreement prior to my retirement was that she would continue to receive the regular alimony amount for the next year until my full pension amount is decided. I have promised her lawyer that I will share all documentation, and Revisionist should in turn receive those same documents directly from the Benefits and Retirement Office of my former employer. Her lawyer has thankfully approved this arrangement until we can sit down to hammer out the final details. But Revisionist unfortunately has belated regrets about it, and she has verbalized these regrets to a great many people. What has come back to me from those people is what has flummoxed me. John Adams was certainly right– facts are stubborn things.
So we sit and wait till all amounts are received and tabulated. I have never missed an alimony payment since our separation and divorce, and I intend on making sure that record remains unblemished.
I chose to move cross-country to be closer to property that Revisionist and I still own together, and this means we’re all in semi-close proximity to one another. Happily, there is a plan in motion to separate us from the joint-ownership of those properties, and I do look forward to that eventuality. The less financial entanglements between ex-spouses the better. Gorgeous and Revisionist get along very, very well considering the dynamics, and recently all three of us had a nice short visit together. I’m sure someday our differences of opinion on this will pass, and we’ll be able to put it behind us. But in the interim this is just another one of life’s challenges that needs attention.