The marriages that have come and gone through my doors all had one thing in common: women who draw a short straw in their divorce from their money-controlling ex-husbands. I’m often hired as the financial advisor to support these women and take their soon-to-be ex-husbands to the cleaners as civil-like as possible.
Today, women are quickly becoming the breadwinners, and tables are turning. From experience as a divorcee myself; men are often on the receiving end of the short straw in their divorce. There are many reasons beyond who brings home the bacon that can cause a man to receive less than he hopes for.
The Divorce Process of dealing with attorneys, mediators, child custody negotiations, asset splits, support payments, pet custody, couch custody, and all that could possibly be shared takes its toll. Going into a marriage is about compromise, and this same aspect is true in divorce. Whereas most men just want to make decisions, women may operate otherwise. The divorce process typically takes much longer than expected and turns average Joe into the Incredible Hulk.
The Emotional Ex who can’t make a decision can drive up attorney costs and test your patience levels. Hopes of her becoming less emotional (at least with you) often aren’t the reality most men face. All I can say from experience is, “Hang on, brother; it’s going to be a wild ride!”
Financial pressures to pay for two households, exorbitant attorney prices, support payments, taxes, and eventually therapy, all add up. Financial strain often puts more demands on every aspect of your life: employment, remembering to pick up the kids, feeding your dog, and remembering to turn off the lights. When it comes to employment if you are fortunate enough to earn a raise, proceed with caution! Your ex can drag you back into court to make sure she gets some of that tasty bacon.
A new domestic role can be a daunting yet positive addition to your life’s resume. Like many Dads, I never fully understood or appreciated all that goes into running a household. Helping with homework, walking the dog, and being nice to neighbors were all problem-solving skills I needed to learn on the fly. Kids wanting things “the way Mommy makes them” requires tremendous patience and the ability to learn whether pancakes should be round or shaped like Mickey Mouse. Your patience will be tested and although you may not be good at them, it’s a responsibility you’ll quickly come to learn to put up with enjoy.
Support blues result from actions like picking up your kids at your former house or seeing your dog run after your neighbor and can be psychologically taxing. Blues result from being asked for additional financial help which can be an ongoing burden as you see your wallet get flattered and your credit card statements get fatter.
Kids and friends may take sides making you out to be the “bad guy”. You’ll immediately become the big bad bear even if all you want is a hug. Having to create a new circle of friends can be an unanticipated aspect of divorce. I found that the best approach I could take is to let my actions speak for themselves. Kids and friends will ultimately support a path filled with the integrity of action.
Dating is a whole new world. Like stepping into a planet of blue avatars, you’ll have to learn a new culture and way of life. As fun as dating can be, let’s face it, it’s been years since you were single and dating will always require two things: time and money. Although you may have very little of both, with online dating sites, awkward conversations, and re-understanding the concept of “the one”, you’ll soon feel comfortable in your skin enough to let things fall where they may.
The grass may not be greener when men fully consider all the downfalls of divorce and the tolls it can take. What is important is to set realistic expectations to determine how they can best navigate such a major life transition and still remain in one piece emotionally and financially, and hopefully, with their dog.
Seth Streeter is Co-Founder and President of Mission Wealth Management, LLC (MWM), one of the region’s leading independent wealth advisory firms. Streeter and his experienced team of advisors specialize in integrated financial planning, investment advisory, and insurance services for high-net-worth individuals. He resides in Santa Barbara, California, and has two young children. Streeter is an avid athlete, participating in swimming and triathlon events. He enjoys travel, connecting with fascinating people, writing, and being an active father.