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The Economics of Divorce

Image result for heart break emojiEven in the most carefully run and financially independent of lives, there will be some wrenching twists and turns.

Friendships and businesses will fail. You or your loved ones will get sick and some of them will die. Kids will have plenty of trouble on their long road to adulthood – if they even make it. And all around you, there will be a sea of fighting and breakups and divorces and mismatched relationships that you wish would end, for your sake or that of your best friends.

With all of this happening, it’s a wonder that we can remain happy and productive and even thrive as humans. But we can. And we do. Because sometimes life just serves up a shit salad and we don’t have a choice in the matter, but we always have a choice of how to respond to it.

So if you haven’t already heard through the rumor mill, the former Mrs. Money Mustache and I are no longer married. Although we had been drifting this way for a while, the formal change of our status is still less than a year old, so it’s still a topic that deserves some quiet respect*.

The downfalls of our own relationship are personal and not something we choose to make public, but you’ve heard it all before anyway. Sometimes people just grow apart over the decades and no matter how much they work at the relationship, find that they want different things from life. And when this happens, not even the greatest advantages of a lifetime money surplus or a supportive network of great friends and family or living in a beautiful place can save you.

Update: Some of the negative speculators have assumed “your wife dumped you because you were too frugal.” This part may be necessary to address because of the money theme of this blog.

The answer is NO. I was the one who asked for the separation so you can blame me for it. And no, there were no frugality issues because earning and accumulating money was always extremely easy for us. We spent whatever we wanted, we just happened to have finite desires. Plus I was not the “boss” of the house. Mrs. MM has always been an independent-minded person who is good with money and decides on her own spending.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that we have had about the most amicable separation that one could hope for, we all still spend plenty of time together and our son is still in the same loving environment he has always had. And I would venture to say that both of us parents are going to come out of the experience much better off than we were before.

See, even the harshest moments come with a little golden key taped secretly onto their side, which you can use to unlock personal growth and greater future happiness. But only if you choose to accept that key and put it to use.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend that there weren’t plenty of harsh moments for both of us, both before and during this experience, with plenty more still to come. Because divorce, especially with children and family and traditions involved, is really fucking hard. 

But guess what? There are a lot of things in life that are hard. Being born and going through childhood is hard. Having babies of your own is even harder. School and jobs are hard, and money is really hard for most people. Relationships and friendships and dealing with bossy or dysfunctional friends or family or parents, personal habits and addictions, and everything else. Life is full of hardships.

But throughout all of it, we always have a choice about how to deal with them.

We can choose to focus on how unfair the situation is, how we were right and we tried our best and the world still mistreated us. And we can fight back, chasing the unfair person or company or situation and get revenge. We can make sure they know exactly why they were wrong and every way in which they were flawed.

And we can collect bathtubs full of sympathetic tears from our friends. And burn years on reliving the past, with a mixture of regret and vengeful self-righteousness and self-pity.

– OR – 

We can get right back to work on positive things to rebuild our lives. Improving ourselves through better habits and health. Building new relationships and nurturing old ones, and making sure we put out only positive energy to every person in our lives, including our ex-spouse. Building everyone up and never, ever tearing anyone down. Because they already do that plenty to themselves.

Like almost everything else in life, human nature draws us to the easier but more destructive of these paths, and only self-knowledge and self-discipline can lift us out of that rut and place us onto the more productive one. And even then, our human nature will keep pulling us back and we’ll make mistakes. And then we’ll have to drag ourselves back out of that rut again. And put the happy face back on, and start behaving like an adult again.

As one friend puts it, “Being a divorced coparent is like being the co-owner of a business. Except it’s the most important company in the world and having it fail is not an option. So you have to treat your business partner accordingly.”

It has been a hard year. But at the same time, I feel we have both already learned so much, that it seems almost impossible that the experience won’t help both of us live better lives in the future. We are both doing well in forming new relationships and supportive of the other’s success in that important aspect of moving on.

But this is usually a personal finance blog. What does my romantic life have to do with your financial life? Not too much in the specifics, but quite a bit in general, because about half of all marriages end in divorce, and I have found it can be quite a tricky minefield to navigate.

First of all, there is the effect on your child raising, which is a parent’s most important job in life. In the best scenario, the end of a marriage is just a change to your love life, and you can continue to collaborate with your former spouse in a wonderful and open way. But the more conflict you have with that ex, the harder it is to cooperate, which leads to a worse experience for everyone – especially your children.

Then there is the social shame attached to divorce in our culture. While it could be looked at as the natural and peaceful end of an arrangement that has just run its course, other people will see it as a failure or a betrayal or a sin. In fact, when rumour of our separation got out, multiple gossipy and negative and downright distasteful discussions formed around the Internet – on Reddit, other bloggers’ websites, even right here on my own forum. People who don’t even know you, will speculate on your character and your motives. It adds pain to an already difficult situation. The only way to survive this is to ignore it and focus on your own internal compass.

And finally there is the famed financial cost of divorce. It is legendary for destroying lives and fortunes, and indeed this is sometimes accurate. This is because conflict is a form of war, and war is the most expensive thing humans have ever invented. And if you hire lawyers and other specialists to fight on your behalf, you just multiply the damage and the cost and stretch out the timeline.

But fortunately, like everything else, going to war is almost always a choice.

And if you don’t choose to fight, a divorce doesn’t have to cost much at all. Two people can peacefully collect up their financial and physical belongings and go their separate ways, and the only cost is in any duplication of possessions you choose to do, to replace things you formerly shared.

So the former Mrs. MM and I (mostly under her guidance!) worked through the do-it-yourself paperwork and paid a $265 fee to the county court for the divorce. I bought the lowest-cost house in the neighborhood, just a 2.5 minute bike ride down the hill from the family house, and I’ve already fixed it up and started hosting Airbnb rentals to help make it carry its own weight. I left the Nissan Leaf behind and chose not to buy a car of my own because I already have bikes.

We share plenty of time with our son and he is doing amazingly well – because we are choosing to make this new life about growth rather than conflict.

And most notably from the perspective of early retirement and financial independence, having enough money in advance has made this part of the split much less painful. Both of us can remain retired and continue to live in mortgage-free houses with investments easily covering our living expenses, while sharing child raising expenses. Although I chose to buy a house, nobody had to compromise on quality of life or sell the expensive family house.

Because I enjoy moderate living for its own sake, my own cost of living will go way down. And because I continue to enjoy writing and working, my income may continue to stay high through this next stage of my life. I’ll continue to use the surplus for projects and philanthropy just as before, but the point here is that one’s relationship status does not have to affect their financial status.

As a long-time reader said to me in a recent email as we discussed our shared fate, having a solid financial cushion and low expenses and lifestyle flexibility, has made the best of an otherwise difficult situation – especially in not having to disrupt the lives of our kids.

Still, having been through it, I would not recommend divorce as a decision to be taken lightly. If you’re still married and there is even a chance that you want it to last, you might consider the following steps.

How to Stay Married

Read about how to stay married – early and often. Peruse the bountiful relationship advice section at Amazon and definitely check out the 5 Love Languages book that resonates strongly with so many people.

Most of us (myself included) drift through the years, assuming we are doing a perfectly good job at being married, while unintentionally making all the same mistakes that everyone else makes.

Bad idea.

You need to proactively nurture a close, loving relationship before things get too dire, and never take it for granted. Because many bits of damage you do to a relationship are permanent. You cannot nag or criticize your partner for years and expect them to forgive you when you eventually see the light. And for those being nagged: you cannot ignore the requests of your partner for years, and expect them to forgive you for that either.

There are so many things, like being on each other’s team in times of hardship, and being genuinely excited and greeting your partner warmly at the door if they’ve been away, that fall to the side in marriages as they get stale. Every time you let this slide, you do a bit of permanent damage. The effects are cumulative like erosion, not temporary like moods or weather.

So the bad news is that there is definitely such thing as “too late.” At some point, the idea of “working on” a marriage sounds like hell because you have been waiting for so long to be able to escape it.

But the good news is that it might not be too late for you, if you do want to stay married. And the benefits begin immediately – if both people are working at it, every positive gesture from one side will be met with a positive one from the other, and they can reinforce each other into a beautiful upward spiral.

But if You’d Rather Not Stay Married

The flipside of all this is that many, many people are currently married, who should not be and don’t want to be.

You may be two perfectly great people with irreconcilable differences, or there might be one great person stuck with an abusive user or loser, or any other combination in the grand spectrum of possible humans. And it is important for these people to hear that although divorce is always difficult, sometimes it really is the best choice and there should not be shame or blame associated with this choice.

Every human needs and deserves to be accepted and loved – even the people who drive us crazy and even those who treat us poorly. They are who they are and while you can’t change them, you can’t make the world any better by spitting venom back at them. So your best strategy is to carve them out of your life, while keeping your words as kind and respectful as you possibly can.

And heed the wise words of my own relationship and coparenting counselor, who noted that the first months after any divorce are the times of greatest conflict. And then it gets easier. And easier. And mellower and friendlier. And after a few years, many former divorcees have moved on so happily that can’t even believe that they were ever angry at each other. That’s entirely possible, and it should be your goal.

So lean on friends, talk to a relationship counselor even if it is just by yourself (yes, it’s really worth it!), read books, laugh, cry, learn mindfulness and meditation, eat salads, get outside and exercise, write more new things and build new things and new businesses and new relationships, and you will come through it better than ever.

That’s what I’ll be up to in 2019.  I hope your new year is even better!


In the Comments: I have found it so helpful over this past year to share with others and realize that I am not alone in this. Feel free to share your own experiences and hopes and fears anonymously.

My comment form allows you to use a pseudonym so you can be anonymous while you let out the truth. And read the other comments, to see what other people around you are feeling.

And for those who have been through this and gotten through the other side and found happiness, go ahead and share your message of hope.


* A bit of social approrpriateness that seems to be lost on certain forum participants and even other bloggers, who we won’t call out here. Please don’t be like them – using the Internet to publicly gossip about strangers helps nobody.

 

 

  • Anonymous January 1, 2019, 7:34 pm

    Even after having been divorced 4 years now, I found great wisdom in your post that I can apply for myself. So thank you for that. And yes, it does get easier. And my kids are thriving, as I’m sure yours will continue to do. And kudos to both of you for your cooperation- mine ended in foreclosure, bankruptcy, and a $100k+ kick in the ass for us both (prior to finding MMM, clearly.) So thank you for being a piece in the puzzle that has helped me begin to rebuild my financial life. I look forward to continuing to learn from you as you forge this new path with your family.

    Reply
  • KP January 1, 2019, 7:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I am a child of divorced parents and I always knew my parents were better apart/never knew how or why they ended up together to begin with. They have completely different values and priorities and would never have been able to both be happy at the same time. I never felt sad about their break up and don’t view it as a trauma in my life, but people always made me feel like I should or that they didn’t believe me that I wasn’t upset. That’s another annoying social stigma. Now, 20+ years later as an adult both my parents and my step-mom come to all family functions and are completely amicable and it brings me a lot of joy. People always remark about how well my mom and step-mom get along and I wish and hope there are more and more people in this type of amicable divorce. It can be the healthy, better/right option.

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  • BarrettSun January 1, 2019, 8:12 pm

    MMM, glad you posted this along with taking every other positive attitude possible…and great move re your house location! My best friend got divorced when his son was a child, and spent most of his remaining life living about three doors down from his son. Son grew up very close to dad, heartwarmingly. May all three of you have healthy relationships in the future.

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  • Vince January 1, 2019, 8:17 pm

    Wow, so sad to hear, but I understand. I was divorced only 2.5 years into my first marriage. I remarried and have loved and been in love with the same person for over 34 years. The second marriage has been a bed of roses (including a lot of thorns). As I have told my son, work on the marriage. If the marriage is working, the child rearing will take care of itself.

    Best wishes for all of you as you move forward.

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  • Kir January 1, 2019, 8:36 pm

    Hugs. That really sucks. Wishing you both (and your son) the best in the future. Good things will come, believe it.

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  • drubireno January 1, 2019, 8:44 pm

    I’m newly married and read your post while feverishly biting my fingernails. I’m so, so sorry this happened. I feel such gratitude, excitement and hope around my marriage. It’s literally painful to read of people who seem to have it all together getting divorced.

    So- thank you for the reminders about how to stay married. And, thanks to the readers who commented with other helpful suggestions. I can see how easily things start to crumble. And now I’m going to get off the damn computer and seduce my husband :).

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  • Dan January 1, 2019, 9:02 pm

    Wishing you and your family all the love, peace, and healing through this huge change. It sounds like you have a really healthy approach to what must be a very challenging experience. Not surprising, since I’ve always admired what I see as a very values-driven and heart-centered approach to money and living in general. Thank you for being an inspiring and positive force in the world.

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  • Ms. O January 1, 2019, 9:03 pm

    While I’d seen the chatter on the forum about your divorce, I’d thought that it was bonkers that anyone thought they had a right to details of your relationship. And so I cringed a bit when I saw the topic of this post, wondering why on Earth you’d feed into the ridiculous gossip mill.

    I should have known better. This was one of my favorite MMM posts and my guess is that it is one that will strike a nerve or be a comfort to many people for years to come. I wish you and your family nothing but the best as you navigate these new waters, with extra love sent to your little guy.

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  • A. Nonymous January 1, 2019, 9:29 pm

    Hi Pete/MMM, Big fan here of yours for years. Sorry to hear about you and the Mrs. calling it quits but if that is for the best, then so be it. Glad to hear little MM is the top priority. Struggling myself right now in a long-term relationship with all adult kids so situation is a bit different for me if it doesn’t work out but your thoughtful post helps me to continue to think through the what-ifs. Best of luck to you. Thanks for sharing your life experience and analysis.

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  • C3p0 January 1, 2019, 9:36 pm

    14 years on from my divorce, the long lens view is that this crushing event, in retrospect, was absolutely essential in a save my life kind of way. My partner was a broken furious man blind to his condition. I was drowning in my daily struggle to quell his rage. He left, I was despondent in the “failure”. I came out a better person. Not locked into a destructive marriage, just to be married (how childish I was). Divorce gave me room to care about other people and to “grow a pair”. Life got a hell of a lot better and I finally grew upa bit. Divorce is not failure, sometimes its a life course correction you really need.

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  • PoorMe January 1, 2019, 9:45 pm

    There is definitely nothing easy about divorce, and I agree that it is very important to work on your relationship continuously and to do whatever you can to avoid it.
    I of course did not do that. I think finally it was for the best, because we really were incompatible and i am now in a wonderful relationship that i think makes me a better person, and it actually make my children from my first marriage also better people. But nonetheless, divorce was very hard on the kids. In addition i made couple of big mistakes that I hope other people won’t make. The first was giving up the custody of my son. My ex decided to move too far from where we used to live for us to share custody and convinced me that my son, 10 at the time, wanted to live with him. that was a huge mistake on my side —
    both allowing him to move and allowing him. to take my son away, and my biggest regret in life. The second mistake was not taking anything. i left the rental we used to live in , and i gave up my share of savings. i did that because i had been in school and the savings were his – but acquired because i was taking care of the children and the house to allow him to work and save. But the gravity of my mistake became clear afterwards, when i realized that one reason he saved money is because throughout the years i was a student, he was benefiting greatly from my school fees credits to avoid paying taxes. So i pretty much spend my credits on him, and as i left divorced and with nothing, i also has to pay 40% taxes on my salary as i had no education credits left. I made both of these mistakes because i was feeling very bad about leaving him and i was not at all rational, and because i didn’t have a strong support systemmof family and friends that could convince me to be smarter. i
    I am now a very educated person with a good job but with nothing to my name and about 15k debt (which might not be a lot but given my tight finances seems so hard to repay), basically because of my poor decisions during divorce. So i would advice to really try to get council from as many of the people you trust and respect as possible, and also don’t embark in any additional big life-changing decisions at the time of the divorce (moving far, quitting a job, giving up savings etc). Good luck!

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  • Chris January 1, 2019, 9:47 pm

    Hello MMM,

    I have read your blog for a very long time. I am originally from Longmont, playing frisbee with my best friends (who I just celebrated New Years with last night) at Price Park, and have sought your advice through this blog for many years. In a way, I am surprised that we have not come across one another, as my whole crew of friends have all lived relatively ‘mustachian’ lives for a long time, and most of us still have roots in Longmont.

    The reason I am commenting for the very first time is because I too just finished a divorce. It was completely unanticipated, and it was extremely traumatic and painful. My world blew up about 18 months ago. Like you and Mrs. MMM, through lots of time with very close friends, tons of trail runs in Chautauqua and a healthy degree of self-awareness and emotional intelligence that we probably lacked during our marriage, we came out of it without hurting each other any more than what was caused in the marriage itself. The fact that we could safely and lovingly navigate divorce, in and of itself, adds a dose of confusion onto a confusing situation, but I am thankful overall for how my ex-wife and I both were able to treat each other.

    I really like your comment about war being expensive, but that war is a choice. We didn’t hire lawyers, we paid our $265 and scheduled regular ‘dates’ to the brewery near our house (now my house), to work on our separation agreement. When our ability to safely communicate our wants and our desires began to deteriorate we would hug one another, give one another high-fives for all of the work we were able to get done, and go back to our respective homes to unwind and do some self-care. It is amazing how this pattern should have probably been put into place far earlier in our marriage, and we wouldn’t have ended up where we did. Nonetheless, it feels good to have not gone to war with the person who I thought I would spend my life loving. It does, however, take a tremendous amount of self-control and access to a lot of emotionally safe places in friends, counselors, family members, etc.

    I hate that divorce carries stigma. Even more, I hate that I carry deeply rooted stigma with divorce. I still wrestle with shame and self blame, but I also am learning who I am and how my heart works. I appreciate you sharing this facet of your life with your readers. I think it is actions like yours that will de-stigmatize divorce in a really healthy way. Another really beautiful, vulnerable and, at times, heartbreaking piece of work that is de-stigmatizing divorce was recently released my a dear friend of mine from Lafayette, Colorado. The name of her music project is called Moda Spira, and she just made a record called ‘Divorce.’ She also produced a corrosponding podcast called the Moda Spira podcast (http://www.modaspira.com/podcast/). I highly recommend you checking it out. It will probably make you cry, or feel angry, but it may also open up some new pathways towards understanding and processing. It did for me.

    You have so many fans, and I am sure there have been a lot of people supporting you through this, but it would be really cool to grab a beer sometime. I go to Longs Peak Pub all the time, and would really enjoy grabbing a stout together and hearing how everything is going, perhaps during Stout Month! You have my email address I think from the comment function. I am heading out of the country for a couple of weeks to go on a little adventure, but I will be back at the end of January.

    One of the important healing steps for me in this process was to get rid of most social media, so I don’t have the means to use twitter, facebook, etc. to contact you, so this was my best bet.

    Take care of yourself. Love those around you. Thank you for sharing.

    Chris

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    • Mr. Money Mustache January 1, 2019, 10:48 pm

      Cool Chris! Thanks for sharing that great story, and we should indeed meet for a Stout, as fellow Longmontians. You may know that the MMM HQ is DIRECTLY across the street from that pub!

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      • Chris January 1, 2019, 11:25 pm

        Yes, I did know that! I was curious if that was still going to exist or not, given the division of property/assets? Assuming you can see the email address that I enter when I leave a comment, can you shoot me an email so that I can contact you when I am back from my upcoming trip. I don’t have twitter/facebook/etc. so I will need to just go old school with email. If there is another way of communicating let me know! It’d be great to meet up!

        Reply
  • Wendy Mak January 1, 2019, 10:20 pm

    Mr MMM, appreciate your sharing. Admire the simplicity in your approach in facing such complicated matter. After time, you will understand what it means to you ( other than lesson learn). Wish you a wonderful 2019 ahead.

    Reply
  • A. January 1, 2019, 11:11 pm

    I’m sorry to hear this news – wouldn’t wish it on anyone. However, you certainly have your head on straight about everything. I liked your call to comments re: experiences and outcomes. My thoughts:

    1. An idea for people who are married and want to proactively work on their relationship: during the end of my marriage I came across the Marriage Builders books/website/talk radio and found a lot of good information. Either the website or one of the workbooks includes some quizzes that helped illuminate what is important to each person (along the lines of the Five Love Languages, but different and complementary). I believe it is heavily based in religion; however, as a relatively non-religious person I found the relationship and psychology information very useful. In other words, if you are deeply offended by things that seem to have a religious context or basis you may not like some of the information. If you can read past such inferences and take the useful information away, I think it has valuable information to offer any relationship. Not sure I would personally consider marriage again, but if I ever do find myself in a serious relationship in the future I plan to go through this information again with that partner to build/maintain as stable a foundation as possible. While it wasn’t enough/the right thing in my past situation, there are many people who have used the tools provided by Marriage Builders to put a failing marriage back together again – stronger than ever.

    2. I’m also in CO and we used a mediator. Much cheaper than lawyer(s), but not as cheap as DIY. I think if your finances (or more specifically the division of such) are more complex and/or your time is stretched thin by keeping work/business going during a very stressful time, the mediator may add value. Our financial division wasn’t 50/50, but was what we both believed to be correct (with maybe a few exceptions). The mediator knew what the state would/would not likely accept and worked to craft the documents to avoid requiring an in-person appearance before the judge.

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  • Wisdom Seeker January 1, 2019, 11:17 pm

    Hearing that even your thoroughly thought out and carefully executed plans don’t always work out as you’d hoped was a revelation and oddly reassuring… If marriage breakdown can happen to the highly respected MMM then maybe I don’t need to feel awkward about a couple of broken marriages! Thanks for sharing such a personal matter so sensitively and for being inspirational (as always!).

    Reply
  • TomT January 1, 2019, 11:49 pm

    I am going through a breakup myself. We were together 31 years, married for 25. I have been a fan of the blog for… Ever. We tried the 5 Love Languages approach, and the Love and Respect approach, which really work good together. Anyone who has even an inkling of something being wrong in their marriage should chase down both of those avenues. Really. In my case, we don’t agree on what’s wrong. And that’s very hard to overcome. I find myself being perhaps overly generous in distribution of assets, because I want to make sure my spouse is okay, after. It’s not easy, leaving, but there comes a time you know that you have done all you can, and given everything you had. I know I will be okay, enough anyway. I try hard not to be antagonistic, and wish everyone else involved tried the same thing. I wish only good for her. I wish the same for you and your family, Pete. Happy New Year!

    Reply
  • Throatwarbler mangrove January 2, 2019, 12:09 am

    I had a kid with a girlfriend that didn’t end well. I learned two axioms to be true during that time: if it doesn’t work in the beginning it never works and it’s more important to like someone than love them. That separation was tough. To have a family unit shatter like that, no matter how amicabley, has a ripple effect on all involved.

    I got married after that to someone I’m highly compatible with and really like. Then I caught them in an emotional affair. Spoiler alert: we are still together.

    It took many years and the book you mentioned Love Languages to help us heal. I can’t soeak for my partner, but the experience was a wake up call for the negative things I was doing in the relationship. I had to change. It also gave us permission to really hash out all the resentments, fears, etc we were carrying towards each other. Not to mention the usual baggage humans accumulate.

    I was 50/50 during the process. I was ready to leave and then wanted to stay. How could I reconcile my hurt feelings of an affair with seeing my part in it clearly? A great relationship (neutral) therapist and true friends helped me feel comfortable with my decision and eventual healing.

    So here’s an example of it working out. Humble pie seemed to be the medicine I needed to ingest. Life is messy.

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  • Adr January 2, 2019, 12:10 am

    This was an incredible post— helpful, thoughtful, reflective, and inspirational on many levels, especially how you are coparenting. Thank you for hitting publish! I’m sorry for your loss/heartache and trauma. Come to think of it, thank you for hitting publish on every single article. -longtime reader

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  • Gillian January 2, 2019, 12:44 am

    I salute you for your honesty and integrity surrounding this. We all need to be reminded not to take our relationships for granted because each little hurt adds up and generally they are not necessary. You said it well without becoming mushy. Each set back makes the good times sweeter. All the best.

    Reply
  • Elizabeth January 2, 2019, 12:44 am

    Sorry to read of your divorce. It certainly is traumatic. Your NW gets halved

    Your divorce seems so civil.

    Complete opposite for me as the ex is a narcissist who was a crazy raging jerk when it came to splitting assets after a 30 year marriage. Apparently ex and the GF wanted all the money.

    No contact for me. He’s fucking bat shit crazy.

    Thank goodness kids are grown. I was a SAHM ..

    I thank MMM though for all the cost saving ideas. They sure have helped.

    It’s interesting to read about what I would call a normal civil divorce. Not so for me.

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  • John January 2, 2019, 12:53 am

    Dear Mr. MM,

    Sorry to read the news: I went through this a couple years back, and it’s hard as I’ve a son as well. I say this truly: all too easily that our kids, the ones we brought into this world AND are dependent on us, pay the heaviest price (of divorce).

    I’m glad that he is coping well, and that you two are somehow moving on, coping as well as you are.

    (After all, you’re both adults and principals too.)

    P.S. I like the co-owner of the most important company in the world analogy, it really helps.

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  • Still married January 2, 2019, 1:26 am

    Thank you MMM for opening up this difficult discussion. I applaud you and your ex for the way the divorce has been handled. One thing I keep wondering to myself as I have a husband who is on board with FIRE but had spent his whole life embracing consumerism to the fullest. Does money have anything to do with your divorce? By that I mean arguments over what to spend vs what not to spend or differences over money matter. Also I know this could be too personal but considering this is a finance blog, will you share with us the breakdown of finances split between you and your ex to add some perspective into how this was settled?

    I wish you all the best and a happy new year. Glad to see that you are expanding your initiative in YouTube and will be tuning in!

    Reply
  • Catherine January 2, 2019, 1:51 am

    As a (Canadian) divorce lawyer, good for both of you for treating this professionally and amicably. I sometimes tell clients they should think of divorce as an end to an economic partnership, and treat the other partner as you would a fellow professional, who you will have to continue working with in the future (child-raising). I think it is important for people to contemplate that a divorce is possible, even if they feel it’s unlikely, in planning for retirement. Build in lots of “safety margins” as you say.

    Your comments about there being such a thing as “too late” make a lot of sense. I think for many divorces, it’s just two good people who have built up years of resentment and it’s too late to go back. It’s hard to understand if you’re not going through it yourself. My parents always told us not to expect marriage to be “happy” all the time, expect there to be many bad years, especially while having young children, but continue to work on it and it will get better. But not everyone can make it through sadly.

    There are of course two people to every relationship though, and sadly for some people, they married someone with huge personality or psychological issues which make a separation into an expensive ordeal whether they want that or not, but you’re right we always have a choice in how we react and handle things.

    I would note that I have many clients who resolve issues amicably, and I am just there to help them understand how the law works, how division of property and support works, and draft a proper agreement that won’t be set aside by a court down the road. Most family lawyers (where I live anyway) are not out to create a battle, and we see it as our goal is to help our clients achieve an outcome that is “fair” as painlessly as possible, not to “win”, as there is always the emotional and financial cost of a battle to consider.

    Reply
  • Debbie Fodor January 2, 2019, 3:04 am

    I am so sorry to hear this news.

    I sometimes wonder why I follow your blog because my situation is different from anyone else I have read about on your blog. I am a homemaker, mother and carer to my oldest daughter, who is severely intellectually disabled. I have been married, not happily, for nearly 33 years. I stayed home, ran the house and raised our children while my husband worked full-time to support us. My current income is a carer’s pension from the government, and my disabled daughter receives a disability pension. My husband and I are separated but living under the same roof in the family home, which will soon be paid off. We have no debt, apart from the small amount remaining on our mortgage, but also little savings.I will never be financially independent, though technically I don’t have a job to retire from, so I don’t really fit in with this community. I like following this blog because I love your positive attitude and many of your thoughts and ideas, and I love the idea of FIRE. My children are all young adults and I try to share with them some of your philosophies, though none of them seem interested in FIRE at this point.

    While I think most of your post is lovely, I do take exception to your comment that “every person needs and deserves to be accepted and loved” and that we should treat all people as well as we can. I agree in principle, but my father-in-law is a narcissist and unfortunately my husband has similar tendencies. My mother-in-law died several years ago, but she was a very unpleasant person too. For most of my married life my husband could not accept that there was anything wrong with his parents and the way they behaved. I was always the one at fault. It has only been in the past couple of years that my husband has been able to acknowledge what a horrid and abusive person his father is (my husband is having counselling and has been for several years). I do feel incredibly sorry for my father-in-law, that he has shut his grandchildren out of his life and treats his only child (my husband) like a piece of dirt, but how do you love and care for someone like him? Many of the problems my husband has, that have strained our relationship and that of his relationships with his children, stem from the manipulative and abusive treatment he received at the hands of his father from birth.Why am I still married? Until recently I had 3 adult children living at home, now two, one of whom is severely disabled, as I mentioned. My husband has refused to leave the family home, and for me to find somewhere else affordable to live with my children in this area is impossible. And before anyone judges my having adult children living at home and needing to consider them and their needs, all my children suffer from mental illnesses, among other issues, and still need a lot of support, despite their ages.
    My parents-in law have made my life so much more difficult, and my husband constantly refusing to acknowledge anything they said or did as wrong or hurtful or inappropriate, and making me out to be the bad person, has made life even harder. I hated my father-in-law for years, but don’t even feel that any more. It all began when he verbally abused me a couple of days before I married his son, and my husband-to-be behaved as if nothing had happened. I nearly called off my wedding then, but did not. These days I just pity the bitter, twisted, sad person my father-in-law is, but I cannot feel any positive feelings for him.

    I think reading this article and the following comments have caused me to wonder why I am still stuck in the situation I am in, and to again feel the helplessness of not having the financial means to divorce my husband and live with my children in a place that is close enough to their places of work and study. They would never, ever stay with their father. I believe they love him, as their father, but they do not like him, which is really sad. So many positive stories in the above comments reinforce the sadness and difficulty of my own situation. I actually have grown a lot as a person over the past 30 years, due to help from therapists and lots of hard work on my part, so I am okay, but the difficulties with my husband remain, and I see no way out. He mostly refuses to acknowledge his being in the wrong and blames other people for all the negative things that happen in his life. Oh, and financially, he works in a minimum wage job, so doesn’t earn a lot. Australian minimum wages are much better than American minimum wages, but minimum wage is still minimum wage.I live a frugal life, but that does not give me the means to leave my husband and live in my own place.

    Sorry for the negative post. I wish you and your family every happiness MMM and thank you for sharing your thoughts and setting good examples to those of us who follow your blog.

    Reply
    • JessL January 7, 2019, 4:09 am

      Sending good thoughts, you are one strong mama to be in that situation and still doing the best for your kids. I hope they realise and appreciate it.

      Reply
  • Alex January 2, 2019, 3:52 am

    Thanks for sharing.

    If it helps, my parents went through a similarly civil split when I was about 8. While they weren’t ultimately a romantic match, they were and still are amazing people and parents. I learned so much about love, partnership, and understanding others complexly from them. It’s been 20 years since the divorce, and while I didn’t understand at the time, I’m incredibly grateful they made the decision they did.

    Reply
  • SweetDee January 2, 2019, 4:36 am

    As someone who has been at the brink of divorce a couple of times with my spouse, i want to say my heart goes out to all of you. You have many wise words of advice in this post. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life for the benefit of the rest of us. I hope you all continue to find ease and wisdom as you move forward.

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  • FIRECracker January 2, 2019, 4:49 am

    So sorry to hear about your divorce, Pete, and thank you for being brave and sharing your struggles with us. You are absolutely right that life is full of hardships, none of which we can anticipate. I also agree that while we have no control over these things we do have control over how we react to them. We always have control over that. That’s why it’s so uplifting to see that the two of you managed your divorce amicably and still have a loving relationship with your son.

    Thank you for remind us to be kind to our spouses and work on our marriages rather than just coasting through and thinking everything’s going to be all right. The most important thing in life is our relationships. And after discovering FIRE (through you and JLCollins), I’m thankful that I now have the time to nurture these relationship and be 100% present with friends and family, rather than constantly be thinking about work like I used to.

    Happy New Year and wishing you the best in your new relationship.

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  • Fromfaraway January 2, 2019, 4:57 am

    Hey MMM. I didn’t learned about this till yesterday that you wrote this post. It must be a quite tough experience and I hope (believe and read) that you’re able to continue to deal with it in the best manner. As you say sometimes it’s probably the best solution even with all the pain and the change.

    In the last few years I have often found myself thinking that I would most probably divorce was it not because of my two young kids. To make things more difficult I am kind of between several countries and my wife and I are far from agreeing on one of them to settle so in the worst days we could say I find myself “stuck living in the wrong country with the wrong person” and, what is even worse, spending time away from my children while working in the other countries… Every situation may have upsides though and for the moment being I’m trying to make my best in every aspect (specially with my kids, which are by far my top priority, and my marriage which, unluckily, has evolved in a mean to the aforementioned top priority) and stick it out. We’ll see how it develops! Happy New Year everyone!

    Reply
  • Lucie January 2, 2019, 6:30 am

    Dear MMM,
    I never had the pleasure to meet you or your family. I have been an active reader of your blog since 2015, and you’ve helped me go out of debt and starting my own path to wealth. I’ve always loved your easy and down to earth approach of things. I’m really sorry and sad for what is happening to your couple.
    I just want to say I wish the best to you and your family. It’s a very intimate thing to share, and I only want to send you all a big hug. Don’t listen to all the internet drama and protect yourselves. Remain the awesome man you are!
    With love from France.

    Reply
  • Canadian Jenny January 2, 2019, 6:33 am

    MMM,

    Thank you for sharing. I’ve loved and followed your blog for years, it was such a common topic of discussion in my last relationship. Your blog has always been a mix of lifestyle and financial, encouraging a common sense, deliberate and accountable approach to lifestyle choices.

    I look forward to following you for years to come. All my best to the MMM family, it’s complicated waters but you got this.

    -Jenny

    Reply
  • Huswow January 2, 2019, 6:42 am

    I’m so sorry your family is going through this. What a blow man, financially prepared or not. You speak with such kindness for both yourself and your ex, I can’t think of anything harder or more important right now.

    Hubby and I are maybe going through the same, after both of us have been neglecting the marriage and a bout of infidelity. I didn’t think I’d be able to stay. But we both were sucking at this and want to try again before throwing in the towel. It’s not easy, staying or going, but maybe with some intensive couples counseling and both of us working at it? Eh we’ll see. Life is messy, but finances don’t have to be. I’m no where near FIRE but we are debt free and doing a little better everyday, so there is that to be thankful for.

    Reply
  • Anonymous for today January 2, 2019, 6:55 am

    I’m 6 years into a divorce with one son who is now 13. Though I’d say I’m much happier now then when married, there is a parenting pitfall that you need to watch out for…

    Whatever parenting differences existed before the divorce are going to be magnified in the post-divorce world. When we were together, there was a balance between my healthy diet and her crap diet, my thoughts on screen time and hers.

    Now that we live in separate homes, that balance is lost. At her house, it’s crap for food and tons of screen time and very little physical activity. At mine we focus on homework and eating healthy and getting the hell outside. But, to my son, I look like the bad guy. I’m the disciplinarian; I make him eat leaves and roots. I make him go out to play on cold days. Homework is not something to be put off til later.

    I have no delusions of changing the way she lives her life (nor do I have any right to tell her how to live it). I just move forward knowing that, someday, my actions will be to his benefit. (and hopefully he won’t resent me too much for it, haha)

    Do the best you can, folks.

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  • Lans January 2, 2019, 7:01 am

    Thank you for sharing this story. I woke up this morning after yet ANOTHER dream of my ex husband, which I’ve been having for about 3 years now, and they don’t seem to want to go away. However, I am happy to say that, while 2018 was a year of struggle, I made it all about recovering from a divorce that happened in 2016. The $50k debt I was left with to buy out the house is gone. I’m leaving the old job I had to take for the divorce and stepping into one I will love. I’ve taken up meditation and am currently nurturing the best relationship I’ve ever had. There was a lot of struggle, but I think I’ve finally found myself, someone I lost through the few years of marriage that were never a good fit. It’s amazing how a bad partnership can take parts away from you that you need years to find again, but it can be done, and the Mustache finances are no small part. The debt should have taken me a good 6 years to pay off, but I managed to complete it in a year once I got serious about it, after 2 years of ignoring the problem. Mr. MM, I wish you well. Thanks for SO MUCH.

    Reply
  • Aleshia Brown January 2, 2019, 7:01 am

    I’ve been a subscriber of this page for years, but I’ve never commented..until now.
    Thank you for beautiful well written picture of the whole you in a very encouraging way! Although in every post you attempt to show you, this one really hit me! During this time of year, many people are pressured to make changes. Many make drastic changes they have not prepared for. I love the common practical sense approach you take on to real LIFE issues! You have re-invigorated and encouraged me. THANK YOU!

    Reply
  • Kate January 2, 2019, 7:12 am

    Wishing you and your family the best, and glad to see that you are trying to grow from the situation. It’s so much better for your son and ultimately you and your ex spouse. Best wishes.

    Reply
  • Jose Luis Quintero January 2, 2019, 7:18 am

    Great MMM! There are wise and generous people in this world, and you are one of them. I do not have the slightest doubt and I thank you very much for your willingness to share your wisdom so sincerely and I also predict a happy future because it could not be otherwise given the way you have, because you have cultivated to react and reflect on life. Avalanches of Beatitudes for you from Venezuela!

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  • Jennifer January 2, 2019, 8:17 am

    Thank you for sharing honestly about what you are going through. I have lived through the social ramifications of divorce and of feeling judged for years. Thankfully I have reached a place where I don’t care what anyone thinks and my ex-husband and I have a healthy friendship that I never thought would be possible. It has taken years and I have worked hard to get to a healthy and confident mental place about this whole experience. For me, I know that things have happened for a reason and that I am on the path I am supposed to be on.

    I have since gone on to have a child on my own as a ‘single-mother-by-choice’ and am financially independent and love my life. I am very lucky and I remember that every single day. Here’s to an amazing 2019!

    Reply
  • "Hilda Corners" January 2, 2019, 8:20 am

    This is the first I heard of your divorce and while it is sad news, I’m very happy that you and XMrsMM have worked everything out amicably.

    I was not so lucky.

    My marriage ended in 2011. We had been married over 20 years. The year leading up to divorce was explosive, and the divorce itself was one of those legendary divorces, complete with custody evaluations, psych testing, and restraining orders. Needless to say, it was shockingly expensive … and for my and my kids safety and sanity, worth every penny.

    Aside from a few months when I was emotionally coming to terms with the divorce, I refused to be bitter. I could see what factors led my ex to behave the way he did, and while it was not acceptable, I understood. I gave him the chance to form his relationship with our kids (then teens), and did not demonize him. Now, I feel sadness for him rather than hatred.

    Before the divorce, I was a stay at home parent, with a “black belt in frugality”. I had not held an office job in 20 years. The divorce wiped me out financially (I did get support, but it was barely enough to support a kitten, let alone a family.) I had no choice but to retrain and go back to work. My frugal living skills kept us afloat during this time, as did my willingness to take part-time minimum wage jobs, freelance on my growing new skills, etc.

    In 2016, I landed a job in my new field, one that pays well. I’ve been building up my stash ever since, and this year, I’ll be buying property again (an owner occupied duplex). I’m feeling confident about my ability to earn enough to live well (by my standards).

    I’m too old for early retirement … my catch phrase is FIRoT — Financial Independence, Right on Time. I’ll make it!

    [Edited to remove lots and lots of detail. I am using a pseudonym and have obscured some details, on the rare chance that my ex reads this.]

    Reply
    • JessL January 7, 2019, 5:10 am

      Wow this is very inspiring. I continue to work full time while raising my kids (I hate cleaning so would be a terrible homemaker) but I do worry about how hard it would be if we split. Your story is very inspiring how you survived and grew, despite the hardships.

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  • LVSquared January 2, 2019, 8:40 am

    Sorry to hear about the relationship status, but glad you have faced it head on and found a place to help others as well. Still in the happily married camp, but your call to action to keep cultivating it is important and did not land on deaf ears. Thank you! Happy 2019, and I hope many great things for you and yours.

    Reply
  • Kevin B January 2, 2019, 8:53 am

    This article is just dripping with Stoic Wisdom so good for you on continuing to put that into practice.

    Sorry to hear about the split, but thanks so much for this article and encouragement for the divorced as well as the currently married. Already had a New Year’s resolution of doing a better job of SHOWING my wife how much she means to me and reading the 5 Love Languages seems like a great way to get started.

    Thanks again for all you do and here’s wishing to a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2019!

    Reply
  • Major Tom January 2, 2019, 9:02 am

    Great story!
    I also had an amicable DIY divorce.
    I also HIGHLY recommend The Five Love Languages. Wish I’d read that BEFORE I had ended up marrying someone who was COMPLETELY incompatible. We took the quiz during the time leading up to our divorce and we scored completely opposite. (I scored a 1 on her primary language and she scored a zero on my primary language) No wonder the relationship felt so much like WORK! Shouldn’t relationships be easier and not tiresome and constantly wearing you out???
    Lesson learned though. I’ll never consider dating anyone with such incompatibility. (someone who’s primary language is Acts of Service)
    Anyways, what I’d really like MMM to expound upon are the financial topics surrounding divorce. Mainly child support. What is fair and necessary. How that impacts someone who is still working towards FI. How to deal with a non-frugal ex who refuses to work and who doesn’t seem to manage money (child support) well, buying unnecessary/frivolous (by my standards – SOFT DRINKS, SNACK FOODS, huge TV’s, e-cig stuff). How to deal with the ex wanting more. How long should child support last? Obviously these aren’t issues that MMM is dealing with due to his wealth, but what about the rest of us, still slaves to the system, facing the prospect of now having to work until our 70’s. I’d like to hear MMM’s perspective on web based child support calculators and the numbers they come up with. What is MMM’s perspective on what the LEGAL requirements for minimum child support is versus what MMM’s opinion is fair and just? Most divorced people will WANT to continue to provide for their children after a divorce, regardless of where the child primarily spends their time. But how much is too little and how much is too much. At what point is the non working ex, taking advantage of the working ex? Is it fair for one person to work and the other not? Is it fair for the working person to have to pay more in child support to compensate for the non working parent? Any advice on handling this delicate matter and still maintaining an otherwise EXTREMELY amicable relationship? Is it worth it to resist paying a bit more or is it better to capitulate for the sake of maintaining great relations with the ex?
    It seems like child support can pretty much kill a dream of early retirement. Any comments on that? Can MMM put himself in a different set of shoes and imagine himself pre-FI, faced with dashed FI dreams?

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    • Mr. Money Mustache January 2, 2019, 9:50 am

      Another SUPER tricky question, Major Tom. My biggest opinions/answers surround the big picture:

      – THIS TOO SHALL PASS – Kids do grow up eventually, so even supporting an inefficent ex-spouse’s habits won’t last forever.
      – LET THIS BE A LESSON TO PEOPLE CONSIDERING KIDS – don’t start a family with a person who you wouldn’t enjoy being divorced from, and supporting for a decade or more. Also, you’re allowed to have just one or two ;-)

      Okay, now for some potentially more controversial stuff:

      I believe the legal system’s rules are silly and biased towards supporting lazy consumer habits and also left over from a time when women were helpless without their husbands. So:

      – child support should be based only on a frugal average spending for basic necessities. It should be based on both parents sharing the cost proportionally, but should NOT just keep going up in the case of high incomes on either side. Although of course a stay-at-home parent should be paid to allow them to keep caring for their kids if that was the arrangement before the divorce. Caring for kids is MORE difficult than having a traditional job and this should be respected greatly.

      – Alimony (paying your ex just to exist), is a silly concept if applied outside of child raising. Married people should go into it realizing it could end at any moment, and when it ends, your only responsibility is to any kids that are part of the marriage.

      Some of this may sound crazy in the old model where people have kids while still way underwater financially speaking. But if you go into it without debt and keep your life costs low, and if both parents split the child raising equally from the time the kids are born, both will have equal opportunity to remain engaged with the world, and able to earn an income whenever they need. Plus, assets and savings of their own which ensure they don’t need to earn much.

      But the law is the law. So, go into any future relationships with this in mind, and choose responsible, rational partners to begin with :-)

      Reply
      • Stoneman January 3, 2019, 9:46 am

        “– child support should be based only on a frugal average spending for basic necessities. It should be based on both parents sharing the cost proportionally, but should NOT just keep going up in the case of high incomes on either side. Although of course a stay-at-home parent should be paid to allow them to keep caring for their kids if that was the arrangement before the divorce. Caring for kids is MORE difficult than having a traditional job and this should be respected greatly.

        – Alimony (paying your ex just to exist), is a silly concept if applied outside of child raising. Married people should go into it realizing it could end at any moment, and when it ends, your only responsibility is to any kids that are part of the marriage.”

        When you marry you are entering a contract with another person which entails deriving a certain standard of living. Why therefore is it unreasonable for one half of the couple to expect this obligation to be maintained for life as per your contract with one another that was, after all, a freely entered into life contract? Obviously this need not apply in “amicable” case for this is akin to a mutual severing of the contract but it certainly would not apply in a less amicable divorce (i.e. one partner is reneging on the contract that they freely entered into).

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      • Nadine January 3, 2019, 12:43 pm

        As a family law lawyer, just keep in mind that every family ‘s situation is unique. Spousal support (alimony) might be appropriate if, for example, a couple agreed the wife should stay at home to raise the 3 children rather than working, thus stepping away from her career opportunities for 20 years. It would be unfair if wife is not compensated for the fact that her domestic duties for 20 years allowed the husband to pursue his lucrative career, plus she would be left in a vulnerable economic position. As time goes on, and society changes, there are less and less of these more “traditional” marriages, but wherever one party earns a lot more than the other, there is a real risk of spousal support being awarded, even if you think the other spouse is capable of more than what he / she is doing.

        I have yet to come across a case (in my area at least) where the court departs significantly from the guidelines just because a couple is significantly more frugal than most. It would never happen here, especially with respect to child support. In fact I found a case where the judge specifically mentions that children of separated parents should benefit equally from the wealth of their parents, and it should not change because (in this case) the father was “close to his money”. It would be very interesting if a FIRE enthusiast actually goes through litigation, just so that we can see whether the court makes any exceptions – although I doubt a FIRE enthusiast will be willing to spend the money on litigation (for good reason)!

        Reply
    • Karlhungus January 3, 2019, 11:19 pm

      Sorry tom but I have to strongly disagree. You dont have to have the same love language as your partner, you just have to understand what theirs is and adapt to it. You are basically saying that you should only marry the person who has the same love language as you – which is complete rubbish. Marriage is about understanding the other person. If he/she relates more to acts of service, then you should try to do acts of service to him/her and understand that it means a lot to them. So they like to do acts of service to you as well, so be appreciative of it.

      Reply
  • Jennifer deBeer Charno January 2, 2019, 9:16 am

    One bit of advice I got from my yoga teacher when I negotiated this path 12 years ago was that anytime there was a financial dispute, have the money go to the child.
    This stood me in good stead 12 years ago, and even very recently as we negotiated a change in our finances and the ensuing difference of opinion about who owed what to whom. We were able to resolve it very amicably after months of each of us not wanting to fight, but not wanting to cave in, when we independently came to giving the disputed money to our (now young adult) child.
    Good luck. It sounds like you are on a good path, and that commitment to staying positive will always have you on the right path.

    Reply
  • veganomie January 2, 2019, 9:34 am

    I know everyone is wondering why, and you’re trying to be discrete and respectful of your former wife. I’ve had this fear my whole life, and I’m not that old, but I’m ‘mature’…sort of. Anyway, this fear is that it’s easy to be young and in love with a youthful girl, but it’s harder to love them as their youth fades, love fading along with it. If she had children, and your wife had one, it’s even harder on a woman’s body to maintain an attractive appearance. Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to forgive foibles if the offender is cute? It’s hard to be mad at a puppy who chews your things for too long because they are so cute. It’s hard not to be sympathetic to a pretty girl crying, but an old woman crying? Many men have outright disdain for them.
    All I’m saying is that I hope that it wasn’t because love faded along with her looks, or you got bored with her looks and personality and want new looks with a new personality to learn and discover.

    Reply
  • Lisa January 2, 2019, 9:41 am

    Dear MMM,
    While I’m always sorry to learn of anyone going through the pain of divorce, my first words upon hearing of it is always CONGRATULATIONS!
    I went through my own little hell almost 7 years ago and wish I had read something as helpful as your post back then. There were some ugly moments at the beginning, but I’m grateful that my ex and I were always able to do the right thing by our son, who is now 13 and thriving in our shared custody arrangement.
    Divorce is a kind of death and is accompanied by the same mourning process. If those going through it allow themselves to grieve properly, glorious freedom awaits on the other side. Thus the congratulations mentioned before. Having the courage to want to live your best life and making the hard decisions to make it a reality is not always pleasant but it’s always worth it.
    All the best to you and all the Money Mustaches (both current and former)!

    Reply
  • Sam January 2, 2019, 9:50 am

    I am going through the same phase. I literally mourned my own marriage of 5 years and I was the one wanted it out. It was stifling and I didn’t find any amount of grace and dignity in the relationship.

    I foresee being hit hard financially and am currently mustering enough courage to brace for it. Uncooperative spouse is difficult to deal with. But I know passing time started healing me and feels better. Started appreciating that I am alive and breathing. Many take that for granted.

    As many said already, sorry to hear that. Good fortunes await.

    Reply
  • Carolyn January 2, 2019, 10:09 am

    Thanks for sharing your story, on a topic that is somehow still taboo in 2019 (?!). I wish you healing and peace as you navigate these new relationships.

    I am on the other side of a divorce as well, that went as amicably as could be expected. The hardest part was finding the courage to express wanting out, and then never really knowing if I was doing the right thing. I was the ‘bad guy’ to my friends, and my new in-laws were skeptical of a ‘divorcee’.

    But my message of hope: I am so content now, in life and with my (2nd) husband. As you said the experience opened my eyes to the real, harsh reality of the world, and makes me appreciate it. I know how fragile relationships, life, and health can be. I’m going to live the $h#t out of life in 2019, and hopefully reach FI to travel the world this year :).
    Many thanks for your blog and open life.

    Reply
  • Vita Valka January 2, 2019, 10:11 am

    Thank you man!

    It’s interesting to see this around myself way more often recently. Probably because of similar age, but the year 2018 was for many couples I know a tough one. And even for me, there were several red flags that so far I managed to handle (as per chapter “How to Stay Married”. So it is definitely some difficult part of life, no matter how much you earn or how independent you become.

    I call it Level Up, the easy level we have done, we have behind. And new challenges are ahead.

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  • Bill January 2, 2019, 10:15 am

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  • AnonCanO January 2, 2019, 10:41 am

    Thanks for giving a shout-out to seeing a counsellor. Despite the increased awareness around mental health I think the stigma on seeking help is still very much present, and perhaps heightened in communities with a focus self-reliance. My husband and I recently saw a marriage therapist, not so much because we felt like we were in immediate risk of parting, but coming to the realization that we were in a slow slide as the responsibilities of children, careers, our parents began to eclipse our own partnership. Well a counsellor/therapist/psychologist by no means magically fixes all the problems with a snap of their finger and a quote, we were forced to think about our relationship, and each other differently and I am hopeful the dividends are going to continue pay for many years. Best to you and your family in its new form (families come in all shapes and sizes after all, but they are still families) in 2019!

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  • Anon January 2, 2019, 10:43 am

    I’m sorry to hear about this turn of events MMM. You seem to be handling it well.

    In December 2018 I broke up with a girl I had been with for over four years. She had been emotionally abusive, and convinced me I was stupid. She isolated me from my family. It’s January 2019 as I write this. Emotionally I feel beaten.

    The economics? Do in no small part to this ex I am now sitting on a net worth of -40k, I have a job that barely pays above minimum wage. I will never be able to get out of this hole with my current earning power. I make less than 2k a month. I live with roommates that have made it clear they want nothing to do with me.

    It’s a shitty situation.

    But I have a plan. I am going to cut my expenses by getting a bike, thanks for the tip MMM. I am going to use Treehouse to get me into the tech industry and increase my current earning power. Then I think I am going to make a vanpartment (modify, and live in a van).

    When the debt is gone, I am going to keep living in the van, and I am going to dump every penny I make into investments probably Vanguard.

    And maybe I’ll be able to retire before I am 40 that’s 12 years from now.

    It’s an emotional roller coaster, and I oscillate between feeling hopeful and feeling worthless sometimes within the same hour.

    2019 is going to be about improving myself in all aspects of my life. I hope it turns out to be a good year, unfortunately I haven’t learned to be like you yet in terms of optimism. Which is one thing I will be focused on changing. I hope your 2019 turns out gloriously have a great day.

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