A Tribute To My Ex-HusbandbyDeniseNoe©
Ex Spouse Day: A tribute to my ex-husband
According to the website Holiday Insights, we recently passed Ex Spouse Day which is on April 14. The website wryly notes, "Someone must have been kidding when they created this day, right? Could anyone actually want to recognize their Ex? Most of us want to forget them." The piece continues somewhat apologetically, "We will remind you that we do not create the days, we merely report them. So, please don't shoot the messenger."
However, it also observes that, "all too often, relationships don't work out." Thus many, probably most, people have ex-girlfriends and/or ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands or ("and/or" for the state of Massachusetts and a few countries) ex-wives. Holiday Insights goes on to say, "With a little stretch of the imagination and an open eye, you may find a few 'Ex's' out there who actually have good traits. There are even examples where some people get along better with the Ex after the relationship is over. If you value your Ex in any way, give him or her whatever appreciation and recognition you feel is appropriate today. If you cannot find any redeeming trait, no one will fault you for skipping today's celebrations altogether."
It's a little late but I can find much good to say about my ex-husband, Thomas Harold Noe, Jr. and will honor him in my blog. It is because of him that I'm sitting here at a computer right now, clean and well fed, instead of dirty and bedraggled and hungry on the streets or in a homeless shelter. A college professor, he asked his attorney to draw up a divorce settlement that obligated him to pay me alimony until one of us died. Georgia state law does not allow for that so the agreement actually made was one that legally compelled him to pay me alimony every month for twenty-five years after the divorce. The amount of the alimony is not a sum on which to live famously but it is enough to cover the basics of rent, food, clothing, and to allow me to buy health insurance. A special clause in my divorce settlement that he requested states that his obligation to pay alimony will be unaffected if I remarry. He did not want to influence me as to remarriage one way or another. However, his alimony obligation becomes suspended if he becomes so disabled that he cannot work. It would be reinstated if he recovers enough from a disability to enable him to again work.
Tom also turned over to me a tax-sheltered investment account called a VALIC. I will be able to have a small income after the alimony ends because I was married to him long enough to be eligible for social security through him.
The alimony has almost always arrived on time and is currently being sent to me as several post-dated checks so I don't have to wait anxiously every month. On the one time the alimony came late in the mail Tom wired the funds directly into my bank account even though it meant he had to pay a special charge of $15.
I have been asked why he would make the alimony a legal obligation on his part rather than just make monthly gifts. The reason is that I am disabled in part because of chronic anxiety and he did not want me to worry about whether or not he would change his mind.
During our marriage, I had been a housewife. We had no children as I had decided when I was very young that I did not want them and was sterilized before engaging in vaginal intercourse. I had not given up a "career" for fulltime homemaking. I am disabled by a severe psychiatric disability (some of the reasons for that may be found in my blog called "My Mother's Befouled Breasts and Me") and was unable to contribute much when Tom was in school getting his master's degree and later his Ph.D. I had trouble holding down even the most humble jobs such as assembler in a warehouse, library page, and telemarketer. I could not learn to make correct change for a job as a cashier. We were to a large extent beholden to handouts from our parents (mine lived below the poverty level but still sent us money when we were in desperate straits) and to the small payments I received when I eventually got on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), the financial aid given by the government to disabled people.
As a housewife, I wasn't very effective or efficient although I was able to hold this job for over a decade. In all those years, I never once made breakfast and rarely fixed dinner. We went out to eat most evenings of the week or ordered in pizza. I would do an occasional household chore but did not get into a regular, organized pattern of housekeeping. I often called in a housekeeping service for our small, albeit expensive (because in a good location) apartment.
It should not be thought that I did nothing at all as a wife. I did our laundry and took some of Tom's clothes to the dry cleaners which was within walking distance of our apartment (I do not drive). We had a sex life and I was a companion to him. However, it remains true that no court would have ordered Tom to give me a generous settlement if he had objected to it or even if he had not requested it.
Is the settlement fair to him? In a word, yes. It is worth it to him because he does not want me to risk homelessness. As someone with a disability, I might be able to again get on SSI but I would not qualify as long as I have the VALIC. It would not be nearly as much as the alimony and the stress of trying to make ends meet could negatively affect my already precarious mental condition. He has enough feeling left for me to prevent me from suffering a deterioration he can prevent.
When I discussed my divorce settlement with an acquaintance, he commented, "Your ex-husband sounds like a decent man."