We Stumble Together

So my ex and I have hit a snag. Not a snag between us. Rather, a snag that envelops us.

Turns out, suddenly money is really tight. It’s tight because the economy stinks. Tight because both he and I have been out of work for long patches here and there (though thank goodness, he’s working fulltime again). And tight because our son—our beloved project who will outlast our years together as a couple in six more years—suddenly needs a lot of care and intervention and special attention. That’s $$$pecial attention, in case you were wondering.

Times like this is when living in New York is great, because there are plenty of warm and wonderful people who are helping us understand what Zack’s issues are (educational, social and otherwise). But what can I say? It’s a financially vulnerable time for us to be taking all this on.

I will admit that I really put off telling my ex that I was in trouble and struggling to pay for all these services. I didn’t want to be weak. I didn’t want to NEED him. He left me, after all. Needing someone who rejected you feels like a death-defying proposition. Even though I’ve forgiven him and all is well. I had to admit that I’d fallen a little in love with an idea of myself as the strong survivor. Because of my steady career as a magazine editor, we were able to separate without too much financial panic on either of our parts. My ex didn’t care about “my money,” he said, and he acted accordingly, allowing us to work out a nontraditional agreement that gave him what was his, while also giving me enough to buy a big apartment for our son to live in fulltime.

And now, I’m staring at my emptying out bank account, and looking over the cost of the private schools and so forth that our son needs, and panicking. And having to work with Chris to find a way to make it work.

And you know what? We are. I exposed my fears and mounting financial concern to him, expecting anger, eyerolls, refusal, since I am the more comfortable partner. He responded by reassuring me that we’d figure it out. By sending a long and thoughtful email about what he can do now, and what his plans are to help more later.

I’m so grateful. Grateful that that’s who he is. Grateful that we broke up in a way that means every time we have to renegotiate the terms of our connection (since it’s not really negotiating the terms of our separation anymore, now, is it?), we find a new path. We walk in all this unknown together, even though we are apart.

No, that doesn’t pay the bills. But I’d rather be financially stressed and at peace than the opposite any day.

Thanks for being a great partner, Chris, still, four years after we stopped being married.

5 thoughts on “We Stumble Together

  1. Stacy, as a single woman struggling to keep afloat in this economy, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have to also worry about a small child in addition to myself. And what you said about needing someone who rejected you really resonated with me. We are expected to be strong and shun anyone who didn’t want to be with us forever, but a child changes everything – there’s no longer the “luxury” of pride, being able to tell the rejector, fine, you don’t want to be with me, see you never! I’m glad to read that your ex responded in a mature way, with a reassuring email that he has goals and plans to make sure your sons needs will be met.

  2. I have been married 27 wonderful years. I listened to your book on tape because I am involved in Women’s Ministry at my church and wanted a better understanding of the tolls of divorce. Your story captivated me with your exceptional ability to be open and vulnerable and to use word pictures to explain emotions and pains. My heart went out to you repeatedly, wanting to console you and help lighten your load. In the same way, I know that Jesus was very attentive to you during your whole ordeal. He loves the fact that you are appreciative and thankful, loyal, hard working, and contemplative. I pray that you come to know Him in a personal way so that you feel safe, because He promises, “to guard the lives of his faithful ones.”(Psalm 97:10) God bless!

    • Leetha, thank you for your note. I agree absolutely that I was guided by faith. I felt completely humbled and totally safe once I submitted to the truth of my journey: that every life contains some heartbreak, and we are all strong enough to bear it. Blessings to you, too!


  3. Same here – two little kids just starting private school (public schools in my city are really bad, not a lot of options) and the advertising (me) and real estate (him) business have both tanked. We are both keeping our heads above water but I feel like the day is coming when we are going to have to deal with some serious financial issues and some lifestyle changes. It stinks b/c we were getting to a good place as co-parents. Financial issues are hard enough when you are married and are “in it to win it” together but so much harder when you are divorced. It’s hard to no let your own self protection kick in (even if it’s really for your kid’s protection, not yours) and ignore you ex-spouses needs. I feel for you and I hope it all works out.

  4. I don’t look at is as *you* needing Chris. I look at it as Zach needing him.

    I am happy that Chris is such a wonderful father.

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