Crocodile Tears: A New Game for Second Wives

One of my earlier posts (“The End of Alimony”) referenced an article in Time Magazine concerning the growth of a movement in the United States to revisit alimony laws which put ex-husbands at a financial disadvantage. The burden of paying alimony to an ex-wife can be too great or for too long. So-called second wives (a distasteful term, but I guess chronology is chronology) have raised their voices against the strain that paying a high alimony to a former wife puts on the new family unit, questioning the equity of alimony, depending, of course, on the situation.

We recently received an email from my husband’s ex-wife, asking him to continue to overpay her in child support (they live with us half the time now) and alimony, because otherwise she won’t be able to continue living the way she has, and, after all, he forced her to sue him and he forced her to move into a new house. In a different world, one would simply set the email aside and not respond, so ludicrous is the stringing together of cause and effect. Yet, civility demands some sort of reply. But, dear reader, before you begin to imagine possible formulations for a response, please consider the trivia game below as a means of acquiring the necessary background. The game is called Crocodile Tears. You get one point for each question you answer correctly.

Crocodile Tears: A Game for Second Wives

  1. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife borrowed $6000 for breast augmentation. He loaned it to her (before we were married) so she wouldn’t default on the mortgage for his children’s childhood home. She refuses to pay it back, although that was the agreement.
  2. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife says she sued him to protect the children from his dangerous behavior. Several professionals cleared him immediately of these charges, but she has never apologized.
  3. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife says she sued him to protect the children, but she included in the lawsuit demands that he pay for luxury items like trips.
  4. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife says she sued him to protect the children, but she called me an agnostic and a paramour with the intent of defaming my character. This had no bearing on custody whatsoever.
  5. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife threatened to kick my trophy ass, although we had extended the courtesy to her of telling her we wanted to date weeks before and she had said we would make a nice couple.
  6. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife told her children I was marrying my husband for his money. Never mind I had always taken care of myself and my family.
  7. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife threatened to try to ruin my husband’s reputation with his work associates, if he refused to stop seeing me early on in our relationship.
  8. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife led her father to believe that my husband and I had had an affair.
  9. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife’s father called me a bimbo. (I was flattered, since this was a first.)
  10. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife says she can’t pay for her new house, but she held on to her old one. Who can finance two houses in this economy?
  11. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife agreed to allow her daughter to attend a sports camp and then took her out of state, saying we would have to come get her if we wanted her to attend camp. We ate the cancellation fee.
  12. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife received more in alimony and child-support last year than I made as a white color professional with an advanced degree. I basically went to work for the love of it.
  13. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife has snakes in her hair that turn men into stone.
  14. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife killed her children to get back at my husband.
  15. T or F: My husband’s ex-wife sued us for all of the above the week before we got married, although the documents didn’t get served until the Monday after our wedding (a fluke). The day before our wedding, she cashed a three year old check for $2500; my husband had wired her the money as she requested three years before and had assumed she had torn up the check. She cashed it on the corresponding date, but three years too late. This is potentially a felony.

Answers: 1-T, 2-T, 3-T, 4-T, 5-T, 6-T, 7-T, 8-T, 9-T, 10-T, 11-T, 12-T, 13-F (this was Medusa), 14-F (this was Medea; my husband’s ex-wife just uses them as pawns), 15-T (have your eyes glazed over yet?).

Score: 13-15: You are a student of Greek mythology and have encountered a crazy person. I’m sorry for you, at least on the second count. 7-12: You could be a second wife yourself, you are so astute. 3-6: You obviously have never encountered this kind of person; good for you. 1-2: You obviously do not understand that you can’t make this sh_t up.

I apologize if it seems I have lost all restraint. The truth is, even given the anonymity of this site, I am limiting my remarks largely to comments about the financial implications. There are things about her character that are too dark to reveal, even veiled by anonymity. Believe me. It would exceed the bounds of decency to share them with you.

But let’s be honest–an ex-wife asking for more money is not all that shocking. Perhaps you are a second wife with a similar experience? What pushes me right over the edge, however, is that her request is framed with the remark, “I am a good person, and I know you have some good in you too.” Again, you can’t make this stuff up. Who would write this when trying to wrestle more money from someone?

Let’s take this statement at face value. A good person would be someone who does good acts, either because their intent is good (Kant’s Deontology), because the consequences are good and good for most people (Mill’s Utilitarianism), or because you are habitually demonstrating good character through your acts (Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics).

Hmmmm. The difficulty with intent is that it is often impossible to ferret out. In this case, the stated intent is to protect children. Noble. But if within that same document you libel someone and demand luxury items, not so noble. So Kant would say she is not a good person. What about  John Stuart Mill? My husband’s ex-wife would argue that everything she does, she does for the good of others, her children. Selfless sounding. A regular mother lion. Except that she doesn’t spend the child support on clothes for the children or pay for music lessons, but spends it on herself. Mill would also take exception with the way her actions hurt others. She has been sucking up more than 50% of my husband’s income, so that can’t be the greatest good for the greatest number. On the whole, her behavior is certainly causing more pain than pleasure. Not a good person. Finally, Aristotle. I am a fan of Aristotle. He asks, who do you want to be? What does your behavior say about who you are? What do you do, time and time again, when faced with a decision? Do you overdraw on your bank account, even though your child support and alimony are more than the law demands you receive? Do you expect your ex-husband to pay for your trips? Do you lie on a regular basis, or ignore the spirit of an agreement but abide by the letter of it, like saying “of course child-X can go to sports camp, if you come get her in another state?” Do you go back on promises about money and the exchange of the children time and time again? You can’t be a virtuous person according to Aristotle then. Sorry, what you do is who you are, not who you say you are.

Methinks the lady doth protest too much. This is not the first time she has stated she is a good person. Who goes around saying that? (Most of us know better.) Listen to your conscience for a change, and change your ways.

From a purely self-centered perspective I have to ask–how could anyone call your husband’s new wife names in a law suit and expect him to continue to overpay you, because you say you had to sue him; you know he can’t possibly agree that you had to sue him.

I wish we could just not answer this silly email at all. Formulating any response is responding to insanity. Crocodile tears are pathetic, insulting, and nauseating. There is no respect for others or self-respect left in this process.


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  1. PhiloPsycho says:

    I’m a personal fan of getting things like #1 reduced to writing and notarized. That shite is a binding contract, yo. Can one take written accounts of blackmailing/bribery to a judge (in lieu of responding and encouraging the behavior)? It certainly doesn’t make her look like a fit custodial parent.

    I got a perfect score, but didn’t want to believe that the some could possibly be true. I don’t want to believe that there are people like this in the world (apparently, I do believe they exist).

    I love how you viewed her through the various ethical lenses :) Also, how you mentioned the “spirit of an agreement.” Yep, time and again I have seen court opinions that speak to that spirit being economic “rehabilitation.” In futuro alimony for the non-disabled (or those who are so aged and were married for so long that they couldn’t possibly earn enough to survive) should be done away with. There was a landmark Supreme Court case in TN last August that overturned a lower court’s opinion regarding in futuro alimony based solely on length of marriage and disparity in income.

    Only in the South is “agnostic” used as an insult lol Someone online called me an “atheist-liberal-lesbo” and I was so genuinely touched.

    I hope that others who are in a situation similar to yours read this and feel less alone.

    • Wanda says:

      It is amazing how difficult (actually next to impossible) it is to get someone labeled an unfit parent. I know someone whose teenager was literally doing drugs, flunking out of school, and sleeping around the neighborhood, and it still took a year to get the girl away from her mother. By then it was really too late. No one cares about extortion, lying, libel, slander, the mental instability of the mother, or just simple obnoxious behavior.

      I absolutely hope someone else with a crazy ex (male or female) gets some comfort from knowing they are not the only ones dealing with a narcissistic ex-spouse they can’t seem to keep in check.

      I added a fifteenth “question,” by the way. Can’t believe I forgot it. Who would be that mean? And then still maintain they are a good person?

      • PhiloPsycho says:

        Wow. If that’s (#15) a felony, call her on it! lol I’m so riled up right now.

        • Wanda says:

          Ah, it’s a long story. You have to decide how you fight the fight. I would have left nothing but scorched earth behind. My husband is kinder but probably also wiser. I spin myself up when I make lists about the last three years, but there may be a point–sooner rather than later–from which we can look back and say the longterm outcome was pretty good given the starting point. That’s hard for me to remember, and I’m not sure I believe it yet.

          • PhiloPsycho says:

            Good point. From an outsider’s view, it’s difficult to understand what would be so traumatic about her having to sell one of her houses, or whatever her consequences would be. That check cashing thing seems super intentional, as if she was just waiting for the perfect time :( Awful!

          • Wanda says:

            It’s all calculated, trying to ruin the wedding, moving into our neighborhood but telling her children to lie and not even tell us they were moving, holding onto an old check. It’s stuff you just can’t prepare yourself for. You have to think like that to fight back like that. I don’t have it in me, which is probably a good thing. It’s been a rough three years. Thanks for the sympathy and outrage. It helps.

  2. Susan Kennedy says:

    I apologize for enjoying your pain!

  3. PhiloPsycho says:

    Am I the only one who hears an abusive partner saying things like, “You made me hurt you!”?

    • Wanda says:

      Honestly, PhiloPsycho, this is textbook, and yet you still would be hard-pressed to get her labeled an unfit mother. She was an extremely abusive partner. And she is still trying to use that old power. Which is why Wanda is one angry and protective witch. Back off zombie-ex. . .

      • PhiloPsycho says:

        I hope for your sakes that she finds someone new to prey on. Time for her to get a life and quit trying to be a part of yours (however a dysfunctional part she’s found).

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