Dear Mrs. Riches:
My ex is fixated on how much money he's spent on our kids since the divorce (over 10 years ago). Both are young adults now and are out on their own. He just presented each of them with a mock bill detailing expenditures down to the penny, including ridiculous items like their share of the utilities during visitation. They are good kids and are understandably devastated. What can I do to help?
Dear Mother Hen:
How sad for your children that their father has chosen to monetize his relationship with them, and how interesting that it has happened just at the point when support is no longer an issue. The timing, in fact, may be no mistake. Their self-sufficiency means that both you and their dad have lost some of the control you had when you guarded the purse strings. Your ex may be trying (albeit in a strange and hurtful way) to regain a sense of the power he has lost. In the process, he is losing something much more precious: a good and trusting relationship with his adult children.
As his ex, you have little control over his poor behavior, but you can certainly offer your children a listening ear and emotional support. They will need reassurance that they are unconditionally loved, that they have done nothing to warrant this hurtful action, and that you are available when they want to talk.
Be sure that, while you condemn their father's actions, you refrain from name-calling or other displays of enmity. Children (even the adult variety) of divorce can feel the constant tug of loyalties on either side, often leaving them miserable in the middle. Do encourage them to seek counseling from a professional -- someone neutral who can help them to come to their own resolutions to this painful breach with their dad. Best of luck to all of you.
Dear Mrs. Riches:
My ex-wife and I had a number of joint credit cards when we were married that still carried balances when we split. I foolishly agreed to keep them in both of our names while we each paid off a certain amount. It turns out that while I was paying them down, she was busy charging them up. Since our agreement was verbal and not in the divorce decree, it looks like I'm stuck with the mess. The divorce was bad enough, but now I have a shaky credit rating and I'm being eaten alive by rage and a desire for revenge. I can't seem to move beyond it. What should I do?
All too often in divorce situations, people behave badly, leaving one another with wounds that are hard to heal. In your case, it sounds like your ex-wife played unfairly when she reneged on your informal agreement, the result of which is a stain on your financial record.
To find out what to do about the impact on your credit, consult "Is Your Ex Wrecking Your Credit?" by Dayana Yochim. You'll find out how to minimize the damage, raise your FICO score, and reestablish credit in your own name.
Facing the financial fallout and dealing with it head on will help you to regain a sense of control, something that's lost when someone takes advantage. That lack of control may well be fueling your anger, along with the assortment of negativity that typically arises during a divorce.
Moving beyond feelings of betrayal can be extremely difficult. Have you thought about seeking the advice of a professional? If not individual counseling, then perhaps you could try joining a divorce group. Sharing your story with others and hearing from people in similar situations may help you heal and rebuild. Your unhappiness isn't hurting your ex-wife; it only allows her to continue to have power over your sense of well-being. Happily moving on with your life is your best revenge.
Want more guidance about your credit and other personal finance topics? Give The Motley Fool's personal finance service, GreenLight, a try. It'll get you on the road to financial freedom in no time.
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Fool contributor Elizabeth Brokamp is a licensed professional counselor who regularly talks money with her honey, Robert Brokamp, editor of The Motley Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter. To get your money and relationship questions answered, send her an email .