Out of nowhere your husband tells you that they are leaving, they are shacking up with one of their co-workers. Now what? Could you pay for the current mortgage? Would you be able to put food on the table, pay for gas (or insurance) for your car and keep your cell phone service going? Would there be enough income to keep the electricity on? If you are a stay at home mother, how would you find transitional income and what would happen to the children when you return to work?
These questions and others are important ones that every parent has to ask themselves from time to time. The bottom line is that millions of people divorce their spouses unexpectedly – and many of these folks simply up and leave the marriage with no forewarning, and no discussion about what will happen next? Sure, its irresponsible, and it would be nice to think that no mature adult would just walk out on his or he family. The reality is it happens. And even in the aftermath of divorce, many women are left to face the consequences of separation which almost always, include a reduced residual income.
Bottom line is this! Things were financially tough when the two of you were together. The separation means that the same amount of money will have to support two households and hold up 2 sets of bills. The reality is the court is not going to give you 100% of what he made, you don’t have a lot of savings and it can takes months to get any sort of assistance from outside sources.
Could you manage if your husband left tomorrow?
Vicki Stark, MSW the author of RUNAWAY HUSBANDS The Abandoned Wife's Guide to Recovery and Renewal is based on a study she has performed called the The Sudden Wife Abandonment Project (S.W.A.P.). Her research involved studying the relationships of 400 women who were grief struck by the sudden departure of a husband, and who were left completely unequipped to deal with life in the aftermath. An excerpt from the book – titled The Seven Steps for Moving Forward, is designed to help women move from the place they are in to the place that they are going. She believes that while women may be shocked and awed by the surprise news of an impending divorce, with diligence they can rebuild their life for the better.
The Seven Steps for Moving Forward (Credit and Recognition above)
- Recognize that the chaos will not last forever
- Accept that it is really over
- Integrate the fact that your husband has changed irrevocably and is beyond caring for your welfare
- Understand why he needs to justify his actions in any way possible – including rewriting history, lying, or attacking you
- Give up trying to get the acknowledgement and apology that you deserve
- Turn your focus from the past to the future
- Celebrate your freedom as a single person
Of course, the most difficult aspect is surviving in the financial sense. Few people are equipped, and the proceedings of divorce and separations can take months. Experts encourage women to use the energy that normally fuels their emotive state to start researching their options. You may need to contact family and friends, and should start to Google assistance programs in your area. Many programs such as TANFF, and even church welfare programs can help you keep your household stable until funds come in. If you are working, you should set up an appointment with your place of employment and discuss the issues. There may be assistance available there as well. Additionally, if you were a stay at home parent, then you should polish up your resume and get things back together as soon as possible. Start networking with old work mates and put the word out that you are looking for employment. Keep in mind that transitional employment – even if it does not pay as much as you would like, is better than no employment.
This is also a great time to decide your needs versus wants. Can you reduce your satellite television bill? Can you go without a cell phone, or home phone? Are there items you can sell, bonds you can cash in, or stocks you can capitalize on? Is there any possibility of getting a short term, low interest loan or a second mortgage on the home until you find yourself in a better situation? Should you consider putting your home on the market and looking for cheaper living accommodations? The more quickly you can cut expenses and start shaving off the extras, the more quickly you will be back on track.
Obviously, if you woke up tomorrow and found a note and your husbands things gone from the home, you would be taken by surprise. You would feel lost, and you would be going through a malady of emotions from anger to grief and everything in between. While it may sound smart to somehow prepare for this type of situation, the truth is that there really is no way to do so. It is however, smart for women to keep some sort of savings account on stand by that they add to sporadically to set up an emergency fund.
Tomorrow is never certain. Just remember that each day things will get a little easier. At some point, you may realize that your husband did you an immense favor when he walked out the door and locked it behind him.