Question: So the stbx (soon to be ex) and I agreed that he would claim the kids and the taxes and he would give me more than half. Well he has informed me that he is keeping it all. The court order says he has to give me 70%. I’m afraid I will say the wrong thing out of anger and make the situation worse.
Response: This is an example on how I would proceed — I would write him a note:
A while ago, we agreed that you would declare the kids on the taxes and give me and the kids half of the tax return. Despite the court’s declaration that I should receive 70%, I thought we agreed that a 50-50 split between us would be more fair to you. However, now you are telling me that you do not agree with our agreement anymore (nor with the court’s either,) saying you’ll keep 100% of everything.
I am not sure what happened that made you change your mind. I am not looking for a fight. I want to understand where that leaves me, and in what direction we need to go.
I do want us to work together, and I want to hear your side so I can understand better where you are coming from and then, together we can decide what we need to do.
I would rather not being angry at each other. It would only costs us time, money, bitterness, resentment, and more pain. Let’s try to find the best solution for all of us and, mostly — what would be best for the kids. Let’s make it a win win. What do you say?
Comments: I try only to keep the facts straight. I will not say: you lied to me again; I can never trust you; you always fall short….. and so on.
Every time I write a note, I ask myself if this is going to take me on the road of the beautiful divorce or the ugly one.
I always look to find a solution where we are all winners. While there is so much anger, it important to see that this is only because we are hurting.
In this particular case, we avoid the ugly path by first trying to understand the situation before assuming the worst of our ex. We are making a conscious effort not to bring all the bad things that each of us did during the marriage. We ended the marriage to have a better life. Let’s start right away. Show him how to become partners in the pursuit of happiness. It is not always easy. His answer might not be what you want. But you always can stay calm. No finger pointing. Maintain healthy boundaries. If the conversation devolves into name-calling, then just smile, remove yourself from it, and let him know that you can talk about it later when everyone is ready to work together with respect.