The Helpless Housewife, Part 5: Woman versus Woman

The article in Time magazine reports some unsurprising behavior between two women on opposite sides of the spousal support argument. One, a first wife, founded a “First Wives First Club” in opposition to the “Second Wives Club,” a group of women united in the belief that permanent alimony should be abolished. After she founded the group, women from the Second Wives Club posted her home address on the Internet, read through her the court file regarding her divorce, found pictures of her on a ski trip, and made hateful comments about her life choices. Worst of all, the Second Wives Club women provided the article’s author, Belinda Luscombe, with a notarized letter from the first wife’s grown daughter, which called her mother a gluttonous leach.

Not to be outdone, the first wife forwarded Ms. Luscombe an email accusing one of the second wives of being power-hungry within the Second Wives Club organization.

It’s impossible to predict how spousal support reform may affect current and future spousal support recipients in Virginia. There are, however, good women on either side of this debate, who are deserving of the money they have earned. The root of this problem is deeper than whether ideologically we agree with the idea of permanet spousal support. It’s about a deeply rooted dislike and mistrust of other women, particularly other women who are different from us.

This reminds me of the Sex and the City episode where, after Carrie and Aiden broke up, Carrie was trying to figure out how to buy her apartment, and makes a comment to Charlotte about how she didn’t have to buy her apartment because she got it in a settlement. “Oh, I PAID for that apartment,” Charlotte says aggressively. Ultimately, Charlotte sells her engagement ring to give Carrie a loan so that she can put a down payment on her apartment.

As women, we need to come together and be supportive of the different ways that life works out for each of us. On either side of this debate, we have women who have worked hard, and who are working hard to play the best game with the hand they’ve been dealt.

If you’re a career woman, imagine for a minute what it would feel like to be a fifty or sixty something woman with no actual real-life work experience. Imagine what it would be like to apply for job after job, only to be told that you don’t have the necessary skill set. Remember that these women are more likely than most to be in poverty, and have often lost their health insurance as a result of their divorces. Remember, too, that the spousal support guidelines in Virginia are not particularly generous.

If you’re an alimony recipient or a stay at home mom, imagine what it feels like to have to go to work and drop your children off at daycare every single day. Imagine how you’d feel if you had to hear from the day care worker that your child spoke her first word, lost her first tooth, or wrote her name for the first time—and you weren’t there. Imagine the strain and the pressure of the 9-5, the need to keep aggressively climbing that corporate ladder, and make impossibly huge student loan payments.

We all have our share of difficult experiences, and it certainly doesn’t make things any easier for anyone if we point fingers and blame the other for the problems we’re facing in our own lives.

This post is based on an article from Time, “The End of Alimony,” by Belinda Luscombe.

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