Men involved in difficult Rhode Island divorces, especially those involving minor children, should be aware that even when the Final Judgment enters, this does not mean that the difficulties are over.
Bart and Sheila - A Divorce and Beyond
Bart and Sheila were married for more than twenty (20) years. They had two children who were still minors when Bart filed for divorce.
Bart felt he tried everything to keep the marriage together but finally he couldn't take it anymore. He felt isolated from Sheila. They weren't friends. They weren't lovers. They weren't even good at co-parenting. They had grown apart.
Bart was a fairly successful stock broker who did well for himself and his family. Even though Sheila had a degree in chemical engineering she had grown accustomed to Mark being the sole financial provider for the family. Sheila had no interest in working. Bart asked her several times to find employment and help with the finances so they could pay things off and retire early. Sheila refused.
Bart became friends with his clients Sally and Mark Jensen who came to him after the stock market began to plummet. They asked Bart to turn things around for them and save everything they had.
While things deteriorated in Bart and Sheila's marriage, a brokerage fluke and fast plummet in the stock market caused Mark and Sally to lose just about everything they had. Eventually Bart exhausted all options for Mark and Sally and feeling very sympathetic to them Bart explained to them that he had done everything he could but there was nothing more that could be done.
Without their precious nestegg, Mark and Sally no longer remained his clients.
Bart's marriage had continued it's breakdown until Bart decided he could no longer remain married to Sheila. Bart moved out of the marital home. In Bart's heart and mind his marriage was done except for the legal formalities.
Divorce was filed during which Bart moved residences several times. Each time, Bart's "residence" was broken into. Bart found his documents and computer tampered with. Even Bart's private office was vandalized.
Bart kept in touch with Mark and Sally and found out that they were divorcing as well. Bart began to find interest in Sally and to spend time with her. Suddenly, both Bart and Sally found their residences broken into and a strange man following them from time to time.
Sally became understandably unnerved, perhaps more so than Bart as he struggled to simply get through his divorce and move on with his life.
Things became more extreme as Sally found her personal computer invaded.
Bart tried to brush off all the coincidental violations that seemed to relate to his divorce even though his wife and her attorney were making him miserable despite his attempts to be amicable.
Bart found himself in court over the next year defending himself against countless bogus motions that wasted his time, cost him money, and pressed his sanity. Bart's relationship with Sally was getting harder to keep together as Sally became more and more vocal about her belief that Sheila was behind all the invasions in her life.
Finally the Final Judgment of Divorce entered in Bart's case. It was a small sense of freedom. Yet Bart was pulled back into court yet again with allegations that Bart had been violent toward Sheila.
What Might Sheila Do?
Given the scenario I presented for this Rhode Island Divorce, if Bart were to marry Sally, immediately buy a home and then bring his childen to the home for visitation, what might Sheila do?
To understand the answer to the question is it necessary that we try to understand Sheila, so let's do that.
Based upon the information we have, Sheila had grown accustomed to being taken care of by Bart. She could do what she wanted to do whenever she wanted to do it. If Sheila wanted to go shopping, it seems that the money was there for her to indulge herself. If Sheila did not want to work Sheila could tell Bart that she didn't want to work. It actually seems that financially Sheila was not required to work in order for the bills to be paid and for her to enjoy the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed.
The above account of things would indicate that Sheila had become complacent and comfortable with her life. Everything was familiar to her, allowed her substantial control without worry, gave her a feeling of financial security, and probably her own personal belief that she was loved, attractive, and that her world was stable.
Sheila had an advanced degree and had married a man in a reputable field of business and was the mother of two children. There is nothing to indicate that Shiela was anything but confident and comfortable with who she was and had a strong self image. Mark had remained married to Sheila for more than 20 years which provided historic long-term support that Sheila's healthy self image was justified.
If this makes sense regarding how Sheila sees things in her marriage with Bart, let's add the Rhode Island divorce to the mix. Bart leaves the marital home and files for divorce.
Sheila probably no longer feels loved. More likely, Sheila feels directly rejected. Instead of feeling comfortable and complacent, Sheila can now see her financial stability and comfortable lifestyle crumbling. Sheila may now feel that the control she once had had been ripped from her hands. Bart has not only said he wanted a divorce, rather he has taken an affirmative step confirming that he fully intends to proceed down that path. Suddenly, Sheila does not know what the future will bring. For the first time in years she has to think about things that Bart always took care of. Sheila may no longer have the power to say that she doesn't want to work. In fact, because of Bart's decision she literally have to get a job.
Sheila sees her comfort zone going out the window. She may believe that Bart is ripping her very comfortable lifestyle from her. Bart is tearing away her control. Bart is literally yanking the stability out from under her after more than twenty years. She no longer feels comfortable. Sheila feels rejection, fear, panic, discomfort, and uncertainty about the future will bring and how she will survive.
Sheila, perhaps for the first time in decades, is now being forced to deal with what many of us already deal with on a daily basis. It could very well be that Sheila does not take responsibility for these feelings or for the breakdown of the marriage itself. Why? Because perhaps in Sheila's mind she has not done anything to change anything. It is only Bart's actions that caused this change. Sheila did not want any change and yet she is being forced into change that she may see as being out of her control.
In the end, Sheila may simply feel that Bart is at fault. Some women see what Bart has done as personal rejection. To Sheila, Bart has indirectly told her that she is not good enough to be with him, that she is not attractive enough to be with him, that she is substandard and she deserves better. In essence, some women believe they are being told "you are broken."
To a woman who has a strong sense of self, acceptance of a marital breakdown may trigger even deeper. A woman's rationalization process does not involve logic but a rather a strong belief that it wasn't a matter of not being a good wife, mother or partner, but rather that there must be someone else.
She may not want to believe she has in any way participated in the collapse of the marriage from her husband's view and she may hold fast to the idea that she did everything right. If this occurs in Sheila's mind then another shift takes place. It is a very dangerous shift which heightens Sheila's anger at Bart and any other person that Sheila believes he may have been involved in. I call this the "Other Woman Syndrome."
Sheila's mindset may be so engrained in her complacent and comfortable lifestyle that her own self-image refuses to take any personal responsibility for the breakdown of the relationship. In this case, Sheila adhere's to the belief that that there MUST BE another woman.
Sheila may go so far even to create "another woman" or imply affairs with other women to justify her divorce to herself or other people because she cannot accept that the relationship has broken down for reasons that have nothing to do with anything other than the fact that Bart is no longer happy. Sheila may even use "another woman" to paint herself as a victim and attract sympathy and attention from the court or from others in order to replace the comfort she previously had and regain control by trying to damage Bart's image or reputation in court or in the community simply to make herself feel better. These are only a minor way in which a woman's anger rises to the level of a scorned woman, in which case anything may be possible from a woman such as Sheila.
In my scenario of Mark and Sheila's Rhode Island divorce, the single action of Mark's decision to leave the house, or to proceed to divorce court may cause Sheila to
(1) become angry by Mark's rejection;
(2) become extremely fearful of what her future is going to be like;
(3) believe there is another woman and undertake measures to find any way possible to find another woman (even if there isn't one) to blame the failed marriage on;
(4) become bitter and vengeful against Sally and anyone associated with her and try to hurt her (and those associated with Sally) physically, emotionally, mentally, financially and in any way possible to "get back at" Sally for ruining her marriage and her life;
(5) become angry by Bart's attempts and/or ability to move forward with his life and want to hurt Mark as well as anyone to make Mark feel as unstable, unsafe, and hurt inside as Sheila herself feels;
(6) neglect her children knowing it will hurt Bart to see the children hurting and try to shift the blame of the children's pain on Bart for causing their neglect by going forward with the divorce;
These are just a few of the possibilities arising from the Rhode Island divorce and the marital breakdown.
In truth, mental instability can give an indication of suicidal tendencies of the wife, killing minor children to get back at the husband and cause him guilt, a combination of the two, cutting brake lines in the ex-spouses car or the new wife of an ex-spouse, harming the children of a new spouse, physical injuries to herself as the ex-wife and countless other things which may in the mind of a person such as Sheila cause Bart pain, anguish or sorrow.
Any evidence of instability by a wife during the course of the divorce is an indicator that future difficulties may not only arise, but may worsen.
Bart is not a vindictive man though he may get angry at times when truly pushed to his limit. He is or at least tries to be optimistic and seeks only to move forward with his own life without causing others pain. Bart looks for the best in everything around him and tries to "take everything as it comes." Bart is a man who does not see the world as "doom and gloom" but does know that there are those sides of life that are not too pleasant. However, men like Bart believe that moving forward with one's own life without "aggravating" or "intentionally hurting" others is the best route. In essence, Bart rides the wave when it comes with the belief that it will eventually end and your surfboard will coast gently onto the sandy beach.
Bart does not realize that there are those who may see his actions as hurtful even if his intentions and his actions do not outwardly show that he is in any way trying to be hurtful.
Bart's greatest challenge in his divorce and his life perspective is that he does not consciously adopt the notion that others are vindictive and vengeful probably because he is not a vengeful or vindictive person himself.
Let's assume that I already know of all the circumstances about Bart's marriage and divorce including his ex-wife's behavior, the break-ins, the person who was following him and Sally, etc. Bart approaches me several months after his Final Judgment of Divorce has entered. Bart tells me that he is remarried, that he just bought a house, and that he is looking forward to surprising his children by showing them their new bedrooms next weekend at the new house he and his wife bought.
I congratulate Bart on his new marriage and the house. Then I ask Bart if his ex-wife knows that he remarried and bought the house. Bart says that she'll know soon enough so he didn't want to rock the boat.
As a caring person and professional I would be less than a good person or lawyer if I didn't offer this little piece of non-legal advice to Bart in such a situation.
"Bart, I don't want to dampen your spirits but you may have just started the Running of the Bulls in Spain. . . you've got a red bullseye taped to ass, and unfortunately you picked the only running shoes on the planet made entirely of solid lead."
Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law
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Note: If this article contains a case scenario with names, dates or amounts, any resemblance any connection to any person or situation now or previously existing is purely accidental, unintentional, and is merely a mistaken creation in the mind of the reader.
* The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all attorneys in the general practice of law. The court does not license or certify any lawyer as an expert or specialist in any particular field of practice.
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