Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Half Your Shit

The idea that if you're a man*, and you get divorced, that the woman "takes half your shit" really, really, bothers me.  Because what it's implying is, that if marital assets are split fifty-fifty...  and she takes half the assets... and she's taking "half his shit"... well, it's implying that none of it was hers to start with.  That everything is his, his, his.  And that's pretty problematic.  The easiest angle to address this from is that where both partners are working and making similar amounts of money.  Is she really taking half your shit, when half of the money that bought that shit came from her?  No.   That should be obvious.

So, what about when she isn't working, when she's a housewife, or a stay at home mom?  Guess what-- even if the income is solely yours, it still isn't all "your" shit.  Because one of the fundamental parts of marriage is that the two of you are becoming a unit-- and if one partner doesn't work, they're still a full part of that unit.  Things that are brought into the marriage belong to both partners, not just one of them-- because this is supposed to be a joining of lives, not just a convenient roommate situation.  Everything belongs to one partner only in the sense that everything also belongs to the other partner. They're both co owners in everything.  Because it's a partnership.

If your view on marriage is one where you're suspicious that your partner would "take half your shit", you might be a little too selfish for marriage-- and if your partner is the kind of person who might try to screw you over in a divorce, maybe you should think again about why you want to marry them.  I guess part of this just goes back to my belief that marriage should be a partnership, a unity formed of two souls, in which you both really care for each other, and in which anything one of you has is freely shared with the other, in which both people act for the good of the partnership, and act with love, rather than with reality-tv style selfishness.  I know that divorce has got to be absolutely awful, but it's no excuse for either partner to become overwhelming selfish and possessive-- even though I know that a lot of divorces come down to couples fighting over who gets the china that they both hated.  But hurting people shouldn't be the norm, and it shouldn't be expected, and it especially shouldn't be encouraged.  And when you're talking about her taking "half your shit" and it's a hypothetical, then you are encouraging that selfish behavior and you are encouraging it from both sides.  And that is reprehensible.

*I'm assuming a straight couple for this, because while I see straight guys complaining about the possibility of a future partner someday "taking half his shit", I haven't seen it from gay men or women.


Inferno said...

What if (just an idea) it actually "is" his shit?

Mandy!XD said...


Back before my mom became disabled she was making more than my dad. They aren't divorced but they did consider it at one point (before she found out she was pregnant with me). In that case he probably would have benefitted.

N said...

I would hope that marriage, or any relationship, is indeed a mutual eglitarian partnership that two human beings can enter into, its certainly something that I strive for. I am onboard with you there.

I also know the types of guys that you are making these generalizations about. I think your characterization of their motives is likely accurate.

I also think you are 100% on target that homemaking is certainly a contribution to a couple's assets. 18 + Years of child care, cleaning, cooking, teaching, accounting, etc has a lot of value!

What I questions about your post is that it seems you can't imagine a situation in which a partner might actually be taking financial advantage of the other. Men are not universally cool, calculating machines who always have the awareness to keep themselves from being taken advantage of. Just because someone is brilliant at their job and making money, doesn't mean they are emotionally mature and understand relationships.

Do I have a problem sharing my limited financial success with a person who I am in a authentic and loving relationship with? Not at all, in fact, I enjoy it. Do I want to be a meal ticket? Hell no.

Women in hetero-normative relationships do bad things too.

Dominique said...

If a woman is not working, then she has, usually, contributed untold hours of paid labour to the relationship, like cleaning services, restaurant services, laundry services, hostessing services and probably sexual services (thanks to Dan Savage, who thinks anyone in a relationship should go ahead and put out to make the other person happy even if the passion isn't there). So: if you add all that up, very probably, it adds up to a lot more than "half his stuff". Add children, and you've got daycare services AND babysitting on the bill.

J. Durden said...

Or you could just never get married since it's an awful idea generally doomed to failure and woefully one-sided in the post-mortem. With no-fault divorce, the idea that marriage is about creating "a unit" is laughably outdated.

Should a woman suggest that if I really loved her, I'd marry her, I would question whether or not she really loved me.

Quercki said...

Some states are community property states because they historically recognize that marriage is a partnership in which each partner contributes and that not all contributions are measured by money.

Janna said...

nice post!

Michelle said...

I agree with Dominique. It doesn’t mean that a housewife who doesn’t earn any must have nothing after divorce. For all we know it is harder to stay at home, prepare food for everyone, take care of the children, and do all the cleaning. It is a relationship; the relationship is not founded by money it is founded by feelings and emotions. Money is nothing when it comes to love.

My cousin a divorced housewife had consultations from divorce lawyers in Jacksonville, FL. she was very thankful that family law (Jacksonville, FL) was explained to her thoroughly that she had equaled share with their properties and financial support from her ex-husband.

Poester99 said...

"... and financial support from her ex-husband."

So this (not child support) financial support is to be continued after the marriage?

Was the husband entitled to continued emotional support and other services (implied in th marriage contract) after the marriage ended? If not, why do his obligations continue, while hers do not.

It was a completely free choice for her to stay home and be a homemaker (if it was coerced, that would be a different matter), and of course there are some negative consequences to that, just like working many extra hours at a job you probably hate, not being able to be with your kids as much as you want to, and dying younger of stress related illness, is also a free choice, with negative consequences.

Many women seem to be perfectly fine being treated as children by the system as long as it allows them to make their ex suffer.

It's one of the reasons why intelligent men think twice before proposing.