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  • Maria Schwartz

THE DIRTY DOZEN: A GUIDE TO YOUR ROTTEN EX (HER)

As a follow up to my list of the Male Divorce Archetypes below you will find the Female Divorce Archetypes.  There are many overlaps in almost all of the categories.  I have put them into Male and Female Types to reflect what I have most commonly seen in my work.  My hope is to show you that you are not alone, and how to deal with these negative types.  Also, anyone going through divorce has at one point or another shown at least some part of some of these traits and it’s important to know how that impacts you.  As with all my writing, it can be painfully straightforward as I am not one to sugar coat.  Hope you enjoy!


1.         The Man Eater.  She is successful, ambitious, assertive and ready to fire your unproductive, lazy and sorry ass (whether true or not).  For years she has “done it all” without and in spite of you.  She is the woman who can “bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and never, ever let you BELIEVE you’re a man” (as paraphrased from the old “Enjoli” perfume commercials of my childhood).  This is the woman that “made” you and threatens to break you.  Perhaps she introduced you to the world of culture, travel and sophistication.  Perhaps it was through her contacts or family business that you got your first job.  Whatever the circumstances, she believed in what she wanted you to be, and could never accept who you really are.  At first you tried to keep up with her and make her happy.  You changed your clothes, the way you eat, walk and talk, but it was never enough.  You even took that job she got you, but only made it half way up the golden ladder.  After years of countless verbal assaults on how you have never amounted to anything, you just gave up and became the “loser” she accused you of being.  Why not?  This woman will expect you to leave the marriage exactly as you came in, and as far as her recollection goes, that is with a duffle bag of ugly clothes.  When dealing with a woman like this, don’t let your pride get in the way.  She may try to bully you by telling you what a loser you are and that you are stealing from your kids.  Don’t give up, if all you are guilty of being is “never enough” you are bound to get your fair share. 


2.         The Virgin Mother.  As far as this woman is concerned, all you are is a sperm donor.  Incredibly, she not only believes, but actually tells you that the children are hers and hers alone.  She will refer to the children as “my daughter” or “my son” and forever accuse you of not having their best interests at heart.  She will fight you tooth and nail for any type of regular and meaningful access to them.  She cannot understand for the life of her why they need to spend more than a day at your place.  She will interfere with overnight visits at all costs, and when it comes to holidays, she thinks you should celebrate them on the day before.  She will “forget” to turn on the ringer to her phone, and tell you that her children will not have a cell phone until they are 15 (even though they have “emergency” cell phones to call her just in case).    She may or may not tell the kids bad things about you.  If she does, it can be blatant or subtle.  Either way you must stay guarded and make sure you show up for all your visits.  Never give up on seeing your kids, and never ever give her a reason to make you look bad! 


3.         The Reporter.  Welcome to the world of Paparazzi.  Smile! You’re on camera. Be careful what you say.  You are being taped.  Be careful where you go.  You are being followed.  You are never alone.  This woman is digging for a great story.  She wants to “catch” you doing or saying something that will help her get an upper hand in court.  If the Judge isn’t interested in her investigation, she will find someone who is.  She is not afraid to leak her story to anyone who will listen, and thinks nothing of the consequence.  She is the one who will post things about you on Facebook, call your boss, and show compromising emails and pictures to your mother.  While you may be tempted to “fight fire with fire” and launch your own Facebook fury, don’t! She is the one who people will think is crazy and in Court, those posts can be used against her.


4.         The Enabler.  Unlike the Man Eater, this woman does not hate or resent you for not pulling your weight in the marriage.  She recognizes that you didn’t work or earn to your potential and understands that by being overly accepting or accommodating, she contributed to your own financial shortcomings.  When it comes to supporting the household or the children, she will quickly tout off your credentials and stellar capabilities and push for a package that reflects your “earning potential.”  Her greatest fear is that now that the marriage is over, you are going to go out and become a millionaire.  To your credit, she really does believe in you; to her discredit, this is the fantasy that landed her in this precarious position.  In a situation like this, don’t take advantage of her generosity.  Chances are she will be very fair with you and accept what is fair to you even though she believes that it’s unfair to her.  Her enabling ways may have gotten you this far, but an impartial Judge may find you capable of earning more than you are.


5.         The Warrior.  This woman has been through it all.  She has been by your side through all of your ups and downs.  She has supported your flopped business ventures, sexual indiscretions, and addictions.  Although she has some traits of the enabler, she has no hopes or fears of success for you.  She doesn’t want anything from you except her freedom.  Don’t push her and don’t cross her.  She has survived many battles, and though her heart is gold, her skin is thick.  Against the advice of her attorney, she is going to let you slide.  Don’t try and hold on or get in her way.  


6.         The Princess.  You were her Knight in Shining Armor.  You swept her off her feet, bedazzled her with jewels, and built her a castle for a servant staffed home.  She hasn’t worked in twenty-years and admittedly, has no marketable skills.  Though smart and witty, this beauty’s business savvy has been limited to hosting, boasting and toasting to your own success.  Perhaps you’re trading this now Queen for a new and younger princess, or perhaps she has been kissing other frogs; but whatever the case, alone she cannot succeed.  Do not insult or anger her by telling her to “get a job.”  After all, with “Trophy Wife” at the top of her resume, it’s going to take a lot more than fairies to make this dream come true.   If you’ve read my piece on the Male Divorce Archetypes, I hope you are not a bully or a miser because if your princess becomes a damsel in distress, you can be sure the Judge (man or woman) will come to her rescue. And don’t count on some other frog to pick up the financial burden; next time your princess will be marrying for love. 


7.         The Screamer.  Will someone please get this woman to shut up? Give her what she wants, whatever she wants!  That is exactly what this woman is hoping you will do in order to get her to stop screaming, cursing, slamming and otherwise torturing you with her rants and rages.  She doesn’t care where she is or who is there.  Once she gets going she won’t stop until she’s gotten what she wants.  This is how it worked throughout the marriage, and she’s banking on whining her way to the win.   A few meetings with your respective attorneys and you’ll see that even her own attorney won’t be able to rein her in.  This of course will not be a surprise to you, and after a while you may find yourself tempted to just give in one last time.  Keep in mind that “one last time” in the divorce does not mean it will be the last time.  Nope, if you give in now, expect more rants in the future.  A couple of court appearances should do the trick when dealing with a screamer.  The first time the Judge may be forgiving, but the second he or she will not.  This woman will be promptly escorted out of the courtroom even after her profuse and teary apologies.    


8.         The Martyr.  She gave you the best years of her life and you ruined it all.  This woman does not want a divorce; she wants revenge.  She wants a pound of flesh but will take it in dollars.  She is not looking for a quick or amicable divorce so please don’t use those words, and for God’s sakes, don’t tell her you want to be “fair” even if you do. She must believe that she has won, in one way or another.  Do not smile and do not move on with your life (in public).  If you really are happy and want to move on with your life then be prepared and willing to pay- but don’t show you are eager to do so. You will have to offer her more than her fair share but can’t do it up front.  This is going to take time.  If you give too much too soon she will get angry.  Take your lumps and give until it seemingly hurts.  


9.         The Mistress.  She’s having an affair but hasn’t been caught.  She’s looking to do things “quickly and fairly.”  She’s looking to get out of the marriage easily but doesn’t want to hurt you.  She will do all the work.  She will find the lawyer, draw up the agreement, pay the fees, and present you with it on a silver platter.  She’ll tell you that you don’t “need” an attorney and that everything is straightforward and fair.  She’s right for the most part, but do get an attorney anyway.   If you suspect she’s having an affair you may just want to keep it in check.  Once the cat is out of the bag, she may not feel so guilty, and the opportunity for a quick and easy divorce may be gone.  


10.       The Fool.  Thanks to your cunning ways, your wife has been completely in the dark as to the true state of your finances.  Whether good or bad, the truth is going to be ugly, and it is going to take a lot of work to undo what this fool believes.  If you have had your wife believing for years that you had “no money” only to have her attorney discover your hidden treasure, take cover as hell hath no fury like a woman fooled.  On the other hand, if you’ve hidden your financial horrors from her, and kept her living like a princess, you will be hard pressed to explain, let alone have anyone believe that you really have “no money.”  In either case, having a heart to heart with your wife to tell her the “truth” is not going to work.  If you have one hidden treasure, who’s to say you don’t have two?  If you’ve been living on borrowed money, who’s to say you can’t borrow more? You are going to need an outsider to set the record straight, and even then it may be too late.


11.       The Tease.  She says she wants a divorce but expects you to be home for dinner with the kids.  She tells you she loves you but isn’t “in love” with you.  She wants to have separate lives but live under the same roof.  What gives?  This woman is a control freak and afraid to pull the plug.  She really does want to be divorced but wants to control all that you do.  Her biggest fear is that when you are actually divorced, you’ll be out from under her thumb and doing what you want.  For some guys this arrangement is a dream come true, but for many it is not.  If you like the idea of not splitting assets or parting with your pay, go along with this please, but if you crave a real partnership and not a housemate, get rid of this tease.


12.       The Bad Girl.  This woman refuses to grow up, and her motto is “Girls just want to have fun.”  She goes out five nights a week and dresses like a teen.  She gets drunk at parties and on weekends sleeps until noon.  She points out that no one gets hurt and she otherwise gets to work on time and the kids on the bus.  Some men stay with these types because they’re afraid that if Daddy leaves, all hell will break loose.  Threats of divorce fall on deaf ears and do nothing to reel in this rebel.  If she wants the divorce, she surprisingly knows how to carry on her escapades to the proverbial edge, limiting those activities to her private time and away from the kids.  This woman won’t fight you too hard for access and shared custody so stop trying to get her to “grow up” and focus on ensuring that you get your kids at least half of the time.    




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Maria Schwartz, Esq. is a Divorce and Family Law Attorney based in Garden City in the state of New York, County of Nassau serving clients in Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island (both Suffolk and Nassau County). Practice areas include: Divorce, Appeals, Equitable Distribution, Prenuptial Agreements, Custody, Visitation, Child Support, and more.

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