Unfairness Ever After- Or ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding Divorce’

Tonight I just saw My Best Friend’s Wedding for the second time ever. The first time was probably back when it was in the theater, or somewhere around then. That was over 15 years ago!

I’m a big Romantic Comedy fan- chick flicks very much included. I enjoy their fluffiness and the guilty pleasure of them. Which is why I found My Best Friend’s Wedding to be very disappointing the first time I saw it. The ending was especially shocking. Spoiler Alert ahead! Stop reading if you want to watch My Best Friend’s Wedding and haven’t seen it for the last 18 years… It’s currently streaming on Netflix ūüôā

Anyway, if you’re still reading, you know the end of the movie (or don’t care if it’s spoiled). Julia Roberts doesn’t get the guy! It doesn’t feel comfortable and fluffy at the end!

Even after THE WHOLE MOVIE is a set up for Julia (Julianne in the movie) to steal the guy (her best friend Michael) away from his sudden fiance (Kimmy- who gets engaged to Michael on a whim right when they first meet), Julia doesn’t get him to be with her! Julia spends the entire film plotting to tear the engaged couple apart and …fails miserably! What??! Even though it seems like¬†Michael likes Julia and is secretly into her throughout the whole movie (there are A LOT of mixed signals from him…which I really noticed this time), at the end, when Julia FINALLY confesses her love to Michael, he’s just not that into her…even after acting like he was the whole time. He simply wants to go ahead with his planned wedding and marry Kimmy.¬†WTF?

And Julia and Michael¬†had been friends for 9 years and promised each other that if they weren’t married by 28 (!! That’s young!!), they’d get married! And they were 28! But he was marrying someone else instead..

I actually looked up “my best friend’s wedding ending” on google tonight and there are a bunch of articles going back and forth about the ending. Some people demanded a sequel where Michael and his ditzy new wife got divorced¬†within ten years…some sequel ideas even called for Julia and Kimmy to become friends and forget about Michael. Approximately no one¬†thought the marriage in My Best Friend’s Wedding was going to last. Michael was 28 and Kimmy was only 20 after all! And she dropped out of school to be with him!

However, both this time and the first time I watched the movie, I liked the ending, even though it felt somewhat unfair in Romantic Comedy world. I think the ending was ahead of its time… it didn’t pull the usual happily ever after story in the traditional sense, but may have set up an even happier life for the protagonist in a totally unforeseen way. This is true in real life. A lot of times the happiest endings come after a lot of heartbreak, are totally unforeseen, and aren’t really endings anyway….cause it’s not over till its over.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s what I took away from the ending of My Best Friend’s Wedding:

Lesson 1- You don’t always end up with the guy you love. (Or the girl you love).¬†

Sometimes they’re just not that into you. Even though they seemed to be.

Lesson 2- Sometimes you’re pretty sure someone likes you, but they don’t.¬†

Mixed signals suck. Additionally, it sucks to be sure your intuition is right, but then it’s actually wrong.

Lesson 3- Sometimes the one you love goes for the most random little hot ditzy person, instead of the amazing hot you. (Or maybe you’re the amazing hot little ditzy person, and you still end up with love unrequited. Damn.)

Lesson 4. Life is unfair.

Yep. Take a number.

Lesson 5. But maybe, honestly, when the person you love just wasn’t that into you and you ended up without them, you actually dodged a bullet and are ending up on a way better path. That guy (or girl) didn’t see you for the incredible, exceptionally hot person that you are. Your loved one didn’t appreciate you! Life’s too short to pretend to be someone you’re not, so find the person who is super into you. This is a hard lesson…

Lesson 6- “There may not be marriage, and there may not be sex, but by god there will be dancing!”

(Best line of the movie.)

Life’s more than just a search for romance. Enjoy life, enjoy your awesome time here, and everything is so much better. For this moment, there may not be requited love, and there may not be total fairness, but by god there will be dancing!

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Has A Breakup Nearly Destroyed You In Your Thirties?

My friend Seth went through a really bad breakup a few years back. When I say bad, I mean horrendous. Bad to the point that it took him almost two years to get over it…and during that time he was anxious almost every day and couldn’t sleep. His anxiety about the breakup permeated every corner of his thoughts and dreams…and turned the act of sleeping into a constant nightmare.

I remember meeting up with him during this time and barely recognizing him. He felt like a shell of the boisterous, smiley person he usually is. Seth is a self-employed composer and lyricist who is always extremely creative and prolific, writing songs at all hours of the day and night, playing piano at auditions, and presenting showcases of his work. He even has his own webseries.

However, during the years after his breakup, he was on so many different anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills that he could barely function…and he’s the type of person who normally never even drinks coffee because it makes him jittery.¬†Both Seth’s nights and days were wrecked, first by his ex’s departure, and then by the constant anxiety and even panic attacks that just wouldn’t go away.

My friend Seth and I in better times.

Seth and me in later, happier times.

Have you ever gone through a breakup that leaves you reeling for far longer than you think it should? Have you ever felt like you were the only one who just couldn’t let it go? Did you think you were going to marry the person who left, or did the person end up leaving the marriage you already had? Have you ever had even your absolute best friends wonder when you were going to get over it? This happens to people way more often than you think.

There’s no set timeline on grief, and a breakup is legitimately a loss. Breakups can feel kind of like mini deaths that you have to grieve and eventually move on from. Any act of grieving can take quite awhile, leading to intense discomfort, especially around your friends and family who may just want you to ‘get over it.’

It’s hard to just get over something on a timeline, and the time needed for grieving any particular loss is personal and unknown.This recovery time includes breakups as well as deaths- any type of loss can take a very long time to get over, really.¬†Sometimes grief can even go away for awhile and then return as an intense sneak attack!

When Seth finally started to recover, and even during his grieving process, he attempted to open up to others about what he was going through. Little by little, he heard similar stories from friends who experienced similar breakups that brought them to the ground.

Seth and I after his recovery, when I directed his concert, Broadway Meows, benefitting the Humane Society

Seth and me after his recovery. I directed his Humane Society benefit concert, Broadway Meows

Seth realized how helpful it was to have friends around him and people who understood his situation. And it was extremely helpful to realize that other people had gone through similar situations after a breakup.

So he wrote a book to share his experiences.

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The book is called Sleep. Write. Now.¬†and it chronicles his entire spiral into depression and insomnia¬†after the breakup, and his very, very slow recovery. The book is breathtakingly open and vulnerable regarding the painful moments that occur after a breakup, from the embarrassing (private journal entries of positive affirmations that all don’t work) to the horrendous (loss of friends after recovery ‘took too long’ and he was ‘still too obsessed with her’) to the hilarious and touching (how his cat helped him through some of his darkest moments.)

I highly recommend¬†Sleep.Write. Now, and it’s easy to grab on Amazon. The book is¬†an amazing read for anyone who’s gone through or is going through a traumatizing breakup and feels alone. Remember, grieving takes time and it can take a lot more time than you think it will. Breakups are a natural part of life (you can’t marry everyone you date!) and rejection happens to everyone.

Always remember- you are not alone.

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When I’m Married, Does My Spouse Get My Assets?

My head is spinning right now after researching this question. It’s quite a doozy. And I don’t use the word ‘doozy’ very often.

Writing the opposite article about whether you’re liable for your spouse’s debt was a much easier undertaking. The answers were wayyy simpler. I had no idea what I was getting into with this one. But I feel like it’s very important for those of us in our thirties, since¬†many people I know are getting married or about to get married around this time.

So here goes: I’m going to use my very best simplification skills in order to make this as understandable as possible.

First, I want to preface strongly that I’m not a Financial Advisor, so this is a vast simplification. If you are truly worried about your assets being shared with your spouse, please contact a Certified Financial Planner. Here’s a website that will help you find one.

Second, Okay, so let’s repeat the question in its simplest state:

If I have an inheritance, a savings account, monetary gifts from my dear Aunt Myrna (all of these things are known as ASSETS) does my spouse automatically get half (or any of it) when I get married?

When I started researching this, almost every article I came across was actually about divorce. I couldn’t figure it out at first, and then it hit me: none of this asset stuff is really relevant legally unless you get divorced.

This actually means: Other than if you get¬†divorced (and hopefully you will not), you won’t¬†ever legally be forced to share your savings, retirement accounts and inheritance with your spouse. Not really. You will probably want to share some (or most) of it, but that’s between the two of you.¬†

Think about it: If you don’t want to share your savings or inheritance with your husband or wife, there’s no lawyer/judge/policeman/masked villain who’s going to suddenly barge into your house and FORCE you to share your savings with your spouse…I mean, unless your spouse sues you or something (and honestly, that’s the road to divorce right there), sharing money within a marriage is kind of a private matter…a verbal agreement between two spouses. I mean, you guys can fight it out amongst yourselves (a civil conversation is also an option), but no one from the legal system will get involved. Of course, you two are building a life together so you may want to commingle (share) money (The word ‘commingling’ is actually an important one. I will come back to the whole commingling money issue in just a bit, as it will soon take centerstage in answering our question).

Once you get divorced (again, fingers crossed against this), all the legal issues/headaches/major problems come into play. 

I mentioned in my last article about debt¬†in a marriage that there are two types of states: Common Law states and Community Property States. I’ll review the Community Property states, since there are fewer of them. They are:¬†Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, the territory of Puerto Rico….and Alaska allows married couples to opt in to community-property status.

Basically, if you’re in a Community Property State (see above),AND YOU GET DIVORCED,¬†almost all of your assets that you accumulated DURING THE MARRIAGE are divided completely in half. Even your own 401k, private savings account, or pension from YOUR job becomes half your spouse’s! Of course, there are exceptions, such as if you have a prenup where you’ve written down that you will NOT divide your assets equally, or you two agree to amicably divide the assets unequally¬†(in which case, you’ll have to talk to your divorce attorneys and there will be a lot of writing to do.)

Two major exceptions to this rule are INHERITANCES and GIFTS.¬†If you received a personal inheritance or personal gift, your spouse doesn’t necessarily get any of it in a divorce, unless you COMMINGLED THE FUNDS.¬†Commingling means you used some of the funds to pay for a marital expense- this can get super tricky and involves lots of record-keeping and paperwork, so I’m not going to go into it here. My advice is: if you have an inheritance or personal gifts, try NOT to commingle those funds…yep, that might be hard. Once inheritance or gift funds that were specifically yours get commingled with marriage funds, you’ve made them fair game to be seized by your spouse during divorce proceedings. Eek.

If you’re in a COMMON LAW STATE (all the ones NOT listed above) and you get divorced, your assets won’t be divided strictly 50/50, but they will be divided in a “fair” way (read: complex). This will involve a lot of “if I take this, then you can have that” type of discussions. If discussions don’t happen, the courts will step in. It can get quite messy, especially if the whole ‘commingling of funds’ mentioned above has taken place.

Unfortunately, the main fact I came across in my research is: don’t trust your ex to tell you what you’re entitled to. They will possibly lie to your face…or they’ll honestly have no idea and make things up. If you’re getting divorced, DO YOUR RESEARCH. I know, it sounds harsh. I love to believe that people are good at heart too. But…the divorce experts who wrote the articles I read recently seem to believe more in greed than goodness. Sad face.

So that’s a lot. And not the happiest stuff I’ve ever written. If you’re still game for more, I’m attaching links to my research below for further reading. If your head is spinning, let’s review the absolute basics:

  • When you get married, you won’t be FORCED BY LAW to share your assets. You will probably want to share some or all of them.

  • When you get divorced, THEN you will likely be forced to share your assets.

  • After a divorce, Community Property states will divide most of your assets 50/50, with the possible exception of inheritance and gifts, unless the inheritance and gifts were commingled with marital money.

  • After a divorce, Common Law states wont divide everything 50/50, but they will divide things in what is deemed a ‘fair’ manner…and this can be very complex.

  • It is this very complex division of assets issue that solidifies the possible extreme importance of prenups.¬†

Oh man. That was a lot for a blog about the thirties. I swear, my next post will be about ice cream or something. Or maybe I’m just thinking about pints of Haagen Daaz because this was depressing.

Please let me know any questions or comments this brings up…or if you have more insight into this. Thanks for reading to the end!

References:

Managing Marital Property¬†DO’s and Don’ts

401K division after divorce (this is complicated so I didn’t go into it here- these guys do it better.)

More retirement plan division after divorce

People hiding assets during divorce proceedings– eek!

Some good info on commingling

Sheltering inheritance

More sheltering inheritance

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