Editor’s note: Lovefraud received the following story from a reader whom we’ll call “Bernice.”
I had been out of an 18-year marriage for a year when I met my lovefraud.
My husband was a selfish man who enjoyed his pornography. At the beginning I tried to be the good wife, experience things with him. The pornography I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy. I explained to him that for me it was a major turn off, almost sickening some of it. All that accomplished was him watching alone. When the children came along we only grew further apart. Over the rest of the marriage he became more and more independent from the children and I, often treating us like we were an inconvenience. He would get up early and stay up late to indulge in his addiction. The computer, the TV, 1 900 calls and eventually other women. I put my life into my children. I often found myself covering for a father that had no time for the children who yearned to be with him. By the time that they were old enough to see through my excuses for why he wasn’t interested I finally realized that living like that was no good for any of us. So for the next year it was just the three of us.
I was so lonesome and desperately felt the need for someone to love me. With my children’s approval I put a profile on a dating site. It wasn’t long before I was chatting with a wonderful man who said all the right things, that was until he ask for money. I was devastated. I managed to pull myself together and try again, thinking I now had that out of my system and would be much more aware from now on. I had my doubts of finding anyone. I had no intention of picking up and moving, he would have to come to me and at forty I didn’t think that was a very good possibility. Any man in my age range would be too young to retire but old enough to be settled into a job and a home that he wouldn’t want to pick up and move.
A perfect match
That was when I met him. I scanned every word, studied every picture. He seemed to fit in perfectly. He was so open with me about everything. We liked all the same things, wanted the same things and he was willing and able to come to me. He had worked for the same company since the day after his high school graduation. At that job he had been exposed to some chemicals which made him and some others sick, leaving permanent damage. He explained that he was now receiving a permanent disability pension. He even sent me copies of medical reports. I couldn’t believe how lucky I had been to find such a perfect match. The time came when he was coming to meet us. He told me how he was packing all of his things and getting ready. That surprised me a little, I ask if he couldn’t just come for a visit to start with. He explained that he had no where to go back to. My loneliness and desire to have someone to love me along with the foolish idea that I wouldn’t find another chance overruled the flashing warning sign in the back of my mind.
Then he was here. He was everything my ex-husband had never been. He helped with everything in the house and on the farm. He was here, with us, not off some where avoiding us. He was good with my children and all of their friends who seemed to make our home the go to place. There had been one slight misunderstanding, he wasn’t actually receiving any disability payments however was still fighting to. My bad. Over the next couple months everything seemed wonderful despite the shortage of funds. He assured me it would all work out, he was going to take care of everything. There was some tension with the kids, I thought because I wasn’t able to afford everything that teenagers wanted right then. Five months after this wonderful man arrived in our lives it was like I suddenly slipped into an episode of “The Twilight Zone”. My son and I argued like never before, I don’t even remember what it was about, and he moved to his Dad’s home, followed one week later by his little sister. I was completely devastated. How could they leave me for their Dad? I had been the one that was always there for them, whatever they needed. I listened to them complain about their Dad’s selfish lack of interest and time for them. Now he was the one they chose to be with?
Thankfully my new, perfectly wonderful man was right there beside me. He held me while I cried for hours at a time. Told me everything would be ok. Helped me through the day to day routine until I was able to stand on my own again. We started working towards a dream I had of raising Gypsy Vanner horses. I had never believed it would be anything more than a dream and now this man was making it a reality. All the time I was trying to be available to my children and revive a relationship with them. He managed to insert “his opinion” of the kids, how they treated me and how they should be treated, every chance he got. He became increasingly opinionated the more contact I had with my children. He was also getting a little more controlling of our day to day life. Always telling me that it was my decision and he was merely offering advice. However, when I didn’t take his advice it was clear that he was disappointed.
Then it happened, I suspected him of viewing pornography on the computer. We had discussed this before he moved in. I explained how I wouldn’t tolerate such a thing and why. I confronted him about it and he assured me I was mistaken. I felt so bad for having suspected him, thought I was just paranoid. I explained to him again why I felt so strongly about it. He told me he understood. I guess he just didn’t care because it wasn’t long until I caught him at it and he couldn’t deny it. This time he told me he heard me, he hadn’t realized before just how much it hurt me. I guess he now knew but must not have cared about it any way. The next time I found him in front of the computer I told him he had to go, I couldn’t live like that anymore. For the next two days we talked in circles. He begged for forgiveness, told me he would never do it again. I stood my ground and eventually phoned his brother who immediately came to help me convince him he had to go.
I was so confused. It was like a major weight had been lifted from my shoulders. At the same time I was mourning the loss of what we were going to do, all the plans. I was so angry at him for just throwing everything we had away like that. I missed the company, the help, the good things we had.
Over the next three months I was a whirlwind of emotions, never sure exactly what I wanted. He emailed constantly and phoned often. Always telling me how sorry he was, how much he missed me. A few times he drove in the yard around 4am without letting me know he was coming. He always had the excuse that he came to get something he needed and would take the time to do something he could see needed to be done for me. There was always the talking. He insisted on sitting so close that we were touching in some form. He would look me in the eye and tell me how he was changing. He had been getting counseling and was understanding how wrong he had been. There was always the tear in his eye when he said how much he missed me, the pets and everything we had here together. He assured me he would be able to be all I needed him to be and that if he were home it would be so much easier for him to prove that to me. Of course it was always my decision though. I finally agreed to try again and he came home.
Working things out
I told him just how big this was for me, to forgive him the one thing I had sworn to never live with again. I said I didn’t want to live with suspicion, always wondering what he was doing when I wasn’t looking. Once again, with that intense eye contact, he assured me, promised he would never, could never hurt me like that again. He said that even if no one would ever find out his conscience wouldn’t allow him to hurt me with pornography again. We were working things out again, I was becoming more comfortable with him and he was so very attentive and caring. He had been back only two weeks when I came in from the field early one day. He had been working around the yard that day but wasn’t in the house when I got there. The first thing I noticed when I passed by the computer was that the volume button was turned on, something we rarely used. I felt sick. As I sat down I was praying I was wrong, that I wouldn’t find what I knew was there. I looked at the recent history and there it was, a list of videos watched. I went from one to another, the knot in my stomach tightening with each new video.
I took a deep breath, steadied myself and began making supper. He came in all smiles and began washing up. I started one of his videos and cranked the volume. I have no idea what he had been telling me about, just waited for him to hear the computer. It wasn’t the reaction I expected. When he heard his first reaction was to ask me what I thought I was watching. I ask him how his conscience was as he past through to look at the computer. He said it was fine. I guess I expected groveling, pleading for forgiveness, excuses. He actually left the video playing and came back to the kitchen with a sheepish grin. He told me he was working on his problem and that he was much better than he had been. He held his arms out as he got closer and almost laughed when I stepped back and told him I would rather beat him to a pulp than embrace him. He acted like I was over reacting; it was really not that big of a deal. I walked out, had to get away from him to think. I got in my truck and left, it was well after dark when I came home again. I had come to the conclusion that I would carry on as if nothing had happened at least when anyone else was around. My Dad was only a week away from major heart surgery and there was no way I wanted to be the cause of any more stress in my parents lives right then.
He became more controlling
We fell into a routine. It wasn’t a good relationship, I was distant and he acted like he was just letting me work through my little fit. When we argued he would pout like a child, sometimes walk out in the middle of the night, his last words “if I don’t come back don’t worry.” I didn’t. He started to get more controlling. No longer giving his opinion but rather telling me the way things would be, what we bought and didn’t buy. He was either rude to my children when they came or he would leave while they were there.
My son was there one day working on a trailer he had just gotten. I still don’t know what was said between the two of them but my son left, very angry, and said he wouldn’t be back. My guy, ha, came to the house and told me he wanted to talk to me in the garage. I took my time getting there, about an hour I think. He was still furious. He told me how my son had thrown tools and motor parts around, he had been rebuilding an engine at the time. He stated that this was his place and my son was all done just showing up. He claimed he was considering getting a restraining order to keep my children away from then on.
I just walked away, let him cool his heals. Then, like always, the next morning he acted like nothing had happened. That was when I sat him down and told him I no longer wanted to live with him. All I got in return was that unblinking stare before he got up and left. I think it was only about a week, though it felt like a month, I would tell him he had to go, it was over, we were done and he would either tell me I was wrong, we could work it out or he would walk away. Then when he returned it was like nothing had happened all over again.
Getting him out
I was going insane; I didn’t know how to get him out. I lived like he didn’t exist, went about my business ignoring him. He finally said one day that he was going to call a pastor that we had talked to a few times, I went to the bedroom and closed the door. The pastor came right away and ask if I could come sit with them. He listened and watched us both. Then he suggested that my partner “take a sabbatical” for both our sake. Give me time to heal and work on himself then perhaps we could consider trying again. I was so relieved when he agreed to do this that I almost cried. All I could think was that this would get him out! He left the next day. I emailed the pastor and told him how I felt and that I had no intention of trying again. He informed me that he felt that was the situation and he was also glad that is suggestion had taken.
Well he was gone but he wasn’t about to let me forget. The emails came some times several a day and phone calls as well. He had only been gone two weeks when he informed me he was coming back. After he talked to me I could decide if I wanted him to stay or not. I panicked. I got hold of the pastor who advised me not to be alone with him. I called my son who dropped everything and said he was on his way but wouldn’t get here in time. I called my mother and she came to be here with me. When he walked in the door you could almost see the steam, he wanted me alone. I said that would never happen. He claimed then that this was as much his home as it was mine and he wasn’t going to leave. My son slipped in and quietly sat at the end of the table. I told him he could either go on his own or he would be forced out. He said go ahead call the police. I did.
They came with in 15 minutes. He was standing outside when they pulled in. One officer talked to him outside and the other to me in the house, then they switched. They told him he had to leave. He screamed and yelled until they put him in their car. When he calmed enough to talk again he told them he couldn’t go because someone had put gravel in his fuel tank. One of the officers came to the house and ask my son if he had done it. We went out to look. Until then I was unaware that a friend of my son’s had been sitting in his truck all along. I talked to him to see if he had thrown the gravel in the tank. He assured me he wanted they guy gone as badly as I did, he wouldn’t have done anything to keep that from happening. I believe the police even thought he had sabotaged it himself. They told him to just get in this truck and go, there was a service station a mile away where he could clean his tank out if need be. He left but he didn’t give up.
Begging and pleading
He continued with emails, begging and pleading, bribing and threatening. I finally had a lawyer write to him and tell him any further contact was to come through her. That made him angry. He then turned his energy to taking everything I had as well as his own things. He would not negotiate, he wanted all he could get. My lawyer advised me to let him come get his things and then he might calm down and go away. I knew it wouldn’t be that easy but didn’t know what else to do. He spent three days with family members loading and hauling things away. He was rude to me and my family, his family didn’t speak or make eye contact with me and his sister took pictures of everything and of me every time I moved. They talked about damage to this and that, took pictures of anything I said had to stay and said he would deal with that later. By the time the end of the third day came I felt naked and totally violated. He was gone, his things were gone and I told myself it would only get better now. I was wrong.
There was about a month after he had hauled everything away that I didn’t hear from him. I was just starting to feel like the sun might come out again when the emails started again. He actually wrote and told me he thought we could still work through this little bump. Unbelievable! I have contacted my lawyer again but she has yet to get back to me. I don’t know where to go from here. Only time will tell.