Editor’s note: The following article was received by the Lovefraud reader who posts as “Adelade.”
It’s been over a year since I discovered that the man that I married had been living a double-life before we ever even met. My vulnerabilities were the beacon that he gravitated towards: exiting an abusive marriage, loving to my children, spiritually “grounded,” artistic and creative, and all of these attributes and vulnerabilities in addition to a “socially connected” family with a colorful history were exploitable and desirable.
I believed his words and assertions because I wanted to. I “needed” to feel validated and valued because I couldn’t provide this to myself, on my own. I’ve mentioned this, before, but I represented only 3 things to the exspath. I was a “safe mommy” figure. A substantially older woman who was nurturing, encouraging, supportive, and tolerant. I was a “cloak of respectability.” The exspath’s true nature is so deviant and self-serving that my “attributes” and family history could provide a respectable cover for him. I came with money. My father worked, very hard, to be a successful man and I had been raised in a middle-class environment that bordered on upper-middle-class except that he was frugal and didn’t flaunt his amassed wealth.
When my father passed, I was still unmarried to the exspath. He had asked to marry me during a camping trip and I accepted his proposal. He seemed fun. He seemed to genuinely love me, care about me, and to love and care about my children. He even attended meetings with the court-ordered social worker that was assigned to my case. He was spontaneous and seemed to have a sense of responsibility. After all, he worked in the office of a state prison and that was a substantial responsibility.
“Integrity” and “honesty”
After we married, I maintained my trust in the exspath. He openly disdained his coworkers’ extramarital activities and their illegal misdeeds. From multiple affairs to using illegal substances, he would vociferously malign his coworkers and state (and, I quote), “I won’t ever do those things.” He constantly spoke, in veiled terms, of his “integrity” and honesty. He would make demonstrations of this, whenever possible, that (in retrospect) seem entirely coincidental. One example of this was when he received a number of holiday cards from coworkers with substantial cash enclosed as “thank you’s: for his having scheduled overtime for these employees. We were quite broke, and he insisted that he was going to return the money because it would be “unethical” to keep it. To this day, I’m almost certain that he did nothing of the sort and simply used the cash for other purposes. Another example was a terrible leak in our roof that wasn’t covered by insurance unless it was caused by wind or storm damage. An adjuster apparently made a veiled suggestion that a missing shingle or two would result in repairs and his response to that suggestion was (and, I quote), “I don’t have enough larceny in me to….” do that.
The exspath also used his words very carefully to maintain my trust. The first marriage was extremely abusive and I endured beatings, verbal abuse, financial abuse, threats of suicide and murder, and extreme sexual abuse. I had disclosed these facts to him and, true to spath form, he asserted (again, I quote), “I will never abuse you like that.” And, he didn’t abuse me “like that” in the abuses that I had previously experienced. He was very careful to avoid angry discussions or expressions of anger within the relationship because (again, I quote), “I can’t stand arguing. That’s all my parents do is argue.”
My inheritance had been bequeathed in such a way that I would not be able to touch the principal until I was 45 years of age. I believe that my father wrote this clause to prevent the first exspath from claiming any part of this inheritance, legally, under the guise of child support (we each had custody of a child), and the exspath was well aware of this, as well. I trusted him, implicitly, and he always had “an answer” that seemed reasonable and sensible.
But, I had not healed in any manner from my previous experiences with the first abusive exspath, and I wasn’t looking hard enough at the second exspath’s family dynamics, behaviors, friends, or associates. Perhaps, I didn’t “want” to look hard enough and I was isolated, seemingly by choice, but clearly by his design, in retrospect. The second exspath convinced me to trust his abilities in investing and frequently criticized my investment broker for having “failed” to alert me of trends in the markets, etc. When I turned 45, the exspath blew the doors open on my finances, convinced me to “fire” my investment broker, and laid waste to my investments within 2 1/2 years through coercions, forgeries, gaslighting, and endless cash withdrawals.
I asked my counseling therapist, “Why didn’t I see this happening?” Well, we all know why we never “saw” the spaths for what they were. We didn’t want to believe that anyone that we loved could be capable of the abuses that they perpetrated, so those behaviors and choices never happened.
Now, I’m in the end-stages of a “no fault” divorce. Since the exspath left the marital home, I have existed in a state of poverty that I could never have imagined deserving or even possible. I lost my primary home and the cash equity that I had in that home. I lost a studio that I had paid for. I lost my transportation. I had to relocate to a property that I had been coerced into purchasing, IN CASH, that is remote, falling apart, in an extremely depressed county, very few opportunities for employment, managing a lifelong condition, and with no hope of financial recovery.
The state in which we were married maintains “No Fault” divorce, and this means that whatever one party has done to destroy a marriage, the only legal issue is “equitable distribution” of property and assets. The exspath could be a pedophile, and this fact would have no impact upon division of property or the granting of alimony. Indeed, even the forgeries that the exspath clearly committed will not be a factor in my divorce because there are no punitive damages awarded in “No Fault” divorce. The exspath will not face being charged with a Federal Offense, nor will he experience any anxiety with regard to his misdeeds. The exspath will never face a single consequence for his actions.
Of course, if I had the opportunity to go back in time and review the second exspath’s family dynamics and observe him, independently of my codependent state when we first began living together, I would have never entered into a legal contract of marriage with him. But, I can’t change the past. I can’t live in a state of regret.
Today, I’m living with an auto-immune disorder and multiple emotional issues that will take me the rest of my life to sort out. Yes, I’m angry at the exspath. I’m also angry at myself because I trusted him to a such a degree that it allowed him to dismantle every aspect of my life and render me destitute. I’m angry that “No Fault” means exactly that: it’s nobody’s fault that the marriage ended. But, I have the opportunity of a lifetime: to “get it right” and learn who I am, whom I’m supposed to be, and to make some kind of difference in some capacity.
I don’t know what I’m “supposed” to be doing, but I do know that I can face my Life with a new set of eyes and some hard-won wisdom. I know that this marriage is finally going to be declared dead in a few weeks. I know that the exspath won’t be able to argue that alimony won’t be “sustainable,” as his attorney asserts. I know that I am going to recover, in due time. And, I know that I am a valuable human being with my own attributes that I intend to hold tight unto myself.
For those of you who may read this before you enter into a legal binding contract of marriage with someone that you believe to be your soul mate or “The One,” for the love of God, do the homework. Wait. Watch. Observe. And, put your feelings aside and see this potential mate with an objective eye. Even one “Red Flag” is reason enough to stop, look, listen, and make an educated, objective decision about your own well-being. Nobody is worth tolerating damage for, under any circumstances. Even if the damages aren’t physically abusive, pay attention to the words and assertions. What kind of person needs to convince another person that they will “never” be like the “other guy/gal?” The only type of person who would make such assertions and guarantees is someone who has an agenda. We cannot promise anyone that we’ll never hurt them or abuse them. We don’t know whether our own actions will cause hurt or be interpreted as abusive. Given that fact of human nature, anyone who makes such glib and sweeping promises is attempting to convince us of something that is, for all intents and purposes, impossible.
A contract of marriage is a legal, binding arrangement. It’s not something that can be easily dissolved if the relationship disintegrates. It costs very little to apply for license to marry. In most states, less than $100. To divorce without children, it can cost upwards of $6000, especially if the divorce is bitter and spath behaviors abound. In the cases where children, custody, and visitation are issues, legal fees can run into the tens of thousands with countless hours wasted in Courtroom hearings, and anxiety levels that exceed human tolerance.
It’s not a crime to make a mistake in our choices of partners. We aren’t going to stop living if we walk away from a relationship that is questionable. We’ll survive, recover, and move on with our lives with wisdom under our belts before we choose another partner. If we call it quits with someone who is manipulative, abusive, and wholly toxic, we have not “failed.”
I will be “paying” the consequences for marrying a second exspath for the rest of my life, and my refusal to walk away when I had the opportunity and finances to do so falls squarely upon my shoulders. I didn’t “deserve” this, but the exspath perpetrated his crimes and sins, regardless of what I deserved. I own my choices because I’m in possession of empathy, conscience, and remorse. The exspath owns nothing because he is a hollow, deviant, and malevolent Thing. For this raw truth, I am grateful.