Editor’s note: This letter was submitted by the Lovefraud reader whom we’ll call “Billyjean.” All names in this letter have been changed. Donna Andersen will comment on this story tomorrow.
When I met “Joseph,” I had been through my fair share of heartbreak. I was a single mum with a five-year-old little girl, who had little contact with her dad, a Swedish national, and, as I was from overseas, I had no family here. No grandma and grandpa for her, no aunties or uncles. I had to be everything. I did my best to give her a happy home. Dating as a single parent is tricky. You have to consider carefully when is the right time to introduce a prospective new partner to your little one.
Joseph was very warm and affectionate — I laughed a lot with him. He was shy at first, but once he opened up, he talked non-stop. He made my heart sing, and I found myself falling in love again for the first time in a few years. I was excited and scared all at once.
When the time came to introduce him to my five-year-old daughter, everything fell into place. They bonded easily, she was over the moon about him and over time, as our relationship developed and we later married, she called him “daddy.” He was effectively the only daddy she had known for most of her life, since her biological father had little contact with her and lived in another state (nine hours drive away) with his new family.|
Changes after marriage
However, not long after we married, I noticed Joseph started acting a bit differently. He seemed tense more often, and we weren’t connecting the way we used to. He seemed distanced and we argued a lot.
I asked him what was going on, if there was anything I could do to help; he said he was just stressed. Money was a real hot topic, as there never seemed to be enough of it for some reason, and I knew he didn’t bet/drink/smoke/do drugs, and was wondering where it was all going.
As I was doing post-grad study at the time, I was quite low on money as well, but somehow managed to loan him a fair chunk of money. After all, we were married, whatever is mine, is his, right? However, he refused to open a joint bank account, or be open about where he was spending his money. It was never really ‘our’ money.
I still felt a bit uneasy, and I asked him if he was having an affair. He was insulted and angry I could even suggest such a thing. But I felt something wasn’t right.
A baby on the way
Time went on, and we tried to improve things; we had wanted to have a baby as he didn’t have any of his own, and we wanted a sibling for my daughter. I was ecstatic when I found out we were expecting.
Sadly, the excitement wore off, as things started changing. We used to be intimate frequently, but things died off quickly, and once I found out I was pregnant, he refused to do anything physical with me at all. It was a combination of fear of hurting the baby, which I tried to explain was irrational; and also disgust/freaked out. I later discovered that my husband’s withdrawal was for much bigger reasons than I expected and my heart was about to be shattered yet again.
Cheating on line
I received a message one day on Facebook, of all places, from some mystery woman, let’s call her “Fiona,” saying that she had met my husband on a dating site, and how stupid and naive I was that I was married to this guy while he was on dating sites and dating her and telling her he wanted to be in a relationship with her. I was stunned.
Her Facebook messages continued, increasing with harassment and detail, and also “tell Joseph I’m pregnant.” I cried. I confronted Joseph about it, and demanded to know who she was, for she kept creating fake accounts to contact me, which would not allow me to reply to any of her messages. She could just keep harassing me from multiple accounts at will and it hurt. A lot.
Joseph denied he ‘did anything’ with the woman, saying that he met her before he even met me and she was ‘some crazy chick’ who he met for coffee once but decided not to go any further as he wasn’t interested in her, and she didn’t like being rejected and started to harass him to the point he had to change his number.
But things didn’t make sense. Her messages continued and I again demanded Joseph explain who she was so we could report her to the police for harassment. He claims he couldn’t remember her full name, didn’t know where she lived, or have her number anymore. I didn’t believe him.
Investigation yielded much
So, in light of this, I was a bit naughty and installed a key logger on our computer and I was able to find out a lot more.
A word of warning: if you go looking for something, you WILL find it. And the question is: are you prepared for what you will find?
I wasn’t. I discovered it went much deeper. I found out that not long after we married, he was indeed registered not on one dating site, but many, including adult sites. He was also contacting escorts on Locanto, a free website where there are a lot of adult ads. I found a phone number of another lady he cheated on me with — let’s name her “Mary.”
Another ‘other woman’
Of course, what runs through your mind? Was I not pretty enough? Thin enough? Did I do something wrong? While I was home cooking and cleaning and folding his clothes, he was out sleeping with this woman behind my back? That’s how I get repaid for my love and loyalty?
I found photos of her and found she was larger than me, so clearly it wasn’t size. Gathering up much courage, I called her. I had to know.
She was actually really nice, and under other circumstances, could see how she could easily be a good friend. When I spoke to her, I was again astounded. She told me a heartbreaking story, how she was a single mother, with a two-year-old little girl; she had been with her partner for seven years and pregnant, when she found out he was cheating on her with another woman who also became pregnant at the same time. She was understandably devastated, broke up with him and moved back in with her parents. She eventually got the courage up to try dating again, went to a dating website, where she met my husband, and told him this story, and explained to him that she really wanted to make sure the next man she is with is honest, a family man and wants a long term relationship.
He looked her in the eyes (knowing he was married to me and I was pregnant) and said, “Yes, me too’ and ‘if you’re good with me, I’ll be good with you, no lies.”
A double life
She was shocked to learn that he had been living this double life. I was so hurt. I couldn’t believe he could lie so easily to so many of us and not even consider for one second the heartbreak he was causing, not only for us adults, but the children as well.
Not long after I discovered the extent of his lies, I kicked him out of the house. It was messy. It was heartbreaking. It was hard. I even had to call the police, as I was so angry I threw all of his things out into the yard and was trembling with anger and hurt and he refused to go. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and terrified to tell anyone the truth. I kept up pretences, when people asked about how things were going with us, I said ‘fine’ and kept posting family photos on Facebook for my family overseas, to pretend all was fine, when really I was falling apart.
Pretences masked the truth
He was adamant he wanted to ‘fix things’ and promised to not go on any dating sites, etc. During the time we were apart, it was very hard. Being pregnant, feeling your swelling belly, the baby kicking — a time that’s supposed to be magical, wonderful, family. I was all alone.
It was hard holding back tears when I was in the waiting room at the hospital during my checkups, watching these other couples holding hands, smiling, and the husband rubbing his hand over her tummy, eager with anticipation.
But not me. Not even my mom could go with me, for all of my family still lives overseas.
Sexually transmittable infection
I started to feel unwell later in pregnancy and was told I had an STI [sexually transmittable infection] that could affect the uterus. I had been tested regularly before I was married, and was only with Joseph for years, so I knew full well where it came from.
He seemed more worried about himself than the fact he endangered me and the baby and never even explained or apologized, just rushed himself to a clinic to get checked, but never said anything more.
The connection was dead
Even through all this, I felt like we were Christians, married, we were having a baby, and we should try to fix things, and frankly the idea of being a single mum again now with two children from two different dads terrified me.
I encouraged him to get help; he went to see his GP and got a referral to see a psychologist, but he refused to go. He refused marriage counseling. He did keep coming to visit me, but the connection was dead. I kept thinking about him with these other women every time I saw him and it pierced my heart. I actually wanted to hit him, it hurt so much.
A son didn’t make a difference
I asked him why he did it and why does he keep doing it. He said he never meets them, he does it because he is bored, because I kicked him out and he was lonely, or ‘I don’t know’.
I ask “but surely, what is the point of asking an escort what her rates are, what she does, and if she is available, if you don’t have any intentions of meeting up with her,” and he replies things like, “I was curious.” To which I reply, “Well, after you have an answer a couple of times, then you would know, so why keep asking others?” and asking how is that going to fix things between us, when we separated because of this?
I kept asking if he was going to come to the birth; he kept playing games, saying “why not have your friend go” — so I was never sure if he was coming or not. But the day before the scheduled caesarean, he agreed to come. He was with me in the labor room the day our son was born. He cried. I thought for sure, something would click in his mind that he is a father now, and he should stand up as a man and think of his son at the very least.
Wedding photos became dating profile shots
But I discovered he registered on a new dating site the very same night our son was born after he left from the hospital. He used photos of himself from our wedding day for his profile. I cannot tell you how much that hurts.
When I confronted him later about this, his reply was “it’s just a photo,” without thinking there was any sentiment attached to the day — because I guess for him, there wasn’t any. It was just any other day for him. All a big joke.
I have been completely alone since our son was born, since no family could come and I couldn’t go back home as the plane tickets are insanely expensive, and my ex doesn’t want me to leave the country with the baby, even though he can’t be bothered being a family (to his credit, he has been financially supportive, however).
Trying to raise an eight-year-old girl and a newborn baby with a broken heart is hard on the best of days.
I also got very sick after the baby was born, no doubt largely due to so much long-term ongoing stress.I developed multiple infections and ended up back in hospital for several days, and had to somehow figure out who would look after my daughter while I was in hospital. And coming home to care for two kids without any help when you’re recovering from a caesarean and massive infections was so difficult, I don’t know how I survived.
Still only separated with no divorce in sight
The complexity in this scenario has been even though we’ve been separated for several months, he rented a place as close as he could to me, just two streets away. He refuses to divorce and keeps saying he wants to be a family.
I tell him his actions have shown differently, and I do not want to be with him, please give me space. I have requested he only comes on certain days and times to see the baby, but he won’t give me space and won’t abide by my requests of visitation. If I don’t answer his calls or messages, he shows up at the door. He often asks if I have plans or who I’m with or if I have/had any visitors.
Stuck in financial dependency
I have spoken to counselors and others quietly about this, and they suggested trying an intervention order, but after speaking to a lawyer it seems almost a joke, like a piece of paper that just says he has to be nice to me, since we have a son and he is allowed to have access. And, if I did that, he would withdraw any financial support.
In total, he owes me a fair bit of money from over the years, which he has started paying a bit here and there, but as a lot of it was on my credit cards with high interest, the amounts basically only cover interest and I’m drowning in debt.
I feel like such an idiot. The lawyers told me that basically the only way I could try to recover the money would be to sue him, as he doesn’t make enough to qualify for any kind of spousal maintenance, and the amount I would likely pay in lawyers would probably wash out anything I could get from suing him – that is even IF it went ahead, and IF he could/would pay, which is also unlikely.
The hard thing is, he continually says that he loves me, and despite all the madness there is a part of me that still loves him. I guess it’s the memory of how he was at the beginning and wishing he could be like that again, but it feels like it was all a façade. Now my feelings for him have changed understandably to the point I almost hate him.
My heart has been shattered into tiny pieces and I’m afraid to trust anyone again. It’s also really weird that he adores our son in ways — he visits him daily (despite my request not to) and buys a lot of things for him. Living in the city is very expensive, and as I can’t afford the rents on my own, he is helping me with the rent even though he’s not living here. However, this has meant that he feels he has the ‘right’ to drop by anytime he wants and still considers this his home in a way — he still refuses to change his address on any mail.
I would have to move quite far away to afford my own place, isolating myself even further and having less opportunities and moving my daughter’s school that she loves and has been in for the last four years.
I tried renting out one bedroom to a student in my tiny apartment, but it’s too complicated and risky and we don’t have the space (I had put the baby in my room and rented out his room for students, so it was crazy cramped). I really hated having my space invaded and they often stay short term and you’re always having to keep looking for replacement.
Can’t get a break
I feel really stuck, I never ever get a break, I’m super exhausted, lonely, and haven’t even been kissed for a year now.
The fact I can’t even have a male friend come over to my home to even watch a movie out of fear my ex is going to drop by any time to check on me and if he discovered a man here, he’d go crazy (yet I can only imagine what he’s doing) — it’s so stressful.
He is clearly playing games, but I literally have nowhere to go. I need sleep, hugs, love and wish I could figure this out. It’s so easy to say ‘leave’… but I have nowhere to go. I am really exhausted by it all. I know the only way forward is to assert boundaries — which will inevitably mean I will need to move somewhere I can afford on my own (far away) so he can’t use that over me, and slowly claw back my power. It is not an easy road.