Divorce

A Conversation With “Liz”

Yesterday afternoon I had a phone conversation with “Liz”. I wrote about her in this post.

She wanted me to relay to you that she is very thankful for all your suggestions. And she now has an appointment with an attorney in one week  in order to discuss her options. You all convinced her that that should be her next move.

farmhouse vignette

I recall when I had my first appointment with the divorce attorney. In preparation I had written down a bunch of questions. But in my nervousness I forgot to write down any answers.

By the time I got home, I was so rattled trying to make sure I didn’t let anything slip about where I’d been, that I couldn’t recall much of anything. Then I had to call them back to ask them some of the questions again.

Write Things Down:

Liz is in that place where she is in disbelief. After a decade and a half of what she considered a good/stable marriage, her world feels like it is toppling.

He says he does not have another woman, but then we all know they lie about such things. So I can’t say I’d believe that. Or much of anything he says at this point.

Mason jars on shelf

Now A Financial Disadvantage Looms:

He not only cleaned out her accounts. But before that he recently coaxed her into adding his name to the only thing she owned in this world that has real monetary value: a rental property.

It was the house she raised her children in. And it is paid for.

Now she’s learned that she cannot just take his name back off. He owns the house as much as she does I suppose, though I’m no attorney. I see some serious longtime planning on his part here, don’t you?

They have mortgages on two homes. The one they are living in, and one in another state. A family member is living in the house out of state. They are still making payments on both homes.

In our conversation, she said that she has not been working much this year due to a chronic illness. But she is in a profession where I think jobs will not be in short supply.

He is out of town at the moment. So I think she can see the attorney and maybe have a day or so to think about things before he returns.

farmhouse vignette

Why Now?

I asked her if there were any mental issues with him, and she said she didn’t think so. I asked about addiction, and she said no.

So why is he playing this back and forth game where he says he doesn’t want to be married to her. And then turning right around and saying: “But what if I want to marry you again? Will you?”

To me this is either crazy talk or emotional blackmail/abuse. Or perhaps both.

Can you think of any reason why a man, who she’s been married to all these years, suddenly does a complete about face?

Why would he start talking to her like this in the past few months? Saying things like he’d put their nine year old dog to sleep?

my kitchen

Just So You Get A Better Overall Picture (and in no particular order):

  • He is not the father of her children.
  • Liz is about my age
  • She thinks he may be in a lot of debt.
  • He is very controlling and tends to follow her everywhere.
  • She pays taxes with him.
  • Liz learned he recently sent money to another country.
  • She says he seems to have no empathy toward others.

Sometimes it takes awhile for us to take off our rose-colored glasses. When you love someone and are committed to them, you don’t always see them in their entirety. It’s like looking in the mirror every day. Change seems gradual.

Why Do We Make Excuses For Them?

I realized my ex had no empathy toward others. Though I saw signs of it earlier in the marriage, I made excuses for him. I don’t know why that very fact alone didn’t scare me half to death.

But I guess I was already afraid of him, so what was one more terrifying aspect of his personality?

I had to get to a point of no return before I was brave enough to set things into motion.

Fear often keeps you from acting in your own self interest.

My apartment living room

Growing Up Female:

Why are we women so trusting? Is it a “growing up female” thing?

Certainly I’m not stating that this only happens to women. But it seems to be a prevailing problem that women deal with.

Liz very much appreciates any guidance you might have for her. She is struggling, but now she is determined to start life anew on her own terms.

She has spent the bulk of the last three months crying. Now she’s ready for action.

So let’s help her get there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

66 Comments

  1. “There are always trade-offs, but I wouldn’t trade what I have for any of my ex’s money.” Wow, thanks for reminding me of that. I got divorced from an abusive man 26 years ago. Now that I’m a “woman of a certain age,” I often get angry that I let him take more money from me than I should have. He is now rich, and I am not.

    But now I remember why I was in a hurry to GET AWAY from him, why I was willing to let that money go, and how much better my life is now. That money came at too high a cost. I might have to re-read this post again, just for that.

    Good luck, Liz. Take comfort that many women have walked down the path you are on now. You can do it. Be safe, be smart. And RUN!

  2. If Liz can make the case that she was under extreme duress and coercion when she added his name to her rental property, and that his intent was to leave her impoverished, she might be able to back his name off the title. Liz needs to document everything he said and did as she’s able to recall them. She’s literally fighting for her life. How sad.

      1. It took a legal action to get his name on the deed and it will take a legal action to get his name off of the deed. It’s something she needs to discuss with the attorney. As someone else commented either in this post or the previous one, she could request that the divorce paperwork include the provision that his name be taken off of the deed to that piece of property at the time of the divorce and it revert to her name only. But, it might have to be done separately from the divorce. The attorney will know the best way to proceed.

  3. Sending money to another country makes me very suspicious of this man’s actions and words. Just wondering if he is communicating with a “ mail order bride”. There are many sites for these for women desperate to leave poverty and to come to America. These exist in such countries as the Philippines and Russia. I think he’s asking to remarry if his plans with whoever do not work out or come to fruition. A counselor once told me that a man seldom leaves unless he has someone to leave for and another home in the works. Just some ideas to think about and consider.

    1. That’s what I told her. A man does not leave until he has her replacement lined up. Also, I may not be remembering correctly, but I think he may have family in Canada.

  4. I remember how hard it was for me to grasp advice from different people when I was going through the process of leaving my marriage. It’s hard to focus on advice on what to do when your feelings are still stuck on wondering why and you are feeling hurt and abandoned. But at some point you have to get beyond the feelings and deal with facts. I did go to a counselor During and after the divorce and now I don’t think it was such a good decision for me. I wish I would have spent that time and money on efforts to prepare for getting a better job and learning skills for money management. There I was, boo hooing because my ex was being mean and wondering why and years later he was still being mean and I still wasn’t sure why, so I could have waited to work on that problem or never worked on it at all, really. In a way it doesn’t matter why someone is mean, what matters is to stop allowing yourself to be the recipient. I will say this much, I have been just as mean to myself over the years as my husband was by listening to a critical inner voice that sometimes sounded like him and sometimes sounded like my mom and dad. It has felt weirdly normal to hear criticism and judgment but it has held me back. So Liz, when you find your own inner voice talking to you as negatively as your husband’s voice, tell that inner voice to stuff it because you need to live in light and not in despair!

    1. Sage wisdom! I know about that negative voice. The husbands often plant the seed and then it keeps on growing even when they’re gone. I think in her case she just needs to figure out the legalities and get away with her dog.

  5. Tell her to get into as many files and accounts as possible. And make hard copies. Date everything. Even every phone call about this and be certain to have the time and name of the person(s) she has spoken with. Document Everything. Keep a notebook and/or file.
    While he is out of town tell her to go through his things with a fine toothcomb. See where the money is going and look through his desk, check the closets and clothing drawers and even pockets in clothing because these types of people are so
    arrogant they become overconfident and careless.
    If she has a truly trusted friend it would help with doing this. Also some person who is competent on the computer might help unearth things as well.
    Several years ago someone I knew went through these things and she had to be coached and encouraged to start being proactive and really digging into things because she had let her husband be in charge of Everything. What he did to her was monstrous. When he went out of town she made extra copies of keys and began to unearth files he kept locked in the trunk of his car and eventually went to his office to search further with a friend. They found a Lot of
    things that were very helpful to her. Because women like this are so trusting these men don’t respect them and think they
    can get away with this.
    Encourage her to dig deep into his background, not just what he told her. Seek out the real truth by searching court records, transcripts, anything, because this person has been planning this for some time. If she can get her wits about her perhaps even filing some sort of report with the police might be in order so that if anything else happens it is at least on record. Also she could be in some great danger here. And again, if she does Anything but sure to get copies. And hide them…. in a safety deposit box, and/ with her attorney
    Another thing. Don’t rely on having just one copy. If it is ever found it can easily be destroyed or lost and then you are up a creek. Make at least two or three copies of everything and quickly put them in your safe places.

  6. About thirty years ago I had a friend (Carol) who was dating divorced man, his wife was pregnant and after she had the baby she hung herself in the basement of their home – because he was leaving her for Carol. Carol married him and moved into THAT home and raised the baby and his other children – she became pregnant and had a daughter – she inherited a lot of money from her Grandmother and her parents which he took control of – one day she went shopping with her daughter for the day and when she came home (truly) the house was empty – totally. He had taken the children – all their money and furnishings and moved in with a new woman. Carol actually considered hanging herself in the same basement his first wife had..but she had her daughter who he did not want – he even took her jewelry and fur coat… long story short he had worked on his plan for a very long time – and she literally lost everything – and she had no idea any of these was happening – She said she had about $12.00 in her purse and that was all… Never have I forgotten that story – you can’t make this stuff up. I moved after that – she went to school and never remarried but found herself in another long term relationship with another married man with a family – whatever,,,

  7. All I’m saying here is, if my husband ever threatened to put either of my healthy dogs down, he just better never turn his back on me. My husband would never do this, but I’m just saying. That tells me all I need to know about Liz’s horrible husband.

  8. Instead of attempting to write everything down just have her record the attorney visit on her phone. Then she can replay it as often as she needs. I agree that urgency is her first priority now. See the attorney NOW, get the things she cares about and her dog out NOW. And if possible don’t involve friends and family too much because that will put them at risk. Maybe even more than herself. Crying is useless. A pity party will only enable him to pursue his goals what ever they may be. Asking “Why” is also useless. There is no answer to that question and it is not smart to hang on attempting to work that out in her mind. It is what it is. Accept it and LEAVE. Also asking people what to do is probably not going to be much of a help in the long run. While it might feel great to have people tell you how horrible he is there are too many variables. Get a counselor that specializes in this type of situation. NOT a religious counselor though because their goals may be to reunite a marriage no matter what and it NOT helpful. The real world can be difficult but face it head on and just get past it. Many of us go on the have peaceful lives. Different from what we had hoped but that is ok. Putting your head in the sand is only going to complicate and extend the inevitable and most likely make it worse.

    1. A good Christian counselor would never try to reunite someone to another who is harming her. Don’t paint with such a broad brush. I have a friend who is a Christian counselor and does amazing work.

    2. Personally, I know that it is true that you can find happiness and peace. There are always trade-offs, but I wouldn’t trade what I have for any of my ex’s money. She does need emotional support, but she also needs to act quickly in my estimation.

  9. If Liz is 62 she could get her Social Security and that would surely help her. My heart aches for her and I agree with everyone…..get out NOW!!

  10. Hmmmm. Well, I hate to say this but these days, I’m thinking this guy could be some kind of con artist. Usually they are hit fast and hard and then they disappear with all of the woman’s money, never to be seen nor heard from again, but a few of them DO marry one or several of their victims, they get off on it! Then they have a “job” that takes him “out of town” a lot – he’s visiting one or more other wives and possibly families in other places!

    Lis cannot wait a week to see an attorney. IMMEDIATELY she needs to file a divorce or a legal separation action and IMMEDIATELY have recorded with the Register of Deeds or the County Recorder in the county where the real estate is located a Lis Pendens to notify EVERYONE who checks title that there is an action pending involving the real estate. It is an asset in the divorce proceeding. This guy sounds like the type who may have already obtained a MORTGAGE against the property by forging Liz’s signature for all she knows. If he hasn’t done this – yet – a Lis Pendens (depending upon what state Liz lives in, it may be called something different but the effect is legally the same) will put people and possible lenders, brokers and buyers as well as attorneys who are checking title on the property on notice that title to the property is NOT clear.

    I can’t stress this enough. Liz needs to act NOW to protect herself as much as possible. If she is sick, she needs to find an attorney willing to visit her at her home, IMMEDIATELY. She cannot wait. She just cannot wait another second!

  11. Thank goodness “Liz” is taking positive steps right now. I feel for her because most women know what it is like to feel helpless and adrift without oars. It is so wonderful that she reads your blog and has received support, warmth, suggestions, etc from you and your readers. This is truly a supportive group of individuals. Thank you for presenting her story and giving us all a chance to assist her. I do think meeting with an attorney is a great step forward.

    Take care and have a wonderful evening.

    1. I am so grateful, and so is Liz, for all of you. It helps so much, even if you have family and friends, to get outside advice and suggestions. You never know when one word of advice might just be the linchpin she needs in her situation. Thank you.

  12. I do not know whether this would be helpful to Liz, but I decided to go ahead and comment in case the suggestion might help anyone at all. Our community has a domestic violence shelter for abused women and children. The location is not well known, like with a big sign out front, and they do have security measures in place. I don’t know whether emotional abuse is enough to qualify to stay at such a shelter or not; the guidelines may vary. I think that the one in our community assists with finding longer term housing, among other services. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233. I would just add that each year our local shelter has a domestic violence awareness display with a pair of shoes for each person whose life was lost due to domestic violence, and seeing the number of empty shoes is grim. I apologize if this has strayed too far from Liz’s immediate situation, but perhaps it will help someone. No more empty shoes!

  13. My neighbor last year found out her husband was sending money overseas. Somehow he opened credit cards in her name and sent cash to the Philippines. My neighbor found out he had a wife there and a kid through Facebook. He was in the service and came home only a hand full of times since I’ve known her for 9 years. I always thought something was sketchy. She had surgeries I took her to and he never showed his face. He must of planned this out for years. As soon as he retired from the military, about 3-4 years ago, he moved south for a job but took the 2 newest vehicles. After the separation he begged her and begged her and she finally went back with him and she just moved to Florida . I worry for her safety because of all the lies. If she had gone through with the divorce she was to get the equity in the house and 40 percent of his pension. I pray he doesn’t hurt her
    Please be careful Liz.

    1. Isn’t it something that he could lure her back after all that? Well, I have my own stories where I wonder where my brain was when I was making stupid decisions. Like going back. I hope your friend is safe. But I doubt she’s happy.

  14. Bless her heart, I hate it for her. He sounds a bit narcissistic and somewhat sociopathic. Sending money to another country is definitely a red flag that she should have someone check into. He could be hiding money out of the country so that he doesn’t have to give her alimony (if where she lives is an alimony state) or have to divide assets or pay legal fees. He can claim he doesn’t have any money and then access his out-of-country accounts. I’m glad she’s getting advice. I lived in an abusive (physical and emotional) marriage for almost 25 years. When I finally kicked him out, he broke into my house and stole the only valuable things I had (including the few pieces of jewelry my grandmother had left me in her will), slit all 4 of the tires on my vehicle and continued to harass and abuse me until the papers were signed. What I found out is that legally they can break into the house after they leave because it is not considered breaking in as long as their name is still on the deed and they wouldn’t arrest him for vandalizing my vehicle…it was considered his vehicle. I hope things go well for Liz, please keep us posted. Love and hugs!

  15. Oh, dear, oh, dear! This man sounds deranged. Something has snapped mentally and/or emotionally, it sounds like. Liz, please realize that nothing you own or love is safe from this man. The advice to gather your things and leave the house while he is away is right. And about the house you owned for which he he put himself on the deed. When you speak to your lawyer request that him signing a quit-claim deed to that property be part of the divorce settlement. That way you at least own something you could live in. Depending on the laws of your state, the income differential between the two of you and your state of health you might even be able to claim alimony, at least for a specified time, until you get on your feet again. Ask for everything you want and then, if you have to, bargain down. And, don’t let him file first!

    I am just appalled at this demonstration of cruelty from this man. When I hear this kind of story I always wonder what kind of family background the man had. I have read that when you are contemplating forming a serious relationship you should always take note of what kind of relationship he has/had with his mother. Thinking back on my own marriage, that advice rings true.

    Keep hanging in there, Liz. You may not believe it now but “this, too, will pass.” You have the strength within you to make a much better life for yourself. And don’t be afraid to lean on friends and family members if there are those that would support you.

    1. I told her she should not keep asking him to file, but to file herself. To take control out of his hands as much as she possibly can. I don’t know if it’s an alimony or property state. Will have to see if she knows. If she doesn’t she can ask the attorney next week. I also told her to try to find out everything she can beforehand about divorce in her state.

  16. I feel bad for ‘Liz’ Brenda, she’s got a tough road ahead of her. Getting divorced was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do, and financially wiped me out. I wish her strength on her journey – she’s going to need it. However, once I got through it, I was able to find my way to peace. Prayers for the same for her.

  17. If he is giving someone money out of the country, then he’s prob seeing that person! Could be that’s where he is now! It sounds like he’s losing his marbles, acting very weird! Does he have manic depression? It sure sounds like it! Does he own any guns…have a gun collection?

    I would go stay with a friend or relative for awhile…in the same state. Take your dog and any personal items and things you don’t want broken and have someone hold them for you. Get the hell out of that house now Liz!!!

    I wish my bff did cuz she wouldn’t be in heaven now! Her mistake is that she went back to him b4 the divorce was final and when she had enough and was leaving him for good, he murdered her and then shot himself! She found out 2 days b4, that he had manic depression!

    He told his drinking buddies that he will make sure she never leaves him again! That he’s been planning this for a yr now! She saved my life and my kids cuz he was going to kill us first, then go back home and kill her, their child and him! Sicko!

    My house was her safety net. She would wait til he was sleeping and then take her child and leave for the day. Sometimes she still had her pjs on! He couldn’t beat on her, when she was at my house and I wouldn’t let him in! I would have called the cops on him and he knew it! I wasn’t scared of him and told him just what I thought of him! Sometimes he would start to cry and apologize profusely…manic depression! He also didn’t want the curtains open even in the summer at their house! Dark all the time!

    I found this all out at her funeral! One of the worst funerals I’ve ever went to, even the priest was crying! It was a closed casket! When my Nana went to heaven the priest cried too! Sooo hard…hate funerals!

    I’m glad you have a lawyer, but please for your safety Liz, get the hell out of that house now!!!

    This was so hard to write about this, but you need to know this for your safety Liz! I don’t want to scare you or be rude, but please listen to me! Get the hell out of their now and stay safe!

    I’ll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!!!

    1. Wow. What a sad and horrible story. I’m so sorry you lost your friend. Sounds like you did everything you could. I told Liz to talk to the attorney while he’s gone and make plans to get herself and the dog out of there. If he isn’t apprised of her plans, she might be able to get away before he can act. I asked her about firearms. She said he doesn’t have any, but then you never know. I asked her a LOT of questions so I could get the lay of the land. Those old journalist interview skills sometimes come in handy. Thanks for telling this very difficult story that I know was quite hard.

  18. I have never been in this kind of situation, but my instinct tells me that she needs to gather up anything of importance to her. (pictures, documents, jewelry, etc.) Get them out of the house and someplace she knows is safe. Not with your children, even as adults being in the middle puts them in a difficult situation.

  19. Sounds like a sociopath (the husband). I hope she finds strength and wisdom through communicating with you Brenda.

    1. I told her sociopath bordering on psychopath possibly. Or narcissistic personality disorder. Regardless, he does not sound like someone I would want to live with after this for any amount of time. But since she hasn’t been working, she is somewhat dependent on him. Last month she took the rent money from the rental house and said she had to do repairs. Don’t know if she can use that one again.

  20. My ex tried to get everything in his name and he had the gift of persuasion for sure. He got most things but I fought him on the car in my name only. He was trying to make it so I couldn’t leave or do anything on my own. It failed because I saw what was going on and started my own plans. I was scared of him and I had to be very careful in my planning to get out safely and even then he stalked me. So tell her to make plans carefully and safely. When someone uses control like he is then he is dangerous.

    1. I told her I feared, due to his past behavior of following her, that he would continue to do that. Could be considered stalking. I told her getting out is the most dangerous time. If she could get things straightened out and then go stay with the relative in the state where they have another home, maybe that is a plan. She needs to put a lot of miles between the two of them.

  21. Better to be alone and happy than together and miserable (or in Liz’s case in danger). Liz has grown kids……. anyway they might help her out with a little money until this is sorted? She must tell the lawyer everything – no secrets at all, he may see a way through this for her. I don’t know about U.S. law, but could a pro bono deal be offered?
    Whatever happens I wish her all the luck in the world

    1. I agree. I like being alone now that I have a good long taste of it! Her daughter in a nearby town said she could come stay with them for awhile. She needs to find out, according to what I read in my in the comments before, if that would could be considered “abandonment.” She must ask the attorney all these questions. It’s probably different state by state.

    2. Some larger law firms require their attorneys to perform a certain amount of pro bono work each year, but not many of those firms handle family law (divorce, etc.) matters. Still, it would be worth inquiring since Liz is financially hurting right now.

  22. Wow. This guy she’s married to is very shady. If she has the means to do it, she needs to hire a private detective. Something sounds very, very suspicious. My husband loves ‘crime’ tv and this story sounds like a man who is being taken by an internet dating overseas situation. Like buying a young bride from the Phillipines or something like that… unfortunately, she is probably going to lose money but you know what? Better to lose it now and have the peace of mind that comes with ‘knowing’ your enemies rather than being controlled by them. I hate that she is so naive about her husbands shady ways, sounds like she has been ignoring signs or as I call it ‘peace at any cost’. When you make excuses or ignore someone’s faulty traits it becomes easier and easier to hide your head in the sand and pretend all is good. Bottom line, she needs to lay everything out on the table, being brutally honest and let the lawyer be brutally honest back at her. If nothing else, she will start to see with clarity how her husband has manipulated her and probably set her up for this moment. Trust is only good as long as the person you trust is truly trustworthy. I’m thinking this is not the case here. So, Liz, pull up your big girl panties, brush the cobwebs out of your mind and the gauze over your eyes, face the consequences and move forward. It will be hard, it will be painful and it will also be liberating. I was married for 20 years to a controlling man and I knew it but with my divorce came my freedom. And for the most part it was very, very good. Life’s lessons are hard, but you learn and you grow.

  23. Brenda, you are so kind to talk to Liz and give her some encouragement. I don’t know here obviously, but from what you wrote here he sounds like he has something going on, not sure what but this behavior is certainly strange and scary. The minute someone threatens to put your dog down, get the hell out! This is a scary situation. She needs to know her legal options that is for sure but she also needs to get emotional support, perhaps a therapist or a support group? He is messing with her mind and he is stealing from her.

    I will keep Liz in my prayers.

  24. My heart hurts for this poor woman. Now that I’m older (58) and am dealing with my own marital woes, I wonder how many couples have the idyllic marriage that’s portrayed to the world? Very, very few is my guess. I hope her appointment goes well with the attorney, and gives her the final nudge to remove herself from this horrendous relationship.

  25. I went through many years (23) of emotional abuse with my first husband before I filed for divorce. One of the hardest things to face at that point is the husband’s desire to prevent you from going forward with it. When they realize you are actually doing something about the situation and you will no longer be there for them (but are taking care of yourself and in my case my teenage children), they are apt to become very angry and manipulative. Mine threatened to burn down the house, keyed my car, etc. and then turned around and said he loved me and would buy me a new car and wanted me to stop the divorce proceedings. By then I realized the recurring pattern I had seen for years when things didn’t go his way and I determined to go forward with what I knew was best for me and my boys. Once you make the decision, stick to it because you had real reasons for making that decision in the first place.