My Husband Was Emotionally And Financially Unfaithful

husband-shattered-relationship
mactrunk/Getty

Have you ever had your guts ripped out, stomped on, and then pushed back in your body?

That’s what financial infidelity feels like.

On the outside, you look OK, but inside, you’re a mess. I should know. My husband has been both financially and emotionally dishonest with me. (To this day, he claims he never got physical.)

Let me back up.

Fifteen years ago, my husband decided he wanted to leave his well paying job to become a real estate agent. He had a nice chunk of change from his dad’s will, and I was on board. We were excited about the future.
Until a few years later, when he’d only sold two or three homes, claiming the competition was too tough. So we began to borrow and borrow. Then I pawned my engagement ring and sold out my 401K because surely, surely it would turn around.
By this point, we had four children and we were barely able to pay to put gas in our car. Then his car broke down and he couldn’t afford to fix it. This was the first time I was without a car and trapped at home.
But I still believed in him. I spoke to friends and even strangers at the grocery store to get him more business. They said he never returned calls. I should have started to get suspicious at that point, but I wanted to believe. I married for better or for worse. It would be OK.

Then he started to borrow money from our oldest daughter. I cried. She cried. He went to the office.
At “the office,” I learned he had a little club of realtors he would chat and go to lunch with daily. These weren’t actual “career realtors”—they were the moms married to a doctor or the sons of very wealthy business owners. They went to the office to socialize, and my husband found them all fascinating. Much more fascinating than his family that was splitting a box of mac and cheese for dinner. He went out with the fun people.

I confronted him.

He begged forgiveness. He said he would turn over a new leaf. And, for a few months, he did. Those few months were nice. We had birthdays with presents and cake—my birthday never fell under one of the good times, but he assured me that ‘next year’ would be different.

The bad times always seemed to return. My husband claimed he was trying, and it would get better. But it never did. Then he had an idea.

“We can sell the house,” he gleefully whispered. “I know someone who will buy it and then let us rent for a couple of years. We’ll get back on our feet.”

My mind began to swim, thinking of real Christmases, a real birthday gift for me (selfish I know, but try not getting a single gift from your husband for ten years) and being able to buy food from the grocery store without worrying about a card decline.

Less than three months later, I got a text from his mother telling me she would make sure we received her check before the rent was due. My heart sank. I hadn’t bought much of anything but food and paid off a few small bills. I was only in the process of getting health insurance. And it was a month before my birthday.

Melissa Segal/Reshot

I confronted him. Again.

He claimed I spent too much and lost control. He screamed that I wasn’t supporting him and was just spending everything. I cried. He screamed more. I got the flu and had to pray every night I wouldn’t die. He said we had no money to go see a doctor.

I cursed myself and hated myself for months. How could I be so stupid to blow all that money?

Without me knowing, he pawned his car to cover bills after people were tired of lending, and he was unable to pay the ridiculous note (PSA: Never ever pawn your car at a check title type place—it is a scam, and you will never win). He lost his car, and for the second time, I lost mine to him.

Then one day, almost a year after the house sale, I glanced at my journal and reviewed my spending from the last year. I quickly realized it was impossible that I had gone through all the money. I went back to look and discovered many large ATM withdrawals at a strip club (the total amount was in the tens of thousands).

I confronted him. He lied. Then he confessed, saying that he felt more welcome there than at home.

I broke down. I never got a chance to have a birthday. I never got health insurance. I couldn’t function. My guts were out and being stomped all over. I couldn’t breathe. He said he was sorry. He said he would change. And oddly enough, he did.

For a few months.

Fast forward to now. We are facing eviction, and I have now discovered he hasn’t filed taxes for years. He is begging for another chance. He said he found God, and he will never fail to provide for his family again. I can’t look at him.

I have no money to leave him. We only have one car so I can’t kick him out. Friends are calling with prayers. They think we just need counseling. I feel past talking.

I am now almost 50 years old and have been out of the work force for 20 years. My kids are ready to leave him. I know I need to, but I am scared. He is back saying he’s going to work super hard. I don’t think I believe him.

I don’t how this story will end. I want to believe in fairy tales, but I think I want to be the one who saves herself. I’m just not sure how yet.