Sunday, September 29, 2019

She Married Mr. Wrong

She married the wrong man. In fact, she did not know the man she married until she married him. She is 30, recently married to a man she has been with for six years. Now, she discovers that she has been conned, that he is not the man she thought he was, that he is a freeloader, who is feeding off of her. And who is probably ruining her credit rating.

As always happens, when writing to Carolyn Hax the woman neglects to mention the husband’s occupation. If she does not think it relevant, she had no business marrying him. If she imagined that feelings were all that mattered, she has been reading too many advice columnists. She says that she went to premarital counseling. As though that were a sign of maturity and good judgment.

I do not know what she learned in premarital counseling, but I would like to know what her friends and family thought of the man. He might have bamboozled her, but I guess that members of her entourage saw through the deception. 

Since she says that she has a career in finance and that she allowed him to control the family finances, it seems possible, at least, that he is not gainfully employed. If she hides his indolence the chances are good that she feels embarrassed for him and for marrying him. She says nothing about the possibility that he is spending money he earned.

Now, she has just discovered that he is a deadbeat. Why it took her six years to figure this out, I have no idea.

Anyway, here is her letter, to brighten up your Sunday:

I am a 30-year-old, recently married woman. My husband and I did not get married in haste — we went to premarital counseling and have been together six years — but I am beginning to feel like the wool was pulled over my eyes this entire time.

I have been slowly uncovering financial issues such as unpaid rent and car notes, credit card charges, and extra equipment and phone lines in my name. My husband is not being cooperative in explaining this, and I teeter between feeling like a complete idiot for allowing him to handle our finances — my career is in finance — and just completely overwhelmed and hurt.

I have started the process of removing his access to my accounts, but how do I know if this is something to walk away from? Where do I start to pick up the pieces? This is not how I imagined starting out.

— Falling Apart

Evidently, this marriage ought to be headed straight for divorce court. Hax understands this well, to her credit. 

She writes:

Removing his access to your accounts is a good first step and also the model for your next ones: Specific, financial remedies first, one by one in order of greatest urgency. Lock down what you need to lock down, talk to an attorney if you haven’t already, etc.

That methodical, business-first approach will eventually leave you with only the central emotional problem to deal with, by which point you presumably will feel more ready to face it: that your husband lied to you, caused you harm and apparently does not see getting caught as an opportunity to stop doing either one.

He is okay with hurting you. Is there any question, really, about whether to walk away?

But, this is not all she says. For some reason she decides that the man is entirely at fault and that the letter writer should escape all blame.

Fair enough, if the man is embezzling funds, then the fault is all his. If he refuses to explain himself, she ought to divorce him. She hesitates, for a good reason.

SHE MARRIED HIM. And that, dear readers, is entirely her fault. She should feel shame for allowing herself to be duped by a scam artist. If she divorces him she will have to explain it to her friends and family. She will need to take responsibility for her failure. And it will not be easy to do. It is one primary reason why women stay with abusive men. They do not want to admit that they got conned.

Here is Hax, going off the moral rails:

But being faked out is not a reflection of your personal failings — it is all about his. So stop inviting in shame as another party to this already crowded problem.

You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Plus, a career in finance hardly inoculates you against fraud, especially when the fraud here appears to have been largely emotional. You were trusting because you loved him. In presenting himself as loving and trustworthy, he just managed to lie well enough to fool you. If there’s any shame to feel here, it’s all his.

She was not just faked out. She was with the man for six years. She married him. She did not just get conned out of some money. She got conned out of her life. She is a competent professional. She ought to feel her own shame. To say otherwise is to set up a moral calculus where the perfidious man bears all the blame while the woman who got duped does not bear any. Naming herself Falling Apart, the letter writer shows that she understands her own moral failing. Let’s not try to turn off her moral sense. 

As for the emotional fraud, aren’t women supposed to be more sensitive to emotion. What happened to that? How does a finance professional throw it all to the winds for "true love?"

She was presumably living with him. She must have seen signs of his irresponsible behavior. If she did not, she might console herself by saying that she was blinded by love, but that does not really count for an adult. And beside, I would venture that her friends and family knew exactly what was going on, and told her. She probably ignored it, possibly in the name of love. For that she should feel ashamed.

1 comment:

whitney said...

Did you see this? It's essentially the same story larger-scale but at least these people had the self-knowledge to know that they weren't paying attention and some of the blame lies with them. Not all though, horrible story. Worse than hers by far.