Bird in a gilded cage, with a cuttlefish of infidelity and a newspaper floor of possible visa fraud
September 7, 2011 10:33 PM   Subscribe

TL; DR: I think my marriage is at an end, and I need some coping strategies. May be the victim of visa fraud. No money for an attorney or another place to live. Help? Suck it up?

(This is my sock puppet account so I can directly answer question w/o bothering the mods.)

Yeah, I know. Relationship-filter. And this is the "Moby Dick" of questions. Apologies in advance. Call me Ishmael.

TL; DR: I think my marriage is at an end, and I need some coping strategies. May be the victim of visa fraud. No money for an attorney or another place to live. Help? Suck it up?

The Story So Far:

I met my husband online (through a message board) back in 2003. Even though he lived in the UK and I in California, we developed a relationship through emails and phone calls and finally met in September 2003, when I travelled to the UK and we vacationed in Paris and Spain. We had a great time, although I thought that nothing more would come of it. I was surprised -- and delighted -- when he announced that he was going to travel to California and spend Christmas with my family.

We continued our relationship (he'd come visit me in California, and I'd visit him in the UK) until April of 2006, when he proposed to me. He had mentioned earlier that he was willing and eager to marry me, even though I reminded him of our age difference (I was born in 1961, and he in 1973) and I did tell him that marriage was not required. I told him that due to my age we would be very unlikely to have children. He assured me that he didn't think that mattered.

So we went through the process of getting a K-1 visa through the US Embassy in London. It was granted in July of 2007. He was genuinely excited when we got it (I flew to the UK to accompany him to the visa interview).

In January 2008, he flew to the US on the visa and the 90-day clock started ticking to get married to fulfill the terms of the visa. We were married at the end of February 2008.

Things were going well (sort of -- we were evicted from my studio apartment and forced to find another accommodation within weeks). We found a new place to live which was superior to my old place and we were happy. He's a software developer who works from home, and at the time I was working for a non-profit. Happy.

So I thought.

Within 9 months of moving to the new place, he stopped having sex with me. At first I thought it was due to his herpes flaring up, and then I thought it was "whiskey dick" (he is a heavy drinker). When I would try to initiate sex, he'd discourage me. I stopped trying. I thought he was depressed and urged him to get help, but he refused.

Last summer I lost my job at the non-profit. It was a major disappointment for me, but he assured me that we could see it through until I got another, better job.

This year, his drinking became truly out of control. He'd stay up all night drinking and chatting online -- either through Skype, email messages or TinyChat (those were the worst: he'd be shouting at people at 3 AM and I'd have to get up to tell him to please keep it down). He told me it was due to the stress as sole breadwinner (not really true, as I get unemployment and pay for our medical insurance, phone and utilities, which is not an insignificant sum).

Sometimes, in his drunken state, he'd tell me that I was too good for him, that I deserved someone better.

His depression worsened -- he'd oversleep, he'd shower once a week (this is a fellow who eschews deodorant) and brush his teeth less often. Any suggestion that he should step up the personal hygiene was dismissed as nagging.

Late in March, he got an email message that through him for a loop. His good friend in London -- the man who he rented his flat from -- was arrested and imprisoned for possession of pedophiliac material. My husband had been molested in his youth by an older neighbor boy, so this started another major drinking binge. (When he told me this molestation some months earlier, I begged him to talk to a therapist about this, which he refused to do.)

As a result of this binge, my husband collapsed on the floor in front of the computer. Hearing this, I ran out of the bedroom and escorted him to bed. My husband was logged in to a message board he frequents, open to the private message center. This is were I discovered that he was engaged with an extramarital affair with the woman who runs the message board -- a woman whom he had told me before we were married had a "crush" on him and who he wanted to "let down easy, because she's kinda crazy." Little did I know that "letting her down easy" meant "put his dick in and out of her repeatedly." He sent a private message to another party on the board where he said [quoting here] "There are affairs of the heart which are beyond time. Soon I will be back with [NAME REDACTED], but she doesn't believe me. She really is quite something. I love her body and mind both."


The next morning, I got up and took a shower. While I was washing my hair, he walked in and announced "I'm a horrible person, and I want to drive to the bridge and kill myself." I told him that I knew about the affair. We went to a local park, and asked if he wanted to save the marriage, or did he really want to be this woman (she lives in the UK, and is allegedly 29). He told me that he wasn't going to be with this woman, and that he was willing to get marriage counseling.

Since then, I've tried to get us counseling (which I'll have to pay out of pocket, as the health insurance won't cover it). The counselors I've reached out to have demurred, mostly because they want my husband to get immediate therapy, which he refuses. My husband has continued to drink heavily, and has emailed his UK girlfriend some 80+ times since April. I don't know what the emails say, but this subject lines like "Hello sexy girl" I suspect he's not telling her how much he loves his wife. When I told him that I know he emails his girlfriend, at first he denied it ("I haven't spoken to her in AGES") but stopped that when I told him I knew what her email address was. You can't gaslight me, son.

We've discussed his self-loathing and depression -- he told me that he has refused therapy because he is highly manipulative and can out-think the therapist, and that he has "sociopathic tendencies." Yay.

Three weeks ago, we had a discussion -- the aftermath of an argument, really, since he was getting into the car with the phone and telling his friends and his family about our relationship, without having this discussion with me first -- and he told me that the reason he was so unhappy was that while we "get on like a house afire, and I love your family to death, and you're my best friend, and I love you so much" -- he no longer had any sexual attraction to me. He said he was doubtful we could get back from this. He's also annoyed that I've been out of work for so long ("sort it the fuck out" he says).

Ouch again.

Yes, I've gained some weight -- mostly because he wanted a drinking buddy. (I'm not morbidly obese.) I've stopped that several months ago. I've started going to the gym again, but not for him -- mostly for me, because I want a new job and pudgy 50-year-old women tend to be overlooked. But I can never be 29/30 again, I can never give him a child (although I'd never wish an alcoholic father on a child) and I CAN NEVER TRUST HIM AGAIN, which I find unforgivable. And what if it wasn't weight gain/old age? What if I lost a limb and got a horrible burn? "Sorry, love, you're not the hottie I married." Well, you're not Brad Pitt either, but I didn't marry Brad Fucking Pitt. I don't want Brad Fucking Pitt. I wanted you.

I told him that once we divorced, I'd never want to have any contact with him again, and that I'd want my family to have no contact with him either. He could contact me through my attorney. He told me that I was being punitive, but I told him that this was for my sanity and well-being: I can't be the good friend whose shoulder he cries on when his relationships go south or go north or whatever. Once you're out of my life, you are out of my life. End of story. In a perfect world, he'd voluntarily give up his green card, since he he came to this country to marry me, and (I assume) didn't marry me to come to this country. Once the marriage is done, he should leave. I give him the world -- let me have my country to enjoy without having to run into him.

Other issues: on unemployment, so my money is extremely limited; my husband owes $27k to my brother; he owes $30k+ to the IRS; he owes $9k to MasterCard -- since California is a community property state, these debts I assume are partly mine as well. The house is entirely in his name, since my credit was/is poor when we (he) bought the house, and I signed a Quit Claim Deed at the behest of the real estate broker. This was a year ago, before I had any hint of deep, deep trouble. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have asked my brother for the gift of money for the house (which we treat as a loan), I wouldn't have helped my husband get his Permanent Residency -- he'd have been on a plane back to Heathrow.

So: I've reached out to one of my sisters for advice -- she said find the meanest divorce attorney I can, and have my husband pay for it, and take possession of his passport so he can't flee the country. Well, we're not talking Adrienne Maloof money here, so I doubt I can get an attorney on the promise of payment from my husband. I considered taking his passport and actually had it in my purse for a while, then I realized that I had no legal right to it, even though he seems like a major flight risk. I'm essentially a tenant in his house -- I didn't want to give him an excuse to kick me out. We don't mingle assets -- he works for UK companies, which pay him through his UK account. I have no access to this. I can't see an attorney willing to take on this bi-country case without major legal fees upfront.

My husband is in the UK currently for a month -- he told me he needed to do that to finish up a contract he has, and to firm up a job offer he has in London (he'd still be able to work from California). I found out that he notified his girlfriend that he'd be over there -- he told me he was going to "just have coffee" to "tell her I can't see her again." This is my O RLY face: o_0

So -- I've been speaking to him on the phone every day, but it's a bit strained -- not like it used to be. I want to have a chance to clear my head, and not speak to him for a while -- but he's lonely up in Leighton Buzzard, and I don't want to give him yet another reason to reach out to Miss Holly Homewrecker. I feel that I have been duped, visa-wise -- that he waited out the clock until he got permanent residency. He swears he married me with the purest of intentions. While he's away, I miss him -- but not the incessant drinking. It's been like an alcohol vacation. He says he thinks I married him to have a companion. Dude, I'm not Doctor Who -- I lived 47 years without a companion.

If I had the money, I'd move out so I can get away from the alcoholism, the self-sabotage, the infidelity, the lies, the lack of social life (they only people we associate with are his barfly friends). But I don't, and I feel trapped.

So -- am I fucked? I mean, not literally, since apparently I'm too repulsive for that.
posted by book 'em, danno to Human Relations (38 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I hope someone with legal experience will answer you, but from a purely sympathetic place, good lord, I hope you do just leave him, possibly while he's gone, and go stay with your family until you can get back on your feet.
posted by thylacinthine at 10:50 PM on September 7, 2011 [10 favorites]

You have approximately 9,763 reasons why this relationship isn't working out. Most of them are valid and reasonable. However, it is unclear why this is 'visa fraud.' The timeline might suggest that, but he seems to have a multitude of unrelated problems.

There doesn't seem to be one reason, in this list of many, of why you love him, why you want to fight for him, or why you have hope for anything different.

Surely you have a friend or family member who will let you stay at their house for awhile. Explain the situation. Yes, it's embarrassing. Wouldn't it be more embarrassing to let this continue for another 5 years?

You do have money: you are paying for utilities, health insurance, and you are legally married to this person. You are not a tenant in his house. You live in the same house.

You need to meet with a lawyer for a consultation. If you could pay for therapy, you can pay to unravel yourself from this mess. Ask your sister for help - not a loan, but ask her if she can front you the consultation fee to one lawyer. That meeting will give you some direction and tangible advice that is specific to your own situation.

You are not screwed. You are human. You feel trapped. You are caught in an endless feedback cycle which needs to end.

Call your sister, and explain you want out, and don't know how to take the first steps. If he is gone for a month, you have 4 weeks to get some of this settled. Do not abandon the house yet, not until you've spoken to an attorney.

Clear your head. Don't talk to him for the next few weeks. If he's already gone down that path, without apology or different actions, it's not your job to somehow emotionally stabilize him from 3000 miles away. He's already gone.

It completely and utterly sucks. And it might get worse before it gets better. But then it will get better. There ain't no other way forward, but through the mud ahead. Get out your wellies, get out your umbrella, and step out into the rain. Clearer days lay ahead.
posted by barnone at 10:52 PM on September 7, 2011 [15 favorites]

Dear book em, you feel you were visa duped because, sadly you were. The same thing happens to nicevAmerican ladies all the time. I think you ought to talk with the police, this is like the Sweet Heart Scam. I don't know what legal remedy you might have. I think getting the most pitbull divorce attorney is also a good idea.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:52 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

"So -- am I fucked?"

Nope. You're over bounding your problem. You think there are no attorneys who would take your case, given the international complications, and your lack of ready money, but I bet there are. You think you're 50% responsible for all the debt you and he have racked up, but even a community property state, the courts decide that in a divorce proceeding. Etc., etc.

Go back through your explanation and knock out all the things you think are reasons why you can't move forward to a self-actualized new life, and you'll really begin to see how you've bounded yourself into this mess. But at root, you got into it, and you can get out of it.

Good luck.
posted by paulsc at 10:56 PM on September 7, 2011 [17 favorites]

Your sister is wrong. Don't go after him with a mean attorney, protect yourself with a good attorney. Make an end to this sham of a marriage, make it quick, make it as painless as possible for everyone, and make sure that you have enough resources to survive. Those should be your priorities. Mean attorneys and going after this guy is only going to extend your suffering. Get a lawyer, and make sure it's a lawyer who cares about protecting you (which is most of them), not a lawyer who's going to try to escalate the situation for profit.

As an unrelated note, like barnone, I am not convinced that this is visa fraud. the UK is a relatively well off country. Faking a marriage with someone in order to move to the US would be a really strange and desperate move for a UK citizen. I think he generally likes you, but has problems spiraling out of control that prevent him from being a functional husband or functional human being.
posted by yeolcoatl at 10:58 PM on September 7, 2011 [16 favorites]

No, you're not fucked and no, you don't need to suck it up.

You do need the services of a good attorney right away, and please consider asking friends or family if they have a couch for you to crash on while you extricate yourself from this relationship. I know it will cost out of pocket, but a good therapist can help you sort out your feelings while you handle the tough spots.

I'm sorry to say this, but he's been reaching out to this other woman all this time; your phone calls are assuredly not changing that now. Stop the calls and give yourself the space to figure out and take your next steps.

You will get through this. Really.
posted by vespertine at 11:02 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

Were you duped, was the whole thing literally a giant scam? Oh, maybe not, people are messy and complicated and have no idea what the fuck they're doing much of the time.

Regardless, break this down, tackle it in digestible bits. Who owns what and what are your rights. Do you want to stay married. Where should/could you live. What kind of relationship do you want with him. What kind of relationship with him would be acceptable.

And remember that his alleged opinion of your sex appeal is just...moot. Completely.

First of all, you have no idea if he's telling the truth about his lack of attraction, or whether he's just manipulative, full of self-loathing, or a hundred other convoluted emotional scenarios. Secondly, no-one gets to define your self-worth for you. No-one. No matter how awesome the relationship is.
posted by desuetude at 11:10 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

I don't think he was scamming you. I do think that he's a toxic fuck up, and that the only thing on which is right he is that you deserve better.

You've made a number of assumptions that could be wrong, and you're basing your conclusion hat you are trapped on those assumptions. This situation is not as bad as it seems.

For example, community property does not mean you automatically own half the debts. For example, if a court were looking at the issue, it could decide that he entirely owns the debts that he brought to the relationship.

Your husband can flee the country, but he can't take the house with him. If he flees, it's going to be worse for him. Courts are perfectly happy to issue summary judgement when the other party fails to appear.

You really, really need to see a lawyer. Some lawyers will do the initial consultation for free. See if you can get a recommendation for a good one. As others have said - if you can afford to pay for therapy, you can afford this. For a start, stop paying his health insurance for him. That will free up some cash.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:14 PM on September 7, 2011 [4 favorites]

I don't think this was part of a visa scam. Really, he's just lucky that you've put up with his rubbish for this long. I hope you find a good lawyer. No amount of money is worth your happiness and sanity.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:20 PM on September 7, 2011

Response by poster: Don't mean to threadsit -- just want to thank everyone for the input so far. Seriously -- I'm in tears. Thank you.
posted by book 'em, danno at 11:37 PM on September 7, 2011

Regarding your liability as pertains to community property debt: as the employee of a California County Recorder's office, I have seen the IRS release one spouse from a tax lien recorded against both pursuant to a legal separation. They may be lenient regarding your involvement in the situation.

Collection agencies will pursue the named account holders for credit cards; if the MasterCard account is solely in his name, I wouldn't worry about it resulting in any impact on your credit (if he defaults, an abstract of judgment will be recorded naming the account holder as the debtor).

You do want to lawyer up at this point. Questions you want to ask are:

1. What is your interest in the house? Quitclaim deed aside, do you want to try to retain any ownership of the property?
2. What can you do to safeguard your brother's right to recover the money he loaned to your husband? (Did you record a Deed of Trust evidencing the existence of a note?)
3. What accounts are shared between you and your husband, and how can you ensure that your name is removed from them without exposing you to liability?
4. Should you call the IRS at this point to make certain that his debt does not become yours?

Beyond that, uck. You have all my sympathy, and I wish you the best of luck getting this sorted out.
posted by Graygorey at 11:51 PM on September 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

And strongly seconding yeolcoatl: a mean attorney is leagues away from an effective one. You want someone who knows what s/he is doing over one who is trying to create issues. Don't settle for any attorney who doesn't feel comfortable or who attempts to push you into anything. Remember, attorneys work for you as your agent. If your attorney does not seem to be able to reflect your views in your meetings with him or her, you should find another attorney.

You have the right to have your views represented as you feel they should be represented. Don't pay for anything else.
posted by Graygorey at 12:01 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

This guy is a human boat anchor and you should be glad to be rid of him. How did he rack up all that debt, while berating you for not having a job?

The visa is irrelevant, I would still advise DTMFA even if he was your high school sweetheart. It sounds like your marriage has been dead for a long time, all you have to do now is bury it so that it doesn't stink any more. Don't believe what a drunk liat says, in a couple years you'll be with someone 100x better. Well, 100(x+1) better, since 100 * 0 is still 0.
posted by benzenedream at 1:01 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't want to give him yet another reason to reach out to Miss Holly Homewrecker

Dear... that choice is ON HIM. You do not need to take one whit of responsibility for HIS choice to treat his wife with such utter disrespect. You are not at fault. After all, look at it the other way around: have you reached out to other men? Slept with them while lying to your husband's face? If the mere thought of it makes you go "ick!!" then hold on to that feeling and realize that your husband is doing just that, and is aware of it.

I'm peeved at your husband, btw, feeling angry on your behalf. I've seen it so many times, and experienced it a few times myself – you have a heart. Hold on to it, but please don't let it lead you to take responsibility for the choices someone else is making, who knows he is hurting you and lying to you.

Do please get away from this rotten person. Lawyer up with someone who will defend you well; as others have said, meanness isn't necessarily a good thing. Fairness is – it's pretty dang obvious your husband doesn't know what "fair" means so someone who does will have an upper hand.

I also think this month without him would be perfect for planning and preparing to get out.
posted by fraula at 1:45 AM on September 8, 2011 [7 favorites]

There is nothing at all here that suggests you are too repulsive to fuck. Do not let his mind games mess you up. My mom is in her 50's, divorced, and younger men are lining up for a chance to bask in her presence. Younger men that stand to gain nothing material from it, let it be clear.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:10 AM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

You married my exhusband?

While you're the one who is the citizen, you're also the one in the bind regarding housing, employment and cash flow.

My suggestion may be a tad on the fringe but I suggest finding an ethnic women's shelter or association who can help you find appropriately experienced attorneys. They will have experience in evaluating the bi country situation, the visa situation, your own liabilities in this case and assist you in identifying your options. In addition, they are more likely to also be able to work with you in finding ways to access affordable legal assistance and alternate housing if required.

This is a fuzzy messy situation that doesn't fall neatly into any category or tag. But looking at all the diverse variables in play here, what you need is legal help with exposure to immigration, with the added complicaton of financial and housing needs. You're feeling as trapped as any mail order bride (though its the groom whose marked return to sender)

Even if they say well, there's no DV involved and we can't help you or whatever, check out their websites for CA lawyer references - this one for eg. lists DIY books as well as housing links.
posted by infini at 3:04 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't want to give him yet another reason to reach out to Miss Holly Homewrecker

No no no. If he reaches out to another woman, it's because he's choosing to do so. It's on his head. By calling her Miss Holly Homewrecker, you're neatly putting the blame on her -- instead of on your husband, where it belongs. He's the one who stood up and made a commitment to you, and he's the one who's probably out there breaking it.

(C'mon, is the UK story fishy or what? How likely is it that he hasn't seen her already?)

The problem here isn't you. It was never you. The problem is him, and what appears to be a combination of depression and alcohol abuse. Depression sucks, and I'm extremely sympathetic towards somebody suffering from it, but if he's unwilling to get help, if he's dragging you downwards also, what else can you do?

I think the fact your husband is currently away may turn out to be a blessing. You've got some space, both physical and mental, to get your ducks in order.

At a minimum, you need to find an attorney. Stop talking yourself out of it ("I can't see an attorney willing to take on this") and get on the phone. Pack up anything that's important to you (family photos, heirlooms, etc) and have your sister store them so your husband can't damage them in retaliation. And consider moving out before he gets home, at least for a while. Is there really nowhere you can go? Your sister, your brother, your parents, a friend? You may be surprised how sympathetic people will be.

I wish you all the best.
posted by Georgina at 3:53 AM on September 8, 2011 [9 favorites]

First call legal aid and set up a meeting. Use the next month to talk to you attorney and protect yourself. The sooner you file the better, particularly if he "loses" his return ticket.

Either change the locks for some peace of mind or move out. You will be amazed at the people who come out of the woodwork to help you at times like this to store your stuff or offer their spare room. Look around for income based housing if you feel you must move; a legal aid lawyer will have recommendations I'm sure.

Then, right after you read this, put some clothes on and go to the closest Al-Anon meeting. His drinking, lying and assholery is NOT your fault. You're taking a lot of this on your own shoulders when in fact something horrible and wrong and unfair happened to you. You're going to need some therapy to get through this, and Al-Anon is a good place to start because it's free and supportive.

I took all the blame, all the debt and all the guilt in my divorce even though he was a liar, unsupportive and also didn't shower or brush his teeth (wtf, right?!). Please don't do this -- I can promise you that you will hang on to feelings of resentment, anger and betrayal as long as your paying off his effing credit card bills. Trust me.

A good lawyer NOW will help you apportion the debt responsibly and protect your interests when you're in too funky a state to do it yourself. And there ARE lawyers out there who take cases like this because fairness is a passion and they were driven to law to help people.

1. Lawyer.
2. Al-Anon
3. Change locks / move out.

Best of luck and feel free to memail me.
posted by motsque at 4:11 AM on September 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

In addition to the great practical advice above, motsque just said it: Al-Anon, or individual therapy. You're clearly in a great deal of emotional pain right now, have suffered a lot in the course of the relationship, and may additionally be working with some less-than-healthy interpersonal patterns and assumptions from your earlier life (something led you to be attracted to this wreck of a man in the first place, after all). Starting to clear up all that baggage should really be priority one, since it's highly likely to impair your decision-making abilities as you move forward, unless you start yourself down the path to a healthier emotional state.

Also, by the by, thank you for "cuttlefish of infidelity." Made my sleep-deprived morning.
posted by Bardolph at 4:36 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

You've got her chat details, you should let her know what she's in for.
posted by the noob at 5:25 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

So many emotions here. I hope I am giving you good advice.

You seem to love this person still despite the fact that he is a Tasmanian devil and will destroy everything around him so maybe you are confused because your emotions are getting in the way of clear thinking. I don't think this was a visa scam. I think he is an emotionally damaged person that needs help. Even if you think you can find trust in him again, you can't be around this person.

Please don't get mean, when you get over this situation and you will, you will feel regret that you got mean. You just want to do what is fair. Get in touch with the real estate lawyer you closed on the property with. He or she should be able to tell you what your rights are on the property you live in. I know in some states, regardless of what the deed says, a married couple own real estate property 50/50. Once you find out about the property, you can put the property up for sale. You are not a tenant so stop thinking that way. You may not want to move out. It may be legal abandonment of property which will relinquish the rights you might have to the property (and its contents) and you will get nothing. Besides, he is away, hopefully long enough for you to sort things out.

You do need to find a lawyer that you can trust to not drag this divorce out. You can't emotionally or financially afford it. Even if you can't touch the account that he has, he is going to have to own up to the debt. Does your brother have a cancelled check or some sort of document that shows he lent your husband money?

It actually may work in your favor that you are unemployed at the moment. You will need all of your energy to start being "normal" again.

I was once told that in any disagreement, all parties are at fault. His infidelity isn't solely the fault of the other woman. Try to think about that because it will really help you get over the hurt much faster and move on.

Don't think about who he is seeing/reaching out to/fraternizing with/etc. That will make you crazy. Speak to him about things like what you need from him (paying the bills) and share no emotions with him. Don't ask him about things that will make you upset if you think the answer is not what you want to hear, it is unproductive and there is nothing you can do about what he does. You couldn't control what he was doing when you lived in the same home, he is across the pond now. Don't say anything that will cause an argument. There will be plenty of time for arguing when you are separating property and dissolving the marriage.

Look in the mirror, SEE yourself. You're a whole human being worthy of happiness. Find what will get you there again and don't use mean to get it.

Good luck.
posted by Yellow at 5:39 AM on September 8, 2011 [6 favorites]

This thing with him is over. It doesn't matter what his initial intentions were or what he's thinking now. *He* is not your problem. Your problem is getting rid of him cleanly and healing yourself. You should focus all your attention on that. All of it. Grieve for the relationship you had or the man you thought you knew, but don't give the guy who is legally your husband a second though.

Don't get distracted by the whirlwind of destruction that will always follow this dude (make no mistake, it always will) and which he'll try to use to his advantage. Getting bogged down in that trail of shit would be a huge mistake. It doesn't make sense to go after him with a mean lawyer or do anything to drag out this relationship with him. It won't make you feel better and it won't net you anything. Just find a good lawyer and get out.
posted by pjaust at 7:34 AM on September 8, 2011

Perhaps the Karpman Drama Triangle will resonate with you.

Listen. No one in a happy or potentially happy relationship would write your post. No one. No one who is reasonably content with their relationship or even mostly-okay-with-my-relationship-except-for-the-religious-differences would write your post. Your post is paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of completely unacceptable, egregiously awful, mind-bogglingly abusive garbage behavior, after which you say that you are still talking to your husband every day, while he is in London, with seeing his new girlfriend as a stated objective. You are clearly intelligent and spirited. But you are not seeing this man for how truly despicable he is. You are not fully grasping that people with healthy self-esteem, strong boundaries and self respect would never permit someone to treat them this way. You are also not seeing that now is your greatest opportunity to get rid of this man forever.

Mark my words. This man is currently in London with the idea in his head that he is going to con this other woman into letting him move in with her. He is looking to jump ship anyway. Now, should she miraculously see through his pathetic line of bs and save herself, he is going to slither back to you and settle back into his little hole as if nothing ever happened. If you allow him to do this, you will further damage your own tenuous self-esteem and prolong your pain. You will make getting out of this sham and back into a drama-free, independent existence an even more distant pipe dream.

First, contact a lawyer. See what they say about how to extricate yourself, but - and I'm spitballing here - I'd say a good place to start would be to transfer half of any shared resources into a separate bank account your husband cannot access. If you receive unemployment benefits electronically, you must arrange a new account for them to be transferred into. Then tell your husband he should stay in London because there is nothing left for him to come back to. Tell him you don't love him, he is not your problem anymore, and his days of conning you are at an end. Tell him you want a divorce and then file for divorce - I am unsure how it works in the UK, but here in the US, infidelity is ample grounds. (And don't forget, you have written proof that he's a cheater.) Change the locks to your home. Throw his possessions in garbage bags and pile them up in a corner, or hand them over to a mutual friend from whom your husband can claim them. You have to find, as mentioned above, an Al-Anon group NOW because you are going to need massive emotional support once your system realizes that it will no longer be performing its usual rescuer function and freaks out about its purpose in life. You need to start looking in earnest for your own employment RIGHT NOW; being idle is making this drama the focus of your existence. You have to enlist your family and friends to help you with all of this and you have to do it right now, while you are out of tentacles reach of this skilled manipulator. Trust me - he is not going to kill himself if you kick him to the curb. He is simply going to find another victim, and another, and another, and another, and another.....

Please know that I empathize completely with your feelings. Please also know that some day soon, once you're back on your feet, free and clear of this incubus, well on into therapy and recovery of your own, you are going to see a lot of things more clearly than ever before. You will realize your own power. You will look on people like your ex-husband as clueless, inveterate casualties that your body, mind and heart will reject as a matter of course. Until then, enlist family, friends and a support group to help you. I wish you the best of luck. And please, please, please get to that Al-Anon meeting. Go today. Please.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 7:46 AM on September 8, 2011 [27 favorites]

And please, please, please get to that Al-Anon meeting.

I am not a "joiner" but a friend took me to some Al-Anon meetings during my divorce from my gambling/drug/drama-addicted ex. I resisted, because I figured that since she was the problem, then being away from her was the answer. After I went to a few meetings, I realized I was wrong. I had so many unhealthy ingrained thoughts and behaviors, and needed to be free of them. I was so intertwined with her issues and drama that couldn't even figure out what was "me." I went to maybe 10 meetings, read a bunch of the materials, and that was enough for me. I didn't have to join and go for the rest of my life, but it was definitely a lifeline during that time. So, yeah, give it a try.

And, repeating the obvious: get away, and let him figure out his life. Better to live on a friend's couch and start over than to remain even another minute in that situation. There is nothing there worth salvaging. So sorry you are having this pain. I know it sucks, but stop the sucking as soon as you can! Good luck!
posted by The Deej at 8:15 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Lots of good advice here. I just wanted to say that it feels like you're looking at specifics so much, and not at the bigger picture. (You were helping us understand, so I get it.) The big picture is he's an alcoholic, and he's acting like an alcoholic. (An asshole alcoholic, but a classic one, sure: he thinks he's a victim when he's a perpetrator, all the problems are someone else's problems, and he's done his best to make a whirlwind of disaster in everything he's touched.) Everything, EVERYTHING, stems from that. Now is the time to take the focus OFF him and put the focus on YOU. His drama should no longer be your problem. It would be great to have a mindset now that's focused all on you.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:21 AM on September 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

You are not 'too repulsive for that'- he is a complete jerk and you are a good woman with a broken heart. You are bery hard on yourself, and you need not be. Join the councling group for family of alcholics, and you probably see that his behavior is normal for a raging drunk-it is not you at all.

Dump him-and do not let him have contact with your family, that is unfair (or better yet...LET him talk to your family and see the bashing they give him!)
posted by Frosted Cactus at 9:05 AM on September 8, 2011

The big picture is he's an alcoholic, and he's acting like an alcoholic.

I think this is pretty much it.
posted by BibiRose at 9:08 AM on September 8, 2011 [5 favorites]

Good gravy, if I could favourite TrytheTilapia more than once, I would. This.
posted by LN at 9:18 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

One other note: if he's anything like the other alcoholic manipulators I've encountered, as soon as his enabler (you) starts making motions to leave he may threaten suicide as a control tactic (as long as host #2 has fallen through). Just be prepared for the possibility and see it for what it is, another way to manipulate you.

Nthing Al-anon, you are not alone in dealing with these types of situations.
posted by benzenedream at 10:19 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Everyone has already given the concrete advice I would offer, so I just want to concur with the suggestions of al anon, legal aid, and dtmfa. And also wish you strength and luck, because while you'll get through this, it won't be fun.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:05 AM on September 8, 2011

Doesn't sound like a visa scam, he sounds like a troubled individual. If your assumption is that you are in part responsible for his debts, then you owe it to yourself to see a lawyer.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:12 AM on September 8, 2011

I'm sorry that you're going through this. Still, as others have said it is eminently survivable.

One note:

So -- am I fucked?

Not really. You are however extremely bitter and that will cause you no end of pain.

If you want to come out of this healthy you're going to need to find compassion. Compassion for yourself, compassion for this sad alcoholic wreck of a man. The relationship is over but its passing doesn't need to be marked with vengeful anger on your part.

Things are going to be rough and not a little confusing for a while. I highly recommend (based on personal experience) that you focus on your own integrity. When the decisions come, make them based on the good, honest person that you are.

Take what is your due, give him what is his, and don't get caught up in haggling every last detail.

Last but not least you may wish to consider trying mediation instead of lawyering up immediately: It is often quicker and it is always cheaper. From what you've said I would guess you'd be good candidates -- it sounds like you both just want out and if you're willing to give up your dream of vengeance I believe it would go well.

Hang in there. Things will eventually get better.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:25 AM on September 8, 2011

Legal aid provides attorneys at no cost to certain low income residents. Try here first to see if you might qualify.
posted by bananafish at 12:48 PM on September 8, 2011

You have an amazing sense of humor for someone in such a bad way. Too bad you can't bottle and sell that to resolve your money problems

He's a jerk. Use the useful advice here to get your life back. Good luck!!!
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:45 PM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think the advice in this thread has been very good so far. I'm really just here because I wanted to tell you that I can tell by reading your question that you're going to be fine. You sound smart, like you have a good sense of humor, and like you have a pretty decent sense of what your situation is (although you're underestimating your options, as others have pointed out). Your situation sucks, and I'm sorry that you're going through this. But I really get a sense from the way you've written your question that you have the internal resources to deal with this.
posted by Ragged Richard at 5:50 PM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

What everyone else has said. You are not defeated, and the reason you think you are is probably because he has been manipulating your mind and emotions to think so. Guys like this tend to be very good manipulators in ways you just don't realize until a long, long time later. They have to be good at it, that's how they survive. Bite the host, inject them with immobilizing toxins, and feed off them for a while before moving on to the next. That's the way you've gotta look at it.

Remember this "resist the Devil and he will flee from you." Not saying your husband is the Devil, but the Devil sure is doing his work through your husband. But the only way it works is, he makes you think that you can't resist. You can.

Finally: "and I don't want to give him yet another reason to reach out to Miss Holly Homewrecker" - number one, it's already too late.

Number two, even if it weren't, keeping him away from other women is not going to solve the problem of having a cheating husband; all it will do is get you a cheating husband who's temporarily thwarted.

Number three, Miss Holly Homewrecker is a less appropriate focus for your rage than your husband, who is the primary guilty party here.

Number four, I'm not excusing Miss Holly Homewrecker, but please understand that your husband may have been manipulating information behind the scenes to make her believe that what she's doing is innocent or morally acceptable. Now maybe that's not the case, maybe she knows he's married and cheating but buys into his rationalizations of "my wife doesn't understand me" or whatever, in which case okay, she's guilty too. Nevertheless, if Miss Holly Homewrecker ceased to exist tomorrow, it wouldn't solve your problem one tiny bit. If anything, and I am not being the least bit flippant here, it's probably a blessing that she's taking him off your hands. Really, no kidding.
posted by tel3path at 5:44 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

p.s. In case you're still listening, you are REALLY funny. At a time like this, how many people can say that?
posted by tel3path at 10:34 AM on September 12, 2011

Response by poster: Yes, tel3path (and others), I'm still here, and overwhelmed by the generosity in this thread.

My sense of humor keeps me sane. I really do wish there was a way to capitalize on it, but sadly I shall have to find more mundane ways to make a living.

I apologize for seeming bitter -- although good heavens, I think I deserve to feel a wee bit angry.

My husband has pushed back his date for returning back to the states, to mid-October. I actually welcome this, and have encouraged him to push it back even further, but he misses the California weather. (Didn't mention me so much.) I think in a couple of weeks, when he's back in London proper (and closer to the gf) he'll be more amenable to staying longer. We shall see.

I am making a list of attorneys and therapists to contact.

Special thanks to those who have memailed me directly -- I really appreciate your support.

I will update this thread as events warrant.

posted by book 'em, danno at 9:32 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older Me fail English? That's unpossible.   |   Help! Vacation starts now, where should we go? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.