How much help should I accept from my husband who left me?
August 15, 2013 2:34 PM   Subscribe

After being partners for 18 years, including 10 years of marriage, this week my husband left me because he "loves me but isn't in love with me". He is being very kind about it, which I deeply appreciate, but I don't know how much of his help it is healthy for me to accept?

To a large extent I could use his help. He always made much more money than I did, and although I have a secure job with a reasonable salary I have absolutely no savings. There are no kids (thank goodness), but I get the cats. We moved together to a new city a few years ago for employment reasons, and while he has a peer group, I do not know people here outside of my coworkers. I'm really ashamed to say this now, but I always assumed that I could be the kooky artistic one in the relationship and he would be the one who made sure the insurance was paid on time.

So I very much appreciate his kindness! But it's confusing. He packed a suitcase and moved into his girlfriend's home, but left me his credit card with the request that I use it to "go out for a nice dinner" this weekend. He's suggested that I get an apartment in the same neighborhood as his girlfriend's home (which is, to be fair, a suitable neighborhood for a number of other reasons), offered to help pay the rent for at least the next year and co-sign any rental agreement because my credit rating is not great. He even said that assuming I don't "hate him too much after all this" we could go running together like we used to do or keep watching Breaking Bad every week. As he was leaving he said he would check in with me every day to make sure my "day was going okay".

I don't know what to do. On the one hand, I am pretty lost and scared and having him be supportive and caring is making this a lot easier. On the other hand, the kindness is painful in a different way. You're leaving me.. stop making me feel special or loved! I know I am very very very lucky that he has not just left me all alone, and god knows I could use the help right now, but it also deeply hurts. Is it healthy to accept his kindness now, and then try to figure out how to live my life without him later?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (52 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I think you can and should split up the emotional aspect (kindness) from the financial/mathematical aspect (support). There is a very good chance that he's hoping, either intentionally or unintentionally, to have you be happy enough with the system that he sets up for you that you don't actually legally go after him for what you deserve if you are actually getting divorced. You are legally entitled to a fair assessment of your obligations to each other and do not have to make do with whatever he decides is okay. So, to that end: lawyer.

And as for the other stuff, I guess my feeling is that this sort of thing goes better with a clean break. That is, he still wants to be with you-the-good-friend but not you-the-lover. You would maybe like to be with both. That's an inequality between the two of you that is pretty difficult to overcome and most people have a hard time with it. You may be the exception, you may not. For me personally doing any of the relationship-y stuff with someone I was no longer in a relationship with sort of prolonged the bandaid-coming-off time and stood in the way of me moving on. Also in some cases moving forward with a legal separation and/or divorce can sometimes suddenly cause a personality change in the previously-supportive ex, so tread carefully.

I am sorry, this sucks. I'd reach out to friends and family, even ones you may not have been in contact with much lately and try to establish reasonable healthy boundaries with your ex.
posted by jessamyn at 2:39 PM on August 15, 2013 [38 favorites]

You not only should accept financial support but you should expect it. After 10 years of marriage, it is owed to you. You should speak to a lawyer about your legal rights.

I find the credit card nice dinner thing creepy and weird. You should get a check, then spend the money on whatever you need to. Don't use his credit card or let him supervise what you're spending it on.

If you need him to co-sign in order to get a good apartment and he has offered, I would go for that.
posted by grouse at 2:45 PM on August 15, 2013 [20 favorites]

When I got a divorce, my ex worked me into a corner where he was my only emotional support. It was bad news.

Your relationship with this man is over, and you're going to need time to heal. That means the running is over, the Breaking Bad marathons are over, it's all done with.

The financial support, on the other hand, is a different story. If I were you, I'd pick up that credit card and buy myself a nice dinner right before handing it to a therapist for a session and then to a divorce attorney for an initial consultation. If he's offering money, take it and look out for yourself.

It's great that he's being so sweet, but if you think about it, he's actually being kind of a dick for moving out and into his girlfriend (who presumably pre-existed your breakup). Is a nice dinner really going to fix 18 years worth of your time and energy and love? Hell, no. It's not. He's being nice because he feels guilty.

Get into some therapy, get an attorney, find a support group for divorcing people and start following up on some of your interests. And don't move into his girlfriend's neighborhood, because by the time the dust settles and you're as pissed as you should be, it's gonna be a loooong lease.
posted by mibo at 2:47 PM on August 15, 2013 [21 favorites]

This sounds like a situation where it would be helpful to bring in outside professional help, particularly because it sounds like you don't have a support system in place in your new-ish town.

Before making any big decisions or sudden moves, perhaps you should line up some sessions with a counselor who specializes in the dissolution of marriages. Someone who deals with this stuff day in, day out, and has seen it all. They will be able to help guide you through the process, in terms of practical matters, and help you heal and move forward.

Legal counsel as suggested by jessamyn is also critical. Again, don't make any decisions until you've informed yourself of your rights and your options.

All decisions going forward should be calculated to advance your own personal cause. As cold as that sounds, I think it's needed.

My interpretation of your husband's behavior is that he's not entirely being kind. He's trying to slither out of your life with the least amount of disruption to his own world, and preserve a false sense of himself as Good Guy, so he can say to his circle (and himself): "Yeah, bummer, it didn't work out, but hey, we're still good friends. We still go jogging and watch TV. Then I go home to my new girl. It's all good."

You might need to get in touch with your Inner Tough Chick.
posted by nacho fries at 2:49 PM on August 15, 2013 [25 favorites]

I would like to gently suggest that you should talk to a lawyer about your options here. Just to rebut some stereotypes, not all divorce lawyers are cutthroat, "take everything but the kitchen sink, then take the sink" jerks who will turn this into a living nightmare. Many couples who separate and then divorce want very badly for the process to remain amicable, and there are lawyers who will accommodate this.

The reason I suggest talking to a lawyer rather than just going gently into that good night and getting on with your life is that you seem pre-committed to thinking that what your husband is doing here is very kind or considerate, when in reality it might actually be just about the bare minimum that he can do upon being a breadwinner leaving his spouse. You may be entitled to a substantial share of his savings; you may be entitled to alimony payments for quite some time. If you would choose to waive these things to maintain the peace, then fine, but at least find out the scope of what you are letting go.

So, either ask around your community or look in the phone book for a good divorce lawyer. When you meet with him/her, you can be very up front that you want to be amicable about the process - just make sure they tell you what your options are.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:52 PM on August 15, 2013 [31 favorites]

Ugh, fuck him and his condescending bullshit. Nothing he is doing is kind. Everything he is doing in this situation is designed to mitigate his guilt and to do a bunch of misdirection and hand-waving so that you're tricked into forgetting he's the bad guy. Kind would have been waiting until the two of you had made a clean break before shacking up with someone else. Kind would have been making a good-faith effort to address your problems early on, instead of waiting until the rift between you was irreparable and then masking them with a cliche. Kind would even have been making a clean break, recognizing how much he's hurt you, and not trying to cover up the cruelty of what he is doing with vague promises of Breaking Bad. And just FYI, whatever kind concessions his girlfriend may be wiling to make in the moment, I can pretty much guarantee that her feelings about you guys' proposed weekly jogging session will be a whole lot different once he's unpacked his suitcase in her bedroom. His kindness will mean a lot more a year from now. Maybe in a year, you'll be ready to accept it.

So yeah, fuck his kindness. Allow yourself your anger. That - the willingness to assume the role of the bad guy, without prevarication or cowardice - is what he owes you now. That doesn't mean you two have to scream at each other or go all War of the Roses (civility is almost always best) but your pain is the consequence of what he's done. He is not being kind by offering you dinner on his dime; he cheated on you and left you and he's trying to buy his way out of the emotional fallout.

That said, a certain financial assistance is not only okay to accept, but is is your right. If I were you, I'd go home ASAP. Surround yourself with people who are kind to you because they love you, and who are unquestionably on your side. Then meet with a divorce lawyer. Some divorces end amicably, with good feelings all around, but they are rarely divorces that began with one partner cheating on the other and then dropping a bomb and leaving her.


Jesus Christ.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 2:56 PM on August 15, 2013 [139 favorites]

He even said that assuming I don't "hate him too much after all this" we could go running together like we used to do or keep watching Breaking Bad every week. As he was leaving he said he would check in with me every day to make sure my "day was going okay".

Most people don't actually end up doing this. When my ex and I split, I planned to make a clean break! But then he started being super nice, and sweet about everything, and insisting that I plan to visit him in his new town. I even thought about keeping his name (I didn't). The divorce itself was marvelously amicable... We'd file papers and then go out for drinks and cheeseburgers and a movie after! We went to concerts. It was essentially dating again.

But then he moved, and he became particularly secretive and moody. He fell in love, hard, within someone else the day after landing. (Our joke was that if I had died, he would have brought a date to the funeral.) He demanded I cancel our plans for me to visit. Then his cat died and he was so heartbroken he planned to fly back and spend thanksgiving with me, but he called as I was getting ready to drive to the airport and said he couldn't make it. Looking back, I don't think he ever bought a ticket.

For me, it ended up extending the length of the breakup when it would have been healthier and less painful to end the chapter cleanly. I did accept enough help from him to cover a few months when I'd paid the bills for both of us, and that was helpful. It was good not to have any debt.

He wrote me on New Years this year, a link to a Slate article about typesetting. Seven years after our split and little contact. Said it reminded him of me. I told him to bug off, and it was the first time I'd been able to do that.

Look, you say this husband of yours is moving into another woman's home. That's a huge betrayal. This man is not looking out for you. He isn't treating you with love, as tender as his words may be.

In a way, it took me seven years to break up with him on my own terms. And it felt so good I wish I'd done it sooner.

You can MeMail me if it helps. Good luck, and don't be afraid to ask for help.
posted by mochapickle at 2:56 PM on August 15, 2013 [19 favorites]

I would definitely accept any money you can, but also talk to a divorce lawyer secretly. I am serious about it being money, too--try to get as much actual cash as possible and not vague promises about rent-payment. Any agreement or offer you can get in writing is better than a verbal promise but not as good as actual cash. Again, your divorce lawyer will talk to you about this.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:05 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

Maybe it's just the way the written word comes out, but OP you don't seem all that blindsided by him leaving you, so maybe morphing into some post-relationship friendship with some financial and even emotional support might be right for you. We've all had friends who have said they get along better with their ex-spouse after the divorce than before. No reason you can't embark on that road right now.
posted by teg4rvn at 3:07 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

And yeah, there's no reason why you need to fight, but you do need to know from an attorney what your rights are here. If you then choose to continue to have a more informal setup, that's your choice, but make it an informed one. That is part of moving on into independence instead of continuing to depend and rely on him.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:10 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Another thing to consider about informal promises is that his girlfriend will not necessarily continue to be okay with him being so enmeshed with you, emotionally or financially. If she starts to balk at the rent payment or anything else and that becomes a pain for him, his goodwill towards you could run out fast and unexpectedly. If you're okay living with that kind of stress and uncertainty, sure, continue the ongoing dependency. Just do so with your eyes open.

(Sorry for the multipost)
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:14 PM on August 15, 2013 [20 favorites]

I completely agree with pretentious illiterate. WTF? He dumps you for another woman and he's so kind because he wants to buy you a dinner alone? Companies that fly you out for an interview pay for more than your dinner. He is FUCKING YOU OVER.

I've seen this scenario before, in my own family. He will keep saying nice things (and may actually follow through for a while) but it simply cannot go on long term.

Get a lawyer, get a therapist, get a support group. You'll hear all of these horror stories for yourself. In the meantime, find out your legal rights and make a fair, legal, WRITTEN agreement that you can both live with.

And start thinking about the rest of the adventure that is your life. Do you want to explore the rainforest? Become a novelist? Train for a marathon? Learn computer science?

Your dreams are your own now. Don't move to his neighborhood near his girlfriend (WTF) and live in his shadow. It's not enough for YOU.
posted by 3491again at 3:20 PM on August 15, 2013 [15 favorites]

I am so sorry to hear you are going through this. I am very concerned for you about the emotional and financial power imbalance that may be going on here. I really feel you need to talk to a lawyer and have them look fairly at your financial situation. You made a life together and you deserve to be in a fair financial position after the end of your marriage. A lawyer can help you look at this - they are not all out for blood money.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 3:21 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

He... moved into his girlfriend's home

That means it's his girlfriend who is subsidizing your husband's ability to help you with your living costs and the other "kindnesses" he offers. Another reason to lawyer up is that these circumstances mean his assurances of forthcoming financial support aren't especially reliable since his capacity to provide them rests, at least in part, on his girlfriend's generosity.

And another thing... you don't seem especially upset about the girlfriend. If your marriage was a poly relationship, that may explain why he thinks you won't mind being enmeshed in their lives (same neighborhood, really?). If the girlfriend was an extra-curricular relationship, then I think you should focus more on the meaning of this betrayal and less on the separation mechanics: they're insulation from the pain of his infidelity.
posted by carmicha at 3:21 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

in some cases moving forward with a legal separation and/or divorce can sometimes suddenly cause a personality change in the previously-supportive ex, so tread carefully.

Seriously, this. And then, make an appointment with a lawyer and find out exactly what a divorce entails. What will it cost you? Is there any financial help available? How do you file? How long will it take? Will you need to go to court? Will you be advised by the court to go to mediation? What does mediation consist of and what will it cost you and how long will it take? You need to know this stuff. Please believe you CANNOT trust your ex to give you fair and unbiased info about it. You must have your own representation as soon as possible.
posted by glasseyes at 3:22 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

It's good if the two of you can make this a drama-free divorce and come out of it friendly, if not actual friends, but absolutely yes: Talk To A Lawyer --- and NOT one soon-to-be-ex recommends, either! Yes, after being together for years (including a move purely for *his* professional advancement) you actually DESERVE a certain amount of support, not just whatever crumbs he feels like handing you.

Also: maybe it's just me being the suspicious person I am, but it sort of sounds like he wants to have his cake and eat it too: he seems to want to keep his old life with you while also having the fun of his new girlfriend..... I'm sorry, but it sounds like wants to keep you on hand for the occasional emotion-free 'booty call'.
posted by easily confused at 3:23 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

Get the money, honey. And not to make him less 'nice' than he seems but it's possible he has a lot more that you're entitled to than you know about and he's being nice to you for ulterior reasons beyond assuaging guilt. You may think right now that this is not a big deal and you're not financially motivated anyways, but future you will regret current you not looking out for her. You don't have to be a jerk about it, but do it.

In what form you accept this money depends on where you live [see a lawyer!]

But the rest of it? Put some distance and preferably a referee between the two of you (this could be a mediator, a counselor, whoever) until you work out how you actually feel. There is no right way to break up, but there is a right way for you to break up, and right now he's imposing his right way on you without your consent.
posted by skermunkil at 3:23 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

my credit rating is not great
All these years, weren't you supposed to be a partnership?
posted by glasseyes at 3:24 PM on August 15, 2013 [13 favorites]

Please see a therapist and a divorce attorney, in that order, before the end of September (preferably much sooner.) Kudos on posting anonymously - keep up that kind of behavior (it's protecting you emotionally, financially, legally...)

And please, don't waste time trying to convince yourself that he doesn't know he's hurting you while he does these things. Whatever else this is that he's doing, it is not kind.
posted by SMPA at 3:32 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

Maybe I'm extremely cynical, but I read that "take this credit card" schtick as some kind of trap. Personally, I wouldn't use it. I would not enmesh myself emotionally or financially with this person any further. I don't know the nature of your marriage or it's dissolution, but this whole thing seems... odd to me, to say the least. I can't say what's healthy for you, but this definitely would not be healthy for me.

You say that you "appreciate" his kindness, but not that you need it. Do you? Think carefully about that one.

Do you have a friend or a family member who can come stay with you for a little while?
posted by sm1tten at 3:33 PM on August 15, 2013 [10 favorites]

Don't touch that credit card until you have been advised by a lawyer as to whether or not it's a good idea. Seriously, don't use it. I can envision a lot of scenarios where using it could hurt you. Lawyer up, then make decisions.
posted by windykites at 3:38 PM on August 15, 2013 [22 favorites]

Hey maybe he really is being kind and acting with the best of intentions. That doesn't really matter because your first priority has to be protecting yourself financially. You can do this and be fair to him as well as to yourself.

Lawyer right now, don't wait. Get a consultation today, an hour doesn't cost too much nor does it commit you. Just get advice.

And I would sit on that credit card. Don't touch it until you've taken advice.

AFTER you have your legal safeguards locked down, THEN you can consider how much of his "kindness" you want to accept.

p.s. I admit I think he's being a bag of dicks and not remotely kind, but that doesn't change anything, the advice stays the same either way.
posted by tel3path at 3:39 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

After being partners for 18 years, including 10 years of marriage

He packed a suitcase and moved into his girlfriend's home

He always made much more money than I did

Get a lawyer RIGHT NOW. Stop reading and call a lawyer. It doesn't matter if you can't afford it. Your husband may have to pay them if you can't (I'm no expert - this is based on something that happened to a relative). You have the potential to get absolutely SCREWED OVER here.
posted by peep at 3:59 PM on August 15, 2013 [15 favorites]

Completely agree with peep. LAWYER. NOW. And don't use the card. And don't discuss money issues with the ex- until lawyer advises you if, when, and how. The ex- is either buttering you up or VERY naive. Or both.
posted by DMelanogaster at 4:35 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]

As everyone has said, get a lawyer, get a therapist, get a support group. And by support group, I think most of us mean people who don’t know you as part of this partnership, and are facing similar issues. Dishing with your friends is fine, but you need a place where you can work through your feelings as the new you.

The why of what he's doing don't matter. Your situation is simple - life as you knew it is over (brutally, as far as I can tell) and you need to build a new one.

He may think he’s being kind or doing the right thing or keeping you from being too upset or any of a zillion things but what he thinks means nothing. What he has done is end the marriage and that is what you need to deal with. Even if he has the best intentions, his being your BFF is a bad idea for you.

Being friends with an ex is fine – with two autonomous people who split for whatever mutual reason, or who split some time ago. Being friend with someone on whom you depend and who has moved into a girlfriend’s house is not going to go well for you.

The story mochapickle tells is a story you want to avoid. (And not at all uncommon.)

I am very sorry this has happened to you and know you are in for a difficult transition. Find people (lawyers, therapists, a support group) who can help you get through this.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:18 PM on August 15, 2013

You've gotten a lot of advice from one kind of perspective (essentially, DTMFA) and I get it, I really do. But I'm going to buck the trend and say that it is possible to stay friends, even throughout the aftermath. It is hard and you definitely need support (probably professional as well as from friends/family) and you need to be clear about your boundaries (always err in your favour, not his) but it can be done.

My most recent ex split with me for much the same reason (loved me, not in love with me) but didn't have another girlfriend to move in with. We have stayed friends throughout and more than a year and a half later, I actually really value that. (There are probably those who would say I haven't actually gotten over the relationship yet, who knows who is right? You have to do what feels right for you.)

Mind you, it's not to say that I didn't go through a lot of hurt, resentment, anger and other nastiness. I worked through a lot of that with my therapist. But we were friends before we were involved and it was a friendship worth hanging onto.

We were much less entangled (didn't live together, separate finances) so that made things easier. I agree you should safeguard yourself by seeing a lawyer, and him already living with a girlfriend makes things complicated as well. Be careful and look out for yourself. But it doesn't have to be completely rancourous and angry between you, and I do believe he can genuinely still care for you and that his kindness can come from that as much as from self-interest or guilt. Up to you whether you want to accept it.
posted by Athanassiel at 5:25 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

He always made much more money than I did, and although I have a secure job with a reasonable salary I have absolutely no savings.

This right here. You are ignorant and/or naive about your joint financial situation, and even tho' he has moved out, you are still legally married. Why is it that "you" have no savings? Did you ever have a joint account? Or did you leave all of that stuff to him? No wonder he his being so nice. Maybe he has lots of savings, retirement funds, large amounts in investments, etc. Assets that you don't know about but are entitled to by law.

The first thing I would do is plead fear of poverty and ask for a big fat check to deposit in my own account (in your name only).

With that fear gone for the moment, I would then discreetly ask my co-workers or anyone I knew around town who is the best divorce lawyer and go see them, pronto. Because it is not just a case of two people living together, it is a marriage that will presumably be dissolved at some point in the future. So if he has savings, investments, you own a house together, etc., that is jointly owned marital property, no matter what you *think* you deserve, a lawyer will tell you what you are legally entitled to.

Because the next thing that may happen is that you might be served with divorce papers and then have to scramble for resources to pay a lawyer. Tell him you wish him well but you need some back-up funds just in case (your car breaks down, whatever). Then at least you will have money to pay a lawyer. As far as daily contact, I would say it's too painful but be friendly and remote when he does call you.

Just get a lawyer. This is way too weird to be good for you, emotionally or financially. Call anyone in your network, friends, family, etc. to get their feedback, but it seems like he wants his cake and to eat it too. Are you cake? No. Go look in the mirror right now and say, "I am not cake."
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:54 PM on August 15, 2013 [21 favorites]

I know someone who pulled the same kind of thing on his ex-wife so that she wouldn't realize that he was screwing her out of at least a quarter million dollars in their divorce settlement. The chunks of cash he dropped on her while they were settling - a new computer, fancy haircuts, paying her rent - were meant to distract her, and they did, because he got away with it.

You MUST protect your own interests here, no matter what - please lawyer up.
posted by deliciae at 6:04 PM on August 15, 2013 [10 favorites]

Ugh, fuck him and his condescending bullshit. Nothing he is doing is kind. Everything he is doing in this situation is designed to mitigate his guilt and to do a bunch of misdirection and hand-waving so that you're tricked into forgetting he's the bad guy.

My ex-husband behaved similarly after our separation, however, I was unaware of his girlfriend's existence, and in addition to his, "helping" and, "supporting" me, he fucked me, and I say that both in the literal and figurative sense.

He ultimately fucked me right out of pursuing my rightful financial entitlement...and, of course, my self respect (when I eventually realised I'd been completely manipulated).

Engage a lawyer, remain clear-headed as possible under the circumstances, and protect your financial interests.
posted by Nibiru at 6:42 PM on August 15, 2013 [7 favorites]

At this stage, so soon after the breakup, it can be incredibly difficult to assert your rights and to assess your "share" for want of a better word.

It feels horrible to start analysing the sum total of financial value of your relationship, but it is in your rights. I advise against disempowering yourself by not focusing on it as an issue. It is something you need to cut through the emotional stuff for.

I've been there. It was amicable. I thought I was okay and self sufficient - I was and I am, but in the subsequent years I've realised what I put into the relationship and what I lost when it was over. It was a hard thing to see and something I actively tried to avoid at the time, in the interests of being "nice" and feeling guilty for the breakdown of the relationship (which was mutual, no bad guys, but guilt was there nonetheless).

Please please please talk to someone who can help you work out what your rights are. I won't comment on how suspicious the actions of your ex are right now, but regardless, you do need to assert your right to an equitable financial settlement. You won't regret it, and it doesn't need to be acrimonious.

Best of luck to you in this very hard time.
posted by scuza at 7:07 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Right now you are probably reading these answers and you can see, intellectually, how getting a lawyer and setting boundaries and everything is a good idea, but at the same time, you're telling yourself, I don't need that. I can trust him! We've had 18 years together. No matter what, we'll manage to be good to each other, he wouldn't leave me high and dry.

Let me tell you, the guy you spent 18 years with is not the guy you're going to be dealing with. This guy, the new guy? He's a stranger. And your best interests are so far down on his priority list it will STUN you. Take care of yourself. No one else is going to. Get a lawyer. Get a mediator if that'll help keep things amicable. But he's doing these things to get rid of his feelings of obligation to you, and the more time he spends away, and with someone else who can't see why he's spending "his" money on an exwife, the less he will have those feelings of obligation and he will get less cooperative and generous so fast it will make your head spin.

Don't count on any promises that aren't written down. Don't make any promises to him, don't do ANYTHING without a lawyer's guidance. It's a whole 180 in perspective but if you don't want to end up completely screwed, it's what you HAVE to do. Believe me, I learned this the hard way.
posted by lemniskate at 7:26 PM on August 15, 2013 [26 favorites]

Please, please listen to all the wonderful advice above. You need to get a lawyer. You need a therapist. You need to protect yourself emotionally and especially financially. This guy has already screwed you over by having an affair and moving in with his GF, he's now about to take you to the cleaners. He is NOT a nice guy.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:34 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]

My most recent ex split with me for much the same reason (loved me, not in love with me) but didn't have another girlfriend to move in with.

Not at all relevant, because your ex did not betray you necessarily, depending on how this was carried out. Completely irrelevant and misleading to include in this thread.

Lawyer up immediately, take him for all the money he's worth, and if you can muster it, never speak with him again. I'm so sorry.

I really hope you can get that into your head soon, because you healing appropriately first involves you understanding that a huge betrayal was committed against you. The fact that you're not seeing this means that you're still tremendously bonded to your husband. The fact that you're tremendously bonded to your husband means it's going to hurt like a motherfucker when those bonds break (which is a prerequisite for your rebuilding your life). You are in for suffering even if you haven't started experiencing it yet. You are also in for financial and other hardships on top of your emotional suffering.

Here is an analogy. You had $600,000 in the bank as a retirement fund. Your husband stole it to start a new life. Now he's giving you $4000/month to pay your bills, or maybe $2000/month which kind of helps but doesn't really cover it. This is insulating you from completely understanding that he's stolen from you, and all the while he's backing farther and farther away with the cash. (That means: lawyer up immediately.) At a certain point you are going to realize that the work you put into building up that fund, for your whole life (18 years of time and attention with him, to the exclusion of others) is gone. And you are going to have to work and suffer a lot to dig yourself out of what he stole and rebuild your own happiness. You need to lawyer up immediately and recover as much as you possibly can, financially, of what he stole of your dignity, opportunities, and future happiness.

He's not the first husband who ever left his wife for a girlfriend, who he started things up with before terminating his marriage. He's no different from those scum, much as he might want to paint himself differently. This is a betrayal and one of the oldest, and most heinous, types. Fuck him. And, get a lawyer asap.

This right here. You are ignorant and/or naive about your joint financial situation, and even tho' he has moved out, you are still legally married. Why is it that "you" have no savings? Did you ever have a joint account? Or did you leave all of that stuff to him? No wonder he his being so nice. Maybe he has lots of savings, retirement funds, large amounts in investments, etc. Assets that you don't know about but are entitled to by law.

This! Lawyer. Now
posted by htid at 7:42 PM on August 15, 2013 [13 favorites]

posted by jbenben at 7:54 PM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]

My husband tried to pull a similar act, in terms of "oh let's all be amicable". What he did not understand is that an amicable divorce doesn't mean that the three of you are all BFFs -- it just means no one is cursing anyone out or throwing punches on the courthouse steps.

He is no longer on Team You, and he can shove his credit card and nice dinner right up his ass.
posted by shiny blue object at 8:22 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

We moved together to a new city a few years ago for employment reasons, and while he has a peer group, I do not know people here outside of my coworkers.

We moved a bit less than two years before my parents' divorce, when my father accepted a transfer to a new area away from my mother's family and friends. Unbeknownst to her, my father's girlfriend moved to that area, too. They bode their time while he hid assets, transferring them to her or his parents' names. I think he wanted to wait a little longer, but she was more impatient; I remember a woman following us around whenever we went anywhere as a family, including the only long family vacation we ever took. I later learned it was her.

I don't know your husband, and for all I know the pattern of the move away from support networks and the girlfriend and the breakup is a complete coincidence. I guess what I'm saying in relation to your question is, accept as much kindness as you're comfortable with, but it may or may not have any deeper meaning attached to it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:49 PM on August 15, 2013

Get a lawyer. You are likely entitled to a substantial portion of his savings. His kindness in these immediate days will not last forever. It's you and you alone now, kid.
posted by amaire at 10:10 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wanting to stay friends after a breakup is natural for a lot of people, and certainly possible. I am friends with my ex-husband, for example. But our friendship only (re-)blossomed after I had moved halfway across the country and our divorce was final; it didn't happen by staying emotionally and socially (and, in our case, financially) enmeshed in the immediate aftermath of the split.

Here's the thing about post-relationship friendships: the real ones aren't about the dumpee getting a consolation prize while the dumper tries to salve his/her conscience. And even if your (eventual ex-)husband may have the best of intentions right now, all he's doing is attempting to salve his conscience while giving you a consolation prize. Don't fall for it. See a lawyer. Get what is rightfully yours squared away (and it may not even require a lawyer the whole way through; if your husband really is as keen on a fair, amicable divorce as he's claiming, then it's possible you guys could ultimately use mediation to come up with your own settlement). Then, if you still want to, start rebuilding a friendship down the road.
posted by scody at 10:13 PM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

I would accept the money for now (i.e. the rent, the co-signing), both because you need it and because it continue the precedent that he has been a major source of financial support in your life up until now. I would ask him to put it in writing that he agreed to do that (pay a year's rent or whatever). I would be friendly but distant about this.

I would not accept the jogging and the Breaking Bad watching together. That's just prolonging emotional trouble. It's possible that you two will have a friendship at some point, but first you need to have a breakup. If you try to socialize now, it's just going to create a lot of confusion and draw out the length of painful time. Tell him you need time alone.

Also, get a lawyer, find a divorcing women's group, join a different kind of therapy group, etc. You need resources, both legal and social, and you need to find them as quickly as possible.

So sorry you are going through this. Hang in there.
posted by feets at 10:25 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

It is possible to remain friends. The truest test of that friendship is this - does it survive if you take the necessary steps to protect your own interests? If yes, then he's a friend. If no, he's trying to maneuver you.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:41 AM on August 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

The part where you say you "have no savings" is... almost certainly wrong, wrong, wrong. I don't know where you live since you're anonymous, but where I live, after ten years of marriage, half of "his" savings are, in fact, "your" savings. And there is a lot more to discuss. Please go talk to a lawyer.

And of course, you can be amicable while working out a divorce settlement that recognizes your rights in accord with the law. But don't fall for the trap of valuing amicability over your rights.
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:31 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I want to flesh out one part of what many others have said:

Your credit rating is his credit rating; his credit rating is your credit rating. Period.

In case he's told you otherwise or you just aren't clear, credit ratings and FICO scores have absolutely nothing to do with income or wealth. Income and/or wealth, savings, retirement accounts etc, are NOT figured into credit ratings.

"His" income and savings is yours and vice versa. You're married; this is how it works legally, morally, ethically, and practically.
posted by peep at 9:21 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

Talk to a lawyer. I'm pretty sure he can't just dictate that you move out of the family home without some sort of legal process. I think you should wait until you speak with a lawyer before signing any sort of lease...or make any financial decisions. I have a suspicious feeling that he might be trying to move assets around and maybe he has already done so. Contact a lawyer ASAP to discover the assets he may have.

I also want to reiterate, that he's not being kind. As the person ending the marriage, being nice to you is the easiest route for him. He cheated on you and is now getting exactly what he wants. Maybe he feels a touch of guilt and being "kind" makes him feel like a good person. It really comes down to how he feels about himself and has nothing to do with you.
posted by parakeetdog at 9:25 AM on August 16, 2013 [3 favorites]

PS, tried to edit but ran out of time: I re-read your question and there's one very important thing I'm not clear on: he moved out, but he wants you to eventually move into an apartment.

What is your living situation right now? Are you in a home or an apartment? Have you been contributing equally to a mortgage with him even though you make significantly less money than he does?

Especially if you are in a home owned by both of you, DON'T GO ANYWHERE until you talk to that lawyer. Will you update if you can?
posted by peep at 9:26 AM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

Hew is how he can use that "dinner on a credit card" to screw you over.
While you maybe charge a hundred bucks, he could be charging thousands or tens of thousands.
Divorce time, the credit card debts get split equally.
You can't claim that it's not your card, not your debts because you DID use the card.
posted by Sophont at 9:32 AM on August 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
All good intentions aside, I do feel betrayed that he has apparently not loved me as his wife and partner for years and never said a word about it until walking out the door. I have not used the credit card, and I am staying in our rental apartment for the next few weeks. He has investments and retirement savings, and I do not. I have set up an initial consultation with a lawyer later today so I can be fully informed about any decisions I make while trying to walk the amicable path. I would not have done this without all of your answers, so thank you AskMe!
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:35 AM on August 16, 2013 [15 favorites]

If you return to this thread, let me share something that I told my mom, who also went through a divorce. My mom didn't work during the marriage, so my father tried to make arguments that it was "his" money. (Of course, the legal system doesn't buy that, and she got half, though she occasionally felt bad -- and occasionally this sort of reasoning comes up.)

Marriage is a contract, in which the assets are shared. Who works and who doesn't, that is a decision made between the husband and wife, either implicitly or explicitly. Divorce laws are DESIGNED to protect women, who often make less or no money during a marriage, either by choice or by custom. (Though sure, in modern times, it's often the other way around.)

If the woman wouldn't have been married, she'd have completely lived a different life in which she worked and therefore had savings and income -- not to mention different job skills. Or, if she hadn't married this person who walked out on her (like you), she would have had a normal retirement which she would have expected, as she should, because of her lifelong contract. If your husband breaks the contract, he owes you what you would have otherwise expected. It doesn't matter who earned it. When you are married, you have a contract to be a joint financial entity. To be on a financial team.

He is making this highly disruptive choice to walk out on you. The financial protections in divorce will make that easier to deal with. However, ask anyone who's been divorced, even with financial and legal protections in place, it's still effing hard. Especially when a betrayal has occurred, and you are a middle aged woman without job skills. The money is not going to make it instantly okay. Not to mention that lawyers are expensive.

Get whatever you can, and don't feel bad about it. This is what the system is designed to do. This is exactly what divorce laws are FOR, to protect the partner with fewer assets and not make their life suck. It was as much your husband's choice to freely enter that marriage contract with you, as it was yours to enter it with him. Then you were both adults who made decisions about who would work. There's no ambiguity around the financial obligations of marriage. He can be "nice" all he wants. He still owes you, and if he's hiding money or putting it in his own name, or transferring it to his girlfriend, go after him to the full extent of the law.

Hopefully your lawyer will tell you this too.
posted by htid at 11:12 AM on August 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

Hey, good luck. I'm gonna be a rock in the stream a little bit, just by talking about a friend's divorce — He kept supporting her through school and paying her rent until she graduated, and they're still friends now. They got married too young, stuck it out for a few years, realized they wanted different things, did the whole "love you, not in love with you" bit, and now have a pretty amiable relationship (though they're in difference cities, which probably helps). They even sometimes have dinner, with both of them bringing their respective new partners.

But: They did use two lawyers to steward the divorce, and they did have flare ups of bitter animosity (mostly because they foolishly lived in the same house throughout the decline of their relationship, their divorce, and for months afterward). Recovering their own confidence to be people outside of "a couple" was really vital to getting their friendship back on track. Both of them saw therapists, alone and as a couple, and neither of them had immediate partners.

So, what I'm saying is that it is possible, but it's one of those things where their experience is rare as hen's teeth and took a lot of intentionality and a pretty good relationship to begin with.

What I'd end with is that this is just about the best time ever to remember that you're a person on your own, and focus on what your needs are — his needs, comfort or feelings aren't your concern. You can value them as you deign, but they're no longer any sort of obligation. And recognize that the same is true for him, though he's definitely been the cad here — your feelings aren't his primary concern. You two can be friends if you both want, or not, but it's something where you need to recognize that it's you that matters to you, not him.
posted by klangklangston at 11:22 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

You also may want to look into getting a divorce consultant. It seems that you may not have a good support system, and a 3rd party without a possible stake in driving up your legal bills may provide a good sanity check on what is happening.
posted by Sophont at 12:58 PM on August 16, 2013

Just a thought: I'm friendly with lots of people, but very few of them would I trust with my wallet and PINs. Protecting your financial interests isn't unfriendly, and I guarantee you, he's protecting his - from the fact you think of assets acquired during your partnership as his alone, he's way ahead of you in this regard.
posted by gingerest at 8:29 PM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Change the passwords on your e-mail and similar accounts, and also change the security questions to ones he wouldn't know the answers to.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:28 AM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Second deliciae. It's not an uncommon tactic to play the 'nice' card and drop some money as a red herring. Lawyer up and find out what's behind the red herring.
posted by lillian.elmtree at 3:11 PM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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