Mistake number one: I married a woman who was only 19 (I was 24).
Mistake number two: I didn’t get a prenup.
Mistakes 3-1,000,000: I didn’t get out earlier.
I was young and stupid and I thought we were in love and I believed her when she said she loved me, when she talked about how she was still going to finish college after we married, when she said she believed in an equal partnership. What really happened was we got married and she dropped out of college almost immediately. At first it was to take a semester off to plan the wedding, but she never went back and eventually withdrew.
I told her she had to get a job. She said, why should she work and be stressed all day when she could manage our home, clean, and have meals waiting for me every night. Now, in some ways this sounded enticing. I have a very demanding job and it would be great to never have to worry about all the little details in my life ever again, she could handle all of that. In another sense, it was a bit unattractive, the woman I feel in love with was intelligent and outgoing, I’m not sure how this same girl could be happy sitting on the couch all day. But, we decided to try it and see how it went with the thought that we’d start trying for kids sooner rather than later with this arrangement.
It did not go as planned.
Somehow, and this is beyond my comprehension, she “didn’t have enough time” to do the cleaning and grocery shopping and cooking. She wanted to hire a maid to come once a week and I put my foot down, the idea was ridiculous. We had a large home but it was just the two of us, it couldn’t possibly be that hard. At this point I didn’t know what to do. I wanted her to take classes and finish her degree, even if she never went back to work I thought it would be better for the kids if their mother was educated. After some long conversations she agreed that this should be done and took 12 online credits. As a reward we hired a cleaning lady but she was still responsible for cooking dinner every night and managing our finances.
And this was the truly fatal mistake. You see, I thought, of course she can be in charge of finances, all you have to do is open the mail and pay the bills when they come! WRONG.
You see, during this time my wife had picked up an online shopping habit. I had set a low limit on both our credit cards so it never occurred to me that the bills could be getting high — it wasn’t possible. Except… it was. She opened new cards under my (and only my) name and racked up $40k of debt on them over the course of a year and a half. I have no idea how this is possible, but she managed to do it.
I found out when I answered the phone and it was a collections company. Since my wife had limited money to pay the bills, she’s been only paying the minimum on the cards, which is why it had gone unnoticed by me, but now the minimums were too much, and she was unable to keep it a secret. She confessed to me what had been happening and handed over the cards. I cut off her access to our money immediately. I went to a financial advisor and figured out the best course of action — except, now my wife decides she’s “unhappy” in the marriage. Apparently I’m “never around” (you know, because I’m working for all this money she loves to spend). I don’t mean to downplay how upset this made me, but there was a small part of me that was slightly relieved, at least I wouldn’t have to worry about this debt she’d accrued.
The cards were in my name, and there was no way to prove that she had done it all on her own, without my knowledge or consent. It’s funny. It reminds me of people who say you can’t rape in a marriage. People think there’s no such thing as “stealing” money from your spouse, but that’s essentially what happened. The debt is mine, she’s gone, and thank you American legal system, she was also awarded $60k in alimony.
It’s going to take me years to pay down this debt, and she doesn’t have to worry about it at all, she’s off terrorizing some other guy, probably. And I’m stuck here writing checks. Thank god we didn’t have children.