It appears to be a truism, that after adultery the guilty party walks away winning, leaving their partner with no relationship, self-doubt, low self-esteem, trust issues and all sorts of other problems. There are pithier ways of saying it, but it’s rarely the “victim” that comes out on top, at least in the short to medium term.
Thus is my own situation. As well as the aforementioned trust and personal issues, my wonderful ex also left me with all of our combined debt. Credit cards, loans, car payments, overdrafts; the lot. In fact, we’d also taken all of her own personal credit card debt and store cards (a few thousand pounds) and transferred them to my accounts to minimise APR as I had the better credit rating.
When she left us for her boyfriend she took enough things to set herself up in her new flat, which she could afford to rent for in no small part by claiming to be a full-time single mother of four (we actually have them 50/50). She took every single penny of the benefits we received, and of course also benefits from her boyfriend’s wage (he nominally still lives at home with his parents. Because of course he does, he’s only 21.). Her parents also loaned/gave her the money to pay for rent deposits, decorating, furniture, electrical goods, etc.
I didn’t fight this too hard as, in return, she agreed to a clean financial break. I wouldn’t pay her any spousal payments, nor would she have claim on my future earnings. This left me precariously poised while I recovered financially in the short term (clearing almost all of what is now “my” debt has been challenging but I’m nearly there), but long-term would work out better for me.
It was then a bit of a kick in the teeth to hear that her parents were buying her a house. I’m not talking about loaning her money for a deposit; they are flat out buying it for her, and she will then make a contribution towards (not 100% of) the mortgage. When it is viable to do so they will then sign it over to her officially.
We were together for 18 years. 18 years during which I was vocal about my desire to get on the housing market. Where I worked tirelessly to move up at work to get ourselves in a position to one day save. Where money would disappear as fast as it was earned thanks to four kids and a wife who liked to spend (cliche alert). And where I never once asked for financial support or handouts because that wouldn’t have been fair to put any of our parents in a position where they had to make that decision.
Less than two years after splitting up she will be debt free (barring debt she’s built up since the split), in a relationship (albeit with a man-child), affording foreign holidays and being a homeowner in all but name. She is oblivious to shame or the impact it is having on our children, so is emotionally and financially set.
It’s hard not to feel bitter about it all. I’m disappointed in what her parents have done though not surprised; they only want to help her out and do what’s best for her, regardless of what she has done. She’s their daughter, and no matter how ashamed they are of her actions they also can’t change them. When we were together they saw me as the person to provide for the family (a viewpoint I resisted as I hated the casual sexism this implied), now I’m not there they are stepping into that void.
As a counterpoint, when I mentioned this to my own dad, who was wealthy enough to retire at 54 and spends his free time following the England football team around the globe (with the odd extra holiday thrown in for good measure), his response was the same as it’s always been: it’ll feel better when I achieve the same thing on my own, even if it takes another 20 years.
This is not about not being over my marriage ending, that ship sailed a long time ago. I know how I feel and where I’m at, and am very comfortable with most things in life. This is about how difficult it is to truly not care about perceived unfairness in how life turns out. It’s about how I’ve been left to mop up the pieces while the person who made the mess feels no shame nor remorse and is living the life she always dreamed about.
Bitterness is not a healthy emotion. It’s not positive in any way, doesn’t make life better and is very difficult to turn into something and use it to make your own life better. Anger can give you energy and drive, but bitterness just causes you to sink into a pit where it eats away at you. I should know; I still see the deep bitterness hardwired into my own mother after her divorce way back in 1985. There’s no way I still want to be feeling bitterness more than 30 years down the line.
So I’m going to try to do some work on myself to combat this, to work out why these feelings are coming out and how I can change them to translate into more positive outcomes. I’m concentrating not on the easy life my ex is now leading but rather on the fact that my children’s grandparents have ensured that my children will have a home to live in when they aren’t with me. I’m not thinking about the tens of thousands of pounds of debt my ex dodged, rather the sense of achievement I’ll feel when I get through clearing it all. I’m not thinking about her seemingly happy relationship with the man-child who ruined our marriage, rather the prospect of me finding someone incredible to love who will truly love me in return.
I’m better than I was, but I can be better still, and bitterness will not get me there.