Some divorce stories leave me scratching my head wondering why the heck she married the guy in the first place. (Not to say I haven’t made some mistakes that were real whoppers, but I digress.) Some marriage mistakes are so incredibly avoidable that there is no other explanation than gullibility and, well, desperation. Here’s the latest.
“Kim” is in the middle of a divorce and is very sad and disappointed with her ex. You see, he was a con-man in the literal sense. Like, he had another family several hours away that she didn’t know existed. And she saw no warning signs. The guy was so kind and loving, he was faithful in his Mormon religion, and was just “perfect.” Even her Bishop said the marriage (and subsequent divorce) wasn’t her fault and she never could have known he was a fraud. So there you have it.
Wait a minute, I thought, no warning signs at all? I had to probe further because I found that very hard to believe. I wrote to her:
Question: If he had another family, I’m assuming he would disappear for days and weeks at a time. Where did he tell you he was?
Answer: He worked really weird hours in construction, one month on and one month off. He left town to go work and he was really tired so he didn’t call during his work months.
Red Flag: Thanks to cell phones, there is no reason whatsoever not to be calling and at least texting someone unless you’re on a plane. If this isn’t a red flag, I don’t know what is. Think about it– are you ever truly SO BUSY that you can’t find a way to contact your children for an entire MONTH? Even in some of the most remote regions of the world, I’ve been able to text and email. If your guy disappears like this, run away and fast.
Question: Did he have a Facebook account and were you friends? Did you have access to his phone?
Answer: He didn’t do Facebook so no. And I never looked at his phone.
Red Flag: Wow, from a guy you are going to marry and you can’t have access to his phone?
Question: How do you know he was religious?
Answer: Because he told me.
Red Flag: Oh, ok… No observation here, I see. He probably also told her he was honest, too, and she believed it.
Question: Did you ever do a background check? Where was he living, did he own a home, did he own the car he was driving? Did you look at his driver’s license?
Answer: I did look at his driver’s license and his last name was spelled differently but I didn’t catch it. I don’t do background checks because you should trust the man you are falling in love with.
Red Flag: Oy vey.
Question: Did you meet his family and friends, co-workers, neighbors?
Answer: He said his parents had died in a car accident. He had a friend in our city and that is the only person I met.
Red Flag: Double oy vey.
Question: How long did you date before getting married?
Answer: Six months. He really pushed the wedding, not me!
And here is the kicker: She had young children at home and they had never really met the guy before she married him and they couldn’t stand him from the get-go. And for the next two years that Kim and hubby were married, he never deposited a check from his job (he really didn’t have one), let her touch his phone, or contribute to household expenses in any meaningful way. He was also “so” religious that their views on how to run a home or raise children were dramatic. He was strict and pious with everyone, including her children. (Can we say DISASTER loud enough?)
I am honestly not sure where to go with this other than it is so incredibly, well, shocking. Here is my take:
First, if a guy is an asshole to your children, he needs to go. Like immediately. Know that before you get married!
Second: She dated the guy for six months and never gave her children the chance to meet him before she moved him into her home? Wow. Like, so WOW that it borders on irresponsible.
Third: She never vetted him out. She went into the entire relationship trusting a guy she didn’t know one tiny thing about and married him. In my opinion, if there are children in the picture, a background check is a necessity. Yep, pay $100 or whatever it costs and make sure he says he is who he claims to be. Get prior rental or mortgage history. Call his employer and make sure he really works there. Spend a lot of time Googling him. Even if he says he’s not on Facebook, try to find him anyway. Go to the courthouse and look up any prior divorce documents– most of them are public and you can pull all the filings and read away. What an eye opener that can be! (On a personal note, I wish I had done this prior to marrying my ex. That psycho bitch wife he had? Was there ever another side of that story!)
Fourth: Make sure he lets you into his “space”– meet his family (even if he says he doesn’t like any of them), friends, neighbors, and inner circle. If he claims his parents or ex died, find the death records. If you meet no one that was part of his life prior to you, there is a Big Huge problem and he is hiding something from you. And it isn’t anything good.
At our age and, especially, with children around, we can never be too cautious. We must do our own due diligence. That means dating for a while, letting the kids and Mr Wonderful meet and develop a relationship, and observe observe observe. Believe nothing at face value. Cross-check and cross-reference. It still doesn’t mean that if we do all these things, everything will turn out grand. But proceeding with great caution is a MUST. In fact, it is our duty as an adult.
Some marriages are totally avoidable. Make sure you don’t hop right in. Especially during the dating process, it is “dater: beware.” And if I find out my new love interest has conducted a background check on me, good for him. It would not offend me at all. In fact, I would respect him for doing so– it means he is smart and wise, two traits I love.
And, lastly, if you do marry, a pre-nup is a great idea. Make sure you know who is going to pay for what, and who will be responsible for certain things in the home.
The more we take our next step cautiously, the better off everyone will be.