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I married a stranger

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My husband and I have been married for over a year now. While we were dating, I thought that he displayed traits of honor, loyalty, integrity, honesty, and kind-heartedness, as well as characteristics of a hard worker, and an overall well-rounded individual. Two months from now, I will have known him for five solid years (for all of which we were a couple).

Just months before we got married, he was working for his father and was fired because they thought he was selling store property and pocketing the money. I thought his explanation was honest and up-front, and came shortly after the incident occurred. He said he’d been under a huge amount of stress because we’d just purchased a home, and he wanted to be sure we could afford the first payment. He also said that his intention was always to tell his dad (in an effort to gain permission) and repay the money, but it slipped his mind and before he could find the words to explain all of this to his dad, he got caught. I believed him and tried my best to be supportive, though at times, I know I probably displayed some frustration about the whole thing. His cousin also felt bad for him and gave him a decent job making even more money.

Later on, he was accused by his childhood best friend of attempting to cheat on me with his best friend’s girlfriend. I was taken back by the whole accusation when I first heard it (a week before our wedding day) but refused to believe such a seemingly outlandish story. While we were dating, I caught that he’d lied about texting a friend that was a girl, but I didn’t think anything of it because I’d told him it was ok to have female friends, and because he so willingly admitted to his lie and said he was very sorry and would never tell me a lie again.

A few months after we’d been married, he attempted to have an affair that I accidently discovered (much to my horror,) and I’ve had trust issues ever since. It doesn’t help that about a week ago, he was involved in other questionable activity of a different nature that breaks all boundaries of basic human ethics and morality, and he lied about that, too. After he finally made a confession, I urged him confess to his boss and asked him to sleep on the couch until I have time to figure things out, and he has done both.

Ugh.. What do I do? I love him, or at least I love whoever I think he is, and we have all these memories, and a scrapbook. His nieces and nephews call me “Aunt Megan” and I am very close to a bunch of his family members. They are a part of a rare and primitive religious group that does not condone marriage outside of their community (like mine; I am not a member, and my husband was expelled) and they also do not condone divorce. Also, I live in a very small town, and everyone knows me, my parents, and all four of my grandparents. If I get a divorce, especially at my age, I might-as-well walk around town with a giant “D” on my shirt. Besides that, my parents are so proud of me and I they think I really made a good choice marrying him. I just don’t want to let my momma and daddy down, but I feel so trapped. PLEASE HELP!!!! I am so desperate

When does a liar tell the truth? I’m so, so sorry that your husband has so disrespected you and it seems everyone else who has trusted him. He has gotten away with it too many times. From what you told me, I don’t see an indication that he is at all interested in changing. From his point of view, the only problem is that he keeps getting caught.

I can’t tell you what to do on the basis of a letter. I can tell you that my opinion is that you should take a big step back and consder cutting your losses. At only age 23, you have a long life ahead. I think you’ve been betrayed enough.

As for the relatives: You didn’t mind what your husband’s family thought about your marriage. Why be so concerned about what they’ll think about a divorce? If they have come to love you, I hope they will recognize that your only flaw is that you believed in your husband as much as various members of his family did. You, his dad, and his best friend are all in the same boat. As for your own family, it’s time to sit down with your parents and to explain all that has gone on. Admit that you were so caught up in the romanace that you didn’t pay attention to the red flags before you married. There’s no crime in having given the person you loved the benefit of the doubt. But at this point, there are just too many indications that he is a good con artist and that life with him is going to mean more of the same. Ask for their support and love in making the difficult decision to leave him. Ask them to help your grandparents also understand. The people who love you won’t want you to live in a situation where you can’t trust your husband.

If a divorce is what you decide to do and it feels unbearable to live in town, there are at least two ways to deal. One is to hold your head high. You are not at fault for having been conned. You are the victim here. The other possibility is to go elsewhere for awhile and make a new life for yourself. In less than a year, you’ll be a college grad. You could consider grad school or you could look for a job in a new place. Why not use these next few years to go out into the world, to leave bad memories behind, and to grow in new ways?

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you’ll give yourself time to grieve. This isn’t at all what you had in mind when you married. You are not only losing the man you thought you had, but you are losing the future you had planned. That’s huge. I hope you have good friends and family members who will understand that and who will be supportive.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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