Trapped with a Monster
Q: We have been married 25 years, built a home, and he sold it for a million dollars, not even consulting with me, just walked in one day and said he sold our house and land. He then bought a new home with half the money. He has his own business which does not make any money and is drawing from retirement funds. He put $125,000 each in CDs to his daughters. There are two $26,000 CDs left that he says will go to me when he dies which will be split 3 ways, and he has no will. He says the money is HIS because he has had to pay all the house payments, utilities, taxes, etc. The house is in both our names, but that will be split 3 ways also when he dies. I have been disabled since 1994 and only have Social Security. I have only a few thousand in savings. He has been having affairs, but I can't prove it except he has given me an STD twice. He has always made me pay for my clothes, shoes, personal items, and medical bills. He says he put a roof over my head and feeds me.
I am about to have a nervous breakdown. I've had three surgeries recently and another coming soon. I don't suppose I have grounds for a divorce, but that would be the only way I can get any peace. Our state says the property would be split 50/50. I am not happy and he has killed my feelings for him. What can I do? I don't have the money to move, pay rent, and support myself with all my medical bills. -- Patti, 70
Dr. Susan: I can't give you legal advice, but that's what you need. Your husband doesn't treat you very well, as if you needed me to confirm that. He's some kind of throwback from an earlier era where all a man had to do was feed and shelter his wife and everything else was up to him. His age might explain a little of that, but you may have options even so. Get referrals from everyone you know and see a lawyer as soon as possible to find out your rights. If you're in a community property state, you should own half the house, and he might have to buy you out if you divorced him.
There are many variables to consider. Don't wait until he dies. For all you know, he could have a mistress on the side that he's been giving money to (I know someone that happened to). As you're already on the verge of a nervous breakdown, the thought of your upcoming surgery contributes to your extreme stress. Find yourself a counselor or a doctor (Medicare should help) for emotional support. You cannot really do this all alone, even if it costs to get the help you need. You can always choose to stick with him for the little bit of financial help you get from him. But first, find out all your options.
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Advice for Her
Advice for Him
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.