This is a long story all wrapped with a complicated stupid mess.
My husband and I were together for 16 years. We are now in our early 40s. The relationship was a beautiful one, so much so that we were the envy of our straight and gay friends. Our friends always yearned for a relationship like ours, or so they told us.
During the 16 years together we both worked very hard, and we have gained properties both in the U.S. and Mexico. Together, our combined yearly income — both working full-time day jobs and operating a small cleaning business — was just over $300,000.
Late February 2021 he read some texts on my phone and flipped. He says he felt betrayed and that the idea of my being unfaithful cannot escape his mind. He said he believes I haven’t been unfaithful. But I have not been unfaithful.
He said he needed some time to clear his mind and went to stay a few days in one of our homes in Mexico. The first weekend he was there I joined him, and we had an amazing time, like always.
One of our good friends of more than 10 years introduced us to a younger guy he was dating. Within less than one week of being in Mexico, he decided to completely change his mind on everything, and he pursued a relationship with this young guy.
Financially speaking, I have always been the main contributor. Alone, I make about $100,000. His day job brings in $65,000. The business, which I have chosen to not partake in anymore, now brings in less than half of what it used to.
I told him that since he decided to leave with someone else they will not live in our Mexico home. Since I work from home, I go back and forth between our Arizona and Mexico homes — two weeks here, and two weeks there.
I purchased our Arizona home with cash when the housing market crashed. It was one of the best decisions we made during our relationship. It has allowed us to build our wealth, live mortgage/rent free for the last 10 years and it has given us financial stability.
He has made up all sorts of manipulated lies about “how bad” our relationship was in order for him to justify his actions and decisions. The first time we were able to speak in person I confronted him on all of the stupid bullsh*t he had fabricated.
Every time we see one another it’s as if nothing has happened. We hug, kiss and talk like we were still in a relationship. He says he loves me. He says he misses me, our relationship, our home and that I am the love of his life. I know I am still in love with him.
He says he doesn’t want to divorce me. We have been like this for almost one year. I know I need to move on and just forget him. The issue is that I am truly in love with him. If I don’t reach out to him, he is the one who initiates contact with me.
What do you recommend?
Feeling Betrayed, But Still in Love
Dear Betrayed, But Still…
Words and feelings count, of course they do. But love is an action.
Behaving like everything is the same does not mean everything is the same. Some couples — gay or straight — have open relationships or “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangements. It does not seem like you are comfortable being one of them.
Your perception of what is real and normal and healthy has been all messed up, along with your boundaries. “Textgate,” whether or not your husband realizes it, seemed like a lot of digital gaslighting — an excuse to pursue other men.
I can’t tell you to stay together or split. That’s something only you can decide. But I do know this: using your properties as leverage to disrupt each other’s life will only delay your reconciliation or prolong your separation and eventual divorce.
It’s time to figure out what makes you happy. Not who makes you happy. But what kind of relationship and person and behavior makes you happy. Perhaps you can get through this, but it can’t be on somebody else’s terms.
Assuming you live in Arizona, a community property state, everything you acquired during your marriage is community property. There are a few exceptions such as inheritance, or property acquired after a legal separation.
Divorce in Arizona
“An equitable division does not always mean an equal division,” according to Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, a law firm based in Sun City, Ariz. “Arizona does not have a statute which sets out a list of factors that a judge must consider when the judge distributes community property.”
“While some general rules apply, the judge has broad discretion. For instance, a judge can order the property to be liquidated, or sold, and also order the proceeds to be distributed equally or according to a different division,” Heather Baker-Mushkatel writes.
“A judge can also order property to be distributed ‘in kind,’” she adds. “For instance, one spouse gets the red car, while the other spouse gets the blue car. A judge can consider one spouse’s economic misconduct when the judge decides how to distribute property.”
When dividing assets, an extramarital affair could also be taken into consideration, as well as gambling, the indebtedness of one partner and/or substance abuse. But there’s no avoiding the fact that it will take a toll on your properties and net worth.
In other words, the judge will look at what’s fair, not necessarily what’s equal. I don’t know what’s best for you personally, but I hope that you make the decision that is right for you, makes you happy over the long term, and restores your happiness and peace of mind.
You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.
Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.
The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.
More from Quentin Fottrell:
• I live with my girlfriend, 59, who owns several homes and has saved $3 million. I pay utilities and cable, and do lots of repairs. Is that enough?
• ‘Until now, I’ve been waiting tables’: I’m 32, and just started a new job in a factory. I have a 401(k) and an emergency fund. What can I do to retire at 55?
• ‘He is the most computer-illiterate person I know’: I was my husband’s research analyst, caregiver, cook and housekeeper. Now he wants a divorce after 38 years.
• My daughter, 29, will inherit a ‘substantial sum’ from her late grandfather. But my husband maintains a tight grip on her trust.