His words, “I’m divorcing you” hit me hard. I had no idea that he had a mistress, but he said he wanted to move on as quickly as possible.
My divorce story is a complicated story, just like everyone else. What made mine more complicated was the fact that we had just moved bag and baggage three thousand miles from where we had lived in Virginia to Seattle. Then, suddenly, he decided not to move. So, we rented an apartment and began a long-distance relationship.
Here’s My Divorce Story
As he continued to live in the Virginia apartment, he took on a mistress and started posing as a widower, claiming I had been dead over five years – a little detail he had failed to mention to me.
The deception exploded one night when our daughter – who also lived in Virginia – caught my husband and his mistress in our apartment. Although my daughter did not let the cat out of the bag, my existence became clear to the clever mistress. She found my phone number and called. When I answered she asked, “How are you related to [Name]?” I thought this was a ridiculous question. It was also ridiculous that she didn’t realize who I was. She deserved an honest answer and I said, “I’m his wife.” She promptly hung up!
After she hung up, I dialed my future ex and was met with the words, “I’m divorcing you.” I had no idea how to respond, but it occurred to me that this certainly didn’t sound like a good thing.
Preparing for Divorce
During the next twelve months as I prepared for divorce, I was removed from our joint checking account, something I had managed for 45 years. My attorney requested the court serve him with a Pendente Lite, which means “awaiting the litigation.” This ordered him to pay me support while the legal process moved forward. This was my first court experience with many more to come.
My attorney and the opposing counsel went before the judge and in a flash the judge awarded the pendente lite order, making financial support official. “Wow! that was quick and easy,” I thought. The soon-to-be-ex was ordered to pay me $3,000 per month prior to the official divorce.
When the next month rolled around, however, the check didn’t. I tried to remain calm although I couldn’t keep myself from checking the mailbox daily. I was beginning to smell a rat – or perhaps even rats.
Having been an army wife for 45 years, I was familiar with receiving orders. My soon-to-be-ex would never have ignored a military order, as to do so carried serious consequences. I thought that a court order would also be taken seriously and that it was necessary to follow the court-stipulated rules. Obviously, I was wrong!
My future ex was now engaged to his mistress, twelve years his junior, and someone who had been married twice before. Perhaps she was more familiar with how to work the court system and what orders to obey and which ones to ignore.
One thing I learned during the waiting period is that is important to begin keeping thorough daily notes. You will be asked to recall details and dates and it’s hard to remember everything that transpires over an extended period. I had to become a fast divorce learner all the while feeling threatened with every new experience thrown my way. But in a short time, it became clear how the legal game was played.
Over the many years that I lived with my ex, I was often suspicious of his behavior, and my trust had eroded. A person who is a very smooth liar can do so without you really knowing it. In other words, you suspect something, but are not sure what it is. And you choose not to question him, because he looks at you with that slightly tilted head and says, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
The Divorce Process
My divorce process took 15 months. It’s amazing just how much paper is required to establish who you are, where you have lived, and how much you are worth. It’s time-consuming to gather all those personal records. I quickly learned how important it was to keep file copies of personal records and information for easy access.
The divorce did not get off to a smooth start. Dragging on for months, I was constantly in touch with my attorney. In time I began to wonder if I’d ever be rid of my ex.
My ex and I had once discussed returning to Europe once he retired to revisit some of the places we had enjoyed when we were stationed in Germany. I now realized that trip would never happen, yet an opportunity arose to travel with my kids. We enjoyed a wonderful trip starting in Germany and driving on to Italy. We revisited the Piazza Michelangelo located on a hill across the Arno river from Florence and I reconnected with memories from happier times.
The piazza looked the same but far more crowded than before, and unlike my original photo, I looked 45 years older, but also so much wiser. As we started down the hill to return across the river, my son wanted to take some photos of the tulips.
I sat down on a bench sharing it with an attractive Italian man. I heard him say something in Italian, I responded in English and he repeated what he said in English. He told me that, “You are more beautiful than the tulips.” I said, “Thank you,” and then became speechless. I am still annoyed for not telling him I had been in that exact same spot 45 years ago on a honeymoon.
Who would have guessed that I’d travel all the way to Italy to have a charming man seated on a bench next to me, enjoying the tulips with a panoramic view of Florence, and to hear such lovely and reassuring words? Too bad I had waited so long to hear them.
After being home from Europe for several days, suffering from post-vacation blues, the ex-husband’s communications reappeared. For the next eight years we battled things out in court in one state or another, trying to finally sign off on a settlement.
My ex refused to move his stuff out of the home I owned in Seattle, and he had no intention of paying alimony. Eventually my son ordered and paid for the removal and placed it in storage. Of course, the ex was on the phone bitching about his having to pay for shipping.
The lesson I have learned from my eight-year ordeal is that there is no need for revenge. Sit back and wait. Those who hurt you will eventually screw up, and if you’re lucky, God will let you watch.