Though this is but a sampling of our money issues, the financial repercussions of our relationship will be the last for this story. Lisa made twice as much money as I did, and when she descended into a drunken and/or manic state she would castigate me for it in uncertain and very belittling, emasculating terms. When we met I was quite forthcoming with her about the company of which I was a part. She knew it was a startup and how tenuous it was. I earned $35-40,000 dollars and all of it went to us and our family needs. But we were always in financial straits, and our combined incomes were around $110,000 throughout most of the relationship.
The last six months she found a new job (the fifth in our time together and another red flag) that paid her in excess of $125,000. We were always bouncing checks even after I negotiated a $1000 overdraft with our bank. We still managed to end up in the red, month after month, paying thousands of dollars in overdraft charges. After borrowing thousands from her parents to help defray those costs, we found ourselves deeper than ever in debt. She’d felt so guilty about how she treated her ex-husband that she’d given him the house in the divorce and assumed the mountain of credit card debt that they’d created. Plus, she paid for her daughter’s medical insurance.
I traveled quite a bit on the job and she’d rent movies while I was gone and never return them. Once when checking how much of our DVD rentals were late charges it turned out to be over $1,500 over a three year period. More than it had cost to rent them. We had bitter fights over finances. Four times during our relationship, including twice before I moved in with Lisa, she incurred cell phone bills up to nearly $1,500. I talked the providers into dismissing most of the first two bills, because I still didn’t know enough about how Lisa operated and I believed her when she suggested it was their fault and not hers. I learned never to take her to the phone store to fix the bill because the first time we did, she yelled and screamed at the salesmen in front of the whole establishment. It was shocking to me.
The last two times she incurred those huge bills were in the last six months of our relationship. We both knew it was coming to an end, and she actively, if not secretly, started to look for someone new to be her mate. That’s what she wanted, a mate. She twice incurred an outrageous cell phone bill that totaled nearly $1,400 both times, and didn’t understand why. We had a family plan and I knew my minutes weren’t the issue. So, at her request I checked her minutes online and found one number, on both bills, with a combined calling time of over twenty-seven hours. Lisa told me she had no idea who it was. So, when I called the number, again at her request, it took me only a couple of minutes to determine that the gentleman on the other end of the line was known to her, and she to him. Lisa had met this guy through an Internet dating service and he worked in the same profession as she. That was the final straw. I moved out shortly thereafter, but not before helping her move to her latest folly, a new condo. I worked my ass off helping her, as did her long-suffering parents, and she borrowed in excess of $35,000 from them to effect the condo rehab.
I’m sure the question you all may be asking is, why did I stay so long? Lisa’s answer was that it was because she made more money than I and therefore I lived a better lifestyle because of that fact. I laugh when she accuses me of that, because from day one we had nothing but financial problems that were mainly due to her profligate spending habits, wasteful behavior, and the mountain of debt she brought to our relationship. I had very little debt when we moved in together. Yet, I was saddled with hers. And, it was okay in the beginning because we were in this together and the modern lifestyle precludes a debt-free relationship, especially if you’re in your thirties or have been divorced.
The odd thing about it was several months after I’d moved in with Lisa I had been warned by her ex-husband that I’d only be able to take her for five years and then it would be over. He actually told me this, and it wasn’t sour grapes. He was happy to be out of the relationship. Of course, at first his ego was hurt when she left and the fact that he would no longer have her income to combine with his affected his lifestyle some, but overall, after a relatively short period of mourning he was okay. Her parents, meanwhile, intimately knowing Lisa and her mental health issues after a lifetime of dealing with them also warned me about her. In fact, her mother often wondered over the next several years how I could stand staying with Lisa as long as I had. As you can imagine I was floored to hear those words from Lisa’s own mother. Her younger sister, another casualty of the mental illness issues Lisa began experiencing as a pre-teen, had long felt anger, abandonment by her parents (who struggled to help Lisa any way they could to the detriment of their other daughter), and as the years went by, an increasing apathy toward her older sister.
Lisa’s family truly liked me and her parents came to love me, I believe. They thought that being with me Lisa might finally be happy and that I had the stamina and emotional wherewithal to counter her bipolarity and related issues. And you already know that I thought so, too. But, the time came when it was all too much. One other incident I’ll recount here was very nearly the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Most of the time I was the one who got her daughter up everyday at 6:15 to get ready to go to school and then drove her there, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing. I believe, if memory serves, that Lisa only took her daughter to school when I was too ill with flu to do so.
Also, while the girl was in elementary school she did not like the cafeteria lunches, so I made her lunch every morning. Or, when she entered middle school and actually liked the food at this particular school she would buy lunch. I gave her the money to buy lunch every day. One day I had just come back into town that very morning and she called my cell phone and asked me to bring her lunch. I had given her enough money for her lunches that week before leaving to go out of town. She told me that when Lisa took her to school that morning on her way to work she took her daughter’s lunch money to go buy cigarettes. When I found this out, I was furious with Lisa, as was her daughter. It took a couple of weeks before Lisa and her daughter were back on speaking terms.
I don’t want you to think I’m some kind of blameless angel or too good to be true. I’m a fair and generous person, and I enjoy doing things for the people I love. I’m human, too, and I make plenty of mistakes. Perhaps, the worst mistake I made with Lisa after a couple of years of dealing with her behavioral issues was that I began to lose my temper in frustration. I almost was always right in my assertions of her wrongdoing or onerous behavior. But, whenever I did lose my temper and yelled at her, she just tuned me out and I was just another loud voice in her life. It got to the point that our sex life, once rich and very fulfilling, wasted away, a victim of our increasing estrangement. It became difficult and no fun for her daughter to come over to our house when it was our turn to have her because of the palpable tension and anger always present … though we tried never to argue in front of the girl. But her daughter was very bright, as I’ve mentioned, and she had already gone through this scenario once before.
We tried couples therapy, individual therapy with her therapists, and finally, in a last ditch effort to curb her drinking which was becoming obsessive and destructive I took Lisa to AA meetings. I went twice with her and she went a few times on her own, which is the way it’s supposed to work. Then Lisa began lying about going until finally she admitted to me she no longer attended meetings. C’est la vie. I knew then it was only a matter of time. In the last several months we were together, there were so many other incidents and issues that cropped up I now look back and wonder myself just why I stayed with Lisa as long as I did.
Well here it is. And most of you have been there, I’m certain. The reasons are simple. I loved her. I realized that you have to work hard, and keep working at it, in order to make a relationship successful, whatever that means to each couple or individual. Plus, as I noted before, I thought that through my love and caring I could fix her and make her better, and thus, make myself better and more fulfilled. Well, it didn’t work.
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4