I do not know where to start. Then I’ll start at the beginning. I met a man at a friend’s wedding a few years ago. He was charming in that kind of British man in America (Hugh Grant has a lot to answer for), he told jokes (maybe too many jokes, in hindsight) and he made me laugh (at first). He was the life of the party, with a wide circle of friends and they all seemed to love him.
“’The first six months were good, the next three years? There are three themes: my husband, his business and his family. ‘ ”
He was a generous and financially stable man, or so I thought. Of course, his success and the ease with which he seemed to navigate the world made him attractive to me, but I fell in love with him and when he proposed I said yes. The first six months were good, the next three years? Let’s say there are three talking points: my husband, his failed business, and his terrible family. The pandemic affected the already unstable family business. As his financial problems worsened during the course of our marriage, he became irascible. I attributed it to the stress I was under. In fact, he shared this business with two brothers, so his expense account and “champagne lifestyle” were financed by his family as much as actual earnings. In fact, it soon became clear that he was neither the brains nor the physical strength of the operation. Our life has descended to stress and instability. His flashes of anger appear with increasing frequency, as do his accusations that I am a gold digger, which conveniently labels me as a villain who does not deserve respect. For the record, I always work and pay my own expenses. (Six months ago, he pushed me and I fell back onto the arm of a sofa. Fortunately, my fall broke.) I have no idea who this man is. His friends, as much as they can be called that, abandoned him a couple of years ago when the expense account ran out. He ridicules me, he has the fact that he wanted a son above my head (I’m 38), and last year he made no secret of his dislike for the birthday present I got him (a photo album of our courtship, plus a dinner and silver cufflinks) in my face. I’m tired. There is only one person in the world who matters, and that is him. Some days he’s awake and friendly, usually when we’re on Zoom calls with family and (my) friends, but when that camera is off, he better be careful. I live with a stranger. I have no idea what will happen next. His birthday is coming up in March and I’m dreading choosing a gift for him after last year. What would you give him for this birthday? Any other suggestions on what I should do? Trapped and Exhausted Dear Trapped and Exhausted, A ticket to London, England. One way. But your situation is quite different from my hypothetical one. I’ll say this: I’m not sure it’s possible to know who you married if he doesn’t know who he is. Hugh Grant has gone on to play villains and rogues (Jeremy Thorpe in “A Very British Scandal” on Netflix NFLX, + 2.19%, Phoenix Buchanan in “Paddington 2” and Jonathan Fraser in “The Undoing” on HBO). In each role, he played a man with many faces, but he was not who others believed him to be in any of the roles, and I’m not sure that Thorpe, a real-life British politician, Fraser, a fictional assassin, and Buchanan , a cartoon villain in many costumes, didn’t know who they were either. I suspect the same is true of your husband. Are you a funny socialite and a risk taking business mogul during the day and a clumsy, useless black sheep of your family at night? If you don’t know who you are and where your own values lie, and the values lies, I can’t blame you for not knowing. I don’t think you’re a “gold digger,” but I do think you bought whatever he was selling to the world: a classy, bicontinental bon vivant who had no worries in the world and was brazenly getting on. , intelligence (suppose), sympathy, and a talent for navigating “high society.” That is natural. We tend to believe who people say they are, unless we have reason to doubt them. For every Jeffrey Epstein or Robert Maxwell, there are a thousand Phoenix Buchanans. Everything and nothing in life is about money. A child is not a bargaining chip. A marriage certificate or property deed is not a life sentence. A birthday present is not a time bomb. Presenting yourself as a success on social media is not real life. It’s the 21st century version of Buchanan’s act at the town party. When domestic violence or emotional abuse rears its head, fear persists. When will it happen again? Today? Tonight? Morning? At some point now? Close your eyes. Imagine the life of your dreams. And choose that. The door is waiting for you, if you decide to go through it. Are you experiencing domestic violence or coercive control? Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. FreeFrom works to establish financial security for survivors of domestic violence and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence supports efforts that call for a change in conditions that lead to domestic violence and coercive control. You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at email@example.com Also see: ‘We have seen an alarming increase in reports of domestic violence:’ For some women, it is not safe to leave home OR to stay in Hello, MarketWatchers. 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