Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hubby left me for older, frumpy divorcee

My cheating husband left me for a cougar
by Zarelda Marie Goh
Wed, Mar 10, 2010
Her World

I clearly remember June 29, 2009. That was the day I married Pete*, my childhood sweetheart. We had the wedding I had always dreamed of – it was lavish and opulent, with everything decked out in red, black and gold. We spent about $50,000 but every cent was worth it – it was the happiest day of my life.

Even the date itself was special. Pete and I had “gone steady” exactly 10 years before. We had met through a mutual friend – I was 14 and he, a year older. He wasn’t the best-looking guy around, but he showered me with undivided attention. He was sweet and thoughtful, doing little things like buying my favourite fish porridge for me whenever I was ill.

We were so different – I was loud and vivacious and he was your typical shy guy – but somehow, we fell madly in love. Opposites attract, right?

Pete was rarely expressive and I savoured the times he was affectionate. The sweetest thing he ever said was: “Don’t ever leave me. I really love you.”

We became inseparable; we celebrated our anniversary every month – without fail – and we made a pact: the one who said “Happy anniversary” first wouldn’t have to pay for our celebratory meal or could get one wish granted by the other person.

Bad behaviour

But those early days of bliss were short-lived. As the years went by, I mellowed while Pete became bolder. When he entered National Service, he would spend Saturday nights clubbing with his army buddies instead of being with me, since I was 17 and underage. I felt neglected and hurt, and wondered what he was up to.

I asked him to spend more time with me. That’s when he started to hit me, saying I was trying to control him. He slapped, punched and kicked me every time I said or did anything to make him angry. Once, he beat me non-stop for almost an hour after he found out I had gone out with a male friend. I was sore all over and ached for days. I had to hide my bruises from my parents.

His abuse went on for about three years. Yet I never told anyone because I was madly in love and terrified of losing him. I know it was stupid, but I never fought back – I thought he beat me because he cared for me. I even apologised profusely when
he got mad at me – I wanted to show him I truly loved him.

He was also unfaithful – he’d admitted to me that he’d had a few flings but I forgave him. I thought it was natural for him to want to “try out” other women, since I was the first girl he had ever slept with.

My self-esteem was really low. I thought if I lost him, no one else would love me. Looking back, I regret suffering in silence. I should have stood up for myself instead of bearing with the physical and emotional hurt.

Sticking together

When he turned 21 and completed NS, I told him he had to become more gentlemanly because he was an adult now. I gave him magazines to read to understand women better and patiently encouraged him. He learnt to apologise when he made mistakes, even small ones, like being late for an appointment. That was significant; Pete had a massive ego.

It took him eight months to manage his anger and stop hitting me. I could tell he put in the effort to change; even his friends noticed it. I even told myself: “Wow. I actually made a strong-headed man give in to me and treat me like a lady.”

His newfound maturity also showed when he helped to care for my cousin’s baby girl while she lived with my family. He doted on her like she was his own. For six months, he changed her diapers and soothed her when she woke up crying.

I know fathers who don’t do these things. That touched me. We started to make more decisions as a couple. He would seek my advice and approval when he bought things for himself.

Eventually, he proposed, eight-and-a-half years into the relationship. He simply said: “We’ll get married in three years, I promise you.” Being a devoted girlfriend, that was music to my ears.

Warning bells

We shortened our engagement to a year-and-a-half at our parents’ request. But I sensed we were drifting apart a few months before the wedding.

He began to spend more time with his buddies, and failed to return my calls, saying he was exhausted from his work as a warehouse supervisor. But he always reassured me, saying he loved me, so I pushed my uneasiness aside.

This was around the time I first met Lily*, on a road trip to Johor Baru. We had gone with a group of pals and she was introduced to me as a friend’s friend. When we went clubbing, she got so drunk that she vomited and even pooped in Pete’s car. I was surprised he wasn’t angry – his car was his second love – and he even cleaned her up.

But I didn’t feel threatened by her – she was 45 and nondescript-looking.

The wedding went on as planned but Pete just didn’t seem emotionally and mentally present during our honeymoon in Lombok. He even joked about getting a second wife. I felt like slapping him. We were supposed to be two lovebirds on a holiday!

When he bought a sundress for his best friend’s girlfriend, Nina*, I knew something was up.

The ugly truth

When we returned, I asked Nina about the dress and she had no idea what I was talking about. Enraged, I confronted Pete, who coolly admitted having an affair with Lily – the woman I had dismissed so easily.

I had even invited her to our wedding! I became hysterical and beat him with my fists, demanding an explanation.

He told me he had met Lily on Friendster six months before, and had planned to make use of her to pay for his car modifications as she was earning big bucks in her HR job.

He had done similar things before. He was quite good at charming the ladies and sweet-talking them into giving him whatever he was after. When we were teenagers, he had asked girls who liked him to pay for his drinks or his cover charge at the clubs.

It had bothered me then but I believed he had changed since. Guess I’d been wrong.

Pete had never been a high-flier but he had always aspired to have a certain lifestyle, one he couldn’t afford on his own.

Enter Lily. I’m sure she enjoyed the flattery and male attention since she did end up paying for some of his car modifications. She enjoyed it enough that she didn’t care that he had a fiancee – Pete had told her from the start about me.

The difference here was that he had ended up falling for her. My heart broke when he told me he had “fallen in love all over again”. He even claimed that I neglected him whereas Lily was always there for him. At the time, I was working long 14-hour days in my job as a spa manager.

Sure, he must have felt lonely, but I was working my butt off for our future. I drew a bigger salary than he did so I shouldered more financial responsibility – I was even paying for his car loan instalments. I pleaded with him to leave Lily, but he just brushed me off.

I couldn’t understand the attraction. I was a pretty and charismatic 24-year-old. Lily was more than 20 years older than us. She was stout, frumpy and motherly. She was also divorced and had three children – the oldest was the same age as me! Perhaps he just wanted a wife who would cook, clean and wait for him to come home from work.

Picking up the pieces

At first, I was determined not to lose Pete. I warned Lily over SMS to leave him alone. She flatly refused and accused me of letting my marriage fail.

It was torture; I just didn’t know what to do. I also kept trying to get him to sleep with me, and even put on seductive lingerie. But he said he couldn’t bring himself to have sex with me anymore.

The last straw was a phone conversation we had. I begged him to come home but he wanted to meet Lily instead and said that if I wasn’t happy, I could just leave. He called me a jinx and said I was a burden to him.

That’s when a voice inside of me said: “It’s now or never.” Leaving him was the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. But I mustered up the courage to move out of his parents’ home and into my best friend’s place. She was my pillar of strength.

Without her, I would have probably gone crazy. I couldn’t function properly for two weeks, often breaking down and crying uncontrollably for no reason.

After two weeks, I called to tell him I wanted a divorce. He was silent, then said he didn’t regret being with Lily. He didn’t even try to change my mind, but I believe he was hiding his shock. I heard from friends that he was certain I would go crawling back to him. I’m not surprised – after all, I had let him step all over me in the past.

Each time he hit me or cheated on me, I had simply taken him back. I don’t know why he didn’t initiate a divorce. Perhaps it was his pride. Perhaps he wanted to have his cake and eat it too – after all, I had been supporting him financially.

We are going through the divorce proceedings now; Pete is still with Lily. I don’t know if I can ever forgive him. I blame myself for what happened – it was stupid to think I had changed him, grooming him into a fine young man. If I could turn back the clock, I would never have married him.

I wish I had been strong enough to leave him when he started hitting me. I stuck by him because we had been together for such a long time. I saw our years together as an investment. It seemed a natural next step for us to marry. I had grown to love his family and they treated me like their daughter.

Age is on my side and I still believe in love. I’m sure there are nice guys out there who will treat me respectfully, but I have been scarred badly by my failed marriage.

The thought of dating again scares me since I have so little experience with men.
For now, I’m focusing on loving myself. When I go out, I doll up to boost my self-confidence – for myself, and not to prove to others that I’ve moved on.

I need to keep reminding myself that I am a beautiful person. And that I deserve a good man.

*Names and recognisable details have been changed to protect identities.

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