About a year ago (before most of our beloved readers even knew about our little blog), I wrote a scarily true post about a friend of a friend, who we’ll call W. You can go here to read the original post, but here’s the gist.
W is a nice woman and the wife to a guy we’ll call CB. They both have jobs and together are well above the median income for the area, though W’s job is more “career track” than CB’s and she’s the higher income earner FWIW. W and CB have joint accounts, but W doesn’t actually have any access to said joint accounts. They operate under a very old-school arrangement where W has to ask CB for cash anytime that W wants money. (This includes everything from groceries, and toilet paper to haircuts or other luxuries for herself.)
One day, W gets a Facebook email from a well-intentioned woman named M, who says she has been dating CB for about a year now. M just found out that she was a mistress – not a girlfriend – and wanted to inform W what a cheating bastard CB was. (See how clever I am with the abbreviations?)
W’s in a state of shock, but has enough sense about her to call our friend in common for support and together they go through M’s letter which includes:
- specific dates, times, and locations where M & CB have gone out during their courtship
- unusual intimate rituals that CB does in the bedroom
- the revelation that M has broken up with CB, and she recommends that W do the same. “Once a CB, always a CB.”
Does this sound like a soap opera yet? It’s awfully all true.
What Does W Do?
W is able to compare the dates of CB & M’s courtship with the dates when she was working nights over the last year and gets a confirmation that the dates M mentioned were all ones where she worked a night shift. But she has no way to check their joint financial records to confirm restaurant and gift bills. She doesn’t have any passwords and is locked out of their financial lives.
When confronted with the letter from M, what’s CB’s response? “She must be a stalker, following me on nights out with the guys.” And W accepts the response. Nothing changes in terms of W’s access to their combined financial lives.
But W is still dissatisfied. She’s not nuts about all these nights out with the guys since CB often comes home from them drunk and mean, so this only increases her resolve to have a baby with CB. Because, surely, once there’s a baby in the picture CB will calm down the drinking and the partying and man up to be a proper family man (Mr. PoP edit-this is flawless logic. Flawless).
Fast Forward A Year
W delivers a beautiful baby and comes home from the hospital. Where is CB? Out drinking with friends. Eight weeks in, he’s never held his baby for more than a minute. Has never fed the child. Has never changed a diaper. And W needs to go back to work, but is basically struggling like a single mom to do so. Only it’s worse than being a single mom, because if she were single, she would have access to her money and not have to ask for cash to buy diapers or formula.
When my friend gave me the update to W’s story, my heart broke. It broke for W and it broke for my friend, too. W is one of her good friends from many years ago, and though they live a few hours apart now, they have retained their bond of friendship though they schedule their visits when CB isn’t around.
My friend has made it clear that she doesn’t think CB is good enough for W, but what else can she do? W has a support network. She has great parents nearby. She has my friend a couple hours away that she could escape to and start fresh. But she chooses not to, and my friend is at the end of her rope.
“It’s so hard to help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves! And now there’s a child involved! W’s an intelligent woman with a good career – she doesn’t need to put up with this kind of treatment – no one does!”
So if you were me, sitting across from my friend and listening to all of this over dinner, what would you tell her? What can she do to help empower W both financially and emotionally? How do you tell a friend that (s)he has hitched a wagon to the wrong horse?