Real Truths About Sexually Transmitted Debt & Loving An Addict..
Tonight I was asked this question… “What do you need to consider when merging finances after getting married?”
My answer? “Many people are going to be offended by this answer but a few of you will be enlightened. Marriage is the only cause of sexually transmitted debt. Never heard of it? Stay tuned.
When you marry a person you are effectively merging their debt. I had a client that quite nearly married a man with massive credit card debt.
How did she find out about for certain there were financial problems? Consistent third party debt collector calls and overdue credit card bills forwarded to her home when her fiancée filed a change of address.
She called me again about her concerns while I was in Texas months prior to the wedding and consequently right around the time the red flags started effectively flying. “We went to dinner the other night and his card was declined. He gave the server a second card and it was declined.”
This “information” was alarming enough for me to suggest a skip trace. My client needed to know what baggage she would be carrying. It was a financially heavy load.
Within weeks of the “restaurant incident,” her fiancée was evicted and moved into her home. His barrage of overdue bills followed.
About a month later, I flew back to California for another wedding and found time to meet this young but successful and more importantly financially stable bride in Dana Point.
I was about to share a story with my worried client that would shock her. It was MY story.
My story would explain why I had learned (the hard way) to ask more questions prior to marriage. I wish I had many years ago. Experience is a great teacher.
We met at the marina and sat down and I began to explain why I was so cautious and concerned regarding my clients and why I cared. I had been a victim of sexually transmitted debt myself.
“When I married my second husband, I had left my first marriage due to abuse and a controlling mother in law. I didn’t have my own credit. I had married young. My earnings went into an account in my first husbands name. I had no control over my own income. Controlling people often control your money. I filed for a divorce only to learn that I had no credit. I couldn’t afford the car payments of my former car. I was forced to give it back to my first husband. The cost of my attorney and Ad Lidem attorney for my son were taking a large portion of my income during the divorce and subsequent child custody battle. I worked two jobs. My twin sister helped watch my son. I needed an affordable car. I went to a tote the note dealership after being told at another I had no credit. I needed a down payment. I had none. I had my wedding ring as collateral the week prior but my greedy divorce attorney spotted this asset and took it right off my hand. I did have a mink coat. It was Christmas and I offered the coat as a down payment. I drove off that lot in a Geo Storm with no air conditioning. For three years I never was late on a payment. That car effectively established my credit.”
I waited. It was a lot to absorb. We sipped our wine. I was going back to a place in my life that was a painful and shocking reality. I needed a car. I needed credit. I would have to work to earn my own credit and I did. Most people had parents to help them in tough spots. Cindy and I never did.
“Three years later, I bought a Taurus wagon. It had A/C and I was so thrilled and proud of myself. I had excellent credit. My custody war raged on.” One day a man walked into my job and bought a set of furniture. He came back and asked me to dinner. I hadn’t dated as I was too busy working. I decided to go.
A month later he asked me to marry him. He had two homes, a successful business. My new car “wasn’t nice enough” for my new husband. He gave it to his nephew and put me in a Cadillac. Not mine but his. Everything in that marriage was his.
I was often handed things to sign. I never read them. This would be how my new husband shifted his tax debts on me. Stay tuned.
He was charismatic and he also regularly negotiated huge tax liens for many years. I was unaware of this and also terrified of the IRS. I had never had an issue in my life.
My ex also had a side hustle named Laurie. Throughout our 6 year marriage, arguments about secret phone calls and eventually finding Laurie in the city house upon returning from the Lake House were why I was already considering a divorce.
One day at the city house while paying the maid, I was handed the mail. A love letter from Laurie and a tax lien with my name on it. Both shocking. One more than the other after opening it.
How and where would I get nearly $300k to repay this lien? How was only my name on it? My earnings at that time were $35k a year. I had gone to part time after marrying but refused to quit my job. My taxes were taken out of my payroll checks.
Confused and horrified, I had been thrown under the bus. I was an IRS virgin.
My hard fought for and WON credit would be ruined. How would I get a job, buy a car or home? Years of faithfully establishing my credit DOWN the drain? I filed a divorce the same day.”
We both drank more wine. My beautiful bride was an entertainment attorney. Successful, sleek, and now concerned. No one looking at me can imagine where I had been. What I had been through. People are always shocked. She was too.
“Within a week I had been advised by my husband to make the payment on the Cadillac. It was $789. I once again couldn’t afford to keep a car. I needed a way to get a car AGAIN.
I had already began researching tax law. I was going to fight that tax lien. I researched Innocent Spouse.
A letter to my husband was accidentally accidentally forwarded to my new condo. This letter would help my case with the IRS immensely. It was from a tax attorney explaining why shifting the tax burden to me would buy my husband time to negotiate the lien. I saved it this Golden Letter. I filed innocent spouse and attached the letter.
A week later, I walked into the same Cadillac dealer that had serviced the car I couldn’t afford to keep and got a job selling them.
I now had a free demo car, insurance and an income. Three months later, I was exonerated from the tax debt by the IRS as I had no access to my husbands earnings and could prove it.
To generate my own clients at Cadillac, I hired a photographer, ran my own print ads at country clubs direct marketing the right clients and was making more money than I ever dreamed I could. I was finally free of the tax lien. My credit was restored. I was happy. Independent. Successful.”
My bride finished her wine. She now understood that not knowing the financial situation of your future spouse was and could be financial suicide. The wedding was called off. This was a few years ago. I married her to someone without financial baggage last December.
I have been married to my third and last husband since 2007. I have my own checking accounts and credit cards as well as joint accounts with my husband. My vehicles are paid for in cash and in my name only as are his. I learned the importance of having good credit and while I trust my husband, no one will ever control my money or my credit again.”
TIP- If you are planning to marry, ask financial questions. You need to know the answers!
This afternoon while in Parker County filing marriage licenses, I swung by Cindy’s house. My niece, Stephaney has been “back home” for approximately 3 months after I put her in a 9 months of treatment in Grove, Oklahoma was acting crazy again.
For anyone following the saga of trying to “Save Stephaney the past 16 years,” my twin sister and I have had setback after setback while raising Stephaney’s twin daughters, Maryssa and Makenna. The twins will be 16 next month. For this entire 16 year window of our lives and while raising a second generation of children, juggling our business and family, my twin sister and I have been dealing with the drama and chaos that drug addiction and my nieces choices have dropped into our lives over and over again.
Today, I made the decision to call the Weatherford PD and issue a 51/50 on my niece after twenty minutes in Cindy’s house. Stephaney was off her meds AGAIN and off the rails. I couldn’t take it anymore. Cindy couldn’t take it anymore. The twins couldn’t take it anymore. I gave my niece two choices. Return to treatment or go to Austin to the Salvation Army for women. My niece is 34 years old. She has never paid rent or even paid for her own cell phone. My sister and I have been effectively enabling her for the past 16 years. How we got here and how we decided to get out of here have been a wild ride of trying to Save Stephaney.
After my twin sisters heart surgery last year, I have tried to get my sisters stress levels minimized. Six months of treatment in Oklahoma turned into 9 for Stephaney. I needed to get Cindys health stabilized. I needed to address over 100 clients during the same window. I needed to move the twins classes around. I needed to be a juggler. I cried in my car alone. I worried about how I could fix my family. I worried about how I could stop trying to fix Stephaney and force her to fix herself. No one could see my feelings of helplessness. I’m a great actress. Cindy laughs to keep from crying. I smile.
Cindy posted an update on FB. She tagged me in the update. A number of our mutual friends and many of my clients are aware of the drama dealing with Stephaney in or out of rehab or on or off the streets has brought to our lives. How? They’ve heard the screaming phone calls while I’m on location. They’ve called while I’m searching the streets trying to find her. They’ve seen the flyers I’ve posted looking for Stephaney. They’ve read my blogs. My diary of heartache. My pain. My fear. I don’t hide anything. I’m transparent. Raw. Real.
Today with Stephaney acting crazy again, I had enough. Cindy and I had been trying to orchestrate everything to get the twins in school this Thursday. Running here, there and everywhere to get medication for the twins, school clothes, school supplies.
Meanwhile… Stephaney is acting crazy and refusing to take her medication? Yes. As if we don’t have enough stress already I now have my niece yelling in my face that she has sprayed ketchup all over my sisters just painted walls because “it’s the blood of Jesus?”
Trying to reason with my niece always ends in an argument. She doesn’t care one bit what my sister and I go through. She has no idea the sacrifices we’ve made to care for the twins. Stephaney has had a carefree life void of any responsibilities. After enough of this verbal abuse and screaming, I called the police.
Not surprisingly, the police took Stephaney to JPS. This hospital is infamous for the 10th floor. A psychiatric evaluation is performed there before patients are moved to Trinity Pavillion. Stephaney has been involuntarily committed at JPS 19 times in 3.5 years. They roll patients in then roll them out. Family members and loved ones who caught a break while not having to pay for phone calls (I will explain this later) or deal with their loved one after they give up visiting everyday and getting yelled at are once again on the hot plate of having to deal with a relative who has mental illness due to previous addiction issues. There’s actually a medical term, drug induced psychosis.
Now, what do I mean about paying for phone calls? If your loved one is in jail, phone calls aren’t free. If they are in a mental or treatment center, you are effectively saving hundreds of dollars a week on phone calls.
Today I advised my niece she wasn’t coming home again. Cindy’s home is no longer a crash pad. Cindy’s home is the Twins home. Stephaney would need to get her head on straight and become a responsible adult. I meant it. Stephaney didn’t believe me.
Hours after being taken away, Stephaney called Cindy. Of course, Cindy was with me buying school supplies for the twins. “Mom are you with aunt Wendy?” Umm Hmm. “Yes. We are buying school supplies for your kids. Maybe you didn’t care or realize or care but we have been pulling our hair out trying to get the twins ready for school while you’ve been refusing to take your medication.”
My niece waits. She isn’t happy Cindy is with me. She wants Cindy alone. Manipulatively available. I’m interfering with that concept. “If I go through treatment, can I come home?” Umm hmm. “No. I’ve had 16 years of this with you. Your kids don’t want you here. It’s time for you to get it together.”
Not the answer she wants. “Can you and aunt Wendy rent me an apartment?” We both light up like firecrackers. “No! We both did that 6 years ago while you refused to even look for work and moved in that hobo that trashed the apartment and went to Oklahoma to steal a semi tractor. Never again are we renting an apartment for you.”
Stephaney was arrested for the semi incident. I saved her from prison. I wish I hadn’t. I made a mistake. I worked out a deal with the DA that involved cash, 5 years of probation, court ordered in patient treatment and probation that included hair follicle testing. After 3 years, the hair follicles stopped. Less than 24 hours later, Steph was back on meth. In and out of mental clinics and treatment centers or on the streets for years, I cannot describe in words what her actions have done to our family. I wish I had let her go to prison. I’m dead serious.
Only someone who has had a relative on meth will understand the uncertainty, the chaos, the pain and the sheer raw Hell your loved ones addiction will put you through. No one else can or will comprehend the gravity of loving an addict. Bless your heart. It’s easy to judge others. You have no idea what their families have been through. Consider yourself lucky. Blessed even. Loving an addict is the most painful and one sided relationship there is.
Tonight, Steph called Cindy again, she knew Wendy was at home. My sister again said “no you can’t come home. Get in a halfway house. Go to the Salvation Army or a shelter. Get your life together.” Cindy is crying. We are on the phone together. She is wracked by guilt. Guilt only a mother would know or a father but Stephaney’s father has never been a part of her life. He’s never paid child support. Larry Mahaney left Cindy while she was in San Clemente at my other home. Larry led a message on my machine that he “had another family and would be filing a divorce in Texas.” He did. He also lied and said he had Stephaney living with him which was absolutely untrue. Cindy had brought Leigh Ann and Stephaney with her to visit me in San Clemente. Cindy was never served divorce papers. If she had been I could have easily provided school records for Stephaney. The judge didn’t question Larry claiming he had possession of Stephaney. By the time we moved back to Texas and attempted to file for child support, the child support office sent the hearing notice to the wrong address in Fort Worth after Cindy had moved to Weatherford. Cindy was told “there’s nothing we can do” by the Attorney General’s office. At the time of this slap in the face, Stephaney was pregnant with twins. Larry and his attorney were busily filing a BS statement that since Stephaney was pregnant that she was an adult not knowing that the Attorney General’s office had sent the hearing notice to the wrong address. Consequently, my twin sister has raised not one generation but TWO generations of children without child support. Thank God we have always had each other. I have helped my sister between husbands to raise Leigh Ann, Stephaney, Maryssa and Makenna by contributing financially and working often two jobs to help my twin sister. As for our invisible parents throughout our lives, I’ve got some advice for children who believe that caring for their parents is their responsibility… if your parents didn’t care for you as a child, you don’t owe them caring for them when you are an adult. It will come up regardless of what a shoddy job your parents did. When it does, you can do what I did and take a hard pass. I don’t owe our parents anything other than perhaps my two cents about them never once putting their children’s needs first. They never did. Cindy and I left home at 15. We made our own way and we made our own lives without ever having help from our parents or our family. Never once did our parents try to help us. They are old now and they aren’t our luggage. They may want to be but they never will be. You don’t owe your parents unless your parents were there for you when you needed them. Ours weren’t. Instead, Cindy and I had each other. We also had grit, determination and resilience.
Whether you are facing a financial burden of marrying your partner or addiction, there are no easy answers. There are painful truths. Ask more questions. Get those answers before merging your life in marriage..