Frank Relationships: Lessons From the End of a Marriage – How I Found Happiness While Surviving Bigamy, Abandonment, and Deceit

Monday, Jul. 15th 2013 9:01 AM

 

Can you learn from a sudden and heartbreaking divorce? Today’s guest has a powerful story and valuable lessons to share … on this edition of Frank Relationships


FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: LESSONS FROM THE END OF MARRIAGE: HOW I FOUND HAPPINESS WHILE SURVIVING BIGAMY, ABANDONMENT, AND DECEIT
Guests: Lisa Arends
Date: July 22, 2013

Frank: Can you learn from a sudden and heart breaking divorce? Today’s guest has a powerful story and valuable lessons to share on this edition of Frank Relationships.

Steve: Hey, this is Steve Kerr. I’m hanging out with Frank Love.

Frank: Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid, fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at franklove.com. Once again, I’m joined by my super duper co-host, Dr. Gayl.

Dr. Gayl: Hey Frank, that was nice.

Frank: She’s got her doctorate in psychology and she’s not afraid to hit me in the head with it.

Dr. Gayl: Why’d your energy level drop right now?

Frank: Figuratively, of course. Isn’t that right doc?

Dr. Gayl: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Frank: If there was ever a show that my book–How to Gracefully exit a Relationship, which will soon be available wherever books are sold, including my site franklove.com–is relevant to, then this is it.

In it I guide you through every stage of your romantic partnerships, helping you have the tough important conversation that most couples avoid. And I teach readers how to be more honest with their partners, so that they can make better decisions in relationships and enjoy the happiness that eludes many couples.

Pick up a order, a copy today, wherever books are sold. Now to the lady of the hour, “When I grow up I’m going to meet the man of my dreams. He’s going to love me and treasure me and be romantic and we’ll live happily ever after.” That’s the story many young ladies tell their friends on the schoolyard. Isn’t that right, Dr. Gayl?

Dr. Gayl: You know I was about to go in on you, right?

Frank: You still telling your friends that now.

Dr. Gayl: Yeah, right.

Frank: When I grow up I’m going to be the strongest man alive. “I’ll beat up everybody and all the pretty ladies will love me. I’ll be rich and have the fanciest car around.” That’s the story many young men tell to their friends on the schoolyard. But whatever story you might’ve embraced, if you embrace one, things don’t always work out the way we plan.

We may not live happily ever after, once we leave the altar and we may not be the heavyweight champion of the world. Today’s guest was surprised to say the least, when her husband of a decade told her by text, that he wanted to leave.

She was devastated. She’s here to tell us all about the pain, the healing process and the lessons learned from her experience. She’s Lisa Arends, author of Lessons From the End of a Marriage: How I Found Happiness While Surviving Bigamy, Abandonment, and Deceit. Welcome to the show.

Lisa: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be on.

Dr. Gayl: Good morning.

Lisa: Good morning.

Frank: I’m going to read the very last page of your book. It’s the message that you would like to think he, your ex-husband has composed. Even if it’s unsent and you may never ever get it in the mail.

“Lisa, first I want to say how sorry I am. I never wanted this to happen to you, to us. My intent was never to hurt you. I started lying to protect you from some stupid decisions I’ve made.

I thought I could fix it, but it just got more out of control. I think that’s when the depression started. I know it’s when I started drinking too much. I got to the point where I didn’t know what was real and what was fabricated. I was lost and unfortunately I took you along on my dark ride. Our relationship was real. I’m sure you’ve wondered. It was very real. My love for you was real.

I told you once when we were teenagers that you saved me. I meant it. But I guess I was too far gone to be completely saved. I hope you’re happy and that you’ve been able to move on. I hope you found someone else who’s honest with you. You deserve it.

I’m still working on my problems. I’m seeing someone to help me with the lying and the drinking. It’s hard, but I’m making progress. I’m learning to take responsibility for what I’ve done.

Well, is your ex-husband a bad guy?

Lisa: You know when I was married to him. I saw him as all good. When he left, I saw him as all bad. And since then, I’ve come to understand that the truth is somewhere in the middle. Like all of us, he is a mixture of things, good and bad and more than bad, now that I’ve seen him as somebody who was hurting and lost. And instead of trying to get help, he tried to hide it.

Dr. Gayl: It certainly takes awhile until you get to that point. How long have you guys been divorced?

Lisa: It’s been four years next month since the text message.

Dr. Gayl: Okay. And how long do you think it took you to get to the point where he was lost, he needed help verses the anger?

Lisa: The worst of it for me as far as the anger’s concerned would have been that first year, especially because that was during a legal divorce process and everything. To really kind of get peace with it, probably took closer to two years.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Frank: Was he present during the legal divorce side of it?

Lisa: He actually did show up. So that was the only other time that I’ve ever seen him.

Dr. Gayl: And how was it when he showed up?

Lisa: That was interesting, because he left with a text message. I was out of town and by the time that I got back in, he was gone. And I never had any contact with him since. It was shocking to say the least, to see him, and it was actually strange. I passed him in the hallway before we went into the courtroom and I actually didn’t even recognize him.

Dr. Gayl: Wow.

Lisa: I was with the man for 16 years, walked by him and didn’t even recognize him.

Dr. Gayl: Wow.

Lisa: Yeah.

Frank: One of the things I discuss is, in my book, How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship, I believe that it’s a worthwhile conversation to have to every partner or in particular, the partner that you are really considering yourself, committed to, to discuss how you might break-up. Not so much how you might break-up, but how you have broken-up in the past, from previously partners. Because it’s quite revealing and that your partner will get as semblance of what your pattern might be with them.

Lisa: Right.

Frank: Any thoughts on that?

Lisa: I think it’s an interesting idea. I think it is a good pattern to look for. In my particular case, we were together from the time we were 16, so there really wasn’t that prior pattern that we could look to, because those were the young teenage relationships. But I know for sure, some other people that I’ve talked to, who were in relationships later or like with my partner that is differently something that I look at, because I do think it tells you a lot about a person and how they handle difficult conversations.

Dr. Gayl: It certainly does and hindsight is 20/20. I know you stated that you guys were together since 16.

Lisa: Right.

Dr. Gayl: Were there any other indications or any indications that you could have picked up on that maybe you missed?

Lisa: Oh, the big question. The main thing is I trusted him. And I trusted him, so I wasn’t looking for signs. But even then, the stereotypical red flags were not there and–

Frank: And those are what? What do you consider the stereotypical red flags?

Lisa: The working late, the being secretive. His phone and computer were always out, inaccessible; change in sex drive, all those sorts of things. None of that ever happened. And I know now, some of that, he was very deliberately misleading me and manipulating me. There was some of that. Really, there was nothing until the last couple of weeks. I had this sort of vague sense of unease, but I couldn’t pinpoint anything.

Frank: How would you have preferred to been broken-up with?

Lisa: In person. I remember when one of the reasons it made me so angry in the beginning is, he had switched jobs within the past year before he sent the text. And he quit his previous job in person. He had a one-on-one conversation with his employer. And I remember being so angry that his employer deserved that in-person conversation and I got a text.

I felt like he stole my voice, because we had literally never discussed divorce, ever. Hours before he sent the message that he was leaving, he was texting me that he loved me and missed me. So it was totally out of the blue. And then he never responded to me again. So my voice was stolen and it felt very unfair.

Dr. Gayl: Right. It sounds like it and you attempted to contact him and he just never responded?

Lisa: Oh, yeah. Never responded.

Dr. Gayl: And you guys didn’t speak to each other at the courtroom either?

Lisa: Uh-uh.

Dr. Gayl: Wow.

Lisa: That was the only contact. It was a little indirectly. He reached out to my mom, who happens to be a counselor. He reached out to her via text and they had a text conversation and I was in the room. But that was all I ever had.

Dr. Gayl: Is his pattern of behavior to be an indirect person or a passive person?

Lisa: No.

Frank: Tell us about him. Describe him, the person that he was before the break-up.

Lisa: The person he was. Okay.
Dr. Gayl: Right.

Lisa: He was a wonderful person. He was a very quick learner, very quick study in everything. And I was always so impressed with how capable he was with everything he did. He was friendly, spent hours one summer building a toy box for our neighbor’s kid. And he was just a really great guy. He was always so supportive of me and my projects and work and everything else. Very, very hard worker. Took pride in his work.

He seems like a great guy and even my mom said–we moved across the country right before we were married and my mom said, “I feel so safe with you with him. I know you’ll be okay.”

Frank: I’m going to tell you somewhere in the show, I’m going to tell you how unsafe I’d feel with feeling safe with anybody. We’ll get to that.

Dr. Gayl: Including his wife.

Frank: Did you have children?

Lisa: No.

Frank: And is it possible that he did love and miss you as he noted in the text that he sent you a few hours before the break-up text?

Lisa: I’ll never really know. And it’s one of those things I kind of have to make peace with what I can and so I choose to believe he did.

Frank: Nice.

Lisa: And I’ll never know.

Dr. Gayl: What makes you choose to believe he did, rather than not as his actions don’t seem like it showed that?

Lisa: Because, I think it’s part of what I’ve had to go through to reach a place where I’m not angry anymore. And originally I really thought he was doing this to hurt me. And what I’ve come to figure out is I think he did this in spite of me. So, he wasn’t trying to do it to me. Now he wasn’t thinking of me when he did it at all. I think it was just doing his own stuff and I was sort of collateral damage.

Frank: Well, how do you know he wasn’t thinking of you when he did it and how do you know up until that point that very point when he sent that text that he had not been thinking of you for all of those years when he may have been considering that up until that point?

Lisa: And I don’t know.

Frank: Yeah.

Lisa: I don’t and I never will. That’s the thing. That’s been one of the most difficult pieces I guess is, I will never know how much of me of that 16 years is real and that’s kind of an uncomfortable place to be. When I look back and I see that as a wonderful 16 years together and I don’t know if the whole thing was fabricated. I don’t know.

Frank: That seems like an unfair position to take. To everyone involved, to yourself, to him, because the 16 years were real when you were in them and–

Lisa: Right.

Frank: They only changed when they changed. Why would you question their validity, their realness, all of that good stuff?

Lisa: Because he essentially was living a double-life and I don’t know for how long. When he left I did some digging and found that at least for a few years he had been lying and deceptive and–like I said, a double-life. That’s the piece that causes me to question the reality.

Dr. Gayl: You noted double-life. Did he have another family?

Lisa: He did actually commit bigamy.

Dr. Gayl: Okay. How long?

Lisa: He married her six days after he left me, but they were together prior.

Frank: You were still legally married, so that’s–

Lisa: Very much so.

Frank: Yeah. I can see why you call it bigamy, but it doesn’t seem like the heart-wrenching bigamy in terms of being together for years where he leaves your house and goes to her house and you don’t know anything about her and their married and that sort of thing. It’s not quite that story.

Lisa: That was going on though. They just weren’t married yet.

Frank: Yes.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Lisa: They went on a pre-honeymoon while we were still together. I was told it was a work trip.

Dr. Gayl: Wow.

Lisa: So, yeah.

Dr. Gayl: Mrs. Arends, do you blame yourself or did you blame yourself, initially?

Lisa: There’s that piece of it, of course, of “How in the world, was he able to do this.” And I guess I’ve gotten away from blame, but I definitely have learned things from it. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is, there’s a difference between trust complacency and just because you–

Frank: What’s the difference?

Lisa: I guess with him I became complacent. I trusted him so much that I wasn’t aware anymore. Sort of the beginning of a relationship you’re more aware of everything. Just kind of checking things out, making sure everything fits. But after so long and after he passed so many trust tests, I just became complacent with that. And I thought that, because I had known him in the past, I knew him in the present and that was a mistake.

Now I’m much more consistently checking in I guess. Much more eyes wide open as to the present and realizing that people can change and to be aware of that.

Dr. Gayl: I found that if you know someone from your earlier life, like how you stated you guys knew each other since you were 16, you kind of get blinded by the person that they are currently. Do you feel like that happened with you?

Lisa: Quite possibly. Yes, quite possibly.

Frank: Trust verses complacency. It seems to me that trust basically requires less than complacency. So trust is really having absolutely no reason to believe a person is going to do x, y and z, is going to be monogamous. Is going to be whatever you’re thinking that they’re going to do. You have complete faith, which faith is synonymous with trust in the dictionary.

Complacency you have some pattern, you have a reason to think that they’re going to do it. You take it for granted. So when I hear you talk about trust verses complacence, I think you said that you grew complacent and the point you were making, you didn’t trust enough. Is that right?

Dr. Gayl: She trusted too much.

Lisa: Yeah, I trusted too much. Yeah, I trusted too much. In fact, I would even say I trusted him more than I trusted myself.

Dr. Gayl: Wow. Frank, what do you have to say about that?

Frank: Well, can you trust too much? The whole point in trusting, is to have–

Dr. Gayl: No, the point where she said she trusted herself more than she trusted him. Because you stated earlier that you wouldn’t give all your trust to someone else.

Frank: I didn’t say that.

Dr. Gayl: What did you say?

Frank: Well, I don’t know what I said, but I didn’t say that.

Dr. Gayl: We need to go back.

Lisa: Yeah, I did. I absolutely believe in trust and that was something that I have worked very hard to regain. However, I’m not going to say I trusted him too much, necessarily, but I don’t know how to put it. If I trusted him so much–

Dr. Gayl: It sounds like you’re saying that–

Lisa: That I wasn’t in reality.

Dr. Gayl: Yeah, it sounds like you’re saying that you trusted him so much that you didn’t look after him or you didn’t question anything that he stated. He didn’t need validation for anything basically, because you gave everything to him.

Lisa: Yeah and like I said, when we were married, I saw him as all good. I really did and so I couldn’t even phantom him doing these things.

Dr. Gayl: And the thing is that’s a good thing in relationships. It’s a good thing to be vulnerable and it’s a good thing to trust people. Where the difficulty lies is that, when the trust tarnished, like it was with you. And then, you have to regroup and you have to figure out, “How am I going to get past this and what type of person am I going to be in a new relationship?”

Lisa: Exactly.

Frank: But trust doesn’t get tarnished. Trust just doesn’t work out the way you thought it would work out.

Dr. Gayl: Trust does get tarnished.

Frank: No.

Dr. Gayl: It does.

Frank: In many concepts it does, but it’s like saying, water is wet. Trust is vulnerable. That’s just what it is. You can’t be too vulnerable. The whole point in being vulnerable is you might get hurt. Well, it’s not you’re going to be vulnerable. If you get hurt you were too vulnerable. No, that came with the territory and that was just the result.

Dr. Gayl: Right. But what I’m saying is, when people violate your trust, it does cause the trust to be tarnished, because then you do pull back and you aren’t as vulnerable as you were before.

Frank: Go on Mrs. Arends.

Lisa: I was going to say, it was very hard to be willing to be vulnerable again, because after being hurt that badly, there was differently that instinct of, “I want to build a wall and I’m living behind it and I’m not letting anybody in.”

Dr. Gayl: Right and–

Lisa: Because that was the trouble–is overcoming that.

Dr. Gayl: Right. And oftentimes, in our society, we do have an individual “me, me, me” type of point of view and people do have difficulty being open. Oftentimes people are very guarded, because they know if they can trust you with their feelings or with their emotions.

You might tell someone else or it might go on social media or “Is it going to leave this room?” So, there’s a difficulty.
Lisa: Right.

Frank: Trust–if you don’t get what you were expecting, if you don’t get what you wanted to occur from being trusting and you’re disappointed, you basically weren’t trusting.

It’s like if I think you’re not going to steal my dollar. If I put my dollar on the table and walk away and I’m trusting that no one will pick it up, well then, if it’s gone when I get back and I’m disappointed or angry or any of that, I wasn’t really trusting.

Dr. Gayl: I don’t want to beat this dead horse, but you’re completely wrong. Mrs. Arends just stated that she was completely open, she was vulnerable, she trusted her husband even more than she trusted herself and yet she got hurt.

Frank: Okay. Mrs. Arends or Lisa, can we call you?

Lisa: Absolutely.

Frank: What was your concept around relationships as a little girl? Tell me about the story you told yourself and you can chime in also, Dr. Gayl.

Dr. Gayl: Oh, thank you for letting me chime in. I’m so glad you gave me that permission, Frank.

Lisa: I actually didn’t have the fairytale kind of relationship idea. And I think part of that I’m a child of divorce. My parents divorced when I was in elementary school and I grew up with my mom. I knew the downside, I guess you could say or the risks associated with relationships. And I had several experiences as a teenager that caused me to grow up pretty quickly and I never have that naïve sort of view of it.

Frank: Let’s hear about one of those experiences.

Lisa: I actually had 13 friends die in a three and a half year period.

Dr. Gayl: Oh, my gosh.

Lisa: Yeah and–

Dr. Gayl: That’s very traumatic.

Lisa: It is. It is. It’ll differently impact you. And that was a period when I was dating my ex-husband and that experience really brought us closer together, especially to because some of the more common friends and–

Dr. Gayl: Do you feel like those experiences caused you to–you said it brought you closer together, but do you feel like it caused you to look the blind eye and kind of lean on him more?

Lisa: It caused us both to lean on each other more. It really did. It’s almost developed an “us against the world” situation, because we were constantly being bombarded by things. So we did really rely on each other.

Dr. Gayl: Do you think you relied on each other or was it more dependency?
Lisa: I don’t think it was dependency. That’s something I’ve looked back at to check and it really wasn’t. It was more a reliance–sometimes to the exclusion of others, but not a dependency.

Frank: What was your story when you left the altar as a beautiful bride, dressed in white? What did you expect to happen after that?

Lisa: I really expected the status quo. At that point we had already been together six years and really marriage didn’t change much for us and I really wasn’t expecting it to. I just wanted us to continue to grow and change and move on. At that point we were young and starting careers. We were just excited about that. We bought a house and put so much work into that. We had always been a great team and I just looked forward to more of the same.

Dr. Gayl: How old were you when you got married?

Lisa: Twenty-two.

Dr. Gayl: Okay. Any break-up or any divorce is devastating, do you think it was more devastating, because you guys knew each other for such a long time and you were married or had been together for 16 years verses if it was a short one, two year stint?

Lisa: Yeah. I think there’s definitely differences. It’s always heartbreak. It’s always traumatic. For me, it was a shock, because I had spent literally half my life with him at that point. And my entire adult life. And so, I really had to do some work to figure out who I was, apart from him, because that’s all I knew, really, was life with him.

Dr. Gayl: Maybe I’m projecting my feelings onto you, but Frank would probably think that I am, but I’m waiting for him to say so, but–

Frank: Silence.

Dr. Gayl: Right. But were you angry that–as you stated, you had given your whole adult life to this person, to this man, that “Wow, at twenty something or thirty something, now I have to pick up and start fresh and start new and how do you do that?”

Lisa: Furious. I was in a career that I chose, because of him. I had moved across the country, because of him. And those were decisions that when we were together, I was completely fine with, but then when he just disappeared, it was like, “Uh-uh, not okay.” There was a lot of anger. In fact, that was probably the driving emotion that I had for the first year.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

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You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Lisa Arends, the author of Lessons from the End of a Marriage. After using her own sudden divorce three years ago as a catalyst for positive change, she now helps people navigate their own divorces. Please tell our guests how they can find you and your book.

Lisa: My book is available on Amazon and you can find me at lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com

Frank: You said that you moved because of him and your career was because of him. I want to challenge you on that.

Lisa: Sure.

Frank: In relationships, we do whatever we do, because of us. We may take a given career, it could be related to the relationship that we have with our partners or we may live somewhere or buy a certain house, because it’s related to the relationship we have with our partners or it’s influenced by it. But ultimately the reason we do what we do is, because it benefits us in some form or fashion, and it benefits us first and foremost.

So, the career you take, that you took–which I’m going to ask you about, I’m curious about that story, what it was and how that shook out–but ultimately you did it, because you wanted to. And you moved to be where ever you moved to in the country, ultimately because you wanted to.

Now, it could have been, because he got another job or it could’ve been, because the career-side, it could be, because that was the only thing you could find in that area. But ultimately you did that because you wanted to and it’s possible that you wanted to, because you wanted to be with him. Please.

Lisa: Yeah, and that’s so true. I moved, because I wanted to be with him and the career choice was really for the benefit of the relationship with the factors that were in play at the time.

Frank: I don’t hear you really disagreeing with me. I’m almost disappointed. You said you did some digging. Let’s hear about it.

Lisa: Yeah.

Frank: Why did you dig?

Dr. Gayl: Why wouldn’t she dig?

Lisa: Exactly. I’m out one hour, thinking I have a great marriage and then I get a text that he’s gone and I come home and he’s locked the dogs in the basement and cleaned out his office.

Dr. Gayl: Wow.

Lisa: Yeah. I’m doing digging. And he took all his financial records with him too, which was another little red flag there.

Dr. Gayl: Wow.

Lisa: Yeah, I did some digging. The financial stuff was extremely scary. He’d been lying to me for years on that and was really not in a good position. That was really where I think the deceptions began, was with financial stuff, and I could see a lot of desperation as he was trying to hide things and no longer could.

That was the first thing that I discovered. And then, I was able, because of the way our email addresses were hooked up, I could get his junk email–and let me actually back up just a second. I never snooped. I was never the kind of person to go behind him or check his emails or any of that.

Dr. Gayl: Definitely. You stated that you trusted him more than you trust yourself.

Lisa: Yeah.

Dr. Gayl: So, why would you even snoop?

Lisa: Exactly. It never even crossed my mind. But at that point, I was like, “I need to know what’s going on.” So, looking in his junk emails, I was able to figure out where he was. He was in a different state and I could see evidence of an affair. And I also could see that in the account statements, where I could then tell that the business trips that he’d been on for the last several months, were not business-related. My paycheck went to buy a ring. More about that later.

Dr. Gayl: Oh, my gosh.

Lisa: Things like that. Yeah, and at that point I decided not to do anymore digging. It was like, “I have enough of the picture, more details aren’t going to help me.” He was moving forward with the divorce by publication, because I didn’t know exactly where he was.

And that’s when I got the email. It was actually kind of funny. It was an email that was in his junk mailbox to him that which from a band in the city where he moved to and they were complaining, because they hadn’t yet received the check for the wedding.

Lisa: And my heart kind of stopped. And that’s when I found out that he had committed felony bigamy. And the ring that was purchased was her wedding ring–her engagement ring.

Frank: You said that the details at some point were no longer helpful. Well, were the details ever helpful?

Lisa: Not the details so much, but of just the big picture of, “Okay, at least I know what went on.” But I never have gone back to really dig into the details, because it’s pointless.

Dr. Gayl: Yeah, kind of like for what?

Lisa: Yeah, it’s past. If it was a situation where there was infidelity and trying to make the relationship work, perhaps then some of the details might be important, but in my situation where it’s over and he’s gone, I really don’t care.

Dr. Gayl: I do wonder though–I don’t know if you have, but I just wonder if his new wife knows about you and him.

Lisa: Yes. He was arrested and while he was being questioned and while he was in jail, she and I actually had a conversation.

Dr. Gayl: What was that like?

Lisa: Really interesting. She had no idea about me. I had no animosity towards her at all. She was conned, completely and totally. He had already maxed another credit card in her name. Had told her all sorts of fabrications and at that point, she was scared. While he was in jail, she found a life insurance policy that he was in the process of taking out on her and pieces of paper where he was practicing forging her signature.

Frank: Whoa.

Dr. Gayl: Wow.

Lisa: Yeah and they were supposed to be going to Uganda in a couple months, because she was Ph.D. student and did work there. And I remember her saying to me, “Thank you so much, Lisa, for figuring this out. I don’t think I would’ve made it out of Uganda alive.”

But then, he was released from jail. He was bonded out and he actually attempted suicide that next night and texted the other wife. And she said when he was in the hospital after the suicide attempt, she actually elected to go back with him. I don’t know if they’re together today but at the time of our divorce, they still were together.

Dr. Gayl: Wow. You noted in the letter that Frank read initially at the beginning of the show, that you would like for him to have read to you. You noted drinking problems. Did he have a substance abuse issue?

Lisa: That I figured out afterwards. I saw signs of it after he had left as I was digging through stuff in the basement. And in the text conversation, I mentioned that he had with my mom, he admitted to it. But he did a great job of hiding it.

Frank: I want to probe something.

Lisa: Sure.

Frank: Back to the details. And I truly question whether any of us need details when it comes to a break-up.

Lisa: Right.

Frank: If our partner says that they don’t want to be with us anymore, I find it enough to just know that. I’m not sure what the really useful benefit of getting details or whatever the case maybe are.

Now, I use that as an intro to something else that’s been on my mind for quite a while and it has to do with death. I’m curious about–most of us when we find out someone died, we want to know what happened. Was it homicide? Was it a heart attack? What happened?

I’m interested in playing with the concept around not knowing. How we would feel and how incomplete or complete would we feel if we didn’t know how our partner died or how our parents or any one in our life died. We just knew that they died. Would we be less traumatized if it was a homicide? Would we be what? What are your thoughts, Lisa?

Lisa: I think it’s an important piece of closure of knowing at least some piece of the why. I think it’s sort of a gray area. Again, that big picture, I think, is important but, maybe not the details. So going with the death, maybe it’s helpful to know that it was a homicide, but “I don’t need to see the crime scene photos.”

And the same kind of thing with the end of my marriage, it was so sudden and I was left in complete shock. I needed to understand something, but I didn’t need to see the exact details.

Dr. Gayl: And if not for nothing, having details and knowing why, that helps you learn and that helps you grow from a situation. If you don’t know why something happened and you continue to do the same thing and have the same behavior pattern that you had before.

Lisa: Right.

Frank: I’m not sure if that’s true, but it’s something that I’m playing with.

Dr. Gayl: For instance, if your partner says, “I can’t do this any longer” and let’s say your issue is, you’re not a great communicator and you don’t ask why, then you never know. You continue to think that the way that you communicated and interact with people, is okay or the way that you act with your partner is okay. And you would never know how to change it. You would never know that it needs to change.

Frank: I don’t think that’s necessarily true. If your partner tells you that you weren’t a good communicator, you may begin to look at your communication. But if your partner doesn’t tell you anything, you may look at everything and you may take a more broad approach to finding where you could have done something different.

Dr. Gayl: Right. But that’s like finding a needle in a haystack. I would rather know, “What is the specific thing that I need to work on,” verses attempting to try to conquer everything at one time. That is a waste of time and sometimes it’s not very beneficial.

Frank: But we’re not talking about a need to do anything. If your partner tells you that you were a bad communicator, there’s still not a need for you to work on your communication. You may very well say, “It was just our chemistry,” and you might not do anything about your type of communication. So, we’re not really talking about a need.

Dr. Gayl: If you want the relationship to work and this is where you want to be and you’re saying–unlike you Frank–most people when they get into relationships and marriages, they don’t go into it with a contract. It’s forever. Most people. Sometimes they want it to work out forever.

Frank: Maybe not. It could unconsciously. Consciously, it could be the case. Unconsciously, many people may have a different understanding.

Dr. Gayl: Let’s just go with face value. So, face value they go into it thinking that it’s going to last forever and they want it to last forever. And if you come to me and say, “Hey, I don’t think we’re communicating great or you’re communicating great. This is what I need, in order for this relationship to work.” Wherein, if you just come and say, “I’m done and I can’t deal any longer.” You leave me thinking, “Well, what the heck? What happened?”

Lisa: I think that’s an important point, because one of the things that made me so angry is, I was never given a chance to fight for my marriage. I never knew that he had a problem with anything. It was just over.

Frank: But there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, because all it takes is one partner to end a relationship. It takes two to begin one and one to end.

Lisa: Yeah.

Frank: So, he was, presumably, incredibly clear when it was over and so there was nothing for you to “fight” for. He was done.

Dr. Gayl: I completely disagree, Frank, because you may not even know that one person that the other person wants to fight for or they even care about what the issue is or what your problem is, because of their behavior pattern.

They could be non-communicators or horrible communicators or whatever your issue may be and you think this has been their behavior pattern all along or they would never change. But if you bring the situation or the issue to them, quite possibly they maybe willing to fight for it.

Frank: But look at the psychology around the issue.

Dr. Gayl: Okay, look at the psychology around the issue.

Frank: If I come to you with an issue and talk to you about it and we have a conversation there is room for negotiation, communication, that sort of thing.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Frank: If I come to you and tell you, “We’re done. I’m not talking to you about what my issue was, my problem was.” I am a 100 percent clear. So, with the first example, there’s not necessarily clarity.

There’s possibility for negotiation. If I say to you, “I’m done and walk away,” and I never look back. Well, you were a 100 percent clear and I was a 100 percent clear. We were done. There was no room for communication. There’s nothing wrong with that level of clarity. I liked to hear Lisa’s thoughts on that.

Lisa: I guess my thing though is, I don’t think it was a moment of clarity so much as that’s when he finally reached that point, that he had spent years building up to that and intentionally hit it. And that, to me, is the part that is not okay.

Because I was kept in the dark about it, where not only could we not have any conversation about it, but I also feel badly, because he was hurting and I couldn’t help him, because I didn’t know that he was hurting, because he didn’t let me see that.

Dr. Gayl: And really, do people just up and do anything without a plan?

Lisa: Right.

Dr. Gayl: Although he ended abruptly with you, he still had a plan B–

Lisa: Oh, yes he did.

Dr. Gayl: And his plan B was to go on and live his life productively with his new wife.

Lisa: Right.

Dr. Gayl: Although he’s like, “I’m done. I’m done with this relationship. Forget about Lisa. He still had other things in mind to where he was going on with his life after that relationship.” And that’s what doesn’t make it fair.

Lisa: Let’s just say that all the deceptions started five years prior. If he had come to me at that five years prior time and said, This isn’t working for whatever reasons. I need to go.” I would have been devastated, but I would have let him go. And the part that’s so hard to wrap my head around is the fact that he kept lying and deceiving and doing so much that was very destructive in those five years before saying he was gone.

Dr. Gayl: Right Lisa. So, Frank let me ask you–since you’ve been asking Lisa and I questions–let me ask you, do you think that it’s fair that he’s so abruptly just sent her a text message no less, “That this is over that the relationship is done. I’m going out the exit door?” Do you think that was okay?

Frank: Yes, and the reason is–it goes back to what I was talking about earlier in terms of safety. I said we were going to get to this. There’s no safety in relationships. If you’re truly immersed in your relationship, if you’re in a relationship, you realize, there’s no safety. And to go hand-in-hand with that, there’s no fairness.

You get to be who you are and your partner gets to be who they are and you each get to want whatever it is, you want when you want it. And as long as you all are working, your chemistry’s working, you’re together and as soon as one of you believes it’s not working or wants to use the exit door that you just noted, you use it and the exit door–

Lisa: How does the deception fall into that?

Frank: The deception is actually a symptom. And if you really look at truth and deception and those kind of concepts, people are deceptive only when they’re not comfortable telling you the truth. And so, if you really look at the make-up and the nuts and bolts of your relationship, there was something going on where he was not comfortable telling you the truth.

Dr. Gayl: Exactly, and that’s my point. There was that something that made him uncomfortable and like Lisa just stated, had he approached her with that five years earlier, rather than take it 10 years and he developed a whole new relationship, a whole new life and then just leaves her high and dry, then maybe it could have been some reconciliation or maybe she could have done some altering or maybe they could have worked it out. Or maybe Lisa could have been like, “Okay, I agree. Let’s leave, this isn’t working.” But the thing is and what’s deceptive about it is, he already had a plan. He didn’t give her an option. She had no option.

Frank: That’s a part of relationships-and were talking about fairness–

Dr. Gayl: Actually that’s not a part of relationships. Number one, I just want to make it clear that I would never be in a relationship with you, but the thing in my point of view–and I think that this is what most people think–when you’re in a relationship, you are working at it together and whether that’s a friendship or whether it’s a partnership in business or whether it’s a romantic relationship, you are working at it together. Otherwise, “Go do you alone and I’m going to be okay by myself being single, having my own company or what have you.” Why interrupt someone else? Why interact and have an interpersonal relationship with someone else, if you’re still going to do your own thing?

Frank: God Lisa, you got to excuse us. The thing is, you say, there’s so many rich pieces of what you just said.

Dr. Gayl: Just pick one.

Frank: Alright. You would never be in a relationship with me.

Dr. Gayl: Ever.

Frank: Hogwash.

Dr. Gayl: Ever.

Frank: You’re in a relationship with me right now.

Dr. Gayl: And it is not working out.

Frank: We come together–

Dr. Gayl: It’s not working out.

Frank: Each week and create a–

Dr. Gayl: And we argue

Frank: A radio show and the audience presumably enjoys it.

Dr. Gayl: Allegedly.

Frank: You even saying that is hogwash.

Dr. Gayl: Makes my blood pressure go up.

Frank: Add to that you’re talking about fairness and with the fairness that you’re talking about, basically you’re telling your partner or you’re telling me about your partner that you have certain rules that you expect him to–

Dr. Gayl: No rules.

Frank: Yes, there are rules. You’ve actually noted what they were. You talked about all the things that he did and should’ve have done, deception all of that kind of stuff. And basically, these are your rules.

Dr. Gayl: If you’re not going–

Frank: Not his rules.

Dr. Gayl: Frank–

Frank: Because he didn’t do them.

Dr. Gayl: If you’re not going to work cohesive unit, why even be together? What’s the point?

Frank: They were a cohesive unit for as long as they were together. They worked, because it was working.

Dr. Gayl: They weren’t really a cohesive unit, because he had created–
Lisa: He was *(inaudible) 49:35.

Dr. Gayl: A relationship outside of their marriage. On the side, I could see if he had brought Lisa in and said “Hey, I have this other woman, I have this other relationship and this is what we’re going to do. I’m going to leave you in five years. I’m going to take all the bank money and do this, do that and the other.” However, he was deceptive.

Frank: Lisa–

Dr. Gayl: He did not do that.

Frank: Lisa. I’m tired of hearing both of us talk. Ask yourself a question and answer the question for me, please.

Lisa: What I was going to say is, the piece to me–as far as you’re saying about rules–a lot of what he did with the finances, if we had not been married, it would be fraud. And that’s the piece to me–just that basic decency. The journey with any relationship-again, not even just marriage with a business partner–if we had been business partners and he did those same things to me, he’d be in jail right now for that or there’d be another warrant out for him for that.

Dr. Gayl: Right.

Lisa: That’s the piece. The things he did are not okay, not just in the context of a marriage, but just in our society’s contract. That’s the piece to me that’s the bigger piece, I guess I would say.

Dr. Gayl: Even if your work–I’m sorry Lisa, go ahead.

Lisa: Go ahead. Go ahead.

Dr. Gayl: Even if you have a school project together and you have to work in groups, if one person doesn’t do their part and then the whole group fails.

Lisa: Right.

Frank: That’s a forced group.

Lisa: Right.

Frank: That presumably. That’s a group that you’re teacher told you to get in.

Dr. Gayl: It doesn’t matter. It’s still a group, Frank and when you work as a group and when you work as a cohesive unit, every person has to do their part. One person can’t decide, “Yo, I’m out. I’m done. This isn’t working for me. I really don’t like this group topic that the teacher gave me. I don’t like that we have to work together on our finances for a work relationship.” It doesn’t work. And if one day I say, “You know what, Frank? The heck with this. I don’t like working with you then that’s not fair–“

Frank: It is fair.

Dr. Gayl: I said, I would think that, that’s not fair either, because you’re leaving the other person high and dry.

Frank: Lisa please it’s all yours.

Lisa: I was going to say, even worse though, would be saying that you’re doing it and not doing it. And that’s what he did. He said that he was doing these things. He said that he felt a certain way, but his actions didn’t follow that.

Dr. Gayl: And then, when you talk about being vulnerable, how do you expect someone to continue to be vulnerable in a relationship that is built on lies and deceit? So, that goes back to the thing where I said earlier, Frank, where trust is tainted. That’s how trust is tainted, when I am being vulnerable and I’m being open, but you aren’t.

Lisa: Right.

Frank: But it’s not tainted. It’s an opportunity. The whole point, the opportunity is to trust and to have faith in the midst of difficult circumstances. It doesn’t mean anything for me to trust that it’s going to be hot in the desert during the day. That’s meaningless. There’s too much proof there. It means something for me to trust that it’s going to snow in the desert. There is absolutely no evidence in this country of that happening. That is trust. Lisa, you have anything?

Lisa: I’m just curious, has your trust ever been betrayed?

Dr. Gayl: Whoa. Lisa, love it. Ding, ding, ding. Answer it, Frank.

Frank: There’s several answers. One, I have felt as though my trust was betrayed at a given time.

Lisa: Okay.

Frank: And in retrospect, it wasn’t.

Dr. Gayl: What makes you say it wasn’t, though?

Frank: Because I look back on what trust is, it wasn’t betrayed. It just–when I develop a different understanding–

Dr. Gayl: So you reframed it, but a normal person would have stated– and even you at the time it felt like your trust was betrayed.

Frank: Yes.

Dr. Gayl: Okay

Frank: And?

Dr. Gayl: And there it is. Yes, your trust has been betrayed.

Frank: No, that’s not the case. It’s like saying, “Was I ever taken advantage of or bullied?” Well, I may have thought that at the time, but I went home and my dad said, “Hey, you can go back out there and knock him. He hit you, you hit him back.” After that, I didn’t feel bullied. It’s not just as simple as you make it.

Dr. Gayl: No, just because you’re able to reframe and think differently about a situation in the past, doesn’t mean that it changed your initial feeling about it.

Frank: We’ve–

Dr. Gayl: So if initially you felt that you–

Frank: I said initially. I did feel that way.

Dr. Gayl: Okay, so then you have been.

Frank: But that wasn’t the end of the conversation. Initially, I felt that way. Later on I didn’t. Which one am I going to pick? I’m going to pick the latter. Okay.

Dr. Gayl: The question wasn’t which one were you going to pick. The question was, “Have you ever?” And yes you have.

Frank: I heard the question–

Dr. Gayl: So.

Frank: I gave an answer.

Dr. Gayl: Okay. Because we’re limited on time Lisa, I’m not going to go deeper than that, but I’m going to get you another date, Frank.

Frank: Bigamy.

Lisa: I like what you said about reframing that. You’re right on it right there.

Frank: Bigamy.

Lisa: Yes.

Frank: Did you press charges?

Lisa: Well, it wasn’t for me to do. It was criminal. So, the state pressed charges.

Frank: But they would’ve only known about it, by virtue of you telling them.

Lisa: Correct.

Frank: So, I assume you had something to do with that.

Lisa: Yes, I contacted the police.

Frank: Okay. How did you deal with the gossip or the rumors that ensued? The chitchat between friends, old friends, family, and all that good stuff?

Lisa: First, I was very lucky to have an extremely supportive group around me. So, there really wasn’t a lot of gossip and rumors that I had to deal with. And in fact, my friends kind of handled a lot of it for me without me even knowing. Bt one of the things I did, was I called them “reality anchors” around me. Especially in this early months when everything was crazy and I felt like I’d been catapulted in the Days of Our Lives.

I kept a newspaper article and his mug shot in my purse, so that it was like, “Is this real?” I would pull it out and be like, “Okay, yeah. It’s real.”

Frank: And it’s real.

Lisa: Yeah, it was real. It was real. This is really happening.

Dr. Gayl: And Lisa, even though your family, you stated they were able to protect you, oftentimes we have our own ingrained shamefulness and feelings of shame. Did you have that?

Lisa: Oh, yeah. Differently, differently. One of just plain-old being divorced; that wasn’t something that ever wanted. And just when people find out that I’m divorced and they don’t know anything. There’s assumptions made about me. Of course, I must have given up too easily, whatever.

Dr. Gayl: Right. I don’t know if you do now, since it’s been quite some time, but did you or maybe you still do feel like you had to explain and you had to tell the story of how it happened?

Lisa: Absolutely. Yeah, I definitely did.

Frank: Why? Why not just we “broke up,” wasn’t working out?

Lisa: Part of it in the beginning is I was still trying to make sense of the story myself and part of that was telling it again and again and that also helped to lessen the impact on me. Because, in the beginning when I would tell it, I was reliving it and the more I tell it the less it triggers to the point now where it’s matter-of-fact. That was a piece of it. But it was also the fact that everybody else was as in shock as I was.

Just saying, “We broke up,” nobody would have taken that at face value, because if it didn’t make sense based on what we all knew and understood.

Frank: Speaking of everybody else, mutual friends. Often when we get married, my friends become her friends, her friends become my friends, kind of. What’s the story with your relationship with those mutual friends now, from his side and from your side?

Lisa: All the mutual friends sort of the divvied up. There’s nobody who’s friends with both of us as being currently.

Frank: Wow.

Lisa: Yes. I don’t even know where he is.

Frank: I find that to be telling in just a relationship dynamics. It’s interesting to watch people who are able and want, actually nurture friendships with themselves and their ex’s. When they want you as a friend, “Hey Lisa, I want you to be a friend to me, but I want you to be a friend with my ex too. I don’t want you to feel as though you have to take sides or any positioning of that nature.”

Dr. Gayl: Well, it also depends on how the relationship ended.

Frank: No, it doesn’t.

Dr. Gayl: Yes, it does. Yes, it does.

Lisa: In my case, he left the state. So he just exited stage left. And I don’t know if he’s still friends with any of his former friends or not, because he disappeared. So, I don’t have any concept of that anymore and I haven’t tried to find out. But he left the state. He just walked out.

Frank: Okay. What were the lessons you learned from this experience?

Lisa: Oh, my goodness, there are so many. I guess, the biggest lesson that I learned is this, my biggest fear in life was always losing him and that was followed closely by financial ruin. And that one text message I was facing both of my biggest fears at once and I survived. Not only survived, but in every way, I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. So that was a big lesson for me is not to let my fears drive my life.

Frank: Is there a current relationship?

Lisa: Yes, there is.

Frank: Romantic relationship? Let’s hear about it.

Lisa: Yes. He came into the picture about a year after and–

Frank: Is he good looking?

Lisa: Yes.

Dr. Gayl: You can tell how she said it. She’s like “yes.”

Lisa: Yes, he is. And it’s been very different and very good. It’s interesting with my ex, things were always easy with us, like we communicated easily, we never got into arguments. It was just easy. But part of that I think was that, we never learned how difficult conversations that were about interpersonal things, because we never had them. Where with this relationship, there have been issues over the years that we had to deal with and had to work through and we’ve done that successfully. And I’m so thankful for the difficulties, because it means that I know we can talk through those things and work those things.

Dr. Gayl: Would you ever get married again?

Lisa: Yes, in fact, I’m engaged.

Dr. Gayl: Congratulations.

Lisa: Thank you.

Frank: Tell me about one of those issues that you guys worked through.

Lisa: One of them is that, I can sometimes be not assertive enough–like when a conversation needs to happen and I can let it sit for too long. And then, if I do bring it up, I’m not always good about bringing it up at the right time. And so, what he came up with–and I thought this was a brilliant idea–we have two candles that just sit in the dining room, one blue, one white and if I have something that I feel like I need to bring up, I just put the white candle out and he does the same thing with the blue. And then, it’s up to the other person to go to the partner who put out the candle.

It helps me be more assertive, but then it also means he can choose when he comes to me within reason. He always does it quickly, but it means it’s not right and he when he’s trying to solve some problem with work or something else. And the other thing I found is, that it helps both of us get in the right frame of mind so the conversation starts out on the right foot.

Instead of starting out where maybe I’ve held it in too long and then I’m lashing out in frustration, I’m able to start it at the right time and he’s in the right frame. And then vice versa, he tends to use the candle when he’s overwhelmed and needs a little bit of space. And it’s perfect, because with that, it means I don’t take it personally. It’s just that, “I need a break.” “Okay. We’re good.”

Frank: You haven’t presented this as a suggestion, but it sounds like a good one.

Dr. Gayl: Yeah.

Lisa: Yeah, it’s great.

Dr. Gayl: Good therapeutic technique for couples.

Lisa: Yeah.

Frank: You said you’re doing–what is it? You’re helping people navigate through their own divorce. Is there a coaching component to what you do?

Lisa: Yeah, I’m actually a wellness coach, so I primarily work with more of the health and moment’s piece. But I find that a lot of people, after they’ve entered some major transitions in their life, that’s when they’re looking for that. And so, just because of my experience and what I write about, I end up with a lot of clients who are post-divorce, where they’re passed the initial emotional trauma and they’re in that rebuild phase of “What am I going to do now with my life?”

Frank: You’re listening to Frank Relationships. We’ve been talking with Lisa Arends, the author of Lessons from the End of a Marriage.

After using her own sudden divorce three years ago as a catalyst for positive change, she now helps people navigate their own divorces. One more time, please tell our listeners how they can find out more about you and your work.

Lisa: You can find my book on Amazon and you can find me and how to contact me on my website at lessonsfromtheendofamarriage.com

Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed bigamy, lessons learned and safety. I hope you’ve had as much fun as I’ve learning the lessons of the end of a marriage with Lisa Arends. I’m certainly grateful for the opportunity and the information.

As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook/relationshipflove, on Twitter @mrfranklove or at franklove.com. On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette and my assistant producer, Anayza Stewart, keep rising. This is Frank Love.

END OF TRANSCRIPT

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