Was She Right to Spend $45,000 of Her and Her Husband’s Money to Collect $5k From Her Ex?
The problem with revenge.
Every once in a while, there’s an intriguing story on Reddit that’s fun to talk about and captures a larger vibe in our society at the same time. This is one such story and it’s a doozy:
The only good thing about my (45F) ex boyfriend is that he's the dad of my two kids (16F, 13F).
We split 10 years ago (never married). I started a wedding planning business shortly after we got together and hired him as an office manager.
That is when the full force of his narcissism came to light. Basically he lied about his previous work experience, (used) the credit card I gave him for business expenses as his own piggy bank, flirted with other women, was a destructive vindictive employee. I will take responsibility - I jumped into owning my business and made mistakes. Did not know what was important or how to strategize.
The business went bankrupt, and our relationship blew up. I sued him for property destruction and conversion (basically the civil version of saying he stole from me), among other things.
He humiliated me by saying I was sexually harassing him. I was eventually awarded an amount that is around $5k today, factoring in interest. I thought I won because he had filed bankruptcy before and could not for many years.
He then started this game of chicken with me and I felt like I needed justice. Especially because the cops refused to charge him for all he's done.
He has been whack a mole ever since. At first he would quit jobs once we found out he was working there. He worked under the table for a while, lived off another girlfriend and then moved to a state where you couldn't garnish wages.
I have spent countless hours with expensive lawyers first fighting the case, which he dragged out, plus on chasing him around, throwing around subpoenas. My ex has since developed a false sense of security and had been working openly.
I told my husband I wanted to get him to pay up before he files bankruptcy or spends all his money. He was upset because outside of the first $10k I spent fighting this, $25k was our money. But legally if I could just get my ex I'd get collection costs out of him.
After I put down a $5k retainer my ex quit his job and I realized we needed a PI to help gather information.
The retainer has all been spent. I get this sounds insane, but it is the principle for me- made years of my life horrible.
Yet my previously supportive husband said that I am one of the heads of our household and every leader has to understand war is expensive and at times the cure is worse than the disease.
He said my ex will never make me financially whole, and that he did not want our money to keep funding this. I was furious and we lapsed into a screaming match and asked him to leave for the night.
I could not believe he was withdrawing support. We make $80k a year, are frugal, but what was the point of money if it wasn't used for things we value. But now the investigation was bearing fruit. But I just wrote another check for $5k and anticipate having to write a third one. The check's funds came from transferring from our savings account. My husband is furious for that and said I was setting a bad example for the girls. AITA for needing justice for the pain he caused me?
Let’s just recap the situation here, to make sure we’re all on the same page.
First of all, she started a business and hired a guy she had just started dating to be an important part of it. If anyone doesn’t understand why this is obviously a horrible idea, you probably should not start a business. She seems to imply that she figured out that he was a disaster pretty quickly, but how does that jive with the fact that she had two kids with him who are three years apart?
According to her, this guy is apparently a narcissist who lied about his previous work experience, stole money from her, was a terrible employee, and went bankrupt, BUT they pumped out not one, but TWO babies together. So, she may try to play it off like this is all business, but you have to think there’s a big personal element to it.
In any case, when the business and their relationship blew up, she sued her ex-boyfriend who had fathered two of her children. Things got nasty and she won less than $5k. Maybe significantly less than $5k, since it was 10 years ago and she notes she was, “Awarded an amount that is around $5k today, factoring in interest.”
That was a decade ago and the legal action is STILL going on.
For reasons unknown, some poor sap looked at a maniacal, bitter, single mom with two kids fighting a years-long grudge match with her ex and said, “I think I want to chain myself to this anchor.”
Now, her obsession with punishing her ex-boyfriend at any cost is causing serious problems in her current marriage because she’s burning through more than half of what she and her husband make in a year to try to claw back $5,000.
This is not a small thing. In fact, I personally know of not one, but TWO men who have divorced their wives over crazy spending like this – and this may even be worse. Not only is she blowing through their savings, she is also yelling at him and demanding he leave the house for even trying to drag her kicking and screaming back to sanity.
This whole thing reminds me of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where the Enterprise is limping away after defeating Kahn’s ship, and Kahn, outraged, sets off the self-destruct sequence in hopes of destroying them in the blast. Then he spouts off that famous line from, Moby Dick: “To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee.”
Everyone understands the impulse to pay back people who have wronged us. Not only does it “even the score,” making people pay for hurting us discourages other people from trying the same thing.
On a personal note, when a business treats me poorly or screws me over, my goal is always to write a review that’s so devastating that it costs them 10 times more in business than it would have to just make me happy.
On top of that, when a person treats me poorly, I don’t mind a dogfight at all and, if we get to the point where I conclude you’re a bad person, you better be sure you never need anything from me again because you won’t be getting it.
But do I hate those people? Nope. Do I spend a lot of time thinking about them? Uh-uh. Do I even make every effort to give those people the benefit of the doubt and just forgive them for a lot of things, some of which they may not deserve? Yes, I do.
Because being consumed with revenge, hating people, and being obsessed with one-upping people who’ve wronged you hurts you far more than it does them.
This woman has been out of a relationship with this man for a decade and she’s STILL obviously thinking about him all the time, angry at him and so determined to get revenge she’s spending money she doesn’t have and probably doing real damage to her marriage – and to what end? If she finally “wins,” what prize is worth that much of her life and her money?
This is worth noting because this is increasingly a way a lot of people interested in politics view the world. The number of people on social media who have allowed themselves to become angry, toxic, uncharitable human beings because they’re angry that someone they don’t know said or did something to someone they also don’t know, is legion.
Some jerk said something to person A, so they think that justifies being a jerk to person B, who didn’t do anything wrong but is on the same side as person A, which person B believes justifies them being a jerk to some other person, etc., etc., etc.
Politics in America is increasingly a daisy chain of people obsessed with getting revenge against political parties, ideologies, races, and genders for slights real and imagined. Meanwhile, as Marcus Aurelius told people more than 1800 years ago:
There are a lot of people who’ve been conned into thinking this kind of attitude is soft, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
John Adams was a Founding Father, and the British would have hung him if they won, but he also famously chose to be a lawyer for the British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre. George Washington fought and beat the Redcoats during the Revolutionary War, but when British General William Howe’s dog came into his hands after a battle Washington lost to him, his men wanted to keep the dog to stick it to General Howe. Washington refused and had a messenger take the dog back to Howe. Abe Lincoln rather famously fought a war with the Confederacy, but just as famously he didn’t pursue retribution after the war was won, he sought to reunite the country.
These were not weak or foolish men, they were among some of the best, strongest, and most admired Americans in history. They weren’t obsessed with vengeance and repaying every slight, although they certainly had every excuse to feel that way. Instead, they were obsessed with setting a good example and looking out for the best interests of our country. More of us should try to follow their example.