How to deal with husband still tied to ex wife



First of all, let me say I’m in counseling with a good orthodox Catholic therapist about this situation. Second, I need some place to “vent” other than my journal. I’m looking for either advice, or prayers, or any little nugget that can help me.

There are many facets to this issue but right now my need to write is based on the fact that we’re newly married, pregnant with our first child, Catholic, and although my husband has good job and is fully capable of providing for us, we are not making ends meet because of his civil obligation to his ex wife (annulled). For an indeterminate amount of time, he is paying the full mortgage payment on their former house where she lives still. It was part of their legal divorce agreement. He’s paying our mortgage too. We’ve only made it by so far because of gifts from family and friends from our wedding, tax return money and because I’ve sold some stock that I had before we got married.

Our mutually agreed upon lifestyle is for me to be a stay at home mom, and for me to work from home when I can and want to because I am set up to do that. My income is to be for “extras” like savings, trips, gas money for a weekend away, extra baby items, etc. We live simply. This was all talked about before we got married. Our mistake prior to getting married was not to run all our numbers ahead of time, but even if we did, there are and will always be unforeseen expenses that will need to be paid. My husband believes God will provide, and I was trying to have that faith as well. I did tell him I was concerned we wouldn’t be able to make it - the mortgage payment obligation is quite significant.

Although I’ve been put in charge of our finances (budgeting and paying the bills) and have done spreadsheets that show where our money is going each month and that shows a deficit each month, my husband still thinks everything “will work out.” There is a way to end the financial obligation to his ex wife, but he is in no hurry - and no worry - about moving it along. He says - it is what it is. He can’t change anything now. He’s built up a small amount of debt on credit card since he moved into his new home, and has done some remodeling and we have used our credit cards to get by in emergency situations. We don’t have any money in a savings account to draw from. And if this continues, we won’t. There’s nothing “extra” to put away.

Even if I can just have faith that everything will work out, neither of us wants to add to our credit card bills by charging things, but we’re going to have to pay for utilities and necessary things that way. If I can just get over that and accept that for this timeframe we will just add debt, I can’t feel good about even going for a hair cut, or planning out the baby’s room. We need to buy car seats and diapers and I have dreamed of enjoying my pregnancy by painting the room or getting even the minimal things babies need. Let alone, taking care of myself too. I feel guilty buying groceries - to buy the healthy things I should be eating. When I look at the cupboard for food, I think that if I eat it, it will be gone and we’ll have to buy more, and we don’t have money to spend on extra groceries, etc. This may sound overly dramatic, but it is what I think and feel.

Aside from whether this is “right or wrong”, and how we got into this situation in the first place, it is what it is now, and this is a cross I am to carry, and I need to make the best of what we’re dealing with now. I just have a hard time not feeling resentment and some anger or frustration toward my husband. This has not been a wonderful start to our marriage and our pregnancy. This is on my mind all the time and it causes me stress and to feel less close to my husband. Especially when he does not feel distress or concern about our financial situation or how I feel about it. It’s something that causes problems if I bring it up. He will not bring it up himself, so I have to, and when I do, he takes it as an attack on him and his decisions and what he feels are his obligations. He sees this whole situation as something I need to just deal with on my own, and if I have suggestions, ideas, he feels I’m “calling the shots.”

Should I just go on with life as I would want it to be? Do the things I feel I need to do (within reason) for myself, my pregnancy, for our family, even if it means using our credit card? Do I fast or sacrifice something and just focus on prayer, like, all the time? How do I find a balance? Peace in my mind and heart? I do have some tools and things I’m working on and am in the process of that. But I really need a place to vent a little and receive any thoughts or advice or even prayers from some good people.

Thank you.



The short answer is “yes” you should use the credit card. How do you find the balance? Instead of seeing the food, for instance, as food for you, see it as food for your baby. Credit cards can get paid off, but you’re only going to be pregnant for this baby once and you owe him or her a healthy babyhood.

I know it is easy to stress about the finances as a newlywed. I do the budget for our marriage and I find myself doing the same thing as you sometimes. It helps for me to just take a step back and recognize what is important–is it the money? Or that we be a happy, healthy family of our own?

On a practical note, clip coupons for groceries. And shop thrift stores and garage sales for the baby. If you start now, you’d be surprised at how many beautiful things you’ll find eventually.


Credit Cards - cut them up and do not use them.

Can you get a job before the baby comes and sock some $$ away/pay off some bills? While staying at home may be your dream, you do not want to dream yourselves into bankruptcy.

If something can be done about the divorce settlement money, that needs to become a priority.

Many prayers!!


I’d agree not to use them for unnecessary purchases, but the OP wanted to use them for food and utilities…


Find a Catholic financial advisor - credit cards should not be used for food our utilities - paying interest on food?

If it is that dire, go to your local food pantry, sign up for WIC, find the local Angel Food Ministries - there are ways to get food into the house without using the credit card.

Two choices:

Cut Expenses
Sounds like the alimony is the lowest hanging fruit there.

Increase income
Second job for DH
Job for you
Rent a room out to someone



I appreciate both the responses… I actually have a home based business and with the type of life we have (the home and the domestic responsibilities we already have before the baby comes), it works for me to work from home, even now. I worked a “real job” for the first 6 months of this year actually, supposedly to sock money away, but it was all eaten up by bills and our wedding (which was small and simple and inexpensive). The past few months that I’ve been home, I brought in the equivalent amount of money from stock sale and my tax refund that I made per month working where I was working. So I did contribute, and I’m currently contributing in a way that works with our lifestyle (just not our expenses).

Part of my problem is the emotional part… we’re in our 30s and 40s, and this is the life that we talked about and that each of us wanted all our lives. If I had a full time job, for instance, with the thought that I would be helping us pay our bills, I would feel as though I’m working to pay his ex-wife’s mortgage. And, since we’d be covering our expenses, there is no incentive for him to change anything with the ex. When the baby comes, I would quit work, and then where would we be? Right where we are at this point in time.

I’m not unrealistic … I do earn money, just not as much as we need. And it’s not a part of what we discussed would be our life. This is the emotionally frustrating part - just trying to deal with how I thought life WOULD be and what it is, and also, how to do what I think God wants me to do.

Thank you for your comments … I hear both sides. And am eating soup with veggies now for the baby :slight_smile:



If your mortgage is more than you can handle, perhaps you should sell the house and get something more affordable. A couple with only one child can live very comfortably in a condo. A lower house payment could give you the room to get back on your feet, and then later you could move up as the family grows, if you need to.

And seriously, if your husband could end or reduce his obligation to the ex-wife, why isn’t he doing it? What is he holding onto there? That would worry me. This is not child support we’re talking about here, it’s basically alimony. People do things for reasons, and you need to find out what his are. Because he needs to stop shortchanging his child by paying the mortgage for a capable adult to whom he is no longer married. (There are no kids from his first marriage, right? That was the impression I got. If there are kids, that changes everything I am saying.)


Yes, you are right about the mortgage payment but ours is not an unreasonable payment. Without the other one, we would be doing great, with extra for savings, for paying off our credit card debt, etc. If this continues for long, moving will have to be an option, but we’d take a loss on the house in this economy currently. Yes, there are options. It’s not so dire… just stressful and emotional mostly. I think about this a lot in my own head w/o talking with other people because it’s kind of embarrassing.

No, he does not have children with is former wife, and you’re right this would be different if that were the case. He’s open to working out a new deal, just not in a hurry. It’s been talked about between he and his ex, and we have to wait on some things, but I’ve had to be the one to prompt him to make the phone calls and to see a lawyer about how to deal with this legally, etc. (the change in obligation/etc). That is what is so frustrating, and I am concerned about “why.” He feels he’s being Christian to her in how he is helping her (they mutually agreed on the divorce, etc and it was very amicable), so he believes everything will just work out in God’s timing.

Mostly I appreciate hearing your thoughts about this because it helps me sort through and gives me some confidence in my own thoughts about this.

I don’t like telling people about this because it feels personal and I don’t like “airing dirty laundry” so to speak. Thank you for your comments. If nothing else, I can make these suggestions to him and talk about where we can cut back, etc. We may just have to make some hard decisions.

Thank you.


Remind your husband that the “Christian” thing to do is to take care of his family (you and your child). His ex-wife is not his family, and according the the Catholic Church was never validly his wife (family). It is his “Christian” resposibility to care for his family. He promised to forsake all others, which includes his exwife.


The Christian thing to do is to take care of his wife and the baby you are carrying, not provide for his ex wife. How long were they married for? Isn’t alimony supposed to be just for half the yrs they were married to each other? Why wouldn’t he do that for you, his wife? The fact that you would have to lose your house doesn’t seem right. Why can’t he work out the deal w/his ex? You are the one he’s bound to. Yes, by law he has to help her for a while, but not forever. And if it’s causing stress at your own home, he should take a look at his priorities. YOU and the BABY!


Technically, it was not alimony. Its original intent was to help her get on her feet since they were married for so long, and he set this all up before he met me and when he did set it up, he didn’t know where he would end up. Maybe buying the house/property back from her if she decided she did not want it or couldn’t make it. It’s all very unusual and different, and at first I thought I couldn’t deal with it. But I had been married before, and was not the major breadwinner, and when we got divorced and annulled, I wouldn’t have minded a little help from my ex, even though I didn’t expect it. I did not get any help, nor did I ask for it. I considered myself an employable, and capable adult and since we divorced amicably too, I considered it my own responsibility to take care of myself. So I sold the house we had and I couldn’t afford on my own and moved someplace much cheaper to live.

Anyway, that’s how I’ve felt too - that if this is causing stress in me and for our marriage and now our family, it seems to me that would trigger something in him to take this more seriously. But it does not. It’s very difficult. We both need to be in counseling. We did one time and then got caught up in how much it cost. Plus, he doesn’t think there is anything wrong with him that needs help. That’s why I’ve been told to pray and sacrifice something. I’m in counseling and trying, but sometimes I just need a boost and some understanding to carry me through.

Thank you.



I’ll just jump in here and put in a word from the perspective of that “First Wife.”

Long before you ever met your husband, presumably, he stood on an altar with another woman and promised to share with her all his worldy possessions and to be united to her for the rest of his life.

For whatever reason, that did not happen. It’s not my business, and not my purpose to place blame. I don’t care about the details. But having been a first wife, who made her career decisions and limited herself financially to follow a husband’s career around, I see the situation differently.

Should people be allowed to just walk away from their promises so easily? I was left financially destroyed by a man who decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. And there was no generosity in him to make up for the position he put me in. I am now considered the blood-sucking leech of an ex-wife, who should go out and get a job, and he owes me nothing after over a decade of me following him and putting him first.

The funny thing is, he takes this same attitude and has used it on one fiancee, whom he has since dumped. And now he’s on with life with another woman.

Did you marry such a man? You knew when you married him that he had obligations. That he had unkept promises. And you have consented to unite your life with him and make a family with him. That is your free choice. Now, you can either view him as a very fair man who has honor and decency and a sense of keeping his word, in which case, he will deal with you in such a way also. If so, lucky for you! Or you can hope he’d drop obligations that we don’t know the details of for a woman after the promises they made to each other cease to count for one or the other person.

Before everyone piles on the first wife, consider that we don’t know that whole story. And a judicious man will honor all of his obligations. And hopefully, his attitude here won’t be an indication of a bigger problem. He does not feel

distress or concern about our financial situation or how I feel about it. It’s something that causes problems if I bring it up. He will not bring it up himself, so I have to, and when I do, he takes it as an attack on him and his decisions and what he feels are his obligations. He sees this whole situation as something I need to just deal with on my own, and if I have suggestions, ideas, he feels I’m “calling the shots.”

Hope that is not an indication of why that first union failed.

Keep going to counselling. Get financial counselling. Try to see this all as positive indications of your husband’s good character. Do not be filled with resentment for a woman whom you don’t know and a situation where you may not know all the facts. Or just “his version.” I know how I was portrayed to the women who came after me. Just hope your husband is a good guy. You knew when you married him that he came with baggage. You cannot now insist he throw it overboard. If he does, will you ever be sure you won’t be next?


Maybe perhaps you BOTH need to be in counseling together. He needs to get it through his thick head that he has a child now that trumps any obligations he had to this ex-wife. She’s a big girl now and if she can’t afford to pay the mortgage to live in her home, then she can rent like every other single person in this world.

It sounds like they’ve been divorced for awhile. Should have been plenty of time for her to get on her feet.


Again, do people really know what went on in that marriage? We don’t know a lot of facts. Did she help put him through school, or a master’s program, at the expense of her own professional development? How long were they married? Did she follow his career around? It’s easy to say someone should move out of her home and move somewhere cheaper. But why should she have to relocate from friends or family just because her ex got married again and has a baby on the way.

This isn’t about her house payment. This is about a man making promises and keeping them. He’s either a man whose word means something. Or he’s not. And if he’s the kind whose promises are invalidated by developing circumstances, then the OP has bigger problems than the cost of her house.

It’s not for us to know or decide how long a woman needs to get on her feet. I had a friend who helped a husband build his business for 20 years. She didn’t get a salary. She has 20 years of no income for Social Security purposes. He decided he didn’t want a wife anymore. He had to pay alimony for five years. Another woman I know of spent 14 years following her husband’s navy career. He didn’t resent the alimony he paid her. He knew it was fair. He also waited until his obligation was over to create a new family.

And his new child trumps nothing. What if he also had children with the first wife? Would his new child’s right to a home trump his previous childrens’ rights to support?

After my divorce it took me over 6 years to get on my financial feet, and I’m still not there. And not everyone can afford to sell a house in certain housing markets. They might end up having to pay to sell it. So since we don’t know the details, it’s not our business to have an opinion.

And whether the Church annuls the marriage has no play in his obligation. My “marriage” was annulled, but no way does that exempt the man from his obligations to his children. He didn’t begin to fulfill them before the divorce, and his standard of living went way up after he left me, while I lived below the poverty line.

Again, he’s either a man who keeps his promises and agreements or he’s not. If he is, don’t complain. He may be doing this out of a sense of guilt for things that none of us know about. Or a sense of fairness that is all too lacking among the world’s ex husbands.



I appreciate what you wrote and the position you were/are in. I totally understand what you are saying, which is partly why I actually did fall in love with him in the first place; he IS a good man and he took his responsibilities to his former wife very seriously and was trying to help her. Whereas mine did nothing and was only concerned about what he got out of our house financially.

I have a friend whose mom and dad were married for 36 years or so, the mom was a stay at home mom, supported her husband’s career all those years, and one day, 5 years ago, said he did not want to be married any more and divorced her. She got enough money to pay for some education so she could learn to type and do office admin stuff and now she lives in an apartment someplace, while he’s off making a significant amount of money, in a home with a new wife. Yes, that is unfair and it is what I think about when I think of our situation. And it says a lot to me that my husband wanted to help her out.

No, no one knows all the details here, and yes, I knew he had baggage when we married. The circumstances of their divorce are too personal to get into here, but the truth is that she is capable of earning a living, and that if they had sold their house and land, they each would have walked away with a significant amount of money, even if they split it 50/50. Enough for her to buy another house (smaller) and still live a lifestyle she was accustomed to. This I know because I heard her say it.

Personally, I have nothing against her at all. I’ve met her, we’ve talked and even hugged each other. She has nothing against me either. She’s more or less a silent partner and I don’t hold any judgement against her, nor do either my husband or I talk badly about her. I’m sorry about your situation though… that is unfair.

I don’t think people were “piling on the first wife” really, more like asking why my husband would take on a marriage and family and not do what he can to provide. The situation that can get worked out between he and his ex is one that benefits her completely.

I am more than willing to accept my husband without a savings account or the profits from the sale of their old house. She can have it completely, and that is the thing that is supposedly getting worked out now. He is ok with that, she is ok with that, and I am ok with that. The problem is that it has taken months and months for him to recognize his obligation to paying his bills now, and to provide for me and our baby, now and in the future. This is something I had asked him to work out a long time ago. True, if I was not ok with it, I should have postponed the wedding. But there were promises made to me that were not kept and some misleading information, not intentionally, but for the purposes of avoiding conflict. That is an issue he is going to have to deal with, and I’m in counseling now to help me learn how to work with him to get him to see what he needs to see in that regard. Yes, he should be in counseling too.

The truth is though that he has not only been civilly divorced, but also annulled which means he has absolutely no obligation to her other than to pray for her as a Christian, and to uphold his legal deal. I’m not asking for him to do anything to break that contract, and I don’t believe anyone else is implying that either. But with consent from her, the other party, 2 people CAN adjust the legal agreement, if they are both in agreement to it. She is, but it’s just moving very slowly. I need help with what to do in the meantime.

Thank you for writing. I am sorry about your situation, and I see your point. Very valid. But I do not feel resentment for his ex wife. I just want him to take his Catholic Sacrament seriously.

God bless,


As I can see what Libernosamalo may mean by her 2 posts, I have to disagree 100%. The OP’s husband divorced the ex and annulled the marriage. He is not bound to her at all, in any legal or spiritual way. The only legal thing would’ve been to pay for alimony, not provide for her and his new family at the same time. As stated before, if the ex had kids it would be a completely different story, but they have none. The problem here is that the OP’s DH is taking a responsibility that is not his, and is not paying attention to his family. He has absolutely no obligation to the ex, even the CC acknowledged the fact that the marriage wasn’t valid, therefore, a marriage never occurred. He should be thinking of his wife and child, not his wife, his child and his ex. If he had to pay alimony, then that’s the civil law and a courteous thing to do, but not pay her house and put his at risk. Where is the wife supposed to be in this? Is she supposed to not eat because there is no money in the house??? She has a baby to think of and if the husband isn’t bringing enough money home so they can pay amenities and food, then there is something very wrong in the picture!

Edited to add: newwife, may I ask (but you don’t have to respond if you don’t want to), how long were they married and how long have they been divorced?


NW, it sounds like you have a very good situation there. Please don’t let it mess with your peace of mind as you deal with your new little one. :slight_smile:

I am a firm believer that those who seek first the Kingdom of God have everything added that they need. And it sounds like your husband will eventually be rewarded for his good faith and patience. Legalities take time. Some people drag them out. I had to wait over 3 years to get my actual divorce decree before I could even think of refinancing my house. It was all a power game on xh part. So I do know that happens.

May I make a suggestion. Make an appointment for your husband with a financial counselor. Give the counselor your balance sheets, obligations, debt load and all pertinent salary info. Send your husband. Let him discuss it and tell him not to come home till he has a plan. And maybe being with an impartial person without the emotional deal of your needs in the room, he will see things objectively. I don’t think he’s being unfair to you. I just don’t think he sees the situation as reaching critical mass yet. You are looking at this deal as a mother, because it feels very real to you. It doesn’t feel that real to a man. So he’s not in urgent mode yet. But you are already a parent in your head, so you’re in a hurry to fix this nest. I understand!

You may need a bridge loan till the other house sells and that situation resolves itself. But what you are learning now is priceless. You are learning about your husband’s tolerance levels, his risk management, his ability to keep his word. I think you know you have a good man. That will work for you in the long run.

Pray the first wife meets someone who doesn’t want to share another man’s old homestead. That would be a great incentive for her to sell quickly.

Maybe he needs to have to write the checks for a month so he will share your urgency a little more. You’re being the financial shock absorber here. And you have more important things to worry about. :wink:


newwife, may I ask (but you don’t have to respond if you don’t want to), how long were they married and how long have they been divorced?

They were married for 17 years, they’ve been divorced for almost 2, but had been separated and co-habitating more like brother and sister for a couple years prior to divorce date. I had been married 7 years, divorced for 4 when we met. Time goes by (in a marriage) when things are just “ok” and 2 people get along, even though they are not living Sacramentally. 17 years is a long time, and as they discussed getting divorced, I know what they each wanted was for the other to be happy. It’s an unusual thing, but I understood that too because for years my former marriage was not right but I did not want to give up, and all I hoped for was for my ex to be happy (me too). This all doesn’t explain why things are as they are now, if they can change, but they do have a long history with each other which is partly why I believe he wanted to help her if he could. Before he met me.


As I can see what Libernosamalo may mean by her 2 posts, I have to disagree 100%. The OP’s husband divorced the ex and annulled the marriage. He is not bound to her at all, in any legal or spiritual way.

Oh, an annulment has NOTHING to do with legal obligations. My ex is still very much bound by a financial obligation that no annulment decree can erase. And thank God. Otherwise he’d have TWO jaguars and FOUR motorcycles and I’d be on food stamps.

Maybe the house payment is in lieu of alimony. Since we cannot read his decree, it’s not our business to have an opinion. We do not know the details of the finances in the first marriage and what he may owe her in justice for her participation in the marriage. There is a difference between what is legal and what is justice. And maybe if the law prevented more men from walking away from women and leaving them high and dry, then things would be better.

First wives will probably always see this issue differently. Especially those of us who lost more than a decade of earning power while we catered to someone who didn’t keep his promises.


NW, you have a prize there. Don’t let money issues ruin it. He’s a very fair man. And we don’t know what 17 years of being dependent on him did for her. She needs a few more years to get on her feet. I"ve seen wives left after 20 years have to clean toilets for a living.

Good luck! :thumbsup:

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