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The Complete Every Mistake In The Book Series:
“One house, One Spouse, One Job”
That is one of the basic tenets of financial teachings by the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) community and its rationale is wonderfully summarized here by WCI. Even if one’s goal is not to retire early, it is wise to follow.
So please continue to follow this story as young, naive Xrayvsn proceeded to commit financial cardinal sin by breaking each and every component of this primary FIRE doctrine.
Mistake #7a (One Spouse):
Well this was the last and unfortunately biggest mistake I could have made both emotionally and financially.
Before I delve into this horrible chapter in my life I have to provide a little bit of background.
My parents are from the Indian subcontinent. My father and mother were married in an arranged marriage.
As the only child I had a tremendous amount of pressure to find a “nice Indian girl” to marry. As I came to the United States when I was less than a year old, I was indifferent to trying to maintain cultural practices.
Fast forward to my final year in Radiology residency.
I was approaching 31 years of age, still unmarried. I believe my mother then began her frantic search to find me a partner for she feared that when I finished residency I would become a young rich single doctor and would likely be caught up in that lifestyle.
It truly was a global endeavor as she enlisted friends and family from the U.S., Canada, England, as well as from the Indian subcontinent.
The results of this search was a girl two years younger who lived in England and just finished medical school training. By everyone’s accounts this was a perfect match since we were both doctors and, according to matching our horoscope charts, we were compatible.
We actually communicated for around 3 months by phone and she then flew to the US exactly on the one year anniversary of September 11 (foreshadowing the events to later come). Initially it was agreed that it would just be a meeting and she would return back to England and see if things progressed.
Unfortunately the plans changed. As soon as we met there was heavy pressure from both sides that I should propose to her and marry her. I reluctantly agreed to do this and we married November 1st, less than 2 months after meeting.
Very soon after marriage things began to unravel as this supposed “perfect match” was anything but. I had arranged for her to enter my radiology residency program as a first year by agreeing to stay on as an attending during her training period (four years).
Things started cropping up leading to her dismissal from the residency program within the first two months. Throughout the remainder of the marriage she tried getting back into any residency program but with black marks on her record she never was able to do so.
After increasing pressure from our families to start a family of our own, in 2005 we welcomed a daughter into the world.
I was hoping that this would give her a sense of purpose and ease the sting of not being able to enter residency.
It did not.
I tolerated the marriage as long as I could because in our custom divorce is shunned upon and quite rare. I also wanted my daughter to not have to endure her parents getting divorced.
However after 8 years of marriage the behavioral changes of my wife got worse and I just could not remain married to her. I was actually doing my daughter a disservice by allowing her to witness an unloving home.
I therefore filed for divorce in 2010. Apparently by doing this act I woke the sleeping giant and a truly vindictive person came out.
The divorce proceedings were lengthy and highly contentious.
My wife found an unscrupulous lawyer who saw me as having “deep pockets” and between the two of them they fabricated so many allegations.
The senior judge presiding over the divorce, which was finalized 13 months later (with numerous hearings in multiple court jurisdictions), said it was the most contentious divorce he had ever officiated over.
“Do you know why divorces are so expensive? Because they’re worth it”-Henny Youngman
Estimated Hit to Net Worth:
- It is staggering the amount of assets and money I lost through this process. The judge ordered me to give her the value of the entire 401k ($140k), our Health Savings Account ($25k), alimony of $2100/mo for 3 yrs and child support $2100/mo, two condominiums we had owned (equity totaled about $60k), as well as $100k in cash due within 30 days of the divorce decree (which I didn’t have and had to use credit card access checks to cover). In addition my own legal fees had already decimated all of my savings, eclipsing the $300k mark. Without even factoring the loss of potential investment gains the total is $850k+
- On a side note, I was left with the marital home because it was currently underwater due to the housing crisis and mortgage balance. The judge also graciously let me retain sole possession of my student loan debt.
Superpower Take-home points:
- For the most important decisions on your life you have to make your own decisions. Mother does not always know best.
- By trying to appease others I put myself in harms way. It was the darkest chapter of my life and not only was there a significant financial toll but there was an emotional toll as well. My relationship with my mother and the other parties involved have never been fully mended.
The series, “I Made Every Mistake In The Book,” concludes with Part V.
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NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN
Wow this is incredibly sad. How is your daughter doing? Is she living with her mother or you? Did your ex-wife return to England?
Honestly this post is a very watered down version of what happened to me (which would honestly rival any horror novel out there). I naively went into court thinking that the truth would prevail. I was sadly mistaken. As a male I started out with a tremendous strike against me. My last post in this series deals with the aftermath a bit more (so I hope you read that) and I don’t want to give away too much. But before the events of the next post happened, I indeed lost full custody of my daughter (she went to England with… Read more »
Oh no, that’s terrible. Looking forward to the next post. I’m sorry you married a Medusa, not all women are this bad!
Yeah it was just an awful situation and those 13 months were probably the lowest in my life (at one point I called my mom and told her where all my life insurance policies were etc if that gives you an idea of where my mental state was at the time). I was constantly drinking pepto-bismol as well (would go through a bottle in less than a week). Physician colleagues advised me to take medication but throughout the whole process never turned to drugs (legal or otherwise) or alcohol. The aftermath was so awful I didn’t want to even think… Read more »
This was by far the most difficult mistake to read about and the most important to be aware of – thanks for making yourself vulnerable and sharing it. Being the son of immigrants, I know how tradition and unrealistic family expectations can be extremely difficult to overcome. I hope you’ve been able to get beyond the bitterness of the experience. You are spot on – getting your choice of spouse right makes or breaks all subsequent decisions.
I appreciate it Crispy Doc. Yes I remember reliving this experience again (which I had pushed far far into the depths) when I wrote this post. It was the one that I most wanted to be heard but also the one I most wanted to forget/not write about. It definitely is hard to maintain traditions of culture that may have been suitable in the past but have since gone by the wayside. Arranged marriages in past were meant to bring families together to make a business stronger. Those motives really don’t make sense especially in the US. Thank you again… Read more »
Thank you for sharing your story. It must have been such a difficult time for you. Forget about the money- I can only imagine how hard it would be to not be able to see your own daughter. I have two boys of my own and I count my blessings everyday for them. They are a huge part of my life’s meaning and purpose. I’m glad you are in a good place today and I’m looking forward to reading the last part of your series. Stay strong always brother.
Definitely. Losing my daughter for a period of 6 years, especially the formative ones, was the most challenging part of all when dealing with this. And knowing that the person the court “deemed appropriate” over me knowing well in your mind that this is absolutely the worst person to raise your child was the knife in the heart. I honestly felt defenseless. The majority of that $300k legal defense was mainly incurred during all the child custody issues (my ex-wife dragged me through family court, juvenile court, as well as even a court in England, during this process). My lowest… Read more »
Thanks for sharing that, I know it could not have been easy to write (it was hard enough just to read). I have daughters as well and I can’t imagine being parted from them for years. Achieving financial independence would be really hard, I might even go so far as to say impossible, without a supportive spouse who has the same goals and is willing to work with you to achieve them. I am sorry for all you have suffered, and thank you using your story to point out how devastating the mistake of choosing the wrong spouse can be.… Read more »
Thanks Ray. Yeah it was a really tough time those 6 years. House seemed empty and big part of me was missing :(. Well next Tues thankfully my amazing run of mistakes (hopefully) comes to a conclusion. Thanks for keeping up with all these posts. On a separate note, like how your website has turned out, nice tweaks. Look forward to your continued posting as well.
Your journey to FI will most definitely be a cake walk compared to all this. Getting away from the ex- wife is EXCELLENT. Being kept away from your daughter is terrible. However, you are still a young man and kids bless their hearts, tend to know the truth no matter how hard people try to hide it from them. So keep the faith XRV.
I hope you feel better after sharing this. I for one am sending you an internet hug!!
Awww. That last line actually brought a smile to my face right now (which I needed because today has been quite the hectic day at work). 🙂
I appreciate the kind words. I promise my blog is not all going to be doom and gloom. 🙂
YIKES! They say to know the best in life you gotta know the worst. I think you have met MS worst. The way you get past this is to confront it and leave it in the rear view mirror. I will wait to read the next chapter. In the mean time if you max out the 401K and IRA every year for 20 years, stick some in a post tax account…. your future’s so bright you’re gonna need shades!
Thank you Gasem for the comment. You are absolutely correct that you really can’t appreciate something as much unless you experienced what the alternative is. My current relationship is a complete 180 from my ex and it just brings me even more happiness because of it. I definitely underwent a transformation which I will describe in 2 to 3 posts from now and this ugly chapter is closed and way in the rear view mirror. By the way I am a big fan of your guest posts and comments on other blogs. You have a unique perspective on things that… Read more »
So sorry to hear about what happened. I am from the same culture and was heavily pressured to do a arranged marriage.
Fortunately for me the arranged marriage did not work out and I was able to meet my wife and date for a while before we both decided that we were compatible.
Divorce definitely takes a big toll on you.
So glad that you have recovered and now are prospering.
The system is definitely against the male spouse in America.
Keep up the excellent work Xrayvsn.
Thanks for the comment. I am glad that you didn’t fall into the trap I did and cave in to family pressure. It is very tough to go against an entire culture, but in the end, they are not living with that person day after day. I’m not saying it can never work out, but the days of old are long gone and I don’t think it has the same meaning anymore with my generation or younger. Hopefully as the older generations fade away, this kind of pressure disappears as well. And kudos to finding someone you are compatible with.… Read more »
Thanks for your candidness. I think we don’t discuss this problem often enough as doctors. The book Real World Divorce by Greenspun et al has many horror stories similar to yours. In addition to the arranged marriage issue you mention, seems to me that a huge contributor to this problem is divorce lawyers manipulating their clients’ emotions and giving them unrealistic expectations in order to essentially steal money that would have otherwise built family wealth and maybe even eventually gone to the kids otherwise (eg, if the divorce had been mediated instead). But as you allude to, the lawyers have… Read more »
Thank you for the very informative comment. I may have to check out that book as misery loves company. As for my particular situation, I think my ex-wife married me at the perfect time to make the most of her grab and go during divorce. I married pretty much at the end of my 4th and final year of radiology residency. I didn’t have pretty much any asset to speak of worth protecting except a pension account from the hospital I trained at (which I kept during divorce). So I don’t think a prenup would have made too much of… Read more »
Out of curiosity, who paid your ex-wife’s legal fees? I’ve got to believe hers were as bad as yours, which means the money you handed to her is net $300K less. So in the end, divorce is designed to benefit the attorneys.
Actually the $300k was my side of the legal battle alone (I also had to pay the majority of a guardian ad litem fee as well since that 3rd lawyer was involved in this epic court drama and that is included in the $300k). In the divorce decree I had to pay her $100k within 30 days and part of that was to offset some of her lawyer costs so I didn’t double count it.
My no contest divorce was about $600. I also had no prenup. I believe malpractice defense attorneys also have an incentive to prolong a case. At least you are not directly paying those fees.
You are very fortunate to have gotten out of a divorce with no-contest and for such little amount. I felt lawyers on both sides looked at my physician title and income and salivated about this case. Yeah I think malpractice cases are a little bit better (if that really is a consolation) because the insurance company will deal with all the legal fees and I’m sure they have cost analysis experts making sure it is expedited.
Whoa, that’s pretty crazy. I don’t think you should water down. Let’s hear the whole story.
Looking forward to the rest of the story. Hope things are better now.
Marriage is hard especially when you don’t know the other person well.
Thanks Joe for stopping by. I love your blog (so much so I put it on my Continuing Financial Education list). Yeah this is essentially a Rated G/PG Version of the story. I didn’t want to go into explicit details because even typing them is truly awful. And even though I am trying to remain anonymous to the public with this blog, I’m not sure if that is entirely feasible (plus the fact that there are a select few that know my secret identity). I don’t want my daughter to kind of stumble upon it before she is well and… Read more »
Xrayvsn, because I know too much I can’t comment much here. All I can tell you on here is that I am proud of your outcome and I am at least glad one of us got an ending that was deserved.
Thanks Carl. It was a tough journey to be sure and I am not going to lie there was a time I wanted to tap out. Luckily I had support of friends that essentially carried me through the darkness
I can understand why it would be watered down, it sounds so complicated and must be painful to write. I don’t write every painful thing, it’s not worth it. You write what you want to write and we’ll read it 🙂
Hey Lilly. Thanks for stopping by. I love your blog by the way and how you and Mr Hippo are crushing it at such a young age. Kudos to your success. Yeah there were a couple of painful posts (the last one will be this Tuesday) and then I should get to the stuff I’m proud of in my financial transformation. I thought it would be good to start with all my mistakes and get it out of the way. Well thank you for paying my fledgling blog a visit.
Wow that was a tough read. Sounds like the pressure really put you in a predicament that you would have liked to have avoided. Sorry to hear that.
Thank you for the kind words. Yeah it was a combination of cultural pressure and false hope on my part that it would have worked out. I was sadly mistaken and taught a very painful lesson. I am much older and wiser now and have already stated I would never be pressed like this by anyone again.
Reading this was a sucker punch to the gut. One of my good friends’ mother is currently playing the Indian matchmaking dating game, and I couldn’t help but hear echoes of him in your story. I’m glad to hear there’s a follow up to your story come soon!
Thank you for the comment. Arranged marriages are definitely a tradition that seems hard to break because of such family pressure for you to conform to it. Hope your friend has more common sense than I did at the time.
Your story is the worst I have heard. Being an OB/GYN I hear quite a bit of divorce details. I never believe accusations coming from divorces. Your story is also inspiring because you have picked yourself up and moved on.
Unfortunately that is a title I wish I never had, “worst divorce ever.” It was a perfect storm of having a vindictive ex-wife with later proven mental illness and a very shady lawyer that didn’t mind if the right thing was done, just wanted the money. My lawyer argued in front of the judge that we wanted a psych evaluation on my ex and even offered to undergo one myself. Her attorney said it would be too intrusive for her client to do it (and she didn’t work at all) and the judge denied it. Only in England was a… Read more »
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[…] going into too graphic of details, during my divorce proceedings, an actual argument to the judge by opposing counsel was that in India, Indian men are “well […]
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Thank you for sharing your struggles so others can learn from your experience. Words cannot describe what you must have gone through, But I’m glad you had the courage to fight for your self and move forward. It takes a lot of courage to share the darkest and most difficult struggles one has had to endure to educate/help others. Your post, I bet, has helped many many others and hope you are rewarded for this. THANK YOU!
I really appreciate the kind words. It definitely was an awful chapter in my life and one I had put in the rear view mirror until I sort of dredged it up to write about in the post.
As awful as what I wrote was, few would believe that that this is a very sugar coated version. The actual events were several orders of magnitude worse.
I do hope that someone reads these mistakes and avoids them. Would make it all the worthwhile baring them to the public.
Thanks again for the beautiful comment. Really touched my heart
[…] I Have Pretty Much Made Every Mistake in the Book – Part IVa […]