Saturday, June 4, 2011

Before You Say "I Do"

It's been way too long since I blogged.
I have excuses... good ones.
I also believe "excuses are the pillars of fools."
So I will spare you my excuses for letting this blog go unattended.
Suffice to say, I've been more than a bit busy investigating this week.
Then end result is I am bursting with wisdom this fine Pacific Northwest morning...
so I figured I'd share the knowledge and vent at the same time as I sometimes find these domestic disturbances cases I work, quite disturbing.
Because when it comes to love for the first one to nine months, it can truly blind, deaf and dumb.
That's how long experts say it takes the hormones to wear off and the true  conflicts/ cheating/ fighting to start.

Normally, I sub-contract out the cheating spouses/partners cases.
Unless it's someone I care about.... or fraud is involved.

Usually when someone calls and asks me to find out why their partner goes somewhere without them  for evenings, weekends and takes trips without them, I first probe, then usually deliver my standard response.
"If you think they're cheating, they are. Don't hire me, save your money for a good divorce attorney." They hire me... or another PI... anyway.

The fact is, by the time you have a PI following your lover/ partner, the relationship is NOT in good shape. And when those tides turn, emotional waters get rough with undertows and riptides.
When I realize my client is being used, abused, lied to, cheated on... I am more concerned about  securing that client's financial and emotional hatches than saving their drowning illusion or delusion.

So  one day this week, there were two of us following a wealthy man's wife.
I have worked for this man a couple of times over the years.
There are always people after him, his business, threatening to sue him.
He is rich, very handsome, successful and any woman would want this guy if he was single.
However, he is not single.
He is married and has four children, the oldest in middle school.
And he is intensely loyal to his wife of 15 years.
He told me he has never cheated... yet only he knows whether that is the truth... though I tend to believe him.
There are some men, or women, who would never cheat on their partners.
Likewise, there are some people who would never insult, criticize or demean their partners to others.
In fact, there are some people who would never betray a trust, friendship, love or loyalty.
My husband, for example, is one of them.
And I believe the man I just mentioned, the wealthy man who asked me to follow his wife is also one of those loyal, moral, ethical men.

My client said there are times his wife goes places she doesn't want him to go.
She has a separate group of friends... the "girls" she says.
When it's girls night out, he figured it was just that.

Yet when she recently started to take  trips without him, a weekend, week or even a couple weeks with the girls...  he said, "I'd like to join you."
She said, "No honey,  it's just a girl's thing."

Being the primary financier of her recreational adventures (she worked until her business went under just after the wedding), this wealthy man felt that something may be up and called me.
This week, he asked me to follow his wife who was going off on another of her mysterious adventures. I was up for a little chase and adrenalin, so another PI and I were off and running, on her tail for a day.

The good news was that day... the only affair she had was with a high-end department store which was having its yearly sale, which is precisely where she told her husband she was going.
I thought he'd be thrilled. Not so. He still doesn't believe her.

So he asked me to put GPS on her car.
I respectfully declined.
He asked me to tap her phone, put a key stroke monitor on her computer.
Again, I said no.
I explained Washington is a two-party consent state and I am simply not willing to lose my license or go to jail or put him in harms way for violating privacy laws.

I asked her if he pays her cell bills. He said yes.
I told him to study the numbers -- incoming and outgoing see if there were ones he didn't recognize that came up more frequently than others.
These unknown numbers could be run through the reverse directory and reveal truths.

He asked if more surveillance  could be done to be sure she wasn't cheating.
I  said yes, though he could spend lots of money and still find nothing.
He was insistent on another surveillance.
So I suggested he plan a "business trip" and tell her... a few weeks in advance...  he is going out of town on a Friday or Saturday night. Both nights if he's willing to spring for it.
I said once a partner is sure the other is out of state, they go out of their  loyal/dutiful, girlfriend/spouse mode and into the arms of another.
I told him I suspect if she has an affair, she will act on it when she knows he is far far away.
So he scheduled a business trip.
And my calendar is  now marked for a single Saturday night weeks from now.
We will have two cars, a team of investigators.
We will be on her like white on rice.
I don't want her to be cheating. I really don't.
He loves her.
He has a huge amount of money.
He owns a business and buildings.
If she is cheating and they divorce, there goes half of everything he's got, not to mention maintenance and child support...
because Washington is a no fault divorce state.
The minute you marry, without a pre-nup, at least half of everything you have becomes your soon to ex's.

I am using this story of a long term marriage as an example... because I have several cases now of people suddenly meeting and marrying within 4 months.
These  quickie romances are not turning out well.

See... people are not usually what they appear to be.
You don't see a person's true essence, character, how they act under pressure and how well they treat you...  until time reveals it to you.
They can beautiful on the outside, yet their insides can be broken...
and someone who has fallen in love with another may not notice the fatal flaws.

People can appear to be affluent, successful.... while they are slowly sinking in a financial quagmire and desperately seeking a way out.
Or maybe they are emotionally unstable, yet able to hold it together long enough to dupe the person they hope will make them whole.
The frustrating part of being is a PI is when we catch these bad acts going on....
the person who hires us still won't believe.... or leave.
Many times I have caught cheaters on tape... and still their partners stay.
One women who actually caught her husband cheating said his response was,
"Who are you gonna' believe. Me or your lying eyes?"

Cheating is so preponderant, it's almost old school.
Ask California's muscleman governor, now turned Marriage Terminator.
Ask John Edwards, Tiger Woods, Jesse James,  or the head of the International Monetary Fund.

Cheating is one thing.
Marrying someone for their money or assets is another.
This is what really gets my goat because I am getting more and more of these cases.
To me these deceptive marriages are more about fraud than cheating.
I have actually heard... many times... from both men and women going through horrible domestic disputes or divorces, "Next time I am marrying for money, not love."
These are the people you have to look out for.
Once they have failed at several marriages, three or more, you can be fairly sure the next ones won't be keepers. 

I will say this again, it is worth repeating.
Without a pre-nup, the minute you marry...  at least half of everything you have becomes the other person's.
And all of their debts and liabilities, family history and dysfunctions become yours.

I say this as a hypocrite.
I married without a pre-nup the second (and final) time.
I did not follow my advice. That was before I knew enough to have given this advice.
So I guess I got lucky.
Then again, I didn't have huge assets to protect.
We both brought equal money... and each of us brought two kids....his sons, my daughters... to the table.

However I studied everything about the man who asked me to marry him before I said yes.
I studied his background, his family, his long term relationship,  his healthy relationship with his family and children, there was a solid, stable human being there.
Sure there was a wild "bad boy" past, 14 years in the military will do that to you.
There were ups and downs in his background, however, nothing alarming.
I  also took many steps before we co-mingled our lives.
I introduced him to my family and friends and then listened....
ok...interrogated.... everyone I cared about who met him.
Everyone liked him.
In fact, our kids, my daughter, his son... introduced us.

He made sure I met every single one of his friends.
I spent evenings with them.
He said they too gave him a thumbs up for me.
Both of us felt burned by our prior marriages and had been single a long time.
We were both cautious.

I have a mom who is a therapist.
She's taught me more than few things about love and life.
She said one of the best ways to judge the long term potential of a relationship...
is to study the relationship the person you are seeing has with their immediate family.
If there's alienation between your new girlfriend/boyfriend and their  mother and father....
or your new lover and their children....
proceed with extreme caution and examine/investigate/scrutinize why these relationships went sour.

Was  physical or psychological abuse involved?
That's one reason a child might stop talking to a mother or father.
Why would a parent cut a kid out of their life?
Was the kid a bad seed? Really and truly bad -- violent,  stealing, drugging, angry, bed-wetting, animal killing,  pre-serial killer type behavior?

What if  the person you are seeing has cut his or her own kids out of their life deliberately just because the parent doesn't  like their child's spouse? Or because parent and child simply had an argument?
That's serious stuff of the major red flag variety...  marrying someone estranged from their family.

Of course there are no absolutes.
Did a child refuse to talk to their mother despite the mother's attempts to reconcile?
In that case, if the mother tried and tried and tried to no avail...what can she do?
There are exceptions and objections to every theory...
though it is said.. "the best a relationship will ever be, is in the very beginning."
So if you're in the first few months of a relationship and you've already had big fights, let's just say, it's gonna' get worse.

And if you fight often with a person you are dating or engaged to...
and if they are alienated from their children and don't care...
or they talk about you behind your back...
and for some reason your kids are saying "whoa, hold on, don't do it"...
it's like a DNA test.
In my mind, there's a 99.9% chance a marriage with that person will turn out badly.
And in this PI's opinion, it is far better to live alone happily than  marry someone with whom you will live miserably.

May I suggest the following...

Make no big life moves to a new partner/spouse without "vetting", studying, or back grounding them... including doing your own psychological profile beforehand.
It would be great if you could run their credit report, you can't without their permission.
But you can get a big picture with careful study, question and observations.
You can look beneath any surface and know even though someone appears beautiful, successful, affluent and rich -- that could very well be a complete and total lie.
They could be sinking in this financial hell hole we call the current economy and will drag you down with them. Despite the fact you thought  they have it all together.

I could not count the number of relationships I have seen in my many years as  a PI that started out where one partner (rich) was crazy about another partner (appearing rich but financially sinking)...and the second partner marries the first.
Sinking partner moves into a beautiful home and now owns half that home without a pre nup.
The kids.... who always see this coming... try to raise red flags, but the new predatory partner quickly eliminates them from the equation. Then the friends go. Sinking partner used affluent partner to climb to the surface, essential isolating everyone in their new conquest's life.

So here's what I suggest to everyone out there who falls in love and wants to tie the knot before the 1-9 month hormonal relationship wears off.
Test the strength of the rope before you tie the knot.
  • Live together a while.
  • Endure a few good fights.
  • Make sure your new love includes, or at least invites you on ALL their adventures with friends.
An example -- I fished with my second husband while dating because he loves fishing.
Now I rarely go because I work so much...
however I am always invited EVERYWHERE he goes.
And though I invite him,  he chooses not to go out on with me on girls night out.
When he's with the guys, I tend to let him be.

Beware of yellers, screamers, name callers, people who bark orders, demand you comply.
He has never once called me a name behind my back or to my face.
He does not want me to change who I am because he likes me the way I am.

And most important... the real deal breaker...according to my mom the therapist...
would be drinking/drugs or cheating.
My husband doesn't drink.
When I occasionally do savor my  wine or martini, I tend to get surly... or depressed.
(Alcohol is a social lubricant and depressant)
The fact that he is sober, tends to diffuse any conflict immediately.
Two people fueled by alcohol inevitably leads to implosion or explosion.
Especially as we age.

RE: the other deal breaker.... cheating.
I know for a fact my husband will never cheat on me.  Nor I him.
He is my best friend and loyal and I believe my birth daughters love him.
And I love his birth sons.
All the children, now adults, hit crisis points as all kids do and all come to and through our nest,  with love and open arms.
Blended families are difficult. It has not been 100% smooth sailing.
More like a mix between the Waltons and Amityville Horror.
Yet because my husband is so stable psychologically and never witnessed his parents scream, argue, or insult each other...
because he saw how well his father treated his mother and how all the kids in his family love each other and their parents...
we've been happy, stable for more than a decade... despite the challenges blended families bring.

So  I close with this advice for all considering a "marriage" of any sorts -- personal or professional.

1. If marrying someone,  go for a long engagement if you haven't been together long. Wait at least 9 months  until the hormones wear off and the true personas reveal themselves.
  • 50% of first marriages end in divorce. 
  • 70% of second ones end in divorce. 
  • You have to have something amazing going on in a relationship to beat the odds.
  • The families must meld.
  • That person must welcome you into ALL areas of their lives.
  • Even if you choose not to go on a trip they take, a true love will invite you.
  • People with nothing to hide, hide nothing.
2. Look for warning signs.  Does your new honey:
  • Want you to change... to dress differently, act differently?
  • Tell you how to live your life?
  • Alienate you from your family and friends?  
  • Tell you what to do?
  • Include you in their inner sanctum of friends? 
3. If going into business with someone, it's the same as a marriage.
  • Get a sense of where they are financially, psychologically, emotionally.
  • In a professional partnership, you can check credit and money issues
  • Bring in a forensic accountant to study their books
4.  When you feel like marrying, introduce your future life partner to everyone of your oldest and dearest friends first and ask them what they think.
  • Your friends are a better judge of whether a person's right for you because love is the antithesis of objectivity
5. If marrying and you have assets, get a pre-nup.
  • If you think this is truly the love of your life and it's not necessary, you are deluding yourself.  
  • Nothing will take you the poverty level faster than losing half what you have to someone in a divorce.  
In the process of fighting, separating, or divorce, people freak out.
It gets dark, ugly, mean. People lose their jobs, sanity, even lives. 
Then the party's not only over... you got yourself a wake.

It is time now to close this blog because I must work on a murder that came from such circumstances. He chose her because of her money, then he killed her.
Fortunately the murders are the exception.... the divorces in bad marriages are the norm.
I have at least one of these cases every six months to a year.
In this case, the man, the killer, was asset hungry.
He  was a good looking guy who appeared successful with multiple businesses and she had no clue this was an illusion.
She was an heiress.
He was scum.
Once the his new bride  put two and two together...
figured out he was a jerk, insulting and demeaning her behind her back to everyone, including his own kids...
going on long trips without her...
refusing to include her in any of his activities...
intimacy stopped, unless they both drank.
Then... not only he, but she was drinking like a fish....
and they were fighting like sharks.
Her family couldn't stand him.
Finally, she wanted out.
He didn't want to sell the  incredible estate/house he moved into.
He didn't want to pay divorce attorneys.
So he killed her
He made sure they got life insurance when they they married,  made it look like a suicide and within two years she was dead. He was rich. Her kids, bereft.
I have been hired by the kids.
The case is now in probate while the police... and another PI and I dig for evidence to help the prosecutor find probable cause to get this guy charged and get the money back to the family.

Of course this is an extreme.
Most bad unions just end badly.
In my best case  break-up scenario.... people are alienated, money is lost, dreams die. 
In worst case scenarios, think Humpty Dumpty.
All the kings horses and all the kinds men couldn't put Humpty together again.

No comments:

Post a Comment