So yea, I’m divorced too. My crazy childhood propelled me into a religious cult where I had an arranged marriage. You might wonder why anybody would submit to that. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was not forced into it, but there was a lot of manipulation. Plus I was longing for stability and to have a family, a real family where I was a full fledged member. So the cult was my attempt at filling that longing, at initiating myself into my own life.
Even though the cult was destructive in many ways, God still blessed me with a beautiful family. And I was super proud of that family, even though the marriage was doomed from the start. It was a three-way relationship: me, my husband, and the cult. There were only two names on the marriage license, but there was an implicit understanding that the cult was a 100% integral part of that relationship. It was like a wedge between us, a wedge that we believed would be like glue to keep us together, but it actually kept us separated from each other.
I went into it thinking that my husband would change, that he’d see the value of me and our family apart from the cult. But he never did. So I hung on for a long time, hoping and praying for a change. I am embarrassed to admit that after about 7 years of feeling neglected, I had more than one emotional affair, plus I got physically involved with the cult leader. This same leader actually had at least four affairs with various women, and that’s what I know of with 100% certainty.
I hid the affair from my husband for a very long time. The cult leader and I agreed to this after it was over. It was extremely brief, a couple of incidents over about a 4-6 week time period in 1997.
My husband stayed loyal to the leader, even after I told him of the affair in 2008, when I had already filed for divorce. In fact, all the cult members know about the affairs, but they stay loyal to him. They all believe that he is so special that the rules don’t apply to him. They believe that they are working on their spiritual progress and that he is some sort of prophet. This was always a source of trouble in my marriage. We put the cult before each other many, many times. We all played a game is called, “Jockey for position.” Everybody wants to be on the leader’s good side, and there’s lots of gossip and backstabbing that goes on to get there. Not only is there a good side, there is a bad side as well. We sometimes called it “the hot seat.” Nobody wanted to be there, and some people stayed in the hot seat for extended periods of time. Of course, it’s all in the name of “spiritual progress.”
Even during the divorce, none of the cult members said to my husband, “You should do whatever you need to do to keep your family together, including leaving us if needed.” Perfect example of how the cult is more important than anything else.
Yuck, it feels bad just thinking about all that stuff again. Every time I gossiped or stabbed somebody in the back, I was so very wrong. And if course the affair was totally wrong. I wish I had never done it. It hurt everybody but I was blind to that at the time.
The crazy thing is that deep down, I knew the group was wrong. But pride kept me there for a very long time. That, and knowing that if I left, I was risking losing the only family I ever been fully part of. But I filed for divorce in 2008, after being expelled from the cult (I later learned that experts have identified expulsion as one of the ways people leave cults).
A friend recommended an attorney who did not screw us over at all. We had a fair amount of assets which we were able to keep, split between us. I think the entire divorce cost around $2,000, maybe $3,000 but not more than that and that includes court costs plus legal fees (the average divorce costs between $15K-$30K). Plus I waited for over a year so that he could get the financing to buy me out of the home. He had worked hard on that place for a long time, and I knew he wanted to keep it. My attorney recommended forcing the sale of the home, which a judge would have done, but my instincts were saying no, not to do that. She also suggested going for spousal support but again, my instincts said no. I have no regrets about those decisions. Letting him keep the home enabled my children to keep some stability–they had lived there for 15 years.Later my ex filed for child support from me. $750 a month for about a year.
Looking back, I would tweak the divorce timeline if I could and there are few logistical things I would do differently. But I have a clear conscience about how I conducted myself throughout the process. I’m very grateful for that.