Lousy spouses now have their own Web site

Site turns into a help center for the newly betrayed

April 15, 2010|By Susan Reimer

Some spouses are so lousy, they deserve their own Web site.

Tiki Barber for example.

The former pro football player and TV sportscaster announced that he was leaving his wife, who is pregnant with twins, for a 23-year-old former intern.

And South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who tearfully confessed to television cameras that he had found a soulmate who was not his wife.

How about Jesse James, the biker bad boy who betrayed Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock with a collection of tattooed topless dancers?

And, of course, Tiger Woods, perhaps the all-time lousiest spouse.

Ellen Gray was married to a lousy spouse, too. But People magazine wasn't there to make her feel like a beautiful, if long-suffering, survivor.

So she and a longtime friend, who had a lousy spouse of her own, created a Web site called, well, LousySpouse.com.

And what began last summer as more of a place for wronged spouses to vent at 3 a.m. has matured into a help center for the newly betrayed.

"I found out on Christmas morning when I saw a text from his mistress," said Gray, who had a 3-year-old and was nursing a newborn at the time. "I didn't know where to begin. And when I googled ‘divorce,' I only found really shady, scary stuff."

And she and her friend, who identifies herself only as "Jane" on the site to protect her children, have done what needed to be done in the name of marriage: They brought back shame.

"We wanted to empower spouses to say, ‘Hey. This isn't right. This is not OK with me. This isn't acceptable. I held up my end of the bargain and what you've done is impulsive and selfish.' "

The Web site has had more than 100,000 hits and more than 20,000 visitors — many, Gray says, from Baltimore — which, if you are taking the temperature of the institution of marriage isn't a good sign.

And it has garnered attention by sending out regular news releases announcing the latest Lousy Spouse.

"Tiki Barber is simply the latest in a rash of lousy-ness that has seemingly swept the nation. Although this marred marriage is now in the spotlight, it is the same nightmare that unfolds every day behind closed doors," said Gray in the latest release.

"Checking out on your wife and family, especially when expecting a new baby or two, is about as lousy as it gets."

The Web site has a "Field Guide" for lousy spouses, including the Lousy Narcissist and the Lousy Deserter, to help a spouse correctly identify how lousy the other half is.

But it also has financial worksheets to help abandoned spouses pull their financial picture together. Advice on lawyers ("They aren't exactly there to help you," said Gray), as well as a forum where spouses (yes, some are men) recount their stories of betrayal and get advice from tough-talking "Jane."

The most important section might be, "What do I do first?" The advice: "This is no longer the person that you fell in love with — you are now dealing with a lousy stranger."

"This isn't for people who can get divorced amicably," said Gray. "This is a pretty serious tool to help someone when they are at their weakest. We don't want anyone to go through this blindly or alone.

"After all, not all of us can be like Jenny Sanford and retreat to the beach house with the kids for four months to wait for the book deal to get finished."

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/susanreimer

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