Washington, D.C. Just about every week, it seems, another sex scandal breaks: Gov. Mark Sanford, Sen. John Ensign, Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino. And that’s nothing compared with all the cinematic scripts playing out behind closed doors, the ones that most people never hear about. Recently, a few dozen people met to celebrate the launch of a Web site, talk about cheaters and toast the idea of moving on.
LousySpouse.com was founded this summer by two women from Alexandria, Va., one of whose marriages ended so badly that, with a flair for the dramatic and a strong desire not to make her divorce any more complicated than it was, she wore a wig and pink sunglasses to a restaurant and refused to have her name published.
The site was started to give support, resources and options to people who have just been knocked upside the head, figuratively speaking, by their husband or wife. After all, for people who relied on the Knot Web site to plan their wedding down to the tiniest of peau-de-soie details, and BabyCentral.net to get advice on pregnancy and nursing, Google doesn’t do so well at answering the question: What the heck do I do now?
LousySpouse.com provides information on lawyers, private investigators, finances — even movie suggestions to help people laugh off their louse. And, with a nod to Halloween, the Web site also offers some horror stories.
Lousy, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. But the site comes at a time when half of all marriages end in divorce, some studies say at least 40 percent of all spouses are unfaithful, and there’s so much demand for an online dating site designed for married people that now there’s an iPhone app for it. So a Web site meant to help people get through the morass seems not only inevitable but maybe even necessary.
Southerlyn Reisig, the site’s co-founder, looks like Grace Kelly in her wedding video but, a couple of lawyers, a therapist, some painful conversations with her two children and tens of thousands of dollars later, she said she knows a thing or two about ending a marriage — and how much she could have saved had she only known more at the time.
The world didn’t need another Web site sponsored by divorce lawyers, the founders figured. They knew options were available: The Jewish Social Service Agency offers sessions locally on ending marriages amicably, for example, and coaches will guide people through divorces for a fee.
But they wanted something people could use at 3 a.m. when they realize their spouse isn’t coming home that night — a positive place that is free and always available, where they could rant, get advice, make plans and maybe laugh a little.
The site has links to resources, financial worksheets, advice about insurance, books, supportive comments, a creepy quiz about whether a spouse might be cheating, and a forum blistering with fury and disgust.
Among those who came to the Web site launch party, there was a private investigator (she pretends to be an artist and paints while she spies), some supportive friends, angry exes and heartbroken women and men. They talked about the moment they found out about a cheater and what they did next. (Do you tell your parents or wait in case you patch things up, so they don’t hate her forever? Do you call a counselor or a lawyer? Do you shut down bank accounts? Throw him out? Tell the kids?)
There were sad moments, too. “I never wanted to get a divorce,” said Jane Manstof, an Alexandria real estate broker, “even at the very end.” Her husband wasn’t lousy, she said. It just didn’t work out.