I successfully renovated a condominium. My new husband offered to lead my next project – and it all went horribly wrong

I come from very poor backgrounds. I’ve been homeless a couple of times. Through hard work and sacrifice, not only did I get myself a good job, but I also spent my teenage life looking after all of my family. That went on until my mid-30s when I started focusing on myself and trying to secure my retirement.

I had to find out everything myself. It was pretty lonely. After a few failed deals, I finally found real estate and plunged straight into it. It cost me quite a bit and I met a few bad characters during that time, but overall I bought and rehabilitated a four-unit condo and it turned out to be a profit in five years.

During this time, I found another four-unit building that I bought for cash. My ex is an electrician and was very helpful so we got together pretty quickly as we spent a lot of time together. He helped me with a lot of projects, often overseeing the work, but I always paid for the supplies and any foreign labor I needed.

He dug us in a hole

He proposed after a year and we married a year later. He asked to lead the second rehab. He told me he knew more about project management than I did. Fast forward to 2021: I invested $ 140,000 and he invested $ 40,000. Three years later, the project was still ongoing. When I questioned him, he got angry and frustrated.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, our joint project created terrible tension because he just lied about what happened to our budget – the money I invested – and why the project wasn’t even 50% complete. He dug us in a hole, spent money on things I told him not to buy, and went way over our original budget.


“I paid most of our expenses in the four years we were together.”

My husband left me in August. He gave up the project and our marriage. He said our marriage and business stressed him out. I never judged him and I knew I made twice as much as he did when we met, but I didn’t care. In the four years we were together, I paid most of our expenses, and he only contributed when he felt like it.

He tried to return in February but we fought again. He now wants the $ 40,000 he invested in my building, which he tore apart and destroyed. I could have finished it two years ago if I had been in charge. I have nothing legal in writing. I called a lawyer who said a divorce could cost me $ 15,000.

I am not a big investor

If both properties were bought in my name before we got married – and I invested three times as much as he did in his failed project – who owes what? I told him he had no rights to either property and we shouldn’t have such an expensive divorce with no children. Apart from the project, we haven’t pooled our finances.

I bought this building to generate income in retirement as I’m not a big investor. Those two buildings cost me the savings of my life and should have made me $ 1 million in assets. My fortune is now $ 650,000 because the other building is still at a loss. In my current state, I would lose money if I sold it as it is.

He keeps telling me to take equity off my first property to pay him to go, but I don’t feel like I owe him anything because of his negligence and the fact that he tied up my money and the drop in rent over the past two years. I’ve covered our expenses, including $ 50,000 vacation, since we were together.

I feel like my heart has been broken and now he’s trying to break my wallet too.

Project manager

Dear manager,

A mediocre man meets a successful woman, convinces her that he is better at building, is unable to oversee a similar project that she has successfully managed in the past, invests a fraction of the amount his wife invests gets angry when asked about his failures, takes his hammer and demands his money back.

You have the money to speak to a good lawyer and learn about the legal landscape. It is a good sign that you bought these properties before you got married, but you likely mixed up the second property as he invested $ 40,000 of his own money to renovate it.

Whether or not you live in a communally owned or justly distributed state, collect documents: bank statements, emails, credit card bills, bills, and anything that shows your contribution to that marriage. Be prepared. Maybe he owes you money.

Keep your eyes on the future and not the past. It may be true that you could now have a million dollars in savings, but that didn’t happen. You paid a price for a lesson you won’t soon forget. Don’t give up your creative gold for anyone.


“I want you to build something that doesn’t cost you anything except the courage and determination you’ve shown in your life so far.”

When I read that your estranged husband had arrived at the scene, I hoped it wouldn’t. He did you a favor by running away. The good news: you still have Skin in the game, you can complete the second project just as you did the first. But first you have to get tough.

I would like you to build something that costs you nothing except the courage and determination that you have shown in your life so far: Build a glass wall between you and your husband. It’s time to stop doing its demands on your time and business.

He’s a madman, a man who has built himself up on a cloud of smoke of false bravery. If he was the man he claimed to be, he would have built you instead. You have already completed a similar project on budget and on schedule. The only person you have to prove anything to is yourself.

The next man who comes right by tells you he’s better than you at anything or anything, show him the door. Hopefully it will be a door you personally paid for and installed – and one with a good lock and a really nice, hefty swing.

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