A 73-year-old grandmother has revealed her despair after accepting $25,000 from a live-in friend to marry him – only for their friendship to break down, sparking a bitter legal fight she claims could leave her penniless.
The woman, who has chosen to remain anonymous, revealed in an exclusive chat with Starts at 60 how she met the 76-year-old Aussie man just over a year ago, after they began chatting on paid-for dating site RSVP.
While she was renting a small home from a close friend at the time, the man had spent the last 17 years living in a retirement village unit.
After chatting for a while, the grandmother-of-four agreed to meet him for lunch – making clear from the very start that she was only interested in friendship and companionship, not an intimate relationship.
“I was upfront straight away, and he was going, ‘Yes, yes, that’s fine’, he was totally agreeable,” she insisted. “It happened very fast [from there], which really should have been my first warning sign.”
After spending a few days together – with the gran inviting her new partner to stay in her spare room – it wasn’t long before he moved in full-time, all the time showering her with praise while she enjoyed cooking him meals and having a close friend for outings as well as company at home.
The couple never became intimate in the whole time they were together, but spent almost every minute together nonetheless.
“He was happy with that at the beginning,” she said. “He was so appreciative of the food, but as the months went on it was, ‘Do we have to have this again?’”
After officially leaving the retirement village, the woman said her partner got his bond back – worth $80,000 after 17 years living there. However a few days later, seemingly out of nowhere and just four months into their relationship, she claimed he offered to give her $40,000 of the money.
“I said, ‘What, why on Earth would you want to do that?’ and he said, ‘Because I love you and want to take care of you’. I said, ‘I can take care of myself, this is ridiculous’.”
The gran continued refusing to accept the money, but claimed that he ended up transferring it into her account without her knowledge. They eventually reconciled and she admitted over the coming months she allowed herself to spend the money, with $10,000 of it going towards her daughter and her family.
The remainder of the money was spent over several months on gifts for her grandkids, living costs and trips away for the both of them, as well as new furniture.
As their relationship continued, the woman said she began noticing her partner changing and becoming more verbally abusive towards her – with the pair allegedly regularly descending into rows. Nonetheless, she said he had his heart set on buying a new home for them both to live in – and that’s when the trouble really began.
To avoid them paying hefty fees towards a lifestyle village, her son-in-law suggested they rent his larger family home off him. She claimed that her partner agreed to pay the son-in-law $100,000 as a loan towards the mortgage, in order to lower the repayment amounts and therefore allow them to pay less rent.
As the three of them visited a lawyer to try and draw up paperwork for the rental agreement, the gran recalled how her partner began to broach the possibility of them marrying.
From the start, she insisted she refused the offer and never had any intention of marrying. However, after visiting the lawyer, she claimed she was pressurised almost from the moment she walked through the door.
“This lawyer stood up and said, ‘He wants to marry you because he wants to take care of you’,” she recalled. “I looked up, ‘I do not want to marry him, I’m not in love with him for one thing and secondly, I can take care of myself – have done for many years’.”
She claimed the exchange was “very intimidating”– with the lawyers apparently claiming that, by marrying him, it would ensure his money would go to her if he were to die – not his daughter, who he was estranged from at the time.
“It was total control,” she insisted. “He [her partner] then turns round to me and says, ‘Listen, I want you to marry me, I’ll pay you $25,000 – I’ll give you that – if you marry me’. I said, ‘This is absolutely ridiculous. You keep throwing money at me’.”
The gran claimed despite her reservations, he again transferred the money to her overnight without her knowledge. It proved to be enough to finally convince her and, after giving up her fight, they finally married in a small registry office at the start of this year.
As the couple began to adapt to married life, they also moved into her son-in-law’s home at last – and she claimed her new husband became intolerable almost from day one.
“Once we moved in he completely changed and became extremely verbally abusive towards me, his behaviour… it was like a different person on the first day of moving in,” she said. “I just was on tenterhooks the whole time and I never liked turning my back on him, I just didn’t know what he’d do.”
The final tipping point came just months later when they took a trip together, but she claimed he gave her barrage of verbal abuse the whole way – so much so, she felt distracted while driving. Turning back as they arrived, she drove them home and announced it was over.
“My heart was just going crazy the whole time, I thought, I’m going to be dead before the year’s out if this continues. I can’t do it anymore,” she said.
They eventually ended up staying together in the house, but living in opposite ends of it – until he eventually moved out a few months ago, at the start of April.
“I’m very trusting. This has been a huge lesson for me,” she admitted. “I’m a nice person so I figure everybody else is.”
They’ve been locked in a legal fight ever since, with her husband now demanding back all of the money and gifts he gave her throughout their relationship – including the $25,000 he gave her for marrying him.
They’re now due to attend a mediation to try and come to a solution together – but it’s left her relying on her Age Pension until then, having spent the $40,000 during their relationship and giving $20,000 of the $25,000 to her son-in-law to secure her upcoming year’s rent and make sure she has a roof over her head.
The remaining $5,000 has been put into a joint holding account, on advice from a judge, until they come to a conclusion in their legal fight.
“It was abuse. I didn’t even know about abuse until this,” she said.
The gran is now sharing her story to warn other women of the dangers of trusting someone too soon, without getting to know them for longer – especially when it comes to accepting money.
“I have no superannuation, no savings, and no protection at all in my later years in life,” she admitted. “I have the pension and that’s it so basically it’s still a man’s world. He’s got the money, he’s got the lawyers, he’s got the power and it’s the worst thing I’ve ever done in my lifetime. I am beside myself my health is suffering.
“So ladies be warned as charming as they are when you first meet them, just be warned when your man has no friends and does not know how to love or take care of anybody then alarm bells set off.”