Maybe I was married to an abuser
I am basically the same woman I was ten years ago when I finally divorced my abusive husband. I think my children, family, and friends would agree that my behavior, priorities, and personality are not that different now than they were then. So sometimes I wonder why the man I’m married to now isn’t in the habit of condemning or criticizing me, or refuses to help me with household responsibilities, or finds it convenient to list all the ways I’ve fallen short. This man is so pleasantly different from my ex-husband; She doesn’t spend money we don’t have, she doesn’t tell me there’s something very wrong with me, she doesn’t shake her head in disgust as she tells me that her life would be so much better if I weren’t such a lousy wife.
My husband does not leave for hours without telling me where he has been; nor has he stolen thousands of dollars from our bank account, nor has he hidden cache of pornography in strange places in the house. He doesn’t abuse prescription drugs or alcohol, or try to get me to do things in our room that make me feel cheap and dirty. He does not look at me with hatred in his eyes or throw me out of our room as punishment. My husband does not terrify children, and he does not lift a finger in my face and demand that I submit to him when I am morally uncomfortable with his decisions.
Surprisingly, the man I am married to cares if I am hurting and goes out of his way to make sure I am happy and safe. This is a man who, when I’m sick, goes to the store to buy medicine and comes back not only with cough drops, but also with a box of my favorite cookies and a magazine to read while I’m camping on the couch with a blanket. . , a box of tissues, the remote control, and a tall glass of orange juice.
My husband never verbally runs over me until I am so emotionally drained that I submit to his unreasonable demands. He has never rolled his eyes sarcastically while claiming that I just need to forgive him and get over him; or that if he really loved God he wouldn’t be so bitter. The man who shares his life with me today listens to my stories and doesn’t make me feel stupid when I tell them. My husband believes I have something to offer, he wants me to fulfill me, and he is not in the least threatened by my successes; in fact, he affirms me and even brags about our relationship with his friends. He opens the car door for me, holds my hand when we go out together, and for some strange reason, he still thinks I’m beautiful when I’m wearing my dirty paint clothes and no makeup.
I have to believe that I am not much different from the woman I was about ten years ago. However, there are those who, when they discover that I have been divorced, glance sideways in my direction and a flash of judgment crosses their faces. Surely, they must assume, I must have done something to trigger the abuse; I must have incited my ex-husband’s rage. I’m sure you’re sure that I was probably not friendly, helpful, or understanding enough. I must have been too demanding or I probably had unrealistic expectations of him. Maybe I misunderstood your needs. Or maybe they are right. Perhaps, as my ex-husband told me, I was incredibly selfish, insensitive, and prone to overreacting to such trivial marital matters.
If those things are so, why haven’t I failed miserably in this new marriage? Why does my husband see me as the most precious person in his life? If living with me is so difficult, why does my husband appreciate me and enjoy my company? If the cruelty I was subjected to was so obviously deserved, then how is it that the man I share my life with now doesn’t blame me for his unhappiness or yell at me for the slightest misstep? Surely, you must see how messy, self-absorbed, and relentless I really am.
And why am I no longer forced to cry regularly? Why am I no longer bearing the burden of ongoing physical and emotional distress, depression, and anxiety? What entitles me to enjoy my free time at home now, and why don’t I continue to panic when I hear my husband’s car pull up in the driveway?
Seeing the overwhelming contrast in my marriages, I must assume that maybe, just maybe, my first marriage failed because I was married to an abuser. It must be plausible that I was living with a man for the purpose of dominating, controlling, and degrading me. It sure seemed like their behavior was a calculated attempt to maintain their superiority, get away with it, and make sure they kept me where I belonged. I can’t think of any other reason why my ex-husband intentionally looked for ways to isolate me from my friends and family or to keep me off balance, confused, and doubting my worth, except to make sure I was constantly worrying about him. Or was it really my fault that I was reduced to living in a constant state of fear?
I only know that now I am practically the same woman as then, but with a big difference. Now I am married to a man who wants me to know that I am loved, wanted and appreciated. I know my love will do everything possible to make sure I am safe and happy. I had wondered if it was possible, I had almost stopped imagining that I could be worthy of such love.
But I guess so.
So, to those who doubt my character and the effort I put into contributing to a healthy marriage the first time, I must say that you will not be the first and you will not be the last to reach the conclusion. . But maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t my fault the marriage failed. If I was the one who forced my ex-husband to treat me so badly, how is it that the man I’m married to now treats me so well?
In truth, there is no “maybe”. It was not my fault. I was married to an abuser.
If you are living in a similar situation, you should know that perhaps, despite all the things he has said to you, it is not your fault. It may be that no matter how hard you try or how much you want a happy marriage, you may never be able to fix it. Maybe, just maybe, you are married to an abuser.
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