Today, I’d like to introduce to Marjorie who just turned forty-two. Marjorie and her husband are still married although they’ve been separated since November 2010, so for about 14 months. Technically they’ve been married for about seven and half years and together they have a seven year old daughter. Marjorie has an older daughter from a previous relationship who is now in college.
Two months before they separated Marjorie told to her husband, ‘I want a divorce.’ With two girls to think about, she hoped they’d be able to work it out civilly. Here’s Marjorie:
[contemplate1] Back in the September, I told my husband I thought it was just time we think about ending the marriage, that I was going to be seeking a divorce. And he didn’t take to it well.
This was not the first time that I had told him that things were just not going well. The marriage was full of a lot of verbal and emotional abuse over the years. Initially, he had started where he would be physical…not physical in a way where someone is punching you or slapping you. He was physical in the way where he liked to poke or he would grab my shoulder or something. It wasn’t anything to where I would say “oh he’s abusive” but I just thought he had a temper from time to time, and it wasn’t good.
I’m a pretty strong person, so I knew how to pretty much just fight back. I wasn’t going to play the victim. The last time that it happened was right when I found out that I was pregnant with our daughter. We had just moved to a new city, and I said, “If you put your hands on me again, I’m going to call the police, and if I do that, you can lose your job,” because he worked for the government, he was a civil servant, and “not only that, this could affect your green card” because he’s not a citizen.
After that, there wasn’t the physical, but he went to the verbal, and that’s what I had to deal with over the years. So when I told him I was seeking a divorce, he tried to do everything in his power to try to change my mind. I’d seen it all before and then he said,
“Don’t do anything until after the first of the year, OK?”
I agreed. I didn’t want to disrupt my oldest, it was her last year in high school, so I was really thinking that out carefully, and my youngest had just started Kindergarten, so I thought it would just give me some time to figure out my next step. I did talk with an attorney, just to see what my options were without filing any papers.
I think my husband was just buying time. He was trying to see if he could get me to change my mind like he’s done in the past, and he knew I wanted to do this amicably. He knew I wanted to do things in a proper way that wouldn’t affect the girls.
After a while he saw that he wasn’t changing my mind, that I was still trying to move forward…I wasn’t making enough money in my business so I started looking for a job, had found a position that I could do from home. During this time he was becoming ill, he would be throwing up all the time, he was calling in sick to work, and I kept saying to him, “You really need to go and see a doctor about this.” He said it was because of my decision for the divorce and gave me this whole guilt trip.
One morning he closed himself up in the bathroom, I didn’t see him throwing up, I’m just hearing this from the bathroom, and he comes back to bed and he says,
“I have a mind that if something should happen to me, I should leave a note and say they hold you responsible.”
I just looked at him, “Why would you do something like that?” Of course this started an argument with us.
At that point, I started to get a little bit scared but I brushed it aside because I told myself, “he’s just trying to do this head game with me with his words, that’s what he always does.” I just didn’t pay attention to it but over the next few weeks, things started to escalate.
I would be sleeping in the complete darkness and all of the sudden he would burst into the bedroom, turn on the lights, throw the covers off me, demanding, “Who is he, who is he? Who are you sleeping with?” We would argue and because I didn’t want to wake up the girls, I would go and get in my car, leave the house, come back when I felt like things were calmed down.
His words, what he was saying to me, were becoming even more vicious.
About a week or so before everything came to a halt was our daughter’s birthday. We met, ran to the school, to get a cake, and right afterwards we went and we talked at a book store. He said, “I don’t want to lose our daughter.”
I said, “You’re not going to. We’re going to make this work.”
He said, “Well, why don’t you let me raise her?” He offered me money so I could go off, go to school, build my business, and he would raise our daughter and I wouldn’t have to worry about any child support or anything. I said, “No, I can’t do that. She needs both of us.”
He thought because I already had a daughter previously that I should give him the opportunity to raise our daughter. It just didn’t make any sense and I said, “I can’t agree to that. We will find a way to make this work.”
When I look back now, I see that he was already putting things in motion.
Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while can probably see the red flags in Marjorie’s story and see that her husband’s harassment is similar to what Swati experienced or wonder if what’s coming next is similar to what Lisa and Andrea experienced.
The moral of this segment is that once either you or your spouse says, ‘I want a divorce,’ or talks about separation, prepare for the worse and hope for the best but don’t ignore the possibilities because you don’t think your spouse would ever behave that way. And don’t ignore the possibilities because you think by taking the steps to protect yourself, you’ll be moving your marriage closer to divorce or that you increase the odds of success with counseling by not protecting yourself.
Photo credit: Andrew Middleton