Saying I Want a Divorce

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:

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.

Saying I want a divorceThis 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

  • Terry Beigie

    Was that supposed to be Nov. 2010 in the first graph? I was tripped up there for a bit.

    How horrible it must be when you finally have the guts to say something and then have them taunt you like this. How scary with the “I should leave a note bit…” I feel so her.

    • Mandy Walker

      Ooops – thank you Terry for being my editor! I’ve corrected that.

      Yes – all the standard advice is to talk honestly to your spouse about the issues in your marriage but when you hear a story like Marjorie’s (and this gets much worse), it really does make you think twice. I think we all want to trust that the person we once loved will behave ethically and morally but it often just doesn’t happen like that.

  • April

    I’m very concerned about a friend of mine who is currently in a marriage with someone I don’t trust as far as I can throw him. She has given him an ultimatum of divorce, but is holding onto the paperwork. I’m very afraid of what he’s doing to protect himself, and what she’ll lose.

    • Mandy Walker

      I hope she’s listening to you because he could be doing exactly that. You’re a good friend.

  • Sherelle Jackson

    I am finding some familiar ground with this story. I have physically separated myself by in excess of 3000 miles. My soon to be ex does not like flying. Does not like city life. And would have a hard time challenging my sons. He has health issues and would not risk those serious things to find me. Or so I think. It is best to be cautious and find out where their heads are.

    • Mandy Walker

      How old are your boys? Are they with you? Stay safe, Sherelle. Have you changed all your passwords?

  • andrea

    love the pix.  so appropriate.

    wow, this story makes me feel a bit sick.  i also heard the “come back now.  don’t do anything until after the first of the year line.  even in our final divorce papers we had to agree to disagree on the date of separation.  so i’m sure that at some point i’ll see he’s done something to obligate me financially during the period he claims we were still together.

    and yeah, the standard advice, to sit down and talk w/ your spouse; SO potentially harmful for those of us dealing w/ psychopaths.  and when you try and tell someone that your ex is a

    psychopath, they think you are mentally ill. 

    psychopath, they think you are mentally ill.