Contributed by “A” (#4)

Years later I learn that he’d been working his way through his “long line of fabulous babes” — including prostitutes, outside of our marriage and outside of the USA on business trips…. had a drug habit he’d refused to recognize or do anything about (as though smoking pot every day of your life for 25 years was on the level of a civil right). Angry constantly, especially at me.  No sex for 7 years solid.  And stupid, trusting me sticking with him, all the while trying to figure out what I was “doing wrong” to set him off like that.  Anger, fear, sadness, loneliness.

One Christmas we’re on a visit to his parents for the holiday and I take his dad aside in a desperate attempt for some help.  I tell him I’m not sure how much longer I can “hold on,” and am at wit’s end and don’t know where to turn… can he help in some way?  Can he talk to his son — man to man about what might happen here?  To my everlasting, jaw-dropping astonishment the man goes into a 10 minute monologue that starts with the words:  “The boys’ mother…”  in which he blamed all of his son’s behavior on HIS WIFE.  I was beyond able to respond to this and simply walked away from the conversation without comment.  My retort *should* have been: “Sir, a man learns how to behave towards his wife from observing his father, NOT from what his *mother* does!”  In retrospect, what should I have expected?  We’d all cringed for years as family members stood by and watched this man verbally abuse his own wife at every opportunity.  And I do mean every opportunity.  No chance for denigration went un-grasped.  What goes around, comes around.  Like father, like son.

So, depressed and sad and alone … I find myself doing nothing but going to work and coming home at night in an endless cycle punctuated by telephone calls to him during which he ends up telling me everything that I’m doing wrong… I go on a diet and exercise regimen for months.  Went from a size 16 to a size 6.  He comes home and what does he say??  “Wow!” or “You look wonderful!” or “How did you do it?” or “Congratulations.”  NO.  He tells me I look like I “just stepped out of Auschwitz.”  Oh, there’s more.  Much more.

FINALLY after years of this and trying to get along and begging for us to go into counselling, I went into counselling on my own.  Then, I got involved with someone else because I was so far gone starved for even the simplest kindnesses.  Mere civility was like water on desert sand to me.  After seven years of celibacy and verbal abuse within a marriage.

Later, the house is sold and a check is cut for $104,000.  He tells me we’ll split it.  Months later I get a check for $3,500.   Two years after that, I received $13,000 as the sole final portion in a divorce settlement HIS lawyer wrote up and that I agreed to “without duress or coercion”  . . . . hah hah hah  THAT’s the biggest laugh — sure, I signed the thing that said that because I’d already gotten the threatening phone calls telling me I’d “regret it” if I didn’t sign the agreement.  And the judge and the court officers and the lawyer and the police don’t have to live my life where I have to live it or deal with this person in THEIR personal lives, or knowing THEIR home address — so what the HELL do THEY know or CARE, or can DO anyway.  So I sign (gnaw your own leg off just to get out of the trap).

This after a protracted period of months and months of stubborn “NO LAWYERS whatsoever” or [once again] the ‘you’ll regret it’ threats.

I’m sending this from someone else’s email address, and thankful it’ll never get tracked anyway. 

I have ONE piece of advice:  If you think this cannot happen to YOU.  Think twice.  Oh, THINK TWICE!!  I am well-educated; my husband had a decent job in high-tech.  We lived in suburbia.  We had friends and a house and pets we loved.  I NEVER THOUGHT or knew while he was doing these things on the business trips overseas that he was doing these things.  I thought he was different.  I thought he was above that sort of thing.  Only later did I find out that he preferred women who wore too much makeup and perfume and high heels all the time.  Thank GOD I didn’t find out until later when I’d already moved my heart into a caring relationship and built up some self-confidence and a wall around my heart to protect it from his assaults on me born out of his own internal rage, shame, and insecurity.

GET FINANCIALLY SECURE.  Start and keep your OWN bank account.  Build savings on your own, if necessary.  He always scoffed at my efforts to start some kind of savings for retirement.  Treated me like I was some kind of a “nervous Nelly” … as if I was being *foolish* or neurotic. 

Now in the aftermath of this life with him, I’m 50 years old and have less than $30,000 TOTAL in assets.  NO home, a 17 year old car, and am literally one paycheck from the street.  I have no children and no husband (as I’ll never marry again), and I miss my pets terribly (I’m in a low-rent apartment with a strict no-pets policy).  I have one person in my life who cares, and he’s 68 years old: facing down old age and with no assets to speak of.  One illness, one auto accident, one problem with the landlord, and we’d be in DEEP trouble.  I never thought I’d end up like this.