Updated: Jun 25, 2019
Warning: I may use the occasional curse word in this article.
No one gets married assuming or thinking that they will get divorced. At least, no one I've ever met, including myself. However, if ever there was a marriage that should not have occurred, it was my first marriage. The signs were there if I had not told my inner voice to shut the fuck up.
I met him at work in 1994. I was a student employee, on a temporary assignment in the office where he worked. I was young; 20 years old and still living at home with my parents. I was also the mother of a 2-year-old son. He asked me out, and I accepted, not knowing our age difference. I assumed he was about 28 years old, and he assumed the same about me. After I’d already accepted the date, we discovered that in fact we were 16 years apart. He was 36 years old. I was a bit hesitant at that point, but I went ahead anyway.
There were red flags even within the first couple of months of our relationship that virtually everyone around me noticed, but I either ignored them justified his behavior. I had dated a series of jobless losers who had a hard time with the fact that I had a young child, so I was at a time in my life where I what I wanted out of man was stability and someone who could deal with me having a son. My ex-husband had been working for the Federal Government for over a decade, so he met my “stable” criteria. He was nice to my son, so he also met my “must accept my son” criteria. Apparently, I had set the bar VERY LOW. In hindsight, I can’t see anything else that he met in terms of what I find suitable in a relationship.
To give this some context: I’ve never been a jealous, possessive, or controlling person. I believe that if someone is going to cheat on me or do me wrong, no amount of jealousy, possessiveness, or control will change this. I feel like if I ever get to the point where I feel the need to “snoop” through my partner’s things, then it’s time to leave the relationship. I am very tolerant; I don’t care if someone is white, black, or green. I just care about how people treat others. I’m outgoing and generally optimistic about life. I have always made it a point to see someone else’s point of view, even if it differs from my own. I believe that in a healthy relationship, each person still needs to have outside interests, and I also believe that it should be an equal partnership.
So many huge flags, but I either ignored or made excuses for all of them:
Yes, he is insanely jealous, possessive, and controlling. It means that he really loves me. I know that it wasn’t cool for him to go through my purse, but it’s just because he has been burned by women before me, so I’m confident that if I continue to show him that I love him, he will relax.
Who cares if he shows racist tendencies? He’s much older than me and was raised in a different time, so that’s to be expected. It’s not his fault.
Sure, he’s withdrawn and pessimistic. He’s just stressed out because he works long hours, and he’s been around the block many more times than I have, so I will probably be the same way as I get older.
He refuses to see anyone else’s point of view, but that’s probably because he is confident in his beliefs.
It’s probably normal that as soon as he started seeing me, he stopped spending time with others. It’s just because he really loves being around me and my son.
He thinks that the man is in charge, and that the woman should acquiesce to his wants/needs, but I’m sure that will change when he realizes that I’m intelligent and have a lot to bring to the table. There’s no way he will minimize me, right?
And the list goes on. He showed me all these signs within the first few months, long before we moved in together. I did try to break it off with him a few times, but each time, I ended up thinking that *I* caused the problem. If I would just be a better girlfriend, we wouldn’t have these issues. So, I stayed.
I’ve always thought that abuse could only be physical, so it never occurred to me that what he was doing could be defined as abusive. I was convinced that I could make our relationship work if I just learned how to love him properly.