Girl Gone Authentic: The first year of marriage

As you are aware, I got married for a second (last) time in January 2020. We just celebrated our first wedding anniversary on January 3, 2021. The first year was great overall, but also very challenging in ways I never expected.

The year started out wonderfully. Our wedding was awesome, and since it happened a couple of months before anyone had heard of Covid-19, we did not have to change or scale back any of our plans. We went on a fun honeymoon about a week after the ceremony, and we had a great time. We settled into being married (versus living together), and I felt even closer to David than I did when we were not married.

In February 2020, we found out that David needed to have surgery on his upper spine/neck. The surgery involved the surgeon going through his throat to remove some nodules that had grown on his upper spine. The growths were causing excessive migraines, numb/tingling hands, and a couple of other minor symptoms. The surgeon said that he would be unable to work for at least three months, and that it would be about a year before he was fully healed.

He had the surgery in early March 2020, about two weeks before Covid-19 became a “thing” in California. The surgery lasted for about two hours and was successful according to the surgeon. David stayed one night in the hospital (I stayed with him) and then he came home. He had to wear a neck brace for the first four weeks after his surgery. Not only could he not go to work for at least three months, but he also could not drive a car for a month. He was also told that he could not golf for at least six months.

The “no golf” thing ended up being more than he could handle. He was, to put it bluntly, a jerk at home. He was so mad about being “bored” that he took it out on the household. This was one of the challenging aspects about our first year as a married couple.

About six weeks after his surgery, he was feeling great. So great in fact, that he decided to golf anyway. I told him I thought it was a bad idea, but he insisted that he felt amazing and since he’s an adult, it wasn’t like I could stop him.

He went golfing, and two days later he told me that he thought he’d made a terrible mistake (you think???). His neck was in a lot of pain, and he was worried that he’d damaged the devices that had been inserted into his spinal column. He had an MRI and fortunately, he didn’t cause any damage. He stopped golfing after that scare.

He ended up being off work for six months.

Financially, it was not too good for us. We had to pay for health benefits and flexible spending account contributions that usually come out of his paycheck. He was supposed to receive disability through our state, but with Covid-19 wreaking havoc on our state’s Employee Development Department (responsible for unemployment, disability, etc.), David’s disability application was delayed significantly. For much of the time he was not working, he received NOTHING for disability. He called them multiple times, and usually received a response that the phone system had the maximum number of people on hold, and the calls were disconnected.

During all of this, our beloved dog had to be put to sleep in July 2020 (I wrote about this in a previous blog post). This was another challenge during our first year of marriage. David was grief-stricken, and he took it out largely on me. He was very short on patience, and if I even blinked at him in a way he didn’t like, he would rage at me. It was awful. What kept me going was the fact that this is not how he normally treats me. I knew that it was grief, stress over not working, and stress over not contributing financially to our household, that was causing him to be so terrible toward me.

He finally went back to work in September 2020. I thought that him going back to work would help with his mood (not to mention our financial situation), so I started breathing a sigh of relief. That sigh of relief was short-lived. David returned to the same department he worked in before the surgery, but he went back to a different job within the department. His new role had him being in the “lead” capacity for four out of the ten days during his bi-weekly pay period.

This would not be a problem if the supervisor was willing – and capable – of being a supervisor. However, she has poor supervisor skills, and she has never worked in this department other than serving in a “secretary” capacity. The problem with not having worked in this department is that she has no concept of what the employees actually do for each shift (duties depend on what route the employee is assigned to). She has a habit of assigning employees to routes they’ve never done before, meaning that they have no idea what to do, where rooms are located, etc.

When employees do not show up for their shifts, it is the supervisor’s responsibility to fix the schedule to ensure that work is being completed. Since she has never worked in this area, she hands the schedule to David for him to fix and then goes back to her office and closes her door. It is not the lead’s job to fix holes in the schedule. The lead is the person who answers questions, ensures that areas of the hospital receive cleaning service when needed, etc.

Additionally, morale is very low in this department. It was not like this when David left for his surgery, which as I said previously was shortly before Covid-19 turned into the current pandemic. The employees in his department are treated as if they are expendable, while the nurses and doctors receive the “good” protective equipment. David said that the department he left in March and the one he returned to in September are two different departments in terms of morale, the employees themselves (there was a HUGE turnover while he was gone), etc. They are extremely short-staffed, and since the supervisor never leaves her office, most of the employees in the department don’t work as quickly/efficiently as they should because they know that they won’t be discovered playing on phones, reading, etc. Leave requests are never granted, so employees routinely “call in sick” on the days that they had requested to be off.

All of this has caused David to be very angry about his job. He has tried transferring to different departments in the hospital, but the way the seniority works, he is “low man” in other departments. This means that anyone else in the department has priority/seniority for the full-time positions. The only way he can transfer and still get full-time hours is to switch from being a permanent employee to being a per diem employee. He found out that if he does this, he can still have health coverage for him and our daughter “Elizabeth,” but the coverage doesn’t extend to me, his spouse. This means I’d have to get coverage through my job, which is fairly expensive given my various health issues.

So – He stays in his current department. Once again, though, he takes it out on me via extreme impatience, yelling, etc. It got pretty bad one night in late December. It was a few nights before our first wedding anniversary. I was going to take “Elizabeth” to spend some Christmas money she received from my dad. David wanted to come with us.

The night started out just fine but I did something to set him off when we were driving back home. I don’t know what it was; maybe I breathed too hard or something. The next thing I know, we are home and he is screaming at me. I don’t even remember what he was saying to me, but it was mean and thoroughly undeserved. I told him that if his job was causing him to be this angry, he needed to quit and I’d figure out how to support everyone while he found another job. I told him that it wasn’t worth our marriage going downhill. He said that our marriage was already going downhill.

At that point, I went outside onto our front patio and started crying almost to the point of not being able to breathe. Our marriage was already going downhill? Since when? I could hear our daughter saying stuff to him in the house and he snapped at her as well. He came outside and accused me of trying to make him feel bad by crying (not true at all – that’s why I went OUTSIDE to cry).

At this point, he left the house. I could hear him burning rubber all down our street. I kept trying to calm my crying, but I couldn’t stop myself. My phone pinged, and I looked at it. It was our daughter telling me that she was going to spend the weekend at her best friend’s house and that the mom was coming to get her.

I went inside, and she hugged me. I asked her what I’d done to make her dad so upset. She is the type who will tell the truth if she thinks I’m in the wrong. She told me that I didn’t do anything, and she had NO IDEA why her dad was so out of control. She said that him being stressed out at work was no excuse to treat me the way he’d been treating me over the past week or so. She apologized for “leaving me” with her dad while she went to her friend’s house. I told her to not be silly, that she needed to enjoy her weekend and not worry about me.

She left, and I started doing some housework. After awhile, David came back home. He started to apologize but then started going off on me again. He said that he had no idea what we were even doing. At this point, words came out of my mouth that I swore I’d NEVER say to him. I said, “If you don’t know what we’re doing together, why don’t we just get a divorce?”

I couldn’t believe it. I said the D word. I didn’t mean it, but it came out of my mouth so easily. It took me years of terrible treatment at the hands of my ex-husband before I said that to him. Here I am, less than a week from our FIRST wedding anniversary, spewing it out of my mouth.

He froze at that point and left the kitchen. He was in the bedroom for awhile and I did not go down the hallway to talk to him. I stayed in the kitchen continuing to clean. When I was done, I sat down on the recliner in the living room and started watching television. He eventually came into the living room, and we sat in silence. After a few minutes, he asked me a question and I answered it. We sounded very civil and polite, almost to the point of being overly formal.

After a few more minutes, he stood up and walked over to me. I got up and we hugged each other very tightly. He apologized for yelling at me and admitted that he didn’t know why he blew up at me in the first place. I told him that I was so very sorry for threatening him with a divorce. I told him it was a horrible thing for me to say and I didn’t mean it.

It’s been a few weeks since the blow-up, and I notice that he’s making a huge effort to not be a jerk to me because of being unhappy at his job. We celebrated our anniversary, and he made a promise to me that night to work on his anger and not taking things out on me. He’s been more of his affectionate, kind self toward me. He’s even been carrying more of the household chore load lately.

I won’t say that everything is magically back to pre-blow-up, but I still believe in my heart that I made the right choice in marrying David. Our first year of marriage has had some great times, some very challenging times, and some “in-between” times. However, there is no one else I’d rather have by my side in life than my husband. All we have to do is remember that we are on the same team!