“I have come to believe that the real culprit in marriage isn’t the particular problems people bring to therapists, it’s when one or both spouses become hopeless. Hopelessness is the real cancer in marriage.” — Michele Weiner-Davis LCSW
I am fully aware that this site is all about saving your marriage. Don’t get me wrong here. I am all for that. If there is a person in this world that would keep her marriage over and over and over again, well, that’s me. I have tried to save what is left of my abusive marriage, and after 20 years, I think I have done enough saving. People who are abusive to their spouses cannot be saved. That’s what my therapist told me. I cannot save him, and with that, I also cannot save our marriage.
It’s not that he doesn’t love me. I know that deep down inside, he did love me at some point. It’s just that he is a troubled person with damaged mental and emotional well-being. He also has a dysfunctional family, very broken even if his parents are together in one roof, and that adds to the problems at hand.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
We met at university when we were just teenagers. His cousin was a classmate of mine at Honor’s Program for Business Administration undergraduates, while he was in the general section program. It wasn’t love at first sight; I’d tell you that. And so, he courted me (it was the olden days, and yes, courting was necessary at that time). For months he pursued, and I have fallen for his sweet words and actions eventually. We became an item, and everybody thought that we were the perfect couple, what millennials call now as “relationship goals.”
I was a fool to believe then that we were going to last forever – if you are in love, that is how you would feel. But love can wither. People change, and they will hurt those who love them for their selfish reasons. I witnessed the red flag first hand when we were just a few months together, and I ignored. It was a denial on my part that it could become an addictive behavior and that it was bad. But his father did it, and so he did it too. At seventeen, he was a compulsive gambler. He had the fake ID and all, and because his dad was famous in the casino, he could easily go in.
That was the first sighting of his mental health problems. The second red flag that I didn’t consider back then was his anger issues, and how he dealt with it.
I was a brat, acting spoiled, and being princess-y. Of course, I was only eighteen at that time, and he gave me everything that I wanted, and I liked to wear his new Esprit sunglasses. But he was using it, and I didn’t care about that. And so to finish the tantrum episode that I was displaying at that time, he took of his newly bought Esprit sunglasses, crushed it and threw it away. I was so shocked and wasn’t able to talk. And because I was in love with him, it didn’t set a flag for me back then. He had a short fuse, and his temper was nasty when triggered. This person was also violent, but I failed to see it. I was clouded with my love for him.
“Wants or preferences are things that you value but are willing to negotiate in good faith with your spouse.” — Catherine Aponte Psy.D.
Anyway, we got married, and for twenty years, the union gave us five beautiful children. The children were the only wonderful moments in our marriage, for it was a tumultuous two decades for me. I never felt secure and comfortable. He never made me feel safe and comfortable. In those twenty years, all I received were lies, lies, and more lies. And there, the third mental health issue surfaced – he was a pathological liar.
About nine years in our marriage, I tried to divorce him. We only had three girls at that time, and I realized that he wasn’t going to stop his gambling ways, his lies, his violence towards me, and his philandering. Why did I choose such a man, to begin with? But we didn’t divorce then, and I continued to suffer.
I don’t want that kind of life anymore where I would agree to him trampling on me. What have I become? I have tried to kill myself a few years back. My self-confidence and self-esteem are so low. The beauty and spark in me have gone – as my grandma would say it, and I would tremble every time I hear him speak. My cousin brought me to a therapist, and that’s when I found out how abused I was over the years. She opened my eyes and told me to love myself first, and stop saving my spouse who doesn’t want or need my saving grace.
She’s right. Why would I force myself on someone terrible to me? If he loved me, he would have treated me right. He would have stopped his behavior or if he couldn’t cope with it, ask for help. His family did the intervention all the time, but it wouldn’t work for so many reasons. And now, I am just done. I don’t want to be a part of it anymore. What I need to save now is myself from ruining because of this marriage.
“While many will say they don’t like the way things are going, the fact is, marriage is changing and I’m not sure what, if anything, can stop these changes.” — Susan Pease Gadoua L.C.S.W.
Again, I know that this blog is about saving your marriage. But I realized that for you to have a beautiful and fulfilling marriage, you have to be a better person first. If you are a complete person, you can enjoy a great marriage. So, first, love yourself, and everything else will follow.