Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Strike Two

Time for an update on what's been going on with my marriage. If you've been to this blog multiple times before, you might be fine skipping the background.

Background: Just to remind you, in case you haven't discerned this from past entries: I would be identified as an evangelical Christian. Even though I was raised in a household that, beyond my father taking the kids to Sunday school from time to time, and grace being said at some of the important big holiday meals, was not a religious home, was still a socially conservative household in the sense that it was expected that, when we grew up, after getting our education, we'd marry and then have children. My father, no conservative ideologue, still didn't want my sister going on The Pill because he thought it would give her license to fornicate. (He told me this years after I became an adult, to point out that my mother DID put my sister on The Pill over his objections and my sister STILL got pregnant young.)

Although I fornicated in my wayward youth, I never shacked up (despite at least one girlfriend clearly wanting to). As far as I know, I was never a party to an abortion, I never got any STDs. I became a regular churchgoer. Upon getting close with my now-wife, I started attending her church with her, which was an evangelical one, like the one to which I was already going. I have attended church with more regularity than my wife, with her sleeping in some days instead of going.

Speaking of my wife, she  made it clear early on in our dating that she was a virgin and was going to be one until her wedding night, and we stuck to that. Technically, anyway. We were burning with passion and crossing many lines, but never got to intercourse before the wedding.

She was working full time, on her feet, with children, which was good because she was eager to be a wife and stay-with-kids mother, which was fine with me, because I didn't want strangers raising my kids, and as people like Dr. Laura portray it, a full-time mother & mom is going to make the house a home and have lots of energy for her husband.

We appeared to be very compatible, in personality, worldview and religious practice, morals, major life goals, educational achievement, fiscal responsibility, family background, dealing with in-laws, even some of our recreational interests. Multiple personality tests said we were a good match. We went through something like an eight week course at our church designed to help couples discern if they are compatible with each other for marriage, and we also went through premarital counseling with a pastor at another church, which is where we actually married (due to the unavailability of our own church).

Despite all of this, I'm now in a situation in which it’s like I’m single father to young kids and a special needs teenager. The teenager can drive the other kids places, babysit them, and do a few chores, but is not always reliable or safe.

So what’s new?

I know a lot of men try to "rescue" women. That is not what I was doing here. I thought I was marrying a partner, not what amounts to a bratty teenager with a disabilities.

My wife's physical condition has been deteriorating, partially because she doesn't take care of herself and partially because of her physical disability. This is in contrast to how it was presented when we were dating and before we had children: that quarterly appointment with a doctor would keep her in good abilities.

I was completely unaware of my wife's mental illness. It wasn't until after we had our children that her family revealed to me some very important information, which my wife denied right up until earlier this year, when she inadvertently revealed to our therapist that her family was telling me the truth, but the whole truth was much worse. Actually, I'm not sure I have the whole truth yet. I'm still getting information. Just the other day, my wife told me she's not been taking some of her medications as prescribed, but with irregularity. That was AFTER what I consider "strike two" when it comes to whether our marriage is going to continue or not.

Strike two was a recent series of events. My wife was having a rough time of it as several things were getting her down. Her response was to lash out at me, telling me she really dislikes me. Then she told me, in writing, that she had just done something that could get her arrested and cause her to lose custody of our children. There was my chance. I was literally heading out the door with the kids on the way to set a series of events in motion that would probably lead to her arrest. She realized what I was doing and scrambled to stop us. I didn't have the guts to go through with it. I excused my wimp-out by doing some quick research to determine that nobody would be in immediate danger as long as some easy steps were taken.

She repaid my mercy with hours and hours of berating me. She tried to guilt me into dropping what remains of my hobbies and communication with friends and into neglecting my job. She essentially said I never did anything right and I was a horrible person. I bit my tongue. There were many retorts that would have hit the nails on their heads, but I held back. I simply demanded she agree to certain rules that would protect the safety of my children, and that she get therapy again. It is ridiculous that she hasn't been getting therapy in recent years, especially since she tried kill herself two years ago (in what was strike one), and yet I am going to therapy.

I'd certainly not been perfect. I'd let the aggravation and frustration get to me, and although I had not returned to full-out bellowing at the top of my lungs, I have huffed, and sighed, and scoffed, and been less than pleasant. I have made a (so far) successful effort to change that. I want the home environment for my children to be as pleasant as it can be, seeing as how they’ve been screwed in several ways.

These days, when she's at her best and things are their best between us, we're basically friendly roommates who are co-parenting and also happen to kiss. When she's in her more negative mode, she's depressed, petty, cruel, hostile, and vengeful as though her husband and children are the cause of her physical disability, rather the victims of it. I'll try to take care of her emotionally and she'll tell me to take care of myself and she'll take care of herself. This doesn't stop her from "asking" or outright demanding I do something physical for her (carrying things, bringing her food, etc.)

You know it is bad when you see the least problematic outcome possible as her finally being successful at doing herself in.

Either way, I'm paying all of her bills, including the substantial medical bills that are still there after the insurance (for which I pay), as I have for many years.

What is she doing?

Other than driving the kids to school and picking them up four days a week, she is free to sleep, to do her hobbies, to play her games on her tablet, to use our desktop, to watch television, and to eat the junk she buys when she does the shopping that I don't do. She lets the laundry pile up to do it when the kids are with my family, which is a convenient way to avoid doing things with me. She hasn't cooked in many weeks, and by "cook" I mean throwing something in a pot.

So I earn all the income. I do much of the shopping and other errands. I take care of the kids, play with them, do their homework, and feed them, put them to bed, etc. I've started to do my own laundry again. I'm like a single parent, but one who has to pay another adult's way through life for the rest of my life.

We're in the longest dry spell we've ever had together when it comes to sex. Her hangups, her meds, her disabilities, and whatever else have kept her from wanting or enjoying it, and if she's not feeling it (whether it is sexual desire or hunger or just about anything else) then everyone else is left to their own resources. There's no passion or playfulness or flirting or lovemaking at all from her. I'm fine being the one to initiate, but I can only take so much rejection and I am extremely averse to feeling like I'm putting someone through a chore to have sex with me. We have an anniversary around this time of year and when she told me she'd bought my anniversary gift (which is paid for with money I earned, of course) and that it was something I needed, I correctly guessed what it was even though we'd never discussed anything like it. Sure enough, my guess was confirmed when the mail shipment was delivered. She'd bought me a couple of devices to aid in masturbation. (Go head and tell me again it would be wrong for me to masturbate because my sexuality belongs to my wife.)

It is very easy for us to get into these dry spells. First of all, sex isn't going to happen except under a narrow set of circumstances, usually including the same day of the week (yes, just once per week). However, if she's depressed or ticked off at me (and it can be a made-up reason) then that week's mercy session isn't going to happen. Provided that has been avoided, she might still wave me away with a "rain check" which, at least nine times out of ten, she'll never live up to. Provided those things have been avoided, she may get her period, which always seems to happen at such a time as to interfere with her "preferred" day of the week. And provided those things have been avoided, there will be things she has to do or has me doing until I'm even more tired and worn out and only have a few hours before I have to be awake again.

If you haven't been following along for the last few years, these might be thoughts you are having:

1) Hey, you jerk, she's dealing with some severe disabilities. Have some compassion!

2) Why don't you get a divorce?

Regarding the first one, I have had much compassion. However, every time I put myself in her shoes, I go back to when she basically perpetrated a fraud in order to get a husband. She wanted to be married, and she wanted to have kids, and by golly, nothing was going to stop that, and so she lied to me and perhaps herself, and thus has burdened a man and children in a way that will probably have serious negative implications for those children for the rest of their lives. This is NOT some situation where she got into an accident or developed some serious disease after we married, or before we married with me being fully informed. Rather, this is a matter of ongoing physical and mental illnesses/disabilities that were hidden from me until after we had children.

As far as the second, although I have an aversion to divorce due to my faith, I do believe I have Biblical grounds for divorce. My reason for not seeking a divorce (yet) is that I'm not convinced my children would be better off being shuttled between two homes and with their only income being further stressed by paying for two households. One way or the other, I'm going to have to pay my wife's way through life for the rest of my life (and after, given all the insurance). I might as well have someone around who can drive the kids some of the time. I have talked with a divorce lawyer twice, but I'm not going to go ahead unless there's a strike three, and which point I would be convinced it is necessary for the protection of my children. I have made it clear to my family of origin, and I'll tell you that getting a divorce would NOT mean I'd be free to find someone better for me, because I have minor children to raise and they don't need the chaos, risks to them, and distractions associated with new potential stepmothers coming into (and likely going out of) their lives. Plus, I don't think I'd ever want to remarry – not legally, anyway.

There's a very real possibility my wife will eventually be unable to drive the children or do much at all. That really didn't hit me until recently, when we confirmed that a treatment she'd been undergoing was going to stop and she's now worse off than when she started it. Perhaps going back to an old treatment will help, but I can't count on that. I haven't finalized a plan on what we'll do if she becomes essentially bedridden.

You may be a fellow who wants to get married. You may be looking for the "right" woman. You may have a girlfriend or be engaged and thinking "Something like this could never happen to me! I'd never feel that way about my marriage!" Heh... don't be so sure. Even if you have, truly, found an unusually good quality woman who is compatible with you and you're sure you would be able to treat her kindly for the rest of your life, she could still have something terrible happen to her, whether an illness or injury or some trauma that could turn her into a monster, and the law will empower her to ruin your life. Is that a risk you’re willing to take?

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