How the heck did I end up married to a man I didn’t love and then allow him to abuse me? Good question. I write my story in an effort to try to understand it myself. Welcome to the series, “Marriage Hell.”
Rob and I were in the midst of purchasing our home that I didn’t want. We were getting ready to leave for our trip to the Bahamas to officially get engaged. And we had our first real argument. Before then, Rob was nothing but the perfect boyfriend. He was kind, attentive, thoughtful, happy, and calm. We had a very good relationship, actually. We had a lot of fun together, our children were all getting along, and Rob was quickly becoming my daughter’s dad. She loved him in all the sweet ways a child loves a dad and they were getting close. It melted my heart. This was the way it should be. This was my idealic image of a family and I was living it.
Our first argument started one evening when my ex husband asked if he could come over to borrow my computer; his internet was down. Since we got along decently and we had stopped having any kind of marriage or relationship in any way, shape or form for over five years, I allowed him to come over to my home. I was tired and went to bed in my bedroom with my daughter sleeping next to me, locked the door, and asked that he lock up on his way out.
Rob decided that same evening to come over in the middle of the night. When he did, he found my ex in my living room. There was nothing unacceptable going on. I was asleep and the ex was sitting on the couch with my computer on his lap and the TV and lights on. But Rob was furious. He left my condo and called me screaming. “I just went over to your house but guess who I found when I opened your door? Mac! What the HELL is he doing there?” Groggy from sleep, I tried to gather my thoughts. “He’s still here? Rob, I’m sorry but I’m sound asleep. And, as you can see, I’m alone in my bed with my bedroom door locked. I’m really sorry but he just came over to use my computer. That’s it,” I said. And then I started getting mad. What was Rob doing walking into my home, unannounced, in the middle of the night? Dangerous, actually (especially considering that I used to work for the National Rifle Association and knew a thing or two about protecting myself). And kind of creepy.
“We are backing out of the house!” he yelled. Now, actually, that sounded perfect! This was my out and I intended to take it. “Ok, sounds good. If we can’t make it through this glitch, we won’t make it through anything big. So let’s cancel the house and we’ll figure out ‘us’ later. I’m going back to sleep. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” I hung up. I felt hopeful that this whole mess could go away. I went back to sleep soundly. You know that feeling of weight being lifted off your shoulders? Yep, that’s how I felt—all six hundred tons of it.
But my out disappeared the next day. Rob apologized. I did, too. Sorry I let my ex husband in the house (though it wasn’t like I was shagging him, gross, and when I allowed him to borrow my computer, I really thought it was just the nice thing to do). And, unfortunately, the purchase of the house kept crossing one hurdle after the next as our closing date loomed. Rob, Morgan and I went to the Bahamas. While Morgan was at kids club, we went ring shopping. Rob surprised me with my favorite ring—a pink sapphire and diamond. I put it on and it was pretty. The trip was fun and on our way back, I saw the first signs of trouble with his oldest daughter, Nicky, that would plague us throughout our entire marriage (as if life with alcoholism wasn’t enough). While we were on vacation, instead of staying at her mother’s house like she was supposed to do, Nicky stayed at Rob’s and skipped all of her classes and partied. It was the beginning of disaster and drama with me smack in the middle.
When we got back to San Diego, I tried one final time to back out of purchasing the home on the day we were scheduled to close. Rob talked me out of it: “We will lose the $45 thousand. We can’t back out. It’ll be fine. We are going to be happy there. We are going to have a great marriage and family. We are going to throw parties and entertain just like you love to do. This is perfect for us.”
I wanted to believe him. I wanted us to have that happy fairytale. Could it really happen for me? I signed and wrote out another big check. I wanted to vomit. Instead I smiled.
When Rob’s ex wife found out we purchased that home and he was selling the home they had raised their daughters in, she was livid. She called him: “You don’t get married so fast, Rob! You heal, you get therapy, you help your girls adjust to their new life. What are you doing? Oh my God, Rob, you need help!” I could hear her on the other end of the phone because Rob motioned for me to come over so I could listen in. As she spoke, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. She was right but it was too late. I felt doomed. Rob hung up on her. And I tried to put on a brave face, smile, and press forward. The only good part of all this was that I couldn’t hardly eat anything because I was so stressed out and I was dropping weight like crazy—ten pounds in four weeks- hooray! I guess. It was time to start packing up the condo that I loved so much. My last night there, I took a bath and cried.
Rob and I moved our two homes over the weekend into our new big house. My boxes were neatly packed up and labeled. Rob’s move was a total disaster. Boxes of things dumped into them. Some boxes were packed well, others were thrown into the garage in a pile of—“disasterness.” Just a few days later, I went on a business trip to New Orleans and Rob followed me out. We had fun. He went home after a few days while I stayed longer for work. When I got back to San Diego and walked through the front door of our new home, I was horrified. The house was a mess. While one might expect chaos, this was extreme. Not even the kitchen, which in my opinion, is one of the first areas you unpack so you can eat and cook, was unpacked by even a box. Instead, there were partially ripped open boxes and piles of dirty dishes, takeout boxes, and papertowels in the sink. The only person doing anything to try and create order was Rob’s younger daughter, Kelly. Where was Rob at eight o’clock at night? Sound asleep (no doubt, and I didn’t know this yet, passed out drunk). I was not happy.
Kelly and I stayed up until almost midnight unpacking the kitchen together and talking. How was it that a 14 year old kid felt more of a responsibility to pitch in than a grown man? How was it that after a long flight, I was working alongside a child to unpack our home while Rob was enjoying a good slumber? I was not happy. The only good thing about any of this was that it was a bonding time for Kelly and I as we unpacked box after box after box of kitchen stuff and put them away. Then we cleaned up the disgusting rotting dishes with old food on them and took out the trash. Progress. Exhaustion. Unbelievable.
And there I was, in a new home, with a wedding six weeks away. The decision was made. This was my life, like it or not. I was stuck. And I vowed to make the best of it. Somehow we were going to be happy together. We were going to make this work. And I smiled a lot and started putting the final touches on wedding planning,