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.”
When Rob and I started dating, we raced forward with our relationship (a huge mistake, but hindsight is, as they say, 20-20). I was concerned about Morgan, my daughter who was seven years old at the time and in first grade. Was she alright with my dating? Post my divorce, I had dated two men: Dan and Tom. She knew Dan well and we spent a lot of time with him and his two daughters who were Morgan’s age. We even traveled together. But beyond a simple hug, she never saw us be affectionate and she knew Dan simply as Mommy’s friend. Morgan never met Tom until last summer, some two years after Rob and I split.
Now here was Rob, pushing hard to prove that he was the “real deal.” After several months, I told Morgan that Mommy was dating Rob. At first, she thought it really weird and then she got used to it. When Rob and I decided to buy the new house and we told her that we were getting married, she was ecstatic. In the few months Rob and I had dated, Rob and Morgan became very close. She loved him and she went to school and told her teacher that “My mom and I are getting married to Rob!” And she quickly called him Daddy. Morgan and Rob became inseparable. She loved to do all the things that Rob did– diving off a boat, fishing, playing with lobsters and dead fish, you name it. And Rob loved Morgan. It literally melted my heart to see the two of them together. Their relationship is the one thing that held me together during my moments of panic and regret.
Rob’s two daughters Kellie and Nicky? Well that was a very different story. First, Rob told me that his girls were fine with his dating again. He and his ex-wife, Tina, had separated in July, six months prior to our meeting, and Tina had a new boyfriend and everyone had moved on. As it turned out, that wasn’t true. Tina had actually just moved out of their home a few weeks prior to our meeting and his girls were in deep emotional pain. In my defense, I had no idea. Completely clueless, I was or trust me, I would never in a million years have started dating this man. He lied to me and I simply took him at his word. Big Huge Mistake.
The first time I met Nicky, Rob’s oldest daughter, she was 16 years old and my first impression was that she was a very troubled girl. According to Rob, Nicky had been a very good student but was currently barely passing many of her classes, often ditched school entirely, refused to get a job, and had some very questionable “friends.” And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Nicky, Rob said, hated her mother so he was letting her live with him. They both told me of one story in which mom had confiscated Nicky’s phone. They were at Albertsons, the local grocery store, and had run into mom, who had followed them both up and down isles trying to tell Rob that she had received many text messages on Nicky’s phone in which the texter was trying to arrange drug buys with her. Rob thought it funny and blew it off.
By the time we moved into our new home, Nicky had a new boyfriend, Tim. Tim was a nice enough boy but he, like Nicky, was going through some major issues. They spent hours and hours at our new house swimming, making out and nearly having sex in our loft with my seven year old looking on, sleeping, going out and partying, and asking Rob for money, which he dutifully handed over. Right away, I was already starting to get upset about that scenario. I demanded that we put some rules in the house because this was not working for me. No boys upstairs. Period. No making out in front of a seven year old child. No having sex in the house. No drugs EVER. All agreed.
One day shortly after moving into our new house, Nicky screamed at Bob: “I hate this house! I never wanted to move here. I want my old house. You never even asked!” I was floored. She wasn’t happy? She now had a big new house, a bigger room, a pool, central A/C, a better neighborhood. I thought all the kids should be thrilled, right? Stupid, clueless, gullible me. No, all the kids were not happy.
And there that was Kelly, who was then 14 years old. I really liked her from Day One. She seemed kind, thoughtful, intuitive, smart and savvy. Initially, according to Rob, she told her dad she was fine with him dating but, really, what is a child supposed to say? After Rob and I got engaged but before we moved into the house, Rob, Morgan, Kelly and I went to my BFF’s Julie and Shane’s for the weekend. They lived about two hours away from us. While Rob disappeared to find a bar and drink, Kelly and I went shopping to look for a dress for her to wear to our wedding. It was a nice afternoon of the two of us bonding. We finally found a beautiful dress at Ann Taylor that looked amazing on her. It was a little pricey at $250 but I bought it for her anyway. I told her if we found something we liked better, we could always return it.
When Rob found out about our purchase, he flipped out and demanded we return the dress. No doubt, alcohol fueled his outburst because it was really inappropriate. Kelly was upset. I think the dress signified something significant for her: something beautiful in the face of ugliness, and when she wore it, she felt pretty and hopeful. That argument set Rob and Kelly on a collision course. Kellie was sometimes openly hostile to her dad. Rob blew it off. “Kelly and I are tight. You just wait and see. She’ll soon understand that her dad is the only one who can help her be successful in life and that her mom’s a loser.”
It wasn’t long before Rob and Kelly got in a huge fight in which Rob threw her cell phone in the pool, her mom came to pick up Kelly from our house, the two of them called the police on Rob, and Kelly and Rob didn’t speak for a few months. With our wedding just a few weeks away, Kelly boycotted the whole thing. Not a great way to start off a new life, was it. I had stepped into a disaster and there was nothing I could do about it but try to make the best of it and pray that it would all settle eventually. “The kids are fine!” Rob told me when I brought up the chaos going on in our home.
No, Rob, your kids are not alright, I wanted to scream. Morgan was thrilled but I soon discovered that she was alone in that opinion.
And our wedding date kept getting closer and closer.