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 returned from our honeymoon in Russia. It had turned out to be a fantastic trip. I was filled with hope that maybe the marriage wasn’t a huge mistake and it would all work out. But that feeling was short-lived when I confronted my new reality. Here I was, in a new neighborhood, in a house too big, with too much work and unpacking that needed to be done. And yet I was the only one doing any of it. I was getting zero help from Rob and right away, I started resenting it. I was spending night after night staying up far too late trying to paint, unpack, clean, pay bills, and ignore the screaming matches between Rob and his 16 year old daughter, Nicky. It wasn’t fun. By early November, just three months after our wedding, Mean Rob showed up for the first time. Prior to then, Rob had always been happy and upbeat. He had not once been mean or disrespectful and raised his voice to me. But this time was different.
The fight started out over nothing. I had begged Rob to help me clear out the garage for weeks but he had never gotten around to it. When Rob left the house on a Saturday for a few hours, I started organizing. When Rob pulled up to the house and saw what I was doing, he exploded. “I just want to have a quiet day! I didn’t want to work on this and you are making me feel guilty!”
I was trying to be upbeat and funny. “I thought you’d be happy. I wanted this to be a surprise. Look, I can walk from one end of the garage to the other – whoohoo!” I demonstrated it for him by walking from one end to the other and doing a little happy dance at the end.
Rob wasn’t impressed. He started screaming in this horrific pitch that I have never heard a grown man do—and in the front yard. I was horrified and embarrassed. “Rob, the neighbors,” I said. He responded by screaming louder in this booming, explosive voice: “I don’t care about the fucking neighbors!” I looked at him closely. His eyes were glassy, his hands fidgety, and his scream a high falsetto/mezzo soprano wail. If I only had recorded it because there is no way to adequately describe it. I literally stood transfixed his behavior. I didn’t know if I should laugh, run, or cry. I went silent and stopped talking to him the rest of the day while he tried to apologize. I just wanted him to get away from me.
A few hours later, Rob came into the bedroom. I could tell he had been crying. “Please come to bed. You’re my wife,” he said.
“No. There’s something wrong with you. Go away, please,” I said.
“This isn’t going to work, is it?” he said with tears in his eyes.
I shook my head. “I don’t think so.” And I meant it. Just a few months into our marriage and I already wanted a divorce. That wasn’t a good sign. He went back into our bedroom and after maybe another hour, I felt bad. He was my husband. Poor innocent Rob. The guy who was terrorized for 19 years by his ex-wife (or so he said) and who didn’t know how to communicate. It was all her fault. I really needed to cut him some slack. He had so much stress. As soon as the stress was gone, he would be normal, just like he promised. So I got up, went into our bedroom, cuddled up with him in bed, and gave him extra hugs and kisses– just like I would a child. I thought that maybe more love and affection would do the trick.
Shortly thereafter, my company Christmas party was just a few days away. That party was really fun every year. The year prior, I had taken Tom with me and it was one of the best nights of my life. We dressed up, we drank a little too much, and I was giddy. I was with a guy I was absolutely crazy about. This year, I was feeling much more subdued and sad– sad that Tom wasn’t going with me. Sad that I was taking my husband– a guy I didn’t love and screamed at me like a shrill woman. I guy I was quickly disliking more and more. Not good.
The following week, Rob and I threw our first annual Christmas party. It was really fun and we had some 120 people show up. After everyone left, I was cleaning up and Rob, after taking out a few bags of trash, said, “Ok, do you have everything else?” I thought he was joking. “Sure, yes, I’ve got it all!” I responded. Maybe 30 minutes later as I was scrubbing floors, I realized Rob had been gone for a long time. I went to find him and he was in bed sound asleep.
I woke him up. “What are you doing in bed when I’m up cleaning?” I was livid.
“You said you had it all!” he shouted.
Rob said and, sure enough, in no time, he was nearly snoring. Who can do that? I wondered. As I watched him sleeping in bed with his big huge beer gut hanging out over the covers, I was completely and utterly revolted by the sight of him. It was the first time that just looking at Rob made me physically ill. I began to experience true contempt for him for the first time. I watched him for several minutes, becoming more and more grossed out by the view before I went back to the kitchen with a toothbrush and started scrubbing the tile floors and crying. I felt like I was losing my mind. The despair I felt was horrific.
It was just after the Christmas season ended when Rob and I got in another enormous fight– this time over my needing help with putting Christmas ornaments away. I begged him to go to his mother’s house for a night to calm down. He packed up and on his way to the front door, screamed at me: “I’m not going to my mom’s! I’m going to a hotel!”
My heart started pounding. “No you’re not! We don’t have money for you to go to a hotel, especially because you can go to your mom’s for free!” I said. “You can’t tell me what to do! I make a lot of money!” he screamed again. Except he forgot to mention that no matter how much money he earned, he owed it all to his ex-wife. So I did the really mature thing. I called up our two credit card companies and cancelled both of them. And I texted Rob that he had no access to credit and he needed to go to his mom’s house. He was furious but whatever. Let him feel the hopelessness I was feeling.
Over the next few days, Rob apologized, came home, and tried to be nicer. But that didn’t last long before the next huge fight happened. I had been in other serious relationships and, of course, I had argued with my boyfriends. But I had never experienced these types of arguments. I was baffled, confused and horrified.
And thus started the pattern of our terrible fights. Screaming, awful, explosive screaming fits. And the apologies. And the reconciliation. What the hell was going on?