These stories are true, and worthy of sharing. I have thought about them for many years. Two friends, similarly married with children. Both are married to prosperous men. Both are miserable… one is abused in the physical sense, she says… marital rape she calls it. She cries a lot about what she endures in the bedroom. Otherwise, her life appears quite lovely. Beautiful children, riches in the form of jewels and a beautiful home. Three children, and lots of puppies that have to be put into doggie hotels when they take their frequent vacations. She cries in private. In the beginning, most would laugh at her tears; she has it all. Why should she cry?
The other in a loveless marriage with a man that she thought was gay because of his complete disinterest in sex. He provides for the family, but no more. He does not believe in the luxuries of life, with the exception of his car, which needs to be top of the line, and at the car wash every other day. Their home is filled with food, and decent amenities. The life is normal from outside appearances, but within, her stomach churns. What is wrong with me? Why won’t he touch me? I can’t live like this. She rebels to get his attention. She shops and shops and runs up credit card bills. He screams, then they take their neutral corners as before. She seeks help from mental health professionals and ends up on a series of anti-depressants, silently accepting the diagnosis of depression with anxiety.
Back at the former home, they buy new homes and keep building on and re-doing and adding on. They entertain, she shops, he has affairs, she has her own. Hers private, his shared with the people around him.
Back on the couch in the psychiatrists office, that she pays for out of pocket, so as to not alert her husband of what she is doing, she cries and cries until she fears that she will not be able to drive home to meet the school bus.
She has gained weight from the medication, and starts to understand why he won’t touch her. In her mind, it all makes sense. She is no longer worthy of his love, or the love of anyone. She seeks legal council in an attempt to regain some control. She could have only done this because of the strength that she gathered and stored up from her visits to her psychiatrist. Although she doesn’t like what she sees, she can again see past his treatment of her. Her life is lonely, but it is her life.
Our other friend, 15 years later remains in her perverse loveless marriage. His affairs spread like the feathers spilling out of a torn pillow. She looks at him with contempt and becomes bitter and nasty, her friends male and female surround her with advice. Stay, how can you leave all “this”? Leave, how can you stay in all of “this”. It is easy to give advice when it is not your own life. Opinions are like noses; everyone has one, and is ready to stick it in your business.
Two friends, since childhood, on the same path since childhood, each took a different fork in the road. One has extreme amounts of financial comfort, but succumbs to cruelties to retain her status and security. The other securely gets into her empty bed at night, alone, without fear. She can look in the mirror, and although she still carries her extra weight, she has self respect. She suffers from late bills at times, and works multiple jobs to meet her responsibilities.
Two paths chosen, their destinations very different. Security vs self respect. I suspect that this is a dialogue many of us have in our heads. There is no right choice; there is no wrong choice.
But what is the tipping point that makes someone leave security. For those of us who struggle, it is easy to wonder what we might do if we had the choice.
Standing at that fork, each of our friends chose a different path…. neither at the end of the story, we don’t yet know if there is a happy ending for either.