Updated: Sep 4, 2019
By Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC
I remember back to this exact question that entered my private thoughts as I looked at this man who was my husband. I had big hopes for our marriage and imagined a life of happiness and bliss.
In addition, I was now Mrs. Suzie Homemaker as I kept our home spotless, the laundry perfect, and had home cooked meals steaming at the time my husband was scheduled to come home from work. Every aspect of this joint venture was planned and embraced as if a dream come true. Candle lit dinners with soft music, and me in a sexy lingerie-just for his pleasure...I would work and help with the bills, then hurry home. I do not recall ever thinking that this was a chore or a hardship. All day I would think of his homecoming and tirelessly worked to make every day special with surprises, notes in his pocket, and a little call during lunch time to just say, I love you as I aimed for perfectionism.
Yet each night I felt rejected and often cried myself to sleep. What was wrong with me? The following day-I worked harder, yet day after day was the same. On our honeymoon he changed from a romantic and affectionate love of my life to a cold, money absorbed, and selfish man. What on earth happened? It was like day and night when we said, "I do." On our honeymoon night he was completely absorbed in counting the money gifts that were handed to us by those invited to the wedding and reception while I stood in my negligee-trying not to cry as I am witnessing how little I was prioritized.
Now imagine 14 years of this coldness and emptiness as I settled in with this stranger. At first I kept persevering and praying; but as time passed without his making any effort to show any love or affection; my broken heart craved for affirmation and love but often doubted his fidelity. I begged yet he was indifferent. Finally I chose to keep myself busy and worked multiple jobs at a time; visited family and friends; and tried to endure.
Had I not been a Christian then I could have sought love in someone else's arms; and I have to confess-thoughts did circle within my head when opportunities arose; but my vows were sacred to me, and I could not do this to my Lord; even though my husband was not being a husband. As I discovered several deceptions on his behalf-I could not trust him but did not have proof of what I suspected. It was not until many surgeries and the birth of our daughters before I did have plenty of proof which struck me like a ton of bricks. How could he cheat when I have been pleading for him? How could he cheat when we were a real family with little sweet babies now? I had been forced to sacrifice myself, my dreams, and happiness as he was absent-trying to meet his goal to be a millionaire before age 40. He had been lying to our minister and me all alone, and I worked to believe him although I doubted-but hearing it and seeing it; was something I never wanted. I wanted to be wrong. I only wanted to be loved and to have our family.
Who was this person who was so obsessed with his own wants and desires yet was completely indifferent to others? Who was this person who lied as easily and frequently as he breathed. Who was this person who had no moral compass. Who was this person who could reject his own children's needs especially during a crisis? Who was this person who did not feel normal emotion when others were in pain or sick?
When abandoned then I began hearing and seeing the lowest of low that he was willing to stoop. The lies and the attitude had surpassed all 14 years of deceptions and attitude. His arrogance and his vengefulness; his greed and his cruelty were completely unexpected. Who was this man? How could I have ever loved him? How could I have desired him and how could I have sacrificed the past 14 years with him?
It did not take long for me to sink as well into personalizing it all to my worthlessness and inability to be woman enough. Had I been perfect then he might have been different.
The divorce was ugly and it seemed as if he was willing to spin any lie so as to pay as little as possible for our children's support; even to the point of dropping health insurance on us...yet I felt guilt and I felt shame. How could I have been so blind to this person?
Before I could have know who that person and be able to see him from a true perspective; I needed to know who I was. I needed to know that I was broken and vulnerable. I needed to know how to fix me first so that I was easily deceived while being so needful. I needed to give me time to heal after the abusive relationship that I had been in before seeking someone to fill this emptiness. I needed to validate my own worth instead of seeking someone to affirm me. There should have been time or learning each other before any intimacy instead of rushing into another relationship, and only seeing that this person was indeed different from the abusive person.
This person was not controlling and seemed so self assured. He seemed to appreciate my beauty and brain. His humor and charm was disarming, and he had self motivation and goals. He also seemed to care about his parents which was refreshing; yet I did note that he seemed spoiled. As time passed-after our marriage-then it was most apparent that he had been enabled instead of corrected. He seemed to not have boundaries for his own behaviors. When I began my studies in psychology-and assessed him, he met qualifying symptoms of both the Narcissist and also a socio-path; but as I grew more competent with assessments; he more met the narcissist diagnosis with a strong sociopathic second. I had missed the signs, discounted the red flags while being so vulnerable and needy.
As couples come into my office; stating that they do not even recognize who this person is that they married-I recall the same statement and feelings. Some confess that they began seeing differences prior to marriage yet married anyway. Others thought their marriage was wonderful but then were left for another person which shocked them. Some speaks of the vengeful tactics that are being played and how their children are being used against them. I listen with empathy since I have walked in similar shoes and I know their pain.
Some speak of how their church has ostracized them, how friends have abandoned them; and how they have little activities to continue; since if they went- then the other spouse or ex would be there. Others speak of the loneliness at night and at the table. These are the pieces of the dreams and the life that are shattered with divorce. Absolutely nothing is untouched. Now there is less groceries to buy or cook and less laundry to wash- but there is less money to pay the bills that are still owed. There are legal burdens and the embarrassment of the process to finalize the divorce. There are child support hardship and stress. There are the tears of our little ones and our own.
If children are in the fall out then they are hurt and will blame themselves for the divorce, as they feel that they too were not good enough or loved enough to keep their family together. The in-laws will either hate the other spouse or miss them dearly. It seems as if there is no relief in sight. Yet, there truly is hope and healing with time, with prayers, and with counseling. With each step the sky brightens and opportunities open. It was a Christian counselor who helped me to see the light- as self blame and guilt evaporated- with prayers and with counseling, which enlightened me of truth that had been distorted in my pain, and my poor self image. I knew that I wanted to help others to find peace and hope, and thus chose to embrace a counseling career.
Life was difficult. It was not as I had imagined and never has been easy. People think life is suppose to be easy and happy-then become disenchanted and disappointed when life brings hardships, struggles, and heartaches. One cannot protect their children from life and its ugliness and work. Trying to do so will bring them harm. Children must be able to rightly assess their world and learn how to discern and resolve conflicts. They must experience hardship and then work their way to a solution. This builds an inner strength and skills that they will need. One thing is certain-only those who persevere will overcome and thrive instead of just surviving.
One must know who they are and be self affirming in their worth. No one can do this for you or for me. We need to heal and learn valid lessons from situations that are difficult. If we rush from one relationship into another with the same garbage in our own heads and hearts-then we will not see the other clearly, and we then will enter the relationship with high hopes that are based upon little to no truth or reality. When you are healthy then you can see clearly and avert choices that would have only added to your pain. I learned this and am now in a healthy marriage. Healthy marriages understand that hardships occur and they then work together to resolve them. They invite each other to grow and seek how to fulfill each other's needs. They can be vulnerable with each other and know that they are secure, safe, and accepted. It is a relationship of respect