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One Way Relationships with an Abuser

Hard to believe it was 9 years ago when I made the difficult decision to get divorced from my verbally abusive husband.  Although there were so many things wrong with the relationships, it was a very difficult decision to make.  My relationship with my ex-husband as very one-sided and I always felt drained with him.

My biggest complaints would have to have been:

  • He was a married man behaving like a bachelor
    • My expectations were that we were a family and would spend more time together
  • He was not much for being a father to our daughter
    • My expectations were that he would contribute and help me raise our daughter
  • He was very emotionally disconnected for my husband
    • My expectations were that we were married and would need to compromise on more decisions
  • He drank too much and too often
    • This became a very big focus for me and I mistakenly believed his drinking was why he was so nasty
  • When he drank he was often very belligerent
    • One of my mistakes was belligerence was because of his drinking rather than the fact he was verbally abusive
  • His mood swings were very extreme and I never knew what to expect
    • This was the ‘walking on eggshells’ times, when I mistakenly believed I could make/prevent him from getting angry
  • He often ignored me as punishment
    • My expectations were that we would talk like adults and work on a solution we could both live with
  • He was extremely lazy
    • It is my belief that he felt he worked and that entitled him to do nothing when he was home
  • He watched sports all the time (no exaggeration here)
    • My expectations were now that we were married, he couldn’t continue watching sports like a single guy could
  • He used our daughter as a weapon
    • Threats to retain custody of our daughter if I left was a method of control to keep me in line

My ex-husband was rarely emotionally connected and it always seemed intimacy made him uncomfortable.    He was often stay out after work and hanging out at bars with his friends or co-workers.  His excuse was always because it was ‘work related’.  However, he had a family and a little daughter and he usually arrived home after she was in bed.

During those years I remember having very strong mixed feelings about his being out.  On one hand it made me feel physically better when he was away from home, like I could breathe.  On the other hand I was left to be a single parent and he was often playing bachelor instead of married man.  I never understood that because when I had my daughter it became easy to sacrifice these things to be a mother and raise her.

There are many times I told friends that I think he was perfectly happy with the way things were back then.  If I had just stopped complaining and been okay with his doing whatever he wanted… we might have made it.  However, being okay with all those things would have been asking myself to simply discard all my personal emotions and feelings.  I guess I really expected him to grow up and start acting like a husband and a father.

Actually, I think most of our fights were about my criticizing that behavior and he did like to be challenged.  Although he never really stated what exactly he wanted or didn’t want.  He just simply did what he wanted to do and I had better have been okay with it.  There were no questions about what would be a healthy compromise to make both of us happy.

Now there were plenty of times when he was home and we would get into fights about his not being home.  Then he would just use that as an excuse to not come home again and stay out drinking with his buddies.  I remember one he said that most of his friends were divorced.   I honestly cannot remember if I responded to statement,  but if there behavior matched my ex-husband’s behavior it wouldn’t be a surprise.

When my ex-husband was home he was usually exhausted or had a hang-over.  So usually it was like being on egg-shells when he was home and realizing if I said anything it would lead to a fight.  I use to believe I could prevent or make him angry.  It took me a long time to realize I had no control over his emotions.

When my daughter was younger she would say, “Daddy isn’t angry, he is just very serious.”   Now that same thing has become a bit of a joke to her because she knows that is not true.  So she sees people on TV who are angry and says they are just really serious.

I just ran into an old friend yesterday who I have not seen for at least 10 years.  It was nice to see her and we exchanged information again.  She had a very healthy marriage and a healthier life than what I had.  I asked her, “What did it look like from your perspective?”  She said, “You always seemed very isolated, and it seemed as though he wanted you that way.”  That was interesting because I think that was exactly what was going on that made it so hard for me to get away from him.

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