On what an abusive relationship is like…

How do you tell the world you were in an abusive relationship? It’s easy. You just – don’t.

How do you tell the world you were in an abusive relationship?

It’s easy. You just – don’t.

We don’t fall in love with an abusive person; we fall in love with a person that becomes abusive.

Aaron was the sweetest boyfriend. He introduced me to Coach purses, Kate Spade, and Tiffany’s. He was good with my father and kind to my niece. Before we were dating he bought every girl in my sorority flowers as a kind gesture.

Abuse happens slowly over time. It starts with a question or phrase and then grows into something more.

“Are you happy with how your body looks? I think you’d look better if you lost 10 pounds.”

“I don’t like Brandy. I don’t think you should talk to her.”

“Don’t tell your family about ____________. This is between us.”

People think escape is simple and easy. “Why don’t they just leave? I’d just leave.”

Hahahaha. No you wouldn’t, because I’m supposedly intelligent and I didn’t leave. I stuck around. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. I stuck around because over time you become accustomed to behaviors that weren’t there to start with, and then they grow on you.

It’s normal to turn in your receipts to be checked over, right? It’s normal to have your spouse approve all of your clothing, right? It’s normal to hang up the phone when you’re talking to your friends and your spouse walks in, right? It’s normal not to be able to attend holiday functions with family, right? It’s normal to be scared of the person you’re married to, right?

What would have once seemed strange becomes a new normal until you’re controlled to a level you never thought was possible.

In 8th grade Angie Smith told me, “You’ll never have a boyfriend. You’re too independent.” Angie Smith didn’t know Aaron the narcissistic gas lighter.

I’m not sure what paths are “normal.” But in my mind it seems there are two.

You stay because of the power He has. I get it. I totally get it. He has so much power, He is terrifying, He is unpredictable. And although He controls everything, He can have those little moments that only you get to see. He isn’t all bad. I mean, you feel in love with a human, right?

Or there is a snap. A moment. An awakening.

It’s so ridiculous to say, but the movie Country Strong saved my life. I realized that if I stayed I wasn’t going to be around much longer. A small light inside started to flicker, and I started preparing to go.

I made lists of assets. I asked friends, “Would you love me no matter what?” I started building side support structures for the day I would need them.

And then that day came. “I want out.” And I got out.

I wish I could say getting out was the hardest part, but it isn’t.

For me, the hardest part is trying to regain what feels lost. I tried to return back to who I was, but she isn’t there anymore.

I feel stunted. It took years to get out, and it feels like its taking even longer to “get back to normal.” I feel like I lost six years of my life. I see other people who were able to do so much more, and I feel like I’m so far behind. I missed weddings I couldn’t attend, baby showers I couldn’t go to, and friendships I wasn’t allowed to have. How do you tell your cousin, “I’m sorry I missed your wedding. I wasn’t allowed to go”?

Some days I try to speak to a new person, or speak up in a meeting – and that internal fear of saying the wrong thing rises up and crushes my voice. I stay silent. No one can be angry if you’re silent.

I don’t want pity. I want understanding. I want people to see how common this is.

But over time, good days outnumber bad. And over time, forgiveness occurs more frequently. And over time, Christ redeems all wounds. All that is lost can be healed.

It just takes time. It gets better with time.

For my sisters; the brave ones – you know who you are.

On how to have a crappy marriage…

A few weeks ago, someone I know was going on endlessly about her terrible husband. Let’s call her “Mrs. Crankybutt.”

“I do everything! He NEVER does this! He doesn’t do that!”

After listening to Mrs. Crankybutt complain for an hour (yes, an hour) about her terrible husband, I told her, “If you want a happier marriage, you can start by trying to be nicer to your spouse.”

That didn’t end well. Mrs. Crankybutt came back at me with, “What would you know? I read your blog, and your marriage is perfect!” I’ve thought for several weeks about that last sentence. How does my blog portray my husband and my marriage? Do people really think my marriage is perfect? Do people think my husband is perfect?

What gets me the most about Mrs.Crankybutt’s sentence is the sheer irony. Maybe instead of listening to all of your friend’s pooptastic advice about how to “fix” your spouse, you should listen to the person standing in front of you that you think has a “perfect” marriage.

Both my husband and I are divorced, so I’ve tried to refrain from writing a blog on “How to have a good marriage,” because it seems exceptionally hypocritical given this is my second marriage. What does not seem hypocritical is to write the opposite; laced with all of the sarcasm I can muster.

How to have a crappy marriage

Publicly degrade your spouse

My ex-husband once had a group of guy friends over. They were playing a board game, so my ex-husband asked me to get the guys some drinks. When I said, “Sure” he looked at the guys and said, “See, didn’t I train her well!”

I was totally humiliated. I am not a dog. He was not my father. If you want a miserable marriage, make fun of your spouse. If you want a terrible marriage, mock your spouse in public.

Megaphone optional

 Hold onto past grievances

My favorite thing to do to my ex-husband was hold onto any error he ever committed.

He forgot my grad school graduation day. I held onto that for at least two years.

He didn’t get me anything for my birthday. I held onto that for at least three years.

I asked him to wash the dishes, and he didn’t. I held onto that for a few months.

Eventually, I held onto so many things that the resentment was untenable. This person I had loved became this person I could no longer stand to be around. If you want to hate your spouse, hold onto everything. Let it burn the inside of you until you melt.

He held onto resentment…

Blame your spouse for everything

During her one hour rant, Mrs. Crankybutt said to me, “I’m grounded. I’ve got my stuff figured out. But my husband – he needs to work on his issues.”

Mrs. Crankybutt. Is. A. F$%@&#$. Idiot.

Everyone has issues. Every person can improve him/herself.

My husband has the habit of leaving his clothing all over our house. I was once going to tell him to pick his pants up, but then I looked down and saw a clustering of my shoes surrounding his pants. I was so focused on what he was doing wrong, that I didn’t see my own stuff cluttering up our space.

If you want to dream of slapping your spouse, live in the ever-lasting denial that you don’t have any issues. Focus on all of your spouse’s flaws, and make sure to rub them in. Never take that log out of your eye, but focus on the stick in your spouse’s eye.

Kermit knows. He knows.

Don’t make your marriage a priority

Without asking me, my ex-husband told me he was going to go to law school. He then moved six hours away, and devoted all of his time to school. If I wanted a date night, law school came first. If I wanted to just see him, law school came first. After three years of not making me a priority, my ex-husband was no longer a priority for me.

I once heard of a couple that got a divorce because the husband wanted to play softball six nights a week, and the wife wanted him at home.

Some marriages are broken by alcohol and others by drugs. But most marriages break because one or both spouses make something else a priority – and they make it a priority for a long time.

If you too would like your marriage to break, prioritize other things above your marriage.

Also available with “I HATE My Wife”

May you all live crappily ever after!

Love,

The girl with the perfect marriage


Addition as of 6/24

Disclaimer: “Mrs. Crankybutt” is a fictitious character compiled from multiple recent events, and does not depict any one person.