It Isn't Really An Abusive Relationship
How Denial Can Keep You Fooled Indefinitely
My husband and I built a magnificent log home on a lake together in 2000–2001. We enjoyed the home as a family and a couple for 14 years. I have many fond memories of being there with my husband and 2 sons.
Things changed in 2015 when my husband decided we should separate and moved into the vacation home. I wasn’t ready to end it because I didn’t feel we had done all we could to salvage the marriage. We were together for 36 years, married for 29. He believed we could go on sharing the vacation place by alternating weekends there if he stayed in our marital home with our adult sons every other weekend, and I could stay at the lake house. This sounds good in theory, and could work, except he has taken over the lake house completely by making keepsakes and personal effects of mine disappear or put into inconveniently accessible places throughout the home. For example, my toothbrush that was in the holder in the bathroom for 15 years is now in a drawer. Where I once had three drawers in the dresser for my clothes, I now have one. I don’t know where things are in the kitchen anymore.
Another issue we have is with scheduling. As much as we try to keep things on an alternating schedule, sometimes we make other plans and need to juggle things around a bit. My husband puts on a facade of scheduling our uses and maintaing certain travel dates but it seems that any dates I give him go in one ear and out the other because whenever he plans to use the place exclusively, he does. Any dates I give him don’t register mentally as dates but are merely noise and are not recorded on a calendar for reference or planning.
I’m aware that he has had new relationships since he left and entertained these women in our vacation home. Sometimes I find their personal effects in the house. I get it that he must prefer that the house appears to be solely his residence to his girlfriends, but facts are stubborn things. The fact is, I own half of that house and am entitled to continue to enjoy it.
He has continued to decorate the place as if he is the sole occupant. Anything I may add to the decor is swiftly removed. My opinion about the decor is irrelevant. He is super persnickety about the place being spotless and orderly, and will harshly land on me about anything being untidy or out of place after I spend time there.
We have muddled through a challenging reality trying to share our homes with each other while being separated maritally for three years. My current lover has listened to me complain and be sad about the lake house not feeling like home to me anymore over the past year.
Last weekend it came up again. He told me that he has heard it so many times, and feels like my husband needs to understand how he has “fucked me over”.
My initial reaction in my head was “what does that mean, he hasn’t really fucked me over”. I let it go and decided to think about it rather than get all charged up about it. I thought my lover just doesn’t get it. Accusing my husband of fucking me over seemed harsh and extreme. I gave some consideration to telling my husband how I feel, then wondered toward what end?
When I realized through the week that my husband had traded one of “his” weekends with me at my request, but had plans to be out of town that weekend anyway so he wasn’t really trading anything with me I got annoyed and started to re think the being fucked over comment.
I had the startling realization that I have been minimizing and denying being manipulated by my husband for years. My lover now looked like an outside observer who made an impartial, accurate observation. I discounted it some since he obviously favors me. It occurred to me that this is what the classic battered woman does. But I’m not a battered woman. There’s not a mark on me. Psychological and emotional abuse are insidious.
I had such a moment of clarity about this that I woke up this morning and wrote a detailed account of the ways my husband has fucked me over. My initial thought was to try to rationally discuss it with him, but then I remembered that he routinely dismisses what I say and lies to me.
Mark Twain said, “Never start a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel.” I buy ink by the barrel. Maybe a factual written account of the ways my husband has fucked me over would be the best way to get him to understand what he has done. I’m still not sure toward what end, other than for him to understand how he has fucked me over while believing he is so nice to “allow” me to stay in “his” house on the weekends.