One of the harder issues for me to deal with after child abuse is marital issues, specifically dysfunctional marital issues. As my therapist has pointed out to me, I had nobody modeling or telling me what to look for in a spouse when I made a decision about who to marry.
I grew up in an abusive household, and my parents’ marriage was completely dysfunctional. They led separate lives – my father worked and/or traveled for work all the time, and my mother was obsessed with her version of religion. (My father was an atheist.) My sister and I grew up in two different families – the version when my father was actually home and the version when he was gone. He was mostly gone during my teen years up until his death.
I was raped in college, so I latched onto a boyfriend to protect me. I then transferred colleges, where I was raped again and then latched onto another boyfriend to protect me. The only requirements I had for boyfriends was that they didn’t rape me and seemed interested in me. That’s pretty much it.
I met hub in law school, my next stop at a school. We started dating a month into school, and I was never raped there. He was very mature/responsible compared to our peers, and he was the most predictable person on the planet. After a lifetime of having to be hypervigilant about what was coming next, this predictability was a relief. We married straight out of school despite the fact that we had next to nothing in common other than a law degree. Marrying him kept me from having to move back in with momster since I couldn’t find a job.
Now, my conscious reasons for marrying hub were not this calculated. I did love him. In fact, my host personality was absolutely crazy about him. Other parts of myself – parts of which I was unaware at the time – tolerated him as a means to safety. Hub never, ever pressured me for sex. He completely respected that I was not interested in intercourse until marriage, and we were together over 2-1/2 years before we married. So, he definitely has some good qualities about him.
Here’s the problem – I am no longer an abused little girl willing to make any sacrifice to stay safe. Our relationship was built upon me doing whatever he wanted, however he wanted, with no objections because I wanted him to stay and keep me safe. The one exception (which came as a shock to him) was my insistence that we have a baby and, when that didn’t work biologically, that we adopt a baby. Other than that, for well over a decade, I was a Stepford wife, always giving him his way in every area other than in becoming a parent.