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The Cat Had It Right

Within a day or two of returning from our honeymoon there was an incident that led me to start questioning the sustainability of the marriage. It wasn't related to sex.  It was just related to how he was going to be treating me now that we were married.

Before the wedding the sex wasn't absolutely over the moon, but it was frequent enough and he seemed free enough that we could make the sex work out well enough.  Before the wedding the relationship wasn't perfect either but it was good enough that I was pretty sure with compromise, patience and love on both sides we would be ok.  I failed to account for one factor in my calculations that turned out to be absolutely crucial.  How he treated people who were his family was vastly different than how he treated me as girlfriend/fiance. 

It never occurred to me before the wedding that he would treat me as poorly and abusively as he treated his family once I became his wife and was therefore "family".  If there's one message I wish I had been able to send to my younger self it would be "Do you see how his parents treat each other?  Do you see how he treats his siblings and his parents?  When you become his family he will treat you like he treats the rest of his family."

So when we got home from the honeymoon I was now family.  Through a series of unfortunate events involving relatives of mine we came home to our house trashed after a pretty big series of parties while we are on our honeymoon.  To me, it was a disappointment in them but it did not change anything about my commitment and feeling about my marriage to my XH.

One of the things that happened though was that my (previously feral) cat had gotten spooked by all the noise and activity from the festivities.  He had run into the garage and was refusing to come out.  He was an indoor only cat but had spent a week in the garage while we were gone.  Long story short, after several days of living in the house and having him be in the garage, in the car engine and hiding elsewhere in the garage I decided we could no longer be held hostage by the cat.  We needed to use our garage.  I came up with a plan that would either get the cat back in the house or at least get us back the garage, the car in the garage out of the garage and our lives back.

My plan backfired.  We got the garage back but the cat ran away into the cold winter day.  I was terribly sad and upset that my plan hadn't worked.  Looking back, it was a good chance that was going to happen.  But we did need the garage back.  I felt sad standing there on the driveway watching him make a mad dash into the wild again to return to being feral.  I was mad at myself.  After days of trying to figure out how to coax him back into the house my plan had been what caused him to run away.  I cried and reached to him for a hug.   Until that point in our life together he would have put his arms around me and comforted me.  But I wasn't family before this happened.

When I reached for a hug and comfort from my then-new-husband he physically pushed me away from him and began screaming at me in the driveway.  I cried harder and looked at him in disbelief.  He told me that I had a stupid idea and look at how that had worked out and now he's gone forever and going to get hit by a car... etc.  Shocked I was in full flowing tears at that point and I fled inside the house, into our bedroom and locked the door to cry my eyes out.  Never had he done anything like that before.  For a few days he felt justified and would bring it up every time he thought about the cat.  That was a turning point in our marriage.  I didn't understand his why, but I knew it was amazingly different.

When we went to counseling a few months later I brought this up and he blew it off.  There were other, similar incidents over the next few months.  Getting screamed at like I had burned the house down when I asked him to empty the dishwasher one day, in front of both of our families who were over.  About 4 months into the marriage after he fell asleep while driving he was diagnosed with sleep apnea.  I probably would have left the marriage at that point if it had not been for that diagnosis.  His doctor explained that he had stopped breathing for 50-65 seconds about 20 times the night of his sleep study.  This could impact mood, behavior and ultimately cause death.  I gave things another chance at that point because severe sleep apnea could have been part of the cause for the awful behaviors he was exhibiting.

I now realize that they can make you sleepy and they can make you cranky but no matter what happens only people with abusive tendencies will get abusive towards you if they are sleepy and cranky.  The moods got a little better and so did the anger.  By that point I had walled myself off in preparation for his outbursts yet again and was "safe" from them because emotionally I was tough and hard and had a big wall around me.  It kept me safe.  I never turned to him for a vulnerable hug like I had done when the cat ran away again.  I learned.  I learned a lot.

Looking back, the cat had it right.  As he ran off into the nearby brush to become a free cat again, I should have followed him and grasped onto my freedom too.  He's still a free cat in that neighborhood.  Sometimes when I go visit people there now I will see him sauntering down the sidewalk like he owns the whole place.  He & I started two separate journeys that day for freedom.  His lasted a few days in a garage.  Mine lasted several years in a marriage.  Both ended in what was right for each of us.
Changewilldoyougood Changewilldoyougood 31-35, F 9 Responses Jan 14, 2013

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This truly a sad story. To know so soon after marriage...

"How you behave toward cats here below determines your status in Heaven" - Robert A. Heinlein.

Change, in a somehwat similar situation, LNG grabbed a flashlight and went into the dark, looking for the cat. It wasn't even the cat he likes, and I'd already told him the cat would come back on its own, but he knew I was worried. THAT's how it's supposed to be.

You are a strong woman hope you find peace and love :)

Trust cats.
They usually get it right.

I would add to observe how a man treats people who have little control over their lives, such as clerks, cashiers, waitresses. I did not get a chance to see the family behavior but I could have gotten clues to how he treated those folks in positions I mentioned.

I really really don't get people who do the jekyll & hyde thing. I mean I know they exist, but I just can't really figure out what they think they're doing. Those are shoes in which I can not walk a mile.

Something like that happened to me once, except the woman threw the switch too early, I had barely consented to have her move in with me on a trial basis (having had an incling of red flags and kind of agreeing against my better knowledge but letting myself be persuaded by some friends' bad advice in the matter) I was giving it my best shot but she started screaming at me on day one that she thought she was settled in .... now THAT did not work out very well for her. Nor was it very pleasant for me for the 3 months it took to get her to leave.
Ironically she had told me that her husband (not sure if he was a still~ or an ex~) had walked out on her on the wedding night. Bizarre. She was obviously repeating a pattern [from her childhood?] over and over.

Some people ..... to take refuge in the vernacular: they're so ****** in the head!

This is "sort of" relevant.

Saw a sociologist talking on tv the other night about refugees.

The gist of it was - "observe how your government treats refugees coming to your country. That is how they would treat the entire population if given free rein"

Same forces in play as you describe Sister C.

Tread your own path.

It can be brutal when those masks come off and it seems like there are so many people that wear them until they get you roped in then suddenly all the flowers and good times are gone because they no longer have to try any more. Before we got married my wife was a sex crazed little hussy that would do anything I could dream up but after the wedding all that changed because she didn't have to try anymore. Once she had her kids she quit trying all together and even made the comment that she had never been physically attracted to me but had married me because I had made her feel secure and would be a good father. That was about 24 years in and after I had become physically disabled. So apparently this kind of treatment is pretty commonplace they marry us under a false flag pretending to be something they aren't until they get us bound into place then they let their real selves show up. The problem is that their real selves aren't anybody that we would want to hang around with and then we have to go through hell to get rid of them.

Damn, what a con-job. My commiserations :-

A very sad story but I hope you can put it all behind you and live a happy life. At least you did leave even if only after several years.

Time and time again marriages stagger on in a sort of perpetual war because the victim clings to a vain belief that the abuser will somehow change, or that she (or he) must somehow be to blame for it all. At least you recognised that your mistake was to misjudge him, but in the circumstances that was a very understandable mistake and I feel it's one anyone could have made.

I met a woman who was charming, very pretty, intelligent... but I thought her behaviour on our first date was odd. Later, as things developed I discovered that she was an alcoholic, but somehow I kept hoping I could help her. It was to no avail and eventually after a very empty and shallow year together in which about thing we did together was make love, we broke up. Although Sue was not a control freak in the usual sense, like your husband, her addiction basically dictated everything we did.

The problem with control freaks is that they never improve, partly I think because they cannot or will not see themselves as others see them. Perhaps they are too frightened to do so.