Borderline MarriageI got married three years ago at age 27. Since my husband and I are from different countries, wanting to live together implied that we would have to get married to be able to live together in my country. And so I got married to a man that I knew to be fairly unstable but who could also be incredibly loving and charming. We had known each other for three years at that point but had a long-distance relationship for some time and never shared a common household. I had known about his problems, that he liked to get into fist fights and cut himself after he had done something bad, but somehow believed that he could get much better if he could only get away from his extremely dysfunctional family. His mood swings did improve somewhat after we got married and the cutting stopped but he compensated in other ways. It was not an easy beginning for him, being in a new country, not speaking the language, not finding a job as easily as expected and having a wife that was incredibly busy with her very demanding studies. Still a healthy person would have coped differently.
Two months after our wedding, he started an affair with a classmate from his language course, which I had met once. He claimed that he could talk to her while I was not there for him, that she had a gorgeous body while I was fat, that the sex with her was mind-blowing while it was plain boring with me, that I disgusted him and that this Megan Fox-lookalike was all he had ever wanted in a woman. I was deeply hurt and devastated and the sad thing is that I believed him that I wasn't good enough, that I clearly couldn't measure up to this beautiful other woman. Still I fought for my man and projected my anger on her rather than being furious with him. I confronted her and finally got her to walk away. I got my man back but had nowhere to go with my hurt and disappointment. I asked myself why he had gotten married to me in the first place. I always had to battle low self-esteem but this was like the final blow to any self-confidence I had ever had. I now did believe that I was a disgusting person that no man would like to touch, that I was boring and that I could be extremely grateful that my husband had stayed with someone like me.
There was no healthy communication with my husband; we were unable to really talk about what had happened without starting to insult each other. Now that he had lost his outlet affair he started to be mean to me, insulting me with disrespectful comments and having temper tantrums every so often. We still had pretty moments together too, but they couldn't really make up for the bad ones.
Since I was already extremely pressured from school I had hardly any time for my husband and was reproached constantly that I was not there for him. That at that time I was in need of support myself totally slipped his mind. I started to get depressed and felt like I couldn't be me any more anywhere, since the way I was didn’t seem to be ok to my own husband. In his opinion, I was too lazy, too chaotic, never up for anything fun. I was desperately seeking for acceptance from my husband and the more I yearned for it the less I was about to get it. Since I felt that he really didn’t like me physically I started to avoid having sex with him, because I felt completely insecure to stand in front of him naked knowing that he was so unhappy with my appearance. At the same time he felt rejected and unable to fulfill his sexual desires. Our relationship kept on spiraling downwards.
About a year later, he had his second affair with a friend of another classmate of his. Since the classmate also had a crush on him (I am not sure to what degree they also had a thing with each other), he maneuvered himself into a very messy situation with part of his classmates taking his side others stopping to talk to him. I made him decide between the other woman and me. He gave her up and stayed but things did not get better. I urged him to go to therapy, but he refused. We started to fight more often, him being violently angry and smashing things. He never actually hurt me physically but he still scared me. He once turned a trip to Spain into a weeklong nightmare because I was unable to find a restaurant from the travel guide and made him walk around in vain. I was punished for that with an entire week of temper tantrums, fights and sabotaged plans. It was hell – all because of a restaurant that had gone out of business.
When I finished university and he found a well-paid and interesting job we moved to a bigger apartment and I hoped that things would finally get better. Instead I felt a deep exhaustion, was depressed, almost unable to get out of bed in the mornings. I was diagnosed with a burnout and put on medication, went on vacation with a friend but didn’t go to therapy.
When I came back from my two-week holiday, I was refreshed and felt ready to deal with our issues. My husband decided that he wanted to get a dog from a shelter. I was hesitant at first but let him talk me into it. He wanted to save a dog from the streets, give him a better life. I have always admired my husband’s strong ideals and sense of justice, so I gave in to his plan to adopt a dog from his home country.
When our dog arrived she was terrified of people and had clearly not been walked outside. Everything was new to her and I felt overwhelmed with a responsibility we were clearly not prepared to take on. I had grown up with family dogs but had never educated one myself, and never had any contact with problem dogs. When I came back from the grocery store, only a few days after the dog had arrived, my husband cried and told me that he had done something horrible. He had kicked the dog and beaten her up because she wouldn’t follow his orders. I looked at this innocent, furry creature that was trembling with fear and something cracked inside me. At this very moment, I realized that I did not want to ever have a family with such a person. How could I possibly know that he wouldn’t do the same thing to his own children? If he exposed his dog to the very thing he had wanted to safe her from then he was capable of pretty much anything. I demanded that he go to therapy or I would leave and this time he gave in. I myself started to go to therapy too to work on my own issues. I took over the care of the dog and didn’t let him alone with her any more. I was furious with him for weeks but felt more in charge of my own life, starting to set my terms and limitations. Of course I was heading for trouble since he couldn’t handle my newfound independence. We started to fight and yell on a daily basis and it was exhausting. At some point we decided to take a time-out and move into separate apartments so that we could find out more about our very personal needs and hopefully find back together from a distance. He demanded that if we were going to live apart we were going to be allowed to see other people since there were sexual needs that needed to be satisfied. Tired of fighting, I gave in. A few weeks before we actually moved to our separate places he already had found himself a new girlfriend. I was so angry, disgusted and disappointed since at this point I realized that this separation would not serve its purpose. I had secretly whished for that if I wasn’t around any more he would start to miss me, start to value all the countless things I had done for him in the past. But how could he do so if my gap was already filled? We still lived in the same house and he was spending his nights at the girlfriend’s house, accepting her calls in my presence. This was done so bluntly in my face that I have come to believe that this girlfriend episode is actually only another strategy to get my attention, to have me crawl back from my decision of wanting separate places.
I have given in to him so many times, denying to see and accept the truth, that it is impossible to live with this man and that very little of all of this mess is actually my fault – but now I was no longer going to deny the facts. Sure, I have issues with my own self-worth and codependency but I am a friendly, loving and caring person, with lots of different interests, whom is easy to be around with – it is NOT me who is impossible to live with.
I cried for an entire day then I took the decision to move out on the very next day, which, almost to my own surprise, I did. He asked me if I would stay if he broke up with the other woman but I denied. It was too late. He had showed me that he had moved on, so it was my turn to do the same. I think it scared the crap out of him that I was actually, truly going to leave and he seemed very sad.
When I arrived at my mother’s house, where I am staying until my new place is ready to move in, she told me something that tops everything else that has ever happened. When I had been on vacation last year to overcome my burn-out, my husband had taken my mother out for dinner, to show her his gratitude for the continuous support that she has given us over the last few years. When they arrived at her house, he started to cry mumbling that I was going to leave him since I was planning a trip around the world (which was blown completely out of proportion, I had merely mentioned that I would like to travel again sometime in the future). My mother gave him a hug to comfort him and he actually tried to KISS her – MY MOTHER. She was appalled and pushed him away so he started to cry even harder. She gave him another awkward hug and he tried again to kiss her. She told him firmly that this behavior was absolutely not acceptable and that he had to leave. She didn’t confide this incident to me until yesterday as she thought that I would not have believed her and only defended him. Probably she was right.
It’s been only a few days since I left and I am still heartbroken and trying to make sense of it all. Despite all the difficult moments he also has a very warm, loving and caring side, which I miss terribly. Still I know that I need to stay strong – if I return then nothing will ever get better and I need to focus on myself now, start healing and head towards a better future. Seeking comfort, I have done lots of research on borderline marriages and it is very clear to me that my husband is suffering from the disorder. His therapist has not diagnosed him but I am fairly certain that he is not being fully open and honest about his life, so the therapist does not see the full picture I have seen.
I am still very hurt and sad and angry but I know I am doing the right thing, moving on towards a brighter future.