At first when Julia’s husband told her he wasn’t going to counseling anymore and he wanted a divorce, she begged him to stay. He left and five months later when he said he wanted to be with her, Julia said no, she’d rather be a single parent. I asked her why she changed her mind. Here’s Julia:
I had a lot of time to review what life had been like married to him and even dating him. There was some physical abuse and a lot of verbal abuse – awful name-calling and screaming and yelling.
I felt that I really wasn’t good at very much of what I did. I didn’t hang his shirt up correctly because this shirt had to be hung up by the tails. If the sliding glass door is closed, the screen door should be closed too because you can’t have the screen door open with the sliding glass door closed.
I had to get permission to spend anything over $25. I had to call if I left the house, I had to call when I got back from wherever I was going. The house had to be perfectly clean when he got home, but I’d never know when he was getting home. The kids are only 12 months apart and it was impossible to run around getting everything put away, wondering when he going to get home.
There were so many rules, it was really stressful.
You look at people you think are so strong and then you hear the kind of stuff they put up with – for me to beg him to stay with me on September 11th? You just can’t see through it and you just want to try harder. My parents always pushed my sister and I to always do our best and so I over-achieved my whole life – president of the student council, president of the whole freshman class in high school. I did all these leadership types of things to push myself to try to be the best so the more he criticized me, the more I tried to figure out how I could be better at it.
In the short time I had between September to January, I got a taste of what it might be like being a single parent and it seemed like a better option than staying with him. I realized it wasn’t a good place for my kids. Adding onto that, this other woman and I felt I couldn’t trust him either.
The Divorce Coach Says
Have you ever had a friend and wondered why she stayed with her husband? Julia’s right – when you’re in that situation, you can’t picture what life would be like outside the environment or you don’t know if you can manage on your own. I think that’s the time when a separation is a valuable strategy. It gives both parties some space to see their own needs and to decide whether they can make the marriage work.
This is the part of Julia’s story that reminds of the Julia Robert’s movie, Sleeping With the Enemy. In one scene in particular, she’s tidying the house up before her husband comes home – she’s turning all canned foods so the labels are facing the same way, she’s straightening the towels in the bathroom so they’re even. And then he comes home and wanders around the house, carefully inspecting everything.
Photo credit: andiamsomebody.com