If you are reading this post, then you are a courageous soul. Not everyone is willing to read the hard stuff, and this is hard stuff. Sex in an abusive marriage isn’t dinner time conversation. In fact, it is hardly ever discussed, and it needs to be. Because it happens.
This is part III of my re-posting from my friend, Ida Mae. Send up blessings over her as you read her story today.
Around the ten year mark, I knew—really knew—I could never please that man in bed or anywhere else. I decided to focus my attention on pleasing God instead. In seeking the Lord with all my heart, fully believing that in Him is fullness of life, I would be a better wife, a better mother and whatever problems I had in bed would eventually be addressed as I grew in grace and truth.
The problem with that? My husband was not growing in grace and truth. He was headed the other direction entirely. He was drinking again and his use of pornography continued. He was busy raising his hands and singing in church every Sunday and terrorizing us the other six and a half days a week. I suppose I thought my gentle and quiet witness would eventually win him over.
It did not.
Things ebbed and flowed. Some years were better than others. I did my best to perform on autopilot. Most is a blur.
I remember horrible things vaguely, routine things not at all. Gradually over the years frequency diminished. With newborns, colicky babies and toddlers scared of the dark it’s not surprising but it always, always made the beast angry. He thought I should leave a hungry infant crying and hop in bed. That was not going to happen. He believed I should leave three children under the age of seven unsupervised, their little paws banging on the bedroom door while we locked ourselves inside and got busy. Not in a million years.
Looking back, I set boundaries and imposed limits but I did not feel one bit good about the process. By this point I knew I’d feel bad no matter which decision I made and the beast would be unhappy either way. If a man’s going to be angry no matter what, what’s the point?
Always the focus was on him. His needs, his demands. At some point, I told him to quit talking about my appearance and get use to it. I was getting older and I wasn’t going to morph into Cindy Crawford. If he didn’t like me at a hundred pounds, he wasn’t going to like me after three kids and a hundred and fifty.
Rather than concede that I’d insisted he shut the crap up, he reframed this as some sort of major concession on his part, another proof of his great restraint and self-sacrifice as he refrained from speaking of my deteriorating physical appearance. He did however, decide to become overly concerned with my health and came up with all sorts of creative suggestions on ways to help me tone up and lose those extra pounds and inches. I stopped listening. One time I counted. He told me to work out on average five times a day. He also had plenty of pet names, each highlighting some feature he found repulsive. If I asked him to stop he said I was too sensitive, he was just joking.
Around year twenty, I had major abdominal surgery that went terribly wrong. After surgery, I went septic. I came within inches of dying and to this day, I believe the only reason I stayed this side of the veil was sheer determination. I wasn’t leaving my babies, not with him.
A year later, I could barely stand long enough to cook dinner. Damage to my internal organs caused chronic pain that never let go. I came dangerously close to an addiction to narcotic pain killers, tempting for more reasons than one.
I was home less than two weeks before the beast began asking for his marital rights, said I couldn’t possibly be in that much pain. We resumed sexual relations after three months and I thought I would die. Nothing—and I mean nothing—was ever okay after that. My internal organs were broken. My lady parts damaged. But worse was the emotional backlash—I almost died and I could not understand such callous disregard for something that kept me bedridden for months from someone who said he loved me every single day.
He thought I was slacking, that I could get up and do my job if I wanted. His anger during that year permeated our home, taking what had always been bad to ever higher levels. He resented everything. He took to finding fault with the children while they tried to cook or clean, punishing them as a way to get me out of bed, an over-exertion I paid for days afterward.
By year twenty five, other body parts are starting to scream in protest. Joints, neck, back. I lived with chronic sciatic nerve pain and ongoing issues from the botched surgery. Migraines came without warning and stayed for days. I had all sorts of symptoms of auto-immune disease but I knew the truth. My body was turning out the lights and I knew it.
God Knows My Heart and I Am Screwed
By this point, I’m numb. I don’t care anymore. I don’t care if I please God, I don’t care if the earth opens up and swallows the beast, I don’t care if it swallows me. Sex is no longer an issue because I hate it with everything in me. I take off my clothes, do what I have to, say no to anything I don’t want to do anymore and flip him off as I walk out of the bedroom.
I am angry. It takes me days to recover afterward. Sometimes I curse him in my head the entire time he’s inside me, then repent until I fall into a stupor. I decide that if God is going to send me to hell for this, it doesn’t matter because I’m already *in* hell and it can’t get much worse.
Occasionally I try to talk to this person I’m beginning to suspect might not be human. He refuses to address anything going back more than a few weeks saying I’m being unforgiving, he said he was sorry and bringing something up for years back is proof I’m at fault. Nothing’s changed. I shut up.
The last year, for reasons that have everything to do with the mercy of God Almighty and nothing to do with anything in me, the Lord mounted a rescue operation. Hopefully I can tell that story someday. The point is this: When the Lord arrived to deliver me from my oppression, I still shouldered all the blame. I saw myself as a whore, as an unclean, unlovable woman. I was ugly, defective. No one would ever love me, no one ever *could* have loved me, so what was I complaining about? Something was desperately wrong with me. Why else would this have happened?
But when God shows up, His goodness comes along. Healing began, starting with those tears I’d bottled up for close to two decades. The love inherent in the Lord’s sweet presence awakened all those emotions I’d stuffed for years.
Emotions are Pesky Things
Now that my coping mechanisms were starting to fail, I couldn’t function sexually, even in the limited damaged capacity of years before. Frequency dropped. When I couldn’t figure out one more reason to say no, I’d sit on the toilet afterwards leaning my head against the tile trying to will his semen into the sewer where it belonged. I scrubbed myself raw in the tub an hour at a time, then head to an upstairs bedroom and cry myself hoarse screaming silent into the pillow. Still, I was too afraid to stop having sex with him entirely.
I prayed and prayed beforehand. I begged for divine help. I prayed that God would deliver me somehow, someway, whatever it took. Somehow, it never occurred to me that God had already given me a way of escape–something called, free will. I had the power all the time. I had the right to say no more.
I did not know I had a right over my own body. That I could refuse and if that jerk didn’t change, I could continue refusing until he left. In the emotional, mental state I was in, I had no business trying to service a man who I suspected was servicing half the town anyway.
But I was afraid. I knew deep in my heart that if I ever stood my ground, there would be hell to pay. I knew he was dangerous and I sure knew he would never put up with me cutting him off. I knew that whenever I refused his demands, the kids paid. I was weak and afraid.
God provided a beautiful little home, a sweet place to stay. He prepared the heart of someone to take us in. All I had to do was the hardest thing in my life. I had to walk out.
As I pulled out of the driveway, one of the first thoughts I had– I’ll never have to have sex with that jackass again.
If you read part two, you’ll note I got stuck somewhere between Wife Gives Up and Husband Blames Her Forever. I spent the last two decades in a quagmire that wrecked havoc on my soul and didn’t fix anything. Its an ugly place to live. I allowed someone who despised me to abuse my body, to assault my inner being over and over. Physical intimacy should never be forced. Thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach.
The sad truth? I’ve heard stories much worse than mine.
Don’t tell me a man can’t rape his wife. Don’t tell me a man can’t sexually abuse the woman he married. I’ve heard the stories. I’ve lived through the fire. I’m a mild mannered woman but I will shut you down if you’re ignorant enough to try to argue with someone who lived through the hell and knows firsthand. Honestly, I really don’t care anymore, but I’ll go to the wire on this one for every other wife who’s whispered her story in the dark.
For those who’re reading, all I can tell you is this. You cannot fix what you did not break. I tried to please my husband. My husband did not try to please his wife. All his focus centered on his wants, his needs, his desires. Never once do I remember any consideration for my needs or desires. He was a horrible lover. Why did that never cross my mind? I don’t know, but it didn’t. I thought it was my job to take care of him when in truth, it’s husbands who are repeatedly instructed to love their wives.
The problems were not mine. A woman cannot respond when there’s nothing to respond to—no love, no tenderness. I did not ask for much. I didn’t ask him to keep his hair or have a killer six-pack. I never asked him to buy me flowers or take me on dates. I asked for kindness. That’s all. . . just a little consideration but apparently that was way too much for him to give.
Did I do everything I could have those last two decades? I don’t know. I did everything I was capable of doing. I wasn’t mentally, emotionally or spiritually able to do more. I’m not trying to justify my decisions and it sure isn’t fun to tell this story. Believe me, I could be graphic but I still have to look myself in the mirror.
If these men are this miserable, why don’t they just leave? I came to the conclusion my husband did not want to be happy. More to the point, he did not want *me* to be happy. He fed on my misery.
Shame on him.
I’m tired. Very tired of carrying this. I don’t enjoy bringing up the subject but ignoring the gorilla in the pantry doesn’t save the groceries. I write this story to say you are not alone. If you see yourself somewhere in my story and understand it’s not all your fault then it’s enough reason to stand naked in the kitchen and brave the monkey.
That’s it! Thank you for your prayers. At some point, I may revise this but for now, let’s call if finished.