Red flags were everywhere...but love is blind
Looking back on my marriage, how could I not see the red flags?!! I made excuses for those red flags to everyone, and worse of all, to myself. I walked into my marriage believing I got it "right" the first time, and that we would last forever. He was my best friend for years, then we decided to "change our relationship" and were married within 8 months. On paper, he was a great catch. He was charming, intelligent, caring, compassionate, and patient. I ignored that he was shorter than me - at 5'10" (I broke my own "no shorter than 6' tall rule"!). He was average looking, and the personality shone through to make him better looking to me. I knew about his past and believed how hard done by he was because he was very good at articulating how abusive both of his ex wives had been towards him (Red Flag!!! Two failed marriages by the time he was 38!).
He had spent all his savings and had then incurred debt to fight his ex in court to be able to see his daughter. He faithfully called his daughter every night at 8pm. He worked from home on Tuesdays because that was the day of the week he picked his daughter up from work. That showed me that he was committed to being a father and would always be involved with any children we might have.
He had even been the first male to be hired by a women's shelter, for crying out loud!
Our kids were born. As with any relationship, having kids puts a strain on your relationship but he was attentive and involved in my pregnancy. He did the laundry while I was pregnant because he didn't want me walking up and down the creeky stairs into our basement, he was constantly reminding me to get rest, go out with girlfriends. He even stayed home with our twins for 6 months since I didn't qualify for the year-long parental leave we are thankful for here in Canada, etc. Again, great on paper!!
Then he went back to work. Little comments started: "Why don't you...", "I thought you would have...", "How can someone get to be your age without knowing...?", etc. They were few and far between, so I just ignored them and didn't say anything (Red Flag!) because he commuted four hours a day, and barely saw the kids so he was tired.
Then he started sleeping more, explaining to me that because of the extra hours he was putting in away from home and his depression, he needed the rest. Again, I ignored the thoughts in my head questioning why a man in his 40s needed to sleep all weekend and would tell his kids that "Daddy needed a nap" instead of playing with them when they desperately wanted him. Our daughter even commented on it! How come I didn't get a nap when I was up all night with the kids every night, while he slept soundly on his sleeping pill? (Red flag!)
Then his depression "crashes" started becoming more frequent. When we were first married, they were once every 8 - 9 months, he would sleep for a couple of days, and then be fine. Now, they were as frequent as every 2 - 3 months. I attributed it to the toll it took on him to be a parent with kids at home instead of through visitation, and that it would just take some time for him to adjust. (Red Flag!)
He started accusing me of cheating on him - the thought never crossed my mind...besides, when would I have the time? I was working full time AND had toddler twins!. He even believed that a pregnancy I miscarried wasn't his. (Do I really need to type "Red Flag!" here?)
Then I found his online profiles. He blamed me for them. If I was more attentive to him, and he didn't think I was cheating on him with a dear friend of ours, he wouldn't have made the profiles. Is that supposed to be an apology??? As with any "discussion" we had, I ended up apologizing to him for whatever we were fighting about, including his online profiles! He even told me to "figure out if I wanted to stay in the marriage because his sister had just paid a lot of money on a downpayment for a house" the three of us were moving into. I realized then that my feelings meant nothing to him, and even worse, I didn't even want to say anything, for fear of "causing" another one of his crashes. I had lost my voice.
Then he started complaining about my friends. Not directly at first. Just subtle comments. So subtle in fact, that it wasn't until I realized that I had to see if one girlfriend in particular was coming out one night with a bunch of us, before I could invite my husband.
Each year for three years, he threatened to move out, and each time, I begged him to stay. I didn't believe I could work full time and be a great mother to our twins without his support, even though I recognized that he wasn't usual "present" when he was home. He was even only working part time because he wanted to "work on himself and his depression". He would email me around 2pm or 3pm saying he "must have been tired because I just woke up" and asking what was for dinner. I hated it every time he did it but I never said anything. His "crashes" were so frequent now that I didn't want to "cause" another one.
My friends wanted me out of my marriage, my parents wanted me out, I wanted out, but I couldn't bring myself to get out. Unfortunately but thankfully, he put me through a now "infamous month of hell" from the end of January to the end of February, where one friend called the police twice, and other discussions and actions were happening in my circle of friends because they were concerned because I had disappeared. At the end of February, he became violent. Thankfully, it was "only" towards things, but it was the scariest night of my life.
I had always told my counsellor that if he ever got violent, I was done. The kids and I moved out 3 weeks after he was legally allowed back on the property again, and we aren't looking back. Now I need to acknowledge the Red Flags when they are happening, and figure out how to speak up at that moment. Easier said than done, but at least I'm working on it.
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