2/24/2013 | Share this article: View CommentsBy Tracey ~
This piece has been four years in the making. I have had a difficult time stopping for long enough to put it on paper, mostly because I don’t like to think about it. I will not be changing names, as I believe each man in this story deserves full credit for his actions and I wouldn’t want to take that away from them. This is a short memoir – a testimony, some might say, about what a difference a godly man made in my life.
When I was young, I was very overweight and I had a self-esteem problem. Around the age of seventeen I began to lose weight and ended up at a very healthy weight of about 125 pounds. Suddenly I began to be noticed by men, something I had never before experienced. By the time I graduate Air Force basic training at age nineteen, I was a very confident young woman. I moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where I was stationed, in November of 2007. That is where I met a very godly man.
His name was David and we met in early 2008. He was a Presbyterian, as was the rest of his family. Having been raised in a Pentecostal Holiness church, their practices were foreign to me, but he insisted we attend. Because of my upbringing I believed that I should follow him and so I did. Though neither of us were virgins, he proposed that we wait until we were married to have sex. Begrudgingly, I agreed, again believing that I should follow his lead. It was oddly easy for him to follow his own rule of abstinence, especially considering he was quite promiscuous prior to our meeting. By June he had convinced me that I was the only one for him and that we must be married.
The wedding was in July of 2008, only a few short months after we’d met. My parents weren’t thrilled with the rushed union, but they were pleased that he was a Christian and that I would be living in a godly home. Only my father was able to attend our wedding because it was planned and executed in less than three weeks. It was a small ceremony performed by one of our good friends and a reception followed at the home of a couple we went to church with. His grandmother told us that there had never been a divorce in the family and we would not be the first. We drove off into the sunset to downtown Anchorage and checked into our hotel. That was when everything changed.
Some might say their partner changes after the wedding, but I can almost assure you that this was different. The moment we got to our hotel room, I knew something was very wrong. After a very rushed consummation, he was bored and ready to go. I quickly dressed and agreed to go out with him. We spent the bulk of our wedding night in the mall, which was closed. My husband was a manager at a skate shop and decided to spend the evening hanging out at the shop with the other employees while they closed down. Yes, I knew something was very wrong from the beginning.
Things went downhill from there. We continued to attend the Presbyterian church with his brother and sister-in-law, but I did not fit in. I was looked down upon by the other wives because I worked with many of their husbands. I wore jeans as well and I generally did not know how to behave properly. The church would have small groups in peoples’ homes a few times per month. At these groups, the women would go to one room and the men to another. The ladies would discuss things such as baking, sewing, their abundance of children, while the men would have theological discussions. On one occasion, I ventured into the man cave and sat in on a conversation. They allowed me to stay until I asked a question, though I don’t remember now what it was. Women were clearly not permitted to speak.
When we would visit David’s brother’s house, something would inevitably go wrong. His sister-in-law was the ideal wife. Every time we visited there was a plethora of baked-from-scratch goodies – things that I didn’t have time for on a regular basis. Her child was always on her hip and she jumped at her husband’s beck and call. We would always play board games and no one was a sore loser. They were almost too perfect. I once said, “crap” during a game of cards and the outrage I received was almost immeasurable. I had to walk on eggshells at all times around his family and his church. But as bad as things were in public, they were far, far worse at home.
Shortly after we were married, I realized that I would not be having sex without days of begging first. We initially lived in a small apartment that was owned by an oceanography company. We took care of the apartment as people came and went for weeks at a time and rent was free in return. This was the first excuse. I was told that he was not comfortable having sex with other people in the house, and so we didn’t. I pleaded and begged, but any time there was another person in the apartment, no sex was had. So I began looking for another apartment. I was, after all, the breadwinner in the relationship.
In August we found an apartment of our own and I knew things would be different. They weren’t. I was met with excuse after excuse for why we could not have sex. At one point I was told that I had an odor problem, causing me to flee to the doctor’s office, where I was assured that no such problem existed. Later he told me that he was only attracted to blondes and I seriously contemplated bleaching my hair.
On his birthday, I was off work and had one of his good friends come over to help me prepare a home-cooked meal and a from-scratch birthday cake. She was a baker; her name was Barb. We spent a good part of the day in my tiny apartment kitchen preparing a meal fit for a king. She scurried out shortly before he arrived home and I unwrapped the good china and set the table with candles. He came in, ate dinner, and complimented me on the meal. He then went into the bedroom where he found more candles lit. I was immediately chastised for using his birthday and the meal I had prepared to get sex from him. I spent that night crying on the living room since we hadn’t bought living room furniture yet. It would be the first of several. He repeatedly did things that were extremely upsetting with absolutely no remorse.
One weekend he went out to lunch with Barb and another friend, an older gentleman who he had known for several years. He came home several hours later and told me that we needed to have a talk. I sat down at the table and he pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. On it, front and back, was a list of all the things I was doing wrong – the things he didn’t like about my personality and even my physical self. He told me that these things had to change for him to be happy. Of course I was livid, but what could I do?
In September, the company he worked for offered him an opportunity to oversee the opening of a new store in Fairbanks, eight hours north. He would be gone for two weeks, longer than we had ever spent apart. I planned a surprise trip to visit on the first weekend he was gone. I had a good friend who offered to follow me up to Fairbanks. He wanted to sell his truck to a man there and would ride back with me. It was the middle of the winter and I did not want to drive the perilous Alaskan roads alone. I worked a full day on Friday, getting in the car and on the road around 5pm. We drove straight through and arrived just before 1am. When I got to the hotel, David looked less-than-thrilled to see me. I thought that after having been away for a week, there might be a chance at intimacy, but such was not my luck. Though he was thrilled to show me off to his coworkers, he was distracted when he wasn’t working. I drove back on Sunday night and was at work at 7am on Monday morning. I was more than a little disappointed by the way things played out.
Shortly after his return from Fairbanks, he asked to go out to a club with a friend. I, of course, said yes, provided he came home fairly early and did not drive drunk. Around four in the morning I heard him come in. I ended up asking him to sleep on the couch because of the disgusting vomit noises he kept making. I later found out he had driven home drunk. The next day after he went to work I went to the living room and picked up the laptop. There on the desktop was an MSN Messenger conversation between him and a woman I didn’t know. It outlined in great detail what he wanted to do to her and vice versa. After some digging, I found out she was his ex-fiancé and lived in Fairbanks, where he had just spent two weeks. I confronted him about it and, to this day, he swears that nothing happened. This is obviously a lie.
Even our times of “spiritual growth” were hampered by this other woman. At his bidding, we often prayed before I left for work in the morning. One morning shortly after this incident, he inserted her name where mine should have been. I was shocked and deeply hurt and did not know what to do or say. I went to work without saying anything. Later I mentioned it and he denied it at first and then apologized profusely. He still promised that nothing happened with the other woman.
It was around this time that I began buying Christian marriage books. I began to read “The Power of a Praying Wife,” and others, trying desperately to fix our marriage. I was convinced that not only was I the problem, but I was also repulsive and undesirable. My husband refused to have sex with me without begging, after all. He refused to read a book or attend counseling.
Beaten down and lost, I was convinced to buy a house. I knew that buying a house would fix everything because that was what David wanted. We bought a foreclosed home that needed a lot of work because he wanted to make it his own, though I wanted something move-in ready. We moved, but nothing changed. We kept up the charade for everyone around us and no one suspected that we were anything other than a happy couple in love.
In June of 2009 I got orders to deploy to Afghanistan in October. I was devastated. I didn’t know how I would survive away from my husband or if he would love me when I returned. Before I left, we decided to begin counseling. He agreed on the condition that our counselor was our pastor, a good friend of his. It was through these counseling sessions that I learned many things about why I was married. David believed that I was a trophy. I had been a prize to be won and once I had been, he saw no reason to work at trying to keep me. He knew I wouldn’t divorce him, after all. He also said that he was not “emotionally attracted” to me, therefore he could not have sex with me. The pastor pointed out by using scripture that it was the husband’s job to sexually satisfy his wife and vice versa. David took no heed of anything. Still, he assured me that he loved me. We had decided to try for children when I returned from Afghanistan. He would be remodeling a room to be a nursery.
I deployed on October 31, 2009 with a group of strangers. There were no tears on his part as I boarded the plane. Almost immediately upon arrival I began to be hit on by the men around me. I very slowly began to realize that I was not repulsive and that maybe I wasn’t the source of the problem. My self-esteem prior to this had been bordering on non-existent. I began to share my marriage frustrations with the friends I’d made and they began to tell me what a dire situation I was in. They also suggested that I do some checking up on him. On a day off I decided to do just that. After a little bit of research, I found a profile he’d made on an obscure casual encounters site. It had been posted the day after I’d left for Afghanistan. I logged into his account and found message after message with several blonde women discussing when and where to meet. It was then that I seriously began to contemplate getting out for good.
It was around the middle of December when I told David that I couldn’t talk to him because I needed time to think. I began to take measures for a divorce. I created my own bank accounts and had my automatic deposit rerouted to it. I spoke with someone in legal for help drawing up the divorce papers. I had made up my mind, but I decided to wait until after Christmas to tell him.
On Christmas day, he demanded to speak to me. He called me repeatedly on Skype and sent email after email. I told him that if we spoke he wouldn’t like what I had to say. Still, he would not relent. I told him I wanted a divorce. I told him that I knew about his ad and his casual encounters, which he denied. He immediately called my mother, demanding that she talk some sense into me. She told him to get over himself in about as many words. I mailed him the divorce papers the day after Christmas.
Afghanistan saved my life, believe it or not. It showed me that I was not worthless or undesirable and that I had gone above and beyond to try to save my marriage. It was also where I began to question my faith, realizing that God had done nothing for my marriage and that my so-called “godly” husband was the worst kind of person who had emotionally abused me for a year and a half. Afghanistan also showed me the disgusting things that men will use faith to justify.
Now I have seen what a godly man can be, though my mother and countless others have told me that he is obviously not a “true” Christian. I have no desire to ever go back into a situation where I am looked down upon for having a job or an opinion, and I have no desire to be expected to serve a man’s every wish.
Two months ago I married a wonderful godless man who I have been with since the day after my divorce was finalized in early 2010. He has never once put me down or made me feel like less than a person. He makes me feel beautiful every day and I know that I am loved. He also knows that I have an opinion on everything.
Filed Under: Testimonials