blindsided-in-love

I received a comment from a woman named Christy and here is what she wrote:

“I’ve started reading your blog. I understand completely. I’ve been with my husband for 13 years, and I’ve gained 50 pounds since our marriage 9 years ago. He is emotionally unavailable, passive aggressive, and nothing I do is ever good enough for him. Even when I was 145 pounds (5’9”) he would find things about my body to find fault with. You talked in one of your posts about red flags at the beginning. My red flags were that I wasn’t good enough for him then, and he was hesitant about getting married. That stuff doesn’t ever go away.”

“I eat to fill the void of love and to help deal with loneliness. My husband withholds sex as a way to get back at me. For what? I don’t know, I can tell when he is mad, but he doesn’t tell me what he is mad about. (That’s the passive aggressive stuff.)”

“As soon as the newness wears off, your husband will probably treat the new woman the same way he treated you. I’m not sure if that makes you feel better, but people don’t change. He was the problem, not you.”

“It’s helpful to know that there are people out there who feel the same way that I do. Thanks for your blog.”

I could identify with everything Christy wrote. In fact, I could have written the exact same comment that Christy wrote when I was married to my ex-husband Paul. She said, “My red flags were that I wasn’t good enough for him then, and he was hesitant about getting married.”

I remember Paul once telling me that he wasn’t going to marry me because I was “damaged goods.” When I asked him what he meant, he said, “You were married once before.”

Even now when I recall that conversation over thirty-five years later, I can feel a knot form in my stomach and I’m furious at Paul for referring to me as “damaged goods” because I had a short marriage when I was twenty-one years old that didn’t work out.

But here’s the thing, Christy is right when she said, “That stuff doesn’t go away.” When you ignore the red flags in your relationship they come back to haunt you. They always do. When the fantasy of what you thought your life was supposed to be like turns into a nightmare then you remember the red flags: He didn’t think I was good enough for him, and he was hesitant about getting married — or — he thought I was damaged goods.

If I could tell women just one thing to save them from the heartache that I went through it would be this: Don’t marry a man that’s not head over heels in love with you. If he’s hesitant in any way about marrying you, walk away. Because if you do marry him, I promise you that you will live to regret it.

If a man goes into a marriage not totally in love with the woman he’s marrying, then over the course of time he will start blaming her for everything that is wrong in their marriage. Instead of being his wife, the woman unwittingly becomes his scapegoat, and his discontent with her festers inside of him because he married a woman he wasn’t truly committed to. The truth is, he’s really upset with himself for marrying her, but instead of looking inwards at himself, he turns his emotions outwards and blames his wife for his unhappiness.

Christy wrote, “My husband withholds sex as a way to get back at me.” I actually lived twenty years in the trenches of the very type of marriage that Christy’s describing where my husband withheld sex from me. I learned from my marriage that when a husband withholds sex it’s because he’s angry with you — whether it’s justified or not doesn’t matter.

Here’s another red flag that most women miss in their marriage. Women assume that if their husband is withholding sex from them that their husband is not having sex either. I missed this red flag big time! Men might withhold having sex with their wives because they’re angry with them, but most married men do not become celibate just because they’re angry with their wives. They have sex with women that they’re not angry with. And when the wife finds out — well, she feels blindsided. Read my March 22, 2010 entry Sandra Bullock Blindsided By Jesse James.

Speaking about being blindsided, when I wrote about Sandra Bullock being blindsided by Jesse James the number of people who read my blog stunned me. It seems like I was blindsided by my own creativity.

I thought people would know that I was only kidding when I welcomed Sandra Bullock into the Blindsided Wives of America Club — but apparently some people thought there really was such a club, because the top search on my website was the Blindsided Wives of America Club.

Then shortly after that actress Garcelle Beauvais was blindsided by her husband Mike Nilon — and Ginny Barber, who is eight months pregnant with twins, was blindsided by her husband Tiki Barber.

With all these women being blindsided by their husbands it got me thinking, “Maybe there really is a need for a Blindsided Wives of America Club.” The Blindsided Wives of America Club has just been introduced online. The website is: Blindsided Wives Club (www.blindsidedwivesclub.com)

The Blindsided Wives of America Club is going to be a supportive blog where women who have been blindsided by their husbands or significant other can leave comments sharing their own thoughts and experiences. Hopefully some insightful dialogue will ensue among the comments. Guest bloggers who want to write about their own experience of being blindsided or have advice that they would like to offer will be welcomed to write a guest post. If anyone wants to write a guest post they can e-mail: blindsidedwivesclub@gmail.com. Guest posts will be published upon approval. Please check out this new blog.

Now for everyone who has been reading my blog A Bad Marriage Is Fattening — please know that I am going to continue writing this blog.

I’d like to close with some thoughts on Christy’s comment. I walked in Christy’s shoes for twenty years in my own unhappy marriage. No woman should have to live in the emotional pain that being married to a man who doesn’t truly love you brings. Yet women do it all the time because they feel trapped. They think circumstances are forcing them to stay in an unhappy marriage. I understand the circumstances that force a woman to stay in an unhappy marriage. My circumstance for staying in my unhappy marriage was that I feared the unknown more than I feared the misery I was living in. Fear is a very compelling reason to keep one’s self trapped in an unhappy marriage.

I was forced to face my fear when I learned that I had been blindsided by my husband. That’s what it took for me to finally admit that my marriage and my whole life with my husband was a sham. Did I want to continue living a lie? Today I am so grateful that I was blindsided, because my life has changed for the better and I have finally become the independent woman I have always wanted to be.

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weight scale

My mother used to say, “Emotions are ephemeral – like the waves in the ocean, they come and go. What you may be feeling one moment, you may not be feeling the next moment, because your emotions are constantly changing.”

Mother was right. She was right about a great many things. It has been a little over eight and a half years since Mother died. If Mother were alive today she would be ninety-six. We were thirty years apart.

Last night I started to think about my mother. Nobody has ever loved me as much as my mother did. Even when we had our differences, I always knew that Mother loved me. And nobody has ever given me better advice than Mother.

Sometimes when I have a decision to make, I will have these imaginary conversations with my mother, because I knew her so well that I’d already know what she’d say. But I just needed to hear her say it.

“Mother?”

“Yes, Joanie.”

“I don’t want to write about losing my weight anymore.”

“So don’t write about it, which is not an excuse for not losing it, because you have diabetes and it’s not healthy to weigh what you weigh.”

“I know that, but I just don’t want to weigh-in publically anymore.”

“Then don’t.”

“But how do I stop?”

“Just stop writing about it.”

“But I made a commitment to my readers.”

“Joanie, are you a little girl? You can do whatever you want. You don’t have to ask permission to not write about losing your weight.”

“How do I explain to my readers if all of a sudden I stop writing about my weight loss when I told them that I would weigh-in every Monday and tell them what I weighed.”

“Joanie,” Mother says, and when she says “Joanie” in that certain tone that only she can, she has my complete attention. “Have any of your readers written to you saying that they’re going to stop reading your blog because you haven’t been weighing in?”

“No.”

“So that answers your question. No one really cares what you weigh except me and you – and I only care about what you weigh for health reasons.”

“Okay, you’ve made your point.”

“People are not looking to you for their own inspiration for losing weight.”

“Well, that’s for sure.”

“You’re a writer. Besides, you are so much more than your weight. Think of all the things that you are.”

I think. . .

I’m a daughter – well, I was a daughter, but I’m not a daughter anymore because my mother and father are dead, but when I was a daughter I was a very loving daughter and I was very caring to both my parents.

As if Mother can read my thoughts she says, “Your father and I could not have wished for a more loving and caring daughter. You took care of us when we needed you and you did it with a loving heart. What else are you?”

Without thinking I say, “I was a granddaughter.”

“And Grandma and Grandpa loved you very much. Remember the typewriter they bought you for your thirteenth birthday?”

“I’ll never forget,” I say smiling as I remember the most special birthday present of my life — my first typewriter.

“And what else are you?”

“I’m a sister.”

“A very good sister to your brothers. Larry and David know how much you love them and they love you. You’re lucky to be so close with both of your brothers. Sometimes when parents die the family drifts apart – but you, Larry and David have remained close. And what else are you?”

“I’m a niece and I love my Aunt Sunnie. We share so many happy memories together, and she’s the only older living relative I have left.”

“And you’re a cousin.”

“Kathleen and I are more than kissing cousins, we’re like sisters.”

“And you’re an aunt to your nieces and nephew. You love them and they love you.”

“And I’m a sister-in-law. I lucked out when I got Margo for my sister-in-law. She’s one of the sweetest women who has ever lived. I have never heard her say an unkind word about anyone or ever heard her gossip.”

“And you’re a mother.”

Yes, I’m a mother. I did not become a mother until I was forty. I put everything into raising Michael, who’s now twenty-five and is an incredibly talented musician who sings, plays the piano, electrical, acoustical and bass guitar, drums, synthesizers, clarinet, writes and records his own songs and produces them – and he’s a gifted photographer also.

“And you’re a writer – a very talented writer!”

Well, so far I haven’t embellished upon anything, but now I’m embellishing what my mother would say. Mother would never say I was a very talented writer. Oh, let me correct that. She would say I was a talented writer as long as I didn’t write about her drinking. Mother, if she were alive, would be aghast that I have written about her drinking.

“Joanie, have you said anything about my drinking?”

“No Mother.”

“Because you know how I feel about airing one’s dirty laundry in public.”

“Yes, I know, Mother. I only air my own dirty laundry about my marriage to Paul.”

“What have you said about that lovely man? You know how much I liked him.”

“Yes, I know, Mother. Actually, I think you should have married Paul. You would have been very happy with him – being that you thought doctors made the best husbands.”

“But I didn’t have your brains, or your beauty, or your education. You were so much more than I ever was.”

“Really Mother? And I thought you were so much more than you ever gave yourself credit for – so much more.”

“So Joanie, you’re not going to write about losing your weight anymore, because even though you’re going to do it, we have established that you are not your weight – you are so much more.”

I love talking to my mother. She has always helped me put everything into perspective.

“And Joanie. . .”

“Yes Mother?”

“Just remember what I have always said about emotions.”

“Yes Mother, I remember, ‘Emotions are ephemeral – like the waves in the ocean, they come and go. What you may be feeling one moment, you may not be feeling the next moment, because your emotions are constantly changing.’”

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