I was a mere 22 years old when this story begins. My wife to be was 28, and as it turns out she was prowling for young men who hadn?t already been burned by women like her. This was nearly 15 years ago.
The beginning of our relationship was exciting. It was everything I had desired. I was active in my church, and had help start a class for young singles. The only singles class our church had at the time was full of middle aged divorced people and people who never managed to get married during the first round of marriages for their peers. This class over the year it had existed had already become a fun place for all of us. Some people were dating, but most just enjoyed the things we all did together. It was at this time that I met her. She had just moved back to our city. We hit it off right away. We talked for hours the first day that we met. I recognized her last name, and realized that I knew her sister and stepsister from college. Over the course of the next few months we spent most evenings together. The only ones we didn?t were the ones she was working.
Our time together was exciting we talked about everything. We did a considerable amount of kissing and heavy petting. We drew the line at taking our clothes off, we both wanted to avoid sex before marriage. Not that either of us were virgins. She had a bit of a sorted sexual history, including abuse as child, and I had been very sexually active with a girlfriend in high school. Knowing what I know now, I would have stopped the relationship knowing her history. Too many guys had screwed her up. The sexual abuse had messed with her ability to truly enjoy sex. This is the first of many red flags that I ignored as I plowed ahead toward marital bliss.
Christmas time was coming, and we had been dating for about four months. I decided I would ask her to marry me. This was incredibly stupid, but hind site is definitely better than foresight. On Christmas Eve I asked her to marry me. She of course said yes, because this woman wanted to be married before she reached her expiration date. You may think I exaggerate, but she intentionally picked a wedding date that was before her 30th birthday, but after my 23rd. Things started to change before the New Year.
She became completely preoccupied with the wedding. I became an after thought. Our physical contact was less, and she would get angry that I didn?t touch her as much. I didn?t really understand what was going on, but I tried harder to satisfy her. What man wouldn?t want more physical attention? It was difficult, I didn?t understand why, but she seemed to be putting space between us, and blaming me for it. At the time I couldn?t totally understand what was going on. She even became critical of the ring that I spent a good 25% of what I earned a year at the time on. As I look back, this was clearly her drawing the battle lines of who was in charge, and dominant in the relationship. I say this with very little pride. I was a leader. I was one of the dominant guys in all my social groups, and a solid competitor no matter what game I played. I didn?t know this game, and as I sit here today, I am rebuilding my reputation as a leader and a guy that other guys want to be around. She beat me down, and I let her without knowing what was happening. I just wanted to please the woman I was preparing to spend the rest of my life with.
The wedding plans went on, and this behavior continued. I never did assert myself effectively. I blame this on the next red flag that should have had me running. She was seven years older than me. Men don?t marry older women. They want you because they can control you. If they get to you before you are experienced enough to see what they are doing, then they are in control. It just breaks the natural order of things. If you think that I am nuts, then look around at your friends who have married and the woman is the same age or older. Most of them aren?t happy, even if they stay together, and if they are happy, they had to work out the whole the man is the leader issue to get there, because she won?t respect him otherwise.
During the summer before our wedding, she went back to the place she had lived before she met me to visit the people she had spent the previous year of life with. She was gone for ten days, and managed to call me finally on the eighth. I was mad, and concerned. I didn?t understand that this too was a way to put me in my place. I wait for her, not her for me. I had stupidly taken out a little too much credit, as many of us do our first step into adulthood. I was in over my head. I told her about this when we talked on the phone. She took out a loan and paid off the debt I had, and then we finished paying it off together before the wedding day. I thought this was one of the most wonderful things. I thought it showed her commitment. I was wrong. This was just one of the many things that have been used against me in any argument we have over money. It was the handle to her sledge hammer to beat me down, and keep me out of our finances over the years.
Well we made it to the wedding day. I was learning my place in the relationship, rather than creating it. Things didn?t change much. She became cooler and cooler towards me. I chalked this up as being pre-wedding stress, and didn?t give it much more thought. During this time there were many arguments and disagreements. I am fairly certain that I didn?t win a single one of them. This again should have scared me off. Later I was blamed for bad decisions, because I didn?t stand my ground on things I was right about. I wasn?t even married yet, and I was already in a no win situation with her. A pretty good start, don?t you think.