I was married 34 years only to discover my husband never wanted to be married or have children. Our first 5 years, he stayed because it was easy and it was what people did…he had no intention of keeping vows, even though when I questioned our compatibility he told me his family did not believe in divorce.
Married 5 years – a gal says to me “Why do you stay married to a guy who hits on women?” I never spoke to that jealous liar again. I am pregnant with Jill and Frank responds “how did that happen?” No excitement. Jill is born, Frank takes no time off work. Picks us up from hospital when discharged and drops us off at home. I am pregnant with Jan and his response is “Again?” followed by a vasectomy immediately after her birth.
Married 11 years – Frank’s Mechanical Contracting networking often lasting past midnight, steadily increases from one to three nights weekly. My sister tells me he’s having an affair because I can’t find him the evening I take Jill to the ER. My cousin tells me if he wanted to be home, he’d be home. So much harping from them that I demand one night he tell me who “she” is and he responds, “you don’t know her.” I scream and cry in disbelief. Six-year-old Jill comes out of her bedroom, teary eyed hugging her blanket. A nightmare follows. I kick him out. He tells me I’d like the other woman because she’s a lot like me, only thinner. We lose a few friends who don’t want to hang with a cheater. Frank admits there have been so many women he can’t give me a number. He says he was horrible, but never again. He’s learned how painful this can be. I wonder who has been with my husband?
A Catholic nun counsels us, believing Frank, and guilting me into forgiveness so I can save the marriage. Frank cries, but he cries for himself. He wants to be the one “watching the girls grow up.” I let him come home. He’s home each night and on weekends, but there is little remorse or understanding and per the nun I’m not allowed to mention the affair or it will ruin everything. We continue our small-talk relationship, never make family plans, and all social life is due to my planning (and personality). He’s along for the ride.
He moves us to a dump fixer-upper home so we can have a fresh start. Not true. It’s another “project” for him. It’s a nightmare. A few months into the dump-home I get a phone call from a man who wants to know why my husband is with his girlfriend (the other woman). Frank insists its because he needed to be sure he made right decision and tell her never to contact him again. Months later one of her friends call and tell Frank she’s in the hospital and needs him. I throw his car keys out the window and scream if he goes to her…it’s over. He stays home. Pure insanity. I kick him out again. He calls everyday begging me to take him back he loves all of us.
I am working, I can barely think, his harassment wears me down. My parents are a mess, mom is depressed, dad says they’re broke, they move in with me. Frank won’t give up. I’m emotionally wrecked. After a few months, I tell my parents they need to find a home. They move out, Frank moves back in. I don’t give a fuck about anything except the girls. I cry a lot, but keep it secret. At Jill’s First Communion we pose for a family picture. (Poor little Jill; I had no idea what this was doing to her). My family tries to accept Frank and they do slowly. Frank doesn’t change. He’s still distant, aloof, and “in his own world,” as Diane says. Diane calls the other woman, DJ (Donna Jean) DeWeese, rips her and tells her to never interfere in her sister’s life again.
There is no emotional connection. Frank doesn’t emotionally connect with anyone. I am treated no different than a sales clerk or neighbor. I can live this way if it makes life good for the girls. They get to stay in their schools, mom’s at home, they play sports, dad is there, Jill excels at school and in sports, and Jan spared the daddy-girlfriend details believes her dad’s quirks (harmonica head gear so he can drive & play) are funny. I hate his piano and harmonica. Those are Frank’s loves. They demand nothing; not even conversation. They drown me out. (I still hate his fucking music.) It’s okay. I have… an agreeable husband, great family, good friends.
East Indy deteriorates, so we move to south Indy. Frank will not go North even though that’s where our friends are moving. I’m disappointed, but at least my sister lives south and our grown daughters are moving with us. We begin doing things with Diane and Charlie almost every weekend.
Then, I get sick. Very sick. I may need a heart transplant if medicines don’t work. Frank remains aloof. Elaine comes to stay at my house. I have drug reactions. Elaine calls the doctor. Doctor says it’s not drugs. Elaine calls Diane and we go to ER. At the ER I find Dr. Singh. He gives me hope. I see him every week. We prep for the heart transplant data bank – liquid diet, treadmill, medicine, and prayer. Frank insists I go to his class reunion. I go, but cannot stay so he takes me to the hotel room and rejoins the reunion. My heart later improves and I’m deemed a medical miracle. I’m so relieved for the girls and grateful to Dr. Singh and God.
Frank begins going to work every morning at 4-5:00 AM. He wants dark and silence in the bedroom after 8PM. Eventually, after Frank’s incessant whining and complaining about my noise, I move to another bedroom. This continues for about a year. I question his sleep habits. He assures me it’s because of his responsibility at work. He can get so much done before others come to work. I’m suspicious. One morning I follow him to work. I call him from the parking lot. I tell him I followed him because I thought he might be having an affair. He is shocked I would think such a thing. He works hard to keep the company going. I have no idea the pressure he’s under. I leave feeling guilty.
I am so happy to be rid of the death sentence; I can tolerate anything, even a distant uninvolved, aloof husband. About a year later, on Ash Wednesday, I pray to God that during Lent He can help me become content in my marriage and understand Frank better. God immediately answers my prayer.
The next day, on Thursday, Diane calls and wants me to come to Lori’s house. I see Charlie, Diane, and Lori sitting at the kitchen table. Lori tells me she saw Uncle Frank having dinner with his girlfriend. I’m sick. I go home and confront the liar.
Frank’s sitting on the couch. I say, “Mystery solved.” He says, “You know her. It’s Susie VanTreese from my high school reunion, she’s Dutch.” What the Fuck? She’s Dutch? She was in your homeroom? Who gives a Fuck! He tells me not to worry because they’ve talked about what they are going to do with me. He tells Vince Kotarski he never thought about how an affair would affect his daughters. He tells Jan that he’s never told her who to date. He tells Ella that he and Susie have a lot in common; they’re both Dutch and they like the same cereal. I ask Frank if there were others during our marriage. He says I ask too many questions.
I make him leave and wonder how the hell I’m going to survive. It’s the worse time of my life. Frank calls constantly telling me how hard it is on him that Jill and Jan won’t accept Susie. Jan cries in fetal position in my bed at night. Jill relives the trauma of his first affair. Dee cries as if he’s died because she can’t see him. I fucking want to kill him, but I’m too tired, sick, and weak. My sisters hate him. My brother says cheaters always cheat. Charlie never wants to see him again. That Easter Jill, Jan and I sit on Jill’s kitchen floor and cry.
Meanwhile, I learn Jason is abusing Dee and Jill. After a few years, Jason convinces Jill (probably because he hates me) to see her father. I tell Frank of Jason’s abuse. Instead of stepping in as a father, Frank tells me to mind my own business. Frank doesn’t want to rock the boat. I hate him and I hate Jason. Dr. Singh is tells me to limit stress.
Jan is getting married. She is not speaking to her father, so Frank keeps his plans to take Susie to Hawaii; the trip we were supposed to go on. I tell him to stay in town during Jan’s wedding. What if Jan wants him that day?I call Susie’s answering machine and ask her to not go because of Jan’s wedding. Geezzz, I thought maybe as a mother, she would tell him to stay in town for his daughter’s wedding. Nope. They go. As Jan prepares to walk down the aisle she asks if I think her dad is somewhere around? “I don’t know.” Frank calls my cell during the reception to see how it’s going. I say, “fine; enjoy Hawaii,” then I get drunk. Later, while snooping through emails, Jan finds out Frank was in Hawaii. She hates him.
It’s 2019 NYE and I still hate everything this man has done to destroy our family, especially me. I’m never comfortable around him, but because I don’t want to be excluded or thought to be a bitch, I suck it up best I can and try to pretend everything is fine. The kids have forgiven him because kids need their parents’ love. I might need counseling. It seems that Frank wins again. Maybe if you’re a narcissist you always win. He’s got his slut-partner, lots of money, trips around the world, good health, adoring children, and a private life; so private Susie believes he’s still married to me. He does what he wants, when he wants, and with who he wants… for him, life is good. For me, life is good…but, it could be better if Frank lived in North Korea.