Having grown up with an emotionally abusive father, it was super important to me to never date a guy like him as an adult. I decided early on that one toxic relationship was enough, but despite all my cherry-picking, I ended up marrying a guy who’s exactly like my dad.
I only just realized how manipulative he is. One of the things I hated the most about my father was how manipulative he could be when he wanted to get someone to sympathize with him. He’d do something bad and rewrite the story so that you’d feel sorry for him even though he was the one at fault. I never noticed that trait in my husband while we were dating because he was so good at hiding it—a master manipulator—but now I can’t stop noticing his dirty tricks. Even his apologies seem staged these days.
He takes things for granted. I keep asking myself how I ended up with a man who refuses to take things seriously, especially when it comes to me. I’m always quick to come to his aid whenever he needs it and I’m very supportive even when it’s difficult to be but he doesn’t reciprocate the concern. It brings back memories of my mother angrily juggling a ton of tasks on her own because my old man didn’t care enough to lend a hand, yet he still had the guts to expect her to jump through hoops for him.
He makes me feel small and neglected. My father used to make me so aware of how little I was compared to him. He would scream, break stuff, curse, hit me, and just shut me out to make a point. My husband doesn’t hit or break stuff but his weapon of choice is freezing me out. If I do something he doesn’t like, he stops talking to me and refuses to cuddle or have sex. He would just act like I don’t exist, which is really cold, and I end up feeling like a small, defenseless child again. I think knowing he has this hold over me makes him feel powerful.
He has a sneaky way of being controlling. When we were dating, he was always very involved in my personal life. He wanted to know where I was going, who I was talking to, or he’d call to say he was missing me and beg me to come home to him even though I hadn’t been gone for very long. I thought it was sweet that he cared so much. The truth is it was all a charade to hide how controlling he is. He just wanted to be able to manage me and have me all to himself. It had very little to do with love.
Being married to him has cost me important relationships. If there is anything men like my father know how to do very well, it’s making themselves the center of attention. I always wondered why my mother never really had any friends. Now I know it’s because loving the man in her life took too much of her time and demanded all her effort. I’ve found myself giving up time with friends to be there for him, canceling appointments, and not responding to calls or messages until eventually, they stopped trying to reach me. I can barely recognize my social circle now.
His anger issues are getting out of hand. Truth be told, his anger problems were never a secret. I knew he had a temper and I had one too, but we promised to never bring that home to each other. While that might have worked while we were dating, the agreement is no longer sacred now. He doesn’t hesitate to slam doors angrily or raise his voice or tell me if it ever came down to a physical struggle, he’d win because he’s stronger.
He doesn’t know how to deal with being told no. When it comes to not getting what he wants, he resembles my father closely. He becomes moody, furious, vindictive, and just plain wicked whenever I say no or refuse to help with something. That’s not the kind of attitude I want in a partner, and I can’t help but feel duped for falling in love and agreeing to spend the rest of my life with a such a person.
Maybe deep down, I’m just a sucker for bad men. I think I get too caught up in trying to get people to love me that I ignore the red flags that accompany that love, and men like my father and husband can see that and take advantage. I thought that because he had a crappy father too, he would be less of a jerk and unwilling to put up with those bad traits in his own life, but I was wrong.
I’m relieving old traumas in new ways. It’s tough having to deal with a lot of the problems I had at home growing up in my home as an adult. Sometimes I watch my husband do something and I immediately get flashbacks of the times my father did the exact thing or something similar. He’s a good man, a much better man than my father in fact, and it helps that I love him, but there are some things that love can’t fix. I watched my mother try to change my dad for decades while he remained the same dreadful man. I know one thing for sure: I’m not going to put up with that crap for longer than I have to.
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