Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Burden of an Unhealthy Marriage by Nena Ndioma

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My former husband came over to my place about a week ago for a ten-day visit. He hadn’t seen the children in almost two years. My sister thinks I’m crazy to let him stay at my place during this visit. She’s convinced I need therapy to help me figure out why I have this need to be so ‘nice’ to my ex-husband.

"I don’t think I’m being ‘nice’ though, necessarily," I say to my sister. "I’m just being ‘me.’"

This divorce thing is new for me and new for him. If there’s a manual on how to do it ‘right,’ I haven’t read it yet. I’m just taking things one day at a time and doing what feels right to me at any given time.

When the marriage was in the throes of death (we were informally separated at the time), things got to a point where it became critical for me to have him find his own accommodation when he visited the children. Back then, I really didn’t like the sort of person I had become as a result of the downward spiral of the marriage. I had become a master sleuth.


I became a pro at hurriedly going through his cell phones (which he – an ordinarily not-too-careful individual – had begun to guard like a hawk all of the sudden) to see which calls and text messages had come in and gone out. It was hard to get a hold of his cell phones as he had also become a pro at not letting them out of his sight. I have a vivid memory, though (seems a bit comical now), of walking into the bathroom of the master bedroom and finding, to my great surprise, that he had actually forgotten them in there.

I methodically locked myself in the bathroom, sat down on the commode, and took my sweet time going through his phones. I heard him rush back to the bedroom in a panic, trying to figure out where he had left them. Not finding them, he rushed out to another room. When I was done, I casually told him that he’d left them in the bathroom, ensuring my voice and eyes didn’t give away the fact that I’d just ‘invaded’ his privacy. I was rarely ‘disappointed’ with my findings on the rare occasions when I did get a hold of his phones, and trying to reconcile the text messages and phone logs with the person I thought I had married was the most confusing thing in the world.

I wasn’t proud of my newly-acquired ‘private investigator’ skills, though. I loathed the fact that I was no longer myself – the fact that I, an ultra-busy individual who could barely keep up with her own email, and who would never have even thought of checking his email (not even in those days when I had his password), would now actually take the time to sift through his messages, trying to figure out what on earth was going on. Me, a professional at minding my own business and giving people space – I suddenly found the time and energy to care about who was calling and texting whom?

I couldn’t stand the new me. And because all this went totally against my nature, his 7 to 10-day visits would totally exhaust me. Upon his departure, I would invariably fall ill – totally spent – and it would take me about another week to recover.

During one of these visits, I fell asleep around 8 pm with a blinding headache. It was the end of his one-week visit and he was leaving early the next morning. I fell asleep thinking drowsily about how familiar all this had become: the sudden, terrible headache and my falling ill just as he was getting ready to depart. The headache was a sign that the visit was over and that it was time for my body to rebel again and go out of whack for another week or so while it fought to rid itself of my pent-up emotions.

I woke up from sleep with a start a couple of hours later. I was awakened by my son, who ran into the bathroom of the master bedroom with his Daddy’s phone ringing loudly. My son noisily announced to his father who the caller was.

It was one of ‘the other women’ – a former cherished friend.

The bedroom light was off, and the bright light from the bathroom worsened my headache. My son’s father took the phone without a word and let it ring ... and ring ... and ring ... until the caller gave up.


Why doesn’t he just answer it? I wondered. Does he realize I’m awake?

My hand felt around in the darkness for my phone and I checked the time. It was 10:58 pm.

At 10:58 pm that night, I decided that I would not let this happen to me again. I would not allow this continue to be my life.

I later told him to kindly make his own accommodation arrangements when next he was visiting. ‘The way you decide to live your life is really your own business,’ I said. ‘But when it begins to affect my health, then it becomes my business. Do whatever you want, but please do it within your own space.’

With his recent visit last week – his first visit since the divorce – I revisited these memories.

I compare how I felt back then to how I feel now. I find that everything has totally changed. I’ve totally ‘moved on.’ In fact, I had actually forgotten all about my 'no accommodation rule' until he (and then my sister!) reminded me. The rule came about as a result of a specific set of circumstances, which no longer exist. I no longer feel the urge to know what’s going on in his life, to dig into his business. We’re not married anymore, and that feeling has completely dissipated. I’m back to being me again – the ultra-busy person who doesn’t have time to sweat the ‘small’ stuff.

He was now here for the sole purpose of spending time with his children, who hadn’t seen him in forever, and – call me crazy – but I saw no reason why I shouldn’t do whatever I could to facilitate this. If I’m being ‘nice’ here, then I guess I’m being nice to our children, who deserve the best that I can possibly give them.


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Nena Ndioma is the pen name of the writer behind Remembering my Journey, a blog detailing thoughts on being African, Christian and Divorced.






30 comments:

  1. I'm glad you have peace of mind now. I pity women who go through all this stress in their marriage and remain till they have hbp one day and collapse. Some will even be pretending outside and lording it over other women, especially if the women are divorced or seprated.

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    1. I really do have peace of mind now. Thanks, Uju!

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  2. Very well written, I can read this over and over again. I am happy that you moved on. Congratz.

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    1. Thank you, Eya. Although I don't see divorce as an 'achievement,' moving on from a tough experience is nothing to sneeze at, so many thanks.

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  3. Very well written. Peace of mind is the most important thing ever! Glad you found it again.

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    1. Thank you, Lohi. Yes, peace is priceless.

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  4. Touching Nena. I feel like giving you a hug right now, for being strong enough to do what is best for you.
    Bad relationships should be listed as a chronic disease by WHO.

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    1. Ginger, thank you. LOL @ 'bad relationships should be listed as a chronic disease by WHO'! My boss would agree - says something similar to that all the time. *Hugs*

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  5. The blog is definitely appropriately named: remembering the journey

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    1. That's really gratifying to hear, so thank you. I struggled with what to call it until I stumbled on Micah 6:5b (NIV), which says: "Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord." Once I read that, I knew I had my blog title.

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  6. Thank God you found peace after everything you went through. The lord is your strength

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  7. Sending you a huge hug! Well done for making the efforts. There is nothing like having peace of mind. Though I cannot say I know how you felt, I can tell that you made an effort to get your life back and to also not deprevieve your kids from spending time with their dad. I think you are good woman. honestly have to say well done! May God continue to be with you x

    Ps: You write beautifully :)




    www.spynaija.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey, thank you, Spynaijia. {Hug} totally received. I guess I feel like there's no need cutting off your nose to spite your face, if you know what I mean.

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  8. this is a lovely piece. I feel like you are writing my story. And its beautiful to say that i have found piece outside my marriage. We are currently separated but i cant get to even seeing him because there was alot of battery and i feel like i will still be scared seeing him. However, i am now living my life, no longer scared of knowing that my husband is been shared by another woman or he will get back home and start the usual fight and battery. Your write up is beautiful.

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    1. Thank you, Meg. I'm heartbroken to hear what you went through. Glad you're doing good, though. Keep your chin up. One day at a time.

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  9. It takes a strong woman to do what you did- allow your ex-hubby to stay at yours for the visit to his children. I cannot pretend to know what it feels like to be separated from someone whom you once stood on the altar to exchange vows of a lifetime together with, whom you once loved madly, but I have lived it vicariously through a really close relative who is processing the trauma of a marriage that broke down against their will. I have seen firsthand, the trauma, the pain, the anger, the tears, the brokenness-it's not easy at all. I'm glad however, that you have not let this unfortunate experience change your basic good nature, or turn you into some bitter/grumpy woman. You did the right thing and I'm sure when your children are old enough to understand, they will respect and applaud you for it. May God lead you into your desired haven. Cheers.

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    1. Oh, thank you for this blessing! Extremely kind of you. To be honest, I've met a few women that have understandably become embittered by their experiences in marriage and I always hoped I wouldn't let that happen. It's a really big blow when you deeply believe in marriage and yours ends up not working out. But a good marriage is one of many blessings in life and I'm keenly aware that I'm BLESSED in so many other ways.

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  10. Well written. I went to your blog and read practically everything I found there. You're a such beautiful writer. And the way you've chosen to handle your successes and disappointments is really an inspiration, I'm sure for a lot of people. I look forward to reading more from you.

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting, Igwe, and for the kind words.

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  11. You realized in time why you should trouble yourself with his business and that invariably helped you.

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  12. Really nice writeup!To have found inner peace means you've forgiven him and yourself also which is really good.Luvly writeup....Cheers!

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  13. it hurts me to read people stories on their bad marriage experiences..I pray God helps as many homes/hearts that are suffering as a result of this!!

    Am really old school on Divorce..I dont think its the best option but God and the persons involved know best so i won't judge but in all lets try to work on our marital issues and seek good counsel from senior colleagues, parents and friends that are happily married before diving into divorce..
    God is the author so seek Him before,In the Marriage and throught the MArriage He'll help sustain it! Peace***

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  14. Hi Myne,

    May i share this post on my blog?

    Nena

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  15. Hmmm I love your courage. Thank God for you and praying for you as well. I wish my friend could read this.

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    1. Thank you for your prayers; that's so sweet of you.

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