My therapist gave me another assignment-write another 25 shitty things your ex did during your marriage. She gives me interesting assignments like get a massage, write, stand naked in front of a mirror and rub lotion all over yourself, find a man who’s a young 60 just for the experience. As always, these are in no particular order.

  1. When I cut off my hair he greeted me at the door and said, you look like a guy i’m going to have to start fucking you from behind. I said, keep talking like that and you’re never fucking me again.
  2. He hit on our friends in front of me and then he’d deny it.
  3. He hit on strangers and told me about it afterwards.
  4. In ten years of marriage, I can’t remember him telling me I looked nice more than few times.
  5. He told me we were sexually incompatible yet wasn’t open to discussing how to make things better. He didn’t like me being on top because he “didn’t feel anything” but never made suggestions. So now I just think I’m lousy in bed and will warn any potential lovers of that fact. Oh wait, there won’t be any.
  6. At a party, he walked up to a friend of ours and said, let’s pretend we’re having an affair. She said no. I don’t know if he was ever actually unfaithful, I’m not sure I care.
  7. He told me I was silly.
  8. I don’t remember him helping around the house after I had brain surgery apart from setting me up on the sofa bed.
  9. He always chose his mother over me, something which continues to resonate as he says his new girlfriend is a lot like his mother. My mother told me a story where here my babcia (father’s mother) came to visit and found my mother ironing his boxers. My babcia told my mother that if her son wanted his boxers ironed he could do it himself. That’s what I expected from my marriage, that he would do for himself but he never did.
  10. He has continued to text me now that we are divorced and he always asks if I’m seeing someone. It feels more like a temperature check than actual concern.
  11. When my father told him he could help around the house more his response was, that’s not part of my culture.
  12. Not long after taking his second postdoc my ex told the head of the department that his study was flawed because the sample size was too small. My ex was out by the end of the year. The reason he was given was not enough money. That’s the reason he gave me. He told my mother about the discussion with the department head but he never told me. I just found out about this conversation a month ago.
  13. He stopped telling me I was sexy.
  14. No was seldom no with him and he would badger until I acquiesced. For example, he hounded me about having dinner with his new girlfriend for two months before I finally realised he was not going to stop until I joined them for dinner.
  15. When I was packing I found our ketubah in a stack of my photographs. He put it with my stuff to get it out of the house. He didn’t want single Jewish women coming over and seeing our marriage contract on the wall. He actually told me this, so I’m not making an assumption. He also said that I wouldn’t be having guys over that soon. I burned the ketubah at a party marking the first anniversary of our initial filing.
  16. He left all of the household chores to me, but didn’t give me time to complete them. He would schedule time with friends or family on the weekends which was the only time I was home. Then he’d complain that the house was a mess. The biggest ongoing arguments that we had were over the division of labour. I expected equal participation and he expected me to do it all.
  17. He picked on my father for not having a college education.
  18. He texted a mutual friend after I left for work, worried about their relationship. She reminded him that they didn’t have a relationship. When it finally sank in that she was not interested in him he sent her a long, condescending email.
  19. He stopped taking care of himself. When we agreed to divorce he was nearly 300lbs. I would come home from work and he would still be in his bathrobe, un-showered, either watching television or playing video games. Now I like big men, but there’s a limit. When we decided to split up he bought a cross-trainer and lost 100lbs.
  20. He says I hurt him as much as he hurt me, which is interesting in light of how quickly he has moved on. They met in October 2015, started seeing each other exclusively in November 2015, and she’s living with him as of September 2016. That doesn’t strike me as the behaviour of someone who has an emotional investment in a relationship. That strikes me as the behaviour of someone who moved on long ago.
  21. He wanted us to go to counseling but insisted that I find the therapist. When the therapist started calling him on his nonsense he stopped going.
  22. One night, he was driving me to a therapy appointment and he harangued me about how I wasn’t there for him, how he needed me to be there for him. When I asked what he needed me to do he said things like. I need you to be strong. I don’t need you to be depressed. He dropped me off. I loped into the therapist’s office and relayed the evening’s events to him. Do you think this marriage can be saved, he asked? I’m beginning to think not, I replied.
  23. He started dating while we were still legally married.
  24.  He asked to use my AAA membership so he could get a tow to a tire store-after the divorce became final
  25. He told me if I did not find a place to live by october 2015 he was going to charge me rent. Then asked what I thought was fair.
  26. I began to fear him.

It’s very easy to look at this list, and the previous list, and say that’s it? That’s all he did? Well, he didn’t cheat on you (that you know of). He didn’t hit you? These seem like petty grievances. Couldn’t you patch things up? Did you try to reconcile, give each other a second chance? The short answer is no. There was no fix to our marriage. If anything we limped along for too long.

There were several factors in my decision to leave. The first was that I did not want to go through the emotional wringer of trying to have a child with him again. With each implantation and subsequent failure his mood swings became more extreme. His job situation was precarious at best. Unable to get a faculty position, he has been working from grant-to-grant for the past few years. I like being the breadwinner, don’t get me wrong, but it does take two incomes. I couldn’t take the uncertainty. His behaviour has become stranger and more erratic. He would be driving and all of a sudden he would shudder in his seat. We would be walking and suddenly he would speed up and his arm would flail over his head. He would have these strange spasms when he sat in a chair or on the couch. He got more rigid, more feral. It was all very, very strange.

I felt less safe around him. When asked if I was ever worried if he would hit me, I said no. I was worried he would rape me. His sex drive was formidable and he’d stopped seeing me as a person long ago. He saw me as a person once, then as a potential breeder. When I couldn’t have children, I was of no use. I was no longer valid. I was no longer a she, more of an it. Much the same way he saw porn actresses he saw on the internet. He told me they are not people to him, just things. I watched myself become a thing. He’d behaved inappropriately towards me before-pinching my nipples in the kitchen slapping me on the ass at my friends’ house. Then I remembered a night not long after we were married. I was asleep. He came into the bedroom, got into bed, lay on top of me and started kissing me and hiking up my nightgown. I awoke with a 260lb man on top of me. I told him no and he stopped, fortunately, but I’m not sure he was all that interested in my consent that night. Maybe he thought he was being passionate. When I asked him about it later he said he’d been watching porn and wanted to have sex with me. I said, next time wake me up first. It’s moments like these that make me think I will never have sex again. That my need for control is such that I will never allow a man to be in charge. That I will never allow for moments of passion like these. Then I think, no, I just like to be awake during sex.


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