“Was I married to your husband?”

15 Aug 2017

There are different ways to make a bad mistake

A dear friend of mine has married and divorced 3 times by age 40. I only  married once but stayed with a toxic partner for over 20 years.  I often joke that she made a number of different mistakes where I just  made the one mistake.  In great depth.  Either way, we both  messed up and lost years, hope and self-esteem in the process.

Given the time I invested in my mistake, I’m quite clear about who I was married to. I can say, with confidence, that he was one dubious pleasure that you have been spared. He’s a serial monogamist who replaced me, in short order, with another poor soul – who is now chalking up the years with him.

“Were you married to my husband?

And yet abused often women often ask me, “Were you married to my husband?” .  Because my abusive ex-husband sounds so much like their own abusive partner.

Now my husband was a physician and a cyclist, who sometimes abused alcohol, but did not have substance addictions of any kind. He was a bright, articulate Antipodean, and the child of two concentration camp survivors.

In terms of the facts, he may be very different from your own abusive partner. In terms of behavior and temperament, I’m guessing he was quite similar.

Was this your husband, too?

  • “My” husband was controlling (although he could never be bothered to check up on me, as some abusive men do).
  • He was punitive and much given to sabotaging any good moments I enjoyed.
  • He hated women in general, and me in particular.
  • He seethed with a deep sense of not being good enough and put me down to make himself feel better; and he told me I would never find anyone as good as him again.
  • He was, as I have since found out, lousy at reading the future, and wrong in his predictions, but he was very persuasive, and much given to making dire prognostications – about my future, naturally.
  • He habitually used words to humiliate and hurt, but he could do quite a nice line in passive aggression also.
  • He flew into what appeared to be uncontrolled rages, but they were not. He was calculating enough not to overstep the limits he had set himself.
  • He was an obnoxious, damaging, destructive man who when he thought he might have gone too far –  would told me how much he loved me. Not because he was sorry, at all, but because he did not want the inconvenience of having to replace me.
  • He told me that he loved me, but he did not act in ways that showed love, or suggested that my best interests mattered to him at all.
  • He was callous and complained consistently about how I hurt his feelings.
  • He withheld love and reproached me for being needy.
  • He was unappreciative of all that I did and told me endlessly how I disappointed him.
  • And I told myself, and the world, that I loved him, that he was a good man really who had had a hard time.
  • He taught me that having had a hard time gave him the right to give me a hard time. (Curiously, I did not have the same right, because my hard time didn’t mattered. It was a question of priorities.  My hard time was never going to be as hard – or important – as his hard time.)

Does he sound familiar?

Abusive men are remarkably similar to one another

Abusive men are much more like one another than they are like anyone else.

They are not your fault.

We do them, and ourselves, no favors at all when we tolerate their bad behavior. Like spoilt children, indulging them only allows them to become worse. In point of fact, however, they are not children. They are chronological adults, They have reached an age when they could reasonably be expected to take responsibility for their own behavior. Yet they do not. Instead, they specialize in telling us how their bad behavior is our fault, This is the kind of absurd projection that all abusive men inflict on their partners.

Crazier still, they behave badly, blame us for their behavior, abuse us horribly and expect us to make excuses for what they  – deliberately – did and apologize for what we never did.

The craziest thing of all is that we end up so confused and disoriented that we fulfill their expectation.

We do ourselves no favors when we make excuses an abusive partner. Interestingly, we stop doing so when we finally realize that our partner is not so much a ‘tortured individual’ as an ill-tempered, immature – and torturing – clone.

I was never married to your husband, nor you to mine; happily for both of us. But we have  suffered far more than anyone deserves to suffer in a relationship.  We have both ‘been there, done that, and sported the same T-shirt’.

Fortunately for us, we can always make the decision not to be ‘fashion victims’ any longer. Life becomes so much better when you are no longer married to that common husband of ours.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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