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4/14 Interactive Board: Codependent Partners

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12/29 Interactive Board: There Goes the Wife...

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10/8 Interactive Board: Seeming Impossibility

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4/26 Interactive Board: Why is This So Hard?

4/19 Interactive Board: I Lost My Love...

4/7 Interactive Board: Too Guilty!

The Adventures of the Great Satan

 The Adventures of the Great Satan

Chapter 3

By "Tex," her angry, abused ex-husband

If you haven't already read the first installment, go here first!

October 3, 1999

The Adventures of the Great Satan

            Kali sent me an email today, subject “Accounting.”  She was good enough to give me a break-down on how much money I owe her. 

            When we were married, Kali denied me love, affection, emotional support, encouragement, and sex.  Not because I was dating a co-ed, as one friend’s husband was doing.  Not because I worked 100 hours a week, ignoring my kids and my wife, as another one of her friend’s husband did.  Not because I’d fathered an illegitimate child before our marriage, as was the case in another.   No, Kali denied me all those things because I was stupid enough to think that the principles she so proudly proclaimed actually applied to me as well. 

              When she raged at me and the insults and name-calling would start, especially around money, I would point out to her, “Money can be got.  But decent treatment, love…you can’t buy that, and you won’t be able to buy this moment away.”  Some day, I am going to ask her to repay what she owes me.  What she withheld and denied me.  Heck, she can’t even pay the sex she denied me, much less the elemental respect.

            I’m not sure why Kali wanted to get married.  Given what happened later, her “accidental” pregnancy, and the way she hounded me throughout our second year of marriage to have a baby, I suspect she needed a sperm donor.  For all of her protestations of liberalism and feminism, Kali is at heart a very conservative woman, deeply concerned with what “people” think about her.  She was more concerned about what other people thought (or what she imagined they thought) than she was with how I felt.

            Kali claims to this day that she is a Feminist.  She had the jargon, she had the ever-sensitive antenna out for the sins of men, she could recite the failings of men and their systems…but she had no principles. She had her "enemies list" (mostly men), but the same things she demanded as her due as a feminist woman, she could not extend to her husband.

          And that was an elemental problem in our marriage.  I heard what Kali said to me. In fact, she grew to hate my terrific recall of what she would say! And I expected her to follow through. In those days, I watched her words, not her actions.  For all the 12-step talk about “human beings v. human doings”, the fact remains that it is our actions in the world that make our beliefs real.  I can say I love my son, but if I ignore him to watch football, if I belittle him, if I make no effort to actively engage with him…my “love” is just words.

               It sounds confusing, I know. But let me provide a brief list of things she said to me or did to me. After each one, I invite women to ask themselves, “If a man said or did this to a woman, would it be acceptable?  Would it be all right?”  To me, that’s the bedrock of principle.  A principle is extended to everyone, not just “my side.”  I am fair with everyone, not just people I know or favor.  I am against all forms of racism, not just the behavior of white racists.  If being a feminist means that no one is going to tell a woman who she must be…then being a feminist means you are not going to tell a man who he must be

            Take a deep breath and read that again.  If it is wrong for the government or the church or the culture to dictate who and how a woman should be in the world, it is equally wrong for Gloria Steinem or Andrea Dworkin or Kali-Shiva to tell a man who and how he should be in the world.

            That is about principle.  That is not about “us v. them”, not about “saintly women and evil male oppressors.” It is about principle.

            Anything less is a self-serving excuse.  In Kali’s case, her feminism was the camouflage she used to hide her hatred of men - camouflage which she used over and over to justify her unprincipled and evil-tongued attacks on me. 

For example:    

            Once a mutual female friend asked my opinion about a man who would be visiting her.  I offered my blunt assessment.  Later, in an attempt to “share” with Kali, I reported the conversation as well as my advice: that the woman be up-front with her guest about the fact that there would be no sex during the visit.  Kali became unglued and verbally attacked me.  "It is always about sex with you! That wasn’t what our friend needed to hear!" Exactly what was I thinking as she went on and on: "You always", " you never",  "you always". This certainly was not what I needed to hear. In one of the rare times I was able to remain detached, I pointed out that our friend asked for my opinion, not for my interpretation of what Kali would have said.

            At a party attended by Kali’s friends, one of them asked what I’m writing these days.  I told her I was working on a satire of certain excesses of the left and the right.  That night, in the bedroom, Kali whirled in on me:  Why did you have to tell her about that project?  You are just trying to make me look bad in front of my friends! Why can’t you write something else!  Why are you so interested in attacking my beliefs?!"

                        Lets not forget

            Once, when I was not submitting to Kali’s wisdom, she told me, “I believe we live in a racist, sexist society.  These are first principles with me.  And if you don’t believe in them, then we have a problem.”  Well, we did have a problem.  Had I told her, “I believe God is the Father, and women are created to be subservient to men. And if you don’t believe in that, then we have a problem,” would that have been okay?

            Then there was the time she told me I had gained weight and I was unattractive. That was why she didn’t want to have sex with me.  Again, if a man were to say that to a woman, would he not be labeled as a pig?

            When I tried to tell Kali how I felt, she told me I was "hysterical,"  I was "over-reacting" and "overly-sensitive." Aren't those the exact words so many abused women complain about?

            She accused me of being racist or sexist when I was irreverent about matters Politically Correct.   She demanded that I establish the provenance of my liberalness - and give her examples.  Declaring, for example, my pro-choice position, she snapped,  “You’re probably right, but not for the right reasons.”  And you know who was the self-appointed judge and jury of the right reasons!

              Kali had a narrow definition of acceptable sexual practices.  She determined when and what kind of sex we had.  When I wanted to enrich our sexual relationship, she told me that I was bringing a "pornographic sensibility" into our bedroom.  (Got to love the way she took anything having to do with me and put it in the most vile, objectionable light!)

            She compared my choices and my behavior. Remember, I didn’t drink or gamble or cheat or beat.  I cooked and cleaned and grocery shopped. I did lawn work and house maintenance - in addition to my demanding freelance career. She compared what I did with what her friends did.  With what her friends' husbands did.  With what her past boyfriends did!  Rarely did I compare favorably. 

           She told me she couldn’t be sexual with a man she didn’t respect.  She could only respect someone who was contributing to the household.  When I pointed out all of my contributions, she declared, “That’s not enough!”  Kali's definition of an acceptable contribution - was a paycheck.  Essentially, she told me I would have to buy sex. 

            On a drive to San Diego, she discovered I don’t like Bob Dylan - I cannot stand his voice. Kali said, “You don’t know anything about good music!  How can we have a relationship when you don’t know quality music at all!”  We’d been married about two weeks, I think.

            Once, on the recommendation of a friend, I subscribed to Playboy magazine.  She found it on my desk top, where I had left it.  She shrieked about hating this kind of rag.  She tore the magazine up and said she wasn’t going to waste our money on this kind of garbage.   She was a lawyer, but apparently the First Amendment didn’t apply in marriage.  Again, ask yourselves, if a man decided he didn’t like his wife reading, say, MS magazine, and tore it up, that would be acceptable behavior? That would be respecting his wife’s personal choices?  

           I periodically went to L.A. to meet producers and to discuss writing jobs. These meetings were a combination audition, job interview, and blind date, all rolled into one.  I returned home from these stressful meetings to be greeted with disdain. After one meeting with a producer who finally hired me, I was telling her how well the meeting went, She said, “I can’t cash that.”  Other times she told me, “You’re wasting your life on this fantasy!”  Another time, she said, “You can’t make it.  It’s too hard.”  I tried mentioning others who had made it, to which she shrieked, “You’re not them!”

           All of the things she accused me of, she excused in her friends. Kali stalked me through the house on several occasions when I had offered an irreverent comment or had questioned a tenet of her "feminist" faith. She demanded I admit I'd made a racist remark, or demanded to know what I "really meant" by whatever uncomfortable question I had asked. It was like being hounded during the Inquisition.  “Recant, heretic!”  Yet, I recall one party where one of Kali's friends, let’s call her Shelly, was telling a story. The story happened to mention gypsies and money.  As an aside, Shelly offered, “Gypsies are really into money, you know.”    As an aside, a historical note:  the gypsies were undesirables during WWII. They died in the camps alongside the Jews and the homosexuals. I waited for Kali to pounce on Shelly's remark, a frankly bigoted and prejudicial statement. I waited in vain.  Shelly, you see, was a graduate student; a Woman, a Liberal; one of Kali’s Feminist friends.  I pointed the bigoted remark out to Kali later. Kali’s response: “I don’t know. Maybe gypsies really are into money.”  Funny, it was always different if her friends did it. Does anyone imagine for an instant that if I suggested that Blacks were lazy and thieves, that Kali would have excused it with, "I don't know, maybe Blacks really are lazy thieves?"

            I could go on and on, but as Dr. Irene has pointed out, the dynamics are the same. The issues change, the details change. The dynamics do not.

             I had to come to some realizations. First, I had to realize that Kali was no more a feminist than I am the Pope.  Second, and harder to recognize, was that there was no rhyme or reason to her attacks. Once, she declared to me that she hated the sound of TV during the day; it was the worst thing she could imagine; she wanted no part of it; didn’t want it in her life. It wasn't that big a deal to me, so I turned the set off. Two weeks later, there was Kali, watching TV during the day. She contradicted what she swore she hated. But the contradiction didn't matter. For Kali the important thing, the only important thing was her mood during the particular moment in time when she felt the need to insult, belittle, or otherwise emotionally abuse me.  In that moment, the only thing of importance was that I was wrong.

            And she still does it, even though we’ve been divorced for years.  One "fun" example was when I was expecting a weekend visitor whom I regarded with frankly carnal intentions.  Kali declared she did not want our son visiting while this woman was around.  “I don’t want him staying over night when women are staying with you.  It’s confusing to the child, it’s wrong to bring people in and out of his life!!”  This was said with the usual vigor, the usual I’m-standing-on-the-gallows-to-be-hanged-for-my-faith volume. OK, I can respect that. Yet, about three months later, Kali’s then-boyfriend spent a week at her house while my son was there!  Her new boyfriend, when he’s in town, stays at her house.  While my son is there.

            But it’s different when she does it.

            So my “feminist” wife treated me thus:   My politics were wrong. My dreams were mocked. My feelings were belittled.  My sexual needs were ignored. My contributions to the household  were considered inadequate. My "feminist" wife treated me like a 1950s housewife! I think I've read similar accounts from some of the women writing to this site complaining about their husbands.

               Next Chapter:   What I did.  How I Volunteered to Play the Game.


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