Share A Secret: My husband was manipulative and I didn’t realise it
In this Share A Secret, one woman shares how she slowly discovered that her “loving” husband was actually emotionally manipulative
September 4, 2020
My husband proposed to me after just three months of dating. When we first met, I was 25 years old and had just gotten out of a physically abusive relationship. In contrast, Dave* treated me like a princess. Finally, here’s a good guy, I thought. Even so, the speed of the proposal shocked me, so I didn’t take it seriously at first. But it wasn’t a joke to him, and he began to talk about us having a baby together.
He reassured me that our unprotected sex was safe, and I naively believed him when he said he had calculated my fertility periods (looking back, I obviously trusted him more than I should have). I eventually became pregnant. He was thrilled, but I was devastated. I come from a very traditional family, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to explain this to my parents.
Despite his protests, I scheduled an abortion, but before the appointment could come around, I miscarried.
The miscarriage was traumatic. I lost so much blood that at one point, I started hallucinating. Dave and his dad took me to the hospital after I fainted in the toilet at his house, and when I woke up after surgery, Dave proposed again.
I know it sounds crazy, but I accepted. Even though he had got me pregnant, I was touched by how devoted he was during the miscarriage. He did not leave my side, and even helped to clean me up, without caring if he got his hands messy with blood.
While recovering after I was discharged from the hospital. Dave and I started looking at homes. But he would pick properties that were way out of our budget. While I had lived in HDB flats my whole life, he was accustomed to living comfortably in a landed property. He even made comments like: ‘If we have to stay in an HDB flat, then I’ll have to get a country club membership.’ He said such things even though he was only holding down a part-time sales job.
In the end, we compromised. We chose an Executive Condominium within our budget, and bought it in six months.
Even before we got married, I sensed a change in him. At the beginning of our relationship, he was attentive and affectionate. We would sit on his porch and talk for hours about our hopes for the future. But after the engagement, he started to become a different person. Instead of spending quality time together, he would take me furniture shopping on my days off – which I found ridiculous as we hadn’t even moved into our home.
Though his behaviour set off alarm bells, I still married him. I think it was partly down to the fact that we had bought a flat, and that I’m very loyal – almost to a fault, according to my friends.
It also didn’t help that there was so much on my mind – recuperating from the miscarriage, house-hunting, and then planning the wedding. Life was so hectic that I didn’t take the time to pay attention to all the little ways he was changing. I convinced myself that things weren’t so bad, and I could still make it work. There was time for him to change.
But after we got married, the problems became clearer.
In the three years of our marriage, I felt so lonely. At that time, I travelled frequently for work, so I would normally look forward to coming home. But after getting home, it was the opposite. I felt lonely in my own home even when he was there with me.
When I tried to initiate conversation, he ignored me and turned his attention to his laptop instead. Our sex life was almost non-existent. The few times it did happen, it was perfunctory. This cost me my confidence. I couldn’t recognise the man who had been so devoted to me when we’d started dating.
We had many arguments about our flat. He was incredibly proud to be a homeowner and constantly compared himself to his wealthy friends. He had all these material wants and spoke of buying a Mercedes. Yet, he changed jobs six times in the three years we were married, which meant that I had to shoulder most of the expenses. It became an obsession, and he would make unnecessary cosmetic changes to our flat.
I remember that at one point, I had just $500 in my account. Even then, he told me he had hired contractors to fix a mirror in our home – which I had to pay for. It was incredibly frustrating.
Towards the end of our marriage, my love for him dwindled. When he finally got a stable job and started travelling frequently for work, it crossed my mind that he might have a mistress, but it was telling that I didn’t even feel any jealousy.
The last straw came when we had an argument and he grabbed my arm in anger. My mum was there and witnessed for the first how he was treating me. She encouraged me to leave him, saying she feared for my safety and that he wasn’t treating me right.
When I told my husband I was divorcing him, his first reaction was to look around the flat for a long time. It was clear that his immediate concern was losing the property that he loved and was so proud of. He cried when I moved out, but I could tell they were crocodile tears. I’d stayed in the marriage because I had thought that as a wife, I should try to do my best by him. In hindsight, I was too giving. I tried my hardest to support him, but it only enabled his behaviour.
It’s been four years since we split, and I’m counting down till we reach the Minimum Occupation Period of five years so that we can sell the flat. I believe that a couple needs to help each other become better people, but my ex taught me only about material desires. Before I met him, I’d led a simple life and didn’t think of the cars and watches he was obsessed with.
The silver lining is that I’ve become more resilient, and more financially responsible.
I’ve left my previous job and now work in retail, in an area I always wanted to go into. When we were married, Dave had deterred me from this because it would mean an unstable income. Now that I’m calling the shots in my life, my self-esteem is back, and I’m more independent. I don’t need to depend on anyone else.
*Name has been changed
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