Prior to getting married, I had no doubts about Bear and the love we had for each other. I was 100% certain we would work out, that he was my one and only, and together forever we would be. Bear was super sweet to me like no one had ever been, and he was great with my child, which is why I married him. That he accepted me with a child made him seem like a hero (good), and he liked to make himself out to be one for it (not good), as if he rescued me. There were a lot of things I didn’t like about Bear that I overlooked.
Barely knowing his history, I don’t believe Bear has ever rejected a woman. I knew he had been married a few years prior to me and dated some other women in between, but I didn’t know that much. During our first year, Bear told me he’s never been single for over three weeks. When I asked how is it he’s never single, because when you break up with someone, you’re single for a while, right? He claimed that he’s not, that he always dates someone. This was a huge red flag in so many ways that I ignored, but I didn’t know that it was a red flag. (I recall cringing when he told me that!) Now I feel he would easily fall in love with any woman that comes into his life and pays attention to him. I was one of those women.
My first panic attack occurred during the time Bear and I dated, prior to him moving in. In some ways, I felt suffocated – but I didn’t understand what I was feeling. I brushed it off as anxiety about having someone new around, because I wasn’t used to it. Now I know it was my body telling me something wasn’t right. Our relationship happened so fast – unhealthily fast. It was a whirlwind romance, like you see in movies. The problem was: this was no movie. Had we waited to get married, I believe the red flags early on would have been enough for me to refrain.
Exactly 15 years ago, Bear and I started dating in May, and except for work, we never parted. The first time he proposed was three weeks into the relationship; I declined, then he proposed again in August. Bear moved in with me in September; we married in October. I had been living alone with my kid for several years, and all of this was so sudden. It was new and exciting, and I was truly ready to start a new life with a husband to share it. We got along great, and I couldn’t believe I was in a genuine relationship with someone that actually cared about me. There were some spats at the beginning that could have been avoided if we eliminated alcohol. Again, there were red flags I ignored, because I allowed alcohol to “relax” me.
At first, everything was fine, because Bear’s job had him gone for days at a time, and it transitioned much easier for my daughter, as well. Once we moved to another city, he worked regular business hours and came home every day. I think this was difficult for me to get used to (for my daughter also). I felt I had no space, because he was always there making himself known. (Also, watching TV was his hobby, which is not part of my lifestyle.) I wasn’t used to being around someone this much, especially during the times he sat in front of the television all weekend. The noise of it disturbed me (I was working from home), and it became an issue in the relationship.
Two years into the marriage is when I had mixed emotions whether or not the relationship was going to work at all. As I stated before, the turning point was when I saw the side of him that changed how I felt forever. More times than not I felt Bear and I didn’t connect and never would. I may have thought I felt something (because of alcohol consumption), but I no longer felt sexual chemistry with him (if there really was any, because we drank a lot when we first started dating). Passion was something that I never felt with Bear. In fact, I dreaded sex with him, because it was more like a chore than something fun. I was taught that wives are supposed to fuck their husbands whether or not they want to (gag). He downloaded a lot of porn; that must be where he was learning his “skills,” because I don’t think he understood that women in real life aren’t like porn stars. Kissing him was not enjoyable, because he was a horrible kisser. He constantly groped or grabbed me as his way of foreplay, which I hated and told him so. He didn’t care and did it anyway, which made me avoid him physically even more. Even in bed, Bear thought he knew everything and didn’t want to listen to what I liked, which made our sex life suck. The only complaint he had was that he didn’t get enough of it – something women don’t want to hear if we’re not enjoying ourselves. Looking back, I realize I wasted a lot of good sexual peak years having rare vanilla sex or avoiding it altogether. I had more and better sex being single.
There was no intellectual connection between Bear and I, and I’m not sure that’s something that can be changed. His conversations comprised work and alcohol-related stories mostly, and those would repeat after a while. I saw no growth in this area, and now I see I truly need someone I can connect with on my level. You can only talk about TV shows and movies and mundane things for so long before boredom kicks in. Learning and expanding my mind is important to me, but Bear wasn’t interested.
Maybe it was more of a spiritual connection Bear and I had, and of course, we shared emotional experiences. We were best friends for seven years. I don’t think that’s enough for a marriage, and I wish I’d had some guidance about these things earlier in life. Had I been taught or given good advice about relationships or life, I probably would have made better decisions. Live and learn.
Several times I imagined living my life single again, and I recall looking up places to rent once. I wanted more than this relationship was giving me. It wasn’t about material things; it was about connection and understanding and growing together, communication and trust, doing the things we both loved, and making dreams come true together. He had no passion about anything, which drained me of some of my own. He acted like an old man, and I needed someone that could keep up with me (we are the same age) instead of drag me down and put out my fire. I honestly felt like he was holding me back from being who I truly am and what I can be.
What lay in front of me wasn’t necessarily my dreams; they were his, and I fit myself into the scenery. I went along with it all, because that’s what wives are supposed to do. He wanted the house in the neighborhood like everyone else, the two cars, the motorcycle, the whatever else others had that was out of budget. I didn’t give a shit about all of that. Now, I enjoyed the comfort of those things, but I signed up for what we discussed, not sitting around the house or drinking all the time with things around us. I had mistakenly assumed that by being married, we would do more as a couple, but we never even had a honeymoon! His vacation time off work involved visiting his family, always involving a long and tiresome trip and not an actual vacation.
I loved Bear, and I thought this is what every married couple goes through, because sometimes people give terrible advice and convince you to stick with something that isn’t healthy. For me, it was the healthiest relationship I had been in, so I had nothing better to compare it to. When you love someone, you stay and work it out, even if it means you’d be better off as friends – because that’s what everyone tells you. Every single situation is unique, and some things cannot be worked out for whatever reason. If one person is growing and the other refuses, that can be problematic. My gut told me to leave, but I continued to stay, because that’s what wives are supposed to do.
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