I kept waiting for my life to feel right. I was doing what I thought I was supposed to do: I married the man I’d had sex with, so everything should fall into place. It didn’t. Dave and I had a parent-child relationship.
I didn’t get my driver’s license until about 7 months after we got married. My parents had given me an old beater of a car for my 19th birthday. So one day while I was home from work, my mom took me to the DMV to take my driving test. I passed on my first try and got my license. When I got home, I saw Dave’s truck in the driveway. I ran up to our apartment to tell him and found him sulking. “I came home early to spend time with you. But you weren’t here,” he complained. I tried to explain that I’d gotten my license, waiting for him to congratulate me, but he didn’t. He was pissy with me for the rest of the evening.
He was what my mom called a neat freak. Everything had to be just the right way. If it wasn’t, he’d make a comment. For example, one day I came home from work. I picked up the TV Guide off of the coffee table, looked at it, then tossed it back on the coffee table. He straightened it and yelled at me for messing up the house.
All of our stereo equipment and music albums were stored in “his” music room, with a padlock on the door. This was to provide extra protection for his guitars and other gear for his musical career. Nevermind that the doors were hollow core, and if someone wanted in there, all they’d have to do is kick moderately hard. There was only one key to the lock, so I told him I wanted to put a combo lock on it so I could get in there when I wanted. Well, the way he’d installed the hasp on the door, it had to fold over at an acute angle, so the place where the lock could slip through the hole was dramatically reduced. I told him he’d installed the hasp wrong. He had kind of grumbled about me having access to the room, so he was in no hurry to fix the hasp and use a combo lock. For Christmas, my parents had given me an electric screwdriver. I got my screwdriver and properly installed the hasp and put my old combination lock from biking to school on that door.
All of our cassettes had to be rewound to side 1, with side 1 facing out. The albums were all organized from favorite to least favorite and chronological order. If I ever went into that room to listen to an album, he’d always know, because some minute detail would be different, and he’d notice.
As much as one would think the parent-child relationship and the neat-freakiness would be the biggest challenges, the first thing that really began to hurt me about our relationship was our finances. Initially, we split our bills down the middle, even though he made significantly more than I did. I barely had enough to pay my bills, and he didn’t see anything wrong with that. So while I’m struggling to pay bills and not able to afford feminine hygiene products when I need them, he’s buying new guitars, new amplifiers, new car stereo systems, etc. He would borrow money and then pay it off with another loan or credit card.
We had impeccable credit. By our first anniversary, we had financed our own house not far from where my parents lived. It was a three bedroom house with a two car garage and a huge backyard. I had a room for my sewing machine and toys for friends’ kids. Dave had his music room.
I ended up getting a job at Target working on the stocking crew. That meant that Dave and I worked the same schedule. So we’d get up together, shower together, drive to work, together, come home together. All of our friends were his friends. We’d visit his family almost every weekend. We’d almost never visit mine. He’d have band practice at least one night per week. I was always expected to be there. Because I was so obnoxiously judgemental as a “Christian,” a lot of Dave’s friends and his sister didn’t really like me, and in retrospect, I don’t really blame them.
I felt like my life wasn’t really my life. I was an accessory in Dave’s life, like a belt buckle he’d won. And Dave had very specific expectations of me. One of those was that I was to forever be an innocent, 17-year-old virgin. I wasn’t allowed to swear, even though he cursed like a sailor. I wasn’t allowed to make suggestions during sex. One time I moved his hand so that what he was doing to me would actually feel good to me. He pulled his hand away and told me that he didn’t like when I do things like that. I never did it again. Our sex life was minimal and completely unsatisfying for me. Not only did I find out that it was messy, which I never knew and never quite adjusted to, but my husband, my first lover, had given me genital herpes.
The only thing I did for myself in those days was to go to college. I was attending classes part-time at the community college. Because we were married, I did not qualify for any financial aid. My student loans became another source of money for Dave to be able to buy toys with. He’d get mad at me if my books cost more than he’d budgeted.
Oh, and the budget! We’ll discuss that in my next entry.