I don’t know if I love my spouse anymore, but I don’t hate him.  I hate his behavior. I know my spouse doesn’t love me, but I don’t know if he hates me. He acts like he hates me. Maybe he hates that I’m moving forward. If I love my spouse, it’s not an intense feeling of affection; it’s more like my general love for everybody. I feel myself changing and simultaneously experiencing extreme hostility directed at me from my spouse. He finds new ways to punish me. My I-statements have been thrown back in my face. I am accused of stealing his I-statements, and he demands that I give him credit. I’ve been home from work for 15 minutes relaxing in my recliner. He comes home slamming doors and windows. His hateful, snide remarks are not under his breath anymore; they’re loud. I feel intimidated. I turn down the Tv, pray and breathe. I hear him stomp upstairs like a bull. I grab my Bible, open it, put it over my stomach, and pretend to be asleep. I fake snoring. He whips open my bedroom door, mumbles something then goes back downstairs. I wait a while and don’t make one false move because he might double back. Chaos averted, but then I ended up falling asleep for real.

If I speak, my spouse rages at me for talking; if I remain silent, he rages at me for not talking. In both instances, my spouse uses his fist and punches his open hand hard, with sound effects, then shadow boxes with uppers and gut punches. I am the imaginary opponent. I am the enemy. I am the object of hate. His demeanor is threatening. He uses this new tactic when I walk past him to the kitchen. I ignored it but was prepared to call the cops if his punch connected. They never did, but I kept both eyes on both fists. I ran upstairs if I was in the kitchen and heard his car pull in. We rarely went to places together in his car anymore. Still, when we did, like at a funeral for a family member, he would torture me by keeping the air conditioning off and windows cracked open when it was 85 degrees outside, or on the way home, he’d threaten to put me out on the freeway if he saw a man we didn’t know speak to me at the funeral. I was in a position where I couldn’t win. I dared to change, and now I’m being punished in hateful ways for merely existing.

My spouse loves the idea of marriage; it’s good for business but hates the ideal: love, unity and sharing life as one. I hate the way he talks about other women in front of me. I hate his rebellions. I hate his opposition to everything I say and do. I hate his disrespect and negative energy.  I hate living with my spouse. I hate that I agreed and accepted all his dictates to do married things separately. I hate that we got married.

I am loving and affectionate until I fall in love; then, I love men the wrong way. I hate that pieces of my mind and heart are closed-off because of mom’s mantras: men can’t be trusted, they’re all alike, a half of loaf is better than no loaf, men don’t change, get somebody who loves you, even if you don’t love them because they’ll treat you right. I hate that I don’t trust men, and I hate that I don’t trust myself.  All my relationships were love-hate relationships, even those I had with myself…