What Had I Done? This Was Not a Marriage

I had a few casual dates from the age of 17 until the day I married four years later.  I comprehended years later that the “love of her life” whom I met in 1966, Jim Eakes would be only a memory as the years passed. Jim had taken me to CO to meet his parents. I was delighted as Jim’s mother introduced me as Jim’s fiancee. However, Jim had not spoken of love for me and I understood his relationship with me was not serious.

I wondered for the remainder of my life “what if” I had accepted Jim’s invitation to join him in the summer of 1967 backpacking across Europe. Because I was a conservative gal,I believed this would not be appropriate.

Over the years, how often I have grieved my decision. Nonetheless it was history and there was no turning back. Even though I was “in love” with Jim, as so often happens with young love, we each went our separate ways after my freshman year at the University of OK.

Neither had it been my decision to break off the engagement with Jim Ford when I was in Springfield the following year. Those were two lost loves. I felt the cliché “it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” was not appropriate for me. My marriage to Chuck was so horrific that I do often reflect on “what if” I had married either of those men.

In the 1960’s it was the belief that young women must marry early or they would be termed a spinster. I became entrapped with this philosophy as my fellow, college class mates were becoming engaged and marrying.  I continued to yearn for a man to spend her life with.

After Jim Ford broke our engagement in 1967, I returned to the private, Christian college realizing some of the classes would be awkward as I encountered Jim and his new girlfriend, Susan.  The shattered betrothal between Jim and I brought criticism from many of my female classmates. Nonetheless, it was not I whom had caused the breakup, but Jim’s father.

I continued to enjoy numerous trips with the college chorale, as we sang in churches throughout the U.S. At the conclusion of the spring semester, I was astounded to receive a letter from Chuck Wood, with a marriage proposal. We had dated the previous summer before I departed for the small conservative Christian college in MO.

We also had a couple of casual dates when I returned home for Christmas vacation, but a marriage proposal? I was astonished.  What man would ask a girl to marry him in a letter unless he was in an isolated area without telephones or an automobile to drive to see her face to face. The college was not in a remote locale.

This single event would not only alter my life for the next 49 years, but it should have been an indication that something was not typical with Chuck. I spent the next several days contemplating this letter.

I had the misconception that if Jim broke off the engagement, there may not be other opportunities for an offer of marriage. I believed I must accept. Because my self-esteem had been destroyed with the chronic abuse from my father, I sincerely assumed I must not be acceptable to any young man whom was deemed worthy.

Chuck was not handsome and he also lacked confidence. He was extremely egotistical, but I didn’t understand that until years later. He was cocky and often times rude toward me, but because of what I had experienced, I deemed this normal. My father was abusive and cruel. Jim Ford had been unkind toward me, so I justified Chuck’s actions as a male trait.

As fellow classmates and I departed the campus in the spring, I was returning back to OK engaged to Chuck. Mr. Ford’s influence on Jim was most evident.  Jim and Susan were planning a summer wedding. They were both fulfilling Mr. Ford’s desire for the two of them to be “one.”

As I returned back to OK, I was again worked full time. I was content with my job at a local bank, instead of the housekeeping and nanny work I had done for the previous 9 months while a student in MO.

I was conscientious and thrifty with my income. Because my parents remained on government “handouts” their finances would not permit assistance with the wedding, so I understood I had financial obligations for not only my college education, but also for the wedding.

Approximately a month before the fall classes began, Chuck informed me I could not return to college. He needed me to work full-time so I could pay our expenses during the marriage. I was astounded at Chuck’s request. Why was he deemed worthy of completing his college education, but I was mandated to be the “bread winner?” My petitions for equal consideration of my college education were ignored by Chuck.

His command was that either I work full-time and forfeit my desire to complete my college education or he would nullify our betrothal.  His other offer had been that we marry 4-5 years later following his college graduation and military obligation.

My parents were adamant. If we were engaged, we should plan to marry as scheduled, not 4-5 years later. This should have been another red flag, had I not been so naïve. Why didn’t I run? Normal men don’t wish to delay a wedding and the intimacy which is a component of the marriage. Chuck’s desire was to delay the inevitable, but I didn’t apprehend this was a sign of his homosexuality.

Over the years, when the abuse from Chuck was intense, I spent hours of grief and buckets of tears over my ignorant and unfortunate decision to marry him. At age 21, as a naïve, virgin, I did marry Chuck. I discerned my mistake on our wedding night. What had I done? How could I end this sham of a marriage?

Please follow me as I attempt to accept the outcome of our marriage. This blog began in April 2016.

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