What Had She Done? This Was Not a Marriage

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

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

Over the years, how often she has grieved her decision. Nonetheless it was history and there was no turning back. Even though she was “in love” with Jim, as so often happens with young love, each went their separate ways after their freshman year at the university.

Also, it was not Jalene’s decision to break off the engagement with Jim Ford, but those were two lost loves. Jalene felt the cliché “it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all” was not appropriate for her. In the 1960’s it was the belief that young women must marry early or they would be termed a spinster. Jalene became entrapped with this philosophy as her fellow, college class mates were becoming engaged and marrying.  She continued to yearn for a man to spend her life with.

After the holidays, she returned to the private, Christian college realizing some of the classes would be awkward as she encountered Jim and his new girlfriend, Susan.  The shattered betrothal between Jim and Jalene brought criticism from many of her female classmates.

Jalene continued to enjoy her numerous trips with the college chorale, as they sang in churches throughout the U.S. At the conclusion of the spring semester, she was astounded to receive a letter from Chuck Wood, with a marriage proposal. They had dated the previous summer before she attended the Christian college.

They had also had a couple of casual dates when she returned home for Christmas vacation, but a marriage proposal? She 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 Jalene’s life for the next 49 years, but it should have been an indication that something was not typical with Chuck. Jalene spent the next several days contemplating this letter.

Jalene had the misconception that if Jim broke off the engagement, there may not be other opportunities for an offer of marriage. She believed she must accept. Because her self-esteem had been destroyed with the chronic abuse from her father, she sincerely assumed she 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 Jalene didn’t understand that until years later. He was cocky and often times rude toward Jalene, but for her this was normal. Her father was abusive and cruel. Jim Ford had been unkind toward her, so she justified Chuck’s actions as a male trait.

As Jalene and her fellow classmates departed the campus in the spring, Jalene was returning back to OK engaged to Chuck. Mr. Ford’s influence on Jim was 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 she returned back to OK, Jalene was once again working full time. She was content with her job at a local bank, instead of  the housekeeping and nanny work as she had done for the previous 9 months while a student at the private college.

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

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

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

Jalene’s parents were adamant. If Chuck and Jalene were engaged, they should plan to marry as scheduled, not 4-5 years later. This should have been another red flag, had Jalene not been so naïve.  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 Jalene didn’t apprehend this was a sign of his homosexuality.

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

Please follow me as Jalene attempts to accept the outcome of her marriage.

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