Our spring wedding had been a simple one. We had to pay for the wedding and reception without financial assistance from either set of parents. Though small and modest, the service was in the church with our few family and friends.
Mom and I had worked for months sewing the bridesmaid’s gowns, flower girl dress and my gown. The fresh bouquets were not elaborate, but I enjoyed the fragrance of the fresh roses and daisies; my favorite flower. The reception consisted of merely cake and punch, but for the 1960’s it was satisfactory.
As I walked down the aisle as Mrs. Chuck Wood, I had no idea this moment in time would have an impact far more emotionally painful than the previous 21 years I had endured from the physical and emotional abuse at the hands of my parents. As I had sung many times for other weddings, the lyrics to the Carpenter’s song of the 1960’s reverberated in my mind and heart. I would ponder for the next 50 years and beyond why those words could not have been realized for me:
We’ve Only Just Begun”
We’ve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way
We’ve only begun
Before the rising sun we fly
So many roads to choose
We start out walking and learn to run
And yes, we’ve just begun
Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talking it over just the two of us
Working together day to day
And when the evening comes we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, We’ve just begun
Following the wedding and reception, as we headed toward our small, furnished apartment, I was looking toward the night ahead, but continued to deliberate over Chuck’s rationale for no honeymoon. We had received several hundred dollars for wedding gifts. This would have been more than enough to take a short, though lovely honeymoon.
As I would realize in a few hours and which counselors would validate for years ahead, mandating there was no honeymoon was another mode of avoidance for Chuck. Because he was gay, he had no desire to be confined in the entrapment of a honeymoon. I would expect romance and intimacy, which he had no desire to provide. Now that I was his wife, Chuck believed his facade was secure. Certainly if a man of the 1960’s were married, it was assumed he must be straight.
I departed the wedding reception in a captivating yellow and lace dress I had designed and sewn for this occasion. I earnestly trusted I would have a wonderful new life ahead. I also believed the cheerful color was reflective of the sunshine which I assumed would be a component of many days of our married lives.
Only miles away from the church, Chuck drove to a car wash. I shrieked, “What are you doing? You washed the car before the ceremony.” I was oblivious to the reality his shunning of me was beginning. As we walked to the door of our apartment there were no rose petals on the path to the bedroom, nor chilled champagne to toast us. The dark apartment was symbolic of our future.
After days and hours of shopping for the perfect negligée, I remained unsuspecting that Chuck had no desire for such enticement. He barricaded himself in the locked bathroom, noting he was shampooing his hair. As bizarre as re-washing his car, was the fact he was now re-shampooing his hair.
Certainly walking down a wedding aisle or consuming cake and punch would not have caused a repeat action of showering. Chuck believed if he stalled the marriage consummation long enough, I would elude intimate desires. As the night progressed, Chuck realized my expectation would not be diminished.
However, Chuck made a clandestine telephone call to his 17 year old brother to liberate him from the romantic desires of his new bride. When Mike arrived at their apartment before 8 a.m. the following morning, I was flabbergasted. “What are you doing here?” I sighed.
Mike’s rapid response, “Chuck telephoned me to spend the day with him”, validated what I had realized the prior night. At 6 p.m. I insisted that Mike depart. He and Chuck had spent the day together; a day which was to have been a honeymoon for us. The harsh anger and resentment which Chuck displayed toward me would be my new “norm” as his wife.
My heart was heavy with remorse. Chuck didn’t desire to be a husband. I was a façade for his sexual desires. As days passed without sexual intimacy, I realized I must have the marriage annulled. As a naïve girl of the 1960’s I believed I must consult my pastor for such an action.
Pastor Northcutt was adamant, “oh no, Jalene, you took your vows before God. You must remain in this marriage.” Jalene’s pleas, “but Pastor Northcutt, Chuck doesn’t want to be intimate” didn’t alter his view. He reminded e, “you married for better or worse. Perhaps, in time he will have the desire to be sexually intimate.”
Over the years, countless times I sobbed, “why oh why didn’t I run as hard and fast as I could to get away from Chuck? Why did I listen to the pastor?” I was not unlike many conservative girls of the era. When reared in church, the words of the pastor or elders are akin to those of God.
Please follow my journey of heartache and emotional abuse as begun in the blog of April 2016.