Chuck and Jalene’s spring wedding had been a simple one. They had to pay for their ceremony and reception without financial assistance from either set of parents. Though small and modest, the service was in the church with their few family and friends.
Jalene and Jayne had worked for months sewing the bridesmaid’s gowns, flower girl dress and Jalene’s gown. The fresh bouquets were not elaborate, but Jalene enjoyed the fragrance of the fresh roses and daisies; her favorite flower. The reception consisted of merely cake and punch, but for the 1960’s it was satisfactory.
As Jalene walked down the aisle as Mrs. Chuck Wood, she had no idea this moment in time would have an impact far more emotionally painful than the previous 21 years she had endured from the physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her parents. As Jalene had sung many times for other weddings, the lyrics to the Carpenter’s song of the 1960’s reverberated in her mind and heart. She would ponder for the next 50 years and beyond why those words could not have been realized for her:
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 they headed toward their small, furnished apartment, Jalene was looking toward the night ahead, but continued to deliberate over Chuck’s rationale for no honeymoon. They had received several hundred dollars as cash wedding gifts. In the 1960’s, this would have been more than enough to take a short, though lovely honeymoon.
As Jalene 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 entrapments of a honeymoon. Jalene would expect romance and intimacy, which he had no desire to provide. Now that she 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.
Jalene departed the wedding reception in a captivating yellow and lace dress she had designed and sewn for this occasion. She earnestly trusted she would have a wonderful new life ahead. She also believed the cheerful color was reflective of the sunshine which she assumed would be a component of many days of their married lives.
Only miles away from the church, Chuck drove to a car wash. Jalene shrieked, “What are you doing? You washed the car before the ceremony.” Jalene was oblivious to the reality his shunning of her was beginning. As they walked to the door of their apartment there were no rose petals on the path to the bedroom, nor chilled champagne to toast the couple. The dark apartment was symbolic of their future.
After days and hours of shopping for the perfect negligée, Jalene 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, Jalene would elude intimate desires. As the night progressed, Chuck realized Jalene’s 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, Jalene was flabbergasted. “What are you doing here?” Jalene sighed.
Mike’s rapid response, “Chuck telephoned me to spend the day with him”, validated what Jalene had realized the prior night. At 6 p.m. Jalene insisted that Mike depart. He and Chuck had spent the day together; a day which was to have been a honeymoon for Chuck and Jalene. The harsh anger and resentment which Chuck displayed toward Jalene would be her new “norm” as his wife.
Jalene’s heart was heavy with remorse. Chuck didn’t desire to be a husband. Jalene was a façade for his sexual desires. As days passed without sexual intimacy, she realized she must have the marriage annulled. As a naïve girl of the 1960’s she believed she must consult her 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 her, “you married for better or worse. Perhaps, in time he will have the desire to be sexually intimate.”
Over the years, countless times Jalene 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?” Jalene 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 Jalene’s journey of heartache and emotional abuse.