Tim and I married five months after our engagement, in the dead of winter, on January 22, 1994. It was a beautiful day, a little blustery in the morning, but not stormy.
We celebrated the day with approximately two hundred family members and friends, and enjoyed our time. When the day’s last activities wrapped up, we were ready to be alone.
I entered marriage with enthusiasm and commitment. Tim was easy to talk to and share my heart with. Having worked through my past and my childhood, it never occurred to me that marriage would stir up more aftermath of my childhood. No one warned me that this begins on the honeymoon.
It was our wedding night and we had embarked on the most incredible adventure of our lives! With great anticipation we had looked forward to this day for five months and two days. Finally it had arrived!
We had ‘made it’, having resisted the temptation to sleep together, reminding each other of the legacy we wanted to leave for our children. A few times we had slipped up and crossed lines we didn’t want to cross, but we had always taken ownership and remained committed to waiting.
Tim didn’t do a lot of talking as we cruised along the 401, headed for ‘destination bliss’. His few, carefully chosen words gave me the love and security I longed for.He smiled and squeezed my hand as I chattered about how delighted I was to be his wife. There was no doubt in my mind that I was the most fortunate woman in the world.
One basic expectation I had for marriage was to find fulfillment in pleasing my husband. The night was no disappointment as we celebrated God’s incredible plan for marital love.
I was running on a powerful adrenaline kick, and my newlywed husband was beginning to suffer from a severe over-dose of naturally produced prolactin. (Prolactin is one of a ‘cocktail of hormones’ released in the male body at the time of climax and is believed to be predominantly responsible for their ensuing sleep attack.)
A little knowledge of this hormonal activity would have spared us some grief and helped me understand why Tim wanted to sleep while I wanted to party all night. As it turned out, Tim was asleep long before I dozed off into a restless sleep. I seemed to wake up every hour, on the hour. Each time I felt overwhelmed with the wonder of being able to love my husband freely. No guilt. No shame. No regret. God had blessed our relationship and made our love pure and sacred.
Feeling restless, I would cuddle up to Tim and he would wake up to the reality of a hyper-energetic wife. As far as I was concerned we had the rest of our honeymoon and a whole lifetime to recover from one all-nighter, so this wake-up routine posed no problems for me. Tim, on the other hand, continued to suffer from these hormone attacks and did not share my enthusiasm.
After several cuddly wake-up calls Tim rolled over, his back turned my way, and mumbled, “I just want to sleep.” And that is precisely what he did from then until the next morning.
I tossed and turned, scolding myself for having been so foolish and still a little upset with Tim for his lack of sensitivity and enthusiasm. Then I felt guilty for being upset with Tim, knowing he neither had control over his sleepiness nor could he induce sleep for his hyperactive wife.
What I had not yet figured out was that my restlessness was caused in part by past insecurity.
In my childhood home I never felt like I really belonged. My father had a collection of threats that he would use on us if his life wasn’t going well. He threatened suicide if he felt helpless, and in a fit of rage would threaten to kill us children or our mom. Mom frequently reminded us of these threats in a manipulative way to make us obey. I had no reassurance that I was a valuable human being with a purpose.
What I was looking for from Tim that night was affirmation. I didn’t want to miss a minute of our first night because of sleep. I had not experienced rejection much in our courtship, and wasn’t prepared for that feeling in marriage. I knew it wasn’t reasonable to expect him to pull an all nighter, but I didn’t know what to do with my feelings, as I lay awake, ‘alone’, on our wedding night.
Marriage was my first experience with truly belonging. We had made a vow, ‘til death do us part’. I knew we would keep that vow come hell or high water, but in the depths of my heart, I feared failure and rejection.
Through my childhood and years of fending for myself, I had become a fighter and a survivor. The bad things that happened went into a mental discard file that remained locked, far from my conscious mind. I hoped that if I kept the file closed and ignored the pain it would go away. I falsely assumed I could function this way in marriage. I hoped that by not telling Tim how hurt and rejected I felt, I could avoid hurting him and life would be good. And, since I had been selfish and unreasonable I simply needed to be more realistic in my expectations, and our problem would be history.
This decision made, I awoke Sunday morning feeling enthusiastic and bubbly. It was a beautiful day for new beginnings. Outside a soft blanket of fresh snow covered the previous tracks. We, too, started off with a clean slate and had a wonderful day. Tim gave me all the reassurance any woman could desire. He told me how beautiful I am, gave me hugs and kisses without end, and simply loved me. The disappointments of the night vanished.
To Be Continued….
© Trudy Metzger
Return to first post in Sexual Abuse Series
First Post in Spiritual Abuse Series