Well, in my desperation to claim the status of a married woman, just to fit into the society’s expectations of me. I dined with the devil’s incarnate and married him. It became hell on earth and realized I was in hellfire. Here is how I left when the trouble in paradise was about to kill me. So how did I survive an abusive marriage?
A girl and her passion…
I have always been career-driven as far as I can remember. I have always been ambitious and because of that, I made sacrifices only a few were willing to make. Dared uncharted waters and was bold enough to ask for my reward.
While my mates in secondary school were dreaming of how they would finish university and get married, my waking and sleeping thoughts were of how I would work in a big company and be at the top of my game.
I loved the arts and was in the sciences. The best option was to study architecture as a course and I was offered admission into a Nigerian University.
While I was in University, I was so focused on school that I missed out on dating and all that romantic stuff. I had men wanting to date me but my education was enough for me and dating? I saw it as a distraction. It was not something I was bothered about. At the end of each semester, I came out top of my class.
My parents were proud, they encouraged and provided the best they could to ensure I was comfortable in school. I was a model to other children, parents often used me as an example.
I was highly regarded in my department for my genius and creativity in design and architecture, many people in my department said I was on my way to being another Zaha Hadid. My lecturers took notice of me and in a short while, I became the favorite of most lecturers. I left University as the best graduating student.
I came, I saw, I conquered
Fortunately, I was offered an M.sc scholarship. It was a dream come through for me. I was quite happy, so were my parents. I went to the UK for my master’s, and as was expected of me, was one of the best if not the best.
At 25, I got my dream job in an architectural firm. Lots of benefits which included a personal driver, a house, a car, and a mouth-watering salary. I was really living the high life.
You could say I was married to my job, I derived so much satisfaction from being an architect and delivering stunning designs. I kept being promoted at least every two years at work. During my vacation, I would take trips to different countries to go see their beautiful structural designs. It was a great time.
I barely had time for relationships. The few ones I managed to get into, my partners would complain about how I was married to my job. I was not able to sustain a relationship for more than two months. It was always a disaster. So, I scrapped the idea of being in a relationship. To be honest, I did not know when I clocked 30. Each birthday that passed, my only wish was to be at the top of my game and produce the most iconic designs.
When flowers begin to wither…
On my thirtieth birthday, while celebrating with a glass of champagne in my high-rise apartment. My father called to wish me a happy birthday. After he had wished me a happy birthday, he asked when I was going to get married. His tone was serious, I told him soon. When we said our goodbyes and hung up, I realized the sensitivity of his question.
I looked around me, it was as though I had developed another head. I could see how lonely I was. No signs of life. I went to bed that night, sober and reflective. When I woke up that morning, I engaged in self-reflection and I found out that truly, my life revolved around my job. Everything and everyone I had around me was in one way or the other tied to my job.
My mother’s call that morning triggered my desire for companionship. She reminded me of how useless my achievements were if I did not have someone to share them with. She stressed the importance of getting married and having children. I could not fight this ideology, I found myself agreeing with them.
You would think that someone of my caliber would fight these dangerous ideologies but ignorance does not respect your qualifications. I became more conscious in my search for a partner. Based on the opinion of my former partners, I reduced the amount of time spent at work. I went out more and made efforts at meeting more people.
Also signed up for dating apps. I had always had a preference for men of my nationality. I went on blind dates but was not happy with the quality men I was meeting. Four birthdays had passed, by now, I was desperate. I badly wanted to settle down. My parents were on my neck plus my siblings and extended family members.
A sprint down the aisle
It was at a friend’s birthday party I met my ex-husband. Handsome and muscular black beauty who introduced himself as Tunde. Little did I know my life was about to take a turn for the worst. By this time, I was thirty-five and desperate. We conversed and I liked him instantly.
He was the perfect gentlemen all through the night. He held me spellbound with his impeccable charm. I told him about myself and my career and he seemed impressed. He told me he was into tech. I was already seeing wedding bells and white gowns. It was a high I was not willing to get down from. We exchanged contact that night, and three months later, we were married with the consent of my parents and his parents.
Roses first, then thorns…
That was the beginning of my problems. I didn’t know I was going to survive an abusive marriage. I found out he was homeless, I asked what happened to his house and he said something about someone chasing him out. In the euphoria of being married, I asked him to move into my house. When he did, things got worse, I realized I was married to a fraud. He was insecure, manipulative, lazy, and a cheat.
I would give him credit, he gives good sex and is a good cook but that was not enough.
I found out my husband did not have a job. He was squatting with a friend who had become tired of him and chased him out. Sincerely, I tried my best to understand him, it was too early for me to think of divorce.
I asked him what tickled his interest and he said tech. I paid for his exams, each time he failed, he would blame me for it. Five times, I paid for him to retake the exams before I gave up. He was just content to stay home and watch movies. It was eating me up but I bottled it in.
And more thorns…
Soon, he had problems with most of my colleagues being men and me going to eat lunch with them. How did he find out?
While coming to visit me one day at the office, he spotted me at a nearby restaurant eating and laughing with a colleague. He was nice enough to let out his anger at home which involved him breaking some piece of art here and there. He later apologized and I forgave him. I thought that was the end until he started accusing me of cheating on him.
While this was going on I got pregnant. While I was pregnant, I was always horny. And to have sex, I would have to beg my husband for sex. Sometimes, he would demand I pay him and if I wanted to get the itch scratched, I had to.
I was given six months’ leave at work. My husband did not contribute anything to childbirth. He was not even around the day I gave birth. It was a colleague who showed up for me.
I cried in anguish.
I went back home and took care of my child. My husband was not around to help. He had the habit of disappearing for days without no information of his whereabouts.
When it was time for me to resume work. He changed into the good man I once knew. He begged me to stop work while he looks for work. I was skeptical at first but I had been through so much that I would accept anything just for me to have a week’s peace in our home. Really did not want to stop my work because it was my solace but my husband begged passionately.
I called a few people and got their opinions, some agreed and some did not agree, I was torn. I made the bold decision to stop working. However, my boss was sorry to see me leave. They did all they could to stop me; submission to my husband was more important. I was sorry to leave but my bosses and colleagues were sorrier. I got back that day, and I shed hot tears. It was terrible. I truly felt alone. My child was my only companion.
The decision to quit my job was what unleashed the full monster in the man I married. He started cheating on me with women who had jobs and would often come back home to rub it in my face. How was I going to survive this emotionally abusive marriage? Thanks to God for the secret savings I had. That was what helped me scrape by. He would prevent me from going out and go as far as locking the doors.
Sometimes, he would beat me but I wouldn’t want to shout because the neighbors might hear and call the cops on him. This carried on for two years. Despite the fact I left my job, I had offers coming in from different architectural firms and even private people. They were after me, but my husband had forbidden me from any source of income.
I was a sad woman, and I cried a lot every day. My daughter was my only consolation. It was as though she could sense me crying and try to hold me with her little fingers. I was unkempt and always depressed. This behavior carried on for two years until I stumbled on an award I received at work.
I remembered that night, how I was being congratulated left and right, and the party that followed after. I stood there crying, a fit of rage overtook me and I found myself breaking things. When my anger dissipated, it was as though scales had fallen off my eyes. I saw myself for who I truly was, a foolish woman who had allowed her husband to truncate her dreams all in the name of submission.
How I survived an abusive marriage
My husband was not around that day, he had disappeared again to God knows where. I had not seen him for two days. So I had to quickly move, luckily the deed of the house was in my name. I packed my bags as fast as I could and that of my girl’s. I moved out and moved into a hotel. It was something I could afford, I had not been working all these years for anything.
I listed the house for sale. A house that held fond memories of me was now what brought tears. I had to move out because he had keys to the house and could attack me. Nothing in me wanted to test the limit of his anger. I was lucky I did not acquire any property while I was married to him. It meant my asset would be split.
I had pictures of my recent bruises, pictures and printed them. I also went for a scan or two to check my health. It was not favorable. The records of the high blood pressure I had while I was pregnant, I was also able to get them. I got all of these, got a lawyer, and filed for a divorce.
I moved into a new house with the proceeds from my old house and trusted my husband to look for me. When he finally found me, he begged me to forgive him. One look at him and all I saw was the horror of two years. I refused him access to me or my child. I had to survive this abusive marriage.
He called my parents and told them about what was going on. My parents called and tried to persuade me into going back. I narrated my experience in the hands of my husband and sent them pictures. They were horrified and ashamed. My father cried on the video call and asked me to forgive him. He promised never to disturb me about anything marriage. He flew over to see me with my mum and we reconciled. It was the closure I needed and it went a long way in helping me heal.
The custody fight was terrible, I didn’t know my husband was a nutcase until we got to court. He was so dramatic that my dad would often roll his eyes. I made sure he was denied access to our child. My husband is manipulative, he could poison my child’s mind against me and that was something I was not willing to deal with. I was determined to survive this abusive marriage and I did survive.
If she grows up and decides to reunite with her father that was up to her but then, it was a no for me. He tried alimony but was denied. I won at last. The day I won, I shed tears of joy. I started a journey of self-discovery, my parents were my pillar of strength. Booking a therapist was a good idea, it set me on the path of recovery.
I went back to my workplace and discovered many of my colleagues had been promoted, it broke my heart. I reapplied to work and was accepted. My life now revolves around my job and daughter. My ex-husband showed up again to cause trouble but I had to get a restraining order against him. That was the last I saw of him and finally survived this abusive marriage.
I had never felt so unfulfilled in those two years but it was a wake-up call for me. My daughter is grown now, toeing the line of her mother in architecture. She was the one who pushed me into dating again. I am taking it slow and doing it on my terms.
How to survive an abusive marriage is by Realizing your worth, knowing what you deserve, and don’t let society decide for you