Sharon folded her hands in her lap and sat forward on the flowered love seat, unconsciously reflecting the body language of the therapist in the chair opposite. They had finished the preliminary introductions and standard questions that, for both, were routine. Sharon had been to the first marriage counselor with her husband. When the counselor told Matt that he thought the marriage was over and there was nothing he could do, Matt insisted on trying a different professional. The second one came to the same conclusion so Matt involved the pastor he had ridiculed, then the adult Sunday School teacher he had avoided, looking for anyone who would side with him and demand that Sharon stay.
Now Sharon was here alone for the preliminary appointment with Carol, a certified Christian counselor. Matt was sure that this woman would convince his wife that she had no right to divorce him. After all, Sharon was the one who was the Bible believer. She took the kids to church while he golfed or worked out or hunted or any of a dozen other things that, to him, were more important than wasting a Sunday morning in church. Sharon would certainly listen to another Christian woman who would undoubtedly tell her that she was wrong to divorce him.
Sharon sighed. She was ready to unburden her heart again. She didn’t believe in divorce, knew it was wrong, hated the idea of it, but was so torn up inside that she could not go on like this. Just three months ago Matt had rolled over onto her expecting her obedient submission to his sexual demands. She was ready for the usual quick intercourse, never any foreplay, never any affection for her. He told her she was frigid and she believed it. “I love you” he had mumbled and when she was slow to respond he leaned back and actually asked what was wrong. “I love you” she had stuttered back, “but sometimes I don’t like you.” The ensuing row had lasted all night and Sharon had called her father in tears.
Carol listened now as Sharon described the belittling. Though at work she headed five departments and more than a hundred people reported to her, at home she was not good enough, not smart enough, wasn’t clean enough, didn’t have good taste, couldn’t cook or clean satisfactorily. On and on. Her two college degrees were worth less than Matt’s solitary semester at a community college, at least according to Matt, whose verbal abuse made Sharon feel stupid and worthless. The only bright spot was the time she spent with her kids.
“You’re a classic case,” Carol said as she passed Sharon another Kleenex. “Fifteen years of marriage to a misogynist, a woman-hater. You’ve come to the crossroads right on schedule.” She shook her head and explained the characteristics of a man like Matt: younger and less educated than the wife, self-absorbed, ego-centric, possessive, jealous, controlling, cruel, overly critical, domineering, emotionally abusive, sexually selfish. Sharon unconsciously nodded at every trait. “The courtship was good though, wasn’t it?” Another nod. “Well, this is a real conundrum for me. As a Christian counselor I’m completely against divorce, but for women like you in this situation, I have to tell you that it’s not going to get better. You have to decide to accept things and know that this will always be your life or . . . you have to get out.”
Copyright 2011 by Debra Chapoton