Women cheat, too – and can be equally abusive

Several folks – all men, for some reason – have commented or e-mailed that Monday’s editorial about cheating was lopsided because it did not mention women who cheat.

Photo and art Ryn Gargulinski

Photo and art Ryn Gargulinski

Allow me to even the playing field.

Actually, allow a man we shall call Nate to do it, as he agreed to let me share his poignant and harrowing story about his hellish marriage. It ended in 1997.

“I’m still gluing the pieces of my life back together,” said Nate, now 54.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, making his tale all too timely.

A cheating wife was on the list of things wrong with his six-year marriage, but it may not have been at the very top.

“Try waking up from a Sunday nap to see the sharpest knife in the kitchen poised above you, ready for the Aztec human sacrifice routine,” he said. She also abandoned him miles from home, in the dark, while he was on crutches and accused him of every wrongdoing in the book.

But let’s back up a bit. The two first met on the way to a college ski trip when he was reading a magazine and he heard this little voice behind him commenting on the article he was reading.

“She basically curled up into my lap and was there ever since,” he said.

They became great friends – and horrible spouses. Nate’s idea of marriage was based on examples from his own parents – “who were like Ozzie and Harriet” – and his ex’s parents – “who giggled like teenagers.”

“The idea of getting divorced felt like a personal failure, like I had done something wrong and it was all my fault.”

Within the first six months of the marriage, his ex was taken for psychiatric treatment twice. She was put on medication that actually worked – when she took it.

Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Art and photo Ryn Gargulinski

When she didn’t, it was a living hell.

“She thought nothing of beating on me,” Nate said. “Fortunately for me she was only 4’ 11” and couldn’t hit very hard.” He wouldn’t hit back.

“I may have slapped at her once,” he said, “but during all of this, I tried very hard to keep my temper. I spent a long time learning to control my temper. Besides, she was one of those people who bruised very easily – if I grabbed her wrist it would leave fingerprints. If she had any mark that was not self-inflicted, I would be the one in handcuffs.”

Instead, he was chained to his home while she was constantly out gallivanting, traveling out of state to visit friends, helping out with political campaigns, or otherwise off “God Knows Where,” coming home at all hours and offering no explanation.

“My ex demanded that I be at home and next to the telephone at all times when I wasn’t working or at school,” he said. “I was not allowed to have friends visit, nor was I allowed to go visit anyone else. If I had someone in, she’d stare lightning bolts at him until he left, and if I went out, she called wherever I was, repeatedly, until I came home.”

During the six years they were together, he went out a total of two times with a friend, another man, after work. “I came home to find her online, talking about me and my ‘gay lover,’” Nate said.

While all this may seem horrific enough, there were also financial woes.

Paying the bills was Nate’s sole responsibility, even though his ex worked. She was also heavily into “shopping therapy” and would start credit cards at a number of stores and then promptly forget about them. Bill collectors never forget.

“She ran up bills faster than I could pay them off – assuming I found out about them,” Nate said. “She had a mercurial temper and went into a pounding fury if I ‘butted into her private life’ by paying off bills, some of which were years overdue.”

The marriage finally ended after one of their many screaming fests when she nonchalantly announced she was leaving. And then did.

“The divorce? That was her idea, too. The bill collectors who were after her got her so worked up, she wanted to get away from everything. Including me, when my patience started wearing thin.”

One of Nate’s wishes is to erase the entire second half of 1997.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

“I wound up getting divorced, evicted and forced to find a new home (and stuck with a very large credit card bill) all at the same time,” he said. “The sheriff’s department visited my apartment many times, that autumn; it was always a surprise to see who was serving which papers on me, for what reason, when I came home.”

He pointed out the most stressful things in a person’s life include death of a family member; divorce; moving; buying a new house and getting evicted. “I did everything but bury my father,” he said.

“Since nothing happens in a vacuum, my ex’s behavior affected other aspects of my life, as well. Let’s just say I was lucky to stay employed and out of the ‘major depression’ part of the psych ward.”

At least the two never had kids, another fact that angered his wife at the time. “I was not going to bring a defenseless screaming bundle of diaper into the marriage,” he said. “I’ve seen too many ‘insane mother drowns own children’ stories.”

Perhaps ironically, the only upshot of the whole relationship was the divorce proceedings. They were quick and fairly painless, at least comparatively, and a done deal in less than two hours in court.

Despite – or perhaps due to – all the grief, Nate has learned a few lessons.

“Don’t get stuck in a relationship where you figure you can’t get out,” he said. “I was so concerned with keeping the marriage going because I thought that was what marriages do. I took the marriage vow until parted by death. If things start to go sour, look for help to either straighten things out or to get out.”

And guys who are battered by their wives or girlfriends? “Try and keep your temper,” he advised, “but on the other hand, don’t put up with it.”

Fifty percent of the domestic violence situations involve battering by both parties, according to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control Study.

“Half of heterosexual domestic violence is reciprocal. Women initiated or committed at least half of both the reciprocal and non-reciprocal violence, while both sexes suffered significant injuries,” according to a news release from the National Coalition for Men.


What do you think?

Guys – have you been on the receiving end? Now is your time to speak out.


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at ryngargulinski.com.
This entry was posted in Crime, danger, gross stuff, life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Women cheat, too – and can be equally abusive

  1. radmax says:

    Mornin’ Rynski! Geez, and I thought some of my ex’s were bad. In my situations at least there was no physical violence or police involvement. The verbal abuse is quite sufficient, nobody knows how to hurt you like a ‘loved one’. What a nightmare. Sounds like Nate ended up with the devil incarnate. I wish him the best of luck getting over this.

    • Rynski says:

      mornin’ radmax! yes, nate’s story takes the cake – the frosting, the candles and even that cake server spatula thing. also yes, verbal abuse can hurt just as deeply as physical – and may take much longer – not to mention more hours of therapy – to heal.

    • Jennatoolz says:

      I wish him luck too, that must have been miserable. And that woman is just a piece of..well, you know. Luckily, I haven’t been in a relationship quite as bad but I have been in one where I was manipulated into doing things I really didn’t want to do.

      Another relationship I was in, my boyfriend at the time would often go out all night, and not tell me where he was. I would wake up at 6am, and he still would not have been home that night. I asked him repeatedly to just send me a text or something to just let me know where he was, but he never did. Another thing was the fact that I was the only one working at the time. I ended up getting a 2nd job and working 70 hrs a week because I was super stressed about the bills. He had gotten fired from numerous jobs while I was with him, and then he just kinda stopped even trying to find another one. I became pretty depressed and exhausted, and felt like I was trapped in that situation with no where else to go. Finally…I put my foot down, and luckily I had a friend that had a spare room which I moved into for a while until I could find a place of my own.

      Ugh…nightmarish, but not nearly as much compared to what Nate went through.

      • Rynski says:

        good for you, jennatoolz! on your escape. i, too, was the only working party in one relationship – he seemed to have no desire to work, although early on he would “pretend” to go to work by walking around the corner and hiding.
        he eventually pulled his fair share of bill and rent money by getting money from his mom. he would always be plopped in front of the TV in a tiny apartment. yes, that felt like a trap. and yes, we said some very abusive things to each other. it took me a long time to gather the courage to get out – but it was such freedom when i did.

      • Jennatoolz says:

        Yeah..unfortunately though, I do still have a “tie” to him. I –stupidly– co-signed on a car with himpayments, when he still had a good job and things were going well (we were together about 2 years). Well, he lost his job…and shortly after that I moved out and took that car, planning on keeping it for myself. But, I was unable to keep up with the payments/insurance costs and it was voluntarily repossessed. Now we’re both stuck owing a lot of money for a car that we no longer have…which of course, I’m now trying to pay that off since I was able to work out a settlement with the collectors, and I know he’s never going to fork over money for it. HUGE LESSON LEARNED! 😛

      • Rynski says:

        wow, that’s a lesson for sure! sigh. it all comes around sooner or later – or at least that’s what i tell myself so i don’t go insane over such stuff (haha).

  2. radmax says:

    PS- Is that Phoebe in the photo? Does she antagonize Sawyer? 🙂

    • Rynski says:

      no, not phoebe in the photo. yes, she does antagonize sawyer! – but they fall into that 50 percent reciprocal abuse category – although neither have been injured in their frays.

  3. A.Farley says:

    How Bizzarre! It’s almost like Nate and I were married to the same Gal!
    nonskid moonward (Captcha)

    • Rynski says:

      dear nonskid moonward,
      maybe you were! was your marriage between 1991 and 1997? maybe you met up with her before or after her marriage to nate? eek!

  4. KD says:

    I think everyone has nightmare stories.  I just exited a 2 year relationship where the only people having regular s*x with him were other women! LOL  That was a trip…they got more than I DID!

  5. azmouse says:

    I hope more guys chime in on this one, because I’m curious how common Nate’s story might be? I haven’t heard about to many abusive women, although I know they are out there.

    I just don’t have a ‘mean gene’ floating around. I’m a pushover and to maternal, I guess. I just wanna take care of everybody.

    • Rynski says:

      Hi AZMouse,
      i was thinking automatically that more guys would chime in on this one, esp. since some were very quick to e-mail about the other editorial not being fair. hmm….guess nate says it all, perahps?

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