Covering as God Never Intended


For years,  I covered for my husband. I thought telling the truth about our family was disloyal. I refused to be anything other than positive, upbeat and supportive which meant for the most part, I kept strangely silent.

My husband did not reciprocate. He took subtle jabs in front of company calling me such lovely names as dimwit and ninny. I shrugged and walked away. To any of our former house guests, in case you’re wondering, those are called ‘red flags.’ Normal, loving husbands do not call their wife a ding-a-ling and no, it wasn’t a joke.

Another favorite pastime involved covering for the anti-husband’s words and actions with the kids.

“Your father didn’t really mean that.”

“You know your dad loves you, he just has a hard time showing it sometimes.”

“Maybe what he said was a little over the top, but your dad had a rough upbringing.”

The day I figured out that—

a)      yes, he really did mean every single word he chose to say with his very own mouth

b)       he loved no one but himself and

c)       his rough upbringing should’ve made him more compassionate not less

–was the day I started walking in truth.

Turning Lanes

I remember the day this Cover for Dad policy changed.  I’d taken to carrying the cordless phone everywhere, 911 on speed-dial. I’d calculated how long it took the police to arrive at our home and kept a close eye on the clock. Things were about to break open.

I knew it. I smelled it. I wasn’t going down without a big fat fight.

The beast had been carrying on for days.  Read that–hollering, yelling, stomping, screaming, slamming, cursing, muttering, raging, without taking a breath—for days. One afternoon things got particularly spectacular so I loaded the kiddies in the car and pointed the front fender southbound. After a few tense moments of silence I turned to the front seat passenger and said, “You know what your father’s doing isn’t right, don’t you?”

My son imploded. He sighed so loud I heard it over Travis Tritt on the radio. His shoulders slumped. He melted on the seat and ran into a puddle on the floorboard.

I’d finally told the truth and there was no going back.

I sat and listened while my son spewed and I did not say one Mom-ism the entire trip. All the kidlets knew—something changed that day. They still talk of it.

Apologies Not Accepted

I tried later to cushion my heinous crime just a little. I told the kids I was sorry for putting their father down that way. What I heard opened more than my eyes—I got a dose of reality nothing else could match. My kids unleashed. They said exactly what they thought of their dad and what kind of man he was (or was not in this case.) They were angry, furious, resentful, frustrated. And hurting like so many scalded pups in a washtub.

Not long after, my grown children took me aside and gave their silly mom an intervention. They said they didn’t want to hurt me but did I have any idea the things dad had been saying, about me, to them, when I wasn’t around? For years.

Well no, golly gee. I sure didn’t know that Bumpy.

The Truth Will Set You Free

Lying doesn’t help anyone. I may not have purposefully told windies but neither was I walking in truth. All my covering, dodging, and weaving just made everybody seasick. I added to the confusion. I was a linebacker, blocking so a man who refused to care for his own family could keep barreling on through, trampling everyone in the process.

I was not being loyal. I was not supporting my husband. I was providing cover, making it easier for him to get a clear shot. Big difference.

Talking to the kids since leaving has been tough. I struggle with how much to say and when to say it. Mostly I just listen and let them vent. The beast says I’m poisoning the children, but saying  I’m at fault for finally admitting the truth goes beyond ironic and borders on the absurd. The fact that the man has no relationship with his progeny rests squarely on his shoulders because (duh!) he verbally, emotionally and physically abused and bullied the dog mess out of them. He refuses to admit he fed them a steady diet of arsenic all their lives and now, for some odd reason, they won’t have anything to do with him.

Several have tried talking to him. Each has come to the conclusion it’s hopeless. He fusses, he fumes, he refuses to accept responsibility saying they are–each and every one– a rebellious lot. Later when they quit taking his calls, he tried playing the god-card, starting with  the ‘if-you-don’t-forgive, you-won’t-be-forgiven’ line but since I taught them the ‘bring-ye-forth-therefore-works-worthy-of-repentance’ retort back in grade school, somehow his biblical fuming doesn’t work so good.

I guess they’re smarter than their mama.

Saint Ida and Her All Girl Band

Before you get the idea that Ida Mae is a saint and all the little kiddies are gathered about, holding hands and singing campfire songs, let’s put that to rest. The kids are damaged. I’m not going to talk much about them here, not yet. They have their own stories to tell and I imagine some day they will. I doubt I’ll get knighted in any version.

Some are doing better than others. Some of the girls have problems picking men. Some of the boys are mad as hell. Oh wait, some of the girls are too. They show, in various degrees, all the effects  of growing up in an alcoholic/abusive household.

One blessing—in every case, their faith is intact. For that, I am profoundly grateful. Now, I have to trust in my Heavenly Father’s care to finish the work He began in them, just as He’s completing the work He began in me forty-two years ago. It’s not easy. Some days it’s impossible.

But there’s always tomorrow and for that, I remain forever grateful.

10 responses »

  1. I used to tell my daughter: We have to obey daddy; he’s the head of the house. Even if he’s not always right in his decisions we need to submit to him as that’s God’s way.
    How I feel bad about that now.
    I love your story of how you broke thru into truth on this.

    • I hear you.

      Nowadays, if I hear someone making those kind of statements, I start paying closer attention. There’s a fellow I know really well who’s *constantly* rephrasing everything his wife says– ‘what your mom really means is. . .’ I’ve stopped listening to him and paying more attention to her and oddly, she’s reminding me of a female version of the estranged.

      *Cue red flags waving*

  2. Covering for him. It is quite odd that I see myself in so many of your posts…those same lines you used to say to your kids I say to mine. “You know how dad gets when he is mad…” “He doesn’t really mean he hates us or our family….” “It’s ok…” or just simply holding a crying child. I have finally gotten to the point where I no longer assure them that we will not get divorced. The best I can come up with is “we both will always love you no matter what happens”. I couldn’t lie to them about that anymore. I admire the strength you had to leave. The strength you find now to continue to share your story. Every day I read one of your blog posts it is a reminder that I am not nuts and I am not alone…

    • R2C– Isn’t it something? These stories sound so familiar in so many ways. That’s one reason some of these are about more more mundane things. Everyday was *not* a major tragedy but we were massively unhealthy all the time.

      I wasn’t able to share until I got past that one year mark after leaving. Until then, every syllable out of my mouth was word vomit. There’s a post coming out on that too 🙂

    • Reflections2change:
      Keep reading the posts here… so very honest, encouraging… like balm to my soul.

      Also, Cindy Burrell’s Hurt By Love website and her book “Why Is He So Mean to Me?” are excellent resources.

      Keep seeking the truth and wisdom…
      I was able to finally proceed with divorce after 32 years… it’s taken another year for it to be final, but I am now free from the oppression and abuse that kept me in bondage.

      As Cindy Burrell shared with me, “God never intended your history to be your identity, but your testimony”.

      You are NOT crazy and you are NOT alone!!

      As a sister,

  3. I covered for him for 32 years… convinced even myself that things weren’t “so bad”. Would tell the kids after his rage fits…”Dad really doesn’t mean it… he had such a terrible childhood…” etc.

    The secret is out, the lie is revealed, the light is shining through the darkness…



  4. Oh my goodness, again. This was very much my experience with my ex-wife – such an expressive and explanatory post. And I’ve heard other people try to “help” my children by saying “maybe your mother didn’t mean it” or “perhaps you misunderstood”. They are trying to help, but, as you know, that just deepens the fog. “The truth will set you free” was a phrase that God emblazoned on my heart, and I believe it rescued my soul.

  5. I did that too. I covered for all the weird and bad, antisocial things my charming, young handsome, rich husband did. To maintain our social status, I built him up by being perfect, well liked non- confrontational. Im a smart lady but I used that to anticipate his every bad move and try to do damage control before he even does anything. And he ever did something seriously mean to someone, I would be there to cover his tracks. Ive paid off people, been all apologetic, sweet and concerned to people who he hurt, just so I could protect him and his perfect life. All these despite him blatantly womanizing, beating me up physically on a regular basis for being “competition”, witholding sex for a year or more and telling me I have cellulite, ugly, boring, weak, stupid.

    When in fact I am considered a beauty by others and in pretty good shape. Sad to say these never made my head big, however I regret that I should have done so. Maybe then I could have stood up to him, instead of toning down everything just so he could feel important, more handsome, more capable than me. It was the only way to keep him from blowing up in my face and beating me up. I noticed after a while that if I make him feel big, he would sometimes be nice to me. Those days, even a small act of kindness from him made all the charades worth it. DUH…

    Funny if I remember his women, all cougars way way older than us, a lot were out of shape too. Sometimes I think my husband can possibly be a closet gay?

    He would accuse me of trying to be more beuatiful than him, smarter than him, better than him. The poor fool did not see that I was protecting him (albeit with the wrong notion of preserving my dreams of a family). He hated my clothes and would give suggestions on better pairings. He was overly homophobic also.

    I was always the competition. The other golden child and he was so unused to that as he has always held that position in his family/society.

    Now after years of being separated, Ive realized that he was a fake stupid small minded man. Now I just laugh when I hear about his failings, his petty fights over being respected in the workplace and what he is entitled to. I laugh that he has not changed a bit. I laugh when he has debts, when he cannot pay for his credit card or when he makes mistakes in his job. When he tries to hoover and slither back (the snake), I just laugh. Because I can now see very clearly. Whenever he is between relationships, he tries to woo me back. He says all the things I want to hear then find out that oops he just got into a fight with his newest mistress and his previous mistresses hate his guts so I am the last plausible choice. The benchwarmer.

    If he says he cant live without me or that he still loves me, I just laugh to myself and say.. Oh he really means, can you cook and clean and protect me again? I need someone to work her ass off so I have more free time to go and enjoy my carefree life.

    Urghhhh…frankly he’s gross. I never want to get married again. I always fear making the same mistake again plus I seem to have an aversion to guys. Just the thought of having to build up, support and carry a husband around on my shoulders really leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I can appreciate cute guys as Im still young but the memories are just too much to bear.

  6. Sometimes I imagine my husband slipping on a mud puddle. I see myself years ago wiping him off with my new shirt if need be just so he wont get dirty. Or I would grab him and steady him to keep him from falling even if it meant stepping into the mud puddle myself. Now I imagine myself, just laughing my head off if he does indeed slip.

    I would love to see him in such a position.

    I used to be young too. Naive fresh out of school when I first married. Those years have passed by really quickly and all I have left are bad memories. Things to forget instead of cherish. I used to do all sorts of embarrassing things in the sex department just to get him to look at me. Like me or love me. But nothing. He would say he wished I could be like this girl who gives massages, or like this other woman who could masturbate. I tried to become and morph into all these women just to save my marriage even though I felt so dirty doing these things which I never thought should be done.

    Generally he would have loved to have enacted all those porn videos he kept watching, if I had agreed probably to all of them. Some days I would be grateful for the fights he would pick. Id rather have him beat me up than debase me in those ways he would blurt out. He raped me too once because he was so pleased with something I had accomplished at home. I remember his face while he was raping me after a year or so of not sharing any form of intimacy with me, not even a hug. So happy that I finally made the grade. He kept whispering to me about rewards and how I deserved it this time.

    Most times he determined that I did not perform well in cooking or cleaning, or buying groceries. Little things, even where I put the umbrella on a rainy day.

    He would blow hot and cold too. He would just blurt out things then do it by himself in the bathroom while watching porn or playing some computer games. I would be left feeling confused and bewildered as all these happened in a span of a few minutes. I did not even have time to consider his requests.

    If I have to marry another guy again who would ask me to do those things. Ewww I probably would run out of the room screaming and jump off a cliff than to even contemplate.

    It is priceless to be free. The air smells fresher, the sun is shining brighter. Literally thats what it feels like. Im not happy either but I am looking forward to a new day and to tomorrow.

    Such a change from huddling in a corner crying, from walking away fast when I see him coming to beat me up, like a frightened rabbit or mouse. Or from sucking in my tears after a severe beating just so he would not have the pleasure of seeing me cry.

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