Warning: This story series contains descriptions of physical abuse.
by Defendant Rising
Nate says what happened from Christmas of 1999 through summer of 2000 was this: I condoned his affair with Angel.
I guess Nate should know, because “condone” is a legal term and he’s a lawyer. That’s not the way I remember it. I remember two things: being very ill and being very angry. After the lingeré bonfire, Nate kept his sickly, irate wife very busy listening to his sermons on forgiveness, doing unpaid paralegal work (he set up his new firm at home with the clients stolen from his former boss), getting through Christmas on a shoestring, overhauling our finances, and going to marriage counseling with pastors Mike and Randy.
All this was going on in my last six weeks of pregnancy. The financial overhaul alone was tiring and overwhelming. Nate planned another home birth for me, increased my life insurance, and made me sign for credit cards in my name to reduce our interest rates. Then he rolled all our debt onto the cards, charged law office supplies to them, and locked the cards in the file cabinet. I wasn’t sure how increasing my life insurance saved us any money—after all, it cost more—but Nate insisted that I wouldn’t understand even if he explained it to me. I couldn’t even balance a checkbook, so if I would just trust him and sign here, here, and there already, he would take care of it all. It was futile to ask questions, I would just be even more worn out with Nate’s thousand-word answers, excuses, and insults.
Marriage counseling was also futile—it didn’t help matters at all. Nate was enraged for two reasons: I had great respect for Mike and Randy, and Mike and Randy were very hard on Nate. Randy made one remark during counseling that hit me like a stun gun.
Randy said, “Nate, in your heart you have rejected God.”
My brain began to blink to life. The broken mirror pieces in my mind fused into one big mirror, still picturing Nate, but he was ugly—uglier than the portrait of Dorian Gray. Ugly as sin.
Nate’s “theology,” no matter how complicated, was a substitute for faith, not evidence of faith. I knew it in that instant.
Nate’s retribution was swift, his diversion brilliant. He accused me of being in love with Randy and Randy of being in love with me. We could continue to go to the church and to marriage counseling, Nate decreed, but I was not allowed to speak to Randy unless Nate was present. Nate spread ugly innuendo about us throughout the congregation. In private, Nate assured me that the only thing I was guilty of was “spiritual adultery” so far—of putting another man in Nate’s place of spiritual head and God-mediator. I needed to watch myself, though, he argued, or I’d be in bed with Randy next.
I hated Nate with every ounce of my strength. Randy’s wife was very pregnant too, and it hurt to see the pain and doubt cross her face. Randy’s marriage held tight, though, and his wife was soon beaming again.
As the controversy blew over, I focused on the imminent birth of my sixth child. I had to lie down a lot. The cramps were breathtaking. I had legal research to conduct. I had my children to educate. Plus, Nate had one last theological curve ball to pitch. Nate had begged my forgiveness for Angel. He had repented in tears, and agreed to the marriage counseling. Now, in the wake of my alleged “spiritual adultery,” Nate was backtracking. Could a convinced polygamist, Nate asked me, ever commit adultery? Nate said, “Maybe only women can commit adultery.” As he explained to Mike and Randy, he was “looking at six months” of no sex while I carried Abi, and what better time to look for a second wife? (A little wrinkle: Though only 21, Angel was married. Her husband was in the Navy and deployed at sea.)
Suddenly I was the adulteress, and I wasn’t buying a ticket for this guilt trip. Nate and I had one heated argument after another, and, as long as we were arguing, I hotly denied that I needed God to speak to me through Nate or any man.
By the final two weeks of pregnancy, I was too uncomfortable to argue any more. The pressure on my pelvic floor was so intense that I wished I could simply hang from the ceiling via a system of big elastic belts between the legs and under the belly, attached to straps, affixed to wheels on tracks. Then, I fantasized, I could push off with my swollen feet and glide from room to room. Nate responded to my weakness and discomfort by threatening to exercise his “right” to polygamy on a permanent basis and move another woman into the house, if I couldn’t figure out a way to carry babies and have sex simultaneously. If I left him or reported him to the authorities for practicing polygamy, Nate said, he would use the courts to take the children and everything we owned. No other man would ever want me with six kids. [Read more...]