Chapter 4 – The downhill road

The main house was liveable in summer 2009. We moved out of the apartment on the 2nd floor into the house on the ground and 1st floors. This house now consisted of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a separate toilet and 30 square metre extension living space on the 1st floor.
The renovation of the old part of the building was finished.
I started a vegetable garden and herbs in pots with the help of the children. I already planted grass, with my mother’s help, when I was eight months pregnant with my second child. I wanted a place outside for the children to play. I was told by this father, “You want it, you plant it.” This husband came home, was happy with his grass, and took me to the shop to choose a lawnmower so I can maintain it.

In this house, when I asked for time as a couple, this husband replied that he had built the house for me and I am ungrateful.”
He became obsessed with cleanliness, damage of possessions and having control over everything. He came back from a work trip and walked around looking for damage on the wooden floors, walls , etc. Sometimes it would be damage he remarked on already.
He did not count the cutlery any longer, although these were new. If he did find something damaged or wrong in the house he would have a lengthy, raging discussion with me in his cold voice of: Who had done this? How did the child do it? Why were you not looking? Did you give the child a hiding? Did you hit him hard, so that he does not do it again?
He scrubbed furiously with his finger at a piece of a sticker on the leather couch and damaged the colour permanently. The very next day he wanted to know who had caused this damage. He also, on several occasions, took most of the carpets out the house to the upstairs apartment. According to him I had no respect for them. After a few days he brought them back. The carpets were never damaged. If I countered him, he did his “run out of the house” routine, saying I am on my own and/or I would be punished by being ignored and/or insulted for days for having no respect for his possessions. His conclusion was always: I do not have respect for his possessions, hence I do not have respect for him; I did not appreciate what he had given me and I showed no gratitude.

I became pregnant with my third child. This was a shock. I told this husband I would like to go on a holiday. Every holiday we went to his parents’ farm in our home country and I needed a break from everything, including this. He obliged, booking a week on the cheapest holiday package he could find and started criticising everything on our arrival. I was glad for the break.
I started having a miscarriage during the holiday, or so I thought. While I was in the bathroom for most of the day, the children were cooped up in the one room we occupied. I asked this husband if he would take the children to the beach. He replied, “Who is going to watch them?” He was watching tennis on the television and ignored the children. The evening, when I thought it was over, I asked him to get me products at the pharmacy. He did this. When he did help me, he loved reminding me and loved saying that he had sacrificed his time for me. He did this.
After the holiday I still got morning sickness, although I felt sure I was not pregnant anymore. I was wrong. It was placenta previa. The baby was fine.

I noticed several behavioural patterns of this father. For example, when he was away for work, he would occasionally be friendly and loving over Skype. He would send, “I miss you and love you,” messages and even say it to me on Skype. When at home he did not repeat these love messages. After three years of marriage he started sending me emails containing jokes. Before, he had sent emails only for instructing me.
When he came home and was in a good mood, we were novelties. He would spend time with us for a few days at the most and then he swept us under the carpet, as if he had had his fill and is bored with us.
When under the spotlight, which would be when we were in the presence of other people, he maintained his outward impression and nice guy character perfectly. He would be smiling, joking and have a constant serving attitude. He again became grumpy and controlling when the performance was over – isolating himself in front of his computer. Where he waved us away with a hand-wave when we “bothered” him. Until he pulled us out again for the next performance, when needing to give the impression of the perfect family. Outside the house, he literally bowed, smiling to the neighbours and passersby in greeting them.
He has a relaxed composure with other people, but in the house he was always stressed and in a hurry. His family needed to do what he says, or be ready to go somewhere, at once for him. He refused to wait for us. We waited for him to finish what he was doing. For example, we waited before meals, or if we were ready to go somewhere he would first speak to another person on Skype. We waited, sometimes for half an hour. He was allowed, but we were not allowed to be a second behind. Many times he raged on in the house about me being late, when I was not. When we exited the house and there was a neighbour, he switched, oozed friendliness and had long conversations with them. It was as if he had forgotten he was in a hurry. The children and I would wait in the car for him. This always baffled me.

This man used to vacuum his house at least three times during the day, while we were dating and I was visiting. I used to think he was obsessed with vacuuming, owning three machines. After I arrived, he never touched a vacuum cleaner again. If he saw something lying on the floor or a spot on the floor he pointed it out to me and would tell me where I must clean. He stopped cleaning the car as well. He told me that if I want to drive his car, I better clean it. He complained when I did not manage to get to it. I ignored him and cleaned when I could. I remember vacuuming and cleaning the car in the winter, heavily pregnant with my third child, while he “worked” on his computer.

My marriage to me had gone from, crying when I took this man to the airport when he left for work, to, crying when I had to go and fetch him at the airport when he came home.

During my pregnancy with my third child I got anxiety attacks the moment this husband entered a room I was in. When he spoke in his deep, cold voice, I ran for a window, leaning out, because it felt as if I could not get enough air.
He was at that time living in the 2nd floor apartment when he was home. He even slept there. He was studying for a flying license conversion. He kept on telling neighbours and people on Skype, speaking for hours, how we are bothering him. The acoustics in the building is good, so I heard him. He told them he was not sure if he was going to pass because of this, when we only saw him when he came downstairs for meals.
I drew up a schedule for him to spend time with me and the children after meals. He agreed to it, but never kept to it on his own. I had to phone him to find out when he is coming to the house. He would say, “I am busy, give me five minutes.” After the five minutes we waited again. I would again have to phone, getting the same message. If we started, for example, eating without him, he would be upset that we did not wait for him. I tore up this agreement. It meant nothing to him and only served to annoy me.

My mother came to help me for three months with the baby’s birth. This husband was now at home studying. With all her previous visits, this husband left shortly after my mother’s arrival and returned a few days before or after she had left.
In this time, this husband asked me if a friend of his, with his family, can come to visit for a week.
My mother and this husband were using the apartment. This husband was making comments of not going to pass and that he was behind in his studies. This, he said, because we bothered him. My marriage was in tatters. I was eight months pregnant, with two small children. I said no. This husband continued to ask me. At an earlier occasion, when my second child was about four months old, this husband had wanted to visit these friends of his and asked me to phone his friend’s wife. She said it did not suit her, because her mother was visiting. I did not continually ask her, but accepted her answer. After being continually asked by this husband, I agreed that if they don’t mind helping, ok. They then decided not to come and booked at a holiday resort. This husband was furious with me. He left his studies and joined them for a day at their holiday spot.

Throughout the marriage this husband proceeded with his games of confusion. I started believing him and decided I cannot remember what I am doing and saying. I told myself I am a horrible person. I had feelings of anger and unhappiness. I did not recognise myself anymore and avoided people.
What I believed literally changed in a moment. It was early evening in winter and we were preparing to walk to an event in our street. This husband could not find his gloves and was again blaming me, saying I had put them somewhere and I cannot remember. I took the children’s double push stroller out of the back of the car and lifted my second child into it, but could not pick up the eldest, who felt too heavy with my back and eight months pregnant stomach. I asked this father if he will help me. He was still looking for his gloves. He turned and said, “If you want a slave, you should find someone else.” My mother, still on her visit, overheard him. She said, “How can you speak to her like that.” He replied, “She was rude to me, that is why I was rude to her.” My mother replied, “She was not rude. She had asked nicely.” My mother is very quick to tell me if I had done something wrong or had been rude, of which I am capable of occasionally. She would not say I asked nicely, if I did not.
A light went on in my head. After lifting the eldest child into the stroller I walked with the children down the road, thinking that this husband has the problem all along. He is a liar and he seemed to be very comfortable with and convincing at it. For some reason I did not understand he wanted me to be confused, struggling and unhappy.

After this incident I decided to spend time with myself for a change. With my mother taking care of the children, I started going to the woods to walk and get away alone. I had stopped smoking completely and now decided to have a cigarette. I used to be a smoker when this father met me and when he dated me. However, this husband did not want me to smoke. His reasoning was it was as if I am having an affair and that he can have an affair with someone if I smoke. I reasoned one cannot tell if he had had an affair or not. Even if he did, there was no marriage to speak of.
I felt horrible, because I was eight and a half months pregnant and started praying to God, while I was in the woods. I cried and begged forgiveness for who I had become, what I had done wrong and was doing wrong. I did not like being this scared, angry and unhappy person.
Somehow I knew at once I was not alone and that God loves me. He did not like what I do sometimes, but He still loves and accepts me even with my imperfection.

I felt a peace that I cannot describe. Things changed. An example of this: I did not have to run for the window for air anymore when this husband entered a room. The change was so remarkable, I remember being amazed when I realised I could just breathe.

On one of my visits to the woods I remembered an experience while scuba diving a few years before my marriage. During this specific scuba dive I felt extremely uncomfortable and left the dive group I was diving with, thinking it will be more peaceful alone. I had experience in diving and had my own emergency buoy. This I needed to inflate and send up to signal the boat where I was. But I could not remember how to open this emergency buoy and was trying to untie knots on it. I could not read my air gauge. The fact that it was nitrogen narcosis, which I have never experienced, did not register. I hyperventilated, felt out of breath, lost control and, unbeknown to me, began to swim for the surface in a state of blind panic.
I was stopped almost three metres off the bottom of the ocean by a man’s voice. Then helped to such an extent that I could send my buoy to the surface and continued diving. Still without being able to read the air gauge, but not panicking about it and finally, making a controlled ascent to the surface.
At the time I unsuccessfully tried explaining this incident to myself and decided to move on and forgot about it.
But in the woods I started asking myself if this could have been God who had helped me? I did not live a sinless life, on the contrary. I always called myself a Christian, but went to church mostly only on New Year’s Eve. I did acknowledge and admire what God had created and considered this amazing.
I tried to think whether I thought of God or asked Him for help during that scuba dive. I did not. The other option of course is: I was going to die, it was not my time and maybe God looked down and said, “Look what she had done. I had better help this stupid woman.”

I told this husband of God and what He had done for me. I found it amazing, but was met with: It is normal. God speaks to everyone. I was still excited.
I smoked for three weeks before this husband found out. He was livid at my “betrayal”. In his cold voice, he raged on about me having lied and deceived him. His hatred was obvious and he treated me accordingly. My mother was shocked, saying she cannot leave me like this and organised marriage counselling for us with consent from us both. He was treating her badly as well, because he said she had also betrayed him by not telling him I had started smoking again.

This husband was diagnosed with Percy’s decease at the age of four and blamed smoking (his father smoked) for this. After an operation, he was in a plaster cast for over two years from his waist down. His parents put wheels on his cast and he pulled himself over the floor by his arms.
This husband’s father proudly told me his son had never asked for help during this time. I had found this comment very strange, thinking my children at almost the same age, are not inhibited and constantly asks for help. However, this husband told me his father was hardly around and was always working.

This husband told my mother that the birth of this third baby was my and her “problem”. If the child comes before a certain date, he is still around, but after that he had arranged to leave. My mother said there was a smirk on his face while he was saying this. I confronted him and he said he did not know the due date for the child. He knew this from accompanying me to the doctor and I told him that. He then changed his story, saying I had not told him when the baby is due. He still had the paper on his desk on which I had estimated the date range for him. I showed him. He then said he made a joke. I told him that a joke makes one laugh, not cry.

In the meantime my third child felt enormous and the doctor said another two weeks before the baby is due.

Two midwives were on standby, in case the previous birth repeated itself. This husband had no preferences and did not show excessive interest in any of my pregnancies or decisions made about them, as well as the births.
My third child was also born at home. The midwife was on time.
The baby was a sturdy, strong boy, weighing around 4.2 kilograms. The other children were ecstatic with their new brother. The new baby was calm and had no problems feeding. I had chosen to give birth to the baby in the 2nd floor apartment to not disturb the other children, and now rested in the apartment for a week with the new baby. His brothers regularly and excitedly visited him.

In this time my mother confronted this husband of mine with the way he was treating me and his subtle, negative insinuations he constantly made of me. She said she told him he was only outwardly friendly, had bullish behaviour in the house and had a split personality. This made him angry. He told me she was no longer welcome in his home. He told me his parents do not even speak to him in that fashion. When thinking about it, I realised that this husband grew up with excessive rules on things like food, manners, physical boundaries for protection of possessions. However, no rules and boundaries on lies, manipulative games and intimidation. I have observed behaviour from his parents that included coldness, excessive control, manipulation and lies. I get the impression, in their rearing process, actions like these were promoted rather than punished.

After my third baby’s birth I concentrated on what I would like to do, not what this husband expected me to do for his approval of me. I decided to take care of myself so that I could take care of my children.

The marriage counsellor this husband and I were seeing spoke of emotional abuse and I researched this on the internet, recognising this husband’s tactics. I also identified some of my own behaviour as abusive. I ordered a book on Amazon and studied the advice in it. I figured this may be another avenue — if I adjust myself and move out of this destructively patterned marriage this husband might follow.

I paid attention to changing my attitude towards my marriage and towards this father. I did not desperately seek out his company, nor his approval or love. I did not respond to any of his games and tried to not let it upset me.
I started reading again. I played guitar again and sang to the children. I started sculpting with plaster of paris and allowed the children to sculpt with me. He would complain about the mess the plaster of paris was making. He did not have to clean anything. I cleaned. He complained about the children playing on the guitar, saying I allow the children to do what they want. This global statement was not the truth and the guitar belonged to me. He increased his attacks and threats in what can be described as periods of angry bursts with in between periods of normality.

This was when I started paying attention to the behavioural and verbal tactics he used on me and the children. I never confronted him. I noticed that confrontations distracted me.
Sometimes this husband could be friendly. Then it started again with the slightest thing, for example, if he found (looking purposely) any fruit or vegetable going off in the refrigerator drawer or basket. An apple going off started him on a ranting spree where he would tell me how wasteful I am living. I always kept ample fresh fruit and vegetables, because I raised my children on this, wanting them to have good eating habits. This meant he could always find something to use in his angry raving sprees.

Someone messing or dirt on the floor would set him off in a rage. It was as if he wanted others to maintain total cleanness the entire time around him. He did not clean, but ordered.
His ideology was limited to this cleanliness. Things in the house were not done yet: the house needed safety railings. This caused anxiety and discomfort for me with three small children. He wanted wires installed for a sound system, but never connected this, and wires were hanging from the ceiling. We lived with a light globe hanging from open live wires in the living room. I hired a handyman to fix things around the house. I asked this husband if I could use his power drill for putting up the wall lights and he refused vehemently, saying I am not going to drill holes in his walls.
The maintenance of the house did not bother him. The roof was leaking. His ideology was as long as there was not a spot or dirt on the floor, the roof could leak – permanently damaging the wooden floor. His reasoning made sense to him.

This husband’s main point of discussion is politics, news and the world economy (the downfall of society, as he predicts). He perceives it as a tool to create an impression of himself. He then gains admiration or cause friction, depending on his desires. Because he spent most of his time researching on this on the internet, he had more information than the average bloke on the street. He called his research on the internet “work” and said he was getting the information to enable him to have conversations with others.
He asked me to order multiple copies of books for him on the internet. He lent these with flare to people visiting, telling them what a wonderful informational book it was, but he did not read it.

I noticed this husband’s generosity is false. He is very stingy, unless he could profit in a way, for example, buying big presents for friends or their children to look good and impress them. He would buy presents for other people’s children and he tried to force me to take back toys I bought for our children. “They don’t need it, you are wasting money,” he would say.
If I wanted to buy something for the interior of the house, he would say, “You can get it later,” or, “you don’t need this,” or “you just want to spend.” He did allow me to buy things for the house, while my mother was visiting. This of course impressed her. Giving, to him, has to serve a purpose, create an impression and benefit him.
From the change in his personality, I could tell when he wanted something from me and/or when he invited someone to visit before he even informed me. He changed from angry, stressed and unhappy to relaxed and friendly with me and the children. I felt like a piece of meat being put in marinade, made ready for the meal (the visit).

He wanted his rules to be obeyed blindly. Even ones that did not practically function or served a meaningful purpose. He changed these rules for other people. When people visited with children these visiting children would be on the sofa with shoes and/or eat on it. Then he would ignore his strict rules and even give them food, where he gave our children a hiding and used his cold voice. We bought a jolly jumper and all the children used it, but only the smallest child was allowed in it later out of fear that it would break with the weight of the eldest two children. He ripped the eldest two children out of it and went off in his raging voice when he found them jumping in it. Visitors’ children of their age were left to jump in it, while he stood by with a smile on his face. I watched my children’s confusion when they looked at the visiting child jumping, and realised the impression created with them was that they are worth less than the visitors’ children. I asked the parents to take their child out and explained why. This husband was silent.
He would sit at the dining room table, phone female friends of his while smiling, joking and laughing with them. I asked him once why he was capable of being friendly to them and not to me. He said they are kind to him. They are kind? They do his washing? They cook him food? They clean up after him having messed in the toilet? They had given birth to three sons? They had worked at renovating and building him a house?

I received a grant from the government and gave this for the household and never kept money. I started putting money into a separate account. When this husband realised it he threatened to withdraw himself financially from me and the children. He refused to contribute towards the household. If I told him I needed money, he would say, “No, you have money.” I was still giving two-thirds of this money I received for the household and refused to give more. He refused to add to this, so I could manage financially. I persisted and refused to back down. I told him I was going to report him to the authorities if he does not contribute towards the household. My expenses in a month were earned by this father in three days’ work. We agreed to an amount, after several months of negotiations. He never kept to this. Sometimes he contributed nothing. I ignored this.

He was unhelpful with the smallest of details, for example, refusing that the computer in the 2nd floor apartment, that we used to speak with him on Skype, be moved into the house. He would phone on the house phone and tell me to go up to the apartment with the children, so they could speak on Skype. This happened several times a day. I was forced to leave everything, take the children and go at once or he would be cross.
My second child got upset and threw a tantrum when we went to the apartment and I needed to carry him screaming and kicking up the stairs. After our third child’s birth, I had two children to carry up the two flights of stairs several times a day when this husband phoned. It could have been one flight of stairs, but because the safety railings by the front doors were not done I took the interior stairs for safety reasons.
I kept on asking this husband to move the computer into the house, but he repeatedly told me the fax machine will not work if the computer is moved. Electronic technology comprehension is not my strong point and I did not question this.
This husband mostly phoned at critical times, for example, when I have to prepare food or the children needed to bathe or eat. He refused a regular phoning schedule. He had ample time, on standby in his hotel room, to just talk. He could not understand that I had activities that took priority with the care of the children at times. Shortly after our third child’s birth I got fed-up with the ridiculous setup. Thinking that I would find a way to sort out what was not going to work, I carried the computer downstairs into the house. Only to find out that everything, including the fax, were still working. This left me with one question: Why was this husband trying to make my life difficult?

I taught the eldest child how to answer and phone his father on Skype. This disturbed this husband and he said I allowed the children to do whatever they want. We did not have a television in the house and I also allowed the children to watch DVDs on the computer. This resulted in the children watching DVDs when this father phoned on the computer. This man that occupies himself with his computer, waving us away saying we bother him, threatened the eldest child that he was going to take the computer away, if they do not immediately stop what they were doing, and first speak to him. I got fed-up while listening to him and told him to take the computer away at once and get it done with, and to stop threatening small children. He denied being threatening and then did not take the computer away.
This husband expected us to be available all the time, as the computer was now in the house.
He phoned constantly, sometimes to say he cannot speak, he is going out shopping, to the gym, eating out or sightseeing.
If he could not reach us on the computer (Skype), he phoned the land line and if that was not answered, he phoned on the cellular. I do not like a cellular and preferred not to walk around with it. If he did not reach us, this resulted in trouble for me. His constant desire for contact was not out of concern for us. There was no care or concern in his words, only the desire for control in wanting to know everything. He had a flight schedule, accessible on the internet or via his emails, that was worked out at least a month in advance. I had seen it before. But he did not want to give this to me when I asked so communication could be easier arranged. He insisted on informing me only the day before of his next day’s schedule. When he phoned we had to be available and sitting in front of the computer, not moving or making a noise, unless he gave that person permission to speak. These small children lost interest and started playing. He blamed me for not having full control over them.

My mother told me about a book by a Christian author and said I should read it. I looked up information on this author on the internet and found an odd warning on a commonly used website, claiming her to be “fake”. The book, however, had good ratings and comments on the internet. The book itself was about satanism, repentance and conversion to Christianity. I had met people who were converted satanists and they had told me terrible stories of what these devil worshippers do in rituals. How demons tortured them if they wanted to leave this “religion”.
I started reading this book, but halfway through decided to read my Bible instead. I hardly ever understood the Bible before and got bored reading it. This time was different. After putting the children to bed I read for hours and did not get bored.

This husband and I were still going to marriage counselling for a few months after our third child’s birth. During one of the sessions he got very angry with the counsellor and accused her, in his cold voice, of playing games. Another session he stormed out in anger. The counsellor advised us to get divorced. Get married to get divorced. I had three children. I had gotten this far and had survived, amazingly fairly intact. I knew, just like with the scuba dive, that I could not have survived on my own.
I approached this husband and asked him if he is prepared to concentrate on our religion, Christianity, to help us in our marriage. He agreed to this.

Something that bothered me tremendously was that he was taking the eldest two children, then 3 and 2 years, to a pub on Sunday mornings. He would put them in the trailer hooked to his bicycle and say he is taking them to the play-park, but always ended up in the pub with them.
I had voiced my disapproval of it before, but he would say the children get something to drink, they had fun. And it carried on. This time I put my foot down and said, “No more pubs for toddlers.” In the culture he and I were raised in this was considered very bad character and behaviour of a father. This father was cross, but I did not think a toddler had any business in a pub, socialising with grown men drinking. There were no other children. I knew how this husband got when he was in his “impressing people” routine.
The children did not know of God and we did not attend church. I started teaching my children of God. How He had created them, the people and everything they see around them. How He was their Father in heaven and He loved them and He was happy with them. That children, like them, belong to Him. That He can see everything and looked at them, saying, “I am so pleased with you.” I told them I am also pleased with them. That I did not care for what they do sometimes, but that I will love them, no matter what.

I started questioning myself why I was doing things and how do I feel doing it? Discovering that I had been living in fear. Cleaning a floor out of fear! Fear for what this husband would do or say. Even in his absence I continued this behaviour. This husband revived the fear as it pleased him and I responded accordingly. In fearing him I had given him control over me. I reasoned obeying someone out of fear of wrongful punishment, was not love. The person instilling this unreasonable fear did not love me. It was done for control and power over me. It was obvious that the instances he used to display his anger was misplaced. It was not out of care for us that he got angry. It was in showing care of the wall, the floor, the carpet, the sofa and anger for disobeying him in small meaningless instances. While he dismissed our real fears of imminent danger, for example, possibly falling down one story front stairs or out of a sliding door, both without railings.

I had found that a majority of this husband’s sayings to me, for instance, “If you want a slave you must find someone else”, was something I can say to him. He did not treat me as a wife, but as a slave. Ordering, telling me I must do as he says, as if I had no choice or will be punished. I had worked for him throughout my pregnancies. I raised my children. I hardly rested with very little sleep. I cleaned and maintained the house, garden and the car. I was a reasonable housekeeper. I cooked a full fresh meal every night, loved baking cakes and organising birthday parties for the children. I made cushion covers, curtains and paintings for the house. This husband kept on hinting, saying I am his personal assistant. Even after I had decided to keep myself very far away from his business matters. I disliked the way he was doing his business. It was very far removed from the “honest man” picture he had painted before our marriage.
Throughout everything he constantly managed to tell me how unappreciative and unhelpful I am, if I declined to do something or ask for something. He would tell me I never said thank you for what he gave to me. Which is untrue. He constantly told me how selfish I am, when he mostly did what he wanted to do. He still led his private life. He helped me just when it suited him. I could not depend on this help. With his work he was mostly on standby in a 5 star hotel with a gym. No real responsibilities, except making it in time for his 5 star buffet breakfast, but seemed to still succeed in creating an impression of being extremely occupied.
I had done what he told or asked of me to do as far as possible to try to please him, which was impossible. I had tried everything I could think of and was met with anger and unhappiness. I noticed that these emotions were the emotions he could identify with and reverted to. This was not my shortcoming or fault. I cannot change it. God could change that. All I could do was to take care of and love myself and the children as best I could.

This husband still loved telling me regularly that I was on my own. Where my heart used to cringe, this nearly made me laugh out loud now. I told him, “No I am not. Look up, I am not on my own.” He did not reply and never said it again.

He became ridiculous with his threats. He left the house for a business trip with the words, “ I am seeing a lawyer and you will sign a contract in front of a lawyer and the counsellor to stop smoking or you relinquish your rights to everything and I divorce you.” I told him to do what he wants to do. He returned again, friendly, with no contract and no threats. I kept on hoping this man will wake up, realise and appreciate he had everything a man could want: A wife, three beautiful, healthy children, no debt, a good job and a nice house. All he needed to do was relax and appreciate it, but for some reason he could not.

I had started to take an afternoon off to go shopping when this husband came home from a trip. He would then take care of the children, who normally slept. On one such an afternoon I drove to the shopping centre. On the motorway I started feeling strange and I badly wanted to sleep. I stopped the car, had a cigarette and waited to feel better, before driving further. Two days after this the same thing happened again. I got in the car and on the motorway had to pull off, because it felt as if I was going to sleep. I sat thinking what I had eaten or drunk out of the ordinary that might have had this unusual effect. Realising both times I drank tea. Only when this husband was at home did I drink tea. And the previous time and this day he had made me tea, before I left. He was being friendly.
Later that evening he was fighting with me over something and I decided to ask him if he had put something in my tea. He had no response to my question. He ignored it totally and carried on fighting about other things. The following day, he was angry and said I had accused him falsely of putting something in my tea. I said yes, I asked you and your response was very strange. Once again he did not reply. Just to be sure I never accepted anything to drink from him again.
I employed a temporary nanny to help me with the three children. I cleaned the house and she took care of the children. I wanted to take care of my children myself. A cleaning lady came in for four hours a week, but she could not increase her hours. This husband suggested the daughter of a friend of his, which I have met, to come and help me. Saying the daughter is jobless.

I struggled to arrange a work permit for her. She would only be able to come for three months. I asked the father how he had managed to stay in this country. He said someone had helped him. He knew a lady who worked for a car rental company at the airport. Her brother owned several creches in the country. Their father worked at immigration and he helped him. He had no contact with them anymore. I remember we drove past this lady in the city once and she did not look pleased to see him, hardly greeted and looked the other way. He was greeting her as his excessive outward self as if not noticing her stand-offish attitude towards him.

In the meantime this husband’s eldest brother, his wife and their two children where coming for Christmas to visit. This husband scrambled to buy a television, something the children and I had been waiting for, for a year and a half. I knew he was being generous to impress them and used the opportunity to get the children nice, big presents for Christmas. I enjoyed having people for Christmas. I did notice that this husband’s eldest brother did not want to go anywhere. He complained constantly, saying he preferred being on his parents’ farm. His wife and the children went away alone sightseeing for a few days. I had picked up this “parents’ farm” behaviour with this husband as well. I planted a nut tree and he would ask me why am I doing this, since there are nut trees on his parents’ farm. The same happened with the strawberries I planted. His question to me was, “Why are you planting this? There are strawberries on the farm!” His parents’ farm is on a different continent.

My mother came to visit after everyone, including this husband, had left. But he was still upset by her visit, even though he was not at home, busy with his plans and agenda. Over the phone he continued saying my mother is never allowed in his house again and he will get a court interdict for it. After my mother visited with the last child’s birth, this husband never picked up the phone again when he saw it was my mother phoning. This husband used to phone my mother regularly and this had stopped after her visit with our third child’s birth.
This was one of this husband’s characteristics. He did not have forgiveness and never ever forgave someone that he felt had done him wrong. In business, personal life, big wrong, small wrong. It did not matter.
After my mother left, this husband’s friend’s daughter, whom this husband had suggested, arrived to come and help me. She was living in the 2nd floor apartment. Amongst other problems, I got the impression she was watching me. For example, I was talking to my mother on Skype one evening around 23:00. I had just finished speaking when she came from the apartment into the house for no other reason, but to asked me who I had been speaking to?
She lost my second child one morning. He wanted to go with me to drop off the eldest at school. He was still in his pyjamas, was having tantrums when I tried to dress him and I left him. While I was leaving he had another tantrum. I asked her to take him into the house and left. When I came back from dropping the eldest child off at school, this nanny was running around outside, saying the child is missing. She had left him downstairs and gone up to the dining room to eat breakfast. She said he was still screaming and she could hear him, but then it became quiet. The children had rods to catch plastic ducks with and a purple one was lying on the sidewalk. It was not there when I had left. I searched through the house and phoned the police when I could not find him. Then I drove around with the car and this girl was looking in the neighbours’ backyards. I did feel like giving her a piece of my mind, but it would have taken up valuable time. I noticed she was clearly stressed and felt remorse, so I calmed down. The child had red pyjamas on and I just concentrated on finding red. Coming back from one of my searches, the police were outside the house and said they had found him. Someone found him next to the road almost 1 kilometre from the house. The police took me to him and when I saw him I was so happy. I did not know if I should cry or scold him, so I did both at the same time, but mainly I was happy and content to hold him again.

This girl wanted to stay longer than planned. When she asked me, I told her I don’t think it a good idea with her visa. She then asked this husband, who phoned me and told me to extend her flight. I refused, wondering why they kept on asking me to extend her flight when all of them are capable of doing it themselves. Someone then did extend her stay for 3 weeks.

In this time I started going to church and also took the children with me. This husband later joined us. At this point he had moved the smallest child’s bed out of the main bedroom into the spare bedroom downstairs. He said we bother him at night. I was still breastfeeding the child during the night and moved with him. This husband said he did not care where I sleep. It turned out to be marvellously peaceful not having someone ignoring you for what you have done wrong during the day or for what he said you have done during the night to disturb him.

Over breakfast one morning my second child, out of the blue, said, “Jesus is speaking to me, but I am not going to speak to him.” I looked at this child that had not turned two and a half yet and frowned. But then thought I was the last person to say who Jesus can speak too. I told the child, “Jesus is a nice man. You can speak to him if you want.” He did not continue speaking and I left it there.

We were going to this husband’s parents’ farm again for the holiday. The night before we left, this husband slept in the apartment. Before he left, he told me he wanted everything packed and ready by 11:00am the next day. I washed, ironed and packed the suitcases he had brought up from the garage. The first thing he said to me the next morning when I came up from the room was that he did not tell me to pack!
He kept on saying the one bag is too heavy. It weighed 22 kg. It was his very own bag that he had packed himself?
He had 6 bottles of wine that he wanted to role up in my clothes. I did not want this. He said if I do not unpack my suitcase, we are not going. I refused and he carried on threatening after which I gave him my packed suitcase and left the house for the post office, praying for patience and help. When I came back he had unpacked my suitcase, wrapped his wine bottles in my clothes and put this in the suitcase. The rest of my clothes were in his “overweight bag”. He was happy, his wine bottles were secure, his belongings safe and he was going to his parents’ farm.

On these holidays this husband shot and killed many animals. This husband’s father told me proudly how his son, as a child of four years old, had killed his first animal. It was a chicken that he was supposed to chase out of the garden. He laughingly said that his son killed it and said it will never be naughty again. Ironically, he and his family still tell the children they kill animals, because these animals are “naughty”. What a fear filled idea to put into a small child’s head of what happens if you are naughty. He and his family even clobber the porcupines in the dam wall to death. They will invite the children with them for this. I refused that the children witness this. There were preventative measures to take that would prohibit these animals from making their habitation, “in their naughtiness”, in the dam wall on the farm.

During these holiday visits, this husband’s youngest brother made constant religious comments. For example, saying I am a sun worshipper, because I was going to church on a Sunday and celebrated Christmas, which he said is not the day Jesus was born. He was reading books of an author that proclaimed aliens are walking amongst us and are we ready for a new world. He watched DVDs on the Illuminati, etc. He made copies for this husband of the DVDs and I was asked by this husband to order the books. I refused. This holiday his youngest brother was persistently harassing me, saying Jesus was poled, not crucified, and the New Testament is not worth reading. I told him the devil utilises an upside down or bent cross as his symbols and I am sure he knows. This youngest brother made no reply and stopped his religious comments, but showed intense dislike towards me.

We went to another family farm. Here, this husband carried on hunting with his bow and arrow, and spent his days in a hut by a water hole for the animals. After a few days he invited me with to this hut. I was surprised because his invitations to me were few and far between after we were married. I disliked seeing something killed, unless for purposeful use, and this husband knew it and even agreed not to shoot any animals in my presence. Once again he was a different person. He was smiling, relaxed, talked freely and was very amicable. I had noticed that this family farm is where he appeared most comfortable.
This was the place where he and I mostly visited while we were dating. Then he did not own a bow and arrow and went hunting with a gun, but killed one buck during our entire visit and gave the meat to people. Not average three animals a day, as he did now.

When we came back home from the holiday my second child kept on telling his father he knew where he can go hunting. He can shoot the buck at the zoo. This father found this comment very amusing, and repeated it laughingly to people he spoke to on the phone, as if this child was making a big joke. I found it observant of the child, but not hilariously funny and did not understand the “joke”.

I had continued to read my Bible and prayed whenever I saw an opportunity. We were still going to church. Every night I was teaching the children how to pray the “Our Father” prayer and read to them out of the Children’s Bible.
My life was good to an extent that I could manage and once again I had God to thank for saving me.

This husband planned to be home for a month and | dreaded the thought. But, nearly the same man I had known before we were married, returned from his work trip for this month. I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed having him home. He joked around, appeared relaxed, smiled and was playful. He was making time to be with us and did not prefer solace, reading on his computer. He did not speak in his raging, cold voice. He asked me to stop smoking, because it was unhealthy. No threats or anger detectable? He teased me jokingly about my quirkiness. He had not done that since we have been married. He even jumped literally at the chance to sit next to me on the couch to watch television. Since we were married this was something I did on my own.
In the mornings he came to the bedroom where I was sleeping and got into bed with me, saying he misses his wife, asking if I don’t want to move back into the main bedroom. In the more or less 10 months we had slept separately he never made advances, never came to the bedroom I used and never asked me to move back! We were still intimate, but only when I had approached him.
I relished the peace and the fact that he was not searching for something to fight over. But I did not want to make rash decisions and decided not to move bedrooms, until this change was proven. I was inwardly excited and optimistic that there will be normality in our relationship. I had prayed for this and once again I thanked God.

This husband left for two weeks to work and when he came back the difference in him was remarkable. While I waited for him to arrive at the airport, I browsed through magazines at the stand. He walked up behind me and said, “You have read long enough for free now.” I noticed his disapproving tone and cold voice. I turned around, hoping he might be joking, but found an annoyed person with no humour.
At home he grumbled about this spot, that mark, who had done this and that. The angry, unhappy and stressed man had resurfaced. I asked him if he notices a change in himself, but he refuted this. Did he earnestly not know or was he playing games? Which ever way, something was seriously wrong and I needed support. I approached the pastor of the church we were attending. His wife was away at the time and I took him soup and told him the happy family that walks out of church on a Sunday is a show. I told him we had had marriage counselling and were advised to get divorced, but I had continued to try. I told him the only real emotions I can find inside this husband was anger and unhappiness. He asked me if there was something he should know and I told him I had started smoking again, while eight months pregnant with my third child.