I can remember the night so well. We hadn’t spoken in several days. He was too busy, away, or was too tired. I was a stay-at-home mom with a house full of kids all ages and stages and I wanted some time alone with my husband. So, for the hundredth time I asked him, “Can you give me some time tonight?” And, for the hundredth time I got a blank stare kind of like the one that translates, “I have no clue what you’re talking about, but I’ll go through this routine again to get you off my case.”
As I waited for him to come upstairs from his office, I was nervous. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to say, but I knew I had come to the end of the rope. I couldn’t go on living like this. We weren’t a couple. We were two people living in the same house with a bunch of kids. The kids were driving me nuts — there were too many of them for me to take care of 24/7 by myself. I was depleted. I felt stretched to the limit. By now, I had seven kids in ten years (not to mention the miscarriages) and I needed the help of a husband. I wanted a companion. I wanted my soul mate!
But, he wasn’t around. And, when he was home physically, he was absent emotionally. Something was wrong and it needed to be fixed! Finally, around 10:30 that night John came upstairs and made his way into the living room where I motioned to sit down next to me on the couch. He said nothing.
So, I started talking. “Look, I can’t keep living like this. You’re never here. And, when you are , you’re always downstairs in your office, and by the time you come upstairs the kids are in bed and I’m ready to talk to you, but you’re too tired to talk. I can’t take it any more!”
John looked at me oddly, then looked away.
“Did you hear what I said? I can’t keep living like this any more. I want a husband who spends time with me. I want a husband who pays a little bit of attention to me. I want a husband I can talk to every day.”
His response was nothing. In fact, I can remember so well his eyelids closing as he was drifting in and out of sleep.
“Oh, my gosh! You’re not even listening to me! I can’t take this!” And, that’s when my tears started and I began sobbing.
Please don’t think that I’m a cry baby. I’m not. I’m very independent, and I never demanded much at all from John. In fact, I made few to no demands, and that was a huge mistake on my part. I should have spoken up much sooner than I did, but I thought a Christian wife’s main duty was to stand by her husband’s side and support him in all of his endeavors and never make unnecessary pain for him — no matter what!
But, at this point in my life I felt totally drained and depleted physically and emotionally. I longed for the strength of a husband to lean on and help me. I longed for his affection. I longed to be told, “I love you.” I longed to be treated like a wife.
After at least 30 minutes of my sobbing, something happened that I’ll never forget.
John very calmly said, “If you make me a list I can follow it.”
I sat up and just looked at him for a long time as he gave a strange half-smile sneer.
“What kind of list do you mean?”
“Make a list of what you want and I’ll follow it.”
“I want you to spend at least fifteen minutes talking to me one-on-one every day. I want you to hold my hand while I’m talking. I want you to ask me how my day was and how things went with the kids every day. I want you to kiss me every night before bed. I want you to be part of my life!”
I can’t get this look out of my head. John looked bewildered — like I was speaking a foreign language. He tilted his head and had a kind of smirk on his face. I remember looking at him and thinking, “He doesn’t get it. He honestly doesn’t get it!”
“I’m telling you, hon, that if you make a list I’ll follow it.”
I bawled even louder. “Are you kidding me? You want me to write down things like ‘hold my hand’, ‘kiss wife goodnight’ — stuff like that?”
“Yes. That would be good.”
And, then came his classic line. “You’re so strong. You’re the one that holds this family together. I promise to try to do better. And, I know that I will when you make the list for me to follow.”
And, with that, he got up, patted me on the head (which I found very condescending) and he said, “Good night, hon. It’s been a long day. I’ve got to get up early. I’m going to bed.”
I sat Indian style on the couch for a long, long time holding my head and crying. Nothing was accomplished. He didn’t get at all what I was talking about. And, worse yet, how does a wife make a list of things that should be so spontaneous such as holding hands, talking, and sharing a moment of laughter together?
I turned off the light and cried myself to sleep on the couch. I felt humiliated. I felt like a kid begging for attention.
Worse yet, I sat down the next day and began writing my list.
1. Eat breakfast together, kiss good morning, and talk about plans for the day.
2. Call once during the day just to say, “I love you.”
3. When home, give your wife fifteen minutes of undivided attention.
4. Hold hands while watching TV or sitting on couch.
5. Kiss good-night.
How pathetic is that? It’s wrong — it’s just so wrong to have to make a list for things that should come naturally!
I didn’t get it. John had no trouble holding the kids, rocking them, spending time with them, listening about their basketball games, work in school, and so forth. He was the champion of dads. But, when it came to me, “Make a list” was his response.
And, so it was that our marriage continued to disintegrate. John had no intentions of treating me differently. Love is a spontaneous emotion and cannot be lived according to a list.
He humiliated me and he rejected me again and again and again. It was at this time that the first thoughts of leaving him came to mind. They were fleeting thoughts, but freeing thoughts momentarily. I would daydream of having a husband that looked me in the eyes and talked to me. I would linger on the thought of how wonderful it would feel to have a husband who pushed aside his work every now and then just to spend time with me! I wondered what it would feel like to receive a phone call during the day announcing, “I called you just to say I love you.”
Those things never happened. And, when he said the magic words that worked for me every time, I melted. “Forgive me. I’m sorry if I hurt you. I’ll try harder. I really will try to be a better husband.” I fell for that line every time, and he knew it!
So what are the red flags here?
First off, this man was a college graduate, he had many hours of marital counseling taught to him by the finest of Christian counselors, and he could preach powerful sermons on how to place your wife first, yet this isn’t what he lived. Not even close to it! He was living a double life with me and I refused to see it. Love really is blind!
Secondly, he was a “list man” for everything, but this was a bit much asking for his “how to love a wife” list. He knew how to love a wife! He didn’t need a list for that! Knowing what I now know, I do believe he kept me at a distance for a purpose. If he got too close to me, I’d make him feel guilty for the horrible things he was doing to children and to me!
The smirk. That God-awful smirk!!! I remember raising my voice through my tears saying, “Wipe that smirk off of your face! I’m pouring my heart out to you and you’re mocking me!”
As I’ve now read in descriptions of pedophiles, there is “the tell-tale smirk” and John had it! Jerry Sandusky’s smirk made national headlines and that was the same smirk I saw thousands of times on John’s face. I didn’t know what that smirk was then, but it sure did drive me crazy! He could never make eye contact with me and when he smirked, it felt like he was kicking me in the heart!
Why have I shared this part of my life with you and what does this have to do with pedophiles molesting children?
Pedophiles live as two very different people. They are kind and generous and loving to the public and in our case John was that way to our children — in fact, to all children. He was such a loved and respected man! NOBODY would ever suspect him of harming a child! And, yet…….this very same man did things that are so evil it’s difficult to allow my mind to go there. He molested children! He harmed them emotionally and physically. He preached one thing and lived another. He lied. He schemed. He planned and carried out his plans. All the while showing the nice, sweet John side of himself to others.
I have repeatedly said this and will continue to say it. If it doesn’t seem right, then it probably isn’t! If you get bad vibes from a person, pay attention! Beware! Take notice! Pay attention to details! See the person for he truly is! Look beyond the surface! Look for signs of the pieces not fitting together!
I’ll leave you with the following quote from the book “Conversations With a Pedophile”. The statement is from Alan, the pedophile who is talking with his counselor while in prison.
“I once asked Alan what his greatest weapon was in his crusade to ensnare and abuse hundreds of children. He answered quickly and succinctly with one word — listening.”
I beg you — don’t allow the pedophile to be the one listening to your children. YOU be there for them! YOU listen to your child. YOU spend time with your child. YOU tell your child how much he is loved. YOU hold your child. YOU keep your child safe!!!
For the sake of the children, keep your eyes, ears, and gut feelings open! Let’s do all we can to keep our precious children safe!
PS Please be sure to register for the FREE workshop on how to recognize and prevent child sex abuse. There are still a few spaces open! Register today!