Six months after ordination, Sandra and I got married. It was after marriage that the violent mood swings commenced. I attributed them to bereavement reaction and tried to encourage Sandra to seek help. Sandra, however, was a person that never wanted to accept any sort of external help. She would never even take a headache pill. . Although the experts say that the first time you get hit, you should walk away because once you stay, you are showing acceptance of the situation and giving the abuser permission to continue. It wasn’t that easy. I’d taken vows that I took seriously. As a church minister, part of my role was to promote and uphold the sanctity of marriage. How could I explain to people that I’d walked out on my wife because she was violent? I would be a laughing stock, ‘there’s the man that couldn’t control his own wife.’ I’d even overheard my own bishop joking about over dominating wives and ‘weak husbands.’ I felt even then, that no one would understand my situation and that were I to divulge what was happening, I would probably be accused of over elaborating on a martial tiff. This was what ‘for better, for worse’ meant and I started having doubts over my calling. Christians constantly tell whoever will listen that their God is a God of Love and loves you. I had sacrificed my life for this god of love, married someone who I thought shared the same ideals and calling, and yet was experiencing anything but love. What a warped sense of humour this so-called god of love must have!
We were at our first church and three instances stand out in my memory after all this time. Many other occurrences took place that have been blocked out from my mind. I poured her a glass of fizzy cola. The glass hadn’t been washed properly and soap suds meant that the cola ‘fizzed’ up with the effect of the washing-up liquid. Rather than tipping it away, she shouted very aggressively and tipped the glass of coke over me. I never reacted back in an aggressive manner, Never once in all the years did I ever raise my hand. In the early years, I did raise my voice asking what she was doing but this was counter productive, My raised voice would only fuel Sandra’s anger and inflame the situation. I learnt that the safest defence for me was to keep calm, not to respond in any way, but to absorb the verbal or physical outpouring of anger, until she burnt herself out.
I have never been materialistic, but one luxury I had allowed myself was aftershave. Before I went to the Ministers College, I had built up a stockpile of expensive aftershaves, all top brand names. There was at least £400 worth of expensive aftershaves which one day ended up being poured down the kitchen sink!
The other main incident I recall from this period was the deliberate smashing of personal items of mine that hade pre-dated my wedding: a long playing record made into a clock that had particular sentimental significance for me and a pint glass embossed with my favourite football team. Timescale 1992 – 1994