The Accidental Trophy Wife
~This is an ongoing project; updated when I can and whenever the heck I feel like it. Because I’m a trophy wife!~
I was older than you’d expect, and in the worst shape of my life when I realized I was a trophy wife. I know what you’re thinking. I must be gorgeous, and not particularly bright. I don’t work, I drive an expensive car, and maybe I shop every day. I must be dripping in jewelry; at the very least I have a large, expensive engagement ring and/or wedding set. Most of all, I spend my husband’s money without a second thought. I live in a mansion and probably hire people to do my manual labor. You may think I chose this life, and wonder why I’m complaining. From your point of view, I have it easy, don’t I??
Let’s look at some definitions of the word “trophy”.
1. anything taken in war, hunting, competition, etc., especially when preserved as a memento; spoil, prize, or award.
2. anything serving as a token or evidence of victory, valor, skill, etc.:
a sports trophy.
3. a symbol of success that is used to impress others:
~He bought the lavish home as a trophy.
4. a carving, painting, or other representation of objects associated with or symbolic of victory or achievement.
5. any memento or memorial.
6. a memorial erected by certain ancient peoples, especially the Greeks and Romans, in commemoration of a victory in war and consisting of arms or other spoils taken from the enemy and hung upon a tree, pillar, or the like.
7. noting or relating to a symbol of success that is used to impress others
Note that in each case, a trophy is a THING. An object. A possession. Not a person to be loved and respected. This is the crux of my pain upon realizing what I am.
To contrast the definitions of “trophy,” I’d like to present my views on marriage. Or life partnership. That thing of when you pair up with one person forever, and you say it in front of family and friends and all that shit. You know what I mean.
I kind of maybe thought I might get married someday, if I had to. It was…I don’t know…not a goal? If it happened, it happened. Watching the kind of marriage my parents had, I developed specific ideas on what I wanted if I was going to spend the rest of my life with one person. I wanted a friend, first and foremost. In my mind friendship and romantic partnership are inexorably linked. Why spend all that time with someone if I don’t even LIKE them? It made no sense to me. I wasn’t idealistic enough to think I’d meet someone EXACTLY like me…but I figured we should be alike enough to get along, and different enough to keep it interesting. I didn’t seek a sugar daddy; I’m more than capable of pulling my own weight in more ways than one. Nor a baby-daddy, as biological children were not even a consideration.
A partner. A co-pilot in life. A wing man, I guess. Someone to EAT wings with, too, TBH…a partner in crime, an ally, and a supporter. I didn’t think a marriage was all perfection all of the time, but I think if you had friendship and respect as a basis…man, you could go far.
I was also realistic enough to know there’s going to be a certain amount of ridiculous bullshit. There always is, in any human interaction. What sort of bullshit are you willing to put up with? That’s something you learn as you spend time with someone…which you learn by developing that friendship.
Attraction…there has to be chemistry. A spark. That’s really all I can say. I don’t have a type. I look for that spark.
A trophy is a THING, not a person. A thing you show off, and then put away until needed again. And once your trophy is put away, you forget about it. Unless of course it is displayed prominently so that no one misses it when they enter your home.
How did I figure out I was a trophy wife? Years of words and actions-or inactions-added up and brought me to this conclusion. And it hurt to realize…it still hurts. It’s an empty ache, almost like hunger, and backed up with the knowledge that there will never be enough food to assuage that feeling.
“Just leave!” I’ve had people say to me. “Life is too short! Find someone who loves you for you.” Anyone who has been in a long-term relationship knows it isn’t so easy to pick up and leave. Even when your heart is broken. Even when you think there is absolutely nothing left. I once read that the psychological bond is usually the last to be broken when a long-term relationship ends. Sometimes that psychological bond remains after physical and legal separation occurs. As if the relationship itself was a habit or an addiction. Makes me wonder-was the partner also a habit or addiction?? Addiction aside, I have issues stemming from prior abuse. I need to feel safe, and I do feel safe here. Makes it doubly hard to leave, even though I don’t feel loved or respected.
Marriage was an item on my partner’s life “to-do” list. I don’t believe it was me he wanted, per se, but he was ready to get married, and we happened to be dating. I needed to feel safe, and he made me feel safe at the time. I should clarify…I felt physically safe and I still do. Emotionally safe? Psychologically safe? Not really. I don’t trust him with my feelings anymore, or my innermost dreams. He gets angry if I express a desire for something intangible. It becomes my fault for wanting or expressing this desire…almost as if I am not allowed to want intangibles. Because he cannot provide those intangibles. He can’t pay for them, therefore I should not want them. A few years ago he said something to the effect of that he wished he could just buy me a piece of jewelry or give me some flowers to shut me up. Those were not his exact words, but close, and honestly, that’s what I heard. It still hurts.
The worst is the stifling loneliness.
The loneliness comes from his passive-aggressive isolation tactics. I’ve had friends over, and he’s flat-out rude to them. His rudeness and arrogance cost us our last remaining couple friendship. Of course the wife and I are still close, but he was so ugly to the husband that we can’t get together like we used to. The more I try to do to gain independence, the harder he tries to passively obstruct my efforts. He has a group of friends that I don’t know-which is fine and I accept that is normal. He does not accept the friends I have and have made that he does not know. Anytime I mention any of them, the snide remarks start.
He’s told me I’m embarrassing, which is why I ‘can’t’ meet any of his new friends. He doesn’t like to go anywhere in public with me where we might run into anyone he knows…that way I can’t make him uncomfortable. Adjectives used to describe me, aside from embarrassing, include: annoying, loud, obnoxious, too forward, and nosy. It hurts.
So I am obviously not the type of trophy you show off. I’m the trophy you keep locked in a cabinet at home. I was an item on his life checklist. And as long as I don’t complain, things are fine. One negative comment, no matter how carefully worded, sends him into a negative spin. Sometimes he threatens to kill himself. And god help me, sometimes I wish he would and just set me free.
It is time to address the attributes of a trophy wife I outlined in my initial post:
1. “I must be gorgeous and not particularly bright.” To this, I say I’m average looking. Maybe cute. Attractive to some, but not all. But I’m smart as fuck. I have an advanced degree and am pursuing post-graduate work. My job is intellectually demanding and stimulating. I’m definitely intelligent.
2. “I don’t work, I drive an expensive car, and maybe I shop every day.” Up until a year ago, I worked full time. For the first years of our marriage, I was the primary breadwinner. My car is fully paid for. It’s a cute little sports car, and not necessarily expensive. Cheaper than a minivan, that’s for sure. I certainly don’t shop every day. I hate shopping, as a matter of fact. I’m not materialistic in the least.
3. “I must be dripping in jewelry; at the very least I have a large, expensive engagement ring and/or wedding set.” This is so patently false it’s fucking hilarious. I don’t have an engagement ring and never wanted one. I have a small gold band with the Irish claddagh engraved in it. I don’t wear a lot of jewelry on a regular basis; much less ‘drip’ with it.
4. “…I spend my husband’s money without a second thought.” False. False. False. No elaboration needed.
5. “I live in a mansion” Nope. Not even close. Typical suburban 2-3 bedroom home.
6. “…hire people to do my manual labor.” Hold on, I’m laughing too hard to type. The amount of hard manual labor I do around my house and yard is staggering. I paint, hang things, move furniture, do minor repairs, haul branches, rake leaves (and bag them, or otherwise haul them out of my yard), care for multiple gardens, I till the ground so I can plant things, I install fencing, repair downspouts, fix my own car when I can, AND do the majority of work inside the house. You know, the “woman’s work.” The fact that I’m expected to do all of this without complaint and without assistance is the reason I took a better paying job where I only work part time.
7. “You may think I chose this life” I didn’t. Not at all. The man I married presented himself as a partner who wanted to care for our home WITH me. He used to tell me he couldn’t wait for the day when we bought a house so he could putter around fixing things, and work in the yard. So we bought this house. He vacuums, dusts, and mows the lawn. I do everything else. Alone.