Excerpt from Manuscript, Joseph #1

A short excerpt from the perspective of Warren’s ex-lover Joseph, who is married and has two kids after going the conversion therapy route and is emailing Warren out of sheer desperation in the wake of his disintegrating marriage.

For an excerpts from Warren’s POV click HERE & HERE

Last night Jessica and I got into one of the worst fights of our marriage. I accidently threw away a birthday card Jessica had gotten from her mother. I’d never gotten along with her mom very well (mother-in-laws, huh?) and Jessica had been nagging me to straighten up the den for weeks. She said I was like a big child, and I finally cleaned up the den just to get her to stop heckling me. I think our relationship has changed drastically since that day in Christian couples therapy that she said our sex life was extremely unsatisfying for her.

She said she had never heard of a man balking at having sex as much as I did. She had tried different outfits, different role play scenarios, I just lay in the bed in my boxer shorts like I was impotent. I said “Hey, Jessica, I have an idea, why don’t you take a younger lover so you two can have sex whenever you feel like it?” That day we drove home in complete silence. After I straightened up the den yesterday I was sitting eating tortilla chips and salsa and watching a football game and Jessica brought the girls home from soccer practice and said to me, with her hands on her hips, “Well, I see you finally cleaned up the den like I’ve been asking you to for weeks.”
“Hey, well, maybe if you’d stop nagging me and treating me like a goddamn child,” I said, shooing her out of the way of the TV screen. She told me not to use foul language like that, especially in front of the kids. She pushed my feet off my own coffee table; Warren, her behavior towards me isn’t just patronizing, it’s infantilizing. The girls laughed. “Daddy’s in trouble…” They’ve become used to this, it’s routine for them to see us act this way towards each other. Five minutes later Jessica was tearing the place apart looking for a card her mother made her, and that’s when she and I really started shouting at each other. Jessica sent the girls upstairs to their room and they nodded, wide-eyed. Jessica still thinks I threw away the card from her mother-in-law on purpose, to be passive-aggressive.

She told me I’m like a big kid and can’t be relied on to do anything, and I finally went off. “I put fucking food on the table for you and our two daughters! How dare you say I do nothing!? How dare you treat me like I’m a fucking failure!?” And my lovely wife looked me dead in the eye and said she wished she’d never married me, she had other opportunities. She told me marrying me was the single worst decision she ever made. I went to our room and start throwing shit around the room. So I was screaming and cursing, Jessica was downstairs, and I can hear her crying.

Finally I calmed down and went into the room Ava and Annette share. I set it up for them two years ago, and built them bunk beds. I even painted them a sleepy unicorn mural. The wii system was on but Ava and Annette weren’t playing on it, they were curled up on the bottom bunk together, and Ava was crying. “Hey, hey, there’s no crying in baseball.” I called my two daughters to the edge of the bed and started braiding their hair. Ava’s is pale, pale blonde and constantly needs to be combed out, it’s always getting tangled in knots.

“I’m sorry if Daddy scared you. Daddy got carried away. You heard a lot of yelling, huh?” They nodded. Annette finally said, “Are you and Mommy going to get a divorce?”
“No, we don’t believe in that, baby. We believe in trying as hard as we can until we can get it right.”
“Do you love Mommy?”
I gritted my teeth and lied. “Yes, I do. There, now both of you have pretty braids. Would you like me to read you a story?” Ava and Annette are both crazy about the Kevin Henkes picture books, with the mice. I was halfway through Chester’s Way when I just started bawling. I don’t think my daughters have ever seen me cry before, I was taught that it was very unhealthy for a child to see their father lose control of his emotions like that. My two daughters hugged me, and I spent the night sleeping on the bottom bunk with my arm around my younger daughter, Ava.

She laughed and said that my cologne was stinky and I promised to whoop her and Annette’s butts in wii bowling after school over the next few days. I thought about you and I going to the bowling alley together. We were miserable, miserable bowlers, but we had a lot of fun together. I remember we used to have pretty intense fights, Warren. Once you flipped me off and I got so angry I wanted to hit you in the face. I’m happy I married Jessica for one reason and one reason only; my two little girls.

They’re the only thing that has made all this worth it. But does God really want this for me? My wife wears pretty things for me, she gives me naked back rubs, we even took a shower together one afternoon while our daughters were at school. That was about a year ago, and I soaped up her body like she instructed begrudgingly, wishing that I was showering alone. Jessica comes off as smothering when she wants to have sex, I feel like I’m being instructed on where to put everything. Once I could tell she was in the mood and I made up a fake emergency at work and just drove around in circles for a few hours. Several times I’ve pretended to be asleep, and Jessica has clapped her hands in front of my face impatiently. She’s started negatively comparing me to other men she knows. God, I hate that.

I think at this point if I can’t get over this, I’d rather remain celibate for the rest of my life than remain in this prison of a marriage, with a woman I’m not attracted to following a religious denomination I’m not sure I believe in anymore. I’ve been toying with the idea of telling Jessica what we did together, if only because there would be no quicker way for her to file for divorce. I’m afraid of losing my kids, that’s all.

God, Warren, I’m messed up. I hope you’re having a better time of it than I am. I even briefly considered committing suicide one night, a mortal sin, just to escape from an unhappy marriage. I wouldn’t do it, of course. I love my daughters too much for that. I wish you could meet them, Warren, they’re really brilliant. Brilliant, beautiful kids. I thank God every day for them, I’m just completely disillusioned with the rest of it.

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