Meredith says she was raised to thank people for the gifts they gave her, and to be appreciative of the money they spent on her. And that was her undoing.
When she was 25, she met Jason, who was a soldier. She'd always wanted to be a military wife like her mother, and Jason, "ambitious and focused," fit the bill. She married him after a 90-day courtship, although she wasn't sure she was doing the right thing.
"I don't think I loved him. I loved the idea of marrying a soldier and serving my country as an awesomely supportive military wife and stay-at-home mom. The day I was supposed to mail in the marriage license, I hesitated, but I did it anyway because he had spent money on me. He'd paid for the wedding chapel, the wedding dinner with friends, and a two-night honeymoon."
Meredith's doubts about the marriage continued.
"We got married on a Friday, came home on Sunday. He dropped me off and went to a Super Bowl party."
They were separated for the first six weeks of their marriage. When she flew out to visit him, he never took a day off to spend with her. He took their only car to work and left her alone in his apartment. "I was in a strange place with no transportation and no cable TV for 10 or more hours a day."
Married life didn't improve. "Jason always put work ahead of his family, but I was Catholic and I wasn't going to divorce him just because I was unhappy."
She stayed, and they had four children together. When he was transferred from Kentucky to California, he went on ahead to find housing. He refused to fly back to Kentucky and help her drive across the country. He said he couldn't get time off.
"Never mind that he always had 30 days' leave backlogged."
Meredith had to drive 2,300 miles with four kids ranging from a 7-year-old to an 8-month-old who was still nursing, three dogs and a cat. "My parents were appalled and met me partway and helped me get to California safely with the entourage."
Life with Jason continued to be difficult. "Work was way more important than we were. I grew up in the military and know a balance could have been struck between fulfilling the requirements of the mission and being there for his family, but he chose to think the Army would come to a screeching halt if he didn't spent 99 percent of his time on post doing extra duties.
"I suppose the marriage was always bad, but I never had anyone to talk to about what was going on, to see if his behavior was normal. I was married six years before any of my siblings and had never lived near any of my friends. I found out years later that real dads actually hold their newborns in the hospital and actually stay with their wives while they're in there. I was alone for every hospital stay, all by myself with my babies."
At one point, Meredith told Jason they needed to see a marriage counselor. "He said our marriage was perfect and there was no need to talk to strangers about our personal life."
Next we hear the final straw for Meredith.
What was the final straw for your relationship? Send your tale, along with your questions, problems and rants to [email protected] And check out my e-books, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front" and "I'll Call You. Not."