Five years ago, I arrived in the Tenth Circle of Hell via a marriage certificate.  That was long enough to make me decide to get a divorce.  I went back to my life and my writing.  For those unaware of what torments exist in the Tenth Circle of Hell, it is this: endless instruction from a spousal unit on the correct way to do EVERYTHING.

Forget that there was a successful life before the second marriage.  Ignore any skills acquired through education, experience, friendships or hobbies.  Simple tasks are explained ad nauseam and at such odd times that it cannot be rationally grasped.

For example, after a lifetime of doing dishes, both by hand and with a dishwasher, I was instructed repeatedly in this area.  When using a dishwasher, there were commands about correct placement of dishes, directionality of silverware in the tray, rinsing and not rinsing, bowls vs. cups in the lower rack and measuring dishwasher detergent down to the milliliter. All of this instruction was provided by someone who did not touch dishes unless they were on a dining table heaped with his favorite foods and a choice of one of seven identified vegetables that he would deign to eat.

Growing up in a rural area, few of us took driver’s education.  We managed to get through traffic just fine and I drove blissfully ignorant for many years.  After arrival in the Tenth Circle of Hell, my spouse provided on the spot training while we were in the car.  Using his best shouting voice, I was advised that the speed of my driving was always incorrect, that following other cars was never close enough and my head was never turned far enough to adequately check for traffic.  It wasn’t just me that was coached in the fine art of motoring.  Other driver’s on the road were honked at, sworn at and had a fist shaken at them as well.  All while I was at the wheel.  These lessons were forced on me by a spouse who did not drive because no one would ever get in the car with him.

It’s true that money can be a source of irritation in a marriage.  When your marriage is the Tenth Circle of Hell, this topic has the effect of making you bang your head against the wall.   Bills would be opened and place out of sight.  I would find them the following month with the overdue notices.  A lecture would follow on timely bill payment to avoid late fees.  He demanded the checkbook be placed in his night stand so that he would not have to search for it when writing checks for his hobbies.  He also wrote checks for his friends’ hobbies.  He didn’t want to make a big deal out of his check writing, so he never told me and never wrote them down.  Following this would be very loud interrogation on whether or not monthly bills had been paid. This would end with the enjoinder that he “likes to have these things done ‘ the right way’.”

I really did start to wonder how I had managed to do things before being the recipient of such profound tutoring.  In my head I kept hearing the question, “What the HELL is going on?” (see Tenth Circle comments above).

After a particularly inane diatribe on how to use an automatic door, I decided that I had to get out of the Tenth Circle of Hell.  Having received directives on trifling matters for so long, I decided to entrust the navigation out of the Tenth Circle to a wonderful lawyer.  A no nonsense woman, she gave practical advice on how to leave the Tenth Circle of Hell and protect myself.  After rapidly gathering every document needed and signing some papers, I charted my way back to the land of solitude. There I resumed management of daily affairs and my own psyche without lectures from anyone at all.  Word from friends is that my former spouse has already found his next victim.  He is holding the door open and has invited her in to the next Circle of Hell.