4. Sex Is A Medical Emergency For Joe And A Responsibility For Her.
I have no words. Does Melissa really believe this? Sex should be an intimate act shared between the two of them; instead it seems to be unpleasurable and a chore for her.
"But if we haven't done it for two days and I give him attitude? It could be a huge fight."
"If I didn't give it to him once a day, he'd get upset. That's when he told me about his severe poison condition. He described the need to expel his junk like it's a real physical crisis. We all know that Blue Ball Syndrome does not appear in any medical textbooks. But for Joe, not having enough sex is detrimental to his overall health. He genuinely can't function otherwise."
"Besides, it's a medical necessity for us to have sex every other day. If we didn't, Joe's unreleased poison would kill him (at least, that's what he tells me…)."
5. Being Italian Explains Everything.
I am familiar with this line of thinking. I often said that my ex had an "Irish temper" as way of excusing his sudden violent outbursts. Melissa uses her heritage as her way to explain a variety of things, ranging from excusing his temper to why she is obligated to cook and have sex whether she wants to or not.
"If you can't cook and are unwilling to learn, you're not only being disrespectful to your husband, but to the entire Italian tradition that prizes the family meal as sacred."
"When he comes home, he wants to be greeted at the door by his wife and kids. He expects a hot meal and a clean house. To him, that's how a wife shows her husband respect. It's how he was raised."
"In an Italian marriage, you work hard, play hard, fight hard, and love hard. On the list of the most important things, we put sex one notch below food. Food is life sustaining; sex is marriage sustaining. I never let my husband go hungry."
"We left before we finished eating, both of us in a rage. This was the first time I thought, 'Whoa! He's old-school Italian!'"
6. It's Just Joe's Style.
I know a lot of women, including myself, who would call Joe's "style" controlling and abusive, and much of Melissa's language raises red flags.
"He'd never allow it."
"Joe would kill me if I griped about entertaining his family…."
"Joe went insane, throwing back his chair, jumping up, screaming at me to get my hands off of that guy."
"The kids understand that if they upset me, they upset Joe. 'Don't get Mommy mad, or you'll get me mad,' he says. The kids can't back down fast enough."
"He wanted to set a precedent of how he wanted his wife to be. He flexed his muscles. His style was to make corrections and to teach me from the beginning days of our marriage.”
"Joe sometimes slips into teacher mode when he explains how he'd like to tweak my behavior."
7. She's Making Her Own Choices
Melissa gives examples of times she's made choices to please Joe. I don't think she has made her own choices so much as taken the path of least resistance.
"The first interview I went on, I got the job! My own classroom of third graders, I was thrilled. Although Joe was proud of me, he sat me down at the kitchen table and said, 'I want you to follow your dreams and take this job if you really want it. But, what if we want to go on vacation? I don't want to have to ask your boss for permission for you to take days off. Come work at my office with me, so that we can build this business even bigger together.' Joe had a way with words. And I knew he was right. In the end I was fine with not taking the job."
"He noticed, of course. And he was NOT happy. 'You look disgusting! You're like one of those freaks from Beverly Hills! What are you doing to yourself? What are you turning into?' He started slamming the plastic tabletop on the high chair (obviously, the baby wasn't in it), and it cracked. Fat lips tell no lies: I hated the look, too. He didn't talk to me for two weeks, about as long as the bruising lasted. When they went back down to normal size, I was relieved, not only for his sake."
"In this house, when my check arrives, I hand it to Joe."
...What if Melissa is as blissfully happy as she says? I'm not saying that she isn't, actually. I'm sure she thinks she is. In the work I do with women, I have to help them see the situation through someone else's eyes. How long she can tell herself these stories before her children see through it? Before her friends call her out? Or before her fans see right through her? She may not realize it now, but she is in an abusive marriage, and writing a book that claims she's happy (the proceeds of which likely will go straight to Joe) isn't going to make it all okay.