“I told Greg I want a divorce,” said Gaby, 34, a soft-spoken mother of four: Zach, 12; Kristin, 9; Zoe, 6; and Nick, 1. “It’s one thing to speak to me in a demeaning way — I’ve put up with it for 13 years. But I won’t live with a man who treats his children that way.
“Greg was shocked, but I don’t know why. We haven’t gotten along for ages, though it’s been much worse ever since I got pregnant with Nick — by accident. I was as surprised as Greg was. I’d used my diaphragm but, as the doctor said, it’s not foolproof. At first I was overwhelmed by the prospect of four children, but I’m one of five myself so I got used to the idea fairly quickly. Greg, however, was livid. He blamed me for being careless and never missed an opportunity to inform others that it wasn’t his idea. At dinner with friends he announced, ‘Gaby got pregnant on purpose — I knew nothing about it.’ I just sat there, dumbfounded. Later, at home, I tried to tell him how hurt I was, but he just cut me off, barking, ‘There you go, overreacting again. It’s your hormones talking.’ It was so degrading!
“The night I went into labor shows how callous he is. At 2 a.m. I called out from the bathroom that my water had broken. ‘Are you sure?’ he growled. When the other children were born, he seemed excited. This time he was miffed at missing a night’s sleep.
“Things got worse after we brought the baby home. Greg would scream if the kids so much as left a few Legos on the floor. If they ran ahead in the parking lot, he’d grab them by the neck and lecture them about safety. My parents came to help for two weeks and were stunned at how cruel and inconsiderate Greg was. Sadly, I was used to it by that time.
“Greg is hardest on Zach, our oldest. When Zach didn’t get straight A’s last term Greg called him stupid. He also coaches Zach’s football team. The other parents think he’s great, but he’s one of those coaches who screams at his own kid while being a hero to the rest of the team. Greg was a star quarterback in high school and he wants his son to be, too. But Zach doesn’t like football! Back when he started T-ball, he was the youngest kid on the team, barely big enough to hold a bat. Greg rode him so hard that another mom said, ‘Don’t you realize the boy is only 3?’ Zach plays to please his father, but he’d much rather be at the park, skateboarding. Greg says skateboarding is for punks.”