To my friend (who shall remain nameless):
I don’t believe you read this blog, so in writing this I’m really just relieving my own feelings.
It’s probably better that way; I don’t imagine I can change your mind on any of this. And maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe this sort of thing is something one has to figure out for oneself – or purposefully and forcefully close the mental door on, as the case may be. Whichever way your inclination lies, my words will probably do nothing but irritate you.
But I care about you…and I’m still bothered by what you said a year ago. So I’m writing this.
The reason I’m thinking about it is because I just happened upon this article the other day. And I realized when I read it that you must have read this before you gave me counsel last year. Your thoughts and phrases from then are straight out of here.
I was frustrated and disturbed by your opinions back then (I still am.) I couldn’t elucidate why at that time. I mean, a fair portion of this article sounds good on the surface. I just knew that everything you were saying screamed “WRONG” to me. And, reading this again, I see that the problem for me is in the below-the-surface assumptions of this piece…it’s in the deeper implications. I didn’t know how to explain that back then.
I’m better-spoken now. All the reading and writing and thinking I’ve done, and continue to do, has helped a lot with that. And I’ve found that once you get in the habit of speaking, you get smoother at it.
Not to mention that it becomes harder to keep your mouth closed – which is a large part of why I’m writing this post.
Well, I’m writing for that – but also because I think you (and this woman) are not alone in your approach to marriage (and, more to the point, marital discord.) And one of the essential purposes of this blog is to stand on a mountaintop and scream: IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE LIKE THAT! I believe so strongly in the importance of women’s voices. It’s so very, very important to speak – to offer not only support, but ideas and alternatives. Solidarity is vital (I’ve talked about that in a couple of other posts – like this, and this.) So, I think I have to talk about this here, in some fashion. It’s too important not to.
But I’m not going to speak any more directly to you than I already am, or I risk identifying you, and cutting in to your privacy – and I don’t believe that’s my place.
Instead, I’ll just refer to a post I wrote a few weeks ago. It, by sheer coincidence, nicely sums up my feelings on this topic anyway.
The only commentary I’ll add:
Everybody deserves to be with somebody who is clued in to them. Everybody. And if you don’t have that, you have a right to make changes.
Making those changes doesn’t mean you’re selfish. And it doesn’t mean you’re expecting somebody else to form your happiness. It means you honor yourself.
Going along with that: I would never judge somebody for their actions on this particular thing I’m about to say…but, in my opinion, if you have a daughter (a son, yes; but especially a daughter), there’s almost nothing you can do for her that is more important as a mother than teaching her to honor herself. I can’t think of anything. Self-respect (and that includes taking care of yourself) is the bottom line to pretty much everything that’s worthwhile and sustaining.
And you teach a child by how you live…not by what you say.
One more thing:
I respect the writer of the above piece as someone who is clearly earnest in what she’s saying (and I respect earnestness).
But in one portion of her post, she’s just dead wrong – and I have to point that out, because I don’t think she does a service to women in putting this sort of thing out there:
[D]ivorces have a way of making psycho adversaries out of formerly reasonable people, and unless you and your husband are both very unusual people, it will get ugly.
This isn’t true.
I’m not an unusual person…nor is my ex. What we are: committed to teaching our children that even amongst a lot of negatives (the sorts of negatives that end a marriage), there are positives to be found. Even the most rotten people you come across in life usually have something salvageable about them; I truly believe that. Certainly, you can find something in the person you once thought well enough of to marry and have children with. So, even when the relationship is over, it is still possible to have kindness and compassion between you – if you’re willing to search them out amongst the resentment and bitterness, and hold on to them.
I’m not saying it’s easy. But it’s entirely doable. I’m doing it, and I’m not like the Dalai Llama or somebody; I’m not a serene person, who lets things roll off my back a lot. And I have a lot of marital baggage – as does my kids’ dad. But we choose, actively, to keep that baggage closed and zipped up tight when we’re interacting, to keep the focus on our kids – to give our kids the gift of being around both of their parents without the burden of bad vibes and negativity.
You can’t always make a relationship function over the long haul, but you can always, always choose kindness and consideration in your dealings with somebody. Ugliness is not a given. To say otherwise, and to use that as a reason to stay in an unhealthy situation (and to urge others toward that way of thinking) is fear-mongering. At best, it’s a justification for the inability to act for yourself – and that makes me sad.
I’m not going into any other commentary. My feelings and beliefs are laid out pretty well, at any rate, in the post I wrote.