What Others Might Think: Reason #3 Women Stay in Bad Relationships, Pt. 3

What Others Might Think: Reason #3 Women Stay in Bad Relationships, Pt. 3 March 3, 2009

(Update: All the posts of this series have been collected into one piece, Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How to Defeat Each One of Them.)

Last time, in the course of looking at the role that fear of public embarrassment often plays in keeping a woman mired in a bad relationship, we considered the ideas that no one really cares all that much about what happens with other people’s relationships anyway, and that, at any rate, the reaction of those around you to a cataclysm in your personal life is an unbeatable way to find out who your friends really are.

Today I want to say this: Anyone outside of your marriage who has anything to say about your marriage has no idea what they’re talking about.

They don’t know you. They don’t know your concerns. They don’t know your life.

They don’t know your husband.

Of all the things they don’t know, they sure don’t know your husband.

They don’t know how he sincerely he apologizes to you. They don’t know how loving he can act toward you. They don’t know anything about the private history of your relationship with him.

Nothing. Zilch. When it comes to the reality of your marriage, they’re as dumb as dumb gets.

Moreover, they don’t know anything about you. What do they know about your life? What do they know about how you were raised? What do they know about your father, your mother, the house you grew up in?

People who dare to critically judge others—and especially if they judge suffering people who are trying to improve their lives—are in for one interesting conversation with God come their personal Judgment Day.

Your life is yours. And you’re the only one on this planet who knows jack about it.

Let ’em talk, if they’re that weak. It’s the babble of a brook that keeps running by.

You’ve got your own (new!) life to lead.

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  • Angie

    So I hear what you're saying about people don't know how their relationship may be behind closed doors (even though I have a pretty good idea). But what if the person in this bad relationship is your mother? What if your mother's history of men are drunk, lying, abusive and controlling men? What if your step-father (who raised you) died 2yrs ago by literally drinking himself to death and you have two small children who loved him so dearly and they hurt every day by his death? What if your mother re-married the next year to your father's 'good' friend who has a drinking problem? What if you have heard your mom tell you how he is and your sister and brother who lived there, told you how it is? What if after beng told your mother's new husband would never, ever drink around your children and would never lose his temper around your 2yr old and 7yr old girls – you finally allow them at their house for a weekend and then he got drunk, loud, angry and violent in front of them? Can I then have an opinion on what is going on with my mother and her marriage? I don't feel I'm judging her at this point – I just feel she is a very weak person who has no idea how to live a life of her own. And here comes this guy who showed her attention and tells her just enough good things to keep her hopeful of his change, but his actions show nothing bu the opposite. Frankly, I feel sorry for her even though I'm hurting.

    He went crazy in front of my children just over a month ago and my mother still thinks nothing was wrong – he can do no wrong. My children were 'safe' the whole time according to what she told my sister. My mom still has not called me to say sorry to me or my girls or to say I love you or anything. I have prayed and cried and cried and prayed about this for a month and I am at the point of accepting the fact that my mother will no longer be a part of my life because of her husband and her choice to continue to stand by him regardless of his behavior and actions. Being in a relationship with her is so mentally demanding, I cannot take it anymore. I have to worry about her and if he is going to hurt her and all I ever get frm her to my face is lies. So what is your opinion on this?? I would love to hear it….Thank you!

  • Brenda

    I'm sorry if this sounds heartless. Believe me, I don't say it lightly, because when you care about someone it's hard to let them live their lives when they are totally messing up. But you really have no alternative.

    For one thing,if they don't recognize the problem, why would they change?

    For another, until they are ready to do it for themselves, they will not change, even if they know there is a problem.

    And thirdly, we can't change other people. Even when we know what's best for them—they have to do it themselves.

    This hateful cliche is true—the only person you can change is yourself. So yes, you might have to remove yourself from what is happening if you can't stand it and especially to keep your children from danger.

    Again, I don't say this lightly. It took me 45 years before I was able to do what I had to do, and it would take books to describe the torturous process I went through.

    If the problem people in my life need me, they call and I help in any way I can. But I refuse to be part of the things that are hurtful to me, or the things I just can't stand to watch, and I don't play the games they like to play.

    The bottom line is, we can never completely understand what drives another person. We can either accept the way things are, or not. We may have to sacrifice the relationship for our sanity. We don't get to make their choices. We only get to make our own.

    It can be horrible—it sounds like it is horrible for you. But I don't know how you would be able to force your mom to change. This sounds like a life pattern that she is not ready to break.

    At some point you have to take care of yourself and your family. If you don't you will have nothing to give if/when your mother ask for your help.

  • Christine

    John: thank thank you thank you for this post, so needed to be said