Thursday, March 08, 2007

when a marriage is bad

i have a good friend who is in a bad marriage. and i'm not looking for advice, really.. i think i'm just wondering out loud, literally- what it will take to make her leave? what is rock bottom, and god, does she have to hit it?

i think for the most part, everyone has been in a bad relationship at one point or another. and you usually know you're in it. i knew when i was in a bad one- but i also knew i didn't have the strength to leave... and stay gone. i hate who i was then and i look back at that period of time with disgust. i also vowed to never be that weak again. so i know what it's like to be in something you know isn't good, but you still don't leave it. what i don't know is what it's like to have that relationship be a marriage.

it just makes me sad. i don't want this for my friend. i want better for her. i assume she wants better for herself, but how do you leave? how do you pack up the kids and walk away? and what does it take to get you to that point? it's a vicious cycle that her and her husband are in. and it never changes. it doesn't get better for any length of time, and from the outside looking in, i don't think it ever will. literally, her husband would have to completely change who he is as a person. and how do you ask someone to do that?

i support her in whatever decisions she makes, but i also remind her that it doesn't have to be this way. that no, it's not normal to cry every single day. i try to let her know that she has options. and i also want her to look ahead 40 years..... and then look back- is this the life she wants to have lived? and also, what is she teaching her children? how do you teach your kids to do as mommy says, but definitely not as mommy does? how do you teach your kids that the relationship they live with everyday, is not the type they should choose for themselves? how do you teach them to not put up with certain behaviors that you put up with daily? HOW??

i know i can't save her. i know i can't do anything but be there for her. i know all of this. and i'm not trying to change her mind. i'm not trying to convince her to leave. i just want her to realize that life doesn't have to be this way. that a marriage does not mean the things her marriage has become. i'm just sad for her. and i feel like the light that used to shine in her, is gone. i feel like she's fading away. and that's the last thing i would ever want.


alison said...

She's not being physically abused, is she?

Also, was he like this before they were married? I'm always so confused by this kind of thing---you would think you could tell if a person was a big prick, so why get married, but then I've never been in this situation, so I don't know.

It has to be hard for her. Especially with kids involved.

jennster said...

she is NOT being physically abused.. she's never said anything to insinuate that. but with all the emotional and mental abuse- who needs the physical.

and yes, he was like this when they dated- i'm just not sure she saw it... or had to live with it.. or is just now sick of dealing with it on a daily basis. you know?

alison said...

Probably one of those things where everyone saw it but her. I hope she figures this out. And you're a good friend for caring.

creative-type dad said...

Wow- that is sad. I can't even imagine what the kids are going through. They see everything.

Mike said...

I'm sure she's afraid to leave him, and that it would be hard. Unfortunately, if she can't or won't talk to him about the problems without them arguing and making things worse, then I feel it's better for them both to live separate lives. It will be hard on everyone including the kids, but is making them live in a unhappy house any better?

RWA said...

I had a friend in the very same situation. At first, I tried to convince her how bad it was and that she should leave.

Then, I realized she didn't need to hear that from me. It wasn't that simple.

I told her that I would be there for her whenever she needed me - to talk, to give her a ride, to pick her and all her belongings up in the middle of the night - whatever.

I worry about her a lot, but I know I can't make that decision for her.

melissamm said...

Wow, my heart broke just reading this.

You're a great friend for being there for her. It's hard to stand by when you see someone you care about being treated less than they should be. Friends like you will keep her afloat while that anchor of a husband continues to pull her down.

Let's hope one day she'll open her eyes and "see the light" that once shone on her. And let's hope it doesn't take one of her kids saying or doing something to give her the strength she needs to take action. As "Creative-type Dad" said "They see everything"

radioactive girl said...

My friend just decided to leave her husband, mostly for her daughter. While she was content to put up with the crap for herself, she was not content to let her daughter live that and learn that this is how it is supposed to be. I was really proud of her for making a difficult decision. Good luck to your friend!

Nikki said...

Like you said, we've all been in a bad relationship, and I think the straw the breaks the camels back is different for everybody.

I hope she finds happiness.

H said...

The logistics of leaving a marriage can make women stay. If they don't have their own sources of income, haven't worked in a long time, don't have a strong support system or have significant debt they can feel overwhelmed. Your friend may find the tools on my website helpful. I have a section entitled "Divorce Planning" that helps a woman prepare before divorcing. There are also two posts on my blog that discuss finances and work for women who want to leave and

I hope this information helps you and your friend.

Dana said...

I'm terribly sorry your friend is going through this. It's not an easy situation to deal with or talk about.

Just playing devil's advocate here, but has your friend done everything in her power to make it work? Counseling? Is her husband adamant that he's not doing anything "wrong"? And also, might your friend need to change too?

The reason I ask this is because I've been through therapy when my marriage felt like it was struggling and/or fallihng apart. I was so quick to put the blame or fault onto my husband. I always expected him to change or adapt or alter his personality for me and it never dawned on me that I have to change, too.

Marriage it's a partnership -- we all know that. But it's so damn easy to forget (I forget all the time).

Then again, your friend may have thought when they were dating that once they were married the man would change for her and let's face it, it doesn't happen. If so, then yes it's time for her to leave because it may only get worse.

I dunno. Just kind of looking at it from different angles. Whatever happens, I wish her the best and I think she's very lucky to have you in her life! :)

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who is a very bad marriage. As a group of friends we listen, and provide support, but in order to continue to be friends we don't usually comment the fact that he is a complete ass! The reason is that if they do work it out she will always know our thoughts about him and it will always be the elephant in the corner. She knows he is an idiot and to help her deal with it we are there to listen. If we want to always be there to listen and provide support we learned early on to keep our mounths shut - except to let her know that some of the things he says are not appropriate to say to someone you love.

Anonymous said...

sad thing is her daughter who can talk has said something. "it was better when it was just us two mommy". how do you deal with that? it breaks my heart seeing her go through this pain everyday but people like you who care ster, help her more then you know. i hope she sees and realizes what she deserves because it's so much more. i miss that fire in her too...

a loving sister

Heartache said...

I have a friend who is in a bad marriage as well. I have tried to get her to see that she is being psychologically and emotionally abused but she feels too afraid to leave her husband. She knows what I tell her is true but just wont go. Its so frustrating for me. He manipulates her constantly about money, their daughter and anything else he can. He blames her for all their marital troubles and makes her feel so guilty. She has been unhappy for years. They were seperated for 4 months but because he had taken a short-term lease he had to come home so she felt pressured to decide whether or not she should stay. She gave in and let him home and now they are back together. She has said she doesnt love him but is so afraid of how divorce will affect their daughter and about money, but she doesnt see that her unhappiness is affecting the daughter more than a divorce would because it is a constant. And they have money but she wont hire an attorney to get what she needs to leave. She also has no support system of family or friends here where she lives. Her one friend that knows has an alcoholic husband and is an enabler so she tells her to stay. She wont tell her parents or siblings, because she says they dont need to be burdened. Really, she is covering up his behavior and her guilt, preferring to go it alone rather than be exposed. I have run out of suggestions for her. She wont listen anyway. I think they have to either decide for themselves to stay or go. You cant talk sense into them because the truth doesnt make sense to them. Truth for them is subjective to how they feel and until they get enough of what the spouse is dishing out they will stay put. A friend of mine says that they have to "dance the last dance" before they leave, and I think thats true. So I just wait for this woman to need me to be there for her and when she does I will be supportive and love her through her ordeal. If she wanted to she knows that she can call me day or night and I will come running. Hope your friend gets her bellyful and finally dances her last dance.