Many comments are similar on the articles:
- Get Away from a Controlling, Bullying, Abusive Husband
- Abusive, Manipulative Husbands Who Control Wives
- Top 12 Warning Signs of Controlling Husbands
Abused, bullied and battered women often end their comments with some version of:
- But I still love him.
- Sometimes he’s nice to me and I still think I can change him, if only I was good enough.
- He still says that he loves me.
- I’m afraid to leave because I’m worthless and won’t be able to make it without him.
- I’m afraid to leave because he’ll kill me.
Today, let’s focus on the idea that woman can’t dump him because they love him. Of course the same reasons are true for men facing negative, critical, harassing, manipulative, abusive, bullying, battering women.
For a moment, forget what we were taught about love, especially the importance and moral value of unconditional love, when we were young – what it is, what it feels like, how we know we’re really in love and what we’re supposed to do when we feel that way.
Now that we’re adults, we can decide for ourselves what we want to call “love” and how we’ll act when we “love.” Is love merely lust, or feeling complete or whole, or feeling that we can’t live without the other person? Do those feelings mean that we’ll be happy because we’re mad for the other person or that we can work out how to live together? If we feel those feelings, must we move in together and maybe get married? When we love, must we believe what he says or accept whatever he does, must we be submissive and obey him, must we accept his reasons, excuses, justifications and promises, must we forgive or appease him endlessly, must we debate until he accepts our point of view..
As long as the answers don’t affect our lives, we might have fun speculating about those questions. But even though love is usually accompanied by real feelings, it’s still an abstract concept that really isn’t a tangible noun, like a physical object is.
A more useful path is to choose how we want to be loved. That is; what kind of behavior will we allow in our personal space, whether the actions are called “love” or “bullying” or “abuse.”
Also more useful is to choose which of our thoughts and feelings we want to follow in our lives. Or, which feelings, if any, do we want to let blow us over or sweep us away.
Now that we’re adults with more experience, we can see that when we let some feelings sweep us away, we’re like a sail boat without a rudder or keel. We’re blown whichever way the wind and current takes us. We’ve lost control and we’ll never get where we want to sail to. We’re at the mercy of external forces – his whims and actions at the moment. Do we want to continue letting ourselves get blown away?
It’s even worse after kids come. So many women make mistakes about which values are most important. For example, they think that it’s most important that their kids have a father even if that father abuses and bullies them or only their mother. Or they think that they most important value is never to say anything bad about their children’s father, even though their observations are accurate and especially necessary to reinforce what their children see and think. People are being beaten and that’s being called “love.” Children must learn that they are seeing reality and they can trust their perceptions. Covering up the truth or lying creates self-doubt and undermines their confidence and self-esteem.
I think that it comes down to knowing, in our heart-of-hearts, that we can’t let whatever feeling we call “love” take over our lives when that feeling keeps putting us and our children in harm’s way. There are higher standards of behavior than that feeling we call “love.” And that the word “love” doesn’t remove all the pain caused when narcissistic, righteous predators attack their targets.
If “love” means that we’ll never stop the perpetrator and never leave him, he’ll never stop bullying. Why should he; he’s in control and gets what he wants. If “love” means that the victim must follow the Golden Rule, never confront or upset the bully and only beg him to change, but never have serious consequences, we’ll never stop bullies.
On the other hand, if we love our spirits, our children and our high standards of behavior that are required in our personal space, then we can stop bullies or get away from their bullying. The number one factor in changing the behavior of relentless bullies is serious consequences.
We know we must live up to our best aspirations and standards, we must demand only the best for ourselves and our children. Don’t suffer in silence. We must say, “No. That’s enough. I won’t let our lives be ruined for that kind of love.”
Of course, it may be scary, dangerous and difficult to get away. Of course, we may be poor and suffer at first. But it’s the only chance we have to clear our personal space so that someone wonderful can come into it; someone who treats us good. We must not be defeated by defeats.
- Taking power for ourselves, and counting on the strength and determination that will come to us when we keep making good decisions by dumping the jerk.
- Getting help to create a plan and carry it out with determination, perseverance, strength, courage and resilience.
- Having a wiser and more mature sense of love and which feelings to pay attention to. That means straightening ourselves out so we’ll love better people who treat us well.
Feelings and thoughts are like the bubbles of carbonation on a soda. They’re always, always, endlessly bubbling up to the surface and then drifting away. Some of those bubbles can smell pretty bad. Pardon the crudity, but we’ve all had brain farts. And like the other kind, we know that if we wait a minute, the stinky, scary, self-bullying fears, put-downs and “shoulds” will drift off on their own. We can decide not to act on them and simply let them go. We can throw ourselves into other thoughts or activities to speed the process.
I’ve focused on bullying spouses, but the same can be said about demanding, bullying, toxic family members, like parents, siblings and extended family. They bully and say that we should accept the bad treatment because we’re “family.” But requiring good behavior is a better standard than tolerating bad blood.