Spousal abuse can be complicated, and is no fun. According to a friend, it sucks the joy out of life, one comment at a time. She isn’t physically abused, but is met with a, if not continuous barrage of negative words, then a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs of complaints and accusations from her husband. When they were first married, she took it to heart and tried to “fix” the issues that caused her husband grief. As time went by, she toughened up, and she tried mostly to ignore him when he went into one of these behaviors. She questioned herself, never-the-less. If she was more loving and supportive of him, would he be more confident in her abilities to be a good wife?
He would accuse her of base intentions, spite, and revenge. She suspected those were his qualities, and he transferred them to her as being logical. She would explain herself and how she was trying to follow the word of God, and didn’t want to have those things in her character. He would be reassured for a while, but it didn’t last long–his doubts about her returned. She would get hooked into arguments and she would try again and again to reason with him. It seemed like a game to get her attention, and to get her emotional. Maybe that was his goal, she thought. But surely there were better ways of feeling loved and cared for.
Their financial world was becoming entwined. She did enough business maneuvering to bring in a good income, but through his name. She didn’t want money, just having the bills paid was enough for her. If she left him, she still could survive but on very limited funds.
Their family had become entwined. Even though her family made uncomplimentary teasing remarks about him, they did care for him. He could be generous and caring, and she made sure they weren’t disrespected.
He was generous and caring toward her. His comment to a neighbor was, “I can put her down, but nobody else better do it!” So what gives?? Is that some attitude old farmers used on their children to keep them in line and not too prideful? (Many of them thought to brag on a child was to spoil them.)
She has hardened herself to expect hurtful comments whenever their paths cross, and to mentally brush them off and walk away. She got involved in civic projects, and is in management for a good organization. He grips daily, and wants her home with him. She’s having too much fun, and doing so many things that boost her confidence to do that. If he feels left out, it is of his own making.
Would it be better if they weren’t living together? She would be hard-pressed financially, and lonely. Life wouldn’t necessarily be an improvement. I see many older women living like this. They just make the best of things and go on. Finding the perfect mate who has all the desirable characteristics seems like a myth. Besides, many godly women still believe in their vows.
I was talking with a pastor friend of mine who was telling about trying to comfort a woman whose husband had died a couple of weeks earlier. He was startled to find she wasn’t sad about his passing; in fact, she was relieved. He said he came to the conclusion the old man was an ornery old coot, and she was glad to be free from him.
For all those women who are trying to make the best of a poor situation, there may be dancing in the streets when the old men die. Or they may very demurely go through the public pretense of grief and then take a cruise, grief-stricken, of course.
Now, I don’t want to be one-sided. I see some marriages where I wonder how that nice man is stuck with that lazy, selfish, demanding wife. When they part, by divorce or by death, he is free to find a woman who appreciates him. But the dynamics are slightly different with men and women. Men aren’t trapped financially as much as women, and usually seem the more docile partner in one of these marriages. Maybe that’s not fair. But a woman is usually docile so she doesn’t get the crap beat out of her. Usually, the man doesn’t want conflict or the children snatched away from him.
Wouldn’t it be nice if marriage could go according to the commandments of:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…Indeed, no one ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church...
Nevertheless, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
1 Peter 3:7
Husbands, in the same way, treat your wives with consideration as a delicate vessel, and with honor as fellow heirs of the gracious gift of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.