Me: Its really true. Women have to set ground rules in their marriage for what they will and will not tolerate. Granted, some women go overboard and create rules that most men, even if they are good ones, will not be able to live up to. As where other women's rules are not strict enough. Life and love is all about deciding what you can handle, what you cant, and what your plan is for dealing with it. Not everyone realizes how important it is to have a plan.
Friend: True. Standards and self confidence go a long way. If more women had them, and I am not talking over the top but something reasonable, they would not end up in bad situations as often. If I had had the standards and self confidence I have now I would have never even dated [my ex husband]. But I got two beautiful children out of the marriage so I don't regret it. That, and I am wiser from the experience. I have learned to be so grateful for what I have. Life is not always easy but it is what you make of it. Both [my new husband] and I had a rough time before we met in our lives for different reasons but we are better people because of it.
Me: And its beautiful that you are able to see it that way!
Friend: The problem is, sometimes you have the ground rules like never tolerating abuse, but the spouse doesn't care. All you can do at that point, especially if it gets to where you fear for your safety or your life, is to leave. I told [my ex husband] I would never put up with any kind of abuse or threat of abuse but it still happened. I put up with it longer than I should have. You should not have to live your life with someone who has no respect for you. We even tried marriage counseling. Unfortunately, in my case it just didn't help. Even my therapist was supportive of me deciding to leave. [My ex husband] is not in a position to be married and you cannot fix someone who does not want to change, and women, I think, have a hard time learning that they cannot fix everything. We are naturally nurturers and helpers. We see something broken and we want to fix. And the female ego is just as much of a problem as the male ego. We have a hard time letting go of something that we have made a "project". And when someone says I don't see that working because... we just say 'yeah well I will show you!'. I know I am guilty of it. A marriage and relationship is always going to take work but so many times we turn the relationship into a project, trying to fix everything and worrying about everything that we forget to enjoy the person.
Me: You're exactly right. Learning what your rules are is all part of discovering what is normal and what isn't. I used to think that some of the issues John and I had were not normal, but after seeing a therapist and talking to some older couples we found out that we were pretty normal and that these things would pass. Its when you find out that its not normal, and you shouldn't put up with it that you have to decide what you'll do. I don't think many people understand that these days. But it sounds like you took all the right steps to try to fix things, if they could be fixed, and when it became clear that things weren't going to change fast enough for you to feel comfortable staying, you got out. I think you handled it in the best way you could. As for the part about making things a project, I know I do that sometimes too. We as women, as people in general really, have to learn that not everything is under our control, and we have to seek to be ok with it. Its tough but its one of the ways that we stay sane in such an imperfect world.
Friend: Yeah, with [my ex husband] I tried and I stayed for a while trying to make it work. I am not perfect I see that I was not always innocent and made my own mistakes. But I feel like those were issues that could have been worked through. [My ex husband's] temper and how bad his addiction was getting was not something I could subject myself, and especially my kids, to any longer. What it came down to was that I knew he might change eventually, but that change would not come soon enough for me to feel comfortable remaining in that environment. So much damage had already been done, and I knew more was coming. There were many things that drove me away but two things that made me run, and it was more for my children than myself. Thank you for listening and being so understanding. Some people just say 'till death do you part and for better or worse so why didn't you stay?' My response is that for better or worse does not mean stay until you are a beaten down empty shell of yourself and watch your kids follow their dad down a self destructive path. How much can you take before its too much? Marriage takes two people I initiated the divorce but he broke our vows long ago. You cannot fix something that is beyond repair.And all of this could be avoided if people had a better view of marriage. It is not something to take lightly it is sacred and beautiful. So many people treat it like it is just dating with a ring. So many people don't believe in what marriage truly is and should be anymore.
What I would like all of you to take from this is that sometimes its better to run than to try to stay and make it work, especially in cases where you fear for yourself and/or your children. Remember that abuse comes in many forms. Become acquainted with them through research and take steps to safe guard your marriage and your family against such awful traumas. Remember, there is no accomplishment or goal you can achieve outside the home that can overcome a failure in the home. You might be a great success in business, art or whatever your chosen field is, but at the end of your life when the lights start to fade it will be your family that weighs heaviest on your heart. Be sure to live your life in a way that you will never regret the way you treated your family, even if that means leaving someone who is not good to, or for you, sometimes leaving a bad partner is the best thing that could happen to you.