Friday, May 3, 2013

An Open Letter to the Husbands of a Few of My Friends

Act #123:  Don't be a perpetrator.

Yes, I'm talking to you.  While it might appear that we have little in common, one thing we do share is the love we have for your wife, my friend.  I've been in your home, have shared meals with you, and have laughed at your jokes.  There is no question about the level of commitment that my friend has towards you and your family, which is why she has never uttered a single negative word about you or your relationship.  In fact she offers continuous praise to you for being a good husband.  For being a good dad. 

For the longest time I thought that you and I shared a dark secret.  Shared the truth.  And every time I looked at you, I could feel this unspoken truth floating all around us, always quickly covered up, distracted by one of your jokes or a story about your child.  But as I write this letter today, it occurred to me that maybe you have never faced the truth.  That your world may have been so distorted by your childhood norms, a hyper-masculine culture, patriarchal aggression. 

You may not know that you are a perpetrator of domestic violence. 

I pray to God every night that this violence is not physical, but I wouldn't know.  I doubt anyone would.  Probably for a multitude of reasons, my friend is clearly not ready to face this truth -  the fact that she waited her whole life to fall in love with the promise of you, her faith in her higher power, her notions about the commitment of marriage, the beautiful child you brought into this world together, the fact that it would crush her mother's heart, the life that you have built together dependent on the perfect combination of your resources.  A life she is not able to give up at this juncture.  And all I can do is patiently sit here, and be ready to support her when she is.

We share many friends and I am hoping that this blog finds its way to you because I am appealing to you to face this truth.  To face yourself and whatever demons and baggage you have from your past that are causing you to be the type of partner that you are to my friend.  Because I am hoping that buried deep down inside, you have the capacity to love her in the way that she truly deserves to be loved.  She is not your property and you don't own her, no matter how you choose to interpret her role through your spiritual lens.  You don't have the right to tell her how to spend your shared income, or deny her of spending her own money.  She works tirelessly to create a comfortable life for your family - she deserves recognition and affirmation.  You don't have the right to control how she spends her time, who she spends her time with.  If you learned to trust her more, you might be surprised at just how much of a priority you already are in her life.   You don't have to be insecure about her spending time with me, or with any of her other girlfriends.  Our days of bar-hopping and flirting with men have long been over and these days our conversations revolve around our quality of life, our families, our work, and how we manage our multiple roles.  And when we're together, she always talks about you and how great you are.  You don't have the right to be the sole decision-maker about the upbringing of your child.  In case you haven't noticed, my friend, your wife - is brilliant, compassionate, and is a highly competent human being, and exceptional mother.  Listen to what she has to offer - not because she's better or smarter than you - but because you are life partners who can and should support and nurture each other through these sorts of decisions.

Don't be afraid that she will leave you.  Or that she will find someone else.  Trust me, she has eyes for no other person.  Don't let your own insecurities and deficiencies box the one person you love into a helpless corner, and eventually turn the selfless love she currently has for you, into obligation, duty, even fear.  Don't talk to her like she is a child.  Don't tell her what she should do, what she should wear, who she should talk to.  Remember what attracted you to her in the first place?  Her bubbly, positive spirit that captured your attention?  Why wouldn't you want to continue experiencing that throughout your marriage?  Why would you want to suppress it.  While she wants nothing more than to please you, don't take her for granted.  Don't expect her to work full-time, care for your child, and also come home to take care of all the needs of your household.   Don't yell at her when she isn't able to keep up with it all.

I don't know how to be any more clear, but my friend whole-heartedly loves you and is whole-heartedly committed to you.  Stop controlling her, manipulating her, making her feel guilty about everything.  Because while you may not want to admit it, your actions, you - are the very definition of emotional abuse.  And it may be hard for you to hear, but this makes you a perpetrator of domestic violence.  At this point you may not have raised a hand to her, but you are abusing her, damaging her, by treating her not as a respected partner, but as someone you have the right to control.  We may not have a lot in common, but the one thing we do share is the love we have for my friend.  Before it's too late, please face this truth, seek the help you need to fix yourself, and start loving her like she deserves to be loved.  Like any human deserves to be loved.

Your wife's friend who will always be there.  Even when you're not.


1 comment:

  1. WOW Mae - just catch up on reading this one - takes guts to do this. I hope it gets to the right person!