End Domestic Abuse

matthew's picture

Recently, I've been conducting a great deal of research on blogging. Trying to understand what currently drives the blogosphere. After a great deal of "research" -- said research being mostly "reading random links from bloggers who stay current" -- I've come to the conclusion that, by and large, most bloggers are still doing what they've always done. Journaling their personal life, sometimes with hope of compensation, but more often than not simply so they have a place to express themselves, and more importantly, receive feedback that they are normal.

This morning I chanced across Pretty in Pink. I surfed through a number of recent posts to find something that interested me. Her blog details the usual day-to-day events and goings-on in her life, liberally mixed with product reviews and the paid endorsements and advertising links that are so common today. While perusing her recent entries, though, I happened across Pink's recent post on post on Domestic Violence that stood out to me. Excerpt:

I began to think if being a battered wife is also normal? is it? does that mean once you commit your self to the man legally, it also gives him the right to punch you as often as he likes, does that mean too that once your married it also follows of submitting your human rights to the one person you think who loves you completely. If that is the case, then eventually married life will turn out to be hell and i pity those women who becomes helpless because of the bind between them.

This struck a chord within me. My mother lived in an abusive relationship with her husband for a number of years before leaving him when I was still an infant. It's appalling to me how common domestic abuse is. And worst of all, how commonly the victims accept such abuse as a normal part of life, rather than being the aberration and correctable behavior that it is.

A number of months ago, as many regular readers know, I had some personal crises in my life that led me to deeply investigate what it really is that drives the connection between a husband and wife in a marriage. I found the works of Dr. Willard Harley, and reading his books and articles really turned my attitude around on marriage. Dr. Harley isolates the cause of abuse:

Abusive behavior usually begins when a couple tries to resolve a conflict the wrong way. Instead of finding a solution that meets the conditions of the Policy of Joint Agreement (never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse), an effort is made by one spouse to force a solution on the other. Resistance to the proposal is matched by increasing force until the spouse browbeats the other into submission. Every fight is an example of abuse because it uses the tactic of emotional or physical force to resolve a conflict instead of respect and thoughtfulness.

There appears to be, in my opinion, a clear link between emotional abuse, physical abuse, and alcohol. Now, many people enjoy a beer now and then. But when the alcohol use slides into alcohol abuse, inhibitions are reduced. The natural instinct to attempt to force your way with others rears its ugly head under the influence of alcohol:

My Policy of Joint Agreement helps create a rule that identifies a drinking problem for what it really is. The policy says, Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse. That means if you are not enthusiastic about your spouse drinking alcoholic beverage, he should not drink even a teaspoon of it. If your spouse feels that you are being unreasonable, that he really doesn't have a problem with alcohol, and then he goes ahead and drinks anyway, he is announcing that alcohol is more important to him than your feelings. He is willing to see you suffer, just so he can have a taste of liquor. If that's the case, he is either incredibly thoughtless or addicted to alcohol, or both...

Is enduring physical and emotional abuse supposed to make us happy? I always thought it made us unhappy...if either spouse tries to sacrifice their own feelings so that the other spouse gets his or her way, the marriage is sure to suffer. Without mutually thoughtful decisions, marriage is usually a nightmare.

I have witnessed many recoveries from alcohol addiction, where the wife thought that once her husband stopped drinking, their marital problems would be over. But it wasn't just alcohol that ruined their marriage -- it was the way they made decisions, the use of alcohol being only one example. They needed to come to grips with alcohol addiction, but even more importantly, they needed to create a thoughtful way to make all decisions, not just the ones having to do with alcohol.

Thanks, Katy, for reminding me of what's really important in my marriage: the feelings of my wife must always be paramount in my mind. Abuse, however, cannot and should not be tolerated or enabled in any way. This is surely something that has shaped me as an adult: I cannot, and will not, ever let myself become the abusive drunkard my father was.