Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Few Words About The Franklin Roosevelts---Marital Infidelity and Abuse

WATCHING KEN BURNS MARVELOUS TV MARATHON DOCUMENTARY THE ROOSEVELTS THESE PAST FEW NIGHTS and seeing Eleanor and Franklin's marriage begin to disintegrate made me start to wonder why she stayed with him once she uncovered his infidelity with Lucy Mercer?

Undoubtedly devastated and humiliated,  Eleanor eventually  recovered and made up her mind to go her own way while staying  with Franklin (albeit often bitterly) and enjoying the trappings of power, privilege and pedigree that her lot in life afforded her. She did it well (though it was never for her about being a doting mother to their five living children).  Eleanor ultimately took responsibility for her part in their marriage breakdown as she admitted later in life that her frequent criticisms of her husband had no doubt contributed to driving him into the arms of another adoring women.

It's easy to see how history has repeated itself  in the marital pacts made by other powerful couples like Bill and Hillary Clinton and Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

After seeing how many times the happily married Teddy Roosevelt tried to get re-elected to the White House after completing his terms there,  I certainly can understand Bill Clinton's fascination with getting Hillary elected commander-in-chief and reliving his glory days again, even though she's really too old and in mediocre health to be a serious contender, in my opinion.

Whether one considers marital infidelity a deal-breaker today seems to depend on the couple, their spiritual and moral beliefs and values, their history and the ability to forgive and move forward together.  Infidelity often goes hand-in-hand with emotional abuse and neglect of the marriage relationship and is symptomatic of deeper issues that need to be addressed.

In today's news,  we are bombarded by one physical abuse headline after another, especially in the NFL.  We're told it's only the tip of the iceberg and has been going on for years.  Why is it that abused women both inside and outside of marriage,  continue to stay in relationships that batter and humiliate them  physically or emotionally without ever drawing a line in the sand? Why do women keep coming back for more from men who hit them physically or batter them emotionally, then turn around and tell these same women they deserve it and that everything is  their fault.  What's worse is that most of us who've been abused believe it and turn around and try to please these men even more---until we finally reach a complete breaking point.

I can only say from my own experience that women continue to take abuse from controlling men in all its hurtful forms, because they're afraid of loosing everything, including their children (which I did not), their sanity (barely), their financial resources, their friends. Family and friends simply don't want to hear about abuse, let along believe it.  Often a woman who reports abuse is not taken seriously and rejected by friends.  She's often written off as crazy and being' the problem.' which only tends to make a beaten down woman even more dispairing and desperate.

For my part,  I learned that getting divorced with teenage children is no quick fix and rarely ends the blame and shame game if it existed before the marriage disintegrates.  Sometimes it takes years, even decades, to end and grow out of  habitual patterns of put downs, disrespect, rejection and contempt which go on openly, or behind closed doors.

For anyone who really wants to understand and end...I really mean end, a pattern or a relationship with a controlling  man,  I can say without reservation the finest book I've ever read  is Dr. Kevin Leman's classic book, Smart Women Know When to Say No.   The title may sound trivial or adolescently simple,  but the book is pure dynamite.  It's not just changed my life once,  it keeps on changing it....and will forever. Thank you Dr. Leman for being a gift from God.

The good news is if you're not willing to settle into a strange marriage arrangement like Eleanor Roosevelt or Hillary Clinton  or don't want to end up like Princess Diana,  beaten down women will not be disappointed in Dr.  Leman's incredibly good work.  BTW,  he doesn't suffer fools or long, drawn out talk-therapy lightly.  Leman's approach is simple, action-oriented and demands major courage and prayer in the short and long terms.  But the wisdom found   and implemented here is ever so worth it.

Women who've been in abusive relationships with controlling men  and are willing to do what it takes to get out,  can and will ultimately succeed. Some can even stay married as they begin to have bottom lines and mean it.  When real change happens they never again need to define themselves in terms of abuse and victimhood.  New self-definition is now based on freedom from these addictive relationships. standing on our own two feet and letting the chips fall where they may. We discover that God is ultimately in control.

The NFL with its many high-powered sponsors is finally shining the light on physical abuse and that's a good thing.  But the real and enduring work needs to be done by women themselves who learn to respect themselves enough to leave if necessary, and never look back. We also learn what love is and isn't.  It takes practice and heaps of courage,  but by the Grace of God, Leman's wisdom reverberates  slowly changing the lives of all involved.Liife slowly becomes infused with deep gratitude.

Thanks for coming by.

1 comment:

Bob said...

Thanks for taking the time to write so thoughtfully about this subject. Of course, there is also the man who is abused. A good book on that subject is When She Was Bad, by Patricia Pearson. Women are perpetrators of Domestic Violence as often as men, even though few of them have the muscular strength of an NFL player.