Monday, July 15, 2013

Love is... Love isn't...

I have already touched on this topic a bit in my earlier posts, "Mr. Hyde Sits In That Pew" and "...Or For Worse.  In Sickness...," but I feel the need to address it again, and in more depth.

There seems to be a prevalent, and ever-growing, issue among the men of my generation.  Men seem to believe it is okay to treat their wives like dirt.  They think it is okay to threaten them, to hurt them, to use words as weapons against them, to make them feel small and worthless, to try and take their power and sense of worth away....

What is this?

Its hypermasculinity.  Its manipulation.  Its a power trip.

Its abuse.

It is not love.

The things I hear some women that are near and dear to my heart tell me that their spouses/partners say and do to them is heart breaking.  It makes me want to knock some sense into these men.  Today, I heard more stories from more women, and so I felt the need to get my thoughts on this topic out, because it seems like too few people give this issue a voice.  Nobody is speaking up, and I believe that allows it to keep happening.  We turn a blind eye, we ignore the problem, we don't know what to say or how to say it, and the very topic makes us squirm.  So we remain silent.  And our silence says it is okay.

But its not.

Now, that isn't to say that there aren't men who get it right.  I know a lot of men who treat their women well.  I know a lot of men who love and respect their wives and treat them with the care and concern they deserve.  And I am lucky enough to be married to a pretty darn awesome guy.  He's not perfect by any means, but he's a good guy.

But even one man who doesn't treat his woman well, is one man too many.

Sure, even the best men get angry sometimes and say things they regret.  We women do it, too.  We're all still human.  We're all still married to people who bug us.  Its human nature, its marriage.  But there are lines you just do not cross.  Ever.

If you ever threaten bodily harm, whether you ever actually follow through or not, whether its meant in jest or not, you have crossed a line.

If you tell your spouse they're worthless, you've crossed a line.

If you deny your spouse their dream, you've crossed a line.

If you send threatening texts, you've crossed a line.

If you call them a terrible parent, you've crossed a line.

If you tell your spouse they'd be better off dead -- whether by your hand, their own, or an outside circumstance -- you've crossed a line.

....And the list could go on and on.

What I don't understand, though, is this.  This is a person you, at one time, stood before God and others with and pledged a promise to.  You promised to love, honor, and cherish them.  You promised to treat them with your utmost love and respect.  For life.

And now, here you are, a few years down the road, screaming in her face that she's a worthless piece of garbage?!

What changed?  When did you start believing that?  And what, when, and how did you decide you should verbalize and/or act on that?!  Where did that promise go?  Where did that love go?

And don't you dare say its her fault!  You, sir, are responsible for your own actions!  If you are being ruthless, that's nobody's fault but your own, and you should be ashamed of yourself!

To quote 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."

Patience.  Kindness.  Humility.  Honor.  Forgiveness.  Honesty.  Protection.  Trust.  Hope.  Perseverance.  Those are the things love is made of.

Short tempers.  Ruthlessness.  Pride.  Rigidity.  Unforgiveness.  Dishonesty.  Disregard for others.  Suspicion.  Despair.  Hopelessness.  Force.  Control.  Those are borne out of hatred.

If you love someone, then you treat them with respect.  You treat them with honor, and kindness, and protection.  If you truly love someone, you don't treat them badly.  You consider their feelings, you esteem their worth, you value their intelligent input, and you consider them a worthwhile human being and treat them as such.

You can't treat the woman you claim to love with actions of hatred.  If you truly love her, then act like it.  If you hate her, then set her free, and spare her, and your children, the fear, pain, and heartache of living under the same roof as an unpredictable, tryrannical dictator.

And while we're on the topic of being a father...  You can't claim to be a good dad and treat the mother of your child(ren) like dirt.  Whether married or divorced, it doesn't matter.  You are setting an example for your kids.  If you treat the mother of your son(s) like garbage, how do you expect him to grow up and treat his wife?  And if you treat the mother of your daughter(s) like garbage, then what type of man do you expect her to marry one day?  If you want a positive outcome for your own kid(s), then you have to model what its supposed to look like with your own actions.  Because if you are an abusive man, and your sons end up being abusive men and/or your daughters end up in abusive relationships, then you are primarily to blame for that.  So no, you cannot call yourself a good father while modeling hateful, abusive behavior to your kids.

Men, seriously, you need to do better.  Your women deserve better.  Not because we're perfect, but because you promised us at the altar that you'd be a man we could always count on and feel safe with.  And because you promised to treat us with love, not hate.  And you need to do better by your kids.  Otherwise, the cycle will continue.  And it can't continue.  It needs to stop.  Right now.  With our generation.

So after reading this, if you need to change your ways, change them.  If you need to apologize to your wife, do it.  Suck up your pride and do it.  And then, do better.  Speak better.  Speak kinder.  If you need to set a better example for your kids, then start right now.  If you need counseling or anger management, put your selfish, foolish pride aside and go.  Don't keep putting it off.  Go.  If you value your wife, your kids, and your marriage, then do it.  Do whatever you have to do to be a better man.

And this can go for the wives, too.  If you need to change your tune, too, then do it.  Marriage is a two-way street.  Its not all on them to make all the changes necessary to make it work.  We have to be willing to do the hard work and make the hard changes, too.

And to those of you men who get it right -- to those of you who treat your wives with the love, respect, honor, and care you promised them -- my hat's off to you.  You guys seriously rock!  Keep on doing what you're doing!

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