Everything I Need To Know: Abuse, Or Not Abuse?

AdviceDear Smart Bitch Sarah:

My husband is madly supportive, affectionate, loving and constantly put me before himself. But he can also be an abrasive, opinionated person and likes a good heated discussion. I, of course, love this about him. But other people don’t. In fact, I have a friend who is encouraging me to leave him, to the point where she claims he’s sleeping around on me, that he’s holding me hostage (I’m a stay-at-home mom. It lets me take care of a special needs child and gives me time to write.) Last time I talked to her she called me a sucker for staying with him, and said that he knows I’ll put up with any kind of abuse and still stay with him.

Abuse?? What abuse??

Now she has her friends sending me emails and IMs urging me to leave him, telling me that I’m better than that, and even offering me a place to stay! I have to socialize with her because she runs in the same circles as me, so a nice “Fuck off” is a no-no if I want to keep my life peaceful. But what can I do to stop this?

Confused, Not Abused

Dear Confused:

Question: does your husband put you down, denigrate or mock you during arguments in front of other people? When he enjoys a heated discussion, is it at your expense? In your objective opinion, is there any room, any room at all, for your friends to think he’s emotionally abusing you? I will take at face value that you’re not being abused, but I would be remiss if I didn’t also ask you to stop for one objective-as-possible moment and really ask yourself if what you describe as “abrasiveness” is in fact hurting you.

I say this gently and with respect to your problem at hand: abuse, emotional and physical, moves in cycles, with kindness and compensation and care following each episode of abuse, and then preceding the next one. I am going to trust your judgment that your husband is not abusing you, however, and look at the problem as you’ve outlined.

That said, you are being abused. By her.

If your friend cannot respect your plainly put, “Please stop this now,” you may have to deliver a plainly put “Fuck off.” She is demonstrating the same thoughtless and careless behavior she’s accused your husband of displaying.

It may be time to say firmly and calmly, “Please do not contact me again about this matter, and please do not ask anyone else to do so on your behalf. I am hurt by your actions, and I don’t wish to speak to you again.”

Romance, unfortunately, has a LONG history of abusive behavior masquerading as devotion and true love, and the subtext that it’s ok for a guy to hurt you if he loves you because it’s for your own good can still sneak in when you least expect it (*koff koff* Twilight *koff koff sparkle*). It’s unfortunate, but it’s also important to examine it because it’s a pervasive message that influences much of the entertainment directed at women, from teens to adults. Being the heroine, in my mind, means taking care of yourself and always making sure you are safe and strong.

Just because you “run in the same circles” and have to socialize with her does not mean that her behavior has no consequences, nor that you cannot tell her to knock it off. Moreover, if she’s worried that you have no spine and are cowing under abuse, show her that you do in fact have a backbone. Stand up to her abuse and tell her off. In all things, always demonstrate that you can take care of yourself.


General Bitching...

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  1. 1

    Totally agree with Sarah - It may be time to say firmly and calmly, “Please do not contact me again about this matter, and please do not ask anyone else to do so on your behalf. I am hurt by your actions, and I don’t wish to speak to you again.”

    Since you have not asked her for her help and (I assume) have never even hinted that you were thinking of leaving your husband, her campaign against your husband is way out of line.

    Not only might you think of broadening your social circles, you might also mention this to your husband – not to cause trouble between him and others, but as a demonstration of why perhaps not everyone appreciates his abrasive, opinionated behavior. Maybe he needs to tone it down a bit unless he’s with close friends who understand and accept him.

  2. 2
    JaniceG says:

    I’m going to assume that you know your own relationship best and that your husband is not physically or mentally abusive. And that’s, I think, what you need to get across to your friend? acquaintance? Unfortunately, the more you defend your husband and your marriage, the more she’s going to think that he’s got you under his thumb. I think the best thing to do is not to act threatened but to say calmly but firmly: “You are not part of my marriage and you can’t possibly know what goes on inside it. If you were a true friend, you would not continue to harass me or involve your friends in my private affairs. If you continue to do so, I’m going to have to put an end to any relationship I have with you.”

    Mind you, it would probably take a few deep breaths for me to stay calm. While I could see a friend thinking that an intervention might be for your own good, involving strangers in your private affairs is just spectacularly rude and grandstanding.

  3. 3

    sounds to me, off the top of my head, that your friend is a drama queen who needs to feel needed and to be a hero – even if there’s nothing to warrant her help.

    taking the position that you *are* happy in your marriage, and, as above, not in an abusive relationship, you should feel free to tell her to find another “cause” and leave you alone. Maybe she can start taking in stray cats or something else to raise her self-esteem.

    jmo, of course.

  4. 4
    Claudia says:

    I’m just wondering what gave your friend the idea that you needed saving.  Did your husband’s “abrasive” behavior ever leave you in tears or somehow give the impression that you were being cowed by an abusive tyrant? As SB Sarah said, the first thing to discern is whether or not there’s even a grain of logical sense for her (mistaken) reaction. 

    If it’s clear your friend is making this up out if whole cloth, and she doesn’t seem to respond to your polite attemps to set her straight, then maybe it’s time to be a bit more blunt with her.  Calling you a sucker and airing your private business sounds pretty abusive to me.  And I bet if you told her to fuck off then the resulting lack of intrusive email and IMs (not to mention the name-calling) would feel pretty peaceful.

    Honestly, it sounds more like she hates your husband than that she’s actually concerned for you.  People who are worried for you don’t call you names.

  5. 5
    CT says:

    No matter the reason (right or wrong), no intervention should include the intervener’s friends as opposed to the intervenee’s friends. Period. I don’t understand that logic. Why would you listen to HER friends? (Assuming that her friends are not your friends.)

    Something about this feels off to me.

  6. 6
    Tina C. says:

    Okay, on the one hand, it’s possible to be in an emotionally-abusive relationship and be in complete denial.  On the other hand, even if this were the case, the would-be savior is completely out-of-line because her behavior is further alienating and isolating the one that she thinks needs help.  Seems rather counterproductive.  That said, assuming that the letter-writer knows her own relationship and knows that her husband may be loud and opionated but is in no way abusive, could the woman who insists she needs saving have psychological problems of her own?  Could she be obsessed with the wife?  Her behavior sounds rather controlling, abusive, and borderline stalker-ish.  (I mean, aren’t stalkers usually jealous of the significant others of the object of their desire and convinced that said object would be better off with them?) 

    I agree that the LW needs to tell this woman to stop in no uncertain words and then block her online.  If that didn’t put an end to the harassment, I would then seriously consider a restraining order.

  7. 7
    Leah says:

    I’ve known several guys who can spout off obnoxiously in a heated discussion, but they were not abusive guys; they just didn’t seem to have a clue how they appeared to others.  If this is your husband, you might want to gently point this out to him every once in awhile—it can only help him with his own relationships.

    As to your friend, though….  You know, I could see a friend trying to point out verbal abuse, because sometimes women are not aware that they are being abused.  Ok.  Fair enough.  But to tell you that your husband is cheating on you—and apparently you know that this is not true….that’s just weird.  You say that you are worried about telling her where to stick it, because you have many mutual friends.  Well, I venture to say that if she’s doing this to you, she’s done it, or is doing it, to others. (My sister’s husband is in the Army, and it seems that there are always women out there who love to tell others that their deployed spouses are sleeping around, so I know this happens). I would mention it to a couple of friends—chances are, they’ll have some examples of her behavior.  Then you can feel more comfortable ending or scaling back your friendship.  Another thought—perhaps her husband abused and cheated on her, so she is hypersensitive to this.  If this is the case, she deserves your compassion, and I would just ignore her.  As she deals with her own pain, and moves on, this behavior should die down, too.

    Good luck!

  8. 8
    Ms Manna says:

    I completely agree with Sarah.  Even if CNA was being abused, this ‘friend’ is being obnoxious and counter-productive, to the point where, as events are described, it’s hard to believe she’s really doing it from good intentions.  Particularly, involving strangers in someone else’s personal business without her consent is outrageous.

    Mind you, I do wonder whether these ‘friends’ are real, or whether there might be a little sockpuppetting being brought into play to pile on pressure.  I wonder if it might be a good idea to speak to these friends in person (rather than by replying to the e-mails or IMs) and first of all ask them if they did send the communications, and then, if they did, ask them to stop.

  9. 9
    KCfla says:

    That said, you are being abused. By her.

    I think that sums it up in a nutshell.
    *If* you are being abused ( and I would venture to guess you would know that CNA) then it is a friend’s job to be supportive, not throw all this in your face.

    I had/have a friend that was in the *he’s cheating/lying/nogoodforyou* relationship. And as much as I wanted to scream from the rooftops for her to dump his sorry ass, I said nothing.  It was her marriage, not mine. I laughed and cryed with her, and let her know that if there was anything I could do ( up to including the need for a shovel )I’d be there, and then said no more.
    She finally dumped his sorry ass, and I still have my best friend.
    But if I’d gone on ranting to her about dumping him? The only result would have been HER dumping ME. I hoped I was a better friend than that. ( however, had he hit/slapped/physically abused her? I have a sword, and I know how to use it! “Nuf said)

    This woman that claims to be your friend?- SO NOT! It smells to me like there is an ulterior motive here, but what only you could guess.

  10. 10
    Kalen Hughes says:

    I’d say a well timed “Fuck off” is overdue. And then I’d tell this busy body that if she didn’t stop pushing her fantasy of my marriage off as reality to all our mutual acquaintance, she’d be looking at a restraining order for harassment. That ought to shut her up.

  11. 11
    missbanshee says:

    Completely agree. The friend is the abuser. Some people just YEARN for drama, and they will go to any lengths to find it. This is sabotage and abuse by someone who is supposed to be a friend, and it is unacceptable. It’s not your husband (my boyfriend can be abrasive at times, but I’m quite adept at rolling my eyes at it, so there you go – no abuse there) it’s a saboteur who is masquerading as a friend. Don’t let her question your feelings.

  12. 12
    Silver James says:

    Is the woman in a relationship herself? If this were a romance novel, I’d have to wonder if perhaps she has her eye on CNA’s husband. It’s happened before. If she can drive off CNA, then the field is open for her to step in on the hubby and make him feel all better.

    Whatever the woman’s motivation, she’s poison. CNA needs to ask her one time to stop contacting her. Then she needs to ignore the emails (but keep them in a file in case they are needed as evidence later) and limit contact in their shared social circle. If it persists, see about a restraining order. The woman sounds seriously unbalanced to me.

  13. 13

    Sounds to me like the friend is the one trying to be controlling and manipulative.  That’s not to say there aren’t problems between you and your husband, but I’d dump the friend. 

    I’m a big fan of marriage counseling when it’s called for.  In my 35 years with my husband we’ve opted for professional help three times (once before we were married), and each time it made a very positive difference.  Your relationship might benefit from some professional insight.

  14. 14
    Anon76 says:

    This first part sums it all up for me:

    “My husband is madly supportive, affectionate, loving and constantly put me before himself. But he can also be an abrasive, opinionated person and likes a good heated discussion. I, of course, love this about him. But other people don’t.”

    So what’s up the girlfriend’s snoot? Big deal if this guy is not her cuppa. I know lots of happily married couples where I wonder what the chick sees in the guy, and visa-versa.  One person’s “perfect mate” is certainly not another’s.

    Tell the woman to back off. You’ve become her “cause-of-the-day” and that in and of itself can be abusive. (And it is if she is dragging others into her cause.)

    As long as you don’t feel kow-towed by your hubby, then all is good.

  15. 15
    Bianca says:

    I’d have to wonder if perhaps she has her eye on CNA’s husband.

    YES!  I was just about to comment on this.  IF this were a romance novel…  This “friend” seems awfully sure that he’s cheating on CNA – which could mean that the husband is sleeping with the friend…or the friend just wants the wife out of the way.

    That, or the friend is just imbalanced.  Though – it seems awfully strange that this whole situation arose out of nothing more than a “good-hearted, but occasionally abrasive” husband.  There has to be more to this; I’m thinking couples who act respectful and happy towards each other in public don’t engender this kind of suspicion in their marriage.  And if there’s more than one person urging her to get out of the marriage?  WTF?  Color me cynical, but I’m not totally buying what CNA is selling here – I mean, people are actually offering her a place to stay?!  And, I’m not totally sold that it’s just the friend’s other friends either – for example, would you e-mail a total stranger and tell them to leave their marriage?  Something is definitely rotten here, but from this letter, it’s hard to tell what is really going on.

    And the fact that the friend is doing all of this out of pure malice, just for her crazy kicks…  I really don’t know about that.  That’s pretty Fatal Attraction-esque level of crazy; if that showed up in a romance novel, I’d be fine with it, but in real life…?!  Again, I think there’s more possibly going on here than CNA has written.

  16. 16
    natasha says:

    Dear Confused.
    If this is any help I had a friend who did the same thing to me. From the moment I met my husband (to be at that stage) she told me to dump him, that he was messing around behind my back, that he looked violent etc etc.

    11 years later, my husband and I are still together. My friend started acting so bad towards DH that I had to cut ties. My husband is a straight speaking person (its called “calling a spade a spade” here). He can get on people’s nerves by doing this but at the same time there is nobody who would help people faster than my husband.

    I think you need to ask yourself: Are you happy with him? Is he good to your child? Does he stick by you through think and thin.

    If the answers are yes then it may be time to say good bye to this friend.

    All the best,

  17. 17
    StephanieL says:

    Sounds like your “friend” is the one with the abuse issues.  Seriously, telling someone that their husband is cheating on them, calling you a sucker for staying with your husband is being a manipulative bully.  I’d also have to wonder if her motivations are because she really wants your husband.  The whole situation just sounds fishy to me.  Even if your husband is opinionate and occasionally abrasive that does not qualify as abuse, espcially since these are traits you aparently love about him.  Even if she is in the same social circles, enough is enough.  If she doesn’t like these qualities of your husband than she simply should keep her and her toxic ways to herself and far away from you.

  18. 18
    Holly says:

    As someone who went through something similar to what it sounds like CNA is going through, I can say that Sarah’s advice is spot-on. My parents and one of my friends did not like my husband (then-boyfriend). Several times, my parents suggested that he was abusive. He wasn’t and never has been. My friend didn’t say he was abusive, but she told me there was something strange about him and that she didn’t like him. Well, I worked things out with my parents in the end because I knew that they had my best interests at heart even if they were wrong. My “friend” just kept on it and eventually, we were not friends anymore.
    Looking back, I think that my parents said what they said because I was living with them at the time and they were very nervous about me going out into the Big Bad World. As for the friend…believe it or not, Silver James’s idea was right. Aside from the things she said, I’d started to feel uncomfortable with her because I felt like she was being too friendly towards my husband, while he was always just polite to her.
    The real irony to me is that not only was my husband never abusive—his support has actually helped me to become more confident, assertive and outgoing. Which seems like the opposite of abuse. And yeah, maybe my husband’s a bit eccentric, but so am I!
    Anyway, to sum up, I work for an organization that helps domestic violence victims so I know how serious abuse is, and how important it is for victims to get help. But there are always people who say things—including accusations of abuse—for their own reasons. None of us can know for sure everything that is going on with CNA. But I would bet that she knows in her heart whether or not she is being abused. And if she isn’t…she should tell her “friend” to leave her alone.

  19. 19

    I have a slightly different take on this one—namely, that at this distance, I don’t think we’re in a position to effectively second-guess the players in the scenario as described.

    Here’s the thing: based on the circumstances as described, it’s very possible that CNA’s “friend” is indeed an unstable and dangerous person out to disrupt CNA’s relationship.  But I find it interesting that CNA thinks it necessary to defend her husband’s “abrasive” personality in the opening sentences, indicating that the “friend” is not the only person for whom that personality is an issue.  And so I can’t rule out the possibility that the “friend” may be the one who’s correctly reading the situation.  To me, the language CNA uses to describe her husband’s behavior—madly supportive, affectionate, constantly puts her first—could also be read, particularly in combination with that abrasive personality, to suggest that it’s the husband who’s dangerously obsessive.

    Put simply, I have just enough context to find both possibilities plausible—and not nearly enough context, in the form of first-hand evidence, to judge between them.  So while I agree that it’s very possible, even likely, that CNA has a dangerously unstable personality in her orbit, I strongly believe that we, online, are not in a position to discern whether it’s her friend or her husband.

    I think what CNA needs is the judgment of one or several objective third parties who have that firsthand context.  Clearly she does need to remove the dangerously unstable person from her immediate vicinity—but she also needs to make sure that the person she removes is the right one.

  20. 20
    Nikol says:

    I read all the comments that the others left…and it’s pretty good advice; you should take it.

    All I would like to say is that you shouldn’t have to explain yourself or your discuss anything that goes on within your relationship with your friend – it’s none of her business. The hell with what she thinks. Her opinion doesn’t matter… you’re grown and you make your on decisions! So tell her to stay the

    Fuck out of your Business!

  21. 21
    The Extra OddNari says:

    Dear writer,

    I confess I am utterly astonished that you need help to tell someone off for slandering your husband. You know your husband quite well, it seems, seeing that you have spoken of his behaviour, warts and all. But this so-called friend of yours is actually daring to say that your husband sleeps around? That you are held hostage by him? That you are a sucker? And you are wondering how to politely tell her to fuck off?

    I think she has offered you more provocation than a mere “fuck off” warrants, I think it is time for a serious smack-down. Dude, this person is saying rotten things about your husband not just to you but perhaps to her little helpers (how else did she get her “friends” on this bandwagon to get you to leave him?!?) and you are wondering how to be gentle with her? Because you move around in the same social circles as her? The same social circles that just might already be rife with rumours this charming friend may have passed around?

    What seems wayyy off to me is that you say you want to keep your life “peaceful” and therefore you don’t want to be aggressive towards your friend. Huh. It does not bother you that anyone would be saying such things about your husband, and that, too, to your face? That sounds as strange as this friend’s ridiculous behaviour. This person is giving you a lot of provocation here, methinks.

    It’s time to take up the cudgels, in my opinion. No one has the right to interfere in a relationship till one of the principals asks for it and it is time to remind your friend of the same.

    (And honestly, if anyone went around badmouthing any relative of mine, child, parent, sibling or spouse/partner, they would sure get something more aggressive from me than a charming fuck-off.) I think you need to re-think your priorities – is this friend’s feelings your chief concern or what she has been saying about you and your spouse?

    Shocked, not confused

  22. 22
    Elizabeth says:

    I agree with John C. Bunnell and Bianca.  There’s something off about this whole situation, somehow, and my bullshit meter is clanging loudly at the “multiple people are agreeing with this friend”.  I’m not saying what the friend is doing is right, but I think that there is much more to this situation than is presented in CNA’s letter.

    It’s that, and does anyone actually need advice for what to do when someone is harassing them, day in and out?  You tell them to stop immediately or you will go to the police: end of the story!  And, also, what does the husband think of the situation?  Why doesn’t CNA tell her husband about the whole affair?  Is she afraid that his “abrasive” personality will turn violent?  It’s gotten to the point where the husband needs to know about this; it’s no longer an issue that you keep quiet for the sake of neighborhood harmony.

    So much speculation, so little info to go on.  I wish I could write the friend off as just being insane, but it’s hard to tell.

  23. 23
    The Scarlet Which says:

    Whenever I ask myself if I’m crazy, when clearly someone else has been tippling the Crazy Juice, I have a very good friend that reminds me “what other people think of you is none of your business.”
    Hard to remember. But seriously. Someone in this situation is not treating this woman very well—maybe she should take care of herself.

  24. 24
    Suze says:

    If this were a romance novel, I’d have to wonder if perhaps she has her eye on CNA’s husband.

    Exactly what I was thinking!

    There has to be more to this; I’m thinking couples who act respectful and happy towards each other in public don’t engender this kind of suspicion in their marriage.  And if there’s more than one person urging her to get out of the marriage?  WTF?  Color me cynical, but I’m not totally buying what CNA is selling here – I mean, people are actually offering her a place to stay?!  …

    And the fact that the friend is doing all of this out of pure malice, just for her crazy kicks…  I really don’t know about that.

    I’m uneasy because a LOT of people, especially but not exclusively women, don’t realize they were in an abusive relationship until 2 or 3 months AFTER they get out of it.

    On the other hand, many men whom I know and love are:

    - obnoxious assholes in some venues
    – sweet and cuddly bears in other venues
    – homophobic bigots sometimes
    – generous and inclusive sometimes
    – dangerous and violent
    – peace-loving and calm
    – etc.
    – and who really enjoy poking sticks into wasps’ nests just to see what happens

    It’s entirely possible that CNA is in a warm and loving relationship with a smart, funny, considerate (to her) man who’s an asshole in public to her friend-type acquaintances.

    And I unfortunately know an uncomfortable number of people who ARE full of malice and get their kicks by stirring up drama about other people’s lives.  Which could look a lot like obnoxious asshole behaviour in some men.

    I totally second the advice to take an objective look at, and get a neutral opinion about, the dynamics of the relationship between CNA and her hubby.  Not from the supposed friend, though, because even if the relationship IS abusive, this friend-type person is NOT helping.

  25. 25
    Goblin says:

    Maybe CNA should ask her husband whether he knows of any reasons why the “friend” (but please; she is sooooooo not a friend) doesn’t like him. I agree with the above poster who said it sounds like the “friend” is acting out of dislike for the husband, rather than any wish to help CNA herself.

    Even if the husband has no new information to provide, he should know what’s going on. It’s still CNA’s mess to sort out, but he is being slandered and should know that. It may be affecting his relationships with others.

  26. 26
    Catherine says:

    One thing to consider is also what does CNA’s friend hear from CNA about her husband?  I have a number of close friends who have been in relationships, good and bad over the years.  Because I’m good at listening, I tend to be the person who gets vented at whenever a boyfriend does something obnoxious… so I can end up with quite a negative view of someone’s relationship, warranted or not (there’s less immediate urge to ring someone when your boyfriend has just done something spectacularly nice, after all).  I have no idea whether this might be what’s fuelling the friend’s ideas or not.

    Having said that, I’ve also seen friends go through some relationships which really did become toxic and abusive over their course.  I’ve found that the most helpful thing I can do is to listen to everything, and to periodically ask them to tell me what are the good things about this person / relationship – I don’t want to hate my friends’ boyfriends because I only ever hear bad things about them!  If there is nothing wrong, then this is not a bad way to get my friend into a more cheerful frame of mind after a good vent.  On the other hand, if my friend thinks and thinks and really can’t come up with anything good… well, it’s quite telling.  This has the advantage of letting my friend find the problem (if it exists) for herself, rather than having me make accusations which she will feel bound to defend.  And it allows her to weigh up what is good and bad and reaffirm whether it is worth continuing or not.


  27. 27
    R E G says:

    I’m going to echo Catherine and ask CNA how much talking she does about her husband and her personal life. I know someone whose idea of small talk is to complain endlessly and in minute detail about her husband – of thirty odd years. Frankly, I long ago made up my mind never to complain about my husband since it only made me look stupid for picking him.

    Sometimes, when your world is very small, the he said-she said events are the big events and we want to share them. If that’s the case it’s time to pick another topic.

    Once in a moment of complete exasperation I begged my friend to stop complaining about her husband. She was SHOCKED –  and in complete denial. She simply had no idea how the litany of “he was late picking me up”, ” he made other plans”, ” he bought useless junk”, “he watches sports all day with deadbeats” etc etc came across.

  28. 28

    Part of the trouble here is that we have so few actual details in evidence—and as Elizabeth suggests above, the limited detail tends to suggest that something’s “off” about the entire situation.

    Even the details we have are confusing.  Concerned Friend “runs in the same circles” as CNA, to a degree that requires them to socialize.  Concerned Friend’s friends are part of CF’s email/IM campaign.  This suggests that CF’s perception of the relationship should be widely known in the indicated social circles—and that that perception is shared.  Yet CNA is concerned only about CF’s behavior, as if the situation hasn’t yet had any impact on CNA’s relationships with their mutual friends and acquaintances.  This seems . . . odd, at the least.  I’m also struck by CNA’s complete failure to mention what her other friends think of CF’s behavior or temperament.

    Purely on the basis of the letter above, my own gut reaction is that the husband, not the Concerned Friend, is the more likely toxic personality in the present case; to me, the scenario looks way too much like background material from an episode of 48 Hours, the CBS true-crime series.  But that’s a pure guess, and it’s just as possible that the Concerned Friend is as off-base as CNA paints her.  We simply don’t have enough information to reach an informed conclusion one way or the other.

  29. 29
    Liz says:

    Has anyone stopped to think that it is the husband that this friend wants out of the way?  It seems to me as if she is trying to break CNA’s self-esteem by calling her a sucker, etc. for stayin with the husband.  That way once she has succeeded in brain-washing CNA into leaving the husband, she can pick up the pieces in a way that would make her the only person in CNA’s life, the only person who truly knows what is good for her.  This friend may not ever realize that she is doing this or that she is doing it for her own good and not CNA’s.

  30. 30
    eggs says:

    While it’s possible that the husband here is an abusive asshole, it’s also possible that he engages in behavior that would be abusive IF HE DID IT TO HER FRIEND, but is not abusive when he does it to her.  I had a childhood friend raised in an abusive household with major alcohol issues that regularly ended with her dad beating her mom. As a result, she became rabidly anti-male.

    I grew up in a reasonably happy household with a stay at home mom and I am now a stay at home mom myself with a nice happy life.  My husband does ALL of the work outside of the home and earns ALL of the income, so it’s fine by me that I do ALL of the work inside the home.  And I can tell you, I don’t overwork myself – if I don’t want to do something it can just damn well wait until I’m ready (I’m looking at you, vacuum cleaner!). 

    It drove my friend NUTS that this was the case.  She even thought it was abusive that my husband would ask me to make him a cup of tea!  She thought it was “abusive” that I was “a slave” to my husband.  It didn’t matter to her that we were happy, because SHE would never be happy “trapped” in my marriage, she couldn’t conceive that I was.  She, OTOH, was a busy dr with a stay-at-home husband who did some work from home to supplement their income and most of the housework.  I would have been equally miserable living her life of 20 hour shifts and hardly seeing my kids. 

    In the end we were all out to dinner for her birthday and my husband made a complaint that some politician was “just making motherhood statements” instead of presenting real policy, and she went off at him for about 45 mins straight in a crowded bar about how he was a “sexist pig” with “no respect for women” because “everyone knew” that the expression “motherhood statement” was specifically designed to denigrate the profession of motherhood in particular and women in general.  She was actually screaming at him to the point that other people in the bar were reeling back.  He was polite to her, but held his ground that he had not intended to denigrate women by using the expression.  She’s basically never spoken to me again because I “chose my abuser” over her.

    Now if HER husband, knowing HER history (e.g. mom getting a black eye for not making a cup of coffee fast enough) expected HER to do all the chores around the home, or slapped her on the butt and said jokingly, “Hey bitch, where’s my joe?”, then I would agree that it was abusive – but when my husband does it to me?  Not so much.  As birds of a feather tend to flock together, I have no doubt that she had many like-minded acquaintances who thought my relationship was abusive.  None of them were, thankfully, stupid enough to try and run that line by me.  That’s my 0.02 worth.

    In amy case, if this were a romance novel, then I’d say that the “friend” was a bunny boiler who’d had a one night stand with the husband who then dumped her and she’s determined to wreck his life as payback.

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