Why shouldn't women LTB?

(174 Posts)

This thread is prompted by two recent threads about the Relationship section.

It seems to me that 'society' is threatened by the thought that a woman might, of her own volition, up and leave a bad relationship. In my case, it was suggested I LTB because my DH is an alcoholic. Perfectly reasonable: but other commenters suggested I was 'selfish' and 'not taking my vows seriously' and that I should support him because he has a disease.

It seems that the 'grand narrative' is that the woman should stay with her man no matter how shitty the relationship. And this is reinforced by, for example, mainstream films. Second marriages are alway shown as flimsy, throwaway and meaningless, and the ex-wife pines after the husband she cruelly threw away. Two recent-ish offenders are 'Liar, Liar' and 'Die Hard'.

What do you think? Why is the default advice for women to stay and hold everything together, no matter how crap her man is treating her?

scallopsrgreat Mon 23-Sep-13 18:59:05

'Last resort', 'no good reason' all pretty subjective stuff. People should be able to leave relationships if they don't want them to continue. As Basil says why is the default that people should be in a relationship even when children are concerned? And the other assumption is that the requirement is a heterosexual, monogamous relationship.

I think is frightening to society (and specifically, men) if women start leaving relationships and marriages, especially. How can women be controlled otherwise?

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 23-Sep-13 19:00:40

I don't think the OP was commenting on the general state of things here more on the general state of things from other sources.

I don't think splitting up means that DC see either parent less. In fact in some cases it probably has an opposite effect where the parents get space away from their child to do other things and therefore are more able to put other things to the side and really spend time with them. I'm not talking Disney Parenting here - just straightforward looking forward to spending time with your child, talking to them, doing things with them - the kind of thing that it's difficult to find energy to do if you're a single parent with no time to yourself ever, for example.

I mean, yes, if you added up all the "hours per week spent in the same house as mum" and "hours per week spent in the same house as dad" it will add up to a maximum of 168 rather than the two combined being likely over this, but being present with them both at the same time isn't magically better...

BasilBabyEater Mon 23-Sep-13 19:02:47

But Diane why should the financial hardship automatically be shouldered by the PWC?
Research shows that 5 years after a divorce, women are poorer than when they were married while men are richer than when they were married.

That hardly seems as though the financial hardship supposedly occasioned by relationship breakdown, is being shared out evenly, does it. I wonder why not.

BasilBabyEater Mon 23-Sep-13 19:10:33

" to leave without any reason isn't fair to the other person."

Hmm. Discuss.

2 things spring to mind.

In a short term relationship with no commitment on either side, why is it unfair to the other person to leave without a reason? That rather implies that once you've entered a relationship with someone, you have the right to continue having a relationship with them and I believe you don't have the right to have a relationship with someone who doesn't want to have a relationship with you. I don't see why it's unfair to leave that sort of relationship for no particular reason and I don't believe that normal people leave more committed relationships for no reason - I've never, ever heard of anyone leaving for no reason at all, just because they woke up one day and had no reason to stay. Leaving is usually a positive choice, not an accidental drifting into something.

AnyFucker Mon 23-Sep-13 19:12:30

"to leave without any reason isn't fair to the other person."

Take that statement to the Nth degree, place it in the head of a controlling individual, and you have big problems

AnyFucker Mon 23-Sep-13 19:14:59

IMO, the converse is true

It is "unfair" (and damaging) to put pressure on someone to stay in a relationship they no longer want

Pickturethis Mon 23-Sep-13 19:17:43

So if a poster writes that her husband has left because he's unhappy, and doesn't want to discuss it or try again.

The advice will be that's fine it's his decision?

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 23-Sep-13 19:18:19

"...to leave without any reason isn't fair to the other person."

So it's fair to stay in a relationship you've effectively checked out of? That you're not happy with any more? That you're bored of?

I wouldn't want to have a relationship with someone who felt any of those things.

Although, and perhaps this is what you are trying to say, life and especially marriage and parenthood is often about thinking about others' needs instead of your own. Not unreasonably, of course, but for example if you do find yourself feeling a bit low and nostalgic for the old days of shagging randoms, then the first response isn't to say "I'm bored of this. I'm out." - you'd first look and think, well, is this a fleeting thought? Is this worth risking my marriage and my family for? And if you are, overall, happy, then it probably isn't.

But if it's not working or you've grown apart or that part of your life has come to an end, then that's a different thing - it would be lying to yourself, and effectively, lying to them, to stay in the relationship.

I think that children can be very happy and settled with parents in two households. I think it would be great if the "nuclear family" model broke down and became just one of a series of options, including single people raising children, extended families living together, people making a mutual decision with a platonic friend to have and raise children as separate co-parents, communal living, gay parents being more accepted and more of a normal thing, etc. Just because man+woman living together is the easiest way to get pregnant, it doesn't mean it's the best or most morally right way. (In fact any of the options which involve more adults being in the house for the earlier, intense period of childrearing is probably easier!)

AnyFucker Mon 23-Sep-13 19:20:37

Pick, what else would you suggest ? He be forced to stay ? No woman would be happy with that, surely ?

Anniegetyourgun Mon 23-Sep-13 19:24:41

Stand by your man... hmm, the lady who sang that got divorced. Four times. If she'd lived longer she might have made it five.

DioneTheDiabolist Mon 23-Sep-13 19:25:09

The financial hardship is shouldered by PWC, NRP and DCs. Moving, new home expenses and running two households instead of one costs more money. The reason the PWC is often still worse off 5 years later tends to be down to childcare costs (money and time).

Basil, how do you suggest this can be avoided?

Scallops, where there are no children, I think "I'm not happy" is absolutely a good enough reason to end a relationship. When children are involved, it's a different matter. Happiness is not a constant. If a person is unhappy, then I think that it deserves exploration to see why and what can be done about it.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 23-Sep-13 19:25:39

Basil put it better than I did. You don't have a right to a relationship with another person. If your partner turns around tomorrow and says "actually I don't want this any more" then that is perfectly fair and okay for them to do that. It might not feel like that to you of course, and certainly it is unfair in the same way that it is unfair if someone with a healthy lifestyle gets suddenly ill, or if a tree blows down onto your car, but it's not unfair in the way of being made redundant because your boss doesn't like you, or losing out on something because an advantage was given to somebody else. It's just unfortunate. Devastating, yes, but nobody is at fault because of it.

I think that people don't like to acknowledge this because if it is true for other people then it has to be true for them. And the thought of your partner leaving without you having done something to make them leave is awful. It's scary for people to admit to themselves that they don't have that control over their lives - a bit like how rape myths pervade because people want to believe "If I behave in a certain way, I can avoid or at least lower my chances of rape".

reggiebean Mon 23-Sep-13 19:26:22

Thank you Yoni, that is exactly what I was trying to say, just far less eloquently, clearly grin

I think there's a really damaging trend with people (both men and women) just up and leaving. You say that you've never heard of someone just waking up one day and leaving? Well, that happened to me. We weren't fighting, there weren't problems (so far as I could tell), and it was really a matter of he didn't want to be in a relationship because he didn't want to put in the effort (and we didn't have a particularly trying relationship, so it wasn't me being a drain!)

I would never suggest that someone stay in a relationship where they were truly unhappy, but even amongst my friends, I hear relationship advice given that makes me cringe. Relationships take work, and if you're not willing to put in that effort, you shouldn't enter into one in the first place.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 23-Sep-13 19:30:10

And, god, I find it a scary thought that DP could just leave tomorrow if he wanted to. But then, the thought that he could be sat there wanting to leave but not feeling it was fair to me is probably worse? Plus I console myself with the fact that he wouldn't have asked me to marry him if he had any doubts that we would last long term, but it is a frightening thought, and I can understand why people might create falsehoods of "People should only leave if they have a good reason to leave", because it means they either only have to make that decision if their partner is a dick, and they only risk it happening to them if they behave like a dick.

BasilBabyEater Mon 23-Sep-13 19:31:26

"The reason the PWC is often still worse off 5 years later tends to be down to childcare costs (money and time)."

So why is the NRP richer?

Why are all the costs with the PWC?

What's to do to stop it? Stop punishing women with poverty for the petty treason of leaving their husband.

BasilBabyEater Mon 23-Sep-13 19:39:40

But reggiebean, why would you want to be in a relationship with someone who couldn't be bothered to put in the effort of having a relationship with you?

You're well shot of him, surely?

I just don't see the huge objection to adults living together because they want to live together, rather than out of fear of poverty, loneliness, etc.

And Yoni if your DH suddenly decided that he really didn't like you that much, not enough to carry on living with you a) chances are he'd be an utter dick because reasonable people don't suddenly decide they don't like their partners unless they've been living a lie for years and b) although you'd obviously feel devastated about it, you'd also recognise that you can't carry on living with this man who feels so differently about you that he's become a different person to you.

EduCated Mon 23-Sep-13 19:42:39

I'm of an age where more of my friends have divorced parents than parents who are still together, or at least seems like it. The ones whose parents stayed together until the bitter end certainly don't seem to be as happy with the situationas those where their parents split that bit earlier on, and didn't stick it out trying to reconcile things when it was futile.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 23-Sep-13 19:46:50

Well obviously people do walk out because they can't be bothered any more, and perhaps they are more selfish than people who wait it out to see if the urge (or whatever it is) disappears or can be satiated inside of the marriage. But overall I have to disagree that the trend is damaging - I think it is a good thing. What would be better would be for people who aren't cut out for marriage, or who are looking perhaps for a more open kind of marriage (where's SGB when you need her? grin) to be able to admit that and for that to be a valid option rather than an outlandish decision.

Maybe my relationship is weird, or perhaps it's early days, but I don't find it work at all and I go through long periods sometimes where I just don't feel like doing the "couple thing" or want to be with anyone at all really (possibly depression related) - obviously I am there as much as I can be for DS - but we seem to muddle along. I do quite often see this notion of relationships being work/requiring effort etc but if anything, mine reduces work/effort because it reduces the amount of housework, thinking, organising etc that I have to do myself. I have heard people at work talking about how they like spending time with their girlfriend but sometimes they want to just sit in their bedroom and wank grin or something, and I just find that bizarre, that they feel compelled to spend all of their at-home time together. But (as I feel like I've said too many times now...) maybe we are the ones who are weird. Maybe I just got lucky in happening to find someone who is tolerant of my non-effortness grin

BasilBabyEater Mon 23-Sep-13 19:48:17

I've just remembered a couple I know where the wife left "for no reason". At least, that's what he told everyone and that's what it looked like to their mutual friends (and to him to some extent tbh).

What had actually happened, was that she had been to counselling and had some enormous light-bulb moments about her relationship with her mother and her father and therefore with her DH. She recognised that her whole marriage had been a lie - her going through the motions, not really feeling it. In fact her whole life had been like that - friendships, sometimes job choices. Her parents had been profoundly abusive in their different ways and she had also been gang-raped as a teenager (something she never told her DH) and she cut herself off from herself to protect herself. The counselling she went through put her back in touch with herself, it was painful, it was shocking, it was totally and completely devastating for her, but she had to face up to the fact that she had lived a lie for years.

So it looked as though she'd smashed apart a marriage "for no reason". There they were bimbling along, looking happy, getting on. Next minute she was filing for divorce, because she realised this man she lived with was a stranger, because she had been a stranger to herself. And as she got to know him all over again as herself, she realised that she had really nothing in common with him and if she'd been herself, she would never have thought she loved him.

What should she have done?

reggiebean Mon 23-Sep-13 19:48:51

Basil Yes, I am better off now, but I feel for his other ex-gf's, because he clearly has never grown up and left a path of heartbroken women in his wake.

I think the reason he's done this is because it's seen as acceptable to just up and leave a relationship because one day you wake up and miss being single. I've been with my dp for five years now, and yes, there are times when I miss being single on a night out, but I would never throw away the good things for one night of fun.

If you continue to just move on from relationship to relationship as soon as you get bored, you're never going to build those skills that you need to have a successful relationship, in work, in friendships, or in your personal life.

It takes work to stay happy in any relationship, and everyone will struggle at one point or another, but I find that the work is well worth it when you come out the other side, having learned more about the other person, and with a stronger relationship than you had before.

AnyFucker Mon 23-Sep-13 19:53:06

If my husband woke up one day and decided he didn't want to be with me any longer, he would be free to leave as soon as he wished.

I would not want someone to stay out of pity, a misplaced sense of duty, or for the kids. How demeaning that would be.

TheSporkforeatingkyriarchy Mon 23-Sep-13 19:59:56

There is the narrative that a woman holds the family together, but there is also the becoming more common knowledge that one is in far more danger once they leave than if they stay - once no longer under an oppressors control, it comes to the end game which is often grievous harm or even death - most are killed after they leave. I think pushing a victim to leave the bastard without ensuring a very strong safety support network can be quite risky and dangerous. And it goes to the macro level as well of course.

BasilBabyEater Mon 23-Sep-13 20:02:31

But again reggie, surely all those exes are better off without him?

And also, if they're heartbroken it's because they've invested themselves in this relationship where this guy is clearly not investing in them. Whcih women are socialised to do and I think it is very harmful to us.

YoniBottsBumgina Mon 23-Sep-13 20:03:59

But reggie, that's because you appreciate what you have and when you have a fleeting feeling of "Oh I miss this part of being single" you are able to weigh it up and realise that actually, if you were single you would miss what you had now even more.

If you're the kind of person who can't/doesn't want to do this and weigh up the options then you didn't really have the kind of relationship you would miss in the first place.

Relationships can't succeed/fail. They aren't a game or something to win. This is what we are told, all the time, when the reality is "this is working right now". If it stops working, then you have a choice - to see if it can work, or to end it. Either one is valid. But it would be better if people could be more honest with themselves/their partners about which kind of person they are in the first place.

reggiebean Mon 23-Sep-13 20:07:58

But it would be better if people could be more honest with themselves/their partners about which kind of person they are in the first place.

I agree 100%. I just think that if you're not willing to emotionally invest yourself, or put the effort in, you shouldn't be in a relationship in the first place. It's damaging to enter into a relationship with the attitude that, "When the going gets tough, I can just leave." if the other person isn't on the same page.

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