We all know someone we care about who is (or has) dating or is married to someone we don’t care much for. When I was a teenager (in-between high school and college) I dated a guy my parents hated, and for good reason. I didn’t know that they knew he pushed me around and was emotionally abusive. They encouraged me to stop seeing him. They even threatened to kick me out of the house if I failed to end the relationship. When I didn’t, they stood by their threat and I was on my own. I won’t go into the rest of the story, but it helps set the stage for this post.
A family member, I’ll call her Judy, is in a similar situation. I am doing my best to remain impartial by offering little tidbits of advice here and there without blatantly encouraging her to leave him. Recently it came to my attention that I know more about the status of Judy’s relationship than any one else in the family. This has put me in somewhat of an awkward position, so I really watch what I say to whom.
As someone who has “been there, done that” I respect that she is stuck in the situation. She loves him, but she isn’t sure she wants to spend the rest of her life with him. As an outsider, I just cannot see why she stays with him. Once a friend of mine said, “Why didn’t you tell me your opinion of him?” referring to her now ex-husband. My response to her was that she needed to make her own decision about him and that I didn’t want my opinion of him to ruin our friendship. I use this same line of thinking to remind members of the family that it is Judy’s decision. No matter what we all think of her boyfriend, she has to be the one who decides to stay or leave. And until she is ready to take that step there is nothing we can say or do to force her to do so.
As a mother of girls, my heart goes out to Judy’s parents. It is killing them to watch their daughter struggle in her relationship. They want to rush in and make it better. And I don’t blame them as I would want to do the same thing. But we cannot. So we sit and wait in hopes that she will realize she deserves better. But if she doesn’t come to that realization, we can only hope that she will be happy with her decision to stay.
It is going to be one very interesting Christmas dinner at our house this year!
by Kelly Damron
Photo graciously provided by DaDaAce, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved