Judgment, it is something we all do. It is something I am trying hard not to do. This week in the news is the updated Anthony Weiner scandal. I was talking to a friend just yesterday about the scandal. I said I would rather watch a bunch of news about a new, loved baby prince than more about the Weiner ridiculousness. My friend asked if his wife had left him yet. After confirming she stood by his side in yesterdays news conference, my friend said “How stupid to stay with a man who would do that.”
At one time, I would have parroted that statement. But, after the last year, where my marriage has hit some very rocky spots, I can no longer say this. It is now easier to understand why spouses stay with people who cheat, lie, steal and abuse the other spouse. Hope. The person who makes the transgression always apologizes and swears they will change. Things will get better. And, we hope it is so.
I am not advocating that anyone in an abusive relationship stay there, just that I understand at some level why people stay. I would urge anyone in a relationship facing these struggles to do more than just accept an apology and say “I will get better”. Without a clear plan of action, a change in trigger activity, and therapy, none of these things can actually be changed. If there is true progress, then staying can make sense. If there is no progress, or worse, no remorse for such destructive behavior, then I implore you to start protecting yourself and the children inside the marriage. Saying “I’m sorry” is not enough. Love is not enough to heal wounds, spiritual or physical.
Remember parents, the behavior you model will be the behavior your children will emulate in many cases. Mothers, treat your husbands the way you want your future daughter in laws to treat your baby boys. Act the way you want your future daughters act. Fathers, treat your wives the way you want your daughters husbands to be treated. Act the way you want your sons to act. As parents we teach our kids how to navigate relationships: the way they will see themselves, friendships and spouses. Expect that from yourself and expect it from your spouse.
I don’t know enough about the Anthony Weiner situation to know if he really has started his journey to change his ways and become a better man, a better role model for his son. It’s possible. But I can no longer say his wife is wrong to stay with him. Only she knows that. Only she knows the work that has gone into healing the relationship. I now take a minute to think about the relationship and the hard times my own relationship has endured this last year. Now, I only wish: The hope in her relationship is not misplaced and that they are both working on healing.