It wasn't what she said.
Eerily, it was the tone in her voice.
Resigned. Renouced. Abdicated from the joy that I had been accustomed to knowing for so many years. And then, after some dialogue, what appeared to be surrender to her situation.
After countless dialogues with girlfriends about themselves or those closest to them...I'm convinced her situation is not unique.
When the power balance shifts in a relationship and one person consistently and often cruelly subjects the other to their demands, the spirit of the overpowered is lost and their identity is morphed into what the dominator decides it should be.
Mark my words.
It's happening in more relationships/marriages than we care to concern ourselves with...until, it's someone close to you, and then, it makes a difference.
But how? How does it happen? What perfect storm of factors or convergence of scenarios would allow a beautiful, educated, capable woman to fall prey to the harsh extremes and irrational behaviors of the man who vowed to love and protect her for the rest of her life?
Let me begin by saying that it doesn't happen over night. Not even remotely.
There may be a sign, a red flag here or there of controlling behavior, but often in the dating stages, it's passed off as attentiveness or territorial love, which may be welcomed if the woman hasn't been loved in some time.
And then once a life is created....a house, a business, children, extended family...well, then beyond the blessings, stress rears its ugly head and unfortunately, what appeared to be love before is now the reality of the situation....control, limitations, ugly outbursts, and blame.
Most of these scenarios feel shameful and humiliating to the one who's finding out the real side of her partner....which is both frightening and frustrating.
But who do you share the details with? Especially, when your partner is loved by many and appears "normal" to the outside world.
The answer is you don't. At least probably not for a long time.
And by that point, your spirit becomes eroded, your confidence diminished, and your prospects for the future are grim.
But as I sat on the phone with my friend...I gave her this advice...
"Find your voice again. Never, never, never stop fighting for what you know to be true in your marriage. You are in a partnering relationship, not a parental one. You are to afford each other mutual respect and to make decisions jointly. You are competent, capable and resourceful and no one can take that away from you. We teach people how to treat us, so let him know that you will not accept abusive language, controlling demands or irrational/fear based behaviors. Enough is enough."
I am bloody over this control dynamic that I'm witnessing in too many relationships. Men and women deserve respect in relationships...this comes from actions, not from words.
Until then, I swear to God if I hear of another man trying to usurp his power over the hands and heart of one of my girlfriends, I'm taking a God damn two by four to their heads. Mark my words.