Monday, October 10, 2011

Flipping a Switch

I read the intake form in front of me and prepare for the initial consultation.  "My spouse wants a divorce, ..."   Usually, the unspoken second half of that statement typically is, "but I don't."

Yet, want and need are two different things.

I walk into the conference room.  It's a young woman.  Her eyes are red.  Married for a few years, she says her husband has changed.  Some time ago, he said he wanted a divorce and started packing his stuff.  She just about fell apart.  She begged him to stay, promised him the moon, and even started going to counseling.  Things were better for some time.  And yet, every now and then, he would bring it up, and throw her off balance again.  Every time, she would react, make some other change, and try harder.  But, although she could not feel it at first, every time he threatened divorce, a part of her trust died.  Sadly, what he interpreted as successful manipulation was actually a slow death.

Every time he brought it up, she was forced to mentally prepare for a life without him.  How would the bills be paid?  Who would take care of their little girl while she worked?  Though there was no way for him to notice, the more he brought it up, the more defined her plans became. 
Then, the switch flipped.

This time, when he threatened to pack his bags, she helped him.  When he said he wanted a divorce, she said, "You're getting your divorce.  I'm meeting with the attorney tomorrow."

Silence.  Shock.  And yet, pride would not allow him to back down.  He took his bags and left.

Now, he's the one promising the moon, counseling, and anything else he can think of.  Her response is simple.  "You forced me to learn to live without you.  You complained so much you actually convinced me that you would be happier without me.  You can't come back.  I want you to be happy."

She reaches for the box of tissues and wipes the tears.  She looks at me and says, "I can't waste any more time.  I gave it my all, but I can't stay in this relationship and run the chance that in a month or five years, he'll pull the same thing.  I love him, but I'm done.  I'm surprised at how strong I am.  Since he's left, I'm finally at peace.  I've made up my mind."

She adds, "I don't want this divorce.  But, I need it."


Suz said...

"I want you to be happy." He won't be happy until he has someone else under his thumb.

Why do non-manipulators tolerate manipulators for so long? Are we that naive? Do we really believe they're playing but the same rules we are?

Suz said...

"by," not "but." pardon my duh.

Brigid said...

She is very brave. And very smart. More than she knows.

Gail said...

There are so many forms of manipulation and abuse...I am glad she is brave enough and strong enough to know this is what she needs.

Thank you for helping.

Old NFO said...

Good for her! Sadly, it has come to this, but at least she will be out of an abusive relationship!