marriage

Platonic opposite-sex friends without jealous spouses…Or, Saw an old friend for lunch yesterday

It was so good to see my pastor-friend “Mike” again.

He says his wife is “very jealous,” yet she doesn’t know me, doesn’t want to friend people on Facebook just because they’re his friends, doesn’t monitor his conversations with me, none of this.

If what he means is, she doesn’t want to share him sexually, that’s not “jealousy,” that’s normal.  🙂  No, I don’t consider her jealous, since she’s never shown any sign of jealousy with me.

Yes, Mike is in my college memoirs.  We’ve known each other since InterVarsity started up my sophomore year.  I even had a crush on him for a while.  But it wasn’t returned, I moved on to my now-husband, and our friendship has always been strictly platonic.  As Mike puts it, we flirt on occasion, but we always maintain boundaries.

What did we talk about?  Family.  Church.  Religion.  Nothing to be alarmed about.

Some people, even in the twenty-first century, still have problems with married people having opposite-sex friends.  Or people flirting innocently and harmlessly with opposite-sex friends.

While some people do turn it into affairs, that’s their problem.  Let the rest of us have our friends without fear of facing an angry spouse, or having to justify it.

Mike was part of my main circle of friends in college, even though it was mostly female.  We called him an “honorary woman.”  Even though half of us had crushes on him at some point, he never dated us.

I’ve kept up with that circle over the years, and now we’re all on Facebook, connected though scattered across the state.  It would be a shame to break that up because of a jealous spouse.  It’s so good to see this is not a problem.

 

On venting to others about husband/wife, ie, how Richard put me into an impossible position

This article by Carolyn Hax, published this weekend, brings up the question of venting to others about one’s husband/wife.

Reading this and the comments, and remembering the situation with Richard/Tracy, brings up some conclusions.  I don’t want to keep going on about that situation anymore, especially since (after I finally successfully blocked them) my stalkers seem to have dropped off the face of the earth.  But this is an important point that applies to all marriages, and my situation illustrates that.

The “nutterati,” as she calls her commenters, note that if you want your family member/friend to get along with your significant other (SO), then DON’T complain to this person about your SO.  Look for advice, maybe, but don’t just vent and paint them horribly all the time.  You could just be having normal relationship arguments, nothing abusive, but now your mom/friend thinks you’re married to a controlling jerk.

If you’re having real problems and this person could indeed be abusive, then going to friends/family can be helpful.  But most of the time, it’s not abuse.

Richard used to come to me all the time with stories of how his wife was abusing him and the kids.  Then he turned around and expected me to be buddies with her, or else she wouldn’t allow me to be buddies with him.

But how can anyone be buddies with the person who is abusing her best friend?  It just isn’t possible!

If Tracy really was abusing him and the children (and I did see examples of it myself), then he should’ve left her.  If he wanted me to be friends with Tracy, and/or if he was lying/exaggerating, then he should never have told me about the abuse.

But because he told me, and I could not be friends with my best friend’s abuser, he put me into an impossible position: loyalty to him and my principles, vs. pleasing his wife so he and I could be friends.  Then after putting me in this position, he allowed his wife to rip me to shreds.  I became the scapegoat he sacrificed to her.

This is no position in which to put your friends/family.  If you’re being abused, go to your friends for help, not just to vent.  If you’re not being abused, then keep your mouth shut, except to ask for advice and different perspectives on resolving the issue.

No, Tracy, if you’re reading this, I was not “wrong.”  Your husband made it impossible for me to be friends with you, especially as your own actions confirmed what he told me.  No friend can withstand pressure like this.  Stop making me your scapegoat, and work on your marriage.

Who’s the Neanderthal here?: On Jealousy and Opposite-Sex Friends

Just read the latest Annie’s Mailbox and the comments made by readers.  That poor woman, Betty–sends an old friend and co-worker a nice Christmas card, trying to get back in touch, and now people who don’t even know her are saying such things as,

HE IS OBVIOUSLY IS 5CREWING AROUND WITH THIS 5TINKING VVHORE.  ANYONE WHO THINKS OTHERWISE IS  BLIND, RETARDED NEANDERTHAL. (commenter on the Arcamax link [now removed])

People are saying things like, the note was too personal.  One commenter said,

Sorry I don’t know any woman outside of a formal requirement who would send a card to a married man she wasn’t plowing, missed plowing, or was wanting to plow for exactly the reasons listed here.

I feel sorry for this poor Betty.  For one thing, it’s been three years and, from what she wrote, it sounds like they haven’t seen each other in those three years.  We have nothing more to go on than a jealous wife’s claims–and even her children are telling her to let it go, already.  It’s absolutely ridiculous.

Fortunately, most of the commenters on these two sites are far more reasonable, and modern, and see this as an innocent note which the wife is blowing way out of proportion.  They’re far more concerned about the husband’s actions.

But as has also been noted, while his actions could be those of a guilty party, they’re also likely to be those of a guy who knows he’s innocent and doesn’t want to get into a fight with his jealous wife.

An affair is not at all the only reason why some people hide things from their spouses: Some people will fly off the handle about things that do not deserve it.  So either way, Bill and his wife need counseling.

I mean, geez, I send notes like that to people all the time.  Maybe a Christmas card, maybe a letter, Facebook post, an e-mail.  Male, female, married, single, it makes no difference.  And I’m a respectable woman who does not go around trying to “plow” anybody but my own husband.

My husband, too, looked at the column, and said that Betty did nothing wrong.  He said it’s quite likely that “Bill” just feels like he’s doing nothing wrong, does not want to be forced to drop an innocent friend–especially if he’s feeling lonely and missing his old co-workers–and doesn’t want to get into an argument over it, so that’s why he hides it.  And note that he did try to display the Christmas card; why would he do that if Betty were his mistress?

It just burns me up that there are still people who think that jealousy without actual cause (this card from Betty is hardly cause) and trying to control their spouses is somehow “right.”  That people are accusing this Betty of things that she probably was not doing.

People need to lighten up already.  The circles I’m used to, are far more relaxed about opposite-sex friends.  I’ve even been accused of keeping my husband on a “long leash” because I didn’t want him to share a hotel room with one of our female friends for an out-of-town medieval recreation (SCA) event.  (I’m still scratching my head over that one, but it shows the general mindset of faith and trust of the people I’m used to being around.)

Faith and trust leads to long marriages.  If your spouse still cheats on you, it’ll all be on his own head, not yours for being a shrew who drove him away.  It’s often been noted that jealousy can actually drive your spouse into the arms of somebody else.  Be the one he wants to come home to, not the one he wants to get away from.

As commenter #76 stated, and as I have stated myself in the past, marriage does not equal ownership.  You’re not the jailer keeping your spouse under lock and key, only letting them do what you okay.  You are two partners, and two individuals.  Jealousy is actually the number one indicator of a potentially abusive marriage.

See here for Carolyn Hax’s view on the subject.  Control is also a crucial element of spousal abuse, as is isolation from family and friends.  Controlling your spouse’s friendships, having to “approve” friendships, is a huge indicator of abuse.

Imagine Bill being in the place of the wife; would jealous behavior seem so appropriate if his wife had received this card from a friend?  Of course not!

And imagine if it had come from a same-sex friend.  The wording is exactly the same, but now it seems perfectly innocent.

People are reading in subtext when they should be looking at the actual words, not their imaginations.  Subtext gets you into trouble–as is evident on Internet forums when people often start getting into fights over things that nobody actually said.

A few commenters had a much better idea: The wife should be pleasant about it all, ask to meet the friend, maybe make a day of it while she goes off shopping afterwards and lets them catch up for an hour, then wife and Bill go see the grandkids.

Being aware of a friendship is perfectly fine; you don’t have to be best friends with the person yourself, but it’s good to know what’s going on, and to meet the person.  If Bill balks at that, then you can smell trouble.

Besides, it may turn out that Betty is older than him, or hasn’t aged well.  Or even if she’s young and pretty, maybe she has zero romantic interest in a guy old enough to be her father, sees him as a father figure or mentor, and misses their long talks about her problems with her boyfriend/in-laws/abuse/etc.  Or maybe she’s a lesbian.  Or very plain.  You can’t tell just from one card.

If it’s a mirror you want, just look into my eyes
Or a whipping boy, someone to despise
Or a prisoner in the dark
Tied up in chains you just can’t see
Or a beast in a gilded cage
That’s all some people ever want to be

If you love somebody, set them free

You can’t control an independent heart
Can’t tear the one you love apart
Forever conditioned to believe that we can’t live
We can’t live here and be happy with less
So many riches, so many souls
Everything we see we want to possess

If you need somebody, call my name
If you want someone, you can do the same
If you want to keep something precious
You got to lock it up and throw away the key
If you want to hold onto your possession
Don’t even think about me

–Sting, If You Love Somebody Set Them Free

If you never give him room
You’re gonna lose.
He’s feeling like he’s tied up in a knot
Ev’ry time he comes home late he’s on the spot.
Trust him to be the kind of man he wants to be
You aren’t gonna keep him long if you give him
The third degree.

Let him go
Let him go
Do the things he’s got to do

Give him the freedom that he needs even though it worries you.
Let him go
Let him go
Have the faith that he’ll be true
It’s the only way you can be sure he’ll come back to you.

You want your life with him to work so well
You forget the love you need to give yourself.
I understand your desire to keep him near
But you poison love when you mix it up with fear.
Trust yourself to be the woman that you want to be
If you both have room to grow
Then you’ll live in harmony.

–Animotion, Let Him Go

 

Seeing abuser again: Running into Richard and Tracy at church/the store/Greekfest a year later

[Edited since first written]  It’s been a few years, but from what I can recall, after the sudden appearance on August 1, 2010, Richard and Tracy came to my church once more.  Maybe twice, but this is the time I remember:

I came to my church’s Christmas service in 2010, and sat in my usual spot.  I heard a voice like Tracy’s, saying the hymn on the handout was all in Greek.  But I didn’t turn to look, and just assumed it was somebody else.

I wasn’t able to partake in the Eucharist because I was not aware one was offered during the Christmas service, being a new convert.  So I had not properly fasted from all food and drink, which you have to do for many hours.

As I stood waiting for the communion line to go through, I happened to look to see who passed me, as I often do absent-mindedly.  My usual spot is right next to the aisle.

There, right next to me, was Richard and Tracy!  In disgust, I drew myself up and turned away.  Just who I did NOT want to see while celebrating the birth of Christ.

The anger and bitterness filled me, especially as I saw Tracy, that unrepentant abuser, that bully, take the Eucharist without ever having lifted a finger to apologize for her disgraceful, unChristian actions against me.  She was the worst hypocrite I had ever known.

I felt, basically, the same way so many other abuse victims feel when they see their abusers again, especially their abusers pretending to be good Christians.

Fortunately, they all cleared out of there so quickly after the service that they were already gone when I left my pew.  So I did not have to encounter them yet again.

Why did they do this?  Why did they keep coming to my church without even trying to make peace?  How could they violate my right to be left alone by them?

Heck, Tracy forbade Richard and me from even talking to each other unless I allowed her to scream all my “offenses” at me, so why would she take him anywhere near me?

How could she tell me I’m so horrible, treat me like a whore, treat me like a stalker because I made the horrible “offense” of sticking up for myself against her rages, then come to my church?

How could they so transgress every rule for dealing with your fellow Christian, yet still take the Eucharist as if they were in good standing?  You’re not supposed to do that without trying to make peace, because the Bible actually warns that you’ll bring condemnation on yourself for partaking in “an unworthy manner.”

They had listened to the still, small voice of Satan, and tainted the Eucharist with their actions, so it’s a good thing I did not share it with them.  (Whether you believe Satan is a person or the evil within humans, it still applies.)

[The following was written, some of it taken from e-mails to my mom, between June 19 and 30, 2011.]

I doubt that Tracy would have acted the way she did if she thought I was ugly or plain.  This thought does make it easier to start forgiving her, as it makes her seem less like a monster and more like a deeply flawed and scared human being.

But extreme jealousy is still wrong, and recovering from abuse is still a long and hard road of anger, hurt and pain.

It also makes our decision to break off the friendship seem ever wiser.  We were caught up in a bad situation, with two people in a tumultuous marriage.  Being involved with them just drew us into their own quagmire, and we couldn’t help them at all.

I never had a problem with Jeff being friends with beautiful women, even though I know people will look no matter how happily they’re married.

You just have to accept that your husband will look, and realize that getting upset and jealous will annoy him and make him feel like he might as well do the thing if he’s being punished for it anyway.  I feel secure in our marriage and trust him implicitly.

It must be horrible and exhausting to feel like you have to keep vigilant with your husband to make sure he never strays, but I have far too many and far better things to do with my time.

I hope that one day Tracy learns how to trust Richard–before he finally loses his resolve and she pushes him into the arms of another woman.  Or at the very least, out the door.

Jeff saw Richard and Tracy at the store on June 12, 2011, almost a year after the Incident.  He knew this would happen eventually, since they and Jeff go there a lot.

They said nothing to each other, but Jeff did make sure the kids knew this wasn’t about them: He saw the three younger children in the store’s daycare, hugged them and talked with them, and let our son play with them.

Then he went off to find the items we needed, passed the adults and the oldest child (who quietly and secretly waved at Jeff), and nobody said a word to each other.

Jeff did not want to speak to these people, gave them the cold shoulder on purpose.

The oldest child was sitting with Richard while Tracy went off and got some stuff.  [This became a lot more shocking after I learned that Richard had been charged with choking this same child.  But that’s for later.]

But sure enough, Richard was getting henpecked again, for who knows what reason.  Jeff hated the sound of Tracy’s criticizing voice: “Bark bark bark bark RICHARD!”  Jeff wondered how Richard can stand that.

Exactly one week later, I ran into them at my church’s Greekfest.  Almost literally.

I didn’t go to their church’s Greekfest and hoped they wouldn’t go to mine, but there they were.  I was passing through the crowd to get to work in the kitchen, at a distance behind my son and Jeff because I had to throw away our lunch trash.

Because of the crowd, I didn’t see Richard and Tracy and the kids until I was right upon them.  And suddenly, there was Richard, just inches from me. 

Though I couldn’t look in his eyes, he appeared to have seen me.  I had heard that you should coldly nod at your enemies in passing, but I couldn’t even bring myself to do that.  All I could do was pass by without saying a word.

By the way, I had only just checked with Social Services to make sure they got my letter about Richard and Tracy’s child abuse.  They reassured me the letter had been received.  So that was on my mind as well.

There was no shrinking away as if I were ashamed–no, I kept my head up, and may have changed my expression to one of disgust, though I’m not sure now.

There, Richard, that is what snubbing is.  It’s not about being quiet around Tracy.  A real snub is this.  And it has been done to you because of what you’ve done to me.

[Note written 5/3/12: This was after the choking incident and after Richard was formally charged and posted bail, but before I heard about it.]

Is it necessary to view the narcissist as evil in order to go no contact? Is just seeing the situation as being a case of incompatibility enough rationale to make an escape?

I am sure there are people who can justify leaving a relationship based on simply calling on incompatibility as justification. My blog isn’t for those people. They don’t need to read what I have to say.

In fact, this person is very unlikely to go to Google to type in some search in order to demystify what they’ve gone through or are going through. They have simply shrugged off the parasite and moved on. No damage done. The person you describe has likely never even seen my blog….

If someone doesn’t call the narcissist’s so-called good what it really is…evil…then there is likely little hope of helping the victim out of their victimhood.

They will continue on believing that the evil is centered in themselves, that they are the one who is crazy, that they are the problem. You know, all the lies the narcissist has taught them to believe in order that the narcissist can escape accountability….

If someone was able to just cite “incompatibility” as a rationale for leaving the situation do you think they’d need to come to my blog for insight? People who come here are suffering. There is a reason for their suffering and I’m not afraid to name that reason. —Calling Narcissists Evil: Stumbling Block or Life Line?

I hesitate to call Richard “evil” or even a full-blown narcissist.  Perhaps the evil he’s done has been because of Stockholm Syndrome, not narcissism.  Maybe he has narcissistic tendencies but not full-blown NPD (narcissistic personality disorder).

But Tracy is the reason I began Googling to find out what the heck was going on here, first in 2008 to research abusers and jealousy because of her treatment of Richard, then in 2010 and 2011, to find out how anyone can be so cruel to the same person who had put herself to great financial and personal trouble to help Tracy find a better life.

I do not hesitate to consider Tracy “evil,” a malignant narcissist, maybe even a psychopath.  Who portrayed me as the evil one and herself as the offended, virtuous one.  While Richard was the lackey doing the bidding of the narcissist, and also doing sneaky things of his own.

If this had been of the more common variety of disagreements between friends, even breakups between friends, I would have had no need to Google it, as noted in the above quote from “Narcissists Suck,” and I certainly wouldn’t feel the need to write such a long memoir about it.

Most of the time, it really is a misunderstanding or a difference of opinion, nothing “evil” that can’t be resolved either by not being close friends anymore, or by dropping the subject and moving on.

But Tracy has a history of blowups and ended friendships, of “wars” with people.

If I saw her as a basically good person with whom I had a difference of opinion, this could’ve been resolved, especially with the amount of guilt and reflection I’ve dealt with over the past year [July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011].

I’m willing to deal with my own issues, and tried very hard to do so all through this relationship.  My apologies were sincere, and I tried to mend what I could.

But it has to go both ways, and Jeff and I both saw nothing but more pain and fighting in our future if we didn’t write her off and go no-contact.

Well I was there and I saw what you did, 
I saw it with my own two eyes 
So you can wipe off that grin, I know where you’ve been 
It’s all been a pack of lies 

–Phil Collins, “In the Air Tonight”

You wear a Sunday suit and tie
Everybody thinks you’re such a guy

You’ve got the glow, a shining face
Respectable man with holy taste
Got that family pew reserved
When the hymns are sung your voice is heard

But late one night you got your plan
You’d be religious on demand

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Christian, it’s a mask you wear to hide
Got a notion God’s a potion and it works most every time

I really think you do believe
Yet you use religion to deceive

–Whiteheart, “Dr. Jekyll Mr. Christian”

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

Tracy: a woman who abuses a man

[This was originally posted as a note on my Facebook on June 9, 2011.  The ending paragraph was moved here.]

Why I loathe feminism… and believe it will ultimately destroy the family by Erin Pizzey, is actually about abuse, not so much about feminism:

The point she makes is that women are just as capable of abuse as men, and many feminists were demonizing men and glorifying women.  She got abuse from both her mother and her father, different kinds.

I don’t agree that feminism will destroy the family.  But I post this anyway for the larger point it makes.

I post to raise awareness because too many men are succumbing to Stockholm Syndrome or feeling too scared to leave their abusive wives.  Then the abuse is carried on to the next generation.

I’ve seen this stuff firsthand, and how the abusers can screw up not only the lives in their own families, but the people orbiting around them.

We need to be there so that when the abused man or child escapes, they can also escape the destructive message of the abuser: “You deserve this!”

A year ago, I was ripped to shreds verbally, completely undeserved, by a woman, while both I and my husband were told that I should just accept it as my due.

We were treated like there was something wrong with us for thinking verbal abuse could never be justified.  We were treated like I should just take all the cussing and character assassination being thrown at me.

I was told I should “grow up” and accept “responsibility” for the abuser not being able to hold her own tongue and temper.

We were accused of throwing an “olive branch” back in their faces, an olive branch that never existed, because we preferred ending the “friendship” to staying with someone who refuses to acknowledge her own part in things and apologize for her harshness.

We were told that I somehow deserved it, had somehow done worse than she did, when all I did was keep my distance from someone who was constantly mean to me, who had gotten a lot meaner in the past few months.

We were told that 99% of women would react even worse than the abuser did.  We were told this not just by the abuser, but by her husband, who was supposed to be my best friend.

My husband was actually physically intimidated and threatened over the course of a few days by this supposed “best friend.”  And I got the impression that much had been held back from me over the years I thought we were “best friends.”

The emotional damage is devastating.  Imagine this happening to a child who can’t break up with her mother.  Imagine this happening to a man who feels societal pressure to stay with his abusive wife.

Help change society’s views so that men have a place to turn to!  He stays because he feels he has no choice, while the children grow up believing this is “normal” behavior in a marriage and in life!

Don’t let another generation grow up believing that tantrums and abuse are the way to solve problems!

Quotes from the above link:

Once again, she was unleashing her peculiar brand of emotional cruelty, and placing all the responsibility – and guilt – on me. It was a pattern of behaviour I would witness again and again among some of the women in my refuge.

But despite his clumsy, predictable form of macho brutality – born out of his being the 17th child of a violent Irish father – it was my mother’s more emotional, verbal form of abuse that scarred me most deeply.

She indulged in a particular kind of soul murder – and it was her cruelty that, even 60 years on, still reduces me to tears and leaves me convinced that feminism is a cynical, misguided ploy.

While I don’t agree with her about feminism, I do understand where she’s coming from, and I, too, resist any kind of feminism that portrays men as monsters and women as longsuffering victims.  It goes both ways.

I was, on reflection, following my mother’s unspoken orders. Remarkably, she had manipulated me to such a degree that I was now willing to murder for her.

It’s amazing how a narcissist can so twist you and manipulate you that you’ll do anything for him, believe anything he tells you, so you end up taking the fall for him, for his own deeds and lies.

By now, he was trying to force my mother to sign her money – she had received a sizeable inheritance from her father – over to him.

Week after week, in the local cottage hospital, she refused, and week after week, he ranted and raved at her while she writhed in pain. I begged the nurses to stop him, but they said no one could come between a man and his wife.

And that’s why people stand by and watch instead of speaking up: They think it’s not their place.  Or because when they did speak up, the abuse turned on them.

I only decided to talk about my traumatic childhood last week – on a BBC radio programme called The House Where I Grew Up – but I decided long ago I would not repeat the toxic lessons I learned as a child. Instead, I would become a survivor.

Harriet Harman’s insidious and manipulative philosophy that women are always victims and men always oppressors can only continue this unspeakable cycle of violence. And it’s our children who will suffer.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing