Sunday, March 10, 2013

On Suffering in Silence. . .

I saw something on Pinterest this week that really pissed me off. It was a pin that said, "Never speak ill of your husband." While I get that, and if you google it you'll find a ton of pages that back that sentiment up, saying that badmouthing your husband will slowly kill your marriage, the sentiment still upsets me. Maybe I'd be less annoyed if it said "Never speak ill of your spouse," and I wouldn't be here talking about it right now, but most of them don't. Most of them are warnings to women to keep their mouths shut and suffer in silence. Better not to upset your marriage by speaking poorly of the almighty man, after all.

What makes it worse is that a lot of people are trying to support this logic with biblical sentiment that suggests that women should serve their husbands. When people use the bible, or religion, to foster social inequity, for me, it goes against the basic nature and purpose of religion. And most of the people doing it are women, which makes it about a thousand times worse. But I digress, because this isn't a discussion about the potential hypocrisies of organized religion--stow that discussion for another day. This is about the social inequity that manages to still permeate society through tiny little nooks and crannies like the Pinterest boards of women who are either to ignorant to understand their sentiments are harmful, or too "traditional" to care. It's infuriating.

And why shouldn't this sentiment be equally shared? Why should it be okay for men to say whatever they want when women are told to stay quiet, even to their closest friends and family? It's that sentiment--from the world, rather than from anyone in my life at the time--that kept me in a bad relationship with my ex until there was almost nothing left of me inside my own head. It's making people believe all was peaches and cream on the outside, when on the inside we fought and lived in an abusive relationship, where he told me that I wasn't smart enough, wasn't good enough, wasn't pretty enough for him, where he made me feel like I was small and insignificant and lucky that he was willing to be with me, despite my stupidity and ugliness. Maybe if, when I was 19 years old, I could have turned to someone and said, "he's hurting me," but that wasn't the way things were, that still isn't the way things are.

Thankfully, it's over, but the sentiment that kept me trapped is still alive and well. It's even alive and well in my own marriage, in the marriages of my friends, in the southern mentality that isn't at all southern--I was living in California when I felt too powerless to do anything about my first marriage.  Matt is a very private person, he doesn't like me to talk about the downs in our marriage, but it's fine to talk about the ups. His rationale is that if people know about your problems, there are people who would exploit those chinks in the chain to break the marriage apart. I get his rationale, but the idea that women should just keep their mouths shut about their issues is abhorrent. Yet, it's ingrained and until people refuse the inequity built into the system that says women have to shut-up and take it, while men are free to do as they like, it's going to stay ingrained. Even when those perpetuating it have the best intentions at heart--like Matt does.

You'll notice that I don't entirely agree with him and that, from time to time, I talk about our issues because I'm in this marriage too and I have strike a balance between his will and mine. He and I struggle with it, but at least I'm not willing to just take it lying down. No one should take it lying down. Because, honestly, it was keeping all of our problems inside, rather than looking for someone to help me, that destroyed my first marriage. It was exactly the opposite of what everyone says will destroy you that destroyed Mike and me--though we were toxic for a long time. And although it has been a really good thing, I find it ironic. If you're looking to ruin your marriage, by all means, suffer in silence. But, excuse me while I don't buy into the whole keep your mouth shut and take it business. I'd rather not screw up the really good marriage I have now with antiquated ideas about propriety and suffering in silence. And really, neither should anyone else.