Monday, March 1, 2010

When the blood boils

Few relationships move from passion to disolution without tempers flaring at several points along the way.  Saying hurtful things, doing hurtful things is par for the course of that journey and perhaps how we ease the separation from each other. Hurtful acts certainly provide proof for the argument of ending it all.

But what about those spouses that really do seek to "end it all," and usually with their spouse in tow?  Trying to decipher the mind of the lunatic taking his wife's life and then his own is probably like trying to decipher the mind of a jihadi. There's no sense to it. It's wicked.

Domestic violence is a common occurrence.  Typical court domestic violence calendars are packed each week with partner on partner violence. 

Far more often than not, partners want to forgive a blow in anger from someone they love. People lose their tempers.  People can do terrible things to each other.  Each person has to decide how many terrible things they are willing to endure.  Will you tolerate getting shoved?  Will you tolerate getting slapped?  Will you tolerate getting punched once?  Twice?  Three times? 

Whenever I can, I try to help people take the subjective to an objective level.  In this case, it means setting a benchmark, a line in the sand that you commit to yourself cannot be breached without permanent consequences.  When not in the heat of the moment, when the blood is most cool, determine your level of tolerance.  Set a clear boundary.  "I'll only let him hit me twice."  "I'll only let her scratch me three times."  After that, there can be no recovery, no going back, no next opportunity to repeat the crime.  And once you've set that benchmark, promise yourself that you will adhere to it.  Promise yourself that if that threshold ever gets breached, you will follow through, leave and never come back. 

From all that I have observed, the murderous lunatic has seldom suddenly gone over the cliff.  He's been skirting the edge of it for a long time.  His conduct, particularly to those closest to him, was fairly predictable for quite a while.  The partners who are those victims are usually the partners who didn't get away.

It sounds too simple: set benchmarks, follow through.  But I've found this approach to be an ironclad way to finally end the abuse and to live to see another day.

Michael Manely

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