The Fear Factor

Men are a necessary evil, some women say. I disagree. They aren’t necessarily evil. They aren’t necessary at all.

But I happen to like them.

Several women have come to me in the last several months, hoping I will do bad things to their (former) spouse. Usually, the bad things they want done involve the court room. Other times, I cut the conversation short.

At some point in almost every discussion, though, the woman takes some responsibility for what went wrong. Not necessarily the failure of the marriage, but their failure to see it coming and plan for the outcome.

Lauren’s husband moved his wife of 18 years and their children to Hawaii from California. Almost to the day of establishing residence, he told her he was moving out and wanted a divorce. He paid much, much less than he would have in California.

“I just KNEW something was going on,” said Lauren, who had put the @$$&@!# through college and was raising his two sons. It’s not like she’s going to get nothing, but she isn’t going to get what she deserved after dedicating her life and her youth to this man.

“Why didn’t you do something, stop it from happening?” I asked her.

“I was afraid, I think.”

“Afraid that he might do something violent?”

“No, I was afraid of the truth. That the marriage had failed. I hoped the change to Hawaii might save it. If I had confronted him, that would have been the end. I didn’t want to face that.”

Lauren is not the only woman who decided to live on hope rather than in the truth. The monkey statue of “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” is well-known for a good reason.

This goes both ways. It’s not just women who hide from the truth out of fear. Men I know have continued with women who simply just didn’t love them anymore. Their fear of loss provided a ticket to some pretty outrageous behavior. They were able to add humiliation to the list of hurt.

I don’t have an easy solution. My favorite and impossible one is to acknowledge that marriage is a contract, and that entering a contract without a clear understanding how it will be terminated is just stupid. I think every marriage should come with a prenuptial.

Yes, I know that might throw a damper on the somewhat childish belief that “our love is different and will last forever.” That’s okay, you’ll be fine after a couple of days and a bottle of wine when the document sits at home with your parents. No, I’m not going to comment on what your church may believe. Sermons lost the battle to facts a long time ago.

But, required prenups are not going to happen in the current mash-up of morality, bad religion and government overreach.

So, as a second option, I tell women and men friends who feel their relationship is not working that they have to find courage, and honesty. The courage to be honest, and to let go. Have the discussion. Set your boundaries. You might find you don’t have to sacrifice nearly as much.

Acting or not acting out of fear that you will lose something that is already lost is a very poor strategy, and one that’s almost guaranteed to make your nightmare come true.


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