BlogA Future for Abusive Relationships

November 4, 2021by Frank Love0

We previously discussed how labeling our partners in one or more of the most undesirable and, to many, unacceptable fashions is an unloving way out of the commitment and fortitude needed to make the relationship work. Please keep this in mind as we reframe how to deal with abuse.

Years ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing attorney Leigh Goodmark. This conversation had a significant impact on me. She was insightful and delivered a message that is rarely heard. She said:

If a couple wants to try to sort things out, and they can find someone who is willing to work with them, who has a knowledge of domestic violence and how domestic violence works, and [who] is attentive to the kinds of signals that somebody without that knowledge might not see in a counseling situation, then they should be able to get that kind of counseling if they want it. . . .

From my perspective, I want the person who’s been abused to get to make those decisions and not anybody else. And so saying you can’t do this or you can’t do that just takes power out of the person’s hand. If you have a situation where you have a trained mediator, you have a trained counselor, and you can help people get some assistance in dealing with the abuse that’s going on in their relationships, that, to me, is not a horrible thing. I don’t think that all abused relationships need to end.

While I agreed with attorney Goodmark, I had never interacted so extensively with someone who had a similar point of view. Thus, our conversation was powerful.

I have known people, who I care for and respect, who have hit their partners out of hurt and frustration. Who have thrown things at their partners with the intention of striking them. Who have spit in their partners’ faces. These are and were good people who do not deserve to be cancelled or ostracized. Their behaviors were troubling and problematic, but each of them remained in their relationship, grew, and consider themselves happy with their partners.

When we are in a relationship that we or others may consider violent or abusive, we can be hopeful. We do not need not feel as though all is lost. There is nuance. We can develop skills. We can solicit help and read books. We can seek advice from clergy or attend trainings. The possibilities are plentiful. But they all require our individual commitment and the belief that we, as individuals and possibly as a couple, can sincerely make a difference in our relationships. We can fix, address, and tweak whatever is not working.

It is with confidence that I assure you it may be very hard. But we are a powerful force in our relationships. In fact, I believe that no matter what troubles plague my relationship, a solution is right around the corner if I creatively continue to work toward it.

Most relationships and the people in them struggle with violence and betrayal of varying sorts. Violence can be defined as “strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force.” Who has not wielded, at the very least, strong emotions toward our partners? This can be eye-rolling, withholding sex, or raising our voices. And let’s definitely not discount physical force. Violence comes in many fashions and can often be worked through. Don’t give up when besieged by workable problems and common dysfunction.

One quality differentiates a relationship that spans five years from one that spans fifty. The people in the 50-year relationship stayed in the relationship. No special or magical force kept the two together. They chose to stay together. And I am sure that most of those relationships had challenging, and perhaps very difficult, times.

Keep Rising,

Frank Love


Frank Love coaches individuals who are in (or wish to be in) a relationship on ways to be more loving. He is also the author of “Relationship Conversations You Don’t Want to Have (But Should Anyway)” and “25 Ways to Be Loving.” To schedule a free consultation, contact Frank atFrank@FrankLove.com.

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