1. Date a boy who makes you happy, but marry him only if he makes you laugh deep-belly rumbles that hurt your ribs as they expand outwards. Date him when he sees that you’re hurting and he gives you a moment to feel that pain like a handprint spreading across your consciousness, marry him only if he can make you smile even while you’re gross sobbing. The world is not a kind place. You will feel a lot of pain. Make sure you are with someone who makes it all bearable. Humor is an excellent gauge of intelligence. Life gets boring. Find someone who makes the banal interesting.
2. Make sure he has scars on the back of his hands, it’s a good sign he has experience either fighting or making things - creation is an act of selflessness and bruised knuckles are a good sign he knows how to defend himself. You’ve got too much soul to be handled by someone who has never been passionate. If he’s never thrown a punch, let him at least have tasted the insanity of bringing an idea into existence. Rough palms are better than soft ones, they have been salted by this earth and made into leather. Callouses are evidence he has lived, that he has broken skin and been in pain over and over and over again and still came back to the source of it. People rub against each other. Don’t marry him if he can’t handle even a little blister.
3. Before you say yes, get him angry. See him scared, see him wanting, see him sick. Stress changes a person. Find out if he drinks and if he does, get him drunk - you’ll learn more about his sober thoughts. Discover his addictions. See if he puts you in front of them. You can’t change people, baby girl. If they are made one way, it doesn’t just wear off. If you hate how he acts when he’s out of it now, you’re going to hate it much worse eight years down the road. You might love him to bits but it doesn’t change that some people just don’t fit.
4. Trust your instincts. If he ever makes you feel unsafe, don’t make excuses, just get up and leave. That’s all there is to it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
5. If he puts money before you, he’ll keep pushing you to the bottom of the pile until you become his last priority. It’s one thing if he can’t afford what you want, it’s another if he has the cash but won’t spring for a box of Chicken McNuggets. Money and love are arch enemies. 62% of divorces occur due to economic strain. Make sure keeping you is more important than his 401k.
6. How a man treats animals is a good indicator of how he treats children. If you see him raise a hand to a dog, pack your things into a little black bag. Animals at their worst are only half as annoying as a toddler on their best behavior. Your kids will be beautiful, but they will also misbehave. Same goes for waiters and hotel maids - if he’s rude to those who are working for minimum wage, it says a lot about how he sees himself. Patience is rare and so important. If he’s not forgiving to a dog, he’s not good for your kids.
7. If he isn’t in awe of you, he doesn’t deserve you. You are my little girl and you were born perfect. If he can’t see that, it’s his loss. There is someone who thinks your flaws power his heart. Be strong. If he asks you to change, be like like rock of your birthstone, do not waver. You are wondrous just the way that you are.
When [an abusive man] tells me that he became abusive because he lost control of himself, I ask him why he didn’t do something even worse. For example, I might say, “You called her a fucking whore, you grabbed the phone out of her hand and whipped it across the room, and then you gave her a shove and she fell down. There she was at your feet where it would have been easy to kick her in the head. Now, you have just finished telling me that you were ‘totally out of control’ at that time, but you didn’t kick her. What stopped you?” And the client can always give me a reason. Here are some common explanations:
"I wouldn’t want to cause her a serious injury."
“I realized one of the children was watching.”
“I was afraid someone would call the police.”
“I could kill her if I did that.”
“The fight was getting loud, and I was afraid the neighbors would hear.”
And the most frequent response of all:
"Jesus, I wouldn’t do that. I would never do something like that to her.”
The response that I almost never heard — I remember hearing it twice in the fifteen years — was: “I don’t know.”
These ready answers strip the cover off of my clients’ loss of control excuse. While a man is on an abusive rampage, verbally or physically, his mind maintains awareness of a number of questions: “Am I doing something that other people could find out about, so it could make me look bad? Am I doing anything that could get me in legal trouble? Could I get hurt myself? Am I doing anything that I myself consider too cruel, gross, or violent?”
A critical insight seeped into me from working with my first few dozen clients: An abuser almost never does anything that he himself considers morally unacceptable. He may hide what he does because he thinks other people would disagree with it, but he feels justified inside. I can’t remember a client ever having said to me: “There’s no way I can defend what I did. It was just totally wrong.” He invariably has a reason that he considers good enough. In short, an abuser’s core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong.
I sometimes ask my clients the following question: “How many of you have ever felt angry enough at youer mother to get the urge to call her a bitch?” Typically half or more of the group members raise their hands. Then I ask, “How many of you have ever acted on that urge?” All the hands fly down, and the men cast appalled gazes on me, as if I had just asked whether they sell drugs outside elementary schools. So then I ask, “Well, why haven’t you?” The same answer shoots out from the men each time I do this exercise: “But you can’t treat your mother like that, no matter how angry you are! You just don’t do that!”
The unspoken remainder of this statement, which we can fill in for my clients, is: “But you can treat your wife or girlfriend like that, as long as you have a good enough reason. That’s different.” In other words, the abuser’s problem lies above all in his belief that controlling or abusing his female partner is justifiable….
1. Date a boy who makes you happy, but marry him only if...”
When [an abusive man] tells me that he became abusive...”