Saturday, November 13, 2004

Breaking the chains of a slavish relationship

Breaking the chains of a slavish relationship

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, November 12, 2004 11:52 PM


There are varying degrees of slavery that women get into. Just as on the plantations of the old American South, some slaves had a better life than other, so, too, are some women who live with slave masters more fortunate than others.

Some are virtually locked up and cannot move about without the approval of the master of the house. Like the woman in yesterday’s column. Her husband monitored her cellphone calls. He wanted to know where she was throughout the day. He told her what to wear. He forced her to quit her job and remain at home. He dictated the places they would visit, the movies they would see and the restaurants they would frequent. He even directed the sexual activity they engaged in. In short, the woman spent her day following his dictates.

Though she had rights under the law and rights as a wife, she was, in effect, denied these rights. Still, strange as it may seem, she accepted it all as part of her married life. It was as if she embraced her slavery. It was only when she went into therapy years and countless sufferings later that she realized just how slavishly she had submitted to the slave master in her life.

The reason: low self-esteem. Women who willingly become slaves have serious problems with self-esteem. They might be very bright, even successful in their careers, but when it concerns their love life, they are suddenly transformed into submissive slaves.

They do not rebel and get out of their marriage because they truly believe they cannot make it on their own. When I asked my sister why she didn’t just leave, her answer was very telling: “Because I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I felt I would not survive out there.”

After the North won the Civil War and freed the slaves in America, many of them refused to leave the plantations for similar reasons. They didn’t know where to go or how to survive as free people. Consequently, they preferred to remain rather than to start to live an uncertain life as free men and women. At least they had enough to eat on the plantations even if they were barely subsisting.

Slaves in marriages reflect some of this same thinking. They claim to stay on because of the kids, their faith (even if the Church allows legal separation), what society might say, etc, etc.

The true reason, however, is because they are scared to launch themselves into the unknown. They doubt they can make it on their own and choose to remain in slavery rather than come to grips with a new life of freedom where some hard decisions will have to be made.

We can get used to anything, even slavery. We can go on and on forever in a dead relationship and keep it afloat by sheer will power.

It takes courage for a woman to break the chains of a slavish relationship and say goodbye to the slave master. But for those who are brave enough to make a stand and strike out on their own, great rewards await them. The greatest of all is freedom.


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