I was talking to a client recently about how the keys that lock us into abusive relationships can be turned the other way to unlock a happy future.
I brought it up with a friend who was struggling on a number of life fronts all at the same time shortly afterward.
And it occurred to me that this was a life lesson nugget that should be shared far and wide.
As far and as wide as possible.
I recently got the honor of reviewing Shay Banks e-book, ‘Before You Marry ’ which you can get free from her website.
It is a manual for women to work through prior to marriage.
It isn’t about the ceremony or the party, it is about the values and discussions around those values that need to take place between the couple before the ceremony and the party.
And which rarely do.
It is a great little book, easy to read, told in Shay’s own unique, southern lovin’ style.
I thought it was hugely valuable.
I was able to add a little bit based on my own experience and what I wished I’d anticipated before getting married.
But what blew me away was Shay’s checklist for women.
It’s a list of fifteen things a woman should do before she even contemplates settling down.
Things she should be thinking of before she even leaves high school, IMO.
Shay has on this list things like:
- Live alone
- Visit at least 5 other states or countries
- Buy yourself something expensive
No matter what your age or situation, you will read this list.
Mentally tallying how many of them you can check off.
EVERY teenage girl should be exposed to this list and be encouraged to follow it.
If they did, their confidence, networks, earning power and independence would soar.
All their relationships would be happier.
And fewer relationships would be abusive.
There are three pre-conditions for abuse.
Three dependencies that put one or other of the couple in a one-down position.
And if all three are present, a seriously abusive situation is likely.
I learned about this triad from a police officer serving on the Domestic Violence unit when I worked in couple counseling administration.
But all of us can learn from it even if we are in a relationship that is fairly equitable.
It applies to couple relationships, friendships, even work situations.
And knowing about it can improve the quality of all of them.
The Three Keys to Unlock Abuse and Enable Happy Relationships:
- Emotional independence: having a support network of friends and others, separate from your partner, who will help you, listen to you, value you.
- Self-esteem: believing in yourself and your ability to live happily and successfully independent of others.
- Financial independence: having your own financial means or the belief, skills and opportunity to support yourself.
Consider the above list and a negative situation where you felt trapped.
Can you see that two or more of the above factors were missing?
You can walk into a situation that feels positive and then find yourself slipping into a situation that is threatening or less than ideal. If the above three elements are missing in your life, your ability to walk away is severely restricted.
Your options are limited.
These situations aren’t caused by accident.
In the event of abuse, the abuser will seek out, unconsciously usually, people who lack confidence, isolate them from their friends and family and remove their independent financial status.
A woman can help that path to abuse or unhappiness open up by not getting educated, limiting her life experience, focusing solely on her man and beating herself up before he even lays a hand on her.
And it is important to remember that many relationships don’t turn abusive until the woman gets pregnant.
Limiting her financial options.
But the power and control issues present in every relationship rest on the direction in which these three keys turn.
We need to be vigilant both before we enter a relationship and during the length of it.
Even if we led vibrant, adventurous lives as young women, we can become burdened by age, ill-health, exhaustion and the demands of little ones.
We can lose our selves and our way at any time.
All these put us, and our relationships, at risk.
It makes sense that all of us do everything we can to protect ourselves in these three areas so that we can avoid unhappy relationships and escape those that have gone bad.
And that’s why Shay’s list is so great. It gives us all concrete, realizable things to do to improve the quality of our lives’ at any time.
Whether we are single, a fiancée, a married woman with children.
And especially if we are a young woman.
Or the mother of one.
Did you live a big life when you were single? Has it made a difference to the type of relationships you seek out? And if you have children, have things changed? Let me know in the comments?