We all do it at times– we make excuses for other people’s bad behavior. For example, “oh he must have had a bad day.” Or, “he must have had a rough childhood and doesn’t know any better.” Maybe this person is under a lot of stress at work, is not well, or just suffered a major setback, so we try to cut them some slack until things get more stable. When someone is going through a lot of change– planning a wedding, moving homes, etc. we may try to chalk up moodiness to a million different factors and try to convince ourselves that this too shall pass. Yet, if with each new day you find yourself filled with dread of what might happen next, and you feel like you are walking on eggshells or that your stomach is all in knots, then you need to stop, take a deep breath and take a good look at all the red flags you’ve been ignoring.
When my clients come to me, they often feel so stupid for having allowed things to go on for so long and let things get so bad. But it is not an intelligence issue– it is an emotional one. When you care about someone, the option of last resort is to leave. Most of us would like to help those we love. Most of us would like to hope for the best, and stick it out if at all possible until the other person gets to a better place. But, sometimes you just have to realize that day will never come.
I’m all for being methodical, so I find journaling helps a lot. By tracking events either with a journal or on a calendar, you can easily pick up on a pattern of behavior. Has it been escalating? Is there a predictable cycle to the whole series of events? What do those in your inner circle think? Are you afraid to share incidents with them? If so, what does that tell you in and of itself? If the world outside seems safer than the home you return to– there is a major problem there.
True love stories are supposed to be beautiful. If you find that yours is not, then either you figure out a way to improve things in your partnership or you need to cut your losses and move on. Life is way too short to be miserable. Your partner should get you and be able to make you feel special. For those of us that have had this once before it is of course that much easier to realize when something is not right, but all of us can get caught up in the idea of something and with a specific end in mind, we may not pay attention to some obvious signs.
In the end, I just want to reiterate a point I’ve made many times before: we all make mistakes, and all we can hope to do is learn from them so we don’t repeat them. Some of us are willing and therefore quite capable of change, but we have to accept that not everyone around us is that way. Some leopards will never change their spots, and so sad as it is, for our own sanity we need to learn to stop making excuses for others. Bad behavior is a part of life, but it doesn’t mean you have to accept it in your home life– that should be your safe haven, and it is up to you to preserve it.
By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.