And they were the lucky ones. They’re still living. How about Stacy Petersen, now missing, but presumed dead, allegedly killed by her husband who, according to their pastor, had also killed wife number three. Or Jessie Marie Davis and her unborn daughter, murdered by her policeman boyfriend, Bobbie Cutts, Jr. Or Lacey Peterson and unborn son Conner – slaughtered by her husband, Scott Peterson.
But let’s talk about the less extreme situations. Smart women; caddish husbands. Why do they stay? Does the woman accept the bad behavior because she doesn’t think she deserves better. Is she convinced that she can change the bad behavior over time? Is she embarrassed to be in the situation and doesn’t think she can afford (economically, professionally, personally) to get out? Do the couple have an unspoken agreement that she will ignore the behavior as long as it doesn’t impact on her daily life? If he doesn’t get caught by outsiders, can she live with his dalliances or betrayals? Lots of things could play into the mix – religion, gender roles, power, education, personality type, familial history, learned behavior, ability to cope with stress, etc.
Or, and this is the one that troubles me the most, are some women genuinely surprised when they discover their partners’ secret lives and the world comes crashing down around them?
Look, there are certainly times in my life when you can call me Cleopatra, I’m the Queen of De-nial. Ask me about my weight, and I live in ignorant bliss. I don’t know (I literally don’t own a scale), and I don’t want to know. But I’d like to think that I’m honest with myself about the big stuff. I trust my husband with my life. I believe in him completely – but I assume so did these women.
So I open for discussion: Is it possible to live intimately with a man for years, and have no idea that he’s leading a secret life? Do you not know – or do you choose to not know?