The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

til *insert appropriate event* do you part

Adolf rasied, in the debate at Kiwiblog over Graham Capill's latest charges, the issue that Mrs Capill is a great woman for not leaving her husband in the wake of his guilty plea and the new allegations raised since then.

Nigel, why are you so surprises his wife has not left him? He hasn't bashed her up has he? Some people actually do mean what they say when they vow to support their respective spouses 'for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, through thick and thin, til death do them part.' I might have hoped you could bring yourself to comment favourably on this woman's remarkable loyalty to her husband, no matter what or how bad his deficiencies turn out to be. That's the difference between real marriage and the ersatz versions peddled by the 'modernists' of today.

This has resulted in some comments vociferously castigating her for not leaving the Reverend, and caused me to think:

What is a bridge too far between spouses these days?

In the old days it was easy - death, and nothing else, would cause to put asunder what God had joined together, etc. But this really wasn't ideal - I know of a marriage within my family which was incredibly unhappy, for both partners, but did end with death (premature but not violent) because that was The Way Things Were Done. It would have been better for both of them, and their kids, if they had been able to separate without difficulty, and without having moral judgement heaped upon them by all and sundry. But that wasn't how things were, so they "stuck it out", to everyone's detriment.

So here's my list of currently acceptable reasons to leave your partner:

1. Affair - what about a one off? are there mitigating circumstances? some couples do recover after an affair...

2. Physical abuse - hitting, punching, assaulting sexually, etc

3. Severe emotional abuse - manipulation, long term bullying or harassment

4. Abuse towards your children - of any kind? what about abuse of other people's children?

5. Emotional breakdown - i.e. you don't love each other anymore, you love other people, or you find that over the years love has turned to hate - that sort of thing

6. Finding out they are not the person you thought they were - I guess this could be where Mrs Capill's situation falls. If she had no idea about the abuse then surely she must be wondering if she knows the man she married at all?

I guess each person has a different tipping point, and it is very hard for an outsider to ever know or understand what truly goes on inside a relationship.

But just to throw an idea out there - maybe Mrs Capill (I'm sure she does have a first name, but I don't know what it is) is staying with her husband for now, because it would be too much upheaval for the family for her to leave at this moment. Is it right for her to put off leaving for these reasons? Do you have to act immediately when you discover one of the above, or is a delay acceptable, in fact reasonable, if you are doing everything you can to save your marriage?

Just some musings, comments invited.


Nigel Kearney said...

The Nigel referred to was not me, in case anyone thought that.

My view is that people should honour their agreements unless there is a breach by the other party, or by mutual consent.

Bad or even criminal behaviour towards third parties isn't a breach of most people's marriage vows, but could possibly become one if it leads to a prison sentence.

The decent thing would be for Capill to offer his wife a divorce if she wants one.

Of course, if you think that God is a party to the marriage agreement, then the breach or mutual consent test is unlikely to ever be satisfied.

Lucyna said...

There is no obligation on a spouse to split up if X happens, whatever X is. It's really Mrs Capill's business, and no one elses.

Make Tea Not War said...

I agree with Lucyna.

Child abuse is utterly despicable and inexcusable but Caphill is being punished-and quite severely- through public exposure and in time by the legal system. I don't feel a need to bay for his total expulsion from all human contact.

Mrs Caphill is also being punished by all this but she has done nothing wrong. It's her business whether she goes or stays. And taking an admittedly archaic view of marriage and honour there is a certain nobility in not leaving him during his time of trouble.

span said...

the problem is that people do make judgements about the break-ups of relationships, especially those in the public eye, or ones that they are close to.

there are social norms about what are "acceptable" reasons to end a marriage, as is evidenced by Adolf's original comment over at Kiwiblog, and the responses there from other commenters.

it's not nice, but it's reality :-(

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Hello Spanner. I got your message so I came on over. I will try to behave myself and be serious. What struck me as stange and profoundly sad was the tone of the commentary which completely missed this wonderful example of marital loyalty. I thought to myself, What a wonderful woman. Here is a person who finds herself married to a man who turns out to be an apalling Jeckyl and Hyde (or is it Hide?)character and where 99 out of 100 women would have run for their lives and been congratulated for it, she choses to stay and offer him support. I think she deserves admiration for being so selfless, a quality rarely seen today. Of course she would be justified in turning her back and removing herself but the point is, she did not. She chose the hard road of holding out the hand of frienship and loyalty to a person whom everyone else has written off as a despicable louse, which he appears to be. He is an extraordinarilly fortunate man.

Glenn said...

I actually consider it morally distasteful that she doesn’t leave him. The guy is such a pathetic, sniveling hypocrite, it’s an indictment on her dignity and self-esteem that she stays. I suspect emotional manipulation and a gradual wearing down of her sense of independence and self over years of religious indoctrination. So in that sense, you’re right, Adolf, it is “selfless” – but not something we should consider virtuous.