I know three gentle women who are married to men who abuse and mistreat them on a regular basis.
One shoved his wife down a flight of stairs not long ago. She's still in the hospital with broken ribs. Another picked a fight with his wife during a recent dinner party, then spent half an hour calling her the kind of names most of us had never actually heard spoken out loud.
These otherwise wise, capable women stay married to these weasels because, they say, "The next one might be even worse," and "There aren't any good ones out there, anyway," and "Anything is better than ending up alone!"
And a neighbor of mine has married the same jerk three times in the past 15 years. He's had a different name and address and occupation each time, but he's been the same abusive, dishonest, unreliable jerk.
She keeps marrying these guys because, she says, "I'm always attracted to the no-good ones -- and they're attracted to me, for some reason. Besides, even a real louse can be better company in the middle of the night than no company at all."
And an otherwise smart advertising executive I know has "dated" every man in her office and is referred to as "Lazy Susan: Just give her a push and she comes around."
She's earned this reputation, she confessed during a recent long-distance phone call, because she "just can't seem to say 'no' when a guy -- any guy -- finds me attractive. And besides, when 5 o'clock rolls around, any company is better than another night of TV dinners and reruns of 'The Golden Girls.' "
They married these men because, as one put it, "At least I knew he'd never cheat on me -- he doesn't care about sex! And let's face it, after a certain age, any warm body in the bed is better than no body at all."
What women like these -- and women like us -- simply must realize once and for all (with support from other women and professional help, if we need it) is that we deserve to be treated with fairness and kindness and decency all of the time by all of the people in our lives.
We must realize that there are much worse things than spending a Saturday night alone, furthermore, or spending all our nights for the rest of our lives alone, for that matter.
Being abused is worse. And being used. And lied to. Having all of our needs ignored is worse. And losing our self-esteem and our self-respect.