Thursday, August 7, 2008

Smart Women, Toxic Men

"He's a very engaging guy with big ideas...I trusted him completely."

That's a description of Clark Rockefeller, the faux-scion of the Rockefeller clan, who has maintained a variety of fictional identities for 20 years. But here's my question. Did his ex-wife know the truth? How did Sandra Boss, a smart woman earning in the high-six figures, marry such a cad? What drew her to a man who deceived her and then kidnapped their child?

And Ms. Boss is by no means the only intelligent woman duped by her man. Hillary Clinton, Silda Spitzer, Christie Brinkley, these are all women who have excelled in their professional lives, but ended up with men who lied, cheated, and betrayed them?

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?

Evelyn David


  1. It is so easy to fall into this trap. I can tell you from experience. It is about self-worth and one's inability to acknowledge that they do matter.

    I spent my entire life up to 31 running from one abusive relationship to another. Then finally one day, I found myself. LITERALLY!

    It isn't so much about smart as it is about faith. One has to have faith in themself in order to believe that they matter. If there is no faith in that, then nothing matters and the lies and betrayal become the comfort zone. Someone cares enough to lie? Sad but true.

    I wrote a piece about this very thing that you can find the link on my Blog post for today. The Value of Human Life.

  2. Thank you Karen for your honest insight. Be sure and check out Karen's blog -- her original post on domestic abuse and personal growth is incredible.

    Marian, the Northern Half of Evelyn David

  3. I always love when a friend complains about her other half and someone in the group says something like "well, at least he's not at the bar every night drinking or worse." Ladies?! Is this how low the bar is set? We're held to a much higher standard as women, and so should our men be.

    Ok--I'm done now. M

  4. I think it IS possible to not know that your partner is leading or has led a secret life. What about the woman in San Diego who had been a fugitive for over 20 years and was living as a soccer mom in a wealthy white bread neighborhood? Her husband and kids knew nothing. (I'm definitely working that into book three...)

  5. It is possible to live with a man and have no clue who he is. The person he shows you on a daily basis is what he wants you to see. The person on the other side of the wall is someone you never knew and he doesn't want you to know him. He knows you wouldn't like him, and probably wouldn't tolerate him.

    The reality is, as women we owe ourselves and our children the responsibility to look beyond the facade and find out who the person on the other side is - preferrably before we get married. From personal experience, the realization that your husband isn't the man you thought he was, results in devastating transformation in your life. Men who lead double lives believe they are above the law and incapable of falling. When they fall, they attempt to take anyone and anything with them.

    These men do give you hints as to their belief and their lives though. I didn't know until it was too late, I was already married.

    The hints are loud and clear if you understand them. They live above the law in every way. They drive faster than the law allows (and usually get away with it). They've had numerous accidents in vehicles, usually winning large sums of money in claims against the other person. They misbehave on a regular basis and nobody calls them on their behavior. They get away with actions that most people get in trouble doing.

    They BRAG about all the things they do and get away with, until they run all their friends off with their boring bragging. And, they think they're popular because they know so many people. But the reality is most of the people they know wish they would go away.

    They'll rush you into marriage, because they can't keep the pretense up for long.

  6. Interesting thoughts on the above.

    Frankly, as in the case of Hilary, she had to know what her husband was like--they even made a movie about him and his escapades while he was running for President (Patriot Games) She wanted to be and continued to want to be the president's wife, no matter what.

    With others they probably don't want to believe something like that could be possible.

    Do remember wives of men who sexually abuse their children also profess to know nothing.