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Relationship Advice: When Is Violence Not Only Appropriate, But Necessary?

Aug 17, 2007
Yup. That title is one of those trick questions. The answer is NEVER. Violence is NEVER appropriate, and NEVER necessary.

No, I'm not talking about the very extreme cases where police are apprehending a criminal, or the military is doing what the military does. I'm talking about a husband and wife, lovers, friends, or people in general trying to live together as best we can.

Violent behavior is the opposite of what we are trying to accomplish in these normal relationships. Violence thrives on fear and intimidation. It bolsters a weak sense of self at the expense of others, often hurting the most vulnerable ones among us.

There are only two feelings in the universe: love and fear. We try to live our relationships out of love by fostering respect, compassion, kindness, forgiveness and understanding of mutual limitations. Violence comes from the fear side of life. It comes out of a fear of loss, a fear of no more options, and the fear of someone "bigger" making me even "smaller."

Which would you rather live out of: your love or your fear?

Silly question.

As humans we are in fear much of the time. We try to mask it, but it's still there. Why else do we struggle and strive to compete and win? Just because it's fun? Or, because we believe there is not enough to go around and we better get our share first?

Isn't it nice to come home from the rat race and feel safe, loved, and valued? Of course, you may not feel this way at home.

Have you or your partner ever thrown something in anger? Put a fist through a wall? Shoved your partner? Threatened harm even though you never raised a finger? Ever filled your eyes with hate and loathing?

Violence is so much more subtle than we realize. So many times I have heard a person (usually a male) tell me, "I didn't touch her. I just punched the wall."

Here's the point: The IMPLICATION of hitting a wall is that YOU COULD do the same thing to the other person's face.

Read that again because it's slippery. Aggressors always try to explain away their implied violence by saying nothing actually happened. But something did actually happen. Someone was intimidated and threatened. And that is violence. And it is often the beginning of the overt violence that comes later.

Violence doesn't work for couples, or anyone else. I rarely meet a couple that didn't get together with some hope for being loved and accepted as they are. This emotional intimacy requires vulnerability and openness. It can't happen where any kind of intimidation exists.

So, give it up. Watch out for it. Don't put up with it. Get help.

I watched a close friend this week come close to a lethal ending. I don't want this for anyone else, least of all you, dear reader. It can happen, and it does. I wish for you to never have to be challenged by such violence, either subtly or overtly. But if you are, I want you to confront it in love and maturity, right now!
About the Author
Steve Roberts is an experienced Marriage and Family Therapist who shares tips and real life relationship secrets from over 20 years of practice. Get Insight and Wisdom for your Relationships at: www.WhatWorksForCouples.com
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