My mother said my abusive husband would stop hitting me if I waited long enough

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

It was bad advice.

My mother offered me the worst possible advice when she found out that my husband was physically abusive. “He’ll stop hitting you if you wait long enough,” she advised me. “You just have to give it time.”

When my mother found out I was being abused, she was more than ready to give me advice. Unfortunately, her advice sucked.

Just how long is long enough to wait for the abuse to stop?

“Men mellow out after about twenty years,” my mother said. “It gets better after that.”

Twenty years? I thought. No one has time for that. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to figure out how to leave him. My husband and I had dated for two years — two rotten years. We stayed married for an additional four years and six months. Throughout those six-and-a-half years, he was physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive — no matter how much time I gave him to stop.

There were danger signs from the very beginning of our relationship, but I didn’t heed them.

Despite his cruelty, while we were dating, I made the decision to marry him.

My newly minted husband was staggering drunk on our wedding night, and he was mean throughout our honeymoon. Although he didn’t hit me on the very first night after the wedding, he hit me before we arrived home from the honeymoon. So it didn’t take long for my short-lived wedded bliss to turn to a daily dose of fear.

For the first year of our marriage, my husband hit me at least once a day — every day. During the second year of our marriage, he skipped a day now and then. By year three, he had slacked off to several times per week, then several times per month as the years wore on.

By the last months of our marriage, the abuse had become a bit of a rarity, so much so that it was a surprise when it happened rather than expected.

Even though the abuse gradually tapered off just as my mother had predicted, I finally left my husband and put an end to his abuse for good. More than a decade later, he was dead in a tragic accident. I never even think about him anymore — except when I do — but I do know one thing: “He’ll stop hitting you if you wait long enough” is the absolute worst marriage advice I’ve ever received, and I’m glad I finally stopped taking it.

My mother gave me bad advice, but she had good intentions.

Just because someone you love and trust gives you advice doesn't mean it's good advice. My mother had good intentions when she basically told me to stick it out until it got better, but what if I had waited twenty years, and things never got better? I nearly wasted twenty years of my life.

Whether or not you've asked for advice, if someone gives you advice that seems questionable or outright harmful, don't take it. Think it over and make your own decision.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

Massachusetts State

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