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The Emotional Toll Of ‘Standing By Your Man’

By CARA HUNT

Tribune Features Writer

cbrennen@tribunemedia.net

Songs like Tammy Wynette’s famous “Stand by Your Man”, phrases like “you made your bed, now lie in it”, or hip hop’s “ride or die” culture, can make women feel obligated to play the supportive role no matter the circumstances.

But being supportive through infidelity, substance abuse, financial irresponsibility, or just waiting for “bae” to find himself and grow up, can be emotionally exhausting and wreak havoc on a woman’s mental well-being.

Last week, Kim Kardashian found herself apologising for her husband, rap superstar Kanye West, yet again after he went off on a Twitter tirade revealing personal details about his wife and in-laws. Kim tried to come to her husband’s defence, noting he suffers from a bipolar disorder.

“Anyone who has this, or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand,” she said in an online statement.

Kanye did end up apologising in a later tweet, saying “I would like to apologise to my wife for going public with something that was a private matter. I did not cover her like she has covered me. To Kim, I want to say I know I hurt you. Please forgive me. Thank you for always being there for me.”

While there is also a conversation to be had about how society views and deals with mental illness, the Kim-Kanye situation brought up the topic of how women tend to stick around far more often than men when the going gets rough, and will literally stand by their man until the bitter end.

Relationships of other celebrities couples have also born this out. After being unfaithful, and often emotionally abusive, for years, male celebs are then often seen praising their long-suffering partners for sticking with them and “being loyal”. The question is, however, would the man have done the same had the situations been reversed, and when is “enough enough”?

In a candid interview, Bahamian Natasha Brown* told Tribune Woman that she knows first-hand the amount of emotional stress always being “the good wife” can cause.

“My husband and I married young, I was 23, he was 27. He was your typical bad boy type your parents warn you against, but I was in love, and so although my parents didn’t want me to get married, I did anyway.”

The fairy tale romance she dreamed of soon turned into a nightmare.

“My husband had a drinking problem and he was not pleasant when he was drunk. I know he drank a lot while we were dating, but I guess that the stress of actually being married and having to pay a mortgage and all of that was a lot for him to handle, especially after our son was born.”

Natasha said her husband’s “quick drink” after work turned into hours at the bar, and when he came home late at night more often there would be an ugly scene.

“He was just mean, and he would insult me. I was fat, my food was burnt or too salty, or not seasoned enough, why the baby crying and why I ain’ do this, why I do that.

“He would leave me in tears many nights. I remember this one time, we were at a work function for my job and he had a few drinks and he insulted me in front of my boss. He insulted me in front of my family and friends I was so, so shame. But then there were days when he was loving and sweet and things were fine. Mentally, it was like walking around a bomb you scared was gonna go off,” she said.

“He also got in a fight one time at one job and was let go. I felt constantly embarrassed and I was constantly having to apologise to people for his actions. I’m sure it affected my health. I was ashamed of him and I was mad that he made me look bad. I know I had one so-called girlfriend who was telling people, ‘Chile, she must be desperate to have a man, ‘cause look at that drunkard she married.’ It really hurt.”

Natasha recalls speaking to her mother about her problems. But her mom basically told her to stick it out.

“She basically told me that I made vows for better and worse and that I needed to pray that God would change him and make him the husband and father I needed him to be.”

It took several long years, but her prayers eventually were answered.

“He had a health scare – almost a heart attack and collapsed at work and the doctor told him he couldn’t drink hard rum and liquor so much. That honestly was the best thing that happened to him. He just became a better person and our finances improved because before then he was always trying to be Mr Big Shot buying everybody rounds of drinks,” she said.

The couple’s marriage was able to survive, but Natasha said it was defiantly far from smooth sailing.

“It was not easy, and yes, I did want kick his you know what to the curb many times. I don’t know why I stayed, to be honest. Maybe I wanted us to stay a family, maybe I thought he was worth it, chile, I don’t know. It ended well for us, thank God, and we have been married for 17 years now,” she said.

  • Name was changed to protect the individual’s privacy

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