Marital Neglect

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Marital Neglect

Postby Job29Man » Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:17 am

Is there such a *thing* as "Marital Neglect?"

My side project this year has been to study the relationship of IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and SES (Socio-Economic Status) upon the lives of people. The main text I'm studying so far is "The Bell Curve" by Charles Murray & Richard Herrnstein (1994, The Free Press).

One of the chapters is about Parenting. There they discuss the incidence of child neglect and abuse along the Bell Curve of SES.

One thing that just jumped out at me was the description of Child Neglect.

The Bell Curve, by Herrnstein and Murray, p.208 wrote:...failure to provide a child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or hygiene...Neglect can also mean more subtle deprivations: habitually leaving babies in cribs for long periods, never talking to infants and toddlers except to scold or demand, no smiles, no bedtime stories. At its most serious, neglect becomes abandonment.
(emphasis mine)

When I read that this morning, it really struck me ... "neglect becomes abandonment." So the child who still lives in the home, still "survives" becomes an "abandoned" child, in the most serious cases. Obviously there is a continuum, not just a sharp demarcation, a cliff from neglect to abandonment. These "more subtle deprivations" describe emotional absence or distance, lack of stimulation, a parental satisfaction with merely providing the essentials of survival, a lowering of the standard of success to mere survival/existence. "Well, he's still alive isn't he? So I must be doing something right."

These descriptors, e.g. leaving babies in cribs for long periods ... never talking except to scold, no smiles, no bedtime stories... What came to mind was how these sound so much like the counterpart to many descriptions of marriage we read on TMB: no affection, duty sex only ("OK if you must, but hurry up, and nothing fancy"), "I feel like a paycheck to her," or "I feel like a sex-doll for him."

We read here of sexual/emotional neglect and I ask myself, 'When does this become abuse? When does this become abandonment?'
Wanting to become like Job, as described in the Bible, the book of Job chapter 29. Hence the screen name.

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Re: Marital Neglect

Postby doug-h » Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:56 am

I would have to say that it does exist, but it is different.

Whereas an infant or a toddler is 100 percent dependant on his/her parent for it's welfare, a healthy adult is not. Once we start making choices, it can be argued that we start playing a role in the outcome, tho we never actually control it.

If the question were, "can there be abandonment within a marriage?", then I can tell you without reservation that there can be. Since you asked where the line gets drawn, it gets a whole lot more complicated.

I don't care to revisit the past, but my wife and I went thru a long season where I felt exactly like the instances you described. I have seen divorced couples who had more warmth towards each other than what I felt in our marriage. It was actually much worse than what you described, because I spent probably 70 percent of my time away from home, and essentially all contact was cut off, unless she had a problem that required my attention. There was almost no contact aside from very icy phone conversations.

I don't say that to place blame. I don't doubt that there was hurt on both sides, but the simple truth is that I felt very much abandoned and eventually it became easier to just stay gone. I kept the bills paid with my check, and lived in Motel rooms on my per diem. At it's worst, I might only come home for a few days, and then be gone for 3 or 4 months, so I guess that means that I abandoned things as well.

This last year has really challenged me, in that necessity has transferred the majority of my wifes attention in other directions and other people. It has fallen to me keep the distance between us as small as possible, and not get back into that place we were before, and for the most part, that has been successful. It does not come without it's share of resentments and hard memories, amd a lot of effort to overcome my own feelings. We are finding our way clear of it, a little at a time.

The point is, the actual circumstances as percieved by me are not very different from each other, but the line is not in the same place. I have also learned to move the line by myself, and where before, I pushed it one way, making things worse, this time I kept pushing the line the other direction. Again, I didnt have full control. Sometimes I pushed the line one way, toward unity, and she pushed it the other, towards isolation.

As I read that back to myself, I wonder if I explained it well, but I don't know how to make it clearer. Hope it makes sense.

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Re: Marital Neglect

Postby Unfulfilled » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:28 am

Absolutely abandonment in marriage exists. How many times have we read of a spoise sying the incredible loneliness they feel, even though their spouse is lying literally inches away from them?

If that does not describe or define abandonment, I don’t know what does!

Yes it is true adults have choices while children are dependent upon parents. However when the belief of covenant marriage comes in. Then is the lonely spouse any less kidnapped into the situation?

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Re: Marital Neglect

Postby Leah » Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:14 pm

When Jake was deep into his porn addiction, he could hardly wait for me to get out the door before he was going to his fantasy. He was mean, demanding, and abusive. That story is well-chronicled here. I was abandoned in every way, and it was not fun. I lost both parents before I was 20, and I can tell you the pain of that does not in any way compare to the pain of being abandoned for porn. We had no sex at all for almost 3 years.

“I have learned now that while those who speak about one's miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.”--C.S. Lewis

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