At first Sight-2

Picking up from the last post about “Married at First Sight.” I’m going to talk about (cue MC announcer voice):

Couple No#2

Ugh… Monet and Vaughn.

First of all, I like Monet fine. She’s got sass and guts, and I think she tried to be the mature person.

If you clicked on this post because you watched the show, I bet you know what the attitude towards Vaughn was. People did not like him, and with good reason.

I feel bad for the guy in a way, but he was one stubborn jackass, and he said a lot of stuff on public television to incriminate himself, so I think it’s fair game now to critique what happened.

Now, Vaughn came off as kind of self-satisfied even before the marriage happened. He seemed to have high standards, but not about the things you’d think would matter. He and Monet both wanted a more traditional set=up, the man leads, and takes charge while the woman cooks or supports.

Monet was no cook, as it turned out, and Vaughn didn’t let that one go.

However, Monet also didn’t like that Vaughn lacked direction in his life, he had a job, a  nice set up, had been in the military, but didn’t have a real life goal planned out.

What bugged me and my sister about Vaughn was how familiar he was. He hit all the sore spots we’d had from our father. In fact, we recognized the exact same turns of phrase, tones, and ploys that out dad used. Word for word, sometimes.

Like our dad, Vaughn was always changing what he said. He’d want one thing one day, and the next day another. A classic sign of an abuser is their changing their wishes every other day and blaming you for doing what they said to do the day before.

Vaughn also attacked Monet’s personality, even though he asked for bubbly, her cheerfulness wore on him, apparently. He didn’t feel like talking, he did feel like sex a lot, and they had sex a lot. Mistake one, I thought.

I am not against sex in marriage, of course. But getting right to it and not setting up any kind of trust or parameters first was probably appealing to the baser instincts in human sexuality, and that’s not a great foundation fro marriage.

I personally would not have had sex with someone I just met, because in my mind marriage is binding once you’ve had sex, annulment is only acceptable when it hasn’t come to that yet. The Bible teaches that it’s sex that binds a couple together spiritually and physically, and so the only grounds for annulment would be if that binding hasn’t happened.

The Bible says that even if you divorce, if its for any reason other than infidelity, to remarry is to commit adultery. There is grace, thank goodness, as many people remarry before becoming Christians, and the word is clear that we should not leave our spouses over that, don’t add another split to the first one, but don’t make that mistake again.

This made rooting for Monet and Vaughn complicated. I would not live with a man like that, but I wouldn’t consider myself free to divorce and remarry till he cheated. I have little doubt he would have, however, from his attitude. And them, it’s fair game.

But even so, it’s a tragic thin to divorce, and why this experiment was risky.

It was frustrating to watch this couple, because the longer the show went, the more signs of abusive behavior Vaughn showed. He didn’t hit her (that would have put an end to it at once, I think) and I don’t think he’d be the type to do it, he was more of the passive abuser. The emotional manipulator who tries to make themselves out to be the victim, while contradicting themselves and criticizing you for what they praised the day before.

Vaughn also did what I thought he would do, after seeing how he and his mom interacted on camera, and got her involved in their fights. Which, guys, you should never do. If your mom has to take your side against your wife, you’re relying on her too much. your wife had better be cheating on you or abusing you if its gotten to that point. Same thing with husbands and fathers. No woman should get her daddy to chew her husband out unless her husband is violent and dangerous, or cheating. I think that’s just common sense.

It’s your parents job to parent your significant other. It’s beautiful when in-laws can give nurturing care to each other, but they are not “raising” your spouse. Respect has to be maintained.

Sorry for that soapbox moment, but jeez the counselors should have told Vaughn that.

Actually, I was amazed these “experts” did not spot this behavior a mile away.

I think I figured out why, since the whole thing had to be anonymous, they didn’t ask the parents and friends of these people what they were like.

But hear me on this, if you’re single, you will never get a real idea of someone’s character till you ask the people who have to live with them or interact with them on a regular basis. Even workplace people will know more about them in some ways than you will, as their SO.

The guy I’ve been crushing on for years has a great family, and I’ve some knowledge of how he interacts with them. Not as much as I need, but enough to look promising. I have lots of friends who I can tell a lot about by how I see them talk to their families. One family interaction can speaks books worth of knowledge about a person. Even if it’s 5 seconds long.

The audience found out later that Vaughn told his mom how Monet was treating him badly, and omitted that she apologized. Color me not surprised, I expected as much, my ad used to dot he same thing, still does for all I know.

Vaughn talked to Monet just like how my dad would talk to my mom, but to Monet’s credit, she saw through the bull-crap. Not being in love gave her no room for blinders or rose colored glasses, I think she held back during the initial filming out of consideration for privacy, but later she called him out on it beautifully.

To my chagrin, the experts and show host did not really side with her enough. They didn’t admit to making a mistake and not accounting for Vaughn’s destructive tenancies.

Now, the thing is, his mom would not have called him abusive. He’s her little boy, though she did give him some flack for how he acted. But you don’t need the relatives and friends to tell you they’re abusive, you just need to know to ask the right questions. Here’s a few to try:

“Does he/she take responsibility when they screw up, and apologize quickly?”

“Does she/he try to fix their mistakes, or do they repeat them?”

“Do they use the phrase “no win/can’t win/don’t know what to do to make it better a lot?”

“Are they consistent with what they say they want? Do they ask you to do contradictory things like be supportive but also call them out on their crap (not that you shouldn’t want both, but do they change it from day to day)?”

“Do they say you are not making it possible for them to be happy?”

and

“Do they come to you every time someone hurts their feelings and ask for sympathy?” (If you are a parental figure, and they are a grown adult. Clearly a teenager can still do this without it necessarily being a red flag).

If you answered no to the first one, and yes to the others, warning.

Now, if your spouse or SO displays only one of those behaviors, or displays them with only one type of person, namely, not just the ones close to them but one personality type, then I’d say they might not be abusive.

You can have some symptoms of abuse, but it hasn’t permeated your whole life and outlook and you can probably be made to see its wrong and grow out of it, with enough time and patience. Even if not, if you are only like that with one or two people who are not your family, it probably won’t wreck your marriage.

What that means is that being abusive is not your characters, it’s just a flaw in certain parts of it that may not dominate your life, most of us have flaws that could be seen as manipulative and abusive if dialed to 90, and if they were like that all the time, but to be clear,  a husband is not abusing his wife if he says once in a while that she could nag him less, he is abusing her (emotionally) if he says that every time she has a problem with him.

Likewise, a wife is not abusing her husband if she sometimes cries to get her way, or uses other lines like “don’t you love me?” if she only does it once in along while and can be reasonable at other times, it may just be an old habit she’s not completely over, but if she does it so regularly you can predict it, that’s probably deliberate manipulation.

Not manipulation is abuse, and some manipulation is actually good. People like to feel they are being managed if it’s respectfully and shows an understanding of who they are as a person, and is not using them. It’s the secret behind “sweet talking” someone into something while they know you are doing it.

Needless to say, that wasn’t the case with Vaughn. Monet was right to say he didn’t want to be helped. Even in public, he blamed her and would not recognize his faults or unrealistic expectations.

He wanted a wife to meet his needs, but he did not do more than the bare minimum to look good for the public.

Another thing I learned from watching my parents, and that Vaughn replicated:

Touching gestures can be part of abuse.

My dad bought us gifts after telling me “f—you” as a parting shot while leaving us to manipulate my mom. He said “maybe you’ll appreciate me more if I’m not around” which is a line Vaughn used too, straight up.

My dad would be docile a few days after a big blow out. I don’t know if he got sex out of it, I don’t want to know, it’s not my business, but he would act nice. Another tried and true abuse tactic.

He’d get the flowers on Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Birthday, etc. He’s been doing that since moving out too.

What was telling to me, however, was how little he understood about my mom. I came to realize that he never asked her what she liked, or tried to learn, just as he never did with me.

Once I told him that my mom didn’t like being praised lavishly in front of all of us, that she found it awkward, but my dad would over do it just to make a point of it, and demand we follow his example, like we were bad kids if we didn’t.

When I told him she didn’t like it he was stunned, and asked her if it was true, she told him it was. She never told me that, but I knew my mom.

I, for one, am okay with praise in front of other people, but my dad didn’t often praise me in front of people, he would tell them my faults however, real or imagined, to total strangers, to other people in the family.

I had my well-meaning uncle give us a talk about respecting parents that demonstrated how little he knew about us. He noticed I had tension with my dad, but failed to notice how my dad talked to me, and did not hesitate to embarrass me in front of others. Probably he did not know, a family has plenty of trigger words that only make sense to them.

If I said “You don’t like to play games with me” to you, you might not take it personally. Or “you don’t usually do nice gestures like…” maybe for you, that’s just an observation about your personality. But suppose you have a history of fighting with someone over that very thing, now, you’re embarrassed. See?

Vaughn did the same thing to Monet, insulting her personality and ways of showing love, and getting his mom on his side, to where his mom talked to Monet about it. That was on her too though, she should have known better. She gave good advice, but she didn’t have the whole story. I didn’t blame Monet for being mad, but to her credit, she did her best.

But Vaughn, of course, didn’t treat his mom like that. Abusers are rarely abusive to their parents, in my experience. They feel powerless with them, or have an idealized vision of them, as above reproach. he compared Monet to hims mom and what he saw with his dad.

But for context, Vaughn’s dad die when he was 12, too young to see a lot of flaws in his parents. There always are flaws. Learning them is rough on kids, but essential to learning that people aren’t perfect and you must not expect them to be. Kids who don’t learn this with their parents have a harder time adjusting to their spouses quirks. As observed by the author of “Pygmalion” (better known to most people by it’s screen version “My Fair Lady”.)

(Now my parental figures are so flawed, my husband could probably surprise me most by being unlike them, more on that when I cover Jamie and Doug.)

Vaughn never learned that marriage is hard, and he seemed very arrogant. If he was unfixable, only God knows, but he was not ready for a relationship. Even having his flaws called out on TV and pointed out by many viewers did not humble him and if at that point you can’t reexamine yourself, I don’t know what would help you. Monet has my sympathy and respect for standing up to the host and holding her ground.

Here’s one last thing I took from their example, and it was really eye opening, don’t skip this part, trust me.

Media likes to sell us the line that abusers have been abused, and maybe 9 out of 10 times that is true, but Vaughn proved to me that it is not true every time.

Also, destructive attitudes are a choice. Her’es why this was odd for me.

My dad always blamed his past (red flag) for his bad parenting. He’d say he never got shown the right way, his parents were awful, etc. They were, but it wasn’t why he was abusive.

See, abuse always comes down to control, but a man may feel out of control for many reasons.

Vaughn, it could be, missed out on a father figure teaching him what it was to be a man, but here’s the thing, I don’t know that it would have made a difference.

His whole attitude was self righteous because he thought he knew what a good marriage looked like, only very careful parents would have caught that, and he hadn’t been in enough relationships for them to have done so.

I had accepted that my dad abused because he was abused, but Vaughn changed my mind. He wasn’t abused, clearly, yet he was still abusive.

See, you can develop wrong ways of control without it being shown to you, human nature is what it is, after all, the abuse starts with someone, doesn’t it?

My grandpa was a lot like my dad, personality wise, but he had a very happy remarriage with my step-grandmother. She managed him, he let her. It wasn’t abusive, though far from perfect. To the last, he really cared about her, and didn’t act like she was around just of his convenience. It was really sweet.

Actually, my grandparents ton my mom’s side also were married a long time, while her mom remarried a lot of times, so it really doesn’t run in the family.

My dad’s mom is abusive, but she is far less aware of it than my dad is, and its more of an annoyance than anything to take seriously. She can still be kind sometimes. She just can’t see why it’s wrong to talk the way she does. But her verbal abuse was from misery, not control. She never controlled anyone but her husband all that effectively with it, she just grated on people.

My dad is worse than either of them, because his abuse was personal, it was often intentional to some level, and it worked. Far, far too well.

In the same way, I don’t think Vaughn had abusive parents. I think he liked control. But he is not your typical image of the guy with his life falling apart who take sit out on others, that’s actually the problem. he thinks he’s got it together, and he has no need to improve, any woman would be lucky to have him, clearly the problem was with Monet.

Well, I think I’ve explained it thoroughly. If you take anything away from this, I think it should be what I took away, that you decide who you are. Not your parents. download (7) 6486314-images

You can end up worse than your parents. Anime has it wrong, backstory does not explain everything.

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I know people who’ve gone through emotional healing for their past and still suck at relationships because they have not taken control of their future self.

Also, you are not destined to be abusive if you were abused, thank goodness. Just don’t marry someone like that.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

 

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