Robert Frost's poem Bereft is usually read as one reflecting loss, in particular the loss of a partner. Yet when I read it lately it brought to mind a different kind of loneliness. The loneliness of being alone within a relationship.
Where had I heard this wind before
Change like this to a deeper roar?
What would it take my standing there for,
Holding open a restive door,
Looking down hill to a frothy shore?
Summer was past and day was past.
Somber clouds in the west were massed.
Out in the porch's sagging floor,
leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
Blindly struck at my knee and missed.
Something sinister in the tone
Told me my secret must be known:
Word I was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word I was in my life alone,
Word I had no one left but God.
Have you ever wondered what a man (or woman) sees in their life partner? In particular what does a perfectly nice, attractive older woman see in a man who belittles her, not only to her face but to others? Why would a woman enter into a relationship with such a man at any time, let alone in the autumn of her life? Why tolerate such loneliness? I'd rather be alone all my days than live with such a person and endure such loneliness.
A man who calls his wife stupid (and worse), who treats her with open disrespect in front of others, is seriously lacking in the qualities men of intelligence used to aspire to. Nobility may be a very old-fashioned concept, but a man without nobility and honor in the dealings with the woman he loves is a poor specimen indeed. Most of these men appear to be bullies to begin with, have an inflated opinion of their importance, and love to recount how they always know better than anyone how to handle every situation. They are always telling someone off.
However, even if you are an insufferable boor in your daily interchange with strangers, it seems if there is anyone you would defend it is the person you love, your life partner. The man (or woman) for that matter, who disparages their partner to others says a great deal more about themselves than they do the partner, and what is said is none too complimentary. The impression left is negative.
I wonder how a woman is "wooed" into a relationship with a verbally abusive man? Perhaps she feels as if she deserves no better. Perhaps he wisely conceals his abusive nature early in the relationship. From what I have seen it starts slowly and builds. The time to stop it would be when it starts, but bullies have a sixth sense and can smell vulnerability. Where a woman with a healthy sense of self-esteem wouldn't stand for such treatment, the timid woman, the fearful woman, the woman who was raised by an abusive father, or has been the victim of an abusive partner before, may allow it.
Such women need all the support and encouragement we can offer. Surprisingly enough, so do their partners, but the encouragement given them is to live up to their potential as protectors, both physically and emotionally, of the family. If other men (and women) voiced intolerance of such behaviour the bullies would be forced to examine their own actions.
Once again peace, and the love of peace, begins in the heart and works its way outward. No one should be left bereft.