He Told Me to “Stand There and Look Pretty”: Here’s What He Really Meant
Hello everyone! I have been turning his blog over in my head for a few days. I want to write about these specific words that were said to me because they attacked my very identity without me knowing it. I’m not even sure at this point if my late husband, who said these words to me, even knew exactly what he was saying. I will never know now and that is okay. I know Whose I am and I know who and I am, so these words don’t matter to me anymore.
I want to say this to the men before I get started. I am not opposed to men telling me I am pretty or I look nice. We as women like to hear that and there is nothing wrong with that at all. What I am opposed to is manipulative, abusive, put downs that are disguised as compliments – whether they come from a man or woman. Beware of the serpents and vipers dressed to please and whose words sound too good to be true – they usually are.
Psalm 140:3 They sharpen their tongues as a serpent; the poison of a viper is under their lips.
Let us begin with the breakdown of the phrase “Stand there and look pretty.”
We’ll start with “stand there.” This mean just that, stand there. Now for what was not being said – “stand there and be quiet, don’t cause any ripples or rock the boat. Don’t say anything I might not like or would make me look bad.” The point is the speaker, in the case, my late husband, wanted me to stand there and be quiet. He did not trust me enough to speak for myself or us or even have anything intelligent to say.
Now for the second part: “and look pretty.” He was saying I was pretty, okay great. Now for what was not being said – “look pretty because I need you to look pretty so I will look good. I need you to look pretty because it makes me feel better about myself. I need you to look pretty because I’m not sure you are good for much else. I need you to look pretty because I don’t respect you enough to think you can speak and have something to say or add to the conversation.” I could go on but you get the idea.
Let’s look at the phrase in its complete form with this new revelation: “Stand there and look pretty.” It’s not much of a compliment is it ladies and gentlemen? As you can see, this phrase was a put down disguised as a compliment and quite manipulative at its core. My “job” was to stand there and not say anything so he would look good to everyone and so I would stay in “my place.” Until the last few days, I never really understood why he said this to me – as it was said quite a bit. I also had never seen it for what it really was, a put down and an attack on my identity. I know now many of the things he said to me were the very same in nature. My late husband was abused himself so I can only imagine the put downs and attacks to his own identity he had endured growing up. I believe he was told many things like this and he never chose to change his communication style even though he knew how much damage it caused to him. He became the very thing he hated so much. I say all this to say pay attention to what is not being said in unison with the actions you see. People who verbally and mentally abuse others are manipulative and do not only twist words, but they can use what is unsaid to do more damage than what is said. This was certainly true in my marriage.
What do we do when someone says something like this to us?
First, start my knowing who and Whose you are. Jesus defines who you are, not a person on this planet – not even a spouse, parent or friend can define you. You can remind them who defines you – everything evil bows to the name of Jesus Christ – including an abusive partner or friend. The next thing you can do is ask questions of the person who says something like this to you. You have every right as your own person to ask them what they meant. They won’t expect that so be prepared. As always for both of these suggestions, use caution and good judgement. Do not put yourself in an unsafe situation nor approach the person as if your motive is to one-up them. And finally but just as important, you can separate yourself from this person if this is going to be their mode of communication, again using good judgement. You are worthy of healthy relationships of all kinds – do not settle for less because they try to make you feel guilty about leaving or feel sorry for them (and they will). You do not have to put with evil – even in its veiled form. I did not put up with it and you don’t have to either.
Never fear, you can heal if this has been your experience just as I have. As you heal, find people who will speak life to you. Speak life to others. Speak life to yourself. Allow Jesus to show you who and Whose you are. He loves you more than you could ever imagine! He did this for me, he will do it for you. It will be a process so stick with it. The process will be worth it all. There is a good life after mental and verbal abuse! I am living it and you can too!
Proverbs 15:4; The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. Ever listening to the said and unsaid, Elizabeth
*To know more about my journey, please see my book The Road Less Traveled: A Story of Love, Pain, Hope, and Everything In-Between. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Audible.com