Our thanks to Nigel for this. He writes:
It’s fascinating, isn’t it? If one were to simply to reverse the sexes, think about how that would be seen. Would a wife whose business dealings had gone awry been seen as so deserving of punishment? The story implies that somehow being unable to provide all that he “promised” was reason enough to denigrate him. And the supposed “years of abuse” which apparently were way back at the beginning of a 50 year marriage, so long ago who can say what the two young people were actually like.
I think particularly telling is that the man’s health was failing, heart attack and dementia. Because of course there is nothing more associated with abuse of elderly or disabled men than their inability to fulfil the provider/protector role. A role that women are simply never expected to fulfil (if there isn’t a handy man, there’ always welfare). Imagine a man trying to persuade a court that his anxiety, provoked by the financial ineptitude of his wife, was sufficient reason to kill a women much older than himself and in poor health!
The whole thing seems to take us further along the route to deciding that not being able to provide and protect is not just a failure in a man but actual abuse of those who are all too ready to rely on him.
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