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Can you force people?

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

We humans can do many things. But when it comes to others we are limited.

People have rights. If they do not want to do a certain thing/chore/task then they really dont have to- end of story. Then again there is some middle ground. For example- obligations? When you marry your fiancée do you know him/her well enough to know that he/she will fulfil their obligations. And often enough these obligations are based on what you believe the obligations should be...not necessarily what THEY think they should be. A sure conflict emerges.

What follows is often control. The one that feels the other is lazy or doesnt fulfil those basic obligations will often try to enforce them. The yelling commences.

What if the one being forced doesnt have the capacity to fulfil such basic obligations...what we could label in this thread 'normal' obligations.? By "capacity" I mean someone that hasnt had an upbringing that taught him/her the basics of living eg cleaning, hygiene, money management, punctuality, self discipline etc.

But I see a clear issue here. These people with limited capacity are now adults and adults can be stubborn and have often passed their learning phase. They live how they know how to live and if they have a bossy controlling spouse, wanting to change them...its a huge task to do so.

What if this person has the capacity but is just lazy? Perhaps him/her is happy to allow their hard working spouse to carry the bulk of the chores and others things? I'd suggest that this situation is equally hard to face and work out.

So, we have one with a possible mental illness. I'd broaden this to alcohol issues, gambling and the like. How difficult it would be to try to get this person to obtain help is riddled within the pages of this forum with people desperate to find a way to get them to accept they have a problem.

Spouses, friends or family are often left helpless as this person refuses help for a variety of reasons from stubbornness to stigma and everything in between.Lets face it, if this person has absolutely nothing mentally wrong with themselves why wouldnt they agree to seek a medical assessment to prove everyone wrong?

The fact is we can lead a horse to water but we cant make them drink.It's an accurate saying and one some will need to admit to themselves. After all has been tried and avenues exhausted be proud that you did everything in your power to get that person you love to seek help.

Then preserve your own health and accept it !!..that you couldnt make them drink.

3 Replies 3

Community Member

Hi white knight,

You can never know if all the avenues have been exhausted. How do you abandon someone you love who is suffering an illness even if there is no expectation of recovery? It would be just as difficult caring for someone who is suffering from a physical ailment but you will not find anyone to tell you that you should leave them to preserve your own health. What if there are children involved? What message are you giving to them about your willingness to care?

There may be situations where it is necessary to leave a relationship to preserve your own and your children's well-being and there should be no shame and guilt in doing so. Also if the person has chosen to leave the relationship then I generally would accept that there is no more that you can do. As you say you can not force a horse to drink.

Every situation is different. There are no easy answers. However I think there may be better outcomes if there is support for family members and friends who want to continue in their relationship and need help to do so.






Hi Grateful

Yes, I agree with most of what you said. However when it comes to endurance the partner with someone with big problems that wont seek help no matter what, can eventually suffer their own health issues...because they have ran out of options.

These poor souls are at the end of their patience. They have tried everything. So what do they do? What options do you give a person that has endured months or years with their unwell spouse that wont face their demons? Such desperate people write here after they have exhausted all options.

Where do they go? Who do they talk to if all avenues have been taken and the horse wont drink?

When their health reaches a point f severe suffering, self preservation is the only last option. Or are there other ways?

Tony WK

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

I read these posts too and feel at a loss as to what to say. It's intersting Grateful that you bring up the comparison of someone with a physical ailment, you're right that no one would say 'you should leave them' to preserve your own health, because there is a strong social taboo against this kind of honesty.

But the reality is, many partners actually do feel completely overwhelmed when their partner has a terminal or long-standing illness that leaves them in the role of carer. People around you may be less inclined to tut tut or judge when you despair at your situation, but they're even less inclined to help oftentimes.

I don't know what the answer is, but sometimes I do know that staying together is just not an option.