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Last night, I finally got the chance to sit down and watch the season finale of Braxton Family Values. While there are several topics I could talk about from this episode (sibling dynamics, healing after infidelity/divorce, and personalities of younger siblings among them), the thing that caught my attention was when Towanda served her husband Andre with separation papers.

Mr. Perfect & I had an interesting discussion about this moment, and I thought it was worth sharing with you. In case you didn’t see it, Towanda (“the responsible one”), after being unhappy and feeling like she and her husband are roommates, decided to see a lawyer about a separation. Only the Lord knows why she took Tamar and Trina with her (I suppose for support), but in the end she decided to serve Andre with divorce papers (she chose to give them to him herself instead of having him served by a sheriff). She sat him down and enumerated all of the things they both had said they didn’t like about their marriage (they feel like they’re roommates, he isn’t working and being a provider, blah blah blah). He nodded along in agreement. Then she tells him she filed for a separation and hands him the papers. He takes them, gets up, and walks out. She said she was disappointed because she was expecting him to say something. A little bit of her was hoping he would fight for the relationship, that this would be a wake up call and he would realize he didn’t want to lose his marriage.

Mr. P’s response?: Well, what did she expect? She said he didn’t *blah blah…no I’m just joking* She said that he never stepped up or was a provider anyway. What else would he have done. You know why I have no sympathy for people like this? She’s in an open marriage anyway. She knows he’s seeing other people, then she is going to get mad about it (a whole other issue and side conversation ensues).

While I can completely understand what she felt and what she was going through, I have to reiterate this is why I don’t believe in giving ultimatums or making threats unless you’re set on carrying them out. I understand that she wanted him to fight for her, for their relationship. I understand she wanted him to realize she was serious about leaving and decide to step up and be the man she thought he was when she married him. I understand that even though she had the papers in her hand, she still held out hope that she could reach him and he would be wiling to make some changes. The thing is, most people would see that as trying to force their hand,or as an idle threat.

Unless you truly are through, it doesn’t do you any good to let someone know you intend to walk away from the relationship. As a matter of fact, actions speak louder than words; just leave. If you want to try and make it work, then by all means do that. Don’t threaten or give ultimatums.

It’s just like how I see some parents do with their children. They threatened them by saying things like “I’m going to count to three, and if you haven’t done A, B, & C, there’s going to be trouble.” You only have to do this a few times and reach three without consequence before they don’t take you seriously. Now, you can follow through and punish them after a while of not doing so, but you can’t predict the outcome. It will probably shock them, but once the shock wears off, they have some options: they can defy the punishment, strike back at you, or begin to take you seriously. It may be to late to enforce any discipline. Your window for establishing boundaries could very well be past. The bottom line is, when you finally are serious, you run the risk of not being taken seriously, a la the boy who cried wolf.

But enough of what I think: what do you think? Do you deliver ultimatums? How do you react to ultimatums? What did you think of Towanda’s reaction to Andre’s non-reaction? Is the open marriage thing a factor for you in this instance? Leave your two cents in the comments section.