«Marriage to be saved?». “No, it’s a toxic relationship.” Controversy over the story of Valentina and Stefano

C’ Posta per te, episode of 7 January 2023: This is the story of an interrupted marriage. It begins like this, by the mouth of Maria DeFilippi, the story of Valentina, one of the five protagonists of the episode, a story which, since Saturday, has raised a lot of criticism on the net. Starting, for example, from Chiara Ferragni. The charges? Sexism in prime time TV, lack of respect for the image of women, staging and normalization of a toxic relationship.
Let’s try to understand.
It starts with a request for reconciliation and peace, as foreseen by the core business of the transmission: I cry every night because I miss my husband, I miss him, my three children miss him, I want him to come home.

If the marriage ended because I cheated on my husband, I was convinced I was in love with another man and wanted to separate, but when I saw Stefano packing his bags, I understood that I actually wanted him. So Valentina went on TV to ask him to go home. It follows her story, the meeting with himwho accepts the invitation and arrives in the studio, the dialogue between them with the interventions of the presenter.

I was trying to be perfect as a wife, as a mother and as a housekeeper, I washed, cleaned, ironed, looked after my children, raised them and provided my husband with a hot meal every evening. Thus begins the story that Valentina entrusted to the presenter.

Since 2018, however, he has become tougher, every evening he always has something to say. And it gets worse and worse: Stefano begins to treat her badly, she thinks she is incompetent, stupid and useless. Even in front of strangers.
De Filippi recounts the episode of a Christmas, with family and friends: chips fall from the table, he tells her to pick them up, he replies, you do it, I’m doing something else. Then he stamps them with his feet and replies about her. Learn to do immediately what I tell you.
Then others are told episodes in which her husband insulted and belittled her in front of the children: once, for a wrong parking, he threw the child’s high chair at her and called her an idiot.

More than once Valentina told him she didn’t accept being treated like this, she even left home for a week, he promised to change, but then he never did and everything always started over in the same way.

In April 2022 she meets another man at work, at McDonald’s: a guy who treats her sweetly. They write, then they meet, a relationship begins. She thinks she has found the right man and, in June, she tells her husband. He accuses her of destroying the family and immediately goes to report everything about her to her parents and her in-laws who, in turn, rail against her. Valentina goes ahead with the request for separation. But when he actually packs up to leave home in August, she realizes that’s not what she wants. So she closes with the new partner, she asks her husband to stay but he goes away anyway. From that moment, start a new type of relationship between wife and husband: once or twice a week he goes home to be with the children, then, when the children are in bed, they make love and he goes back to his house.

With you I became a woman, wife and mother Valentina says to him, barely holding back the tears, when she learns from Maria that he sees it through the screen: they met when she was 16 years old. We lived our fairy tale, we had wonderful children. Then I screwed it up by cheating on you. As you know we had a moment of crisis, I didn’t get any more attention from you, sometimes I felt humiliated… Your being so grumpy brought me into the arms of another. I screwed it up, but I miss you. Let’s get back together

You made the mistake, you could have thought of it sooner. Everything was fine for me: we gave the child communion, we bought a dog… Stefano harsh, lapidary and repetitive in his brief replies: he insists on words like guilt, wrong, mistake referring to her betrayal. De Filippi asks him about the period in which Valentina left and about her being grumpy and offensive with her, but he doesn’t seem to understand: There are discussions in the family, nobody is perfect, we fought over bullshitand when we argue, maybe we say things…, he insists on the fact that he is the offended one and on his open wound.

Stefano, pressed by the presenter, illustrates the division of roles in the couple where, moreover, they both worked away from home, even if she is keen to point out him only for four hours. When she came home she cooked, she ironed, she did the laundry … And him? Maybe I was on the couch watching TV. And the insults? That constant belittling her? I too may have made mistakes but nothing compared to what she did.

What are Stefano’s feelings for Valentina now? Now I don’t feel anything anymore. For then he admits that once or twice a week he goes home, has dinner with her and they make love. But only because she insists and I am a man. For nothing changes. And what about sex with her? An outlet.

But now we need to get to a point. I know you’re a good dad, I know you’re a good mother says De Filippi trying to understand the margins of a possible reconciliation. Stefano interrupts her: she was a good mother. Then she committed a grave wrong. I will never forgive her. In short, he just doesn’t understand and doesn’t accept that his abusive behavior could be the cause of his wife’s estrangement and therefore of her betrayal.

Valentina now in tears: How can you recover? He, categorical, does not get out of the thought of betrayal. De Filippi tries to remind him that the beautiful moments of 16 years together are worth more than a wrong month. And that anyway he continues to have sex with her while he accuses her and tells her he doesn’t love her anymore. Between Valentina and Stefano begins a question and answer of Please… and No!: she begs and he plays tough. She says let’s try it, I know you want it He replies That’s what you say.

Then, however, the presenter deftly insinuates herself into the crack left open by the harsh Stefano, a man who considers his wife solely responsible for the end of the marriage but with whom keep having sex without having – he says – interest in other women, and launches the proposal: try again even staying in separate houses. Try to see if making love to her isn’t just an outlet, if and there’s a reason to save this family.

Stefano accepts, opens the envelope. They embrace. Or rather she hugs him, they go away. End.

In the days following the episode of C’ posta per te criticisms have multiplied: profiles and opinion sites attentive to women’s rights and the theme of violence, influencers and authors with a large social following: Clare Ferragni and Fedez, from the sofa at home, have posted a story in which they invite Valentina to escape: he is toxic, and perhaps thanks to them the controversy has grown. Carlotta Vagnoli author of Maledetta Sfortuna dedicated to the theme of abuse and prejudice against women, accused the Mediaset program of having voluntarily staged and justified an abusive couple relationship like any love affair. Many others have pointed out how the episode conveys a stereotypical image of women within the family.
Other than the story of an interrupted marriage here, on closer inspection, there is a kaleidoscope of errors.

Which couple emerges from this TV story? There are several aspects to consider. There is a responsible husband, for years, of verbal and psychological violence who does not know how to recognize himself as an abuser and considers his behavior normal, a textbook classic of psychology, believes his woman is solely responsible for the breakup but now continues to dispose of her as if she were a sexual object. There is a woman who, one could reply, lets herself be used: after all, she has invited him on TV for reconciliation. Women who suffer abuse find it very difficult to detach themselves from their partner because years of manipulation end up confusing thought and will. Not to mention the power of influence of the respective families: and here it clearly emerges that the parents of him and her, inserted in a patriarchal family modelhave a weight in increasing Valentina’s sense of guilt.

Guilt, here: the theme of guilt emerges clearly from this story victim blaming. Victim blaming, secondary guilt, can be defined in many ways: a woman victim of abuse ends up being held responsible for what she suffers. And in the case of the story of Valentina and Stefano, the fact that she was constantly mistreated ends up not being seen as the cause of her running away from him, despite De Filippi’s attempts to make her husband understand her responsibilities.

Finally, criticizable drive towards reconciliation: it is evident that the presenter, with the complicity of the audience who now applaud, now chuckles, helps the two to mend. Deep down they love each other, don’t they? Although it has clearly come out that their history is marked by abuse and mistreatment.

There was no shortage of social media the invitations to the institutions and the political class to take a position against the broadcast: a popular pop program, in prime time TV, should pay more attention to the messages it conveys because they end up fueling and justifying still ingrained prejudices. If the work to combat domestic violence is not only what passes through the courtrooms but first of all a cultural prevention work that helps to unhinge certain atavistic beliefs (about women’s roles and faults) this also concerns those who deal with pure entertainment like Maria De Filippi with her successful formats.

Because it’s hard to believe that among the authors of a solid program like You’ve Got Mail, where there is a great editorial work in the construction of the episodes and stories, there was no awareness of the explosiveness of this story.

January 10, 2023 (change January 10, 2023 | 7:15 pm)


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«Marriage to be saved?». “No, it’s a toxic relationship.” Controversy over the story of Valentina and Stefano

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