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Archive for October, 2010

Of the many titles that could be used to describe me, “home-school mom” is one which brings much bittersweetness. While I love being home with my kids , at the same time, it is really hard being home with my kids!

In addition to the challenges of homeschooling 5 children, my husband (not surprisingly) has not been supportive of my decision to home-school the kids these last 10 years. He thinks that our family has suffered financially as a result of me working only part-time; that the kids should go to public school and I should work full time.

As the kids have gotten older, they’ve attended a private school near our house so they can take some of the upper level classes I did not want to teach at home. (i.e. Biology Algebra II, etc.) Initially, the classes were paid by a scholarship that I applied for and thankfully received, but the last few years, the price of these classes has doubled and I have had to pay the difference out of my own pocket. At this point, it is no longer something I can continue to do.

The decision has been made to send the 2 older kids to the local public school. It is a decision that makes my heart sad because I wish I could continue to send them to the private school, but without the financial support of my husband or their bio father, it is impossible for me to do it alone. I pray that this school will be a good experience and that the foundation the kids have received at home is strong enough to stand in this new environment.

II Thessalonians 2:15-17 With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, console and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

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In the book I am reading, it says trouble in marriage comes from unresolved conflict. When on offense occurs, there is usually an emotional reaction of hurt or anger and the conflict can either be addressed and resolved or dealt with in one of the following ways that keep conflicts unresolved:

  1. strike back verbally
  2. strike back through actions
  3. bury anger
  4. never address the issue

To resolve the conflict requires these actions:

  1. prepare your heart
  2. diffuse your anger
  3. communicate your concerns
  4. confront conflict
  5. forgive spouse
  6. rebuild trust

(Healing the Hurt in your Marriage – Rosberg)

I am sure this author has the best of intentions in helping married couples, but I think the assumption of this book is that both wife and husband realizes there are problems and are trying to work things out together. These concepts don’t really work very well if my spouse reacts as if I am the only one with a problem when “concerns are communicated” or “conflicts are confronted”. While I agree with the following excerpts, they are of no practical use to me other than acknowledging their truth.

“If an offense between you and your spouse is dealt with immediately, the hurt is fleeting and without consequences” . . . “When a person is wronged in some way, it triggers hurt – and if there is a delay in resolving the offense, that simmering inner hurt can boil over into anger” . . . “Avoidance of resolving hurt will eventually lead to emotional divorce.”

(Healing the Hurt in your Marriage – Rosberg)

“Emotional divorce” . . . That seems like a safe place to be. Lonely, but safe. But then I come across verses like this:

Ephesians 4:31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God, though Christ has forgiven you (ME)

So the question is, how does one follow these Biblical principles in a marriage relationship?

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In the early days of our marriage, our finances were combined . . .well, maybe I should clarify that. The bank account was in my husband’s name only and my paycheck was directly deposited into this account. I had no access to it – no debit card, no ATM card, and no checks. If I needed money for something, I had to ask. Not a good situation. When it came to the bills, my husband paid them . . uhh, let me clarify again. When it came to the bills, my husband was suppose to pay them, but often times, they were paid late or not at all. He definitely lacked money management skills. For obvious reasons, this concerned me. So I came up with a plan to take over the finances ,while gaining access to my own money and hopefully avoiding any further damage to our credit.

I opened my own checking/savings account, changed my paycheck to be directly deposited into my account and suggested to my husband that I relieve him of the stress of paying the monthly bills. With his paycheck, he could continue paying the mortgage & groceries. When he agreed, I felt like I finally had some financial freedom!

Most (Christian) marriage advice books would not recommend this, but I would NEVER go back to the way things used to be. Although my husband works full-time & I only work part time (therefore, obviously earn much less) I have been able to manage paying the monthly bills, my tithes, the kid’s expenses and start a retirement savings account. The peace of mind this gives me is priceless.

After having our finances set up this way for a few years, I could see my husband felt threatened by my financial independence. Especially when I bought my own car and registered it in my name! (saying he would never ride in or drive it!) Yes, after 10 or more years of marriage, not even the cars were in my name. And while I feel grateful to have the inner strength to achieve this practical, tangible goal, I still consistently fail when it comes to developing emotional strength towards this man who can hurt me with his words and actions . . .

Psalms 84:5 Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains. They will continue to grow stronger and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem.

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There are things about my husband I don’t think I will ever be able to understand. And if these things don’t make sense to me, how am I to explain to our children when they question their father’s behavior?

I can only think that his childhood must have left him very scarred and the result is the man to which I am now married. When we have difficulties in the marriage, he will usually withdraw from me and spend most of his free time with our three youngest children (“his” children) but even with them, he will withhold affection based on their behavior.

In the book I am reading, it describes “Four Types of Families”

  1. the good family high morals but no Jesus
  2. the religious family – high morals + religion but no relationship with Jesus
  3. the wounded family – dysfunctional
  4. the Biblical family – resolve conflict in a Biblical way

(Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage – Rosberg)

I think its safe to say we are the wounded, dysfunctional family. My husband has often talked of how he wants to break the generational cycle of  “cheating husbands” and divorce that has occurred to just about every couple in his family. Most of the women in his extended family are strong willed and  controlling. They have raised their children as single moms in the male dominated culture of Latin America.Throw in a long family history of mental illness and these opinionated matriarchs are quite a force to be reckoned with.   It is in this environment that my husband grew up. His father was out of his life before he turned 2, and his mother was emotionally unstable. To talk to my husband or his family, they each have their own version of those years, so it’s not clear to me how good or bad it really was. What I do know is that the impact his behavior is having on the present is just as negative as the men in his family’s past.

Psalms 91:1   Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the Shadow of the Almighty. This I declare of the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety, He is my God and I am trusting Him. (!)

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My husband recently asked me why I was in pain over our marriage. (seriously?!) I could not help but wonder, “Why don’t you understand?!” He doesn’t seem to “get” that it is his behavior that causes me so much pain. No, he doesn’t beat me, he doesn’t do drugs, does not gamble his paycheck away, but there are still many other ways of not being a good husband . . . And because I can see how well he treats people outside our family, how selfish he can be towards me , and how our relationship/family is not a consistent priority, I can’t help but feel hurt. I can see that I am not asking him to give me something he doesn’t have the ability to . . . he is choosing not to. There have been so many incidents of his bad behavior and they all affect me the same way. Oh, he can definitely be good to me at times, then just when I begin to trust his kindness, he will completely sucker punch me with something new. Just the thought of this cycle continuing is almost too much to bear.

To confront him also brings no resolution. For example, when he went on a bike ride “date” with a female co-worker without telling me and waiting till I went to work before having her arrive at our house, I asked him to put himself in my shoes. I asked him how he would feel if I went out with a male co-worker without telling him and, this was his response, “If you want to use my innocent bike ride as an excuse to cheat on me, then I can’t stop you.” This was enough to push me over the edge of wanting to be completely finished with him. I am so angry but can only seem to cry. I do not want to hurt my husband, nor do I want to have him hurt me. What I do want is for him to have some realization of the situation and take responsibility for his part in it.

Proverbs 18:14 The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed?

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Here is an excerpt from a book I recently began reading;

“Why does hurt happen in a marriage where two people love each other? Because no matter how they feel toward each other, both are imperfect beings who will not do things right 100% of the time” . . . “It doesn’t matter how deeply you and your spouse love each other, conflict and hurt at some level are inevitable. It’s not a question of IF, only WHEN.”

“The Path of Forgiving Love:”

1) Come to grips with the reality that you and your spouse cause each other pain

2) Resolve conflicts when they occur by confessing/forgiving offenses

(Healing the Hurt in your Marriage – Rosberg)

I can understand and even agree with this author easily enough, but how does one put this into practice during the everyday reality of marriage? Our first counseling appointment is this week and I don’t have the impression that this is something my husband is completely on board with. I’m sure it won’t be long before he begins to complain about the expense of a therapist, but I am hoping some of our difficulties can be addressed before that becomes an issue. The reality of my marriage is so far from what I envisioned it would be. Was I naive to believe the “Disneyland Dream” of happily ever after? Are my expectations too high? . . . or did I marry someone who doesn’t know  (and maybe doesn’t care) how to be my Prince Charming?

 Proverbs 16:1   We can gather our thoughts but the Lord gives the right answer.

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When we got married, my children were ages 2 & 4.  My husband was so sweet to them back then. Even though I knew we were not getting married under the best of circumstances, I truly felt I was giving my children a great “daddy”.  The kids were so little and while they spent time with their biological father, he never made them a priority – so my husband was the only “daddy” they knew. Sadly, at some point, my husband stopped seeing himself as their “daddy” and began seeing himself as their “step-father”.

He has let his “title” determine his relationship with the kids in the worst way. It first began with  favoritism towards “his” children. The result was resentment from “my” older children; then my husband used the resentment they displayed as an excuse to treat them badly outright.  At this point, his behavior towards them is intolerable. I don’t want to “undermine his authority” in our home but how do I protect my children from this man?

While he has never been physically abusive, I can see how the emotional dysfunction is becoming  just as damaging. Instead of these children having 2 dads to love them and to be a positive father figure in their lives, there are two men they call dad yet neither one wants the job. . .

II Corinthians 6:18   And I will be your Father and you will be My sons and daughters says the Lord Almighty.

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