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Archive for the ‘healing the hurt in a marriage’ Category

“We write to taste life twice . . .” ~ Anais Nin

I write so I will not forget. But some days, I just don’t want to remember. Sometimes I just don’t want to “taste life twice”. This is one of those times. So for anyone who follows my blog, I hope you forgive me, but today I am posting only a song. Like most of the songs I post, this one speaks for me.

Where I am today.

Right now.

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To say the last week has been difficult would be a great understatement.

He had been caught. He just didn’t know to what extent when I confronted him. And so he lied. Had he told the truth, would the outcome have been different? No point in wondering that now. Once I began reading out loud to him, the e-mails they had exchanged that were in my possession, my husband realized he could lie no longer and the ugly details were revealed.

He met her 18 months ago . . . It became “inappropriate” early on. I told him he needed to leave. Move out. And he needed to tell the kids why or else I would. I gave him 1 week. He refused. By mid-week he even began to deny everything he had admitted just a few days before. Why wouldn’t he? I’m sure he was thinking that we would fall back into our usual pattern by telling me,

~ “You are blowing things out of proportion”
~ “You are being over sensitive”
~ “It wasn’t what you think”

It didn’t matter. Nothing he could say at this point was going to weaken my resolve.

Despite my husband’s juvenile and desperate protests, (“I’m not going to tell the kids and you can’t make me!) we had a “family meeting” exactly 1 week after the thing that changed everything happened. My younger ones cried. My older ones were angry and demanded him to explain. He couldn’t. And then the dam burst. Every crazy, dysfunctional, hurtful, narcissistic behavior of my husband was confronted . . . By the kids. There was no blatant disrespect, but they held nothing back.

His response? He took off his wedding ring, set it on the table, packed a bag, and left the house. He was gone and I could finally breathe. We all could finally breathe. The toxic energy was gone and now our healing could begin.

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Spending time with an adult ADD “expert” gave me more insight to my husband’s behavior than weeks spent reading books on marriage & ADD, months on the couch of my therapist, and years of unproductive conversations with my husband. Here is the advice she gave me over lunch:

ANGER

“Even though you may feel justified in being angry at your husband for the suffering he has caused you, the inevitable result is that both of you are hurt deeply and your indignation does nothing to help you deal with your anger.”

“You can address the root causes of anger in your relationship by giving back the responsibility for fixing ADD to the partner who has it. While at the same time, taking charge of your own happiness again.”

FORGIVENESS

“The cure for anger? – Forgiveness”

“Blame diminishes each partners ability to be empathetic – it impairs the ability to forgive – it sets up two people as adversaries rather than partners – it provides an excuse to not keep trying.”

“Forgiveness can only occur after anger and sadness have been exposed, expressed and validated.”

MOVING FORWARD

“You should allow yourself to experience sadness, because grieving for what you have not had in your marriage, up to this point, is one of the first steps toward building a new life together.”

“Both partners should grieve over what could have been, but wasn’t because of the unrecognized effects of ADD on your lives. You can’t resolve someone’s grief. Just acknowledge and empathize; don’t dismiss. Over time, grief that is acknowledged and validated will heal.”

“Seek help! A good counselor will help you focus on today’s issues rather than the past.”

HOPE

“When couples learn about ADD and work together to address problematic symptoms, life can improve dramatically.”

TREATMENT

“Deciding whether to treat ADD is the sole responsibility of the person who has it. How to respond to your husband’s decision about treatment is up to you.”

“If the your husband decides against treatment, you will be left with only unpleasant choices:”

1) force treatment
2) force change without treatment
3) give up on change but stay in the relationship                                                (which often results in depression and anger)
4) leave the relationship

MOVING ON

“Your husband might refuse treatment for ADD symptoms, essentially forcing you to “take it or leave it”

“At some point, the situation may become untenable for you and if your husband remains uninterested in treatment, expressing your own needs very clearly in the form of an ultimatum is all that will be left.”

. . . There may be an ultimatum in my future.

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As I sit on the couch that has now become familiar to me over the last 6 months, I am aware that my therapist truly has tried his best to help me but that maybe the problem is me. Maybe I am just a hopeless patient. At our last session he asked, “Are you trying to change yourself in order to get your husband to change? Are you trying to change the way you respond to him in order to get your desired behavior from him?”

Me: “Well, yes, isn’t that how things work? If I change the way I respond to him, then won’t that change the negative dynamics between us?”

Therapist: ” Don’t you see, the ways you have changed in order to accommodate your husband’s behavior or to obtain desired behavior from him will only result in your unhappiness, because you are not being true to your feelings and because you are hoping for a change in your husband that may never come. It’s fine if you want to change yourself, but it has to be for you and without any expectations for a change in him.

(OK, even though that seems to be different from what I have been told and have read up to this point, I can wrap my head around why that way of thinking makes sense. Although it seems like this approach is just a different way to “self-protect” and it makes me angry to face the reality – once again – that I need a coping strategy to protect my heart from the man to whom I am married.)

Therapist: I don’t know why your husband behaves the way he does but always remember, don’t feed his need for drama. When he behaves in a way that leaves you hurt or frustrated, realize that this is only part of his personality.

Me: But why do me & the kids always get the bad part of his personality, while his friends & co-workers get the good?! I have come to believe that my husband is incapable of nurturing me & our relationship.

Therapist: Name some of the recurring negative feelings you have related to your marriage.

Me: Hurt, disappointment, resentment . . . I often feel like I don’t meet his standards, so I guess inferiority would also be one. Hopeless, over a lack of change. Guilt about considering divorce. Tension & anger whenever I am around him. Unimportant – I am not a priority to him. Insecure over his inability to provide financially. . .

Therapist: (heavy sigh) OK – how about you list some of the recurring themes in you marriage.

Me: Relationships with him are conditional. We got married because I was pregnant which contributes to my self-condemnation. He treats other people better than he treats me and the children. His relationship with my (2) children is terrible. Life with him is difficult because he is so inconsistent. We have a long history of disappointment in our relationship. His negative, passive aggressive behavior is draining. His convenient memory lapses are frustrating. I have little/no respect for him. No matter how bad I am feeling (physically or emotionally) or how hard my day has been, it is pointless to discuss it with him because he will usually turn it around to be about him and how much worse things are for him. . .

Therapist: There seems to be so many bad things you associate with your marriage, what would you need in order to make you feel good about the marriage?

. . . I had no answer.

Stuffing anger into some dark corner of your heart may temporarily help you skirt past a conflict but the anger doesn’t go away. If you persist in stuffing your hurt and anger, it will affect you negatively in mind, body and spirit. Your outlook on life will tarnish, your hope for deeper happiness will fade and you will be more susceptible to illness.” (Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage – Rosberg)

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In the book that I am reading, Healing the Hurt in Your Marriage by Gary Rosberg, the author talks about 3 types of anger:

  1. Situational – triggered by a specific event
  2. Displaced – expressing anger indirectly
  3. Chronic – not resolving conflict results in chronic anger which is often shoved into the background and ignored. Buried wounds and anger generate an assortment of psychological & physical stresses.

The author then goes on to list 4 types of people and their responses to anger:

  1. the self protector – stuffs their anger and denies the hurt to protect themselves from being vulnerable to further hurt
  2. the canon – in a disagreement, one person blows up and attacks the other
  3. the conformer – conforms to lessons they learned from culture/family about dealing with conflict
  4. the denier – does not express hurt (just anger)

I find myself experiencing all three types of anger but my response is always the same. I am a “self-protector”. I try to have little or no expectations of my husband so I can avoid the hurt of disappointment. The author goes on to describe the results of my type of response. ” . . .stuffing anger into some dark corner of your heart may temporarily help you skirt past a conflict but the anger doesn’t go away. If you persist in stuffing your hurt and anger it will affect you negatively in mind, body & spirit. Your outlook on life will tarnish, your hope for deeper happiness in marriage will fade and you will be more susceptible to illness. Unresolved anger evolves into bitterness and resentment.”

One of my blog readers recently suggested I was possibly not being “open” with my husband. He was correct. I have not been “open” for some time. In the early years of my marriage, I tried to learn the best way to approach my husband with issues. When my husband would respond, “Our life together is already hard, why do you have to make it harder with these conflicts?” I began to think “avoidance” was how he preferred to deal with problems. Years of avoidance led to my depression. When my sadness seemed too much to bear any longer, I completely broke down in tears one morning. I poured my heart out to my husband. He listened . . . and then he walked away. It was Sunday, after all, and he didn’t want to be late for church . . . Not sure if I have ever recovered from that day but it was definitely a significant point in my marriage when I realized, my husband can not handle “openness” . . . I pray that one day life will be different.

Ephesians 3:19 May you experience the love of Christ, then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God. By His mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.

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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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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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