What a great discussion you had this week with one another. So many of you offer such value and support to one another. Just to clarify, I do personally write all my own blogs and blog titles. I have a few assistants who do lots of things but they don’t create content for me.
One thing that is very important in order for someone to be a healthy adult is that she or he learns to receive feedback as well as be open to new ideas. When we look at destructive individuals, one of the things that make them unable to change is their unwillingness to receive feedback or to listen to different or opposing points of view.
In celebration of Christmas let’s remember that when Jesus came on the scene he presented new ideas about what the Jewish law meant. Love your enemies, do good on the Sabbath, pluck out your eye if it causes you to sin, blessed are the poor in spirit. These teachings were new wine that required new wineskins. They could not fit into the old religious containers. The religious leaders were so outraged by Jesus’ “new ideas” that they actually wanted him silenced.
We are not Jesus but let’s continue to be gracious when people present new ideas or different ways of seeing things. I don't want anyone to feel silenced here. I’ve always been proud that this group asks good clarifying and challenging questions. We don't all have to think the same way and we sometimes encounter real differences.
As we move into the New Year, our 7th year of this blog, I want us to be mindful of this CORE value.
Regardless of our differences, we always treat each other as we would want to be treated, with dignity and respect. Click To Tweet
Question: I have been married for 10 years, we have 3 children, my husband can be a very loving and caring husband and father at times, but when he is stressed out he becomes a terrible person, full of rage and blaming me for everything bad that happens.
He has been physically and emotionally abusive towards me, always the name calling. My kids love him very much, but they are also afraid of him when he is in that rage. He has pulled my hair and physically hurt me a few times all of that almost always in front of my kids.
During these 10 years, we have sought counseling from church and from the VA (he is a veteran), which has helped for a certain period of time.
A couple of times I left him, I took my kids and went to a hotel, but I always came back.
This year two days before our anniversary, he got enraged again and when we got home he took two of our boys with him. I was so scared for my boys and I ended up calling the police.
It was the worst day for us all, especially my kids. He was arrested for 1 day, got a restraining order, however after talking to his lawyer I have agreed to communicate with him. We have a business which I have managed for several years. He asked if I would help him with the business so I did.
It is very difficult now. He blames me for this. He said that he will never forgive me for calling the police and putting him in this situation. Right now, I have decided to trust God and not do anything, I had an appointment with a lawyer but I cancelled it because I am scared…don't know what to do.
Answer: I know it's a scary time for you, but now is the time to face that fear, not run from it. First, you did the right thing by calling the police. Had your husband done something awful to himself or the children while he was in that state you would have had a hard time forgiving yourself for not calling the police?
Second, you did not put him in this situation, he did. He said he will never forgive you for calling the police. That tells you a lot about where his mind is at. He believes that he’s supposed to be allowed to do anything he feels like doing when he’s upset or stressed or enraged with no consequences at all. That’s called entitlement thinking and you are not going to change that. He believes a lie. He believes that he should never have to deal with stress. And when he has to, it’s everyone else’s fault and they have to pay a price. This lie is firmly in place and I want you to know that there is nothing you can do to change this lie. It is his alone to face and to change.
Leaving and going to a hotel for a few days, calling the police, and him being arrested gave him an opportunity to wake up to this lie. The truth is that there ARE real consequences when you behave certain ways, even within intimate relationships. Furthermore, the restraining order gave him another opportunity to “learn” that you can’t behave that way without consequences. A lesson all human beings need to learn early in life – starting about age two.
Apparently, your husband also believes he’s above the rules of ordinary human beings. He believes that he can act out, behave badly, abuse you and scare your children and you should quickly get over it, continue to smile and act as if all is well. That’s called wanting a fantasy wife.
However, it seems that for ten years you somewhat complied with his belief. You said you left and went to a hotel when he acted like that and that was a good thing to do. But why did you return if there was no change? When you went to counseling or the VA for help did you disclose that he was abusive to you? These questions are not meant to shame you, most women do return a number of times after separating and do not disclose abuse. But a counselor can’t possibly see the full picture of what’s going on at home without both people having the freedom, to tell the truth.
It’s time for you to change your own dance steps in this destructive marriage because that is your only hope for a change. What that means is that you are going to have to do what you need to do to get stronger so that you don't fall for his lies that it’s your fault. You are going to have to get crystal clear in your own mind that you are not the one who is ruining your family or breaking your marriage apart. You want what every other human being wants and that is to be treated with decency and respect. To feel safe in your own home. Those are the basics of any relationship including marriage.
You are going to have to step outside your comfort zone in order for you to grow and change your part of the destructive dance. Typically your part has been to silently accept this abuse or leave, but eventually return to it. You got talked out of your restraining order by his lawyer in order to “help him with the business.” You’d think he’d be grateful but he’s not. He’s mad that you finally told the truth. “I'm scared. Your behaviour is scary and it’s not okay to take our children in a rage and drive off. I’m calling the police to make sure you don’t do something stupid.” You took decisive action and that something was a new step for you. And it did result in some protection, jail time, and a restraining order. But then you let yourself get talked out of that very real consequence for him by his lawyer.
You closed by saying “I had an appointment with a lawyer. I’m scared. I cancelled it. I decided to trust God and do nothing.” Why did you cancel it?As I read the Scripture, when someone decided to trust God, they did something, not nothing. Read my newsletter from yesterday about Tamar. She was a victim of injustice and she was patient for a long time. But when she realized nothing was ever going to change, she decided to do something. She didn’t know if her plan would work. She was scared and that’s where she had to trust God with the outcome. If you do the same thing you’ve always done, you will get the same results you’ve always gotten. Is that okay with you? For your children?
The truth is your husband doesn’t know how to handle stress or his negative emotions. He will continue to take it out on you and your kids as long as you allow him.
My final question to you is this: Has he always been this way as long as you’ve known him or has this rage been compounded by some PTSD from his service in the military? That is no excuse for his abuse but if there are PTSD issues, you can have compassion on his own wounds that he refuses to face. But will you help him most by being passive and compliant in his rages or will you help him most by saying, “I cannot live with you when you hit me, pull my hair, and abuse me? It’s not my fault you can’t handle your stress or anger. Get help and we can talk about whether we can put this marriage and family together. If not, then I won’t continue to allow myself to be treated this way.”
Friend, when fear has kept you stuck in unhealthy patterns, what did you do to break through fear in order to reach the other side?
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