Morning friends,

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and for many of you it will feel different than normal. Because of health and safety concerns, some of you will be eating outside. Others will be sharing a meal via zoom. Some of you may be eating TV turkey dinner because you are all alone. A verse in the Bible that has always challenged me is 1 Thessalonians 5:18 where Paul says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  Today’s question is relevant to this topic.

Question: I’ve been married to a selfish man for 30 years. He never thinks he does anything wrong, yet he constantly criticizes me.  Everything is about his needs, his feelings, and his wants. When I try to tell him he’s being selfish or ask him to think about my feelings, he rages or sulks. I don’t know how to get him to see his selfishness or to care about me. I’m getting discouraged and worn out. What can I do?

Answer: In this blog, we talk again and again about owning your own problem and not trying to fix someone else’s problem. Your husband doesn’t see he has a problem with selfishness. He doesn’t want to hear how you feel and shows you that loud and clear when he rages or sulks when you try. Therefore, what is your problem with all of this? You’re tired. You’re getting discouraged and worn out. You don’t like the way your marriage is going. What do YOU want to do about YOUR problem?

You might say, “I’d like him to fix his problem and then I wouldn’t have my problem.” And you’re right, but after 30 years I hope you’re learning you are powerless to fix his problem or get him to fix his problem or even get him to admit he has a problem. Now what? What are you going to do about your problem?

Last year I met a woman at a professional conference. It was a secular group and during the break, she asked me what my line of work was. I told her and she laughed. She said, “I was married to a Narcissistic/Sociopathic man and he was the best person I could have married.” 

Intrigued by her response I asked her to tell me more. This is what she told me. “When I got married I was a naïve good girl with stars in my eyes. I believed what everyone told me. I was a classic people pleaser and craved affirmation and validation of my worth. My ex-husband was charming and swept me off my feet. I never saw red flags because I didn’t know what red flags were and I was so in love I wouldn’t have cared even if I saw them. I believed everyone was good. No one intentionally meant to harm someone else and love would conquer all. Boy did I have a harsh awakening to reality and it was the best thing that happened to me. Otherwise, I would have never changed and grown up into the woman I am today. He was a cruel teacher but I learned my lesson well.”

Her perspective intrigued me, especially because she didn’t claim to be a Christian, yet she was thankful for her experience. She learned that even though she was a pleasant, nice girl, she was naïve, too trusting, and didn’t value her own self enough, and therefore was vulnerable to predators. Her story reminded me of Paul’s advice to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.  

Paul is not asking you to be thankful for all things. Some things are too awful, too sinful, and evil to ever be thankful for. But even in those things, he wants us to look for what we can be thankful for. Have we found a good counselor, discovered this blog community, joined CONQUER, read just the right helpful book, learned to value ourselves more, stuck up for ourselves more, thought more truthful about our reality, valued our safety and sanity instead of being a captured slave to a destructive person?

God never promises that he will bubble wrap us and keep us from life’s hardships (John 16:33). Yet he does promise to all who love him that whatever we get ourselves into, or whatever happens to us, it will be used for our good. And that good he defines as our growth and maturity in our character, that we might look more and more like Jesus. (Romans 8:28,29). That promise is so secure that we can be thankful in all things. Click To Tweet

My advice to you is to stop trying to fix your husband or your marriage and work on you. What do you need to do to build a life so that you will feel safe, sane, and strong rather than defensive, angry, exhausted, and scared? 

Friends, what are you thankful for that you have learned in hard places? 

6 Comments

  1. Janice D on November 25, 2020 at 9:59 am

    What a great perspective to have in life! When we view ourselves as life long learners God can and will turn all our experiences into lessons in wisdom and character formation.I’m certain no one here on this blog would have willingly chosen to enter our toughest and most painful challenges,yet God in His sovereignty meets us in the struggles and shapes us as we allow Him to lovingly lead and guide us.His will for us is not to remain victims.It is a good reminder during this season of giving thanks to continue the work God has called us to.Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow pilgrims on this truth seeking journey…no matter how painful it gets keep walking in the light and cling to His promises.True freedom is never found in darkness,chaos and confusion.It takes time but life on the other side is lighter and brighter.

  2. Nancy on November 25, 2020 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Leslie,

    You ask what are you thankful for, that you have learned in hard places?

    I am thankful that God has met me in and through my deepest wounding…..relationships.

    When things get difficult (relationally) in my marriage (a marriage that has been transformed out of a destructive marriage), I must always look to what boundaries are being violated. Am I allowing a boundary violation (not honouring myself), or am I violating his (not honouring him)?

    I think that what I am learning is as simple as that. Where is the boundary violation? And then what is my responsibility in that?

    It seems easy but when those lines get crossed, I hurt in the place of my deepest, oldest pain. It is SO HARD to see straight in the moment!

  3. Lois on November 27, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    I am so thankful that a dear friend gave me Leslie’s Conquer Group information. I was so afraid that I almost did not join in this wonderful Facebook/Blog and Conquer Videos that Leslie has for us. I am so excited to be given “permission” to take care of my needs and not to be dependent on my covert narcissist husband. I am so thankful that I was given clarity and responsibility to change myself and to learn how to have boundaries that I can control. I love the excitement of life and to not live in fear… The TRUTH does make one FREE!!! He is so good that our kids almost do not know how much of a narcissistic he is. I seem to be his main target. I am watchful of my attitude especially since my son lets me know when I appear to not be giving my h grace. When giving a boundary, I need to have a decent spirit about me I know… What is so interesting (and I am trying to manage how to do boundaries better…) that our kids still love their dad. They have issues with him, but they respect him. I respect him too at a distance – with a guarded heart – in a sense of being strong/more confident…My h does not know what “hit” him… I am different. By God’s Grace for sure. I am not hiding any more and am going through the tough work. I have to have my guard up daily. It helps. I work at not getting “sucked in” to his judgemental conversations. I just do not let myself get under so much pain. Instead I am working on making friends that are healthy… not perfect, but healthy. It is such a blessing to have courage to love others and to let them love me too. I am so glad to be developing the gifts of friends. This such a joy… I am starting a new hobby and actually taking more care of my health. Making healthy smoothies are one way to treating myself. Thank you, thank you, thank you Leslie!!!!!

    • me... finding myself ! on November 27, 2020 at 10:40 pm

      Amen !
      I am thankful for Leslie’s dedication to helping us all clarify ! And… YES !! These trials have made us strong and resilient and drawn us closer to our Loving LORD.

    • JoAnn on November 28, 2020 at 9:59 am

      Lois, your testimony is so encouraging! Keep going. You are moving in the right direction. And above all, cultivate a loving and intimate relationship with the Lord. He is your salvation.

  4. JoAnn on November 28, 2020 at 10:10 am

    In my many “hard places,” I can honestly say that I have learned to trust God’s loving heart for me and my loved ones. So often, in the hard places, it seems like we are alone and lost, but I can always look back at a later time and see God’s purpose in allowing me to go through that. I believe that He wants to prove Himself trustworthy to us, so He has often allowed the trial to go to the “last minute,” then He comes in to prove that He was working all along. Learning to trust His sovereign control in my life has been a long process, but now there is peace where there used to be anxiety. We are in His strong, loving hands.

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