Good Monday friends,
If you are a Veteran, I want to thank you for serving our country and sacrificing yourself for my freedom. I’d love to thank you by gifting you with a CD, The TRUTH Principle. Just e-mail my assistant Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address, and I will personally sign it for you and mail it out.
Last night I had the opportunity to be at a Keith and Krystyn Getty Concert. If you’ve never heard them, they are fabulous. Here is a clip of them on You Tube:
They are modern hymn writers, and it was an uplifting, worshipful, musically excellent concert. It made me long for heaven where we won’t have to talk anymore about the dark side of life; it will all be good.
I just returned from being Nana to three wonderful little girls. We played monster, made cookies, took walks, played “this little piggy” hundreds of times on tiny toes and sang “The Wheel’s on the Bus Go Round and Round” at least 1,000 times. I forgot how exhaustingly wonderful little minds and hearts can be and how good it feels when a child fully trusts that you will do her good, not harm.
Today’s Question: I’ve watched your videos and have thought about sharing them with my spouse, but I am not sure if it would help or hinder.
I left my spouse almost 2 months ago because I determined, with the help of the local women’s resource center, a therapist, my family doctor, 2 of my sisters, and my best friend, that I have been in an emotionally abusive relationship. It was picking up pace with verbal threats of physical violence and minor acts of physical violence.
Within two weeks of leaving, my husband told me he had changed so much that I would not recognize him. He started going to a marriage counselor, and I was asked to attend as well. I went one time on my own and shared a written history (basically specific events from last year, but also generalized behaviors over our 10 years of marriage) as well as talked to the therapist about why I would not attend with my husband now–primarily because I had asked over the past 5 years to go to counseling with or without my husband and each time he criticized me and the counseling community as a entirety.
By the end of the session, the counselor stated that she would like me to call her to find out how my husband is progressing in 8 weeks (which will be soon). She did not ask me to attend with him at this time.
My husband has also been attending an anger management class and claims that he will no longer yell at me or get angry. However, I do not see his anger or yelling as the primary concern. I believe it is deeper. I have not been able to dress, get my hair cut, drink water, breath, sleep, talk about my work, talk to my family, have friends, do any preparation for my career (I am a teacher) at home, or bake or cook what I want as I must eat what he eats and be readily accessible to him at all times, etc. It is deeper than just anger in my mind.
He wants me to come home and let him show me that he is a different person.
I feel nothing at all anymore. I do not miss him. I do not miss anyone. I am unhappy where I am, but I also feel that my soul, my purpose, my life was dead when I was at home. I was anxious and afraid just to open the door to our home, but I could go back and feel no better or worse. I think I am just dead inside so it really doesn’t matter.
I am now also working with a priest who actually tells me many of the things that you speak of in your videos.
Answer: You’ve got a lot going on, and I want to help you make the next right choices. First, it sounds like you had good support when you made your decision to separate, but where is that support now? From what you describe, you sound weary and may be depressed. You say you feel nothing anymore. “Numb” or “dead inside” are the words women often use to describe how they feel when they suffer from depression. This is a difficult time to make good decisions. You need time to heal and take care of yourself before you can tend to issues in your marriage.
You also stated that because of these dead feelings, it really doesn’t matter what decision you make.
That’s a lie. It does matter what decision you make right now. It matters for your future and for your husband’s future. Also, you as a person matter–you matter to God, you matter to your sisters, family, best friend and students, and you matter to this community here who wants to support and encourage you. So before you think about what to do with your marriage, please get some additional help for yourself. I’m glad you’re seeing your priest. You need to get stronger and more clear-minded. Perhaps you also need to mention these numb and hopeless feelings to your medical doctor who might be able to help with some temporary medication if indeed you are experiencing depression.
Living with an angry, controlling person takes its toll on a woman’s mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. She begins to feel flattened out, and her life energy and her soul song disappears. She loses herself and becomes an object whose sole purpose is to meet the needs, wishes, desires, fantasies and demands of her husband.
You are wise to grasp that your husband’s anger is not his (or your) primary problem. You said, “I have not been able to dress, get my hair cut, drink water, breath, sleep, talk about my work, talk to my family, have friends, do any preparation for my career (I am a teacher) at home, bake or cook what I want as I must eat what he eats and be readily accessible to him at all times, etc.” When you tried to do these things, what happened? I hope these are the kinds of things you shared with his counselor.
His anger has been the means by which he controls you and intimidates you to comply. If he gives up using his anger without a deeper healing, he will simply switch to another tactic to control–no less toxic or lethal to you–but one in which you probably won’t be able to get legal protection against.
It’s not enough for you to see the deeper issues. He too must recognize his demand that he be your god and that you revolve your life around serving him and making him happy. From what you say, it appears he “sees” his anger now as inappropriate but, if he still believes he’s entitled to be your god and you are to bow to his demands, nothing will change if you return home.
Therefore, I encourage you not to move home so that he can prove to you he’s changed. Once he’s got you back home, it will be much harder to assert your independence or leave again. He thinks he’s doing better, but my guess is he’s doing better because he doesn’t have much contact with you. He’s afraid he’s going to lose you so he’s “complying” to win you back but not because he’s acknowledged the true seriousness of his offenses or problems.
If you move back home now, you may enjoy a brief honeymoon period, but trust me, his attempts to control you will rear their ugly head once again and the cycle will repeat. This time he may use guilt trips, financial pressure, emotional battering or spiritual sounding words, including Bible passages, to get you to do what he wants. His fundamental issues of selfness and entitlement have not been addressed. If they have been touched on, they take a long time to change.
So what I’d recommend for now is to stay where you are or find a more permanent place to live while separated. Get all the help you need to get clear, strong, sane and safe. Allow yourself to be defined by God, not your spouse. He knows you better than you know yourself. If you have any contact with your spouse, be assertive with him–in a respectful way–but do not capitulate to his demands or even his requests if they don’t sit well with you. See how he handles your separateness, your voice, your choices, your independence, your “No.”
When you function as a healthy person instead of an object whose sole purpose is to meet his needs, he will feel unglued and extremely unhappy for a season. That’s to be expected, but then it will be crucial for him to learn how to deal with those uncomfortable and unhappy feelings on his own so that he doesn’t put his entire well-being on your shoulders. He needs to learn how to be in an intimate relationship with a real person who is separate from him and not just one who caters entirely to him.
This process can take a long time for him to learn. Many men will not be willing to endure the pain to get to the change they need. They sometimes get more demanding and insist you move home and may even threaten divorce if you refuse, or they will find a new object to use and abuse.
Take your time with this process. It is the only way to tell what’s happening in him. Two weeks or two months is not enough time. Eight weeks of counseling is not enough time. His counselor will not be able to tell you if he’s really changed, only you will be able to tell if he’s really changed.
How does he treat you on the phone when you need to hang up and do your lesson plans for school the next day? When you don’t’ want to talk anymore? When you have financial needs and ask him for money? When you put your own family ahead of his needs and don’t call him back? When you disagree on something? Phone calls can tell you a lot about how a person is or is not changing without you taking the risk of being injured by moving back home. Is he respecting you? Allowing you to be different? Accepting when you can’t or don’t want to meet his need right then?
If phone calls go well over a period of time, then, if you want to, you could try short date nights where you drive separately to a public place so that you are not in a confined space with no choices. (If you have any concern for your safety do not do this). As you continue to grow and get stronger, does he honor and respect you or try to squash you back down? Is he learning to tolerate his own negative emotions in a healthier way? Again, short intervals of contact can tell you a whole lot before you ever move home. Moving home is the last step of the process, not the first step, and there are a whole lot of steps in between. Don’t cut them short believing his ideas of a quick fix. There is no such thing in these kinds of marriages.
Friends, share what specific things that have helped you know whether someone is changing as well as what you did to breathe new life into your flattened out personhood?