I am so excited to announce that registration is now open for our first LIVE women's conference: Becoming the Best Possible You Both Inside and Out.
Over the years, this blog has grown to an amazing community of women. I would love to meet you all and give you a big hug. I hope you can join us October 14th and 15th.
For more information or to register click here.
Todays' Question: I am stuck, and don't know what to do now.
I have been married, almost 15 years. It has been a verbally abusive relationship, on both sides. In November, after an argument, my husband said, “we're done”. I took self-inventory and apologized and repented for my irresponsible, self-centered behavior.
There was no response. No apology from him. No repentance. My husband has no accountability, nothing is ever his fault. He has a way of twisting words so that I begin to take all responsibility for the issue. Sometimes, I don't know my own truth. I question my motives, etc.
My issues with him are he is a slob and he is not a man of his word. In April, he requested that we go our separate ways. He wanted to stay married but live separately. I would not agree to that. I suggested divorce. We have been to many counselors. He is not going anymore.
In May, he went to another state to visit a woman. He fails to see the inappropriateness of this visit. In August, we went to see a mediator, to start the steps of divorce. Shortly after that visit, my husband went to see his pastor. His pastor convinced him that divorce is not the answer.
My husband will not talk about steps to take to make the marriage work. He claims that he will make some behavioral changes, and then decide. One of my struggles is his sloppiness. It drives me crazy. I can't even walk in the living room, which he has made his bedroom, since November. Every room of the house has a pile of clothing, papers, etc.
When I have expressed my desire to have it cleaned up, his response indicates that this is the way that he is and I should just accept him. I am so frustrated. I don't like who I am, how I respond to him, or even how I think of him. It seems that what is important to me, doesn't matter to him.
I want to divorce him. I just don't know what else to do. I am afraid that if I divorce, God will be mad at me, and/or I will continue the same relationship pattern. I am afraid that I might be missing something that I am supposed to be learning about myself, making changes with myself. All I seem to do is become frustrated over the mess, or the broken words.
How can I be a Christian, and have so much angst and vile in my heart?
Answer: Indeed you are stuck, so let's began to carve a way forward for you. First, you are spending far too much time and energy trying to convince your husband to change. From what you've written, he's already made it pretty clear to you that he likes himself the way he is and has no intentions of being neater, prioritizing your feelings, or owning or apologizing for any wrong-doing on his part.
He wants to stay married but not live with you. Why? Perhaps he doesn't want to reap the financial consequences of a divorce but doesn't want the marital responsibility of caring for someone's feelings and needs besides his own.
Maybe he enjoys your company, like a date night or your sexual relationship but doesn't want the added burden of actually prioritizing you as his wife or changing his messy habits.
That said, you are hurt and angry, rightly so. Your husband doesn't want to work on the marriage, he doesn't want to get help, he doesn't want to change but you are responding to that reality in a way that further contributes to the problem.
You're lashing out with verbal zingers and you're continually frustrated with him and with yourself. You don't like the person you are becoming in the midst of this marriage. You're beginning to question the reality of your faith when you see what's going on in your heart. That's where you can begin to get unstuck.
You asked whether or not you might be missing the lessons God has for you in this season. The psalmist tells us, “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 4:4,5). What does this psalm have to say to you about what God might want you to learn?
1.How do we have our legitimate anger without our anger having us?
Anger itself isn’t necessarily a sin, but the way we express our anger can be. Your anger is a signal something is wrong both internally and externally. (tweet that)
Something is wrong with a husband who doesn’t care about a wife’s feelings or needs. Something is wrong with a spouse who doesn’t keep his word and goes and visits another woman while still married. You are not wrong for desiring an honest, caring, neater husband. But what’s happening in you when you don’t get what you want? Your sinful outbursts are a warning bell that something isn’t just wrong externally, but also internally. Your desires are legitimate but lashing out with verbal abuse when you don’t get what you want signals a problem internally (see James 4 for more of this). That’s the problem that you CAN work on in order to get unstuck.
2. The psalmist said that in his anger, instead of lashing out, he was silent and pondered what was going on in his own heart. This is your way forward. You can’t change him and therefore, you will still be angry and the wrongness of his selfish heart and the consequences his selfishness visit upon you. The psalmist tells us that God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). However, how you handle your hurt and anger can change. These are things God is showing you. God wants to teach you how to trust him in the midst of your hurt and anger. He wants to teach you how to turn to him with these emotions instead of lashing out. He wants to show you how to respond to legitimate disappointment without becoming unglued.
3. I wonder what the psalmist meant when he wrote, “offer right sacrifices” For you, what might that be? What do you need to sacrifice to God? Could it be your marriage? Your desire for a neat and orderly home? Your husband? You are losing yourself (i.e. becoming someone you don’t like) in order to get what you want, (a cleaner house, a husband who is committed). Jesus warns us, “What does it profit a person if he (she) gains the whole world, but loses her own soul (self)?” (Mark 8:36).
You asked how can you be a Christian and have so much angst and vile in your heart. A Christian is still a sinner and the only difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that you do have the Holy Spirit and Christ in your heart to help you get rid of these toxic emotions. Paul writes to believers when he says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31,32).
That tells me that believers can be caught in these toxic emotions and that’s where you are stuck my friend. Your husband and your marriage aren’t your biggest problem right now, it’s your own emotions.
I’d encourage you to start your own healing by forgiving your husband. No, he hasn’t asked for it, nor does he deserve it but give him the gift of forgiveness, as God has given it to you.
God tells you to forgive and therefore forgiving your husband is obeying God, not letting your husband be consequence free.
Forgiving him doesn’t mean that you can have a good marriage or that your relationship is reconciled, especially because he has never asked your forgiveness, nor has he repented of his own selfish ways. But forgiving him will be a crucial step of letting go of your continual angst.
Forgiveness keeps your own side of the relationship clear and your heart right with God. You may have to do this daily if you are still being provoked by his selfishness.
Your relationship with your husband may not be restored, but don’t allow that hurt to keep you from your relationship with God. That is your first priority right now.
Read through Psalm 25 in several different translations. I especially love verse 4 and 5 “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”
Put your hope in God, not in what you want him to do for your marriage or how you want him to change your husband and I think you will find yourself in a much different space to make your decision regarding divorce.
God loves you, there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Get your eyes off your problem and onto God. Then you will have much clearer eyes to see what to do about your problem.
Friends: When your negative emotions threaten to overwhelm you with despair and/or hatred, what helps you get unstuck?