Whew, I’m glad I’m in Arizona and not in Pennsylvania. This week the East Coast was hit with a March blizzard and friends back there are sending me their pictures digging out of the snow. Here in Arizona, we are in an unusual heat wave. Temperatures are in the high 80’s and the sun is hot. But I love it. I’m so glad I don’t have to battle the snow anymore.
Just a quick reminder. There are many people who read this blog who never post or respond. But I do want them to gain the value from all of your responses. So many of you are so kind to give so much of your time and wisdom to one another and I deeply appreciate it. Just keep in mind that when you respond to a particular person, especially over and over, it may feel a bit awkward to others who are reading your responses, as if they are listening in on a private conversation.
I 100% support and value your personal responses to others on this blog. Please don’t stop. They have been meaningful to those who have received them. But let’s not forget that we are also a group. I don’t know about you, but I still have lingering insecurities from when I would go to a party or dance in junior high school. I’d stand there, trying to fit in, and a few girls were talking to each other while the rest of us stood around watching.
After a while, my negative self-talk would take over and I would tell myself that I wasn’t wanted, I had nothing to contribute, and I might as well go home. I know we can’t control what other people think but I do want to remind all of us to be mindful of the larger group, even while we are encouraging a specific sister.
Today's Question: I need guidance…
I got married at the age of 21 to my husband who is 7 years older than me. It's been 10 years now. He is a workaholic who cannot organize his life. We have 3 children together. Since I married him he has always been rude, belittling me, not supporting me and allowing his family to also disrespect me.
In my first year of marriage, I graduated university with a bachelor's degree with honors and ambitions to strive further. I was threatened by my husband that he would leave me if I pursued further education. His father told me that my husband would cheat on me since he is a businessman and that I should be by his side with his business. So being a naive newlywed I listened.
Throughout my marriage my husband has been obsessed with work, I never know what time he will come through the door, I take all the kids to their activities. He's hired me a nanny so that she can assist me with the kids since he works so many hours. He would reject me in bed, numerous times.
I try and focus on the positive. I say thank God he hasn't physically abused me, or is not an alcoholic… but then I don't want to ignore everything else.
He would get in arguments with me if I tried to put the kids to bed early. He has told me I am stupid, I'm a bitch, and that a stranger’s slippers are worth more than mine will ever be. He let his father crack jokes about our marriage, saying that if I don't sit beside my husband another woman will come and take him.
I used to be a strong female. I used to be tough, I used to be happy…. it's hard for me to be a good mother when I am dependent on him financially and have 3 little children.
Does anyone have any advice???? Please help me, I am lost. I have always been religious and prayed, I was even a virgin getting married, he was my first ever encounter and I feel so crippled.
Answer: You have come to the right place. In addition to my response to you, there are many women who have been in your shoes who will reach out to you and help you take your next steps forward so that you aren’t feeling so lost anymore.
The problem isn’t your husband right now. It is you. You are lost. You have allowed yourself to be diminished and squashed so long that you no longer feel like yourself. The strong capable woman who graduated with honors at 21 now feels like a crippled, unhappy, scared and dependent person.
So what can you do to get un-lost? To revive yourself? For so many women, they get stuck right here, expecting that their husband should change or their marriage should change so that they can be fine. But you have no control over your husband changing. You do have some control over your marriage changing once you learn to change your own dance steps in the marriage. But the only person you have any real control over is you. So change must start with you.
One of the things that happen to many women in destructive marriages with husbands who are like yours is that they isolate. They get busy with children and trying to be a good wife and mom and they neglect themselves and/or developing strong relationships with other women. Other times, their spouses control how often they go places by themselves or with who. They do this to isolate their wives.
Isolation is a strategy of control. It is one of the most dangerous things that can happen when someone is in a destructive marriage. Let’s look at why. In our country we have the freedom of the press, but lately, there are two very different camps of press coverage. The conservative bent and the liberal bent. Both are saying very disparaging things about the other. Both are polarizing. Both cast the other as the bad guy. If all you watch is the conservative channel or the liberal channel, your thinking becomes limited. You only look at things from one vantage point. You only see things the way the media wants you to see them. However, if you watched both, read various perspectives, prayed and thought about what you believe, you would have a much better chance of understanding what’s true.
In the same way, when all we hear day in and day out are the rants and remarks of a person who believes he’s always right we start to question ourselves. And, when we regularly hear that we are stupid, incapable, foolish, crazy, selfish and worse and there is no other input to counter those statements, we start to believe them. We lose the person we thought we were and may even become the person the other person accuses us of being.
That’s why children are so vulnerable when they have a parent or parents who regularly tell them that they are incapable, stupid, ugly, evil or a loser. When you have only one voice regularly defining who you are when you’re a child you usually believe it. You may even become that person. That’s why it’s so important for you to stretch out of your box and start to connect with other women. This blog is a good start. You may want to join CONQUER when it opens in May. Please look for a good church to attend and find women you can be real with and talk to.
Just last week a friend of mine wrote me an email, He had gotten skewered on another blog about some things he wrote about wives ministering to husbands. Someone accused him of awful things, none of which were true. It rattled him so much he reached out to me to ask for feedback. This was only a short encounter with a caustic person but it rattled his sense of himself for a moment. What helped was reaching out for more input. He needed more information so that he could put what he heard in its proper place.
In the same way, you need other people who will remind you of the gifts and abilities that God has put inside of you. You need women who can encourage you and challenge you in a good way not to allow yourself to be diminished by an insecure and difficult person (or his family). In fact, the only possibility for your marriage to be any different is for you to regain your strength. That is one of the things that attracted your husband to you in the first place. Now you must work hard to build it back.
What does that look like? It might mean you start to read books that help you grow and not be so impacted by your husband’s harsh words. It might mean that you get involved in a support group for women in destructive marriages. It might mean that you get a part time job to start building back your confidence and become less dependent on your spouse. Since you have a nanny, you might even start taking some on-line classes to further your education so that you are preparing for a career that uses the gifts and talents that God has given you once your children are older.
If you were lost in a large shopping mall, the first thing most people do is either ask for directions or head for a map of the mall. You’ve done that by asking for help. The map says you are X (here) – in a destructive marriage, feeling squashed, diminished, flattened out and depleted.
The next question you have to ask yourself is where do you want to go? You said you want to go to a place where you feel less dependent, stronger as a person, more resilient to his negative comments.
You also said you’ve always been a religious person and sexually waited until marriage. But this problem in your marriage is testing your faith. I believe God wants you to know him in a deeper way. Not just believe in him, which is what religion teaches us to do, but to actually believe God, which requires a deeper relationship with him.
For example, we can believe in God’s existence but not ever really have a relationship with him. God wants you to know him and to trust him with what’s going on. He loves you. He created you. He wants your good. He hates the way your husband treats you and he longs for you to see yourself as his daughter. It pleases him to make you strong and capable and wise. He doesn’t want you to allow the words of one person, even if he is your husband, to determine your value or worth.
Only God can give you the wisdom to handle this situation with strength and dignity. Only God can teach you how to overcome evil with good. Only God can show you how to forgive when you don’t want to or don’t feel like it (Click To Tweet).
Part of moving from lost to found is finding yourself in a deeper relationship with Jesus, even if not your husband. That is where your healing will come from, not your marriage or your man. That is where you will learn how loved, precious and forgiven you are. That’s where you will learn to handle disappointment and anger and hurt in a way that doesn’t damage who you are and who you were meant to become. And that’s where you learn how to love the unlovely and forgive the one who hurts you. Those things don’t come from human efforts, but from our security and trust in God and his love for us. From that new “found” place we become wise. We gain courage, and we grow strong so that we can change our own dance steps in our destructive marriage as well as invite our partner to change his.
Friend, when you felt lost, what helped you to find your way back to spiritual, emotional, and mental strength?