Thank you for sending me examples of the lie’s that you’ve been told that have kept you stuck, afraid and feeling hopeless in your destructive marriage. I am going to do a Facebook live this Thursday, April 20 at 7:00 PM ET to discuss Three Things that Christian Women are Regularly told to do that DO NOT WORK to repair a destructive marriage.
I would love for you to participate, but remember for your safety, this is a live FB program so your comments and questions are seen by the public. Click here to participate or just listen on 4/20/17 at 7:00 PM EST.
Question: All the articles and blogs I read regarding divorce seem to frown upon it. Many talk about trying to work things out and repair the damage that has been done. However, I am married to an individual that does not think that there is anything wrong, that does not see the need for change or even communicating about our problems. He believes in a higher power but is not spiritual or religious.
With that said, he does not think that we should see a counselor and gets bothered if I even mention it. The last time I brought it up he asked me to give him the chance to change on his own. I disagreed but went ahead and gave him some time to see the changes. The changes he made were all superficial and nothing that would have an impact or show that he is going to change long-term.
I am tired of being the one always trying to make things happen. He shuts me out every single time I try to discuss anything. He is dismissive and everything I say he makes it seem like all I do is complain.
I don't know if divorce is the way but I know that our marriage is a destructive one according to the assessment I took on your website. Any advice? I know I need to start by strengthening my core and replying in a loving manner while setting boundaries and that's what I plan on doing in the time being until I can figure out if I can get out of this marriage.
Answer: I would agree that if possible, repairing the marriage is preferable to divorce. But there are two fundamental questions that must be addressed by both the husband and wife if there is to be a true restoration of the marriage.
The first question is: What’s broken? If we use the analogy of a house that needs repairs, we start by making an overall assessment of what’s broken and what is essential to repair in order to make the house inhabitable. Is there a cracked foundation, termites, mold, broken windows, water damage, roof problems, weak joists, no insulation, plumbing problems? In other words, what is the extent of the damage?
From your question, you say your husband feels that there is no damage. From his perspective, everything is fine. He doesn’t see any need for repairs. On the other hand, you say your marriage is broken so badly that you need a repair person (counselor) to help you fix your marriage.
But then, you say your husband says he will make some changes on his own. But I would ask what changes is he going to make if he doesn’t see anything is broken? One doesn’t waste time fixing a roof that doesn't’ leak or a pipe that isn’t broken. His promise to make changes is like someone who promises to hang new curtains over broken windows. It might cover the problem for a bit, but when the cold rain and the wind come, the curtains don’t last because the curtains did not fix the problem, they just covered it up.
My second question is for you: how is this broken-down house (marriage) affecting you? Perhaps the mold is affecting your health. You are freezing cold and getting sick a lot. Or you fell through the floorboards that were eaten up by termites and broke your leg. Just because he’s fine living this way does not mean you are. Therefore, it’s important for you to learn that it’s biblically wise and right for you to advocate for yourself in order to be a good steward of your physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual health. You are not complaining, being ungodly or a bad wife when you object to living in a toxic environment.
God does not value the sanctity of marriage more than the safety and sanity of the individuals in that marriage. – Click To Tweet
Third, if the two of you can’t agree on what’s broken, then you won’t agree what needs to be repaired. But even if you did agree that your house needed extensive repairs, are you both committed to doing the work necessary to truly repair the damage?
Your question didn’t specify what my test on destructive marriages showed you (Take the free assessment test) but based on what you learned, your husband has work to do to repair the damage. But you too will have work to do. You will need to be able to not only forgive but to learn to trust him again, to stop enabling and over functioning as you indicated that you are getting weary of shouldering the entire responsibility of keeping this relationship viable.
You know what you need to do right now because you stated it already. You said, “I need to start by strengthening my core and replying in a loving manner while setting boundaries and that's what I plan on doing for the time being until I can figure out if I can get out of this marriage.” Exactly. That’s an excellent place to start the work you need to do because if no repairs are made, you will have to decide whether or not you can stay well, or how you can leave well.
Friend, what specifically do you think would be required to repair your marriage?