This weekend represented one of the reasons I moved to Arizona. The weather was absolutely spectacular. It was sunny and 70 degrees. Back in Pennsylvania, it was cold, dreary and raining and I was glad I was gone. My bones ache in that kind of weather and I crave the warmth and the sunshine.
But my body has not adjusted to this new time schedule yet. I still feel like I’m on Eastern Time Zone and my mornings are unproductive. In addition, moving into a furnished home has its own set of challenges. We thought it would be easier, but now that we’re trying to add our own things we need to also find a place to get rid of the old things. The furniture we bought was high quality furniture but it was 25 years old and not “today’s décor.” Plus it is very heavy. Meaning – difficult for us (or anyone else) to carry and move out of the house. Pray we can get Salvation Army to come and pick up the furniture so we can have room to unpack the rest of our things.
My goal is to be back to full functioning by the first of the year. I apologize that I haven’t been responding to the posts as much as I would like. But this blog community is so wonderful. I love how you support, pray, challenge and encourage one another.
I am doing a free webinar on the Three Lies that Women Believe that Keep Them Miserable, Afraid, and Unable to Change. It’s on Thursday night and you can sign up here.
There will be no replay so if you want to hear it you’ll need to be there for the live presentation.
Question: My husband and I have been married 21yrs. All along, I knew something wasn’t quite right, but I was never able to put my finger on it.
In the last few years I’ve come to realize that this is an emotionally destructive marriage and also that my husband may be on the spectrum for a cluster B disorder – I suspect (and the counselor also suspects NPD).
The dynamics in our relationship have always been that whenever I have a concern regarding our relationship, I try and address it. My husband then blame- shifts and I end up taking the responsibility, always trying to modify my behavior. I try to be more respectful, “obedient” sexually available, etc, etc. Couldn’t we all do better at those?
In the last few years as my eyes have been opened to the dysfunction, I’m pushing back. I am less willing to take all the responsibility for everything and able to see how my husband is sinning against God and against me.
Our biggest issue has always been sex. No surprise that sex is the first to go when the relationship has an emotional breakdown.
I have erected boundaries around all physical contact, including hugs, hand holding, etc. And my husband knows that until he is emotionally safe to me, I will not go there.
About a month ago, a divorced friend of ours from out of town came for dinner. I hugged him hello and I hugged him goodbye. Something completely normal for me to do with everyone. Except my husband took great offense to it and decided to stonewall me for many weeks after because he was “hurt.”
When I had seen our Christian counselor alone (she has just recently taken us on and has not seen us together more than 3 times)I told her what had happened. She had assured me that I had done nothing wrong in hugging the friend and that I needed to continue to be myself. But, when we went to see her with my husband, she changed her story and told me in front of my husband that I owed him an apology for “hurting” his feelings. I was floored.
She gave examples on how when we hurt someone, even if we haven’t sinned against them, that we should still apologize for hurting them. In theory, I agree. But the reality is that my husband has blamed me for everything and can manufacture “hurt” out of my breathing (or so it seems). He is always “hurt” by something I do or don’t do.
Leslie, I want to be able to see my part in this…I really do. I don’t want to be so hard hearted that I don’t take responsibility for my stuff, but in this instance, I just don’t see why I need to apologize. You have to understand that my husband has accused me of looking for affairs, and that our previous counselor had “ulterior” motives for “siding” with me.
This current counselor has even agreed that I have given him NOTHING over the life of our marriage to ever justify him being suspicious.
Please clarify this for me. Is an apology to my husband in order here?
Thank you. I so appreciate your counsel. It has helped me see through this thick fog that has been hanging over me for so long.
Answer: You have only asked one question but there are important issues that you bring up in your story.
First, let me answer your question. Do you need to apologize to your spouse for hurting his feelings? The answer is no. An apology is an admission of guilt or wrong-doing. Hugging a friend is not a sin. Hugging your friend in front of your spouse (especially since you have put firm boundaries on no physical contact with your spouse) did hurt his feelings. Perhaps he felt jealous, or sad that his friend got a hug from you and he doesn’t.
I will give your counselor the benefit of the doubt although I’m sure her approach was very confusing to you. She told you when you had your one-on-one session that you did nothing wrong and to not to be afraid to be yourself. And then during your joint session she told you to say you were sorry to your spouse for hurting his feelings. Perhaps what she was trying to say, although poorly, was that you don’t have to formally apologize or take responsibility for wrong doing, but you can still show some compassion or concern for the fact that your husband was hurt.
I remember a friend sharing with me that she was hurt that I talked to another friend at a dinner party more than I talked to her. Personally I did not feel I did anything wrong. I had nothing to apologize for. I don’t want to have to monitor my conversations at a dinner party to make sure everyone gets equal time. What I did say to her was this. “I’m sorry you felt hurt by my actions. I meant no harm by them. But I also don’t want to feel anxious that when we are at a party together in the future, I have to make sure I talk with everyone equally. That would feel uncomfortable. I hope you understand.”
In other words, I showed compassion for her pain, but I did not change my behavior so that she doesn’t have to feel it in the future. I think that’s what you are afraid might happen. In the past when you’ve said sorry, the expectation was that you do everything in your power for him not to feel that pain again. Therefore you are suspicious that he uses his hurt feelings to manipulate and control you. Don’t let him. You can be compassionate without being controlled.
Since you did nothing wrong, you can show compassion, yet stay firm on your boundaries (Click To Tweet).
For example, you can say something like, “I’m sure that did cause you some pain and I’m sorry you felt it. I’m sad that our relationship is in such a place that I don’t feel safe hugging you in the same friendly way I hugged him. When I no longer feel emotionally afraid of you, I’d be happy to hug you too.”
This is why we need to learn to walk in CORE strength. We want to respond out of the person we want to be rather than merely reacting to what someone does (says) or doesn’t do or say.
Friend: Most people do not feel like hugging someone when you don’t feel he or she is emotionally safe. How have you handled this issue with your destructive spouse?