Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and for many of you it will feel different than normal. Because of health and safety concerns, some of you will be eating outside. Others will be sharing a meal via zoom. Some of you may be eating TV turkey dinner because you are all alone. A verse in the Bible that has always challenged me is 1 Thessalonians 5:18 where Paul says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Today’s question is relevant to this topic.
Question: I’ve been married to a selfish man for 30 years. He never thinks he does anything wrong, yet he constantly criticizes me. Everything is about his needs, his feelings, and his wants. When I try to tell him he’s being selfish or ask him to think about my feelings, he rages or sulks. I don’t know how to get him to see his selfishness or to care about me. I’m getting discouraged and worn out. What can I do?
Answer: In this blog, we talk again and again about owning your own problem and not trying to fix someone else’s problem. Your husband doesn’t see he has a problem with selfishness. He doesn’t want to hear how you feel and shows you that loud and clear when he rages or sulks when you try. Therefore, what is your problem with all of this? You’re tired. You’re getting discouraged and worn out. You don’t like the way your marriage is going. What do YOU want to do about YOUR problem?
You might say, “I’d like him to fix his problem and then I wouldn’t have my problem.” And you’re right, but after 30 years I hope you’re learning you are powerless to fix his problem or get him to fix his problem or even get him to admit he has a problem. Now what? What are you going to do about your problem?
Last year I met a woman at a professional conference. It was a secular group and during the break, she asked me what my line of work was. I told her and she laughed. She said, “I was married to a Narcissistic/Sociopathic man and he was the best person I could have married.”
Intrigued by her response I asked her to tell me more. This is what she told me. “When I got married I was a naïve good girl with stars in my eyes. I believed what everyone told me. I was a classic people pleaser and craved affirmation and validation of my worth. My ex-husband was charming and swept me off my feet. I never saw red flags because I didn’t know what red flags were and I was so in love I wouldn’t have cared even if I saw them. I believed everyone was good. No one intentionally meant to harm someone else and love would conquer all. Boy did I have a harsh awakening to reality and it was the best thing that happened to me. Otherwise, I would have never changed and grown up into the woman I am today. He was a cruel teacher but I learned my lesson well.”
Her perspective intrigued me, especially because she didn’t claim to be a Christian, yet she was thankful for her experience. She learned that even though she was a pleasant, nice girl, she was naïve, too trusting, and didn’t value her own self enough, and therefore was vulnerable to predators. Her story reminded me of Paul’s advice to us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18.
Paul is not asking you to be thankful for all things. Some things are too awful, too sinful, and evil to ever be thankful for. But even in those things, he wants us to look for what we can be thankful for. Have we found a good counselor, discovered this blog community, joined CONQUER, read just the right helpful book, learned to value ourselves more, stuck up for ourselves more, thought more truthful about our reality, valued our safety and sanity instead of being a captured slave to a destructive person?
God never promises that he will bubble wrap us and keep us from life’s hardships (John 16:33). Yet he does promise to all who love him that whatever we get ourselves into, or whatever happens to us, it will be used for our good. And that good he defines as our growth and maturity in our character, that we might look more and more like Jesus. (Romans 8:28,29). That promise is so secure that we can be thankful in all things. Click To Tweet
My advice to you is to stop trying to fix your husband or your marriage and work on you. What do you need to do to build a life so that you will feel safe, sane, and strong rather than defensive, angry, exhausted, and scared?
Friends, what are you thankful for that you have learned in hard places?