I had a bad fall today. I slipped on some rocks and fell on a large boulder. Thankfully landing on my rear end and hands and not my head. But it reminded me just how quickly things can change and how fragile our life is. The psalmist prayed, “Teach me to number my days, O Lord, so that I may present to you a heart of wisdom.”(Psalm 90:12)
Here’s a new picture of Addie. She loves burrowing under this rug.
This Week’s Question: I am in an emotionally destructive at times and disappointing all the time marriage to a man who could best be described as a Christian, but an emotionally immature, therefore “unsafe” person. Most conflicts are never resolved. He takes very little responsibility for his part in the marriage (except financial).
My question is this. How do I best handle this situation in regards to outside relationships (our church, friends, family)? His approach is if we have a disagreement or things are bad to just ignore it, still go to church, or have that social engagement and act like everything is normal.
In his mind, he thinks it is…he says our problems don't affect him. They greatly distress me and I consistently have to either go to the social event while putting my hurt feelings and thoughts on the back burner or not attend because I'm too upset. When I do the latter, he gets mad at me.
Basically, I believe he wants the benefits of a good marriage without doing the hard work to earn it.
I need a healthy social life outside of my marriage, but I don't feel I should tell each person about our situation. I also don't want to drive others away that could possibly be of help to us by being in fellowship with them (mature Christians).
Any counsel on this would be appreciated. Thank you.
Answer: So I hear your primary question is “who do I tell and how much do I tell people about my marriage and my husband”? Your unasked question seems to be “what should I do when I have social obligations or commitments and my husband and I are in the middle of a disagreement or things are yucky between us.”
First, I don’t believe that you have to be naked in order to be authentic. What I mean by that is just like you don’t take all your clothes off in front of everyone, not everyone needs to know everything that’s going on with you or your marriage. That is not wise or safe.
However, what you don’t want to do is pretend you are something you’re not or live a lie.
When you have a regular pattern of pretending things are fine with you and/or your marriage when that’s not the truth, it will come back to bite you in one way or another. When you do finally break down and tell the truth about your marriage, a lot of people who know you, including your own children, may not believe what you say about your spouse or marriage because you were such a good actress for so long. They may doubt your story and sometimes even your sanity.
It’s important for you to understand that God isn’t asking you to lie and pretend just to keep up the appearance of a good marriage or relationship. God values honesty and truth. “Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices when the truth wins out. “ (1 Corinthians 13:6) Click To Tweet
That doesn’t mean it’s okay to publically humiliate your spouse by posting all of his faults on Facebook, but it may mean that if you do need to go to a social event with him and things are yucky between you, that you don’t feel pressured to “pretend” everything is great.
Yes, there may be times where you do need to put your feelings on the back burner for a bit to do something together, but you can attend together without contributing to a “happy couple” story. If someone you’re with happens to notice that you don’t seem like yourself or asks “what’s wrong” you can honestly say, “We had a fight that’s not yet resolved” or “pray for us, our marriage is not doing well” and leave it at that. If they press for more and you don’t want to say more, you can simply say, “I’d rather not talk about it.” That’s being authentic without getting naked.
You also said that he claims that the marriage problems don't affect him and he can function just fine that way. But does it matter to him that they bother you? That you aren’t like him and it does affect you and that you can’t “pretend” things are fine when they are not?
Many couples have disagreements and still show care and respect for one another. They can agree to disagree without disparaging or shaming the other’s viewpoint. Have you asked him what kind of marriage he wants? And is he willing to do the work to make that happen? If not, then what does that mean for you?
For a long time, we’ve been told that it’s disloyal to our partner, to tell the truth about our marriage or the ugly dark realities of what our spouse does. But Ephesians 5:11 encourages us not to “participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness but rather expose them.”
Your exposing darkness is not to shame or blame or judge your spouse as if you are better than he is. The exposing is done to take a stand against the darkness. Your silence can imply acceptance, consent, or even endorsement. We see in the research on bullying that silence on the part of the victim or even the bystander only empowers the bully. Martin Luther King said, “It was not the words of our enemies that hurt the most but the silence of our friends.”
Sadly the church has tried to stay neutral around issues of abuse, even at times silencing a victim so that she doesn’t speak out against her abuser. But that is not God’s way.
So if you have a trusted pastor, marriage mentor, counselor, or someone you can safely confide in, please tell the truth. Ask for help. If not for your marriage, at least for you.
I also agree that you need a strong, godly supportive group of wise women who know you and understand what you’re living in. They don’t have to know all the dirty details but they do need to understand the nature of the problems you’re struggling with so that they will know how to encourage you and pray for you.
Friends, what helped you to stop pretending everything was fine when it was not fine and, to tell the truth, first to yourself and then to trusted others?