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Have Your Wings Been Broken?
One of my clients once told me a horrible story. She said, “When I was a child, my father would tell us a story about a gentleman who saw someone on a park bench grabbing pigeons and breaking their wings. When the gentleman asked the other man why he would do such a cruel thing, he said he was trying to teach the pigeons that life is not a bed of roses.”
She likened this story to God breaking our wings when we do something wrong. But that is not what God does. He doesn’t break our wings, he gives His wings to support us when we’re down (Isaiah 40:31).
However, have you ever felt like your wings were cruelly broken by someone else? Perhaps they were angry, jealous, or sadistic. When that happened, was there anyone out there who cared? Anyone who was willing to bandage your wings and provide a safe sanctuary until you healed?
Were you able to find God and experience his sheltering wings? Many abused and battered individuals have experienced such brokenness and need our tangible help.
The Bible tells us it’s not enough to pray for someone in need, if we’re able we must do something (1 John 3:17-19). Several years ago I was introduced to Megan, a woman who was broken and found healing. Now she wants to help other moms who have been in destructive and abusive marriages find their wings again.
She wants broken, bruised and battered women to get a fresh start and she knows first hand one of the thing they need most is money. Money to get away from their abuser, money to put a down payment on an apartment, money to refurnish a new apartment when she has to leave with nothing but her precious children.
To raise funds for their person in need, this month she is offering this beautiful special edition custom bracelet. No two will be identical. It features a heart clasp, with a feather charm and pink leader ties. Megan needs to sell lots and lots of bracelets so she can give this woman enough cash to make a new start.
Let’s help her so that we can make a big difference in the life of one broken woman by showing her the love of Christ. If you would like one (or two) of these bracelets or to give as a gift to a special woman you know please click here to go to their website to purchase and read more about this wonderful ministry.
I’m also giving away two of these bracelets as my gift to two of you this month. Please read about the give-a-way offer under New Giveaway
The Blame Game
Question: How do I deal with the blame-game that my husband and I are trapped in? He is definitely emotionally abusive and my marriage has been destructive since day one. It was shocking and subtle at first so I hid it from others, including myself.
Now that I finally see the truth and have been working on my CORE and calling out my husband’s inappropriate behavior, we are caught in a vortex of pointing fingers at each other.
Him blaming me for everything is a hallmark of our entire marriage. Now that I am actually doing it back to him (I believe with righteous perspective and motives) he ramps up his scape-goating and turns it back on me.
At times, I get confused and actually start to question my version of events and my ability to interpret reality and make good judgments. Sometimes I feel like I am just as bad as he is, accusing and demonizing him as he does to me. How do we get out of this maddening cycle?
Answer: First let me applaud you for your question. It takes courage to admit that you are not handling things well and that you now see yourself accusing and demonizing your husband as he has done to you. You are convinced that your motive is good and your perspective right–but I bet your husband is equally convinced that his perspective and motive is just as righteous.
Therein lies the problem. The blame game never promotes healing, growth, insight, awareness, or change. It is hurtful. It fuels negativity and keeps the destructive dance going. It’s a power struggle about who is more right, who is more wrong and it keeps us from taking personal responsibility for whatever our part is and changing it.
Don’t be overly hard on yourself for getting caught in this cycle. The blame game started in The Garden of Eden when Adam blamed Eve and then Eve blamed the serpent. It is instinctive and pervasive. People do it. Couples do it. Children do it. Companies do it. Nations do it. The blame game happens when no one wants to accept responsibility or look within to see where the problem is. But as you participate in this destructive game, it will hurt you, hurt your husband and damage your marriage more.
Participating in it will keep you from walking in CORE strength and keep you from being the example of Christ to your destructive spouse that you desire to be.
Let me remind you (and our readers) of the four components of CORE strength:
C – I will be COMMITTED to honesty, internal and external – no more pretending. (I believe this is what you are trying to practice by refuting his attempts to blame you for everything, which is good. However, turning around and blaming him negates the last two elements of CORE strength).
O – I will be OPEN to wise others and the Holy Spirit to teach me new ways of thinking, feeling, responding, so that I can grow whole and healthy. (This is why you’ve asked your question. Good for you.)
R – I will be RESPONSIBLE for myself and RESPECTFUL towards others (including my destructive spouse), without dishonoring myself. This is where you are struggling. By demonizing and accusing him, you are not being respectful and you dishonor yourself by paying back evil for evil and behaving in a way that is inconsistent with the person you say you want to be. This is one reason you are in turmoil and feel unsettled by things.
E – I will be EMPATHIC and COMPASSIONATE towards my destructive spouse without ENABLING the abuse to continue. Lobbing verbal bombs of your own – even if they are the truth, is not speaking the truth with love. Hard words need not be harsh words. To read more on CORE strength read Chapter 7 of my book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage or watch this YouTube video . Chapter 9 of the same book talks about how to speak up in love. Click here for more information.
Once an abused woman starts to regain her voice, she’s tempted to flip his accusations or abuse right back on him. Then you’re both going at it, blaming and accusing, demonizing and attacking. No one is really listening. No one is reflecting. No one is changing. Paul reminds us, “But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another” (Galatians 5:15).
Remember having compassion and empathy for a person does not mean you enable their sin or the attitude behind it. However having empathy for your husband’s blindness helps you stay mindful that you too are blind to some things and without God opening your eyes, you wouldn’t have seen the truth either. Therefore we don’t judge, which helps keep us out of the blame/attack game.
When the Bible tells us not to judge, it doesn’t mean we don’t label something correctly or call a spade a spade. It just means that when we call something by its right name such as deceit, or abuse, we also are very aware that we also have the same proclivity within us as well. That’s why Jesus reminds us to take the log out of our own eye before we attempt to remove the speck in our brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5).
When we do choose to speak truth to someone, we do it gently because we also recognize we too are weak. We too sin (Galatians 6:1). We too are blind to things. We too have trouble resisting the blame game. We too believe we’re all right and someone else is all wrong.
Not judging means we refuse to have a superior or contemptuous attitude towards our abusive spouse, even when we now see clearly what he is doing is wrong. Instead we feel brokenhearted. We feel compassion that he is so lost in his sin and blindness that he would sink so low as to ruin his own life and his family without even recognizing what he is doing.
The blame game comes from an underlying belief that everyone or everything outside of me is responsible for how I feel or act. That’s a lie. He may continue to believe that lie but if you want to build your CORE, you must stop.
Here’s a different approach. You won’t necessarily do all of these, pick one and see if it changes the dynamics between the two of you. If not and he continues to blame and accuse you, then you will have a clear conscience that you have done all you can do. Remember, the person you always have to live with is yourself, so with Christ’s strength, you want to conduct yourself honorably even in a dishonorable marriage. You want to be free to respond out of who you are, not react out of the painful situation of your marriage (For an example of God doing this see Ezekiel 21:44).
First, instead of reacting and blaming him, listen. Respectfully hear him out. Don’t retaliate, or repay evil for evil. Validate whatever pain or truth he is saying and take responsibility for your own choices or mistakes or feelings.
For example, if he’s angry that you won’t be intimate with him and it’s your fault that he watches porn because you won’t be intimate and it’s your fault your marriage is where it is because of your hard heart, etc. etc.
You can validate and show compassion – “I’m sure it is very tough to live in a sexless marriage. I’m finding it hard myself. But it’s equally tough to live in a loveless marriage and I don’t know how to be physically intimate with someone who doesn’t love me or want anything to do with me except have sex.”
This is taking responsibility for your choice not to have sex, it’s owning that you have no idea how to fix this in the current state of your marriage all by yourself. You are compassionate with his feelings but not enabling his self-deception to continue that he is entitled to use your body when he feels like it but disregard your soul or spirit.
If your spouse doesn’t allow you to respond and uses monologue instead of dialogue, continuing to listen might not be the best approach as it will wear you down with his endless ranting and accusing and pretty soon you can’t stand it anymore and blow up or give in.
Therefore instead of blaming him for your blow up by saying something like – “You’re so controlling – or domineering” Take responsibility for yourself by saying, “I can’t continue to listen well anymore. This is wearing me down. I’m taking a break.”
Acknowledge your limitations when he blames you for general things like the poor behavior of your children or his own personal unhappiness. Say something like, “I wish our kids were behaving better too, but I don’t believe I’m responsible for the choices they make at this age. They know right from wrong.” Or “I see you are very unhappy, but I spent the first 10 years of our marriage doing all I knew to do to make you happy. It didn’t work. I’m not capable of fixing your unhappiness inside.” Or “I don’t’ think I’m capable of removing every problem or every irritation in our lives so that you don’t feel stressed.”
Ask questions. When someone is on a blame attack, sometimes you can get them to stop and reflect on what they are saying by asking questions or repeating what they have accused you of.
He says “It’s your fault I got fired from my job today. Things are so bad at home I just can’t function at work?”
You can respond by saying, “I’m sorry you’re hurting, but we’re all hurting here. Are you saying I’m responsible for how you function or don’t function at work? If you were feeling so distraught, why didn’t you get some help so you could function better? I can’t take the blame for the choices you have made.”
These examples are ways of speaking the truth, without blaming, accusing, or demonizing. Listen, validate where you can, show compassion for their distress, express your own limitations, ask questions, take responsibility for yourself, your own feelings and choices while behaving responsibly and respectfully towards your spouse. These changes will help you get out of the blame game. Let us know how it goes.
Have Your Wings Been Broken?
Accepting Coaching Applications
Take a look at the upcoming events to watch for from Leslie
Give Her Wings Hand Crafted Bracelet
LESLIE ANSWERS YOUR QUESTIONS
Moving Beyond The Blame Game
For more information on Leslie's coaching program, please click below:
Hand Crafted Bracelets
Each piece is custom made, so no two will be identical. The feather designs are all slightly different.
We hope you will love it as much as we do — a beautiful reminder that we are each unique and precious to our Father. Each cuff has a heart clasp and features a feather charm and pink leather ties.
If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide your name and email address.
May 22, 2015
7 PM - 9 PM
July 17-18, 2015
Leslie will be speaking Friday night. Open to the public.
Oct 9-10th, 2015
Providence Presbyterian Church
Conference For Abused Women
Details Coming Soon
HERE'S WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT LESLIE'S COACHING
"Coaching with Leslie Vernick helped me recognize and replace my old destructive relational habits with healthy new ways to approach my spouse. Now I’m beginning to live and relate from my CORE, a place that keeps me focused on the LORD and is so strong to rescue me from feeling like I’m drowning in my circumstances and emotions.
Now my marriage is on a renewed and better track. I can definitely see a positive turn in my attitude and this, by the grace of God, has invited my spouse to begin to relate to me differently too; the LORD is at work! Leslie’s approach was both practical and spiritual. She provided scripture to bolster me along the way and her suggestions were right on target to help.
To anyone wanting to escape the burden of a repetitious harmful behaviors in life I would recommend, without reservation, Leslie Vernick as a coach!"
LESLIE WELCOMES YOUR QUESTIONS
Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.
Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.
Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.