There’s a thing that causes marriage damage no one’s talking about… at least not that I’ve seen much.
And someone needs to bring it up – and as God would have it, that someone this time is me.
It has to do with the attention of another MAN.
I received this via email a while back:
What do you do when the hurt & pain you endured from infidelity, lying, cheating, drunkeness, staying out all night and acting like nothing was wrong with what they were doing lasted so long that you lost all loving feelings? Now they are ready to work on the marriage, have stopped drinking and cheating, but I just don’t even care any more. My prayer today, right before I saw the email on “Wounded”, was I pray Lord to You to summon the courage inside of me to pursue in the midst of my weariness. I exchange my strength for your strength by applying Your Word. I even noted ***ACTION REQUIRED***. But I don’t know what “action” to take other than turn it over to God and continue to deal with one situation at a time.
I desire a character change from anger, hurt, unloving feelings, irritability, sarcasm, procrastination, etc.; all towards my husband. I read that we should honor the feeble because we need them to help us understand that without God’s grace, we could be like them.
This isn’t uncommon. A wife (or husband) works hard, growing in her relationship with God, pursuing Him with everything she has, trying to be the best follower, wife, and mom she can be (and in that order), and still can be rejected… just like wounding can occur anyway in the referenced post above.
(Please note I am not speaking about abuse. If that is your situation, you need support and safety on a whole other level.)
So where is our hurting girl above at? This heart hardening is a thing only God can fix. A God intervening softening of the heart miracle thing only He can do – she needs to pray compassion for herself and her husband. She needs to bathe in God’s love for her so she can extend it to her husband once again. In His timing.
What a wife (or husband) does during and after that waiting time, while recovering from rejection, however, can determine whether or not the marriage can be saved. Let’s talk through a few of the options:
- Remain steadfast, continuing to learn, choosing to serve regardless of how she is received or rejected (Biblical)
- Continue doing option 1 and be open to what she might be missing (often she has unhealthy behaviors of her own, a lack of boundaries, and may be an enabler, or she is so narcissistic she can’t see her contribution) (also Biblical as an option)
- Take positive action given what she learns from option 2 (Biblical)
- Harden her heart and avoid interaction with her husband, decreasing pain in the short term
- Fill her life with other things/people/idols to dull the pain
- Consider separation or divorce (if she does this, she still must be seeking reconciliation – she can’t date or marry anyone else)
Here’s the thing few will talk about… when she’s “numb,” or “lost all loving feelings,” the marriage is super-vulnerable. If she’s living with constant negativity, criticism or abuse, even years of consistent lack of affection, she won’t realize it when it is happening, but the kindness of another man stands out to her, causing the assault of thoughts of an impure variety – and most of them are non-sexual in nature. The impure thoughts that can drive a dagger through the possibility of the marriage healing are simply fond and warm toward a man other than her husband.
That’s where they begin, anyway.
Where they lead is death.
I’ve talked with women that love God with everything they are but are in difficult marriages. They don’t want to think warmly of another man. But they find themselves doing so and are at a loss.
They are surprised.
“I can’t go to my dentist,” or “I look forward way too much to seeing my chiropractor,” or even, “The guy I have to work with at work is way too cute… and I don’t get it, he’s not even my type!” are some of the thoughts they have. “He is so nice to me… I’ve been so lonely for so long…”
Desperate for affection of any kind, they are easy prey for men who would take advantage of them in their vulnerable state.
Eye contact lingers.
A smile engages. Discussion ensues…
Enough for here.
There’s another thing few talk about… this notion that “Matthew 18 applies to marriage” (which I happen to believe, btw) – but what is often missed in Christian teaching is simply that all discussion of someone else’s sin against another needs to be done gently. Lovingly. There are many authors out there who are Christian that support “shunning” the “sinning” spouse… and given new info, many walk down this path, torch in hand, energized to “stand up for their rights” in a way that proves their “sinning” spouse is wrong… And I don’t have issue with women speaking truth in the middle of a moment, or setting boundaries… but I’ve listened to the training.
I’ve seen the results.
What they don’t know is this “shunning” and “verbal assertiveness” (which is just as often another way of labeling an unkind assault or defensiveness) has a low (less than 5%!!!) success rate in saving a marriage.
I have talked with many of the authors and counselors of these materials.
They admit they don’t save many marriages.
Why they continue is beyond me. I don’t get it.
What both of these groups need to realize is simply this: the marriage needs to be protected. A hedge, boundaries, rules, need to be employed for the unloved and affection-starved.
At the first sign of a tempting thought, a warmth, admiration, or fondness for another man – RUN. Here’s a few verses that can help you with this:
Bad company corrupts good morals. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
The guy may be awesome – but his company is bad if you can’t capture those thoughts and tame them to the mind of Christ (and yes, this verse has many meanings).
What do you do?
Stop spending time with him.
Understand that if he “makes you feel good” and your husband does not, you are on a path that often ends in divorce.
And the other issue? Those that suggest “shunning?” Or the harsh verbal aggression in the name of protection?
Sorry. LONG discussion… but suffice it to say, these are NOT tools to wield at a “sinning” husband. Remember Jesus’ words, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” and respond with love and grace.
That doesn’t mean “rolling over and taking it” or “becoming a doormat.” It does mean speaking the truth, while being gentle, loving, kind, patient… Strong. Oh, how about this verse:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
I have a much longer dialogue about Matthew 18 here and here – and most marriage experts, including the well researched Gottman method, ascribes marital failure to a husband’s unwillingness to be influenced by his wife (see the last point here), but women need to allow his influence, also – it’s part of submission. Being OPEN to our husbands. At the end of the day, they are held “responsible” by God. So No, don’t follow them into sin (check the death of Sepphira in Acts and remember Acts 5:29) and Yes, “confront,” but it could look like a question, or a simple statement, “I know you love me (thanks Shaunti Feldhahn ((seriously read this one if you read nothing)), for all your boss research on men!!) and I am feeling hurt by our inability to connect on this issue…Can we (question that is positive oriented, like “focus on resolving this instead of what went wrong last time?” or, “talk through what we both need to happen over the holidays?” or “talk about how your work hours are effecting the family?” etc.).
So. Don’t stop respecting. 🙂 Regardless of how you are treated – love well, WHILE respecting.
At any rate… we’re open for discussion again. 🙂 And the survey results will be up this week. Thank you SO MUCH for contributing! 🙂 Feel free to chime in about what you think of the above. Be sure to check Shaunti’s article. It’s awesome. 🙂
Love to you,
In the meantime, and I know it can be a MEAN TIME, you might check out one or more of the following top-shared posts.
|101 Ways to Love Your Wife (viral)|
|101 Ways to Respect Your Husband (viral)|
|How to Calm Down an Angry Husband|
|15 Ways to Show Disrespect to Your Husband…|
|Why Is Your Wife Unhappy?|
Also, Boot Camp 2016 is open for registration. Raise the Bar! (the public speaking workshop) has just a few spots left, and we tend to fill up fast in the alumni tracks. If you feel led to be a Titus 2 woman using our unique discipleship method that leaves women forever changed, check it out. More info forthcoming in the next several weeks. Plus, it’s an awesome gift from your husband to you for the ministry God might be calling you to.
If you are booking retreat speakers, you can check openings through the www.GreaterImpact.org website for more info. We typically book 12-18 months in advance.