After 20 years of marriage all I could see we had accomplished was 3 incredible kids and building a giant wall between us, my husband and I. How could two people who honestly loved each other be so hard on each other that we needed that wall? I was genuinely afraid to pull it down too. There had been so much dynamic painful issues in our marriage, that I just could not bear being hurt even one more time. I was very much aware of my proverbial wall. It was as real as the fact that I had to do something about that wall or die.
...but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— Ephesians 4:15
My husband was not really aware how much he was hurting me. How empty I felt, helpless, hopeless, EMPTY.
I had spent that 20 years trying to please him, saying, "If I just do this or that, maybe he will be happy. If I , If I, If I..." Changing, Changing Changing. The result was I became more and more the person he required me to become, and I hated her. She was so far from the real me that I didn't know myself. I hated constantly playing the role. And the worst part was, this woman my husband created out of me, wasn't even someone he liked. I still wasn't good enough. And the moment I couldn't play the role, Jimmy exploded.
Jimmy was a rage-aholic. And beleive me, that is as bad as any other addiction. He had an addictive personality. Although he finally stopped smoking, he still drank colas like they were a drug. He went from being nice one instant to being off the charts angry in a split second. It made no sense. Always, when we had what I considered a good day, of romance or fun, or accomplishment, I let my guard down, and BANG! Something I said, or did sent him into an in your face screaming rage, full of threats and hurt. And I often didn't know what I had done. I found myself actually hiding from him, or emotionally hiding from him. I would cry for days sometimes and wonder what on earth God expected of me. I honestly didn't believe God truly expected me to continue to be submissive to this kind of behavoir. Surely, he had some responsibility to God, but I was to the point, I didn't care what God thought. I WAS DONE.
I faced God with my confusion, and found that He was asking me to take down the wall, and let him work on my marriage. In addition, he was going to let me have some say in what it meant to take down that wall.
BEST THING EVER FOR MY MARRIAGE!!!!
For years the "wall" had made me feel safe, had been the place I ran to survive. I lived in survival mode so much with my father, that I hadn't learned how not to live in survival mode. So now I was going to have to learn. To GROW UP. Here's how.
1. Commit your safety to God. Decide the wall is coming down, and you are willing to let God test your faith.
2. Tell your partner about the wall, your decision to pull it down, how unsafe you feel, and exactly what things scare you about your relationship.
3. Set boundaries. Explain that you will no longer accept that behavoir any longer. Draw specific lines, no beating around the bush. Say: "You will no longer do ..." whatever it is that causes you fear, or anxiety, or like you are being forced to change for your partner.
4. Set an unmistakable, un-negotiable consequence. For me, I explained that our marriage was over, if things didn't change. Final. I laid out things I would no longer accept in our marriage, PERIOD. EVER AGAIN.
5. Set a time frame. 3 months as a trial to see if your partner is willing to take the challenge to work on the marriage. 6 months for final decision. 2 weeks question/ answer to lay ground work. Zero opportunity to be a rage-aholic for instance. In an abusive situation the one thing that must be a final is the abuse. Verbal or physical. Neither is allowed. Not under any circumstance. It ends or the break in relationship is final. Absolutely no "I'm sorry," and taking them back.
For us, I was very clear that I had lost myself. I thought he loved the "me" he married, and was totally unclear why he spent so much time trying to change me. I asked him to consider if I was so different than the person he thought he loved, that since I was no longer willing to be changed, would he prefer to sever our relationship? He was free to choose. But I was going to refind myself, and was going back to the person I know I am. He could use the next few months deciding. If I had known that calmly drawing a line, pulling down the survival wall, and putting all my trust in being who God made me, no matter who wanted to change me, sooner...wow, how many years we could have been much happier.
Calm, gutsy, firm, unwavering, quiet fortitude. All were top priority for holding my emotions in check while I talked to Jimmy about pulling down my walls. I gave myself permission to cry, but not a pitiful cry. I knew I would lose Jimmy's attention if I cried. He never allowed it. So I told him. I am an emotional human, and God made me a person who cries over more than just sad things. I used to shed tears when I was extremely happy. I couldn't remember the last time I cried from anything but fear and feeling helpless. He must allow me to cry, and find a way to still hear what I was saying without turning me off. Somehow he did.
Now, after all that, I only address Christy's subject this week by saying, from this point, I was very careful how I fashioned my words. I found that asking myself to be proactive, not responsive in every conversations we had from that point. If he said something that seemed to hurt, I asked myself, was he trying to say something I needed to hear? Then I determined not to be defensive, remain calm, and repeat the boundaries. But first and foremost, I determined to let my desires be made known, rather than wanting him to read between the lines. Be specific with my desires for our love. Husbands and wives are not mind readers. Casting hurtful accusations never gets you where you need to be! You will find clarity when you speak the things that make you feel loved. It's a dynamic God can work with. It is an expression of your faith to live in love, rather than behind a wall of fear.
Lord Grant someone today to pull down their wall, and to begin to speak the truth about their needs reguarding love. Help this one to see your example of firm, unwavering principle, safe relationship, and boundaries for success as a starting place for their faith initiative. Please Lord help a marriage today. In Christ's name, AMEN