How Emotional Trouble Affects our Marriages and Families
Most women I coach start rattling off a list of complaints about their husband’s faults … down to every last detail.
I have been there, where it seemed that blaming my husband for our troubles was the rational thing to do. After all, I didn’t want to take the blame for the problems we were having in our marriage.
At some point though, we have to ask ourselves, “Who do we really hurt when we blame our husbands for being completely responsible for everything that goes wrong?”
As married couples, we are both subject to the blame and misery between us. Each of us must hold accountability for having the right attitude to love one another and get along.
It is rarely one person that causes all of the trouble in the marriage. It is so important to realize this, because as women, if we keep our focus on fixing our husband’s faults (which is impossible), we will never focus on changing our own.
I have listened to many women go on and on about every last detail of how their husband failed to do this or that for her. It was conveyed with such resentment that I already knew she was the problem.
It is ALWAYS the one who is “COMPLAINING” of the problem that is causing an even bigger problem.
I can openly admit that for myself, having a resentful attitude towards my husband was a problem that I created, and was not only at his expense, but my own. It wasn’t a way for me to solve our problems by any means (even if I thought I was right, or my husband didn’t do what I wanted). My negativity only added fuel to the fire, and caused me so much emotional stress on a daily basis.
It isn’t that our husbands are the problem, as much as our own thoughts about them are!
My thoughts were my own thoughts, and I had the power to choose whatever I thought. Therefore, my thoughts and attitude towards my husband were a reflection of who I was, and I was choosing to be negative. I mean after all, he did have at least a few redeeming qualities that I could have focused on, but instead, I chose to focus only on the negative things. It got to the point where I was nitpicking on every little thing about him in my mind. Let me be honest enough to say that my resentful thoughts made me like a bitter fruit from a time worn tree.
If we don’t control our negative thoughts about one another, we will poison our own souls, marriages, and families.
Let’s not kid ourselves – our children are just as wounded from the animosity towards one another, as we are. There was a time when the tension between my husband and I was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Although I thought I hid this from our children, the spirit of resentment was in the air, and caused them so much emotional pain. Eventually, it led to the tragic day of my daughter’s disappearance. She was missing from our lives without leaving a trace of evidence as to where she was. There was only a letter left behind … explaining that she had run away from home, and threw her cellphone away, so that we couldn’t contact her!
Our family could have avoided such a tragedy if I knew back then what I know now. I wouldn’t want anyone to ever experience the sheer panic that struck me when my daughter had suddenly disappeared from our lives. She was gone like the wind … and it was nearly impossible to imagine how I was going to endure every agonizing minute of terror, not knowing where she was! The worst part was knowing that I played a large part in the overall problem.
This tragedy however, was a spiritual awakening that compelled me to share the intimate details of our lives. My mission was completely motivated by God to reach women who are emotionally and spiritually hurting. As well, to bring to their awareness how their OWN emotional pain affects the overall function of their family life. I am not a professional counselor, but I do offer life coaching based on my own personal trials and success.
Up until my daughter had run away, I thought my family exemplified the “All American Dream.” I was completely blinded by the idealistic mindset of this dream, and wasn’t even aware of reality crashing down around us. I didn’t foresee the troubles up ahead either, or the consequences my family would one day have to suffer.
It wasn’t until the day of my daughter’s disappearance that I faced the reality – as a family, we were far from any of our dreams. I was forced to face the heaviness of this burden, and by the grace of God, changed the behaviors that led to my family’s despair.
I have spent almost five years undoing all of the damage that I caused to myself, and my relationships. I had to wake up to the truth, admit to my behavior, and take complete responsibility for the changes in my life. I could not control anyone else’s life … I could only begin to change my own.
To be honest with ourselves, we need to face many painful things that bring forth truth. We need to dig deep into our hearts for what God wants to reveal about our own behaviors.
Are we trying to control our husbands and children to the point that we aren’t really living our own lives? If so, it is time to get honest with ourselves … with our truth, and who we are. If we are exhausted, and not enjoying our own lives, it is time to stop blaming our husbands and children. It’s time to reflect upon the deepest and most intimate parts of ourselves, and begin to understand where and when we wound up so completely lost … and out of control.
I finally did get real with myself, and admitted many hard truths. As painful as it was, I knew this was the only way I would have the dream life that I wanted. I knew that I was the creator of my own reality, and based on the harsh reality of where my life stood, I had to accept that I screwed up. I had to change my ways!
I knew over the years my heart had closed, and because of this, I was incapable of meeting my husband’s needs, or able to express my own.
I didn’t shoot straight from the heart about what I was feeling inside. What did this say about me, my honesty … my truth? I knew deep inside, I had given up on myself … and the person I had become was not me anymore!
I’m sure that many of us have been in that resentful place of being unable to recognize who we are anymore. I know how horrible it is to look in the mirror, and see the reflection of someone we don’t want to see.
I had to begin to take many steps of faith to change what was hurting inside of me. I did this by searching deep into my broken heart to undo the mess.
I know the pain of my journey was worth it, not only for myself, but for so many other women who are hurting and have no answers to their problems.
Here are some simple steps of faith I took to begin to change my life:
1. No matter how “resentful” we may feel, we need to stop allowing this type of emotion to rule over our behavior. God warns us never to let the sun go down while we are still angry (Ephesians 4:26). The longer we hold our feelings in without discussing solutions to the problem, the more resentful and disconnected we become.
2. God has already given us the power of self-control, which is to be used when our emotions are spinning out of control. It takes faith in God, and a bit of practice, not to react like a crazy woman with mad cow disease. It takes being mindful about what we want to say before we speak. When we get flustered with bitterness and anger, we should just take a moment, and look in the mirror at how unbecoming we really look. Yikes! This is the kind of behavior our family may have witnessed over the years, and it is not only damaging to them, but to us also! We are doing ourselves a favor when we fill our hearts and minds with the power that God offers – equipping us with a well-balanced mind and self-control.
3. To begin to overcome such resentful behavior, all we have to do is pray for God’s grace to be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. We could never pull off such traits of noble character without praying faithfully, and relying completely on God. It takes mindfulness and self-control to think like God wants us to think- avoiding damaging ourselves and destroying our relationships.
4. Trust is built when we say what we mean, and mean what we say with truth. Our actions should be congruent with what we say. It is double-minded to say one thing and do another. We cannot expect to build trust if our thoughts are always changing, and are indecisive about everything we think and feel.
5. Rather than using accusations, the goal is to communicate our needs to gain understanding. To communicate effectively, it helps to stick to “I” requests such as: “I would love it if the house were neat and clean,” rather than ” You never help clean the house!” This non-accusing way of communicating works like a charm! It is however, easier said than done. With the help of God, it took some work to drop my defensiveness and heal my resentful wounds.
6. We need to openly express our desires, and our needs, without placing demands upon our family. In other words, stop controlling or manipulating them as a way of getting what we need or want. We will always get a loving response when our hearts are motivated from love and not fear.
7. While we are expressing our needs and desires to our family, consider their needs as well. Sometimes it takes a bit of negotiating to finally become a team of winners.
As I had come to a place of reflection, I realized … it is only within our bitter selfishness that two are no longer united as one. When one suffers, both suffer, and ultimately, our children become undone … and in the midst of this brokenness we are distanced from our hearts … separated from dear ones we wished we had never lost.