Monday, November 17, 2014

Marriage:A Paradigm Shift

Disclaimer: This post or "advice" does not apply to women/men that are in a domestic abuse situation. I do not condone that behavior and would never suggest to stay in a relationship as so.

As per usual, I'm going to get pretty honest with you. Some people have wondered and asked why I talk about my marriage the way I do. There are two reasons. The first is because I don't know any other way to be. For me, personally, I don't feel I am being true and living authentically if I put on a show or pretend my marriage is OK, or even great, when it was not for many years. That's just me though, I am not saying everyone thinks or feels that way. For me, I have got to be real, I don't know any other way to live. And being real, means being transparent, open and vulnerable enough to share and keep it out in the open. Now there are a few things that I have not shared, that I will be writing in my book.
The second reason I share is because I want to be a vessel for others. I hope to generate hope for others in their marriages or in their own personal life. I wouldn't be sharing if I didn't see the need and I didn't hear the need--people have reached out, they want to hear from me. I am no expert, but I have been through hell and back for 7 years in my marriage and I made a nearly impossible thing work. I know others struggle, and others need our stories, because it brings them hope, it helps them to realize they are not alone.

When I met my husband almost 14 years ago, I thought he was and was going to be my "knight and shining armor"! I  had such high hopes and high expectations. He was bound to fail me.

I basically had a plan written out for him as to how he was going to behave and love me. And if he didn't do it that way, I'd sure make him. What a fool I was.

I put so much pressure on my husband for such unrealistic things, and when the pressure sunk in, he started to sink too. Now I am not saying it's my fault for his behaviors, I am just setting up a picture for all of you. The only person responsible for their behaviors is the person themselves.
I am going to share with you what has worked for me through the years, I'm not going to re-write about what happened because I wrote about that here , here, here, here, here , here, and here.

I don't think I am alone in saying that either my marriage specifically has not gone the way I thought it would or that my spouse specifically is not what I thought I wanted or I am disappointed in my spouse. However you want to spin it or word it, I know I am not alone in frustration, disappointment, heartache, and confusion. I want to offer you some insight that has helped me for the last 6 years or so. I say my wilderness time in marriage for me was about 8 years. I consider myself out of suffering and out of the wilderness to date.

1.) Look within-Find it in your soul to get brave and look within instead of looking at him. What I mean by this is stop looking and seeing all that is wrong with HIM and look at finding some things that might be wrong with you. It's one of the hardest tasks, but the most rewarding. I was so focused on all my husband wasn't giving me, what he was doing wrong, what he wasn't saying, and on and on that I needed to stop all of that in it's tracks---even though a lot of it was wrong and not ok of him---I needed to stop. I was out of control by constantly zeroing in on his faults and his poor behaviors and I wasn't doing myself any favors by doing this. When I say look within, I mean pray, seek, ask. Ask God to reveal your heart, look for something that you might not have seen before. Look for your own shortcomings so you can find a way to improve upon them. What I'm basically saying is find the things that you are doing that might not be helping, but hurting. Ouch, that's hard. We all have our own ugliness to deal with, we just are afraid to go there. I'm saying go.

2.) Your Husband Is Human-Seems simple right? Obvious? Well it wasn't to me. Gosh, I pegged my husband as Superman. Eye yuy yuy. But what girl doesn't want her Superman or a super hero? I put so much of what was impossible on him. It wasn't until he fell flat on his face in sin and mental illness and shattered my world that I realized that he was human. Just a regular, ol', fallen, broken, messed up human. It was not easy seeing my husband on his knees begging for mercy--actually it was one of the most beautiful things I ever did see, but not easy to see before me. Gaining the perspective that my husband is fallen, broken, fleshy, messed up, confused and in need of God, was the start of some things for me. I was able to muster up compassion.I was able to see him as I saw myself--just a helpless girl who needed a Savior and love, forgiveness and grace.

3.) Back off-This is one of the things I say the most to people that ask. Just leave your husband alone. I see how us women can handle things. Especially after we've been wronged or hurt. We have our obnoxious comments, we get little jabs in, we remind him of all he's done wrong, we try to change and fix him and his issues, it's never ending. We have endless "add-ons" and we need to just zip it. I had to back off because my husband was not hearing one word for 4 years practically. I literally tried to get him to hear me in every possible way you can imagine for 4 years straight. It wasn't happening. I learned through counseling how to live and manage and it worked for me. And today my husband has come around, but that does not mean every man will. I desperately needed him to hear me and for him to understand me, but it wasn't happening. He couldn't hear me because of the place he was at internally, (that's a whole other blog post). And whatever he needed to hear, whether I was right or wrong, it couldn't come from me. Sometimes our husbands can't hear it from us.
I had to edit myself like you wouldn't believe. It was a constant state of editing, you'd think I was a producer or something. I backed off, took care of myself, and decided to start hoping. Hope is hard sometimes because it's almost like we are hoping for a particular outcome, that may or may not happen. But I was ok with that, because hope is all I had. It takes bravery to hope.
So now that I have just told you to leave your husband alone and let him or someone else deal with his issues, let's move onto number 4.

4.) Ask Direct Questions-Whenever I would hear the phase, "He can't read your mind" I never understood what that meant. But what it means is we think that if it is perfectly clear in our minds how something should be or how something should go down, whether with the kids, or dinner or whatever plans we are thinking, we assume he agrees, and sees it exactly like we do. I'm here to tell you he doesn't. Not at all. A man's brain and a woman's brain are like complete opposites. It's annoying, I know. I can not begin to tell you how differently he thinks than you do. What is simple and plain as day easy to do to you, is not at all for him. And communicating is no easy thing either especially when you have kids calling your name all day long. But if you can gain this perspective, I swear you can gain the whole world!!! Not only are men and women's brains different, which means they are wired differently, but just as mere humans even in same gender relationships they have the same kind of issues because we are all different. Our family lives growing up, our life experiences, our life happenings and our beliefs...all shape who and how we are. I'm basically saying that we all think differently and we all process differently so we can't expect that our spouse will think like we do and process like we do. Yet we seem to expect them to? We can be passive aggressive or assume they know what we want. I'm telling you they probably don't! I know in a perfect world they would know what we want already but it doesn't work that way! We  have got to give them room to be who they are, without our strong, controlling personalities trying to make it be a certain way. If you want something done, ask him if he can or will do it. Yes, he "should" be doing things around the house and he "should" know to do it, but he doesn't. Or at least for some reason, he won't. SO, let's deal in realities. Ask him straight up a direct question, so you get a YES OR NO answer. If he says no, find someone else to do it, or do it yourself. And move on. Again, right or wrong, doesn't necessarily matter, because we are dealing with reality. Then make sure there is a plan that you both agree on and that you both know how something will go down. This will cause a lot less heartache, trust me.

5.) Share How You Feel-When you want to tell your husband that something isn't good between the two of you, or that something is hurting you, go ahead. Just make sure you tell him in a healthy way, using "I" statements. Don't point the finger at all he isn't doing and all he's doing wrong, that will make things worse. Focus on speaking from your heart and your point of view, and leave it at that. He may get defensive, he may not. If he does get defensive, at least you did your part in speaking up and that's all you can do. Typically, if you give your husband/spouse enough breathing room without attacking him with too many words, he will come around. Give him the space he needs to think and be and react. Us women are so strong and forceful, we need to relax. I think because of our perfectionism, and idealism when it comes to the household and children, we are very harsh with our husbands. I have found the more I back off and give him time, the more he will come around. But remember when you are sharing how you feel, keep the focus on you, not him, otherwise it turns into nagging and criticism.

6.) You Won't Get All You Want/Need-This is a hard pill to swallow. It was very difficult for me to learn this. But when I did, it helped me cope so much. I even learned that not one girlfriend alone can give me all I want. What a novel thought! It just means that each person has different values, gifts, and contributions. We are all looking for ways to get our needs met and one of the main ways we do that is by putting that all on our spouses. And it is not going to happen. If there is something you want from him that you aren't getting, ask him about it first, and then look for other sources. I am talking about possibly emotional support that you want, but your husband doesn't seem to give it to you. Or maybe you wish he was funny and you want some humor in your life, well, you might have to go find someone else that will make you laugh! Maybe you wish your husband was a shopper, but he's not, that's ok, find someone that will shop with you! There are many examples of ways we are not getting our needs or wants met. We can do something about it. I was naive and had watched too many fairy tale movies I guess.

7). You Always Have A Choice-I am not here to tell you that you have to stay in a marriage that you are just completely unfulfilled or unhappy in. I'm actually not here to tell you anything, I am just here to share with you a bit I have gained from the hell I lived in. This is MY PERSONAL experience and my story, it doesn't mean it's the same for you! This is what I had to do to survive. I made a choice to stay in the marriage because I could not support myself financially and I had health issues. Had I not, who's to say I would not have left? Now I stay because I want to be married to my husband and he ended up coming around in his own time. I changed before he did. So this is not easy work. And sometimes they don't come around, and sometimes we never change. It's always a choice to change or not change. To do the hard work, or to not. To stay or to not. You have a choice. It's an option. But I wouldn't leave until you have literally gone down"kicking and screaming". Most things are ugly before they become beautiful, just like a butterfly. Cheesy, but true. The process for that cocoon is not pretty, or easy. But if you are willing to literally give it all you've got and make a fool out of yourself along the way, I'd say you have a fat chance. I, at one point even left and went to a women's shelter, and I was not being physically abused. I was so judged for that. People thought I was crazy. But I was welcomed there with my 15 year old daughter because I was being emotionally, mentally and financially abused. He promised changes when I returned, and that didn't happen. So I dove into counseling and focused on myself and my kid, and got my mind and heart exposed and healed and learned to deal with my reality. Not what I wanted, or what I mourned, or what should be or what was wrong, but with REALITY. So much of the time we don't want to deal with realities, because we wish things were different. But reality is all we have. I promise you, it's better to deal in reality than fantasy.

Learning and grasping that my husband was not my GOD or Savior was one of the hardest things for me to grasp! I have always wanted rescuing! I have always wanted to be treated like a princess. I looked to my husband for this and it did not happen. Only my God could be my god. And when I was being drawn completely away from my husband, I was being completely drawn to God. God took it all and all that was broken and not of His plan was shaken to the point of being brought back to Him through reconciliation. Complete restoration. I do not believe God caused this, but He used it. It was our broken humanness that caused our mess. And we brought it all back to the only one that can heal, and redeem. We surrendered our hearts and minds. All in His will and ways and all for His glory. Without that, I wouldn't be writing this post. We knew only God could take something so twisted and ugly and make it worthy and beautiful. With open hands, honest hearts and seeking minds, God will work. I hope you're ready. Nothing is beyond repair!


Kassie R said...

I appreciate this post so much. I'm in a place where I'm pretty unhappy, but this gave me some things to work on and hope to hold onto! Thank you!

shannasummers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shannasummers said...

When I see the two of you together I would never in a million years think that you struggled in any way. I even made a comment to my hubby once "I wish our relationship was like G and K". And the truth is ... it is! I've begun my journey of "working on my relationship with myself and my King" I've also stopped nagging Kamal to change. You're right! IT WORKS. Everything you said here is TRUTH! RIGHT ON POINT I can tell that you've been hiding in HIS secret place. The best place to be when you need to grow. Love you sister! Thanks for giving us all HOPE!

Jackie said...

You're so incredibly brave, Gina. You've spoken wisdom - borne of experience - here and I'm grateful you've shared it. But truly joyful that you're in a place of contentment and enjoyment of each other.

I have been in a desert of pain, loneliness, rejection and more for 20 years. God keeps asking me to have hope. I also know I need to let go and accept. This is my reality - as you rightly highlighted - and I need to accept it for what it is.

Wishing you so much joy. May the Lord restore to you all the years the locust has stolen.

Much love,
Jackie de Paiva

Tamera Beardsley said...

My dear … you and I have traveled the same path of marriage enlightenment. It was only a couple of years ago … I thought I was done … after 25 years of married life. When I began to see my husband as a human … and not my protector and emotional provider …I also began investing in myself … and learning new ways to fill my soul.

These days I take responsibility for my own happiness … and being connected to a higher power. I am teaching myself not to rely on my husband for my emotional happiness … and am more interested in how I can help him.

Thank you for sharing your tips. In an age where it seems permissible to discard marriage … only to repeat … Being able to rescue relationships is an important message to share.

I send you much love and praise for a job well done my friend!


Laura said...

Sorry to go off topic...but your hair looks darker...and it looks absolutely gorgeous. That mane you're sporting is lovely :)

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Tiffany Kadani said...

You are a vessel, and a beautiful one. Thank you for your authenticity and transparency.

Cortney Blomstrom said...

I am seeing more and more that you and I are very similar. My husband and I have also gone through many of the same struggles and are just now coming to the same place you spoke of in this post. The struggle with wanting your husband to be your savior... So good. I realized in counseling a few weeks ago I had been putting matt on that pedestal also. It was a huge breakthrough for us. There is so much peace and contentment in letting the fairytale viewpoint go. Thank you for sharing and for always being real. <3

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anne pettingill said...

I needed this. Oh how I needed your words.❤️