If you’re in a destructive or abusive marriage I think it’s important that you understand what it takes to put your marriage back together in a godly way.
First, God does give you a means for healing damaged relationship. But his blueprint is not unilateral. In other words, healing a destructive marriage can never be the sole responsibility of one person in the relationship. It always takes two people willing to work to achieve godly change.
There needs to be forgiveness sought and forgiveness granted. There needs to be willingness to make amends and a willingness to rebuild broken trust. There needs to be constructive feedback given and willingly received.
When one person refuses to participate or take responsibility for his or her part, healing or restoring a relationship cannot fully take place.
So what I want to do is give you the very first step that has to be in place to start on healing a destructive relationship and that step is establishing safety. Safety in an intimate relationship such as marriage must never be underestimated.
You cannot put a marriage together in a healthy way if one person in the marriage feels afraid of the other. Now, without question, whenever there has been any kind of physical abuse, destruction of property or threats, against you or others, there is no safety.
However, safety issues may show up in more subtle ways. For example, Shirley emailed me and she said, “My counselor said that I have to allow my husband back into the house if we want our marriage to heal. He told me, ‘How can we work on our marriage when we’re not living together?'”
So, I asked her what her concerns were about her husband moving back home. She said, “We’ve been separated for over a year after he gave me a black eye. It wasn’t the first time he hit me, but it was the worst thing he did”.
“Now, I never pressed charges or called the police but instead I asked my church for help. But I told him he’d have to move out.” “Honestly,” Shirley said, “I haven’t really seen any change in him. But my church counselor says that Ray is changing and he hasn’t hit me for a long time.
I agreed, but his underlying attitudes are still there.” So I said to Shirley, “Give me a couple examples.” “Well,” she said, “He badgers me to give in to him when I disagree. When he visits the kids at our house and I tell him I’m tired and I want him to go home, he says I’m selfish and I’m only thinking about myself.
He thinks it’s okay if he just walks into our house without knocking, even though I’ve asked him not to. He won’t respect my requests when we’re separated, so how will he do that if he moves back home?” “He won’t,” I said. “Either he’s not willing to respect you or he’s not capable of doing it, but either way, you are not safe until he learns to do this.”
And so my advice to Shirley was, “Please stick up for yourself with your counselor because, before you can work on a marriage, your husband needs his own work to do.
First, he needs to value the importance of your safety and demonstrate that he can control himself and honor your feelings and boundaries without badgering you, giving you a guilt trip or retaliating when you won’t give him what he wants. And if he can’t or won’t do this much, you can’t go further to repair your relationship.
Now there are other issues of safety that also must be resolved to some degree if a marriage has any possibility of moving to the next steps. For example, Gina’s husband Matthew felt entitled to keep his income as separate from Gina in a different bank account with only his name on it.
He does give Gina an allowance each week for household expenses, but requires her to give him a detailed account of everything she spends. Now, Gina is a registered nurse. but she and Matthew have agreed right now it was best for her to stay home with their four children and home school them.
But Gina does not feel safe financially or even emotionally. She feels like a child. When she has to give an account for everything she spends. Yet, Matthew refuses to let Gina know what he spends or even what he earns.
He says, it’s his money. Gina feels vulnerable and scared whenever Matthew travels. What if something happened to him and she ran out of money?
When she’s expressed her concerns to Matthew, he tells her not to worry, nothing will happen to him. Now, legally, Gina’s an adult and considered an equal partner in their financial responsibilities.
Yet, she has no voice, no power, and no idea what’s happening with their assets. Does she just submit to Matthew, when he says she’s not allowed to have a credit card, even though she’s never been irresponsible with money?
Gina’s also observed Matthew being deceitful at times in his business expenses. What if Matthew’s been deceitful in other ways financially?
What if he’s under reported their income taxes? Gina would be held equally responsible, even if she didn’t know. What if he’s not paying their mortgage or their home equity loan faithfully?
She has no way of checking. The financial consequences of his irresponsibility would fall equally on her shoulders. Gina and Matthew will never have a healthy marriage if these issues aren’t discussed with the underlying imbalance of power and control changed.
And, I’m dismayed by the number of people helpers, pastors, lay counselors, marriage mentors, and professional counselors who don’t understand safety issues always come first.
There can be no constructive conversation about any other marital issues nor can there ever be any real joint marital counseling if one person has no say or isn’t safe to tell the truth or disagree without fear of physical, emotional, sexual, financial, or spiritual retaliation.
If you aren’t safe physically, emotionally, sexually, mentally, financially, or spiritually, then creating safety for yourself must come first, before any other issues can be tackled.
Are you experiencing one of this issues? Would like to learn more about how you can prevent divorce and save your marriage today, then you MUST watch that free video presentation on my website at MarriageGuy.com.
Again, that URL is MarriageGuy.com… and be sure to watch that entire video to the very end. In it, you’ll learn the 3 “marriage murdering mistakes” that most couples make that ruin their chances of a happy marriage.