I’ve been dealing with a non-marriage situation where one person’s past-based fear is causing a great deal of discord. Accusations are flying, including some that sound down right paranoid. I know enough of this person’s past to know why they are reacting as they are. Anyone who doesn’t agree becomes the enemy, which makes it impossible to reason with this person – any attempt to reason is an attack and it makes you “one of them”.
Sadly, I have seen this same thing in marriages. Some past fear is left unresolved, and it slowly spreads to the person’s entire life. Eventually some event, often a rather minor event, triggers the fear and the couple is thrown into chaos. The panicked person can’t hear anything from their spouse as they see their spouse as the problem. Anyone who doesn’t agree with the fear-driven conclusions is rejected. Only those who agree are allowed to give counsel. If the wife is fearful, she surrounds herself with women in the “all men are %$*^#” crowd. If the husband is fearful, he’ll give ear to men who have no love or respect for women. Cut off from wise counsel, a death spiral to divorce ensues.
How do you avoid this? First, you deal with your fears, and you deal with them until you beat them. Yes, it hurts, and no it’s not fun, but it is necessary. Next you do all you can to encourage your wife to deal with her fears. She will almost certainly resist, but you need to keep at it. Left alone, those fears may one day destroy your marriage. The risk you take now is controlled; if the fear blows up you’ll have no control.
Another thing you need to do is have wisdom about the friends you keep. More on that tomorrow.