My goal is to save marriages

Save Marriages © Andreus | Dreamstime.com

If you’ve been following the comments the last few days you’ve seen some exchanges about divorce, why it happens, who’s at fault, and so on. For those who have not been following the comments, let me be clear on my focus – I want to see marriages saved. That does not just mean not divorcing, it means moving from a poor or declining marriage to a healthy and growing marriage.

Many marriages reach a point where one person is done. They are too numbed, too calloused, or too hurt to care any more They stop trying, and often they stop responding to what their spouse does even if their spouse makes huge improvements. Sometimes this leads to divorce, other times it leads to a couple who are married in name only. Regardless of whether it ends in divorce or not, the result is bad for the husband, the wife, and their kids. My focus is on keeping marriages from reaching that point. I know from experience (in both dealing with couples and talking with others who do the same) that few marriages recover once they get to this point. It does happen, but sadly it is the exception.

One major reason that women reach the give up point is a lack of love, support, and involvement from their husband. For men, common causes are a lack of respect and failure to be sexually available. All of these are, in my mind, wrong, and should be addressed even if they did not put the marriage at risk. That they do often put stress on marriages, and can contribute to a divorce or a marriage in name only, makes it important to deal with these things.

Because of how we have been raised, we all have blind spots; we all have things we don’t understand. Women often fail to “get it” about sex, while men often fail to understand what women need emotionally and relationally. Some marriages can be saved, and many marriages can be made better, by helping men and women to “get a clue” about the places where they are failing their spouse. This is why I blog about these issues, and since I blog to men, I primarily blog about things about which men need a clue.

It has been suggested in the comments that I am blaming the victim by focusing on what men fail to do when the reality is women initiate most divorces. My intent is not to blame anyone, but rather to point out wrongs and failings so that divorce can be avoided. I don’t feel that “S/he did not have a biblical right to divorce me” is really of any help or consolation to someone divorced against their will. To me this is like having “He had the right of way” on one’s gravestone. If pointing out common issues that contribute to divorce means I am “blaming” then so be it. But blame is not my goal.

Have you noticed all the articles about divorce this week? I didn’t know it when I started on this series, but a new divorce reform infinitive was launched this week. This attempt to make it more difficult for couple with children to divorce has bipartisan support and a broad base. The Huff Post calls it The Most Pioneering Divorce Reform Effort In 40 Years . Lori Lowe was one of nine blogger chosen for the initial kick-off (way to go Lori!). See her article, with links to the initiative’s web site, in her post New Divorce Reform Initiative Launched. If you care to read some of my thoughts on this movement, you will find them in the comments of Being a Child of Divorce is a Risk Factor for Early Death, Say Researchers. That page shares information I read on one of the more alarming articles I saw on divorce this week, which said that a parent’s “divorce cut lifespan an average of nearly five years” for children.

Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:

 

This weeks new blog, Stupendous Marriage, is from Stu (I see what you did there) Gray, who used to do The Marry Blogger. It’s good to have Stu back at the keyboard, and I’m looking forward to The Stupendous Marriage Show that Stu and his wife Lisa will be starting this summer.

 

Anonymous8

Knowing Your Luck – A Guy Who Figured it Out: A great guest article by @HubbyPhD. Good tips on ways to improve your “luck” at having more sex.


Black and Married with Kids

How Do Couples Outgrow One Another?: A great article that fits well with my last few posts.
If You Are Happy and You Know It, Then Your Marriage Will Surely Show It: Good article – and very true.
I’m Glad I Chose You: Can you be the kind of husband Tara says her guy is?


Intimacy in Marriage

Sexual Positions in Your Marriage: Hey, I’m a Housewife, Not a Gymnast: If your bride is relectant to try a new postion, this article by Julie might help.


Journey to Surrender

Clarifying the Other “As If”: How do you deal with the reality that her needs and your needs are different?
Man Up and Ask Her: Scott is daring you to ask her how you are doing about meeting her needs. I will up the ante by a dog!
The Other “As If”: I love this post – a MUST READ!


Marriage Gems

Is seeking success keeping you from a happy life and marriage?: A good, and challenging article.


One Flesh Marriage

How a Woman Wants to be Loved!: Kate does a great job explaining how to make your bride feel loved.


Peace & Projects

25 Simply Beautiful Ways to Show Someone You Care: This is not specifically for marriage, but has a lot of great ideas that would work well in your marriage.


Romantic Act of the Day

Be There for Her : So simple we discount it, so necessary they hurt when it’s lacking.
Recognize Her Excellence : Just do it!


The Romantic Vineyard

How’s The Forecast?: Great analogy great post.


Simple Marriage

K.I.S.S. – The 10 second kiss: Another Just Do It!


Stupendous Marriage

How To Encourage Married Couples: Something we should all be doing (IMHO).

18 Comments on “My goal is to save marriages

  1. Sometimes the first step in saving the marriage is stopping the divorce. After all,if someone divorces, how does one apply all these great tips you are offering?

    Like it or not, there are going to be some who don’t get the message, either because they were not paying attention, or because their spouse didn’t speak up until her clothes are lying on the floor of another man’s bedroom.

    I’m trying to wake YOU up to a few things. Many times a marriage will be going on and something happens. A spouse falls into temptation, and the first indication the generous husband has is when his wife stops speaking to him, stops going to church with him, skipping family events because she’s either having an affair, or entertaining it.

    Since men and women are equally represented in affairs (You are NOT going to tell me more men are having affairs than women. Because to say that implies men are having affairs with other men. Nope, men and women are statically equally represented in the affair equation, so no gender difference here.) it’s just as likely that a wife is having the affair as it is the husband.

    Getting married doesn’t turn women who would once have been involved with a married man into a woman who would not cheat on her husband. So I don’t buy the wives are more faithful than husbands surveys we read. It’s unrealistic to expect that someone who would lie to their spouse and have an affair would be honest about the fact that he/she is having an affair.

    So I don’t try to pin down the numbers. I use reasoning and for every man having an affair, there is a woman willing to go along with it, so no difference based on gender when it comes to the numbers participating in this marriage destroying action.

    Anyway, the bottom line is for large populations, the first warnings they get are this type of warning. These are the first signs.

    All the tips on how husbands are failing, how they don’t do the right things don’t really address these situations.

    Further, as I’ve said before, if one continues to beat that drum, then they are discounting the good and different things God designed husbands to do. Which just fuels the entitlement mentality that convinces some (not all, some) women to end her marriage.

    She’s been given “cover” by the church. She heard the mother’s day sermon on how great moms were, and then 4-6 weeks later, she hears the father’s day sermon on how dad needs to step up his game and how wonderful she is, so who would blame her if she left her “clueless” husband.

    The problem I have is not that we think husbands are clueless, they can be. It’s that we don’t view wives the same way. They can be just as clueless and just as often as men.

    Our souls are not male or female. Scripture tells us that in heaven, where we will dwell some day that we will not be male or female, slave or free.

    What that says to me as that spiritually speaking, when it comes to our spiritual relationship with God, we are the same, regardless our gender.

    Our earthly bodies have gender. But spiritually are we really male and female? I tend to think not given this scripture, given the ideas that we are all sinners, and so forth.

    So if we are all the same spiritually, can any gender really claim to have a better clue about how God would have us do marriage? Could any gender claim to possess more insight, or more natural ability when it comes to how to do marriage?

    Of course not.

    I’m never against your tips when it comes to helping husbands be better husbands. But when venture off into areas where are, based on scripture, clearly false, I have to call foul. Men are not bigger sinners than women. There are no male souls our female souls, and since it’s our spiritual nature that leads to or avoids sin, the propensity for sin is exactly the same regardless the gender of our earthly tent.

    As long as we don’t see that men and women have equal value, and their strengths are equally valuable, then we will continue to have this power struggle where good marriage is continually redefined based on the woman’s view, with her contributions valued more highly than a man’s contribution. Where Mother’s Day sermons are all about how great mom’s are and Father’s Day sermons include how many dads are dead beats and don’t meet the mark.

    This only fuels entitlement in those who are looking for excuses to further devalue men, and discourages men who are really trying, but find their wives and the world at large doesn’t value their contributions to the family.

    So when do we CELEBRATE husbands and fathers and speak out against the lies regarding how clueless and ill equipped men are relative to their wives when it comes to marriage and family? When do we say enough is enough and not only should we live with our wives in an understanding fashion and love her, but have enough self respect to say that men must NOT be that bumbling, ill-equipped caricature we’ve been taught to believe, because God calls for wives to respect their husbands. He would not call for wives to respect their husbands if there wasn’t something of value in the way He created them.

    He didn’t say if they bring flowers for no apparent reason, respect him, He said, wives, respect your husbands.

    It’s time for men to stop giving wives reason to not respect their husbands, and it’s not by changing the husband’s behavior, it’s about being clear that he’s good enough, smart enough and as well equipped as she is. It’s time to stop disrespecting husbands from the pulpit and radio programs. It’s time for political leaders to stop talking down husbands, saying they abandon their families when likely even more than the numbers who do abandon their families are actually forced out by wives who no longer value their contributions.

    That’s all I’m asking, stop giving cover to those looking for excuses to no respect their husbands.

    Show us how to improve all you want. But don’t say it’s our fault when a wife chooses to discount the value of her husband and divorces him.

    Or if you are unwilling to do that, then start blaming the ex-wife of every father who apparently “abandoned” his children because his wife forced him out. After all, if we blames husband’s for wives choosing divorce, then we have to blame any ex-wife who limits a father’s parenting time if he gives up and falls away from his child.

    I doubt you are willing to do that, so be consistent and stop even hinting it’s a man’s fault if his wife refuses to find the good in her faithful non-abusive husband and instead divorces him.

    • @Tony – Yes, sometimes stopping the divorce is the first step. When that is where things are, it’s what you deal with. However, experience shows that this is often too late, and finding ways to get there sooner helps.

      Every study I’ve seen says more husbands cheat than wives (although numbers for wives are going up faster). If a married man cheats with a single woman, then you have one man cheating, but no woman cheating. If several men cheat with the same married woman, you have more men then women cheating. Recent figures are 22% of men, and 15% of women. I also read that when a man thinks his wife is cheating, he is right half the time, but when a wife thinks her husband is cheating she is right 85% of the time. That means a lot of husbands who think their wife is cheating are wrong. On the other side, men are less likely to hide an affair than women, so more guys may be unaware of cheating than wives.

      I don’t buy that the first warning most men get is their wife having an affair. To start with, the majority of wives don’t have affairs. Even when there is an affair, it’s never the first sign; it might be the first one the husband sees, and that is exactly why I am trying to make men see more clearly.

      I would say men are, on the whole, more clueless about relationships than women. The female brain is more wired for relationship than the male brain, and because of this women are better at empathy and reading others. Add to this difference in how we are taught and raised, and the difference is understandable.It’s not that I am saying men are stupid – just that they are less programed for it, and get less teaching. In when divorce was very rare a guy could be clueless and stay married. In a day when divorce is rampant, being clueless about relationships is dangerous.

      I have never said men are bigger sinners than women. However, in the area of relationship, men as a whole blow it more and bigger than woman as a whole. Beyond that, because men have a leadership and stewardship role in marraige, their mistakes tend to be more devastating to the family.

      I agree with you on respect – it is positional, not earned. I have never tried to give a woman cover for not respecting. I don’t see being honest about his sins as saying she can stop respecting him – in the same way I don’t see being honest about her sins means he can stop loving her. Surely you have seen me call for husbands to love their imperfect, sinful wives! Likewise, women ought to respect their imperfect, sinful husband.

      You taking what I say to men who are married and applying it to men who are divorced. You change the audience, and claim I am blaming the men. I’m sorry you read it that way.

      • Divorced men remarry.

        Divorced men have lived this and know what it’s like to go down this road, to be trying to do all the right things and have nothing make a difference.

        I’m sure I’m not the only man in your list of readers who divorced.

        I am shocked that you would say that women involved in affairs are not cheating if they are not married. What is God’s plan? It’s for a husband and a wife to be exclusive sexual partners. Surely if she knows the man is not her husband, even if she doesn’t know that he’s married, she knows that’s not her husband and therefore it’s cheating against how God designed marriage.

        So you can raise the technicality that she’s not married. It doesn’t change that she’s cheating herself, cheating her partner and cheating on God’s plan for how marriage and sex is to be.

        So you can excuse it if you want so that the surveys in which you put your faith remain true.

        I believe they are far from God’s truth. There is an element of truth in them. They reflect what people are willing to tell.

        You have yet to acknowledge the idea that it’s not that men are not as good at relationships, but rather it’s that men and women are better at different aspects of the relationship. Right now, the strengths of women are viewed with more weight and therefore it’s considered that women are much more adept at relationships.

        What if that’s not true? What if you’ve been sold a bill of goods that is an offshoot of that original curse, that wives will seek to rule over their husbands?

        I’m not calling for husbands to rule over wives, the other half of that curse. I’m calling for accepting that we men are not ill equipped to participate in relationships. That our contributions, our different perspectives are critical to a successful relationship.

        I can suggest that without going counter to what scripture tells us, to live with our wives in an understanding way, to love her as Christ loved the church.

        Christ gave his life for the Church. But Christ never suggested that he was inferior compared to the church when it came to participating in the relationship. Christ offered grace when it came to sin AND was not afraid to call sin what it was, sin.

        You come across as talking out of both sides of your mouth. I don’t think you intend to. But when you say men are not as well equipped, or they blow it bigger than women, you are in fact saying men are bigger sinners than women.

        The truth is for every man who blows it as a leader, there is a wife who fails to follow. For every husband that fails to love, there is a corresponding wife out there in the population that fails to respect.

        That doesn’t give excuses for the men, their roles are still what they are. But to say that men are not doing as well as women is to totally get it wrong.

        Tell me, since we’ve added all the pop-psychology to how the church deals with marriage, do we have more or fewer successful marriages in the church?

        I would contend we have fewer. We have more divorce, we have more broken families, we have more of everything bad. We have churches so focused on “same sex marriage” then when their membership comes to them with a marriage problem in the church, they don’t know what to do, or don’t have time. When a member comes with a sinning spouse, who is openly sinning, the church does nothing for whatever reasons. They are afraid of being sued, some Dr So-and-So says don’t confront a sinning spouse, or someone says if the wife is sinning, it must have been something her husband did to force her to sin.

        That’s what my pastor did, asked what I did to force my ex-wife to have her affair.

        Really? That was my answer to him.

        Now you suggest more of the same. If a wife is behaving badly, it must have been her husband.

        I guess I’m not finding that in scripture. I don’t see where scripture says husbands, if your wife is sinning, then it’s 99 and 44/100ths that you were a bigger failure than her and responsible.

        No scripture says we all fail and fall short. Scripture says if we break one part of the law we are guilty of breaking it all.

        So how do you reconcile the idea that men mess up more with those scriptural truths?

        But let’s get back to your goal, saving marriages. How does telling men they are messing up more accomplish the goal? Let’s say a guy believes you and says I’m messing up more. Is that going to change those Biblical truths? Of course not. His wife will still be a sinner, she will still believe that her husband is not as well equipped as she is for relationship. She will still believe her contributions are more important than his, and regardless how perfect her husband becomes, those bad ideas continue to infect her thoughts and how she sees the nature of marriage.

        What damage is done by this unGodly view of marriage and the relative abilities of men and women when it comes to marriage? Will men continue to do what God calls them to do, or will there be two women in the marriage? One of them will be a man playing the role, because that’s what his church and his wife have told him. One of them will be the wife, because that’s her role.

        If we keep telling men that their God given role is inferior, should we be shocked that more and more men drop out of that role and play another wife in their marriage?

        As long as you are suggesting that men mess up more and bigger, that they are not as relationally aware or however you put it, I contend that you are doing just that. You are convincing men to no longer be the men God called them to be, and to be more like the wives who have a different role.

        Living with your wife in an understanding way and loving your wife like Christ is not the same as being like your wife.

        Yet when you offer your comparisons, the only means you suggest for a husband to be better is to be more like his wife and I don’t think that is God’s plan at all.

        So why not start from the place where God made both men and women. A place where they have equal value, equal abilities, but different roles?

        Because that’s the reality. God gave both men and women different roles when it comes to marriage and equips each for their role. He doesn’t equip one better than the other for their role as you are suggesting.

    • The average congregation is 60% female and the female more often than not, controls the other 40%.
      The preacher knows if he knows nothing else, where his bread is buttered. He is not going to say very much that offends women.
      So “mothers” are all sweetness and light while “fathers” not so much.

        • Men haven’t abdicated anything. The society changed and the laws have not caught up yet or as my daughter’s instructer said, “technology always outruns biology.”
          In the book Dune there is a quote that says, “The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it.” Except for the first few years of marriage the woman has absolute power in the marriage because she can destroy it with very few negative consequences. It doesn’t matter how she behaves or what she says she knows this in her gut. All that has to happen is for her to come to the conscious realization that she has this power and then she begins to exercise it. I think what Tony is trying to say is what power do we have as betrayed husbands?
          The marriage contract is utterly worthless. All it describes is how you are going to end it. Just as a thought experiment list the things a woman is required to do in marriage that if she does not do them she will be punished by the state. Not a very long list is it?
          Men haven’t abdicated anything. It was taken away from them and the one organization that had both the responsibility and the opportunity to do something about it did nothing.

  2. [Corrected above – Paul] Correction above in the next-to-last paragraph. It should read: “Or if you are unwilling to do that, then start blaming the ex-wife of every father….

  3. Paul, Thank you for this great blog. This topic is close to my heart because, like my bride says, “God never seems to give us ‘normal’ friends” and many are divorced, in the process of, or having rough times in their marriage.

    Anyway, a few weeks back a close friend, who loves teaching God’s word, told me that he was writing an application to be a pastor of a small church and one of the questions was “would you perform a wedding for a divorced person”. Neither of us had ever really considered that question and we discussed this for two hours, referring to God’s word.

    Mark 10:1-12 Is very clear that God hates ANY divorce. If we include the responsibility of Christian “brotherhood” and the church, we must fight to keep a brother from going through with a divorce.

    I also have ‘friends’ who have said that divorce is wrong and have said their spouse forced them into a divorce. Then these friends turn around and put themselves into a situation where they will never be able to fully reconcile with their spouse (ie remarry) even while the former spouse, who forced the divorce, stays single. Hmmmm

    Thus, I believe, a real man must hate divorce and sacrifice for their marriage just as Christ did for the Church (Eph 5:25-33). This is not an IF-THEN statement. There are NO excuses and can not be rationalized away.

    Again, thank you for the great blog and the encouragement.

    • So perhaps you can answer the question I’ve been posting over and over again. Most men, especially those here, but it applies outside here, are not being divorced because they are having affairs or abusing their wives. In fact, as I’ve noted before, when Dr Willard Harley wrote about this, he said that he is seldom able to convince women who are victims of such behavior to divorce. He indicates that the ones who choose to divorce their husbands, by a vast majority are divorcing men who DO NOT engage in the sorts of marital misconduct that keep getting pointed out as “proof” that men mess up more an bigger than women.

      Therefore, the majority of men who are facing a divorce they didn’t want, and remember that 66-75% of divorces are not filed by the man, but by the woman.

      That means for every 4 divorced men you meet, close to 3 of them didn’t choose the divorce and didn’t have a legal means to stop the divorce.

      So once again, since this is the majority case, men who are facing a divorce they neither wanted, nor did they behave in a fashion that would give their wives scriptural justification to choose the divorce, what do you do to help these men save their marriages once their wives have walked out and/or are having their own affairs?

      The majority of divorces faced by the male readers here will be that scenario. So you can say avoid the scenario, but that doesn’t really help him save his marriage once he’s faced with it.

      That’s a lot of divorces to just dismiss and say he should have….

      Most of the time, the one who is served with divorce papers IS forced to divorce. There is no way to stop it. No one has given me a fool proof way of stopping the divorce once it’s filed by the wife. Not one.

      Ask almost any divorced man and he’ll tell you he hates divorce.

      Just because someone is divorced doesn’t mean he wanted the divorce. Chances are only one in four men who are divorce wanted the divorce. The other three probably do hate divorce.

      They may also be disgusted with their church because when the time came for the church to step up and help him save his marriage, they were silent, or worse, blamed him for her affair and choice to divorce.

      So please, don’t assume that any divorced man chose the divorce. He probably didn’t.

  4. It seems to me, that the initial article doesn’t imply anywhere within it that men are inferior in any way.

    By pointing out that statistically speaking men are more likely to make the move into an actual affair, then it seems that men as a percentage are in fact more likely to cheat.

    There is an entire field of study dedicated to the study of criminology that literally implies that particular features, both genetic and environmental, have a profound impact on the types of crimes people are more susceptible to commit. This does not mean that a white male raised in an alcoholic and abusive family will be destined to drink and beat his wife, but it does give a nod to the impact that these sorts of events can have on a person’s life. (Males are in fact more likely to be physically abusive than women.)

    Further, I think that educating yourself about the kinds of snares and traps that you are likely to step into will provide you with insight that could very well keep you from doing exactly those kinds of things. It appeals to me in many aspects as reliable and sound an idea as a disaster preparedness kit. If I look ahead, plan for the worst, examine my vulnerabilities, determine those things my family are most at risk for, than I can only do more service as a strong household leader in protecting them from precisely those events.

    It strikes me that a good leader does just that. By attempting to understand the needs of our spouses, and addressing your own shortcomings as a man, father, or husband, then you are doing what God calls you to do as the head of house. I think by pretending that these issues are not relevant and in need of discussion in men’s groups everywhere is to put yourself in the group of “ill-equipped” men.

    It is good to prepare:
    “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food, and oil. But a foolish man devours all he has.” Prov 21:20.

    On a final note, I think the venue “The Generous Husband” is specifically one of those forums for which these topics should be addressed. Let’s allow men who have spent much more time in happy and devoted marriages with their spouses to council and encourage those who are distressed, or simply young/naïve, and in need of solid God-devoted mentors.

    @The Generous Husband, I just within the last few weeks found your website TMB, and TGH, and have become very passionate about reading it. The information feels very valuable, and I can already tell it is having an impact in the way I view my role as the Husband in my relationship.

    Thanks.

    • @JeffH.

      With whom are these men having affairs, other men? Of course not. It’s with women.

      Even if these women do not know he is married, they certainly know he’s not their husband, right? Therefore, since she’s choosing to participate in the relationship with full knowledge she’s not his wife, then isn’t she cheating God’s plan, she cheating her partner, and unknowingly cheating his wife and any children.

      The marital status of the affair partner doesn’t mean they are not cheating. They are.

      If they know he’s married, and sleep with him anyway, then certainly she has to know she’s cheating him and his family.

      So I really don’t buy the whole men cheat more than women since both are represented in equal numbers in affairs.

    • Jeff H: “Let’s allow men who have spent much more time in happy and devoted marriages with their spouses to council and encourage.”
      It was just this sort of thinking that allowed what happened to me to happen at all. I understand your meaning but it is misdirected conflict avoidance. The newly married couples need to see this for what it is or what it can become rather than someday having their rose colored glasses knocked off with a baseball bat.

  5. One more question Jeff H, what does the man put in his disaster preparedness kit for the unfaithful wife? What can he do to prepare for the day when his wife cheats or just walks and files for divorce? What does he put in his kit for the day his pastor asks him what did he do to force his wife to choose an affair.

    Because my kit certainly didn’t contain the supplies or tools to effectively deal with that scenario.

    So what should my kit have contained to effectively deal with that scenario so that it didn’t result in a broken family?

    You say I should have had a kit, so here is your chance to tell me what I should have had to ensure success when faced with that circumstance.

  6. @Tony

    I am sorry that you have been hurt so badly, and can only imagine the pain and suffering you are dealing with. I think it is important for you to know that no one is trying to invalidate your feelings, as it is absolutely ok to feel hurt and pain.

    I know for me personally after having been divorced four years ago that I still harbor a substantial amount of anger towards my ex. I have no intention of ever speaking to her again and feel like I was cheated on, both physically and (more painfully so) emotionally.

    But there comes a point, a crossroads in your life where you will have to stop asking yourself how could she have done this to me, and instead ask this:

    What lessons will I learn from this truly horrendous event that has left such a scar on my heart?
    To what purpose is God working in my life that I have endured these trials?
    In what ways can I grow and become a better person from this challenging event?

    I am guessing that this was your pastor’s intentions. Not to isolate you, or make you feel like you alone shared the blame, but instead to challenge you to see your role in the battle.

    Again, speaking to my personal experiences as a human being, I had only to learn that I very disrespectfully treated marriage as the “next step” in a relationship, and not as the God-intended spiritual gift and blessing that he intended it to be. It became very clear to me upon meeting my wife shortly after my divorce that God had placed her in my life. This was very challenging for me to accept such an amazing and wonderful gift from a God I was so angry at, having previously proclaimed myself to be a Christian-raised kid turned atheist.

    I can tell you sincerely, that my failures in that marriage were plentiful. I hardly have anything figured out as far as it is currently concerned, but I am in the fortunate place of recognizing the blessing I have in front of me. I have decided that I will live every day to serve my wife with love and respect, to help her become the woman of God that He intended her to be. Knowing full well that the journey itself will challenge me to be the man of God He intends me to be.

    I think too, that this is the call that The Generous Husband is attempting to make. A call that says: while she may have her faults, you CANNOT and SHOULD NOT force change in another person, but through the power of love (like Christ has loved His church) encourage, promote, and allow God to make those changes through your generosity.

    So, what goes in a disaster preparedness kit? I dunno, but I would guess that it starts with patience, prayer, and genuine self-reflection.

    I will say my prayers for you Tony, and I know that God will walk with you in this time of pain in your life.

    • Jeff,

      I guess I have to wonder why you are so willing to give others the benefit of the doubt, such as my pastor, and yet you suggest I need to grow, to learn a lesson, etc.

      My pastor was trying to retire is my best guess. Let’s assume you were right and he was trying to make me see my part. Well I was in his office, looking for what needed to be done to rectify this, that if there was anything I was doing wrong, I wanted help. I asked for a mentor, someone to help me grow. I had asked for the church to engage her, also a member, using the process in Matthew 18 to reach out to a member in open sin.

      NONE of that happened, nor was there a counter proposal saying this is what I think you should do, what you need to learn.

      So sorry, since I was there, I can tell you that if his intention was to get me to see my part, then he wasn’t doing a very good job of that.

      But that goes along with this topic nicely. Not only should we not force our spouse to do something, really we cannot. We can make things so that it seems that’s their best option. But they ultimately choose. They choose if they are going to honor their vows or not. They choose if they are going to give you the benefit of the doubt or not.

      So when the betrayed or abandoned husband is faced with his circumstance, he can give his estranged wife the benefit of the doubt, he can pray for her, he can take all the blame, he can look inside himself, he can pray for the hedge of protection that Hosea prayed over Gomer. He can pray for the other man and his family. He can ask God, his wife, and others to show him what he needs to do. He can ask to have it pointed out what he did to be so undesirable to his wife and honestly seek to work on those things.

      But none of it matters if she’s not willing to give him the same benefit of the doubt, if she’s not willing to end the affair, drop the divorce. If she’s not willing to accept the forgiveness offered.

      So I’ve learned that you can seek God and Godly people in such matters and they will not act. God will allow the sinner to keep sinning. He will allow the family to break up, He will allow pastors to focus on their retirements, He will allow Sunday School classes to remain clueless, he will allow parents to have their daughters married other man spend the holidays with them while their daughter seeks the divorce.

      I learned that feelings are largely impervious to facts. If your spouse feels neglected and that you spend more on yourself, then pulling out the records in quicken and showing her that you spend two to three times as much on her as you ever did on yourself really doesn’t matter. Once she’s feeling that way, it doesn’t matter if y0u have records that cover the entire span of the marriage. I’ve learned that if you ask what it’s really about, if you ask a direct question, you will not get a direct answer. I’ve learned that if you ask for an hour or two carved out of each day for time the two of you can spend together, the answer “I’ll get back to you.” means I’m putting you off, I really don’t want to spend time with you, even though I complain we don’t spend time together.

      I’ve learned I”m not very convincing or compelling. That folks, not just my ex-wife, just don’t listen. I see this with customers who ask for a professional recommendation, folks who are paying me for my expertise often already have in mind what they want to do. I’ve learned that if you are ignored long enough, you just stop talking and trying.

      That’s what I did a couple of years before her affair. I was that guy who tried to engage my wife emotionally and physically. I asked for time set aside each day where it was just the two of us. Time before or after our child, probably two or three was in bed. A time to connect, verbally, emotionally, maybe even physically. I asked what works better, early in the day, late in the evening.

      I really got the let me get back to you answer. I followed up a couple of times, but it was easy to see that it wasn’t important to her as she would rather spend all her time being mom and tuned into some reality show such as Survivor or whatever.

      I learned not to sit by her on the couch, because she would just get up and go into the bedroom (and not for that)

      I learned suggesting profession help doesn’t work if the person is unwilling to go.

      So I learned it really doesn’t matter how good or bad you are. In fact, I learned that you might have a better chance if you are the bad boy.

      But if you pay the bills, make what should be enough so she can be the stay at home mom she said she wanted to be, that if you arrange your work schedule so you are home more than you are away at work, that if you stop traveling for your job, that your marriage will not get better, in fact, it may get worse.

      Can you believe it? A marriage that was better when you traveled 50% of the time?

      Oh, I learned a lot.

      I’m not sure what to do with it all. But I’ve learned.

    • Jeff H; “you CANNOT and SHOULD NOT force change in another person”
      Tell me, if I were beating my wife would you try to force change in my behavior? Probably so and rightly so but don’t you dare tell me for one second that what my wife did was any less damaging. At least a physical beating would be honest and the people around me could see what she was doing. And bruises heal. What she did will never ever heal although I may someday learn to tolerate the pain.

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