Peace of My Heart

An encouraging voice to drown out the noise

~Fight or Flight, What He Says~ July 1, 2014

*Guest blogger…my husband! After my post last week ,Fight or Flight, I asked him to share from his side of the struggle. Our transparency with you is for two simple reasons, that those who are struggling right now will see they are not alone & that if there was hope for us, there is certainly hope for you too! Now, meet Jamie.*

Recently, we have had to take a real hard look at our marriage.  For quite some time, we had been teetering on the edge of disaster.  I love my wife and I have since day one.  She is an awesome woman and a wonderful mother. As you all know, she is always putting others before herself.  So what could have possibly been the problem?  I think to put it very simply, we didn’t know how to talk to each other…especially me!  I can’t speak for her but, here is my perspective.

I realized she was an amazing person immediately.  She had some issues but, I had some pretty substantial ones myself.  I was just coming out of a really nasty marriage when I met Valerie.  I was an emotional wreck.  Betrayed, rejected, and alone with two small children….she swooped in and saved me.  Loneliness, heartache, and worthlessness were all washed away when she came into the picture.  She saved us.  She became an important part of our lives immediately, even while we were just dating.  It was like a fairy tale…only the princess saved the prince.

Looking back now, I can see that I thought she was the cure- all for my problems.  She was the answer I needed to fix my life and the lives of my kids.  She didn’t seem to have a problem with that.  She took over. Taking care of the kids, doing everything a good Mom does.  She was amazing and the kids looked to her as Mom almost immediately.  I was just awestruck at how great everything had turned out.  I really felt so blessed to have her in our lives.  I was so awestruck that I looked at her as superhuman.  I put her on a pedestal in my heart…one that she never asked to be on.  It is very good to have a high opinion of your wife but, I went a little too far.  I put way too much stock in how she treated me from one moment to the next.  I did not allow her to have a moment of weakness without somehow thinking I had done something wrong and she was upset with me.

Soon, the family started growing, she became more involved with their school, and my work schedule became ridiculously hectic.  Our time together began to dwindle, and what time we did have was spent with me watching her sleep.  I began to grow bitter.  I refused to see just how busy she was in life and focused only on the fact that she didn’t have time for me.  Caught in my selfishness, I allowed a distance to grow between us.  Eventually this distance made a major impact on our intimacy.  It was at this point that my mind began to play tricks on me…reminding me of how the last relationship went. Recalling that a lack of intimacy is a sure sign that either she is seeing someone else or that she wants to be seeing someone else.  I was still carrying so much baggage from the last go around, that I couldn’t bear the thought of it happening again….especially with this woman.  She was the best…if I couldn’t make it with her, then I was doomed to be forever alone.  I didn’t know what to do so, I did nothing.  I just locked everything up inside and hoped no one would notice.  Instead of this feeling going away, it grew into a hideous beast of anger, distrust, anxiety, and frustration.  I was mad.  I was mad at her for not being able to read my mind and know how to fix this.  I was mad at me for not having the courage to stand up and make a change.  I was just mad at life.

Eventually the anger began to work its way out.  It started small with sarcasm and mumbling under my breath.  Eventually it became worse.  I started watching programs and movies full of violence, language, and yes, even nudity.  Somehow watching this junk allowed a little release of the pressure building inside my broken heart.  I justified my actions by reminding myself that these are just guy movies…as long as there isn’t an “X” in the rating box, it’s not a problem. I was terribly wrong.  Not only was it reeking  havoc in my heart, it made a huge impact on hers.  Let me say this to all the fellas out there.  My wife is gorgeous.  She is one of the most beautiful creations God has made.  What I was watching had nothing to do with her.  I have always, and will always find her extremely attractive but, when your wife sees you looking at another woman inappropriately; it sends the same shock as you telling her she is fat and ugly!!!!   There were other explosions of anger that occurred throughout this time.  Most I was able to let out away from my family but, not all.  I have never put my hands on my wife in anger.  But, in her mind, these eruptions were just as bad.

So we were able to walk through these situations through the grace of God.  But, I wasn’t able to get over any of this.  Not only was I still dealing with the lack of affection and connection…now I’m dealing with the guilt of hurting the person I care the most about.  Once again…I was a wreck.  My self-worth had bottomed out and I began to think that maybe, just maybe she would be better off with someone who didn’t have so many issues.  I didn’t know what else to do.  Because of the mistakes I had made, I felt that I had destroyed any chance of fixing this thing.  I felt she would never forgive me, even though she said she had.  We had moments of fun, moments of joy, moments of tenderness….but, there just was a connection that was missing.

Finally, after 7 years we were able to sit down and open up.  It was a God moment.  She told me what she had struggled with and I opened up about some of my struggles…we began talking again.  For far too long, we did not take the time to share who we were and what we wanted. I just assumed she knew me and knew how to make me happy.  If one of us would have made an attempt at any time, I believe this would be a much different story.  The truth is, neither one of us wanted to be that vulnerable.  As she stated in her last post, we BOTH lived in the state of reaction.

So what does all this mean? Here is my advice to all those reading.  We all want to be loved.  The kicker is that the expression of love takes on different forms for different people.  It is important to learn who your spouse is and express your love to them in ways they can see and understand as being love.  Be understanding of each other.  Even now, looking back at all these situations we have been through, I do not see every one of them in the same light that she does.  So who is right?  If I want to help her heal, then I need to look at it from her eyes.  If she wants to help me heal, she needs to understand my perspective.  Marriage is about loving in spite of and loving through.  We may never see things exactly the same.  “No big deal” to her, may be monumental to me or vice versa.  TALK to each other.  Don’t assume to know what your better half is thinking and, likewise, do not assume that they know what you are thinking. Life is difficult. Marriage is hard. Do not make it harder by walking separately.

My final thought is this.  The entire time that we have been married, we have been surrounded by some amazing and wonderful people who would have been happy to help us at any time.  I was too embarrassed to ask!!!  God has put people in each of our lives for this very reason.  We are supposed to call on our brothers and sisters in our times of need.  And believe me, we were in need.  Your relationship is far more precious than your pride.  This is the type of situation where you have to choose one or the other because you will not be able to keep both your pride and your spouse.

There is so much more to share but, I have given all I can for now.  I am so thankful for my wife.  And the relationship we have struggled to build.  Is it perfect? Nope. Do we have it all figured out? Not hardly.  But, we are here together.  My reason for sharing this story is for this one purpose:  I hope that it will speak to someone who is at their wits end in their marriage, and maybe give a little strength to hold on.  I think that in my marriage, somehow, at some point, a wall had been constructed between us.  I don’t know who built it, when it was built, or why…but, it was there.  My prayer is that if you find yourself sitting beside a pile of bricks with a mortar trowel in your hand, stop! Ask yourself, “ am I really ready to block this path?”  Once that wall is built, it is extremely difficult to tear down.  Not every relationship can be saved ,but, maybe, if you try again, yours can.  Right now, we are tearing down some walls…brick by brick, by brick.Good Marriage

 

~Fight or Flight~ June 26, 2014

This morning I was flipping through my notebook that I use for note taking at church as well as ideas for my writing. I came across 3 bullet points from a recent study on the Songs of Solomon that literally took my breath away.

  • Act, not react
  • Focus on the good, not the bad
  • Talk, not walk

This little tidbit from a sermon on how to handle conflict in marriage rocked my world this morning. Why you ask?

Jamie and I have been married for 7 & a half years. In that seemingly short span of time, I have seriously considered leaving him three times. This may come as a shock to some of you & it may even make you think less of me but I’m okay with that. My realization this morning may help save someone else’s marriage, so share I must.

What rattled me about my simple notes was how our 3 major struggles lined up, in order, with these points. I won’t go into great detail about each circumstance but just enough to show you how wrong I was in how I dealt with them.

Our first real fight happened as a result of an unexpected, scary situation that caused us both to react poorly. Jamie’s response to my anger was what had me eyeballing the door. I was totally focused on what he did and my attitude towards him was a reaction to that. There was no constructive talk to help restore our marriage, only anger for what I considered unforgivable. I didn’t speak to the man for 2 months. Doesn’t that sound fun to live with? We both allowed ourselves to be controlled by our emotions, neither one of us willing to do the work. I didn’t want to “act” but rather live in a perpetual state of reaction as if that validated just how wrong he was. Somehow, in spite of ourselves, God managed to get through to us and eventually the peace talks began.

Round 2 was a bit more explosive. The “why” is not important, just believe me when I say it was an intense moment of fellowship if I’ve ever seen one! When the dust clouds settled, I found it difficult to think about anything other than this one negative. Never mind all the good qualities of our marriage, surely this one was a deal breaker.

This last scenario was far more subtle. Overtime, I had slowly stopped communicating with my man. I had developed the mindset that I was tired of talking. Why bother when the results weren’t what I desired? I had checked out. There was no one issue that could be pinpointed & therefore resolved but more like a decision had been made that I’d married the wrong man. Truth be told, I had one foot out the door.

But God. (2 incredibly powerful words when used together)

God had something different in mind for us. One little phrase snapped me out of it and reminded me of the vows I took.

You don’t have the right to say, “I’m done with this” in marriage. (Our Pastor is one smart cookie.)

I made a commitment, to my husband, our children & most importantly, the Lord, to see this thing through, come hell or high water. And you’d better believe they are both coming at your marriage!

In the midst of our marital struggles, I thought I had earned the right to quit. In retrospect, I realize that while I may have had the right to be upset, I certainly couldn’t justify throwing away the life we had built because of his shortcomings & my self-righteous anger.

Would I have handled our battles differently if I’d had these little nuggets of truth before our first showdown? Probably not. I needed to grow & learn how to be in a committed relationship, a process that is ongoing. In sharing all of this from my own personal struggles, my hope is that this message will reach the one who is where I was…weighing the pros & cons of fight or flight.

A man, (or woman), who makes a vow to the Lord or makes a pledge under oath must never break it. He must do exactly what he said he would do.” Numbers 30:2

To have & to hold, in sickness & in health, for richer or poorer, to love & to cherish til death due us part…remember those words? I’m thinking “come hell & high water” should be added to the list!

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