Probably one of the most difficult statements Amy has ever said to me, not too many years ago (pre-2011 fall out), was that I was "borderline verbally abusive." We had been in an argument of some kind, and I was being defensive as usual. I have never hit her or even yelled loudly at her (I hope), but my tone, defensiveness, anger, blame, and unwillingness to take responsibility for my part in the marriage was uncalled for.
It infuriated me to be called "borderline abusive." I don't even remember what I said in response to her. I didn't feel abusive but compared to how our marriage is now, it was definitely a major problem. I failed in so many ways as her husband. I am still amazed that Amy has stuck with me! She is truly amazing. I love her deeply and wish I could undo so many years of betrayal, neglect, defensiveness, and loneliness.
Looking at where Amy and I are today in our marriage, it's a miracle. Period. When we went to Branson, MO to the National Institute of Marriage (2011), they walked us through their marriage material called, "The DNA of Relationships" by Gary Smalley (2004). Our therapist Dr. Robert Paul, aka Bob, wrote a majority of the material. It is excellent material, very effective, encouraging and insightful.
This week I started listening to the audio version of the book. Man, is it good. It is not just for marriage. It is for all relationships you find yourself in. As they say, "It's all about relationships. The rest is just details."
Powerful truths that I need to apply and be reminded of are:
- Miracles can happen and God can save your marriage. This is a powerful truth. Sadly, not all marriages are saved, even those who go to the intensives, but with their 93% success rate, they are making a huge difference in many couples' lives!
- Change starts with me. I can't change or control my spouse. I can influence him/her, but I need to look inward and take ownership of my "stuff." Blame is pointless and destructive.
- The external issues (i.e. money, work, etc) are rarely the problem. They trigger the problem, which is usually something internal, such as core fears of rejection, inadequacy, etc.
- We all have core fears. When these are triggered, i.e. our buttons get pushed, then we go through a cycle called the Fear Dance: We feel hurt. That indicates our Wants. Our fears get triggered. Then, we react. Our reactions often trigger the other persons fears/buttons. Then, we enter the Fear Cycle Dance and round and round we go.
- To be the husband/wife I need to be, I need to take care of myself. They call it "Self-Care." I don't need to put all the pressure onto my spouse to meet my needs. I need to pursue my own walk with Christ, read all I can, study, pray, eat right, exercise, etc. This enables me to be a better dad, husband, etc.
- Change occurs between your ears. Our thoughts control our feelings and reactions. Therefore, change must occur in how we think. If we think negatively, then we will feel and respond negatively. If you want to change how you react, then "take every thought captive unto obedience of Christ" and "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
There is hope, help, and healing available. Pursue it with all your might and pray that God comes through and does "far more than you could ever believe or imagine!"