4 Ways to Escape the Trap of Emotional Divorce

4 Ways to Escape the Trap of Emotional Divorce

Have you ever found yourself feeling:

“I’m just so mad, so hurt—again. I’m not going to share my heart with him anymore. He doesn’t understand. It is too painful. We’ll live in the same house but he can do his thing and I’ll do mine.” 

Most of us, if we are really honest, have felt this way about our husband from time to time.

I call it falling into the trap of emotional divorce.

Imagine a solid glass patio door.

Emotional divorce is a bit like slamming that patio door shut on our hearts.

We still see the person on the other side, but there’s a strong, sealed panel between us.

We begin to close up our heart to him.

This trap can occur during stressful transitions in our lives-a move, a job loss, financial pressures, a new baby, caring for elderly parents, a child in crisis, etc. We are stressed and if each of us responds differently to the issue, we get irritated.

We are too exhausted to communicate.

We are afraid, and we unintentionally take it out on one another.

What do we do when we find ourselves fall into this trap?

1. Recognize what is happening and refuse to let that “patio door” separate you.

2. Make the decision to take a sledgehammer and begin to chip away at that glass wall. Thick patio doors don’t usually splinter into pieces all at once. It takes a steady chipping away at a tiny crack until the door dissolves.

3. Talk to a godly older couple and ask for their help. Most churches have older couples who would be happy to mentor you, pray for you, and encourage you. Get counseling as needed.

4. Remember God is for your marriage. He is the strong “super glue” holding you together. You can rely on Him. He will bring you through this time and your marriage will be deeper and stronger as a result.

“For nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)

Blessings,

Susan

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Sometimes Love in Marriage Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

How can one jar of peanut-butter cause so much trouble?

No kidding, that’s what I wanted to know too.

Because apparently it was A Big Problem and he made that quite clear.

My husband was fed up with the sticky, slimy mess dripping down the sides of the peanut-butter jar and insisted we put a stop to the madness.

“Why can’t we keep this jar clean?! There’s no reason we should live like this and it’s driving me nuts!” He didn’t yell, but I could tell by his tone that he really meant it.

Oh, but there was a very good reason as far as I was concerned and protested against his somewhat ridiculous request.

Actually, there were eight good reasons. You see we have these things called children and one mother can’t be on top of everything!

Why so unreasonable? So demanding?

Now on his behalf, I have to tell you that my husband is not a complainer.

He doesn’t make negative remarks about my cooking. He doesn’t complain about having to throw on his robe in the morning and search for the essential items in the laundry room (oops! meant to fold and put those away…). He’s even good about patiently sitting in the car and waiting for me to get out the door. And that can be a pretty long wait sometimes.

But the goopy peanut-butter container? That just about does him in.

So how many of you moms can I count on to side with me on this one?

I mean, we have a bunch of kids and they all make their own peanut-butter sandwiches. Even the three young boys. Let’s face it – it’s a sticky, slimy world we live in.

And I basically communicated to him . . . .

Sorry. But that’s just the way it has to be. 

That we were going to have to learn to live with it. That he was asking the impossible. And I left him in the kitchen feeling quite justified in my defensive and huffy response.

Except for one thing . . . . 

Sometimes Love Comes Down to the Smallest of Things

Epiphany in the Parlor

I left the kitchen to recover and regroup in our front sitting room – our “parlor” as we call it and my very favorite room in the house.

It’s a special place.

The Parlor has pretty pillows, a tea tray, and a clear glass (yes, that would be GLASS) coffee table.

The kids are not allowed to eat in this room.

Or have their electronic gadgets.

No Legos, dirty socks, or rollerblades are permitted in the Parlor. Happy sigh.

I love this room.

Now wait! Are you beginning to wonder how it is that I can keep an entire room looking pristine even though we have all these children? With a glass coffee table, no less??

Well. It’s because it’s important to me, of course. Really important.

But I can’t keep the peanut-butter jar wiped down?

Right.

Yeah, that’s the question that got to me too.

You see, I have this tendency to take my priorities very seriously. And this room is one of those.

Not only that, but when the rest of my family do their best to keep it the way I like it?

It makes me happy.

I feel respected.

Maybe even loved.

I know. It’s a small thing. So maybe you don’t see why it’s a big deal to me.

But it kinda is.

If at all possible.

So maybe I don’t understand why all the fuss over the sloppy peanut-butter jar.

But if it’s important to him?

Makes him happy?

Feel respected?

Maybe even loved…?

Then I can do this small thing.

In fact, I’m determined to have the cleanest peanut-butter jar in town.

And if you ever find yourself anywhere near our area, I hope you’ll stop by ’cause I’d love to make you a peanut-butter sandwich. Or have that youngest son of ours make you one. He makes the best.

It’s true that you might have to step over a heaping pile of rollerblades on the front porch and overlook the baskets of clean laundry waiting to be folded in the living room.

But there should be a nice place for you to sit in the parlor.

And you’ll be sure to admire the amazingly spotless peanut-butter container, won’t you?

Because he sure does.

He likes it that way.

But better than that?

He loves me.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~ Philippians 2:4

In His grace,

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*Parlor photo is with thanks to Allison Harp
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For the Wife Who Feels Unloved: 3 Loving Steps to Take

For the Wife Who Feels Unloved:3 Loving Steps to Take

For 24 years, I have been happily married to a man who cherishes me. So when I write for Club31Women, I have the perspective of a healthy, fulfilling marriage.

Often I hear from readers, though, who say, “What about me?” There are many women who are struggling in marriage and who feel unloved and not cared for.

Let me start by saying I’m sorry, sister. I’m really sorry for your wounded heart and for the struggle you’re having.

Will you let me write to you from my experience as a pastor’s wife and also as the wife of a licensed professional counselor? My husband and I have known a long line of unhappy wives.

One thing I know is that you cannot change anything on your husband’s side of the relationship.

You can only control your side of things and exert influence through your own actions, so let me offer three steps you can take that have the potential to transform your marriage.

Three Loving Steps for the Wife Who Feels Unloved 

First, you must believe the gospel of Christ.

Paul says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

Christ can make people new, so pray that Christ will step into your husband’s life and make him a new person with a new heart that can love you. We cannot go inside our husband’s hearts and make him into a new person. Any wife who has tried to change her husband knows this is futile. Only Christ can change the heart of a man.

If you stop believing that your husband can change, that means you’ve stopped believing Christ has power to change people.

So wives must remain hopeful in Christ.

Second, settle in for the long haul and be willing to wait on the Lord.

Wait for the Lordbe strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)

How long will you have to wait before God works in your husband’s life? I have no idea. I know a friend who waited decades before her husband chose to follow Christ and their marriage started to improve.

Waiting requires a backbone of faith. You’ll have to be strong and take heart.

Imagine the silent message you are sending to your husband as you wait, though. You are quietly saying to him, “I will wait for good to happen in your life. I will wait for you to know the love of God. I will have patience while Christ works in your life.”

Third, you need to show respect for the man.

In Ephesians 5:33, Paul says, “The wife must respect her husband.”

Must.

This command is wonderfully separate from a woman’s emotions and also separate from a man’s actions. No matter how you feel and no matter how he acts, you are to show him respect. Have you been obedient to this command from Scripture?

Do you speak to him with respect? Do you talk about him to your friends with respect? Does your body language convey respect? Do you serve him with an attitude of respect?

It is possible that your purposeful actions of respect may well be the first step in his heart warming toward you.

So, if you’ve been unloved by your husband, turn to Christ and have hope. Take actions over which you have power, and live in faith that God will honor your efforts and take care of you in every way.

Blessings,
Christy Fitzwater

*Is there anything we can we pray for you, or encourage you? 

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Marriage 101: What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

Marriage 101: What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

My husband is a licensed professional counselor and a pastor, so he performs a lot of premarital counseling for couples. I’m always giving him helpful advice about things he should discuss with engaged couples.

My newest idea is that he should add one hour of counseling just to talk about dirty socks.

First, he should look at the guy and say, “Do you intend to take your socks off and leave them in whatever place they drop?”

Then he should look at the girl and say, “When your guy leaves his dirty socks in whatever place he takes them off, perhaps even very close to but not actually in the laundry hamper, are you going to immediately assume he doesn’t love you?”

Because this is marriage 101.

I asked my husband, a professional counselor but also a sock-leaver-arounder, to tell us what guys are thinking about their socks when they take them off.

“I gotta get these off my feet,” he said. “Aaaaah, that feels better.”

“When you walk away from your socks,” I asked, “are you in any way making a statement about your wife’s value?”

“No,” he said.

Okay, so I’m a professional wife and also a sock-picker-upper, and I used to get my feelings hurt over those dirty socks. I would see them lying there and immediately think Matt didn’t care about me or surely he wouldn’t have left those for me to take care of.

But this is the man who once jumped between me and a Rottweiler that ran at me on a dark street one night.

This is the man who held me close, night after night, while I grieved my father’s death.

This is the man who looked at me in McDonald’s a few weeks ago and said, “You and me, babe. We’re the only ones in the world right now.” And I swooned like a middle school girl.

This man loves me. Ain’t no lie.

So here’s a truth from Scripture that young women need to hear, as part of their premarital counseling:

“…the devil…is a liar and the father of lies.”  (John 8:44 ESV)

The devil wants to destroy our marriages, and it works pretty well to whisper into a woman’s ear, “See those socks? He must not care about you.” And the woman who feels not cared for becomes resentful, and resentment can turn into deep-seated bitterness that will undermine the relationship.

We need to be prepared for the lies.

Marriage 101 - What Every Married Couple Needs to Know

He Loves Me

You know that game we played as young girls? We held the flower in our hands and plucked one petal at a time. He loves me. He loves me not. He loves me. He loves me not.

Well, the devil is going to try to get you to think, He loves me not. He loves me not. He loves me not.

So the next time you see those dirty socks on the floor, pretend you’re plucking one of those “fragrant” flower petals and choose to say, He loves me.

Take time to think of all the ways your guy shows that he cares about you. Remember how he brings in a paycheck so you have a roof over your head. Remember what he’s really good at doing for you.

Be thankful.

Lean into the truth.

Pray for him while you humbly and lovingly put his socks in the hamper.

Let’s give our guys some room to have imperfections, as well as some credit for their good intentions toward us.

~ Christy Fitzwater

*What is one way your man shows his love for you?
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How to Let Your Man Know What You Truly Need from Him

How to Let Your Man Know (1)

You wouldn’t have to know me long.

Before you concluded I could use a break now and then.

You’d soon be saying, I bet that lady needs a tall latte.

Maybe even a dark chocolate truffle.

I wouldn’t need to explain all this.

You would just know.

As a woman, it would be obvious to you.

You’d take one look at my full-to-overflowing days . . . and you’d understand exactly what was needed.

A small retreat.

Away from the noisy house and the busy children.

Yes. I’m thinking a 16-ounce latte and a quiet, uninterrupted conversation with a tall grown-up.

Preferably him – the one who thinks so clearly and has such broad, caring shoulders.

Oh, yeah, definitely him.

Now isn’t that readily apparent to you?

But for some reason it was NOT apparent to my husband and I had a hard time believing he couldn’t see it.

An Eye-Opening Conversation

So one day we had a conversation about this need of mine.

It began by my asking, “Can I tell you a little bit about me?”

Yes…

“Well, I love being your wife.

And I love being a mother.

And I could keep going on like this for the rest of my life.”

Small pause, so he’d see I was sincere.

“But you know something else about me? I do sooo much better when I get to step away from here occasionally.

“Not only get away, but go out and have time together with you. It would do me a world of good.”

I drew breath and then finished with, “So do you think we could pull that off? You know . . . arrange for that on a regular basis?”

He started to laugh (though I didn’t really see the humor).

His response? “Strange. I never looked at it that way.”

My turn. “Ummm….So how do you look at it, Dear?”

“Well, I guess that since I’m away from the house all day, my favorite thing is to come home to my family. I love it when we’re sitting around together and don’t feel a particular need to go back out again. And I thought you felt the same way.

So as it turned out, he really was unaware.

I had to explain what I was hoping for and even what that looked like to me. I wasn’t asking for a Mediterranean Cruise or an expensive dinner out – just a latte, please (though chocolate wouldn’t hurt).

Mostly I wanted time with him.

But in his mind, our evenings together at home counted as “time.”

It didn’t count so much with me.

He didn’t know what I needed. That was something he had to hear from me.

How to Let Your Man Know What You Really Need From Him

How to Let Your Man Know What You Truly Need from Him

Pray.

Bring it before The Lord first. Ask Him to help you say what you want to say in a loving manner. Also, ask Him to prepare your husband’s heart to hear you.

Come clean.

Let go of any bitterness or resentment that might have built up before this. Come with a fresh spirit.

Prepare him.

Let him know you’ve got something on your mind and you’re looking forward to sharing it with him.

Approach him.

Gently. With words seasoned with grace. Not accusing or demanding, simply laying down your needs before him.

Be patient.

Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to sink in. Or if you have to repeat your request periodically and in different ways. Patiently and lovingly remind him of your needs.

Show appreciation.

If he tries at all, then express gratitude for his efforts. Don’t only say it in words, but also in your attitude. Make sure he sees what a difference it makes in your life.

Be willing to leave it there.

This might be the hardest one. Some needs can go for a long time before they’re met. Others never will be met. At least by him. Because God is the only One who promises to supply all you need (Phil. 4:19).

So go ahead and let him know what you need. Whatever it might be.

And, of course, what I need these days is a tall latte.

Chocolate.

Above all, some time away with my Man.

But you already knew that…. 😉

In His grace,

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Why We Need to Stop Journaling All His Faults

Why We Need to Stop Journaling All His Faults

Think back with me, for a moment, to when you first met your spouse.

Do you remember those looks you exchanged from across a room? That smile that made the rest of your day awesome? How simply standing near them that made your heart beat a bit faster?

It seems that while we were dating we were on our best behavior. We used our manners, we were patient and understanding, we overlooked the other’s little quirks, and laughed at each others jokes.

The day of the wedding comes and we think this is as close to heaven as we can get.

We are excited to set up a home together and we walk around with hearts in our eyes.

As the honeymoon phase disappears so do the hearts in our eyes as we begin to see the reality of our lives; namely that we are married to a sinner. We can’t be on our best behavior all of the time and soon little quirks become annoying and faux pas turn into big deals.

This is when some whip out their notebooks or diaries and begin to keep a list of their spouse’s sins and shortcomings.

Shameful, right? But we all do it. We may not put pen to paper and physically write them down.

But we journal our husbands’ faults onto the pages of our hearts so we never forget.

Man does more harm to man than animals do to man. – Ralph Venning

Why We Need to Stop Journaling All His Faults

Throw Away the Journal

It is usually the people closest to us that hurt us the most and in ways that we would never imagine.

And this goes both ways. We hurt those closest to us more than any other.

Living as husband and wife brings with it lots of blessings, laughter, joys, and fun, but it also harbors a darker side. The side where we say and do things that wound and tear down.

For some, keeping track of those hurts is a way to protect themselves while others use those remembered wounds as way to hurt back. It is a way to build up their debt against us and to make sure they somehow pay.

But this is not God’s way.

He does not keep an account of our wrong. He does not wait for a day where he can stick it to us. He does not throw our transgressions at us in a fit of anger.

God gives us mercy and grace. He forgives and then puts our sins from us. He helps us in our weakness and loves us dearly when we fail. He always wants our best and this should be our attitude towards our husbands.

We have to stop recording all the wrongs.

We must stop revisiting the sins of our husbands.

Our forgiveness must be total.

It is not enough to say that we forgive with our lips, but we must forgive in our hearts (Col 3:13). This means not bringing the offense up again, not holding it over the other’s head. This is one of the first steps in receiving freedom from the pain that was caused.

Forgiveness is hard and showing grace is impossible if we have not experienced the grace of God in our own lives first. The forgiveness and complete love God has for us becomes overwhelming when we understand the messiness of our hearts, the dishonor we show God, and the ungratefulness we exhibit towards Christ and his work.

This understanding is what allows us to throw away our journals and show grace and forgiveness to others, especially our spouses.

 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. ~ Colossians 3:13

Blessings,
Jen

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