Beware generic marital advice. No matter how well-meaning a writer is, not all advice fits one size!
Quite frankly I am so passionate about writing this article, I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts in order. My brain feels like those Lucite containers that hold the bouncing lottery balls and I’m not quite sure about the sequence in which my thoughts are going to pop out.
I read an article this morning that has been circulating on social media with quite a fervor. It's titled, The One Thing Guaranteed to End All Marriages, written by Meg Marie Wallace.
Now, Meg appears to be a beautiful, intelligent, God-fearing, young woman. She and her pastor husband run a ministry in Southern Cali. and her article is beautifully written. In fact, it has gotten so much traffic, it actually broke the poor girl's website.
I am not here to criticize her article, on the contrary, I actually believe her article is far more fascinating than she ever intended it to be.
My purpose is to share with you all, a hidden Gem I discovered written deep beneath her words. A Gem, Meg herself isn’t even aware exists. How do I know the author isn’t aware of the true benefit buried deep beneath her own words? Because she lives in a marriage where the surface meaning of her article makes perfect sense.
Let me explain.
Meg’s article identifies symptoms of a deeper problem and then offers a clearly defined solution.
She wrote, it is not the traditional factors we believe end a marriage: "Adultery, lies, deceit, substance abuse, hiding, blame shifting, anger, fighting. But these factors are merely symptoms that point to the root problem underneath it all.”
Meg labels the Root Problem; “Hardness of Heart”. And then she goes on to list 24 bullet points to describe “Hardness of Heart." But, HOT DAMN, her bullet points literally describe the characteristics of a Narcissist, word-for-word! (* First glimmer of the Gem!!)
She then offers this Solution, “In order for marriages to thrive BOTH people need to guard with all diligence against hardness of heart. It has no place in marriage, yet in big ways and in small ways we let it creep in. This hardness often begins so subtly, with the smallest acts of selfishness.
She goes on to explain how maintaining a healthy marriage takes, “Hard Work," and how she and her own husband "have had to put in the real Hard Work” to keep Hardness of Heart out of their marriage.
Meg offers the example of two marriages facing the same problems and both headed for divorce.
She writes how one marriage appears to follow her clearly defined solution, and the other one did not.
Throughout the past year-and-a-half, the two stories have played out side by side as both couples have had to choose how to respond to one another. One couple's marriage is ending today. The other couples marriage is thriving today. How can that be? What makes the difference? Both dealt with the same circumstances the same problem yet the polar opposite outcomes? It is not adultery that tears marriages apart it’s Hardness of Heart.”
*B. I. N. G. O….. The Gem is fully revealed!!!
She was right about there being a Root Problem at the core of every doomed marriage.
However, for some marriages, the root problem isn’t called “Hardness of Heart” it's called “Narcissism”.
It is a Narcissist. Who. Has. No. Place. In. Marriage.
And no level of hard, grueling, gut wrenching work is going to change that.
While I was reading the article, it was at this point, where there was an undeniable fork in the road. And it all boiled down to the one question that Meg asked:
“What makes the difference? Both dealt with the same circumstances, the same problem, yet the polar opposite outcomes?
Let me try to explain the difference.
If you have a marriage similar to Meg’s... where you and your spouse may exhibit selfish behaviors or make bad choices, BUT you are BOTH willing to work hard at saving your marriage then you would continue to read the article and if you follow her clearly defined solution, there is a very good chance you will reap the benefits of healing and saving your marriage.
However! If you are married to a narcissist. The solution clearly defined in this article will be of no help to you. I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but I’m sorry to say, you belong to a category of individuals who will unfortunately not find any benefit in reading generic self-help articles or blogs on repairing your marriage or surviving your divorce.
Now, this is where it gets really confusing for everyone because there is an undeniable difference between being married to an individual who exhibits selfish behaviors or choices AND being married to an individual who has a personality disorder (aka Narcissism).
It’s like comparing a mosquito bite caused by a typical mosquito to a mosquito bite caused by a Malaria carrying mosquito.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this difference makes the pain and suffering in one type of marriage greater than the other.
Basic mosquito bites can be painful and cause tremendous discomfort and suffering.
I am saying the difference lies when you try to treat, repair or save the marriage.
Most of us are flawed human beings who sometimes choose selfish behaviors. And these big and small acts of selfishness can definitely deteriorate a marriage. AND, if both people in the marriage are willing to, as Meg says, put in the real “Hard Work” to change their behaviors then there’s a good chance they can save their marriage.
BUT, if one of those two people is a Narcissist, then there is just about a zero chance of saving the marriage.
Because the problem isn’t with his/her behaviors or choices. The problem is him/her.
A narcissist doesn't want to change, they don’t believe they should change and the bottom line is they’re actually incapable of change.
You can’t clump both types of marriages together like you can’t clump all mosquito bites together.
The One Thing Guaranteed to End All Marriages, is an excellent article to read if you want to keep Hardness of Heart out of your marriage.
But, if Narcissism (sometimes misdiagnosed as “Hardness of Heart” is at the center of your marriage, the article won’t help you. If your spouse is a Narcissist… then you better start Googling some different keywords in your search for help.
Like possibly: The One Thing No Marriage Can Survive