Wedding bells rang, were you listening?
In our lane, strain is gloomin’
A turbulent sight
I’m lonely tonight
Wandering in a winter wonderland
Gone away is the bluebird
Here to stay, is this new bird
Who sings a sad song
As we trudge along
Wandering in a winter wonderland
Part 1: E-mail from a Client
“I do not recognize this man that I married. He walks around with a broken spirit and a strong dash of anger. Before I married my husband, we spent a good amount of time getting to know one another. In this, I was always prepared to marry a man that grew up in a tough upbringing; a man that found it difficult to get close to people. I love him. Let me say that again, I LOVE HIM. But sometimes love just ain’t enough, right?
When he gets frustrated, and I attempt to understand where he is coming from, he becomes verbally abusive.
When we talk about the source of the strain in our marriage, he blames me. As does his family. From their lens, I am the cause for the bitter cold that coats our marriage for I have not been understanding, forgiving, and supportive enough. Said more succinctly, I am not being a good Christian wife.
I no longer know what man is going to greet me on the other side of the door. Will he be a subdued, pained version of himself? That would be nice. Or will it be the angry man that cannot bite his tongue or hold down a job?
I cannot stay in a marriage that is this consistently strenuous and tumultuous. This is such a torturous decision, especially since we have not been married long, and he has been diagnosed as bi-polar.
Today, I have a life coach and a personal psychologist. Together, we have a couples counselor. As well, my husband has his own psychologist. I am now looking for a relationship coach. It never hurts to ask for a little help right?”
Part 2: My initial reply to the Client
“Right you are, Talia. In a lot of ways, actually. Sometimes love just ain’t enough, and it never hurts to ask for a little help. We all need outside perspectives to help us understand and get through the situations that are right in front of us. That said, let’s talk over the phone first before just deciding to take each other on. I’m not sure another set of ears is what you really need. More on that later.
Let me start by noting that you did not mention an option of seeing a happy man on “the other side of the door,” only an angry or subdued one. You deserve to be happy and if you feel any connection to your husband, his happiness will (at least partially) affect yours. The reverse should also be true. He should be able to see, sense, and feel your pain and, more importantly, want to do something about it. If he blames you, however, instead of supporting you, I worry for you.
Let me also add that when his family blames you for not being a “good Christian wife,” they are really doing two things. First and foremost, they are avoiding any accountability for their son. In this, they see him as a pawn to your all-powerful queen. Except, you didn’t even know you were playing chess, and he will never learn the real game of life if they continue to play chess master. Second, they are living by virtues that favor one person while hindering another. And while you are wounded looking for answers, they will give them to you free of charge and full of false pretenses. You are a human first, a woman second, and a wife third. No one deserves to be in a verbally abusive relationship. No one deserves to give so much of themselves in search for a cure while others sit back and throw stones disguised as words of wisdom.
Talia, Let’s have that phone call for sure. Perhaps I can be your relationship coach. But first, I would ask you to ask yourself why you are seeing a couples counselor when there seems to be a strong need for individual healing. Your husband has bipolar disorder, a fact that is not lost on you. As well, he is blaming you for the woes of your marriage while he (and his family) simultaneously pressure you to become a more understanding wife. This is not a situation that requires a couples counselor. This is a situation that requires a man that is dedicated to finding and healing himself so that he may find his way back to your head and your heart.
You said that you love him, and I have no shred of doubt that this is true. But, as you also said, sometimes love just ain’t enough. This is your head talking, and I could not be happier that you recognize this truth. Your husband needs to get his head right before you will feel like the love you have is enough. If he does not, and you stay, you are teaching him (and his family) that his habits are okay. My friend, you teach people how to treat you.
Lastly, words cannot express the sorrow I feel for your husband or anyone that suffers from bi-polar. But, you deserve to be happy. If you cannot be fully happy until he is healed, you should at least be happy whilst you both go on this journey of healing together. Right now, the togetherness is absent as is real accountability on the part of him or his family.
It is December, and you are in a winter wonderland, wondering what is going to come of your marriage. Let me know if you would like to talk. Free of charge.”
I really hope she finds her way. This is not the time to be the only strong person in the marriage. I’ve been through this.
Author (Chris Armstrong) says
Agree! Great insight.
She needs help and she’s reaching out. Don’t ignore her need. I hope you take her on. This girl needs a sanity check.