Wives Giving Up on Hubby

“You’ve given up on dad, haven’t you mum?”

“Try that strawberry slice. You’ll love it.”

“Mum! I’m serious. You’ve given up on dad, haven’t you?”

“Don’t be so silly. You’ll understand relationships better when you’ve been married to Brad as long as dad and I’ve been married.”

“Mum, I don’t want to end up like you and dad. I don’t want to give up on Brad like you’ve given up on dad.”

“This really isn’t a nice way to have a mother – daughter catch up. Can’t we talk about something nicer?”

“It was auntie Barbara that made me see it?”

“What does my silly sister have to say about my marriage? It’s none of her business!”

“No, she hasn’t said anything. But I’ve been watching. When uncle Max was diagnosed last year I saw auntie Barbara change overnight. Suddenly she was caring and kind to him. I’d never seen her like that before.”

“Well, the poor old goat gave us all a scare there for a while.”

“Yes, but it showed me that auntie Barbara had given up on him. She’d kind of cornered him out of her life, until he took sick.”

“Well, your uncle is a difficult man. I tried to warn her, but she thought she knew best. She got what she deserved as far as I’m concerned. She could have had a gentleman, but she fell for Mad Max.”

“Mum. You’ve frozen dad out of your life.”

“That is a terribly impertinent thing to say!”

“Mum, it’s true. You avoid him. You don’t like him. You frown at him, mock him and find any excuse to be away from him. You’ve given up on dad.”

“I haven’t given up on him. I’m still with him, aren’t I? God knows how hard that is at times.”

“I don’t want to give up on Brad.”

“Well, my dear, men aren’t always what they seem. And you put your hopes in them and they let you down. Your fantasies won’t change the realities of life.”

“So, are you angry at dad?”

“No! I’m not angry. I may be disappointed, but I’m not angry. I got over that years ago.”

“But you gave up on him.”

“You keep saying that and it’s not true. I’m still married to him. I still cook his meals, wash his clothes and we still go to bed together.”

“Mum I care about Brad. I want him to be happy. I want him to succeed. I want him to be delighted in me. But you don’t feel that way about dad.”

“It’s called growing up. Or call it ‘reality check’ if you want. Brad is not going to be the man you want him to be.”

“Maybe so, but I still don’t want to give up on him.”

“Well, we’ll see about that.”

“I made a promise to love him for better and for worse. If I start to despise him isn’t that because I’m thinking about myself and not him?”

“Do you know how difficult it is to live with dad? We always talked about moving into a bigger house and now he’s set on staying where we are because he likes it here. And he still sings Sinatra songs in the toilet, at the top of his voice. The neighbours tell me that Frankie was in good voice this morning. I know we can afford to go to Bali, but he just doesn’t want to go. I’ve given up a lot to be married to your father.”

“Mum, you’re talking like dad owes you something. Your talking like it’s all about YOU.”

“Well, I have a right to be happy. ‘The pursuit of happiness’; isn’t that what life is all about?”

“Mum, if you are living for yourself then of course you’ll despise dad. But if you saw yourself as dad’s treasure, you wouldn’t give up on him.”

“Honey, I didn’t plan to give up. But your dad is impossible. Do you know he still puts his elbows on the table, after all these years? I’ve had to give up nagging him, because he just ignores me. And he still wipes his hands on my clean tea-towels and then leaves them bunched on the bench. I think he just does that to infuriate me. If I didn’t ‘give up’ as you put it, I’d have gone crazy by now.”

“Mum, I believe I am God’s gift to Brad. I am his helper. So I have to help HIM, not myself. I want to bless him, for who he is, even though he won’t be all I want him to be.”

“Well you just keep at that as long as you can, honey, because I don’t see you keeping that attitude for very long.”

“Mum, I don’t want to discover that I can love him, and care for him, and put up with his foibles just because they gave him a few months to live. If I can do it because he’s dying then I can do it while he’s strong and healthy too, can’t I?”

“You’re a good girl. You’ve always been idealistic. So what can I say? Yes, you can do it. You go ahead and do it.”

“Mum, would you help me?”

“Your relationship with Brad is your own business. I don’t believe in meddling in my children’s marriages.”

“Mum, would you show me how to not give up? Would you show me that you can still care for dad, even though he annoys you as much as he does?”

“That’s a big ask, my dear. I don’t want to make that kind of promise.”

“Then, would you let us work together? Maybe if we help each other we can both learn how to never give up on our husbands.”

Blaming Others

A problem that emerges in most relationships involves upsets between two or more people.  Having wisdom about those upsets and what is really going on thus becomes very powerful in making those relationships work better.

A tell-tale sign of wrong attitudes in relationships is that process of blaming others.  Accusing and blame shifting are common practices when people are in tension about something.

We are all familiar with the example of a mother calling out in an angry tone, “Who brought this mud into the house?”

And we are all familiar with the chorus of voices saying, “It wasn’t me!”

Getting upset, and doing what we can to avoid trouble are two automatic processes that often get built into our interpersonal communications.

Properly Interpret What is Going On

When we have an idea about something we can be very reluctant to change our mind.  This is especially so if the new perspective suggests we are wrong or have a problem.

The whole “blame shifting” routine kicks in if someone tries to suggest that we are a cause of trouble.  We don’t like to be wrong and we don’t like to be accused, or exposed for our weaknesses.

In highly competitive contexts we may be very strong in asserting our innocence or trying to cover up our failures.

These human tendencies, based on our pride, become deeply ingrained and some people become famous for their readiness to accuse others or to make up excuses.  For example, alcoholics are famously recognised for their ability to cover for their addiction and failures.

It is important for our own health and the health of our relationships that we properly interpret what is going on in our relationships.

Different Perspectives

Consider the difference in perspective that could be applied in the following statements.

“You often upset me and it takes me days to get over it.”

Or alternatively it might be more accurate to say: “I get into moods about things and take days to get over it.”

“You upset me so you must be wrong.”

This might be better stated as: “I get upset by you, so there is something about my reactions that is not right.”

The Real Issues

Since our true “issues” are not what others do or say but how we react, then it is wrong for us to blame others for the mood we are in, or for our responses.  It is what comes out of us that defines the “issues” we have to deal with.

In an earlier article titled Issues of Life, posted on 1/10/11, I discussed a powerful Bible text that exposes what the real issues are in our lives.

“Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23

This verse tells us that the real “issues” of our life are not what people say or do to us, but what comes out of our heart.  Our responses and reactions define the issues, and in fact ARE the true issues.

Natural Impulse

When a parent gets upset with his or her child, when a husband or wife gets upset with their spouse, or a child is upset by their sibling, the automatic assumption is that the other person is wrong because it seems to the one who is upset that the other person caused it.

It is counter-intuitive to think that we are upset because of our own choices and the weaknesses of our own personality.

Yet the Biblical truth is that it is what comes out of us that is the problem, not what was said or done to us.

What happens to us could well be injustice and wrong.  I am not saying that if we are abused it is our fault.  People hurt and offend others and we all suffer at the hands of others in some way.

This discussion is about the tendency we have to get into a mood, or some other form or “reaction” toward another, that is really our own responsibility.

Touchy People

Some people have a “hair-trigger” and readily react toward others. They are so ‘touchy’ that others have to walk on egg-shells in order to avoid being at the receiving end of a tirade from that upset person.

This is the substance of manipulation, oppression, abuse of others, control, emotional abuse, imposing self-will onto others, belittling, etc.

People who indulge in such activity are out of order.  They have “issues” in their own heart and mind.  However they may be able to justify their outbursts, accusations, anger, sharp tongue or other attacks on others without realising they are the oppressor, not the one they are blaming.

Loving Others

This self-delusion, while intuitive, is destructive and a failure to “love others” and to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, which is the Golden Rule given to us by Jesus Christ.

“As you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

In fact, it may be that a central purpose of the two great commandments, to love God with our whole being and to love our neighbour as ourself, is to force us to realisations that we would be blind to if we thought the world revolved around us.

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment.  And the second is like, namely this, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30,31

Maybe God’s intention in giving us His laws is not to enslave us to His will, but to lead us into revelation truth about ourselves that will set us free from folly and shame.

So, next time you hear yourself expressing your exasperation, disapproval, anger, frustration, resentment, jealousy, contempt, prejudice, unforgiveness, intolerance, demands, despisement and similar rubbish toward someone else, even if only in your thoughts, stop and realise that YOU HAVE “ISSUES”.

By reflecting on what you are thinking and why you are doing it you can be led into health and release you don’t presently have.

Example

In my family seminars I share the account of my early married life when I found myself readily annoyed and frustrated with my first-born son, Stephen.  Susan and I were parents shortly before our fist wedding anniversary and had three children born in short order.

One day I realised that I was particularly hard toward my oldest son, and much more lenient toward the two other boys.  It struck me that I was being unfair on him.  For some reason I caught myself out being biased against him when it came to rebuke and discipline.

I could justify my reactions by saying, “He’s the oldest so he should know better”, but I sensed there was a deeper issue at work.

I prayed about the matter, confessing my evident bias and asking God to show me what was wrong and what to do.

As I reflected on the situation it struck me that I resented my son.  He was the first baby and therefore the first child to take my wife away from me.  Susan had to care for the baby, and she had various health challenges along the way.  A baby completely changed our married life and reduced our time together and or intimacy.  Unconsciously I held Stephen responsible for how that impact on me.

Having realised the impact of a baby I was far less reactive to the impact of my next two sons.  So my “issue” was only with Stephen.

Once I realised that situation I was able to pray about it, confessing my selfish responses and attitudes, asking God to forgive me and to heal my heart attitude toward my son.

Some time later I realised to my delight that I had a fresh relationship with my son.  I did not feel any of the hardness of heart that had been there before and I enjoyed him as I had not been able to before.

Set Free by Truth

My experience is a testimony to the veracity of God’s Word, which tells us that when we know truth that truth liberates us.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

So I share these insights with you, in the trust that you will refer back to God’s Word and allow God’s Truth to settle in your heart and set you free.

Your problem, as is common to all humanity, is that we will prefer to believe a lie, if it gives hides our pride, lust, self-will and shame.  You will tend to justify your actions, including your selfish and angry responses to others.  You will like the idea that THEY are to blame, not you.

I can only pray that the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you, to change your heart and cause you to step into the wonderful freedom that is available to you.

Training or Spite

Parents are instructed by God to “train” their children. The whole process of child discipline is the same process as child training. Discipline and training are so intertwined that you cannot have one without the other.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Getting in Your Own Way

Some parental discipline is hardly training, but much more like anger, frustration and even spite toward the child. What is happening is that parents are getting in their own way. Instead of training their child the parent’s feelings and frustrations become more important than the good of the child. That’s when parents move from Training their child to Penalising the child for annoying the parent.

Here are some tell-tale statements from parents that let you know the parent is not thinking about “training” the child, but venting their own frustrations…….

“Get out of here. You make me sick.” “I’m sick of hearing your whining voice.” “I’ve had just about enough of you for one day.” “One more noise out of you and I’ll let you have it.” “Make yourself scarce!” “You just SO annoy me!” “Get to your room. I don’t want to see you.” “Get out of my way.” “I ought to give you a whipping.” “I’m going to feel so much better when I’ve given you a thrashing.” “You’ve pushed me too far this time!”

Train the Child

Godly discipline is for the good of the child. It is not to make the parent feel better. When parents deal with their child based on what will placate the parent’s upset state, those parents are not training their child, but taking out their frustrations on the child.

So let’s remind ourselves that Biblical discipline has the good of the child in mind at all times. The Rod and Reproof give wisdom. The Rod of Correction drives foolishness from the child’s heart. That’s why godly discipline, including smacking a child with a rod, is an expression of love to the child. Those who will not smack their child with a rod are described in the Bible as hating their child.

Godly discipline gives wisdom, removes foolishness and affirms the parent’s love to the child. It is all for the good of the child.

Correction not Anger

The Rod of Correction is not the Rod of Anger. The two are completely opposed. The rod of Correction drives foolishness from the child, but the rod of Anger simply does not work.

“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.” Proverbs 22:15

“He that sows iniquity will reap vanity: and the rod of his anger will fail.” Proverbs 22:8

The Rod of Correction is for the Good of the Child, which trains the child’s heart and directs the child’s life. The Rod of Anger is used by parents for the good of the parent, venting anger, frustration, resentment and spite.

Spite

I have seen parents act in cruel spite toward their children. Such parents usually choose to banish their child, rather than smack the child. They also speak horrible words of rejection and cursing over the child. They make threats, lash out, bring fear into the heart of the child and leave emotional scars.

A planned discipline regime, using the rod of correction, where you smack the child, give explanation and give plenty of affirmation, is much better than the banishment which some parents think is more humane. Children feel secure when they know the parents will not lash out or respond in anger. They also feel loved when they are not rejected and sent away.

I encourage all parents to look to the Biblical pattern of child training and to clear their own hearts of things that lead to anger and spite.