Course: My Spouse
Teacher: Student Led
Time: Anytime, for as long as it takes
Description: In-depth research into your spouse, past/present/future as you seek to understand them as fully as humanly possible. Required reading will be become apparent as the course proceeds. Online, public libraries, friends bookshelves, used and new bookstores will all be sources.
In one of my soul searching times of prayer the thought came to me that I needed to embark on a detailed study of my husband. Our lives had been intricately entwined for most of our lives and now we were inexplicably estranged. What had changed? When did it change? Why us? As I’ve written before, you’re raw and exposed already. Stay in the season, there are no short cuts.
I felt like God was holding my hand as I embarked on learning to renew my mind in ways I had not previously considered. I was out to prove what the will of God was in our marriage, what would be good, acceptable and perfect in God’s eyes. I wanted to make Romans 12:2 personal and applicable to this severe and unexpected crisis. No guarantee of outcome.
So what did I know so far about him, about us? Lots actually and I journaled this and did collage work, both of which helped me immensely. I could and would not share my learnings with my husband. He had already moved on to a place of living his life without me, even while still living with me. Eventually of course . . . he quite literally voted with his feet. He left.
I was piecing together his thinking via things he’d say about what he was reading, listening to, watching, hearing from colleagues . . . . most of it quite alarming. I had to discipline myself to listen calmly, non reactionary. I often wanted to remind him of a phrase he’d long regarded, ‘don’t put your ladder against the wrong wall’.
Could I care about him enough to swim through all this manure and search for the pearls? I didn’t know, but I was willing to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I also knew that presently, I probably knew him better than he knew himself. I also knew that he needed me because I was the very one who knew him the best. I had to consider myself as a journalist on ‘foreign assignment’. This, combined with targeted reading would help me better understand what we were both going through.
I asked myself lots of questions about my own childhood and what I knew about my husbands childhood. What pieces of our backgrounds were most prominently coming to bear in this crisis? Of course my culpability was featuring largely as I took a good hard look at who I really am and what it’s like to live with me.
What is my husbands job really like for him? How does the responsibility, earning power, and sheer scope of his accountabilities affect his capacity (or, as I like to call it, discretionary time commitments), his confidence, possibly his sense of autonomy or independence. Was his work ethic (possibly workaholism) creating a desire to live alone? If he wanted a new spouse for the last half of his life what would she be like?
Why don’t you go find that woman, ‘go ahead and fill your boots’. 🙂 Had I truly respected the amount of work it took to get to the echelon he’d achieved? These were some of my questions, and of course yours may be quite different.
All of this hurts quite a bit as the answers you come up inevitably make you feel worse. Please note: not all your answers call for changes in you! It’s good to study him though, and know what makes him tick right now. My conclusions were that he was being quite wrong headed in a number of ways. When I’d hear him say things that confirmed this conclusion it was helpful to have done this background thinking because I could let it go. Let him hear himself talk. I didn’t have to grab the bait or react in any way.
In the worst of this I learned, there is a period of time where they seem to want you to be the one to call it quits, be the fall guy, the one who can’t ‘hack it’. Please see this for what it is, and do your best to ignore it. They are moving fast in the wrong direction with their sack of pain, looking to get rid of it, but you are not in that sack! They have to open the sack and look at the contents for themselves. You carry on!
There were definitely things though that I had been insensitive about, and had not adjusted to as his career and life interests had grown.
I was being a student of him like never before at a time when it all felt like ‘too little too late’.
I’m pretty sure that he was noticing some subtle changes in me as I secretly studied him, but I don’t think he trusted them to be lasting. He carried on with his ‘she makes me unhappy’ thought processes. It made me absolutely livid when I thought of changing for someone who could think like that. I would not! What I did do was ask God to show me how to love him.
A good portion of what I was learning was simply to know and ponder, but some identified need for change. Some of that change was on my side of the equation. That’s all I could put under the microscope and consider.
Running parallel to these months of distance education I was in a study group with other women. First was the book of James and second was Psalms 120-135 alongside Eugene Peterson’s book, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction”. These studies helped to shape my questions and clarify my answers. I can’t recommend them enough!
Now I find myself working with Scriptures using the Lectio Divina method – slowing it down so I can listen to God ever so carefully. I don’t want to lose my footing as I heal and seek to enter fully into the joy of a renewed and renewing marriage.
As I end this post I want to reiterate again that I am so sorry you are here reading this. I trust that in some way my experience will give you hope and guidance.
An important quote said by my spouse this past weekend. A difficult memory had been triggered just by a simple drive by . . . . he said,
“I just want to forget that time”. I concurred with him, reached for his hand and reassured us both that forgetting takes time.
I don’t think I’ll post for awhile now, except for a quote or something that would encourage you along, and I’ll occasionally update you on how we’re doing. I’ve passed along some good resources which was/is my goal. If you read or listen to nothing else, I beg you to do these ones: Boundaries in Marriage and videos from the Gottman Institute.
I know it’s difficult to find a way to contact me. I like being mysterious. 🙂 Seriously though, if you need to contact me please find me over at Facebook as Recovering a Marriage. I can be messaged from there.