A friend had his ex-wife call me the other day so that she and I could talk. My task was to help her better see his perspective of an issue they were discussing. During the conversation she started to get emotional and I asked her what was wrong. She started to choke up and told me that she felt that every time that she and my friend had a discussion and she was “winning” that he would verbally lash out at her. Through the ensuing sobbing I heard her say; when you get told that you are a “stupid whore” enough times for long enough, I guess you just start to believe it. I guess I am just a “stupid whore.” Really I asked her; he calls you that? All of the time she responded; he tells me it’s my fault.
I was appalled. How could any respectable man speak to a woman that way? She is feisty, independent and stands her own ground but really; a stupid whore? She is far from either. She’s a business owner and a great mom. She works fifty hours a week and spends the remainder of the time as a single mom – hardly a “clubber”.After she hung up it got me to thinking; at first I was mad and I wanted to call him back, remind him that she too was uniquely created in our Heavenly Father’s image and an equal heir to the kingdom of heaven. That it was uncalled for him to talk to anyone like that, but I decided I would cool down some and find a more tactful time and way to address it. He and I had talked before and I knew what he would say. “It’s never good enough for her; it’s never enough, it is push, push, and push.” He would claim he snapped under the pressure – that I understood but the juvenile lashing out; that needed to end immediately.
In the meantime I started thinking about all the time I felt inadequate in my own marriage. I have and it sucks. I started questioning if those feelings of inadequacy are self induced, intentional by our partner or just a reality. First the reality; none of us is inadequate. All of us are not gifted the same and if you think that comparing you, your spouse or your circumstances to anyone or anything else is ever healthy – get some professional counseling.
“Comparison is the Thief of Joy”
There will always be someone wealthier, more fit, more fun, happier, better off…… the list goes on and on. You have to be confident in your own circumstances. If you are not, then it is most likely self induced and again – if you aren’t so hardheaded that you keep denying it – be humble, be vulnerable and get some professional counseling. I’ll tell you from personal experience it will do you a world of good. So what about blaming it on your spouse? That’s probably the most likely justification and that was my excuse.
But instead of digging into how I felt I started to drill down hard into my own behavior to see what pride, arrogance, self-righteousness, and immaturity had masked in my own behavior towards my wife. What had I reinforced in her life? Had I exalted her as the princess that she is in my heart or had I unknowingly kept her oppressed emotionally. How had I possibly made her feel? What had I reinforced over and over that made her feel like she was ever less than what she is – amazing? I was about to remove the plank out of my own eye before pointing out the speck in hers. Wow, what a plank! The more I thought about it the bigger it got. It not only got bigger it got more painful and literally brought me to tears. Every time that I have gone to my knees and asked for forgiveness of my sins in prayer and I foolishly thought I had them all covered; well I just came up with a whole new list. I was brought to my knees; again.
THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO TELL MY WIFE
(IF ONLY I HADN’T HURT HER SO BAD THAT SHE CAN’T HEAR ME ANYMORE.)
- You are not crazy. All those times I twisted your words, engaged you in arguments that you couldn’t possibly win and turned from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde; I was just a jerk. In a foolish attempt to control the conversation and you I resorted to co-dependant and manipulative behavior. You have a voice and I want to hear it. It even went as far as making you decide between friends and members of your family and me – now I understand why you said you felt like I was isolating you from them. It was a terrible habit and one I have learned to break. No one should ever treat anyone this way. I was wrong.
- It had nothing to do with you. Anytime I made you feel like it was your fault or that I flat out blamed you – it wasn’t. Ever. The issues that I need to address within me are mine and not yours. They weren’t created by you and they aren’t about you. They are mine. We really didn’t have marital problems; you just married a person with his own problems that he drug into the marriage. Sometimes the battles we struggle with inside emerge in our behavior on the outside. I need grace.
- There was nothing you could do to fix it. You are trooper, a fighter and compassionate beyond this world. For all the years that you hung in there because you believed in me, even though I failed you, I am eternally grateful. The painful fact that you had to do what you had to do to get me to see it for myself has been not just life changing it has emerged as soul saving to me and the many others that I have reached. Thank you!
- You were all I ever needed and more. I know that my behavior had you feeling like you were never enough but you always were and more. I was not only calloused but foolish to have never expressed that to you whether in my actions or just telling you. Even worse, all of the times that I made comments, jokes, gestures or implications that anything, and I do mean a-n-y–t-h-i-n-g, that you did was inadequate, not good enough or anything else was uncalled for and an immature way to pump up my own feeble ego to feel better. This includes your driving, cleaning, cooking, your memory, mothering, as a wife, sex & more. I regret beyond explanation my stupidity.
- I am in this for the long haul (and that means forever). I know that I have made a lot of mistakes. I am sure at times you had your doubts about my commitment to you. When I was angry or hurt or just being spoiled I would emotionally pull back from you. I was wrong and I apologize. Through the good times and not throwing in the towel but recommitting to be a better husband during the difficult times – I’m in this. The wedding band on my finger will be the only one and will be there until the day I physically leave this world. This has evolved beyond you, or you and me to who I am, and what kind of man I want to become. I lay down my pride and pick up the cross that I am to bear – whatever that may be. No more me.
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Thank you and God bless you on your journey.
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