Can this marriage be saved?

Discussion in 'Marriage and Relationships' started by ssc, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. Can this marriage be saved?

    Sorry- this got pretty long, though I’ve tried to be as brief and concise as I can...

    I don’t expect to ever have a blissful marriage-
    I know I’m paying for the consequences of my own dumb, sinful decisions,
    though my wife is a very kind, unassuming, and mostly selfless woman.

    Through bad judgment and a series of poor decisions, 14 years ago I married a woman who I am sure is not the mate the Lord had in mind for me, and we had little in common. We were both in our late 30’s, and neither of us had been married before. We have a wonderful son in 6th grade. At the time we were married, I was a believer, but definitely not walking with God. My wife was not and (by her own reluctant admission) still isn’t a believer.

    I’m basically a type A who needs to talk openly and freely about feelings- if there’s a problem, concern or disagreement, I need to get it out in the open, talk about it, and try to achieve a fair resolution that works for both sides. My wife however, is very much afraid of her own emotions. She seems to see any subject with potential emotional weight as threatening and ‘runs away’ emotionally. It’s as though she’s afraid she might give something away if she shows (or feels?) disagreement, disappointment or, God forbid, anger. She clams up and refuses to talk about it, and if I try to pursue the subject, no matter how gently or tactfully, she breaks into tears. When this happens, she’s crying and I feel like an ogre. I also feel angry and deeply hurt- like she’s walled off a big part of herself from me.

    As might be expected, this situation puts most serious personal communication off limits for us. I would so like to know exactly what she believes about God, sin, eternity, salvation etc, but this is just one of many places where we just don’t go.

    The bottom line is, I feel extremely frustrated, hurt, and angry most of the time.
    I’m worn out from trying to push these feelings down for our son’s sake and for the sake of a normal home life.

    I do try to be genuinely affirming- she truly has many fine qualities. She however, seems oblivious to any possible need I may have for affirmation or affection. She’s pretty much a day-to-day person who apparently doesn’t seem to think much beyond what to fix for dinner.

    In 18 months of counseling with a Christian psychologist we talked at length about her fear of expressing emotions and my hurt, frustration and need for honest, open communication. From our talks at the time, it seemed like she got it, but nothing really changed. There is no infidelity involved.

    I absolutely hate myself for it, but the truth is, I don’t know if I ever really loved her, and as much as I want to, I don’t know if I ever can- I can’t just generate love, especially with the relationship so corroded by hurt and anger. I feel even worse because at heart she really is a very kind and gentle woman. Even as I type this I feel rotten with guilt like I’m being self centered and judgmental.

    I can’t leave- God hates divorce and He commands us to love our wives. Besides, I promised ‘for better or for worse’. I’m saved solely by Jesus’ shed blood, but still, I know that God expects and commands much, much better from me than this.
    I don’t know what to do, I really don’t know how long I can go on like this.

  2. Hi and welcome to the forum.

    I am sorry that you have had such a difficult time.

    In answer to your question "Can this marriage be saved?" the answer is obviously yes it can be saved. We have a God who can do anything.

    Will it be saved? Now that is a very different question and will depend on many factors that we on this forum do not know.

    If, as you say, you had 18 months of counselling with a Christian Psychologist then ask him / her what you should be doing next. He/she will know far more about you both and the details of the situation.

    All we can offer is prayer support.
  3. I want to begin by affirming what Housesitter said and that is that everything is possible with Jesus, which means your marriage can be saved! However, it always takes 2 to tango and in your situation it doesn't seem like that is the case. Obviously I don't know a lot of details about the situation besides what you have shared and, since you've already been to counseling, I may say something you have already heard, but I'll give it a shot:).

    I can relate to some degree because I am also an extrovert, sanguine personality who likes to talk about things, let feelings and emotions out in the open and not burry anything under the rug! My husbad, however, is an introvert, melancholy personality who does not like to talk much and when things get heated he usually either walks away or becomes extremly hurtful verbally, almost like a "cornered animal". We have been married for 12 years and over time things changed little by little with me becoming less confrutational and with him becomeing more verbal and more willing to talk things out.

    I don't want to sound like a cliche but I am wondering if your wife has experienced some kind of emotional trauma or abuse that may be the cause of her fear of confruntation? The one thing I have learned from being with my husband is that the worst thing I can do when he gets into his quiet mode during a fight is to press the issue. I have to give him time to calm down and be more recptive and then try to discyss the issue again without the heated emotions.

    I don't know your wife but as a woman I amgoing to put myself out there and admit that sometimes we woman folk use tears in a manipulative way. We might do it because we want the fight to end or because we want to distract attention from the real issue and many times it is not a malignant manipulation, just a way of escape. Of course that is not true of every instance in which we cry! Most of the time we do it becuse we are hurt and not as a tactic, but I am wondering if your wife's crying may be because she knows that is what it is going to take to stop you from continuing to drill for an open discussion. If that is the case, it may be because of what I mentioned earlier about her having suffered abuse in the past!

    If that is the case, I really believe that before continuing with marriage counseling, she may need counseling for herself to try and help her get to the bottom of some issues that are causing her to be so closed with her emotions. Obviously this is all speculation, but it may be something to look into. You also may need a little personal counseling yourself because everytime we burry unresolved emotions, which is what you've been doing, resentment creates and the feelings of love for the person towards which you are resentful, dissapear. So, you may need some help healing and starting to foregive so that you learn how to love your wife again.

    Whatever you do one thing is for sure: There is need for this to be resolved because, as I am sure you already know, it is extremly unhealthy for a relationship to have little or no communication. You are right to wonder how long this can last because it can't much longer. So, you guys do need to resolve this issue if you want to save your marriage. Maybe in a quiet, calm moment you can very gently try to explain to your wife why resolving this is so important. make sure though that you put things in a light that shows your love for her and your desire to keep the marriage together rather than a threatening tone because I know from personal experience threatening never works with people with your wife's personality:). I hope this helps.

  4. Welcome to CFS...scc:groupray:
    You sound like my husband did a few years ago; I was a "runner" and withdrew and held things in but the Lord healed me...One thing that helped me during a hard "withdrawal" period was that my hubby and I went to a christian marriage seminar and had a great time. We could relax and enjoy the teaching about real life circumstances and problems that we can run into in marriage; even if we are both christians. We bought books together and found it easier to talk about things that were already spoken of in the seminar. He even admits that it was worthwhile.:D My husband used to be angry with me for being upset; sounds silly now but that helped him to realize that he had "unresolved issues" (past abandonment issues) as well and we have both worked on very much in our lives and yielded it all over to the Lord. We have had some HARD times in the past nearly 10 years and we have a 7 yr old son; his 17 yr old daughter from first marriage with gets better if we give it to the Lord and love them with all the love the Lord gives us.

    I heard the same thing in your post as Laura did; I suspect that your wife has some unspoken trauma in her past; in her life; maybe something that she has not even found the ability to speak with you about. We will be praying for your wife's salvation and ultimately her complete healing and restoration and building up of your marriage communications. I sense a bit of fear in your wife; not necessarily fear of you; but fear of opening up; fear is disabling and will be demolished by FAITH in Christ Jesus...;) try to have enough for the both of you and we will be praying!

  5. marriage is a good thing when people love each don,t get married without love for the other.when you went into the marriage you loved each other,so 1 of you has changed or both of you has save the marriage you get back to that stance.
  6. Laura, Ray and 'Worshipper'...

    Thank you for you encouragement, and your prayers are very much appreciated.

    We live quite close to my Wife's family and see them often. I think they're about the most well-adjusted people I've ever met. My wife and her brothers, sisters and Dad (her mom died 6 years ago) clearly enjoy being together. They laugh and joke and reminisce fondly together. They’ve been completely accepting of me, which was kind of hard to get used to- I came from a small, joyless ‘family’ characterized by petty bickering and resentment.

    I know my wife did have a tough time with acceptance and approval as an adolescent, and certainly bears some emotional scars from those days.

    I’ve tried to tell her how much this thing hurts me, but it just doesn’t seem to register. Also, I don’t think she knows what to say or do- she’s been operating this way for so long I don’t think she fully recognizes that it’s not a normal way to relate to people.

    I’d love to go to a ‘Healthy Marriage’ type seminar together and have mentioned it to her a few times. She won’t say yes or no, she just kind of brushes it off as something we might do someday but isn’t really important, as though I’d suggested we should clean out the garage or something.

    The counseling ended when the person we’d been seeing for 18 months left the area. I think she only agreed to counseling because I more or less insisted on it. My impression is that she saw it as something we do to ‘fix his (my) problem’, despite the direct talk in some of the latter sessions.

    Something’s got to happen before this thing ruins my health and whatever chance at a marriage we have left.
    Thanks guys, I really appreciate your prayers very much.
  7. I think I know what you're going through. I have no clever words of support or wisdom. Just letting you know that I understand what it feels like to be so .... alone? Abandoned? Invisible? Helpless? Trapped? Doomed? Ineffective? Malnourished? It's such a struggle of integrity and humanity.

    I guess all I have for you is an echo from the previous posts: Ask God to show you how to manage yourself in this situation. Ask him to fulfill you how you wish to be fulfilled. And keep in mind the scope of eternity compared to the mere 80 odd years of our earthly lives.

    Maybe for now the lesson is to love God above all else. And find your nourishment there.
  8. You ever concider that it is you that has the problem?? Issues with insecurity,perhaps?Afraid of what you don't know or what you cannot control????
    I was much the same as you for many years. Bagering ,pushing, proding my wife for something she simply did not have to give. ,at least to the extent I wanted it at that time. I nearly drove her a way several times with my unreasonalbe expectations of my right to her private thoughts.

    You think you want it, her opinion on the issues that consume your mind???? But trust someone that has been there, done that. . . Some things are better off left unsaid. There are simply some things that you don't everneed to hear or want to know. and some things that by the grace of God she won't ever tell you about her feelings or at least until the time is right.
    None of us are consistant in our beliefs, ideals . We all have our strong and weak moments our fears and doubts. To force and answer and then judge her for it is the last thing you need to be doing if you value her and oryour marriage.
    You ever stop to think that by your obcession you scare her??? make her feel that your marriage is dependant on her giving the right answer tos to your insistant questioning????? Don't make a big deal of it. Don't be hanging on and reacting to her every word. You make her afraid to be open. Do you realize that there is the distinct possibility that she feels that she has as much if not more to loose than your do???
    Scripture tells us men that we are to treat our wives as the weaker vessel. She is in a very insecure position especialy if you are the primary source of income for the household. You need to be trying to make her more secure ,not trying to draw your security from her.
    Put your burden upon Christ. Ask Him ,the one and only one that can give you the peace and security you seek, for the answers.
    And then share them with her.
    Not demanding a responce but in a way that makes her feel secure enough to give a responce when she feels it the right time to do so..

    My wife used me to get out of a bad home life. Away from dysfunctional family, a physicaly, mentaly and emotionaly abusive mother.
    Like your wife she was quiet secretive literaly afraid to speak her mind and my constant baggering her about it and anger at her inability share her thoughts only made the situation worse. She carried a lot of guilt about that and quite often doubt about her love for me and her ability to love at all. She lived every day with that for over 20 years. She did every thing she could to make up for it. Her every action was to let me know what she simply could not express in words.

    I pushed her to the point were she confessed that she married me to get away from her mother. That she used me out of desparation. It nearly distroyed both of us. But by the grace of God our marriage survived it.
    That doesn't mean she didn't or doesn't love me. Up to the point of her confession she put up with me and stood beside me for 28 years of every foolish and sinful thing I ever did. That speaks louder than words ever could.
    You want to save your marriage??? Back off . Stop trying to make her go were it hurts her to go. Don't do to her what i did to my wife. You might not be so lucky,as I was. . .
    Take your fears ,your failures, your anger to the LORD, my freind. Depend on Him. Join a Christian mens group, get counceling if you need to.Find another way to vent your frustration,deal with your doubts and insecurities. Work to make her feel more secure. show her the love and respect Make her feel secure in your marriage and she will respond with open communication and love. Give her time and space.
    Trust in the LORD, and trust me when I tell you. .
    She loves you more than you can ever know or she wouldn't still be with you after 15 years.;)


    P.S. 40 years this coming May. . .
  9. Cliff,

    The assumption that I’m ‘badgering’ her, ‘hanging on her every word’ or in some way haranguing her is false.

    Yep, I certainly DO have my own problems, insecurity among them. I know from my own experience growing up that these tactics do nothing to help raise one’s confidence or inclination to open up.

    I’m not ‘trying to make her go where it hurts her to go’. I do expect her to be willing to be open and honest and not hide very time it’s uncomfortable to talk about something. I don’t expect an overnight change, I do expect a willingness to address the problem, or at least face the obvious fact that there IS a problem. And I’m not saying it’s HER problem, it’s OUR problem.

    Honesty and openness are necessary for ANY healthy relationship, especially marriage. The situation I describe has been ongoing for 14 years and has been extremely difficult for both of us. It has little by little eroded the foundation of our marriage. That’s not hyperbole, it's fact. It was immediately obvious to our pastor and counselor that there IS a problem and that it is a treat to our marriage. That scares me, and I think it SHOULD scare her. If needing it to be resolved is an ‘obsession’, then I guess it just is.
  10. I'm sharing my experience with you, make of it and take from it as you will. I speak only because I have seen this in my parents marriage which failed after 22 years and experienced in our own which has survived me being like my fatherand grown even stronger over the past 39 years
    Perhaps she is willing but unable able to be open. Maybe she can't help it. maybe you should concider re-evaluating your expectations.
    Obviously this direction isn't helping you, her or your marriage.
    I'm not saying it's your fault. What I am saying is that you (in Christ) can do something about it. You can save your marriage.
    It's not hyperboil I'm speaking of but emotional entesity, the result of sincere emotional investment. You have 15 years invested in your marriage. Your whole marriage and life seem to hinge on this problem, making it hard to impossible to give up and even harder to continue.
    I know I've been there. . .
    Your at a breaking point ,I get it'. . . I've been there. . .
    Wrong or right or what ever your best move is to bend, before one of you and your marriage breaks.

    The best way to change another person and or a relationship, is to change ourself in how you relate and communicate with them..
    Try another approach. . do something differant,
    Seriously ,at this point what do you have to loose????

    Look at what is good and possitive in your marriage . Let her know you appreciate her input no matter how trivial the subject. Compliment her on her dicissions, let her know when she is right and or you agree.
    Let your marriage and relationship take priority over your personal expectations. Encourage her.
    No marriage is easy, my freind. But in the long run,in the end it is always worth the effort. It's just a rough on her (if not more so )than on you, brother.
    There is a problem. . . I know it scares you, it scared me in our marriage. And if she is still there with you as your wife it scares her probably more.
    You ever see a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car???? they are so scared they cannot move. It may be unrealistic, but that may very well be what she feels like, too scared to move . Obsession??? No, your concern is ligitimate your fear justified.
    All I'm suggesting is a differant approach. . . (Agape love) unconditional acceptance ,unrestricted love.
    If she were deaf or blind would you love her less??? would you hold that against here????
    Worst case senario she is never able to open up to you the way you need her to. . . If you don't love her enough to live with that then you simply don't love her enough. . .

    In brotherly Love
  11. How to Win Your Unbelieving Spouse - John MacArthur

    God bless you, may the Lord keep you together, no man should undo what the Lord has joined together, God hates divorce

    Your marriage is already blessed however; because God has blessed you as a believer. This does not mean it will be easy. Only the Lord can change hearts and cultivate them, ask Jesus to give you more love for your wife. We can do nothing of ourselves apart from Him. You can do all things through Him who strengthens you, and the earnest faithful prayers of the saints ask the Mighty God for Mighty intervention! God bless you friend, may the Lord win her heart and draw you two together with Christ at the head and center in your love, in Jesus' name I pray, amen.
  12. Love is the answer, but it's also the question.

    Your point is well taken Cliff. Your 'deer in the headlights' analogy applies. The despair and anger swirling around this thing makes it hard not to lose sight of the goal.

    This really gets to the core of it.

    I think at some level I know that she really isn't going to change at all, and I've just been unable to come to terms with the prospect of us never being able to have any real heart-to-heart connection.

    I had some really good relationships with college roommates based on friendship and mutual respect and such, where there was no real requirement for emotional intimacy or trust. But can a marriage really be built on such a foundation?

    I don't know how I'm going to love someone with whom there's so little genuine communication, especially with the poisoned atmosphere that's been building for so long.

    God's command is clear, but I can't manufacture that kind of love. As much as I dislike it, I've always been and probably will always be a 'glass half-empty' sort of guy. Try as I may, trying to visualize much of any kind genuine, fulfilled marriage for us seems ridiculously Pollyanna-ish.
  13. LITK,

    You're right of course: Apart from Jesus we can do nothing, and His strength is made evident in our weakness.

    As I indicated earlier, pessimism is a constant struggle for me. It's a fault the enemy continually uses to undermine my faith.

    If I fail, it's because I failed, not because God did.

    I sincerely do appreciate your prayers. Thank you!
  14. SSC, I think those of us who are unequally yoked, eventually have to accept the fact that our spouses may never repent and come into the body of Christ. We made the unwisely choice of being unequally yoked. Revelations are full of people who are stubborn, rebellious, and hard hearted and will never repent and receive the forgiveness of the Lord. And we realize we are stuck, we are reaping the consequences of our sins. And the most that we can do is hope and pray the Lord will deliver us. Continue to walk upright with the Lord and do what the Lord tells you to do. Do not try to take the situation and solve it yourself. You did that already and that's why your in an unequally yoked marriage. Let the Lord lead and guide you and may he give you peace in your spirit till you go to be with him.
  15. One thing... I see acouple of people referring to salvation and from your story SSC I didn't get that your wife is an unbeliever. Am I mistaken? Either way, counseling should be the way and should help.

    And, no offense to Cliff because I respect him very much, but sometimes in a relationship you can feel like you've given and you've waited and you've looked the other way and you just want to see your spouse make a positive move too. Not out of selfishness, just because you're tired of going around the same mountain all the time.

    So, what's the deal SSC? Any progress? Anything new?

  16. "At the time we were married, I was a believer, but definitely not walking with God. My wife was not and (by her own reluctant admission) still isn’t a believer."
  17. Thank you Sweets! Geez, how could I have missed that?:eek:
  18. None taken sister,
    The best we can offer is differant perspectives and possible helps and solutions. Ulimately it is always between the individual and God.
    There will always be some level of insecurity, and or imbalance in any marriage.
    I usualy encourage people for the marriage except in cases of some significant form of abuse or for the health and welfare of the individuals or children.
    As we get closer to the last days and farther from Christ all relationships become more unstable and less able to sustain. It's just simply the nature of the situation. Many marriages will fail because of one or both parties and rightfuly so. And many will fail with neither partner at fault.

    Even so I could not feel comfortable suggesting that any one do any thing less that everything personaly possible to preserve a marriage. It's not for me to say to another that they have or have not reach that point. That is to be dicideded between them and God.
    All I hope to do is offer some perspective that they may have not thought of or suggestion they have tried.
    And it may very well be the situation our brother here finds himself. I know for a fact that is what ended my parents marriage. My father needed the confirmation ,the expressed determination that my mother simply could not give. She never was secure in and of herself to stand up to or for my father. Always passive, always submissive to a fault.
    I saw the same situation in our marriage and we were able (with the blessing of our lord) able to overcome it.
    I just wanted our brother to know that he's not alone and that ultimately what ever happens it is the best for those who believe and honor our LORD.

    Blessings to all
  19. Facing the facts

    Cliff, SweetS, Laura, and all,

    Thank you, your forthrightness and thoughtful encouragement are genuinely appreciated, even though some of it's been tough for me to hear.

    This does indeed describe my wife. Though a kind and selfless woman, she's not a believer. As near as I can tell, 14+ years of straight-from-the-gospel preaching have not challenged her in the slightest to consider God or her place in eternity.
    As for me, I'm not going anywhere, I've not been dealt an unfair hand- I'm in this situation mostly because of my own sinful choices, and I'll stick it out. The worrisome part is somehow not making her pay for my mistakes.

    I've been thinking a lot about all of this and what everyone has contributed over the past couple of weeks.
    One thing is unmistakably emerging for me: Self-loathing and insecurity have really fed into my frustration and anger toward my wife.

    I was taught that love and respect are earned, and I never felt I really earned any of that from my family or anyone else. For 50+ years I've operated from the basis that I'm only worth what I accomplish. As would probably be expected from that POV, I don't love (or even really like) myself. The tragedy in this is that the old saying is true- 'You can't love anyone else if you don't love yourself'.

    I find I'm even struggling over my own salvation. It seems a common element in the Christian testimony is that of a realization of God's unconditional, overpowering love breaking over one like the dawn and changing everything from that point forward.

    My head understands the concept of God's unconditional love, and my head knows that Jesus atoned for the sins of all believers (so does Satan).
    But doesn't God require me to believe in my heart that he died for me personally (Rom 10:9).
    I can't make myself feel (God help me- believe?) that God loves ME.

    Sorry, I really didn't intend to go off topic or to sound self-pitying. I have nothing to complain about, God has been immeasurably kind to me. All this is just a bunch of stuff I'm trying to sort through, and writing it down sometimes helps.
  20. It certainly does help to talk things out! Actually I was thinking about this subject about loving one's self the other day! Interestingly enough the scripture that talks about that is one of the most used and known scriptures in the Word, yet a lot of us truly miss what it is actually saying!

    And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.(Luke 10:27, Ampl.)

    Most of us think of this as a 2 part commandment when in fact is a 3 part! And it says it all: Basically if you don't love yourself, how can you love your neighbor? I heard preached once this way: First you must accept that Jesus does love you, no matter what! Then you must allow His love to heal your wounded soul so that you can start to love the person He made in you. After that you can start to love others unconditionally !

    Even at 50+ years you can start to learn about the true love of God and allow him to heal you and show you that in His eyes you are important because you are His son not because of your accomplishments!

    So maybe this is where you can start and as the Lord heals your heart and you can start to love and accept whom He made you to be then, somehow, things can start to change in your marriage as well. The truth is nothing is impossible with God!


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