Q: “I don’t like Christmas with my husband’s family. It’s our year to go there, and I dread it! There is no peace or harmony; only tension. His mother and sister don’t like me, and I usually am left alone while my husband visits with everyone else. Would it be horrible for me to tell him I don’t want to go and just stay home this year?”
The short answer: YES! There are a few situations I immediately see in your scenario. Let me address these as succinctly as I can.
Family is special. Extended family needs to be negotiated as delicately as possible, because after all, extended family is a huge piece of not only the history of our spouse, but also a huge chunk of the present and future. Life is too short to dread visits with someone who should be cherished. But, truth be told, some people will always be small-minded. The sad part is when we allow them to whittle ours down to equal theirs.
Q: “How do you lose bad memories? It’s not that I am staying in the past; I simply can’t get the memories out of my head. I’m involved with someone else who loves me and I love him, but the memories of my ex-husband linger. He was not good to me or for me, so why I can’t I forget him? Help!”
A: The best way to lose bad memories–make better ones!
No one holds you hostage to your past except you. God gave us a memory for a reason. If we didn’t have one, we’d forget the saving power of love. We’d have no recall of those moments that brought us overwhelming joy. Therefore, we need to make the best of the blessing of memory. That begs the question: how do you stop thinking about the bad memories? Here’s a 1-2-3 “R” formula that helped me step out of my emotional prison.
1. Refile. I love the image on my PC when I empty files from one folder into another. Set up an imaginary folder with whatever name you prefer. Each time a bad memory finds its way to your recall, refile! Empty the folder inside your head into your imaginary folder that you have placed outside of your person, if you will. It’s a folder you won’t open, you won’t deal with, and one that will be permanently stored away until you decide to open it. The image of the file being dumped from your head to another storage place is empowering!
2. Replace. I found a great way of ridding myself of bad memories. When one would sneak up on my day or night, I immediately replaced it with one I had made with someone who brought me immense joy. It wasn’t long that my supply of good memories far outweighed the bad ones.
3. Resolve. Decide you will not remain a prisoner to your past. This is your choice, and no one else can keep you there if you don’t want to stay. Remaining in your past is sure to destroy your future with the one who loves you most. Don’t hold him hostage to memories that have no significance in your life any longer.
You have every reason to turn this around. This is a trap from Satan. He’s doing his best to remind you that you are not deserving of happiness or true contentment. But, the Enemy is wrong! God has brought you out in a spacious place; He has rescued you because He delights in you! (Psa. 18:19) Make your story one to His glory and defeat Satan. Once you do that, that is the only time you’ll open that permanently stored folder. You’ll be helping someone else through similar issues, but the bitter memory will have been replaced by the sweet taste of victory!
Q: “My husband and I have been going to XXX Theater for lots years. He wanted to start swinging, and so I did. He says I enjoy it more than I should, and now he wants nothing to do with me and is angry at me all the time. We’ve been married a long time and I don’t want to lose his love. What can I do?”
A: As Dr. Phil would ask: “How’s that working for you?” Obviously, it isn’t. But, I could have told you that before you set foot in the door the first time. It started out really “simple,” didn’t it? What does a harmless porn movie do? It excites and spices up romance between a couple. It can. But, the lingering effects aren’t nearly as exciting as the “moment” of pleasure.
Statistics have proven the harmful effects of pornography far outweigh its benefits. The percentages of people addicted to pornography is amazing, and it is no respecter of race, creed or belief system. It has infiltrated countless Christian homes and is ruining endless marriages! Prayerfully yours will not be among those ended after many years of investment.
The “simplicity” of your husband’s invitation bought you both more problems than he likely bargained for at the beginning of the “thrill.” One sin manifested into another and another and another. Now, you have years of experimenting with others, and it has dulled the senses leaving your love shattered.
Can you recapture what you’ve lost? Perhaps. But not without a couple of things in place.
#1: Cease and desist. You’ll have to leave your former life behind. Clearly it has not been your friend, only a fanciful pastime and a way to dismiss what you really have been missing at home: commitment. “Lots of years” of spiciness might be difficult to walk away from, but not when you consider the tremendous loss you have facing you if you don’t.
#2: Replace your habit. What do people who struggle with any addiction do, whether it’s cigarettes, alcohol or narcotics? They get a plan and find a substitute for their addiction. I will be quick to offer one to you–JESUS! He promises He will carry our burdens, and He does. He promises we can do ALL things through Him who strengthens us…and we can. Each of you will have to decide, number one, to step out of your previous lifestyle; number two, to substitute what you had with Jesus as well as one another; and, number three, make every effort to get back to the place you were when you first married–completely in love and totally devoted to one another.
#3: Forget the past. You can’t move into a better future without putting the past behind you. It will take forgiveness–of your spouse and yourself. You will never make progress without putting forgiveness at the forefront of your mending. Again, Jesus is the Master Forgiver…and you must understand how He models it to ensure that you truly can forgive and move on.
#4: Learn to love again. For “lots of years” you have been looking for contentment. I will assure you it will never come from worldly pleasure. Perhaps you and your husband struggled with what true love really is, but it’s time to learn how he needs to be loved and vice-versa. God never intended for us to be happy. He wants us to be blessed. You are missing the most beautiful blessing life can afford–an abiding love.
#5: Begin counseling. You can do this without professional help from a counselor, mentor or pastor, but I would encourage you to seek guidance. Open the Bible; it’s a great starting point. But, seek out someone who will sort through your baggage and help you both get your feet on solid ground. Your marriage is not hopeless, but it certainly is hurting! If he won’t agree to go with you, go alone. You will need to figure out how to navigate life with the brokenness that now exists, as well as what’s on the horizon. You also need an encourager and/or accountability person to help you manage to break free from what will be the ruination of not only your marriage but of you.
Here’s a bit of truth: You can live temporarily without immorality, but you will die eternally with it. Whatever it takes…step out of this lifestyle.
Q: “I think my husband is having an affair with my best friend. I don’t have proof; it’s just a feeling. There are no conversations I can trace on his phone, and I see no unusual credit card expenditures. But when we’re together, they are constantly talking and laughing, and touching each other a lot, like on the arms or legs. He has a lot more conversations with her than he ever does with me. I love my husband and don’t want to lose him. What should I do?”
A: Sounds like it’s time to find a new friend…but I wouldn’t trade in the husband just yet.
No proof is a good thing. I’m liking that there’s no evidence on the phone and no unusual credit card expenses. Not to play the Devil’s advocate, I am, however, concerned about the levels of “connection” they seem to exhibit in front of you.
Here are some things to consider.
Are you a jealous person? Have you had these kinds of suspicions in the past? If so, were they unfounded? Being brutally honest about a situation can save lots of heartache. It’s not always easy to admit our own problems, but in order to assess situations fairly, this is a time for self-assessment. Now, having that out of the way, let’s look at the situation.
Is this behavior between your husband and your friend something recent? Perhaps they’ve always been friendly, but the sense I’m getting from you is that this is a new occurrence. It’s certainly something that has recently caught your attention and is now troubling you.
Is your husband simply a friendly, outgoing kind of guy? Does he interact with all of your friends, and his, in this manner? Again, the sense I’m getting from you is that their conduct has become different than in the past. But, I don’t want you to make more of this than there is if he’s really friendly to everyone. Perhaps it’s your friend who has misinterpreted his response, but he is certainly adding to it by his advances, and he is absolutely the one who can stop any misunderstanding she has.
Does he look forward to get-togethers when she’s involved? That’s a definite red flag. Although, again, be fair in your assessment of whether he has always “looked forward” to being with friends in the same regard—yours or his.
Regarding the phone and credit cards. Whereas I’m encouraged there aren’t any red flags there, let’s not be naïve enough to think that there couldn’t be another phone you’re unaware of and cash could be used in lieu of debit/credit cards. I’m not necessarily validating your suspicions, however, I do want to advise you about things that could present themselves in disguise.
Now, let’s address my real source of concern about your question: Your suspicions. I believe spouses know one another well enough to realize when something isn’t quite right. So, let’s get you a plan to address the situation and get your husband back to giving you the attention he gives your friend.
Make it happen. Share your feelings. Reclaim what’s yours. Get love back on track. Preserve your legacy. It’s yours! Don’t let it go.
Pornography is a home-wrecker. It robs the dignity and specialness of every woman in love with a man imbibing and/or addicted to its sordid flavor. Men often are misled