My dream was to be married for life; I had made that life decision when I was thirteen years old. Yet, I kept finding ways to sabotage my dream. My behavior toward Janet and toward our marriage was destructive.
I remember once when I was seeking the Lord in order to save my marriage and I heard the Lord remind me in a gentle way, that I had reaped what I had sown.
I knew right away that He was not putting the blame on me for anything Janet was doing wrong. He was simply letting me see how I had destroyed our marriage with the hurtful ways I had treated her.
Those words broke my heart and gave me hope at the same time. I needed to know that our marriage problems were not all Janet’s fault. Just because she had chosen to give up on our marriage, the Lord would not let me get away with pointing all the blame at her. And at the same time, I felt hope, because I knew that sowing and reaping could work for my good as well if I would start sowing good seeds of love.
My bad behavior
There were many things I did wrong to destroy our marriage that I call bad behavior. The three things that stood out the most and were the most habitual for me were;
- Extreme hostility and anger: I was a very hard person to live with. Janet and our children were many times “walking on eggshells,” worried they would do something to upset me. Our home was a miserable place for them to live in. I remember a very difficult, but much-needed conversation that helped open my eyes to this fact. Janet and our oldest son Jonathon set in our living room one night and described to me how difficult it was to live with me and they had both decided they did not want to do it anymore.
- Unrestrained words: Along with my anger I used some of the worst kinds of words that tore my family to shreds, especially Janet. It wasn’t so much as curse words as it was name-calling and hurtful expressions of what I thought about them at the time of my frustration and disgust. I often excused it as meaningless because I only said those things out of anger. But, Janet was never buying that excuse. She firmly believed and I now agree with her, that I wouldn’t have said those things if I didn’t somewhat really feel that way.
- Neglect: This was one of my most selfish behaviors of all. I wanted to be married as it served my needs and my desires, but I didn’t give much thought to Janet’s needs or desires. Although this was a persistent bad behavior on my part for the whole time of our marriage struggled, I can illustrate it best with this short example that we often tell our couples in the classes we taught.
Right from the start of our marriage I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of marriage and providing for my family. I was nineteen and immediately I began to absorb myself into watching sports when I came home from work. It was my way of escaping all the pressure I was feeling and it was something that gave me a connection with the other guys at work. But it quickly turned into an obsession as I would schedule everything we did according to when my favorite sports were on TV.
This obsession showed up in the worst way one night when what I now believe was the beginning of our marriage heading towards our first break-up and the beginning of all of the other break-ups that followed.
It was our third year of marriage and the last part of the college basketball season called March Madness. My team was in the tournament and they were playing in the western bracket which also meant they were playing late at night. I was sitting in front of the TV fully engrossed in the action when Janet walked into the room. I didn’t know at the time just how desperate for my attention she had become. I was very selfish and I only wanted her attention when it was convenient for me.
She knew that one of the areas I would often complain about was not getting enough sex. So in her desperation to get some attention from me she took some drastic measures. She came into the room that night just after she had come out of the shower. With nothing but a towel wrapped around her. She stepped in between me and the TV so she could get my full attention. Then she took the towel, unwrapped it, and let it fall onto the floor. She was wearing nothing else underneath the towel and her invitation was clear.
With possibly one of the worst things I have ever done to hurt and humiliate her, I reach out and moved her away from the TV as I said, “move, I’m watching the game.” I don’t remember her reaction as I was seriously engrossed in the game. But, what I do remember is, it was just a few months later and she was telling me she wanted out of our marriage and that I had to leave whether I liked it or not.
So, even though I had the desire to be married, I lacked the understanding and the self-discipline of how to treat my marriage. I didn’t know it, but I was in serious need of some help.
Your story may be similar or it may be a lot different, but I hope you know that if your marriage is dealing with some destructive behavior, it won’t take long before your marriage is wrecked. Please get the help that is available to you before it’s too late.
Thanks for reading!