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!
My first response was, I would never push my naked wife out of my view, but on second thought, I’m sure I’ve done some equally hurtful things in other areas. Marriage does take discipline, good post.
Yea I know Jay. That’s the same reaction I get when I tell it in our class. It’s embarrassing and I have no excuse. But, I promise I it will never happen again, if she ever decides to get my attention that way again. Thanks for commenting.
Brutal Honesty. Some of the best marriage mentors I know have had similar situations and God healed their marriages. Prayers for your marriage as God will continue to use you both to help others.
We appreciate your comment Steve. There are a lot of people who have been through some extremely difficult challenges and God is faithful to see them through. If we could only get more people to believe with God healing is possible. Thanks for reading.
This brought tears to my eyes as I had experienced this from my husband. It was extremely hurtful; yet at the same time, as The Lord spoke to you, He convicted me of the many ways I’d neglected him–brushed him aside. Thank you for sharing and encouraging!
Me, too. There is nothing like a husband who complains of not enough sex then turns you down, doesn’t notice or wants to watch tv more than you. And he wonders why i am not interested.
Cassandra we really appreciate your comments. Our stories are the Lord’s and it is our hope to always be uplifting, encouraging, and challenging. Thank you for reading.
Thank you for this post. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to people who say “S/He just wanted to leave the marriage OUT OF THE BLUE! What happened?” and when they do look at their marriage, they look at “Well s/he did this” or “S/He didn’t do that” and it doesn’t dawn on them to look at themselves. Even if your spouse was a gigantic jerk, if you responded with name calling or the cold shoulder to hurt them back, that means you made the choice to behave that way.
Like Cassandra, I’ve been in your wife’s shoes…the one desperate for attention and pushed aside…and yep this literally happened to me too. A lot of damage was done. But thank God, He is so faithful, and He changed my attitude, and He changed my Dear Hubby’s attitude..and here we are!
Thanks for your comment Cindy. We really value your input on marriage struggles. Your blog is a much needed voice in a very difficult arena. It is really encouraging for us to connect with other ministry leaders who have walked similar paths. God bless all the work you are doing.
Jack – Thanks for this! I see so many folks who seem intent on destroying what they say they want. Oh we could all learn to see past the next few moments! When we take a longer view of marriage, a lot of our choices are so clearly wrong!
Thanks marriage bed for your comment. It is one the heart breaking paradoxes we deal with as well. It is a lot like Paul talked about in Romans 7.
Thank you for sharing this story. I’m not sure I would be brave enough to share like that.
I think a lot of husbands (including myself) get caught up in things and simply ignore their wives, or brush them aside. We tend to have our own agendas and we become self-absorbed in whatever we feel like doing.
Thank you again, and may God bless you for baring your lives for other married couples!
Thanks T.Bittner. We do struggle with what to share. We are always praying about it and in the end we know that our testimony belongs to the Lord. We are just trying to give back because He gave so much to us. God bless all the work He has called you to do also.
My ex wife, after not engaging in sex in over two year, or any intimacy at all, informed me that she was no longer attracted to me and told me to find someone else to have sex with……our marriage ended but I am now married to the most stunning beautiful woman ever created.
I am also in the same position as you are. . . We are also at the last stage to brake our marriage.. but we both dont want to brake it.. . . .
Main reason between both of us is “communication is very tough”….. I want your help as Marriage Ministry. I read your blogs regularly… please give me your contact no or chat ID. so that I can take your help……Thanks
thanks for reading our material. Our contact info is posted on our blog page. Just look for “contact us” on the right hand side and send us an email.
Blessings to you!
I have been blessed by this post. God bless you.