Well, Its been quite a few days since I've posted. I'm running around like crazy trying to make sure everything is in place for the arrival of Baby V. Of course, I'm sure things were fine 3 or 4 weeks ago, but every day I wake up and find something else that needs tending to. Ah, such is the life of a soon-to-be mama of 3! Now, on to business! I pondered publishing this post, but felt it was the right thing to do. Not necessarily easy, but if it can benefit anyone, then I would be remiss to keep it hidden away. After reading the advice that was sent to me to be forwarded to the lady having marriage issues, I realized just how different everyone feels on this issue. I knew it wouldn't be cut and dry and people have different life experiences, but no two people responded the same way. She has noted that she has appreciated that people thought enough of her situation to send advice or, at the very least, well wishes her way. I thought long and hard about what advice I wanted to give her. What advice would I give to my daughter if she were in that situation? What advice would I give to my best friend? If I were looking into the eyes of someone I loved and saw them hurting and broken-hearted and feeling absolutely worthless and just looking for some kind of hope. If I saw one of my little girls devastated by the way her spouse was treating her and if he was engaging in this kind of behavior...or even worse, if my son was treating his wife this way....what would I say to her? So, I gave this woman the advice that I would give if she were my daughter. A tough-love sort of manner because, at this point, this poor woman has been absolutely broken by the person who is supposed to support her the most. So, here it is.
Wow! First off, I'm so glad that you felt secure enough to reach out to me. I'm passing along all the advice and thoughts that I receive so that hopefully you will garner some direction or comfort from them. I'm SO sorry for what you've been put through. You deserve so much better. This kind of treatment is unacceptable. You've been broken by the person that should be your foundation. Instead, he seems to have left you on sand with no way to get your bearings. I wanted to give some advice of my own. As will all the other advice you're received, it is yours to do with as you wish. I hope that you are at least able to get some answers or some things sorted out. When deciding how I felt and how I wanted to respond to your e-mail, I had to think long and hard. I finally realized that the only way I could give you advice that I could actually stand behind was to imagine if one of my daughters were in your situation. This is where that advice comes from. So, if it seems a little tough-love-heavy-on-the-southern-mama, thats because it is. :)
1) You need to get yourself(and maybe even your older children) into counselling. You need to find a GOOD Christian counselor without an agenda that will help you to rebuild your self-esteem. You need to do this so that you will realize that you DESERVE so much better. You deserve to be treated better and deserve to have a happy home life.
2)He needs to get himself into counselling(again, with a GOOD Christian counselor without an agenda)! He needs to start the process of coming clean about why he has made it a point to distance himself from you, especially when you are the most vulnerable and need him the most. If he can not do this, that would be a red flag for me.
3)You mentioned that he has had emotional affairs but had no way to prove if it had escalated. Whether it became physical or not does NOT matter. He betrayed your trust and acted inappropriately with another female. He needs to go to counselling to deal with the issues that lead him to seek out the attentions of other women, ASAP! Also, he needs to be an open book. You need to have ALL the passwords to his e-mail accounts, social networking accounts and voice mail. If you discover hidden accounts that allow him to continue this behavior unchecked or he refuses to deal with this, thats another deal breaker to me.
4)A recurring theme was that he wouldn't actually deal with issues, but would just be nice and act as if things were normal. Tell him that this is unacceptable. That while doing the dishes is nice, he is showing you utter disrespect when he refuses to do what it will take to fix the issues. He can either talk about the issues at hand(especially since he promises that he will) or he's only showing his lack of consideration for you.
5)Start a separate savings account. This is not fun money or a typical rainy day fund. This is just in case something happens and you need to leave quickly. It is for dire emergencies only. He is to have no access to it. If you have a skill or are able to babysit, then you can take the small amount of money you would earn and put that aside in your account or, if that is too risky, you could give the cash to a trusted friend or family member.
6)Check with your local community college to see about continuing education or certificate programs. If you have ANY hours at all, they may be able to go toward getting a certifications that would help you to find a job that would allow you to provide for your children. This would also help to boost your self-esteem as well!
7)The whole room-mate thing is very sad to me. Have a room-mate or a husband. If you can't view each other as spouses, especially due to his out of place priorities and what you consider to be sexual immorality, then you need to sort out HOW he needs to go about repairing this. What will he have to do for you to look at him as a romantic partner instead of some guy that lives with you and squashes the bugs? Think LONG and HARD about this. It is NOT fair at all on your part if you lead him on, give him mixed signals and a list of requirements when, in fact, you no longer have any romantic feelings for him and don't want to work things out. Make sure you are being totally honest with yourself here.
8)Porn. Ugh. Honey, if he has a porn addiction, he needs to get to a support group, like, yesterday, and you need to find a support group for spouses/partners of people with some form of sex addiction. Pornography is disgusting and has NO place in a marriage. It only serves to make women feel inadequate and men feel desensitized to real women and real relationships. I could go on for days, but honestly, at the very least it is degrading and insulting to women. Its got to be TERRIBLY difficult to be married to a man who views women that way! I would say that, at the very least, you need to install net nanny or some other internet blocker or filtering software on ALL the computers in your house as quickly as possible. Also, if he has a smart phone, then you need to go through your service provider and have that sort of content blocked from his phone.
9)Since he has a problem with emotional affairs and seeking attention from other women, he needs to get that in check. My suggestion? NO unneccesary contact with females that he is not related to. No female friends that are not also your friends as well. He is to delete female friends that you do not approve of from his phone and social networking accounts. Now, will this completely solve the problem or prevent the behaviors entirely? No, but it will at least let him know that YOU know whats going on and you expect him to act better than he has been.
10) 'fake it til you make it' is the worst advice I've ever heard in a scenario like this. I'm SO sorry you were given that advice. He's been treating you badly, ignoring your needs, and just basically missing the mark all around on how to help fix things. I would say, instead, to picture your marriage how you want it to be and go backwards to sort out the steps you have to take to get to that point, but never to just fake being happy. Thats unfair to both of you. You have to be brutally honest with yourself and with him if you are going to sort this out. Hopefully he can take a lesson and be brutally honest as well, instead of being so caught up focusing on his image!
So, there it is. This is the advice I would give to my children and I hope that, if nothing else, you know that I'm thinking of you and your children and praying that your situation would have a wonderful resolution as I know that you really DO want things to work out for the best. That you would have a marriage that is a testament to the glory and grace of God, that you would have a spouse worthy of you and that your children could grow up in a happy household. I hope that you are able to find peace and grace while going through this trial and know that there are people that are thinking of you!