In a recent Wife HER! Live, guest speaker Harrison Thompson shared powerful insights on rejection sensitivity in men and how we – the women who love them – may be, knowing or unknowingly, causing relationship trauma.
The one hour conversation began with Thompson exploring how societal norms and stereotypes can shape a man’s identity – leaving him feeling like he has none. #ThatPartThough
Thompson cautioned that emotional issues cannot be dealt with intellectually – as is often the approach – but instead must be dealt with emotionally. He also noted that our actions aren’t necessarily what is most damaging in relationships. Instead, it is our ignorance and lack of sensitivity towards how are actions are perceived that cause the most damage.
Women often value and insist upon emotional expression and validation without care for a man’s need to pause and think. We #reject his need for time to pause while showing preference for our own needs over his.
Thompson noted that the goal should not be “Happy wife, happy life!” but “Happy spouse, happy house!” Selfishness is exhibited in the former, while care and love is exhibited in the latter.
By forcing “our way” upon our men, we can unknowingly transform them into our rival verses our partner. They will default to combat mode thinking they must constantly defend themselves in interactions with us. #OuchHarrison
Our small ways to motivate and help our spouses or boyfriends may not be internalized as helpful. They could actually be adding burden to the relationship and diminishing intimacy.
Thompson proposes that women should not consume themselves with trying to change the men in our lives, but instead focus on where we have been ASKED to help, in the way we have been ASKED to help.
Rejection for men can manifest in two types of problems: situational rejection or character rejection. Thompson proposes that the latter is the greatest issue for intimate relationships. The “tiny” ways in which we reject men can pile up into a full on explosion.
Character rejection takes place over a period of time and involves the pattern of rejection being interpreted / believed by one’s self to be a character flaw. Men can begin to feel like failures because of repeated patterns of rejection. Thompson notes that this is not the kind of rejection that you can just love away. Love won’t cut it in this zone!
For other great nuggets from this session, watch the replay below.
Ever since I eloped two years ago, people have been asking me, “What made you do it?” There have also been tons of women that said they wished they’d done the same. I’ve been amazed at how ‘popping up married’ has inspired such awe in conversations with other women. When I was asked to write about this topic, I began to wonder what it was about popping up married that appeals to so many women and, at the same time, what makes so many do the exact opposite instead. The only word that I could think of that answers both questions is Guilt.
All brides-to-be deal with guilt. I was no different. Let me give you a snapshot of what that looked like for me.
Initially, I entertained a small wedding service. My husband and I both have large families. We gave ourselves about 50 people each to invite to the wedding. I couldn’t even narrow my family down to 50 people. So that meant either all family, no friends or big family problems. Eventually, that small list began to expand. I began pulling names from my past of people that I felt should be at the wedding. I was convincing myself that they would be upset if they weren’t invited. I’m sure they weren’t even remotely concerned, but this is the trap I was falling into.
It got to a place where the more I thought about the wedding the more anxious I became. Having a mother who plans weddings as her career of choice was not easy to deal with either! There were so many things to consider: colour scheme, seating arrangements, location, accommodations, transportation, décor, bridal party selection, guest list finalization, and the list goes on! It was just all ballooning way out of hand.
When I looked up, there was a price tag that I could not afford. At this point, my mother was willing to pay for the reception. I wasn’t willing to let her. Eventually, I told myself I wasn’t going to let guilt have me go searching for money I didn’t have to spend.
This thought is the thought that sparked it all. It became my mantra: “I’m not gonna let Guilt make me!” I said that sentence to myself in many different ways: “I am not going to let the guilt of someone’s entitlement to be in this moment with me define how this moment will look for me.” This was another one of the sentences I repeated.
Guilt wasn’t enough to get me to change my mind. That tagline was my saving grace.
But what’s yours?
If you’re a bride-to-be that wants to pop up married do not allow yourself to be bullied and guilted into a wedding you nor your future husband desires. Putting your feet in the solid ground of eloping or popping up married is not hard, but it does take resolve. Once I stopped the back and forth with the idea of having a small wedding, and committed to the decision of Me + Hubby + 2 Witnesses it was smooth sailing.
We were able to set ourselves up financially for the first two years of our marriage without a hassle. That was huge for both of us. We knew we didn’t want to spend much on our wedding, but we did want to make sure the home we were making for ourselves was one where our marriage could thrive.
Popping up married was one of the best decisions we made for ourselves. And guess what? No one was upset. They may have been surprised, but there was no one weeping over not seeing us at the altar or dancing all night. Instead, there were tons of joyful phone calls and intimate dinners where people prayed over us, advised us, celebrated us, and poured out love into our marriage.
For those of you thinking about popping up married my advice is let go of the guilt of how other people will feel. Guilt is not a reason compelling enough to have a wedding you don’t want.
Send out a wedding announcement instead.
Light & Love Yasmin Glinton Poitier Married May 2020
It’s been 3 years since we met. We both work in the same area, so we’d been watching each other for a while. He’d probably give you a slightly different story, but I saw him watching me, too! He’s a tall guy, well-dressed, and real easy on the eyes, so he’s hard to miss. I had seen him a couple times in passing and he always had a very serious face. I think that’s what initially intrigued me about him – I was curious about what was under the stony exterior.
So, I did what any single woman would do, right?! I prayed about him. I said God, “I don’t know why I’m so captivated by this stranger, but I’m telling You about him. If he means me no good, let him keep it pushing.”
Two weeks later, as I’m sitting in my car getting ready to leave work for the day, he walks straight up to my window, serious face and all, and asks me how I’m doing, and if he could get my number to talk a little more. For as much as I liked to admire this man from afar, and had already prayed about him, this encounter caught me way off guard! In that moment, I had already stopped breathing, so it was only by the Grace of God that words audibly uttered from my lips!
After a brief few minutes, I finally knew his name and exactly where he worked. To top it off, he smiled! And it was such a nice smile!
The next day, we had our very first date, and we’ve been dating ever since.
What stood out about him that makes him different?
Well, initially, his physical appearance is what stood out. He’s really hard to miss and will stand out in just about any crowd, but after getting to know him a bit and dating for as long as we have, it’s his love for family, commitment to always bettering himself in some way, and his consistency that stands out.
He’s a family guy, and that’s one of my favorite things about him. It’s a plus that he’s gelled so well with my (huge) family from the very beginning – admittedly a little shy and reserved at first, but everybody is great with him now.
From Day 1, he has been consistent with the way he’s treated me. We have definitely had disagreements along the way, and have had to express our likes and dislikes, but I have never had someone be so consistent in their love and stick around when it wasn’t easy or didn’t feel good.
Very early on in our relationship, some things happened in my life that could have very well been mere coincidence, but for one situation in particular, I chose to believe for years that this one thing that I struggled so badly to complete, would change when the right person came into my life. Sure enough, only months after this man came along, my situation turned around and I was finally able to close that chapter. Little does he know, a lot of it had to do with a simple declaration he unknowingly spoke over me.
I don’t necessarily believe in luck, but I absolutely believe in divine purpose, and I knew he came into my life with a special purpose. He challenges me in ways that make me better and forces me to introspect every day of my life just by being the person he is.
If I’m being completely honest, he didn’t turn out to be the fairytale I managed to concoct in the beginning. I think a lot of women imagine a perfect guy in their minds and assume once you get the right one, a smooth relationship is inevitable (especially after having so many “situationships” end badly), but that is definitely not how it works. It takes work. Every meaningful relationship requires time and effort from both parties. He’s not exactly what I imagined he’d be but he’s what I needed, and I thank him always for loving me the way he does.
What personality traits are important in a man and to you specifically?
Someone who believes in God, is morally grounded and kind-hearted, family oriented, and has vision/direction.
In the beginning of our relationship, I’ll admit that I wasn’t entirely sold on the latter point. I am the textbook definition of “independent woman” and had been on my own and completely self-sufficient for a long time, so I was used to things being organized, well planned out and moving at my pace – on time. My boyfriend, however, is quite the opposite – he’s not a planner, he’s very relaxed when it comes to timeframes for a lot of things and is more of a ‘go with the flow’ kind of person.
As I’m sure you can imagine, we have had our share of clashes because of this, but we’re learning ways to work together. This isn’t just my show, so when I remove my need to have things go my way and simply be the help or extra push he needs, I can see that he is, in fact, a great leader and I trust that he will do an excellent job at heading our family one day. This also means that if I’m in charge of planning any event we’re attending, I know to give him the start time at least 30 minutes to an hour ahead, along with constant reminders leading up to the date in order to maintain my sanity and avoid ruining the entire day because I’m completely annoyed. It’s all a work in progress.
How has the relationship changed you / is changing you?
This relationship has certainly been a mirror for me, and to tell you the truth, I don’t always like the reflection I see because it very clearly highlights areas of my life that I still need to work on. It gets uncomfortable at times, but it’s necessary. He challenges me every single day – to the point where I’m sometimes annoyed – but I’m grateful for all of it.
What have you learned through the dating process?
Our relationship has been tested a couple times – one time in particular, was during this pandemic. Because of the industry I work in, and nature of my company, my job has been notably impacted since the onset of COVID-19. More specifically, I’ve only been getting a portion of my salary for the past 14 months. Listen to me, never in all my 33 years of life could I have imagined being in such a situation… for so long! It’s been frustrating, depressing, and irritating to say the least, but this man has stuck with me through it all, buying me groceries and anything else I fell short on, dealing with my mood swings, and supporting every business idea that I created to make extra cash.
At one point, we decided it would be nice to stay together since we were locked down for so long, so I invited him over. Listen, the fact that our relationship still stands is a testament to the goodness of God! Sure, we’d already been dating for about 2 years, but this was absolutely next level!
Again, I had this fairytale of what it would be like – pure bliss and cuddles all day and night. Because why not, right?! LOL, sisssss, did I get my bubble burst! First of all, let me just say that I’m a professional chef at this point, because I’ve seriously never cooked so much in all my life! Secondly, he brought his PlayStation. For the ladies that know, this point needs no elaboration, I’m sure.
The biggest lesson we learned was that communication is key! I know how cliché this sounds, but it has neverrrrr been more real to us than during our time together during lockdown.
Things I assumed: I’d have all his attention and he’d absolutely love love loooovveee being stuck in the house, cuddling with me all day; he’d automatically do everything the way I wanted and did things in my house; he knew my financial situation so he automatically knew that I needed stuff and some of his money should have been prioritized for my needs.
Reality: He still had to leave to go to work and get extra work done at home some days; he still had a family that was of equal priority to him; I’m naturally a homebody, he’s not, so being cooped up all day sometimes was a lottttt to adjust to (even with the one you love); I said it was okay to bring the PlayStation so I had to expect that he’d actually play it sometimes; he had every right to spend his money how he saw fit; he has his own way of doing things that doesn’t make them wrong; he literally won’t know exactly what I need or how I’m feeling unless I open my mouth and say it… and well, it wasn’t all about me.
Whew! No one told me serious relationships would be this ghettoooooo!
I had to accept that as much as we love each other, we are not the same person! We do things very differently, but that doesn’t make either of our preferences right or wrong. I’ve had to learn to tone my controlling habits all the way down, to communicate when and why I’m bothered, what I need, what I expect, and accept that he won’t agree to all of my ‘rules’ because (as he likes to tell me) he’s not a robot.
Tips for dating during the pandemic
Communicate: You literally cannot hear this enough times. Being locked down in a pandemic has brought on lots of emotions and new experiences, so be open to communicating how you feel and what you need to and from your significant other… and while you’re doing that, bear in mind that your tone and body language matters!
Do what you love: As restrictions are easing, get back to doing things you loved doing together before. You can even create new traditions! Getting out of the house and enjoying safe environments is necessary for your sanity.
Be gentle: Be gentle with yourself and your significant other. Navigating this new normal can be challenging, so give each other the grace needed to adjust.
Pray together: My boyfriend isn’t a super spiritual/religious person (for reference, he’s Catholic and I grew up Methodist/Non-Denominational), but the first time he initiated a prayer together I blushed so hard! It was by far one of the most impressive things he’d ever done, and I still blush a little every time he does it.
Have devotions: During the lockdown, we started doing devotions together. I’ll admit that I was a little hesitant to suggest it at first because I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but he agreed, and although we have moments where we get busy and fall off the routine, it’s something we’ve been doing ever since. It gives both of us a chance to understand each other’s individual interpretations of scripture, and leads to necessary discussions about how we intend to use God’s word to prepare for life together.
This blog post was submitted anonymously. If you have a story you’d like to share, please email us at email@example.com.
One day God and I were talking about my marriage and God told me that I need to pray offensively. My mind immediately went to basketball and the fact that I never quite understood the difference between offense and defense. This thought came to mind because in that moment, I wasn’t sure what God meant by pray offensively.
So, I decided to do some basketball research. And then I had a basketball chat with my husband to make sure what I gleaned from my research was accurate. What follows is a valuable lesson God provided through basketball. I should confess that I am not a sport enthusiast and I’ve only watched basketball to hang out with a cute guy or check out the cute guys on the court.
Basketball and the Christian Life
Offense would be a team’s attempt to score in any way, whether through passing, dribbling, or shooting. Defense, however, would be a team’s attempt to stop the other team from scoring (e.g. standing in front of player with ball, contesting shots, forcing turnovers). Simply put, the team with possession of the ball is always on offense.
Christians have the ball – Father, Son, Holy Spirit – and the opportunity to score – win souls for the Kingdom.
Satan is always playing defense because he never has the ball. His mission is to steal the ball (our direct connection to God) from us. Two of his tactics are to:
convince us that we don’t have the ball and the win in the bag
distract us from the ball and our purpose for being on the court i.e. alive
Applying Basketball to Kingdom Life
Team – Kingdom of God Ball – Triune God Passing – Kingdom collaboration Dribbling – standing in the gap, journeying with believers and nonbelievers Shooting – direct evangelism/invitation to salvation Score – win soul(s) for the Kingdom
It is a FIXED GAME. Salvation gives us the ball. Sanctification ensures continuous scoring. Focusing on the target – more team members having access to the ball – ensures we achieve team success.
When we marry, husbands and wives are meant to be on the same team. For Believers, the mini husband-wife team is also on the bigger Team together. Therefore, we do not allow division between us.
The primary goal of a Kingdom marriage is to work together to advance God’s Kingdom (Team). The husband helps the wife score souls for the Team. The wife helps the husband score souls for the Team. No matter who is at play (working, ministering, tending to household needs) at any given moment, the team wins. Thus, there should be no competition. When one scores, i.e. advances the Kingdom, the Team wins. If one gives up the ball, i.e. turns away from God, it affects the Team.
Therefore, each should cover the other against attacks from the opposing team (satan).
Protecting Your Team
Offensive prayers are based on the Truth that victory is assured. So, we pray in agreement with God’s already established successful outcome. This means speaking and praying for the positive that is already promised or encouraged in the Word. This should be our approach to praying for ourselves, our husbands, our marriages, and everyone and everything connected to us.
Below are some verses to guide us in our offensive prayers. I like to take a verse and personalize it by using “I”/”we” or my/our name(s) wherever possible.
If you watched the Netflix documentary “American Murder: The Family Next Door”, images of the Watts family may be triggering for you.
Back in August 2018, Chris Watts, then 33, murdered his pregnant wife Shannan and two daughters, 4-year-old Bella and 3-year-old Celeste, and discarded their bodies at his oil work site. The murders were premeditated and linked (we think!) to his desire to restart life afresh with his mistress.
The term for family annihilation is “familicide”. According to studies, it typically takes place in August, by white fathers in their 30s often with no criminal background. Family annihilators are usually triggered by: sudden loss of access to their children (remember Chris said Shannan said “You’ll never see your children again!” — though it appears he considered the murders well before she made this statement); financial stress; shame surrounding financial failure; belief that they are committing “mercy killings”; the desire to extricate themselves from a family life that they can’t tolerate or inspiration to kill by psychotic delusion or hallucination. Though the family filed for bankruptcy 3 years earlier, researchers feel Chris’ primary motivator was his desire to rid himself of his family and spend time with his mistress. Many feel the evidence points to Chris being a narcissist.
As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month #DVAM, I wanted to share some points that stood out to me as I watched the documentary.
1. Don’t date when you’re vulnerable.
Shannan let Chris in at what she described as being one of the lowest points in her life: “Because of my health challenges, because I got so sick [with Lupus] I let him in. He knew me at my worst and accepted me.”
Many victims of abuse met their abusers when they were vulnerable: lonely, depressed, sick, disabled, elderly, etc. It is important to be aware of your vulnerability for abuse and to not seek or allow romantic partnerships during low points. And if you do, do so with wisdom, prayer and wise counsel.
2. Do not ignore your intuition.
Shannan knew that something was off in her relationship. Chris was not as affectionate, he did not seek to call her or initiate sex with her, all of which appeared out of character. If you have a feeling that something is off, it probably is.
Now how could knowing this have saved her life? We’re not sure. Knowing someone is cheating on you is entirely different from knowing someone is about to harm you or take your life, but if you sense or see red flags do not ignore them.
3. Persistence isn’t always a good thing.
Shannan stated, “I’m so grateful to you for hanging around after pushing you away in the beginning.”
That may have seemed cute in the beginning, but Chris’ behavior could also have demonstrated that he did not respect boundaries. According to the blog Narc Wise:
“Using your boundaries through love bombing and hoovering, are how the pathological narcissist entraps you.
Your initial addiction to them is created by delivering on all your needs, wants and desires, and mindfully avoiding the opposite.
This is how they open the door and get you to step into their world of make-believe.”
(Narc Wise, 2018)
Perhaps Chris persistence more so linked to his characterization as a narcissist.
Domestic violence could include violence between a husband and a wife, a girlfriend and boyfriend, or gay or lesbian partners. It could be violence between parents and children, adult children and elderly parents, or we could meet it between siblings (Rakavec-Felser, 2014).
The abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal or financial, and although women between age 16-24 are more vulnerable, abuse can impact anyone (Swanson, 2019).
According to Swanson (2019), early signs of an abusive partner include:
Controlling / manipulative
Checking phone or email without permission
If you are considering leaving an abusive relationship, it is suggested that you end the relationship at a distance. While the abuser is at work or travelling, leave the premises and break up via text or email. Continue to maintain distance between you both as much as possible. If you do break up in person, do it in a public place. Have a trusted friend or family member wait nearby and bring a cell phone with you if you can. For more details on how to break up with an abuser, click here.
As part of our recent Respect Series, Lathyra Ranger shared on ways women commonly disrespect their husbands and how they can pivot or adjust their behaviors for a better long-term result.
Lathyra is a loving wife, caring mother, a lifestyle influencer, mom blogger and founder of MommentsNetwork. She is known for the advice and encouragement she shares on her instagram page @lathyraranger.
Before we begin, let me tell you now…Lathyra came for everyone’s edges!
As women, we often think we’re doing everything right. Well, Lathyra burst our bubbles and pointed out our toxic and disrespectful behaviors with the quickness!
Disrespect can be defined as the feeling that a person is beneath consideration or, alternatively, to be rude, to disregard or to ridicule.
Lathyra shared 15 ways wives unknowingly disrespect their husbands.
1. Focusing on his weakness
Expectations of who your husband should be when he hasn’t yet walked into who God has called him to be may cause you to focus on his weaknesses. Women tend to nitpick at their husband’s weaknesses. Constant nitpicking tears your husband down. Focusing on his weakness strips him of his power and determination to pursue his goals. Proverbs 24:3 instructs us to build up our house. We build our house by building up our husband.He is the head so by building him up, we build our house.
How to pivot? Acknowledge his strengths.Celebrate what he is doing right and what made you marry him. Celebrate the progress he is making in the things that you’ve discussed he should work on.
2. Undermining him
You undermine his ability to make good decisions. You question his decision-making. This is seen through you being too independent and wanting to be in control. You become so accustomed to making your own decisions that you want to be in the driver’s seat. This is considered belittling your husband. Undermining his decision tells him that you don’t trust him. Men need to feel like you trust them.
How to pivot? Acknowledge his leadership and support his decisions while still giving him suggestions in a loving way. Do not push your desires onto him as the right thing to do. Relinquish your control.
3. Telling him how to do tasks
It is important to understand that your husband is not going to do things the way you want them to be done.
How to pivot? Give him room to express himself in what he does. Allow him to do things how he wants to. Give him room to make mistakes.
4. Not acknowledging him when he arrives home
Sometimes women use their hormones as an excuse to not be affectionate with their husband. This lack of affection makes him feel unappreciated.
How to pivot? Greet him at the door with a hug and kiss when he arrives home.
5. Callous Tone
We may bring different attitudes from our environment into our marriage. Our tone and words may be callous. When our tone is callous, it may come across as condescending. Condescending remarks can destroy your husband’s leadership skills.
How to pivot? Ensure that whatever you say edifies your husband. Make sure your tone does not disrespect him. When you talk to your husband, touch him lovingly. It may cause him to open up to you more. Use a gentle voice when speaking to him.
This is one of the top ways to disrespect your husband. This tears him down. It makes him feel like he is not enough. Disrespect will either cause your husband to crumble or rebel. Your criticism will cause your husband to have a deaf ear to anything you say.
How to pivot? Praise and support your husband. He is going to make mistakes. In his imperfection, he still needs love. He needs your encouragement.
7. Discussing past relationships
Constantly discussing past relationships makes him feel like he needs to compete.
How to pivot? It is better to be general than to bring up examples from your past relationships.
Certain things about your marriage should not be shared with others. Some things should stay between you and your husband. Oversharing will make you susceptible to attacks.
How to pivot? Discuss with your husband what is okay to share and what’s not okay. If your husband shares something personal, do not share it because he will feel betrayed and it will impact his trust.
9. Bringing up divorce
Do not threaten to leave every time things get hard. This indicates that you are not loyal to him which causes him not to trust you. It will affect his security in your marriage. Men need a sense of security just like women do. You are to be loyal to your husband. Telling your husband you want a divorce disrespects the authority of God because you made a vow to your husband and to God.
How to pivot? Support him. Let him know that you love him. Be honest about your expectations and disappointments.
Your husband was anointed by God with authority when you got married to be the leader of the home. When you make decisions without him it shows that you think he is incompetent. He needs your belief in him in order to strive in his leadership.
How to pivot? Offer suggestions. Allow him to lead and he will give you the permission to go ahead with your suggestion. He needs you to believe in him so that he can thrive in his leadership.
11. Lack of appreciation
When you focus on his weaknesses, you end up not showing him appreciation. You are called to respect your husband.
How to pivot? Show him that you appreciate him. Show him appreciation for his devotion and the things that he is doing. Compliment him.
Believe that your husband will be faithful. Men thrive on praise. He wants to do more of what you praise him for.
How to pivot? Trust your husband and his leadership. Trust him to be faithful and devoted.
13. Expectation of him to be perfect in every season
Not supporting your husband will result in him becoming stagnant. Don’t expect him to be perfect all the time.
Do you constantly tell your husband what he should and should not do? This indicates that you do not trust him and it tells him that he is incompetent and/or unable to perform tasks on his own.
How to pivot? Leave the mothering words and cleave to your husband. Cleave with grace. Allow him to make his own decisions and support those decisions.
15. Overspiritualizing everything
Do not be super spiritual all of the time. It is important to be vigilant about what comes into your home, but everything shouldn’t be overspiritualized. Also, just because your husband’s relationship with God differs from yours doesn’t mean he does not have one.
How to pivot? Leave room for grace. Let God convict. Give suggestions lovingly.
Create a marriage vision and family vision.Once you create the vision place it somewhere in your home and ensure that your actions are aligned with your vision for your marriage.
Implement marriage meetings in your routine. This allows you to discuss what’s going on in your marriage. Meet every week if you’re going through difficult times in your marriage. Meet every month if things are going okay.
Lathyra came with a whole word. If you missed Lathyra’s talk, check out the Youtube replay here:
You can follow Lathyra for more inspirational content on Instagram @lathyraranger.
Catch up on the other sessions in the Respect series you may have missed by watching the replay or reading the blog recap.
Which trait are you guilty of and what steps will you implement from Lathyra’s talk? Let us know in the comments below!
Wife HER! founder and certified life coach, Zemi Stewart, recently presented on “Giving Him Room to Grow: Respecting Him While In the Valley”. As many of these valley moments have their roots in trauma, Zemi discussed seven ways wives can create a safe place for their husbands to heal and grow.
Below are her talking points, written in her own voice.
What Is Trauma?
Many of the characteristics of the valley moments our husbands experience such as low self-esteem, addictive behaviors, alcoholism, pornography, masturbation, habitual lying, low libido, hypersexual behavior, excessively rough sex, flashbacks, panic attacks, avoidance, and the list goes on, have their roots in trauma. I call these characteristics the “leaves and branches”.
Trauma is defined as an emotional wound or shock that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person. Examples include: childhood abuse or neglect, relationship or betrayal trauma, gang violence, a car accident, the sudden death of a loved one, an assault or attempted assault, and the list goes on.
Trauma & Marriage
It is important as wives that we realize that our husbands are human. Many men enter into marriage feeling fine and in control with no idea of what lay dormant under the surface, but the good – though sometimes painful – thing about marriage is that it is a mirror, a revealer, a truth exposer. It shines a light on many of the things we’ve carefully hidden from the world.
Some may be wondering, Shouldn’t I have known about his trauma before marriage so that I:
could have prepared myself or
avoided this man altogether?
Ideally, you should know beforehand, but many wives find out after marriage for a variety of reasons:
He blacked out the memories
He was afraid to lose you
He thought he could handle it / didn’t see it as a problem
He feels ashamed
It could also be that you failed to ask the right questions pre-marriage; however, in my experience, the right questions are often asked but the truth does not manifest until later.
Typically, the first response after learning of his trauma (or it’s “leaves and branches”), is to feel betrayed and angry, but it’s important to note that God may have allowed you to walk in “blindly” to teach you, heal you both and reveal His glory. You can take time to throw a pity party or you can move forward in purpose.
You can move beyond the valley and hopefully this conversation will be the nudge you need to get moving. Not everyone who enters a valley leaves with their marriage intact, but it is possible, and if you are reading this, that is my prayer for you.
7 Tips for Wives
Disclaimer:These tips are helpful for men who have undergone trauma. If you feel your husband may be suffering from a mental illness, please seek professional help for both you and him. If you are being physically or verbally abused, please seek the help of a professional.
1. Recognize the root
Look beyond what your eyes see and try to get to the heart of the matter. This comes through prayer, heart to heart conversations, divine revelation, reading and research.
Men who have suffered trauma quite often display self-limiting beliefs: they tell themselves they are flawed, broken, unworthy of love, not good enough, etc.
You don’t have to search phones and devices in secret to get to the root, the truth is revealed over time.
2. Respect his version of events
Let’s say you found out that your husband was neglected as a child and the way this manifested as an adult is him finding his identity in possessions and the opinions of others, so he would purchase things for this woman, that woman, etc. and it got out of control. A lot, yes a lot…buttt he wants to heal, he wants to stop his behavior and he wants to save his marriage.
It is important that you listen and believe his version of the events without trying to fill in gaps and breaks in the timeline. This is especially true of men who are victims of sexual abuse (and that number is incredibly high!) – it’s 1 in every 6 men in the US and likely 1 in every 3 in The Bahamas (if not more!).
Victims of trauma fear not being believed and being blamed for what they went through. Not only that but trauma can interfere with the memory causing certain situations to be blacked out. He may not remember the age he was when his abuse started or ended. He may not remember when he was first exposed to pornography, etc. It’s hard but you have to accept this and continue to allow the truth to be revealed over time.
Vocalize your belief in him, and not just his interpretation of the events but also in the effects. If he feels X led him to become Y, then accept that as his truth.
Remember we’re creating a safe place for his healing and, as he heals and becomes more and more naked with you, true intimacy develops.
3. Respect his healing process
Healing is not a linear process and it looks different for everyone. His healing process won’t always mimic the blogs you read or YouTube videos you watch, and that is okay.
Therapy is recommended but it should not be forced
Keep communication lines open both with him and with God
Understand / be aware of his triggers and also what triggers you in the process as you heal as well
Don’t take things personally
4. Respect his privacy while providing accountability
Resist the urge to search his phone and devices. This breeds mistrust and may cause him to withdraw or create new wounds.
If he requests accountability, and it is important that he agree to this even if it is your suggestion first, then have his password and look through his phone only with his permission. You can also allow technology to work for you and use sites like Covenant Eyes, if pornography is an issue.
The key things to ask for are honesty, openness, no secured or private folders, and a commitment to faithfulness. You can ask for accountability, but you also need to agree to the measures put in place. You should not force change or force healing as that will backfire.
5. Respect his boundaries
If he’s not ready for therapy, accept it. If he does not want to share all of the details of his trauma, accept it and don’t push him to reveal what he’s not ready to relive. Some men distance themselves for a time to collect their thoughts; give him the freedom to do this. Note: This period of separation should be short term. If extended, e.g. longer than a day or weekend, prioritize him coming home safely.
6. Resist the urge to become Mrs. Fix It
Jada Smith ended up in a whole entanglement because of her desire to be Mrs. Fix It. Sis, your husband is not your project!
Your husband is not your project. He first and foremost belongs to GOD. It’s natural to want to fix him, help him and make everything alright, but you cannot love away trauma.
You cannot love away someone’s trauma. Instead, listen to him, validate his feelings, be present, be an active listener, confirm your support and take the conditions off of your love.
6. Remember to take care of you
Uncovering his traumas and the chain of events that led to the uncovering, can lead to your own betrayal or relationship trauma. You may feel a range of emotions: sadness, anger, hopelessness, love, etc. It’s important that you find support whether that is therapy, a support group and/or a trusted friend.
Be sure to funnel your thoughts and refocus your mind. You can’t erase what you replay so try not to replay the events: the cheating, the pornographic images, his remarks, his lies, etc. Instead, focus on your well-being and creating a safe place for mutual healing.
Missed the session? Be sure to catch the replay below.
The Focus of The Month for August is Relationships: Respecting Your Husband. You can check out this month’s focus Bible text and video here.
Make sure you’re tuned in this week for another insightful discussion on Respect. Join the Wife HER Facebook group so that you can stay updated.
For more inspiration from Zemi, follow her on Instagram @zemiregine.
Inspirational life and relationship coach, dynamic speaker, loving wife and mother, ShaKeisha Johnson also known as Coach Keish, dropped a whole gold mine on Friday, August 7th when she shared with Wife HER! members on the basics of respect and practical ways to respect your husband.
ShaKeisha’s focal verse was 1 Peter 3:1-9, chosen because Peter was married and his wife frequently travelled with him as he preached and ministered to people in far places. Peter’s wife exemplified the respect that a wife should have toward her husband, and no doubt was part of the motivation for the verses he penned.
In discussing 1 Peter 3:1-9, ShaKeisha stated that God receives glory when both husbands and wives have mutual kindness and humility toward each other.
Coach Keish shared 8 power-packed tips for wives that can be applied across all relationship types: mother to son, colleague to colleague, etc.
1. View your husband as a person
Understand that he has feelings too. Try to figure out what motivates your husband and what he enjoys doing. Once you’ve figured it out, do more of the things that he enjoys.
2. Celebrate your husband
Highlight the things you love about your husband as often as you can. Celebrate your husband in ways that will make him feel honoured, not necessarily in a way that will make you feel better about yourself. Remember, everyone’s love language is different. Try to love him in his love language, not in yours.
3. Honour the man that he is while you intercede for the man he was born to be
If you have concerns about your husband, take those concerns to God through intercession. God will assist your husband to become the person he was called to be. Continue to encourage him and remind him of who he is through affirmation and honor.
4. Be as gracious with your wisdom as you are with your encouragement
God gave you wisdom not just for work and interacting with different people, but also for you to apply it to your marriage. Use your wisdom to assess what’s working and what’s not working in your marriage and make the necessary adjustments. Take time to know your husband and take an interest in what’s important to him.
5. Constructive criticism is okay once the goal is to build a better marriage
Be conscious of how your husband responds to criticism. Consider using the sandwich method when you want to critique him on something. The sandwich method is a type of feedback that combines negative feedback with praise.
6. Respect boundaries
Give your husband the space he needs to do the things that he enjoys.
7. Respect your differences in disciplining methods
As a mother, understand that you and your husband won’t discipline the same way. If there are disagreements between you and your husband, respectfully discuss it away from the children.
8. Respect his right to a different opinion in the same way you expect him to respect yours
It is important to understand that you won’t agree on everything. You should be able to respect him even when you have differing opinions.
Coach Keish truly came with a message! Missed the session? Be sure to catch the replay below.
The Focus of The Month for August is Relationships: Respecting Your Husband. You can check out this month’s focus Bible text and video here.
Make sure you’re tuned in this week for another insightful discussion on Respect. Join the Wife HER Facebook group so that you can stay updated.