My wife and I are about the same age. We’ve been married for two years, within which she has become very disrespectful of me, and does not care how I feel about it. I’ve resisted her desire to control me, a factor that has led to many unresolved issues in our relationship. She thinks only about herself. I feel somehow trapped in this marriage because of my Christian faith and my son. We can't agree on anything, so we basically quarrel about everything. She has stopped going to church and spends her time watching TV at home. She has shut herself from people at church who would have helped us. There is really nothing left to fight for in this relationship.
A loving relationship is founded on mutual support. Such support encompasses values like honouring and respecting each other and each other’s views. It is also founded on healthy communication. It’s clear from your email that your marriage lacks the support it needs to thrive.
I, however, don’t think that all is lost. Even though your wife may have hurt you, it’s essential that you open a door of communication so that you can talk about the issues hurting your marriage. When you get this chance, don’t just talk about the hurt and disappointment, also talk about the successes and happy moments you have had to remind yourselves of the possibilities.
You may need to probe your relationship from several angles: First, did your wife show these signs albeit in a small way before you married or early in the marriage? I’m of the conviction that she could have shown some signs of a controlling nature and it could be that you either did not notice these signs, or you ignored them.
Second, could something have happened early in the marriage that triggered her shut-down? For her to cut off everyone in church, particularly those who could help is worrying. Your assurance and acceptance of her, rather than taking a hard-line approach could help her open up.
The two of you also need to revisit how you met, how you view each other, and how the evolution of issues affecting your marriage came about. For example, how you view each other will affect how you receive teach other’s input into what is affecting your relationship.
In turn, how a couple views each other reveals whether they are willing to validate and affirm each other. The gap that exists between you and your wife now is testimony of a sour relationship and lack of mutual support. A decision to see your wife with the same eyes God sees you with could help tone down the animosity you feel toward her.
Of concern, first is the distancing of your wife from church. If a solution is not found fast, this faith that once connected the two of you will become a thing of the past.
Second is the distancing of your wife from people who were once close to the two of your and could have given the support needed now. The question to ask yourself is whether her dislike of church and pulling apart from others is part of protecting herself from being judged by them. It could also be that the way the two of you have handled the issues that confront you have pushed her into a cocoon from which she feels unsafe and alone when out. Television has become her comfort because it does not judge her.
You mention resisting her controlling nature. Perhaps you need to interrogate how you react to her needs. This, in addition to how you have reacted to other issues she has raised, could shed light on her behaviour. It’s also important to revisit how she has faced issues in her past life since this could explain why she acts as though she’s being suffocated by you and the company she’s avoiding.
The Bible speaks about thinking of the other person as better than yourself. I encourage you to lead your household Jesus style. Yes, your wife is controlling; however, you cannot change this by being unresponsive or rigid.
Your current attitude will do nothing but draw the two of you apart. One person has to give in, so why can’t it be you? Christ led us by offering unconditional love and unconditional forgiveness. He was a servant leader who served expecting nothing in return.
I urge you to take time, pray and write down what you need to do based on what I’ve outlined. Follow this with a moment of reflection to see whether your attitude towards your wife could be contributing to the stalemate you’re experiencing. To start off a meaningful discussion, begin by affirming her before you let her know what you need from her and go on from there.
I would like to get married, but I fear ending up with the wrong man
I’ve been a keen reader of your column for the last five years. I’m 30 years, a single mother of two children that I got in my teenage. I was rebellious, and never really listened to anybody. I just lived life the way I saw fit. My two children are from two different men who never showed kindness to me. It has taken time for me to heal. With my children now grown-up, I’ve been desiring to get into a relationship, but after reading many negative stories in newspapers and watching worrying news on TV about marriage, I get scared about what would happen if I got into a relationship. I would rather be in a relationship of friends. There’s too much selfishness out there.
Your fears about today’s marriages and relationships in general are justified. Sadly, many are not doing much to get back to where they embrace a learner’s attitude. As much as the bodies of our young people are maturing faster, this is not commensurate to their mental and emotional development, which seems to lag behind. If there is no intentionality in the maturing of our young people, they will find it difficult, even in adulthood, to handle stressful situations even in their own relationships.
That said, I am of the conviction that both marriage and singleness are a gift. I can’t say that you were called for singleness.
As a mother of two, you have certain priorities that are very clear. Among these are your personal development and raising your children well.
I encourage you to be proud of your singleness, to enjoy it and live it with pride and responsibility. When a time comes for you to move to marriage, you will recognise that time.
There is a lot at stake that needs to be carefully considered before you make the decision to have a man in your life, even though you have healed from the past.
Instead of giving in to the fear of the unknown, focus on being your best at this stage and seek to get fulfilment in what you are doing as you look forward to the future.
Note that though important, marriage will not necessarily complete you.
God has created us whole and able to reach the potential he created us to reach, so do not allow fear to rule your life.