A former client reconnected with me and informed me that she is separated from her husband. She mentioned that she feels happy and more connected to her husband than she has ever felt before. Separation is one of the options we had discussed during marital counseling, but at that time, she was not ready to take that step. A year later, this client realized that she was not allowing her husband to grow. Now, this is a wife who really loves her husband. However, her definition of love was twisted in many ways. In the name of love, like many spouses she accepted abuse, she made excuses and covered up for the abuse and addiction. Many marriage counselors would condemn my choice to discuss separation as one of the options that allow couples to grow. However, in some cases separation is necessary. Granted is not the first option that is discussed in marriage counseling. But it has its place and purpose.
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I hope your marriage would never experience a separation. However, in order for your marriage to be a place of growth, 3 things must happen consistently.
Allow your spouse to reap the natural consequences of his or her actions – In marriage finding who is responsible for what can be murky. After all, an unhealthy environment can lead one spouse to believe that cleaning up after financial mess, irresponsibility at work and with personal engagements is the right role of a loving spouse. You are responsible for your actions and your spouse is responsible for his or her actions. Allowing your spouse to take responsibility for his actions is an act of love. You can still provide your full support but giving full support and love does not mean you should take your spouse’s consequences away. Don’t let manipulation, self-guilt lead you to take on something that is not yours.
Know that pain is part of healing – One of the main reasons many spouses choose to become PR agents instead of a wife or a husband is the fear of pain. As the PR agent, a wife will call her husband’s work and report that her husband is sick. When in reality her husband is suffering from his choices to abuse alcohol. However, this wife is afraid of her husband losing her job. Perhaps she wonders, can she really take care of the household bills. Facing his anger, her own guilt, her fear of not having an income is all real and valid, but losing the job can be the last straw that leads the husband to enter rehab. The job lost can help the wife to move from PR agent, enabler, caretaker, to helper, supporter, and lover. No one likes pain; but pain is part of the process of every healthy marriage. The way a couple address pains can make or break the marriage.
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Obstacles are challenges that make marriages stronger – Many couples face obstacles and they react by either running away from each other or one spouse takes the whole load. Imagine what can happen to your marriage if you allow your challenges to be catalysts. I am so proud of my client. This is a woman who decided to stop running and accept her challenges. Yes, she suffered many trials. Now, she is reaping the fruits.
How my client’s separation is helping her husband to grow? After many financial mess and many excuses, this amazing and strong woman said no more. Her stance to stop carrying her husband’s loads allows her husband to face his own demons. This is a man who is taking responsibility for his actions. His wife and his children are no longer walking on eggshells. His apologies and actions have helped his children and his wife to see the loving father and husband that he can be. I can tell you I see many happy beginnings on the horizon. It won’t be easy, but she is determined to rebuild a marriage that is a place of growth. I am honored to walk in this journey. Like she said, she loves the new woman that is in the mirror. And you can do the same.
Question: What action you can take to stimulate growth in one area of your marriage? Area: (i.e. finances, intimacy, communication) Actions: (i.e. extend support, setting boundaries, creating a plan of action together, setting an accountability system, get professional help)
Resources: “Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
― Charles Dickens
Addiction is one of the worst kind of suffering an individual can face. This blog post is about marital growth, but I know no one can be in a better shape while in addiction. Use these links to bent to a new you. Al -Anon and AA
Thank you for reading