When I was about 7 years old, my parents realized that they were having marital problems. My father knew there was a problem long before this, but he was now ready to do something about it. They began the process of looking for a marriage counselor. They found many. They went to many. But it was always the same song and dance.
The marriage counselor would begin by getting the story of their marriage from both parties and then begin speaking to my father about what he could do to improve himself. My dad, being a humble and loving gentleman, was more than happy to take sole ownership of the repairing of the marriage, but knew that doing this would only exacerbate the problem.
Let me explain…
My mother was abusive to Dad. I remember one day, I walked into the living room and Mama told Dad to turn around. Apparently he had done something naughty. He obliged and she commenced slapping him on the back. It seemed to go on forever. I don’t remember how it ended, but I do remember Dad just standing there, calmly, letting her blow off her steam.
She would regularly kick him out of the house and not allow him back until he apologized to her liking. One cold winter night, he decided that apologizing would be the wrong thing to do, being he had done nothing wrong. He walked two blocks away to a local bank and climbed up behind their lighted sign in the alcove of the bank’s entryway. The fluorescent lights kept him warm through the night. I don’t know if he came home and apologized but, from experience with Mama, she more than likely lost interest in the punishment and let him back in the door.
One night, I was sleeping upstairs in my bed when I heard blood curdling screams coming from the dark living room downstairs. I threw myself over the side of my bunk bed and jumped down the stairs, taking three at a time. When I hit the living room, I could see murky shapes fighting on the couch. My mother was screaming at us children to come and help her. I walked right up to the couch, picked out the shape of my dad, and slapped him as hard as I could on his naked back. I felt empowered and a sort of kinship with my mother at that moment.
In short, life, was on her terms. Nothing my father could do was right or good. She held all the cards and he was left scratching out an existence with an ever burgeoning family.
As you can see, if my father had tried to be the one to “fix” the marriage, home life would have spiraled down into an even more unrecognizable torture chamber. His goal for seeking counseling was to find out how both parties could improve.
The second the counselor turned to Mama to discuss her issues, Mama would get up, walk out, and demand a new counselor. Many counselors later, my dad found a man who was a Christian and worked out of a church. Mama loved him because he only spoke to Dad about his problems. After a few sessions, this counselor recommended my parents begin attending a weekly marriage seminar at the church. The marriage seminar was called Rebuilders.It was at this weekly marriage seminar that Mama was introduced to the love of her life – Bill Gothard.
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I am a 30 something husband of one and father of 6 dynamic and loud children. My wife and I are still madly in love – at least in my view. My world is exciting, tense, and full of life. I love to write and hope to one day, do it full time. – Incongruous Circumspection
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce