Again I have removed the names to protect the undiagnosed weird here and all typos and misspellings in the quotes go with the author of those quotes.
Leo Tolstoy once wrote in the opening line of his novel “Anna Karenina” that all happy families were the same in their happiness, but unhappy families were unique in their unhappiness. Looking at the Pearls and this particular couple sure proves that.
I just have to say there is so much crazy self deception in this piece. Self justifications and excuses, and things that seem so much more awful than what we know about this couple. It’s like they were wearing dark glasses, only to take them off and poke their own eyes out. The blinder leading the blind.
“If my greatest value is loving others because of the great love Christ has shown me, then what happens when I am in my box? Each self-justifying thought and moment leads to breaking another value I say I have, but now I am betraying myself. I start in on a crazy cycle of justification: I become more moody, justification: now I yell, justification: now I run away, justification: now I am not budging from this state of mind until he/she repents and wins me back with apologies and promises.”
Yeah, about that. This is not what you do in marriage EVER. There’s no mercy, forgiveness or loving kindness in any of this. It’s a recipe for misery.
“As the leader of our marriage it fell on me to reach out and try and make things right if we were in a fight because she wasn’t budging. We would be upset with each other in the morning, go all day upset, but after she turned in at night, I found it a regular routine to go sit on the bed and first apologize for my misbehaviors and then try to talk things through. Wife being an early to bed gal and tired when it turns dark, would generally accept my apology, maybe even thank me for it and give me a kiss, but never apologized herself. After all, in her box she was right.”
That’s pretty sad. Mature adults understand that there are times when you might need to apologize, be gracious, and forgiving even if you are not at fault. And newsflash, you can easily not see to eye on things and not be angry with each other. Anger does not have to be part of your marriage equation. You make that choice every single day. I’m not talking of those sudden quick flashes of anger, but choosing to live in a stew of feeling wronged every second of every single day.
There’s a reason that the Bible mentions a gentle answer turning away wrath. Wrath is no place to live, it wrecks your health eventually to walk around angry all the time, jump up your blood pressure.
“Now when I say never, I am prone to exaggeration, but in this case, it was not until our eighth year of marriage that I heard the words, “I am really sorry,” come from her lips. I would even coach her by saying to her when I knew she was dead wrong on something, “Wife, if you would just say you are sorry we can move on with life. We all make mistakes.” One would think that this makes some sense, but nothing like this makes sense to a person who is confirmed in her box. Wife would say in a nice way, “Husband, if I thought I was wrong I would apologize, but I can’t apologize for something I can’t see is wrong.”
A big part of marriage besides not holding grudges and being angry is the ability to at least hear the other person. You’re not going to agree all the time, but it does not have to devolve into this sad struggle of who screams “Uncle!” first and apologizes. Even if it’s just a “I am sorry you feel that way.” This is what happens when two immature people who don’t have enough in common, and do not love each other in a passionate sacrificial way get married.
“WOW! How can anyone have a relationship and go through seven years of marriage, and rarely, if ever, say “I am so sorry?” What is it that has a person’s thinking so self-justified that they can’t see they do things wrong too… or that they are a big part of the problem?”
Yes, that became my thinking in my box. I must be married to a really messed up person if she cannot see her own faults and apologize for them. This became a greater and greater source of frustration for me, always having to apologize to keep the relationship on track. But that is my job, right? I am the leader so I have to make things right no matter how self-justifying my wife is in her thinking. Poor me, I felt in my box.”
Self-pity has no place in marriage. Not even when you are justly put upon. It looks likely that the husband’s attempts to control his wife did not so much fall on deaf ears, as they roused an almighty resentment in her all the time. Marriage is supposed to be about being on the same team all of the time. It’s not an angry constant scrimmage over every damn thing.
“Far too many of us, when we are in our box, and feeling self-justified, we begin to, in an odd and perhaps perverse way, learn to wallow in our self-pity with blaming of our spouse. We cannot see that we are no longer the ones living our lives. Our strong values of loving others, and seeking their best interest above our own interests… being willing to lay down our lives for others, and that relationships are the most important things in life, all go out the window with this one person I vowed I would love the most in this whole wide world. Now instead of showing Christ’s love to her, I am pridefully sit in my box expecting her to get out of her box first, all the while never looking around my box to see my obvious sins. Furthermore, if I can tell enough of my friends and family and anyone who will listen how bad my spouse is I can feel even more justified! They agree with me! But of course they do because they are only looking at my spouse’s sins and not my own, because we are unwilling or unable to tell them of our own real heart issues. “
This, my friends, is the definition of gas lighting when the husband decides to tell everyone and sundry how horrible the wife is. It’s abuse in it’s most classic definition. It’s a serious breach of the marriage vows, and in my opinion a reason to separate, or at least get counseling. How is it washing her in the word, or even showing her any loving kindness at all? It’s not Jesus. These two have entered into a battleground where neither of them can hope to fully win.
I am betting that with this constant recitation of wrongs there were many family members, friends and church members that started to avoid the husband rather quickly. No one wants to hear a constant litany of this type every time they encounter someone.
“It is so easy to see if someone is in the box or out of the box by how much they focus their conversation on their spouse’s problems or how much they are introspective, at least asking themselves and others, “Is it me?” What am I doing wrong?”
Mature people will ask inwardly in many problematic relationships what it is they are bringing to the situation. Is it matchsticks and poison, or something more positive.
“Worse than self-pity was that I was purposefully punishing my wife and she was punishing me. I knew my box attitude and behaviors were wrong at times, but I again self-justified my thinking that she deserved my bad behaviors as a just recompense to her own behaviors that were worse than mine. Some souls actually punish themselves with their perverse thinking, that because I am not able to live up to my values I deserve a bad relationship and they get a seeming satisfaction from being out of relationship, because “we both deserve it.” Self-blame can be as bad or worse than self-justification when its purpose is to punish oneself for betraying one’s own values.“
Nope, I think this type of self-pity is a million times worse than self-punishment. In self-punishment you at least have the awareness that something is wrong, and that you have a role you are playing in that self punishment. Self-pity generally does not involve taking any responsibility for your own role in the wrongs of your relationship. It’s all “ME ME ME!” which never works in health marriages.
This is all quite sick and twisted, but it all just gets worse in the next part. Husband decides that communication is not one of the answers for fixing the marriage, or having a good marriage. Please do not think that! Communication, honest communication that does not attack or lay blame is one of the most important skills you can develop in your marriage. Next week the husband explains that all the things he’s tried, usually things that do work, did not work for him.
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