By Joyce Oglesby
Q: “I watched my older sister go through a nightmare of a marriage. Her husband was controlling, and they are now divorced. I promised myself I would never marry someone like him, but I’ve ended up in a similar situation.
The red flags were there in my relationship with my husband. Why didn’t I heed the warning? I’ve heard you many times on your radio program talking about guarding our hearts and learning from others’ mistakes to avoid our own. My husband is now an exact replica of my sister’s husband, but I believe my husband is worse. We’re less than a year into the marriage and now I’m pregnant. What am I to do with this marriage?”
Joyce: Unfortunately, pain is often our most effective teacher.
It’s not too often people actually learn from the mistakes of others. We can promise ourselves we will never get caught in a situation like that or that we will do things much differently. It’s only when we find ourselves in love, or what feels like love, that we begin compromising our adamant declarations.
One of my recent Joyce’s Quotes for the Day was: “Love is blinding. It’s either all you see or all you want to see.” The red flags are ignored too many times because what we perceive as love is really a roadblock to true happiness and contentment in life. Humans are guilty of getting eager about love and marriage. Good judgment demands that we consider wisely all aspects of a person with whom we intend to spend the rest of our lives.
Now you must wipe up the spilled milk and decide how life will look for you from here. Here is a beginning plan for you.
1. Draw boundaries. Your husband might seem worse because the pain is now yours instead of your sister’s. Be that as it may, he can only gain ground if you’re willing to concede it. Lay down the “rules of engagement” in your home.
2. Present an ultimatum. I both do and don’t like ultimatums. I would prefer that two grown individuals would work out issues. But when one has a stubborn, prideful will, it sometimes leaves the other with no alternative but to proposition him/her with consequences for continued unacceptable behavior. Very few people will agree to a fundamental conversion based on pain they’ve inflicted on others. They typically have to experience it themselves. (As you have attested to in your question above.) Separation and counseling would be a good place to begin.
3. Your pregnancy is a priority. The father of your baby should be concerned about the welfare of the child’s mother. This atmosphere is not conducive for you to be with child. New life is a joyous occasion. It is a time the two of you should be celebrating new beginnings as parents. I’m sure you have considered the disrespect that is going to be modeled to your child. The likelihood of this makes it even more critical that you draw those boundaries and define your value in the home.
4. Respect your husband. Be certain to spell out your desire to respect him as the leader in your home. But make him aware that leadership does not equate to dictatorship. If he is modeling his past home life, remind him that you don’t want your family’s home life to be a mirror image of that. Your desires should be for mutual love and respect of one another. Those ingredients are big parts of a recipe for a great legacy.
5. Demand respect. Yes, respect begets respect, or should. Often people controlled by others give it up willingly. It could be that you don’t see your own value. If self-respect is not in place, it becomes easy to relinquish it to someone who will care less for it than we do ourselves. I can work with you to develop a love for your identity.
6. Protect yourself. Controlling men, and even women, who demand things from others often become confrontational. Never allow yourself to be harmed physically. Now that you are with child, you have another one to protect as well. Understand, however, that emotional harm is equally as damaging. Stress is a major cause of many illnesses. Be careful not to allow this to become a part of your normal.
What are you to do with this marriage? Preserve it. But the proper balances must be achieved. Do your part and hold him to his.
Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro and find a solution for life. Listen to The Just Ask Joyce Show M-F from 3-5pm on WFIA 94.7fm/900am. It’s where real life and family values connect!
Do you have any advice for this woman? Also, how to have a constructive argument.