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Relationships

Life on the Roller Coaster

Dr. David Hawkins
The Relationship Doctor

CBN.comMuch of my work involves counseling those in abusive relationships. Some of the relationships are blatantly abusive, involving violent words and actions. Some involve passive forms of abuse—the use of manipulation, deceit and violations of trust.

Many of these abusive and destructive relationships continue because someone enables them to continue down this destructive path. Many tolerate mistreatment because they believe the abusive person “has been put in my life for a reason.”

Quite honestly, I’ve never understood that logic. While there are certainly lessons to be learned from those we allow to mistreat us, I cannot believe that God wants us to be mistreated to teach us a lesson.

Scripture teaches that we are  “children of God,” and “the temple of the Holy Spirit.” (I Corinthians 3: 16) We are the crowning glory of His creation, and Colossians 1 says we were created by Him and for Him. Psalm 139:14 says we were “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Given our status in God’s eyes, it seems important that we are good stewards of our mind, soul and emotions. We must guard against allowing others to abuse and mistreat us, using the wisdom God offers us abundantly. This will not always be easy to do, as observed in this recent email.

My husband is not trustworthy. Last year, around this time, he confessed that he'd been sexually intimate with a woman he barely knew when he was pursuing a relationship with me.  At the time, he was an active member of our congregation and knew better.  He never confessed this sin to anyone and thus got no help.  So he basically kept this secret for five years. He has looked at pornography in the past and never told me what he was doing or got help from a friend.  I found out by catching him one night.

The dishonesty and lack of reliability are always causing problems in our marriage. He runs the finances because he feels strongly that he should be in charge of that as the leader of our household.  I've really tried to submit to his decision and support him.  However, bills are not being paid on time, we're behind 2-3 months on several bills and are overdrawn on two of our checking accounts..  I feel like the minute I'm able to trust him, he goes and either lies to me or fails to keep his word and doesn't do what he is supposed to do.  

The emotional rollercoaster is draining me spiritually and creating obvious financial strain. I really have a hard time trusting that God will protect me. I try and not question why God has called me to submit to a person who cannot be trusted.  I'm confused and not sure what to do.  I'm afraid of what will happen to me spiritually and emotionally if I keep going back and giving my husband my trust only to be disappointed over and over again.  What should I do? 

Clearly, this is a very troubled relationship and has been from the beginning. There are many issues which need to be addressed. Let’s consider some of them.

This woman has been on an emotional and spiritual rollercoaster because her husband has been dishonest, controlling, untrustworthy and unfaithful. He has issues with pornography, deception, control, as well as irresponsible spending. These are all character issues suggesting serious problems needing serious intervention. A little abuse can have long-lasting effects on victims.

Perhaps what is equally troubling by her note, however, is the fact she is trusting God to protect her from her husband’s maltreatment. While God does offer us His protection, He also expects us to be wise and to actually have no part of darkness. He challenges us to expose these kinds of dark behaviors, and certainly not enable them or keep them secret. (Ephesians 5: 6-11)
I offer several words of encouragement and instruction for her and others in abusive and “crazymaking” relationships:

Set healthy boundaries. It is important that you not tolerate abuse in any form. Confront it, expose it, and insist on being treated like the child of God that you are.

Seek support. Abusive people want to keep their behavior hidden, and want you to keep their actions secret. Don’t do it. Find at least one person who will support you on your journey of recovery. Get into counseling and then insist that he participate in counseling as well.

Take one small step at a time. Don’t expect that you’ll change a destructive relationship overnight. Start by simply saying “no,” or “I disagree.” Start by getting clear within yourself about what actions are inappropriate and constitute abuse. Don’t let yourself be defined by what he thinks.

Read the Bible. By understanding God’s Word you’ll understand God’s heart for you, which is His love and compassion for you. He doesn’t want you to be confused, neglected or abused. He wants you to thrive and grow.

In summary, we all need to practice setting healthy boundaries in our lives. There will always be those who would take advantage of us if we allow it. As we embrace God’s view of us, we won’t tolerate the actions of those who mistreat us—and we’ll get off the rollercoaster.      

         


Dr. David HawkinsAbout the Author: He is known as The Relationship Doctor. With more than 30 years of counseling experience, David Hawkins, Ph.D., has a special interest in helping individuals and couples strengthen their relationships. Dr. Hawkins’ books, including When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You and When Trying to Change Him Is Hurting You, have more than 300,000 copies in print.
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