I know there are many physicians that walk out of their practice every day shaking their heads in disbelief of how people let themselves get into such poor physical health. Well, there are times when counselors do something very similar. I find myself walking out of my office very often shaking my head in disbelief. I am just amazed at how mean spouses can be to each other and how unhealthy they have allowed their marriage to devolve.
It hurts my heart to hear the name calling, sarcasm and blaming that is used in an attempt to hurt this person whom they had chosen at one time to love, honor and cherish. The volume could be loud, the posture attacking or defensive, or there could be stone, cold silence. These are all symptoms of what was once a relationship filled with hope is now just filled with pain and often regret.
Somewhere along the way the focus was moved off of the other person. The desire to please and to be considerate was exchanged for what “I want” or where “I hurt”. Selfishness replaced service. Self focus replaced empathy. How could this Jekyll to Hyde, 180° shift take place? On TV, when one is investigating a crime, there is a common theme voiced when trying to find the offender. “Follow the money.” Well, in relationships, it can be almost as simple. In the words of a colleague of mine, “follow the pain.”
We do a lot of crazy things when we cope with the pain we have. We usually call that pain, “buttons”, although we often do not slow down our reaction enough to determine what those buttons are. We just know they got pushed and we are reacting to them. Our partners are always pushing our buttons. There is a long list of buttons, and it can include feeling rejected, alone, inadequate, failure, judged, worthless, and out of control. In an earlier blog, I talked about how some of those pains developed, so I won’t go there again. What I would like to zero in on is the one key to prohibiting that destructive behavior that is so mean.
We have choices. We can either choose to be mean, to react out of our pain, or we can choose a different, more compassionate route. For this to take place, humility must be present. Humility is not giving in, avoiding or being a doormat. Humility comes from a clear knowledge as to who you are. It is a strength that allows one to stand in the middle of a storm that is pressing down on you and not giving into the emotional tone of the moment. The person who is humble accepts responsibility for when he is wrong and does not have to prove to the other if he is right.
In Gayle Erwin’s, The Jesus Style, it is noted that it is Jesus’ humility that gave Him strength to say, “No,” when people wanted him to do things that was contrary to his purpose. He did not give in to being manipulated (Mark 12:13-15). He did not allow His abilities to do signs and wonders to be used as a sideshow (Mark 8:11-13). He withdrew into the hills when the people were coming to force Him to be king (John 6:15). It was humility that helped Him because He knew who He was and what His purpose was.
When couples are hurting each other so deeply, I see no humility. They lose their direction and their identity. They only thing they are focused on is protecting themselves at the expense of the relationship. “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me” are absent from their communication. Even those in Christ park their identity in Him and return to the old person they had supposedly “taken off” (Colossians 3).
5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 Youused to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.Or Galatians 5…19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Why are people so mean to each other, especially their spouses?
I think we forget who we really are… in Christ. We return to our old way of feeling, thinking and behaving that might have had some kind of success in the past but it now is destroying what we want most. As Christians, it is not who we are or called to be. This identity is not dependent on whether my spouse does the right thing or not. I am this person and behave according regardless of what my spouse does. When we forget this, we do mean things.
Leave a Reply