Sep 3, 2013

Surviving a "Mid-Wife" Crisis #2: STOP it in it's tracks

I started this series yesterday, here is a recap: we discussed the three warning signs that you may be in the midst of a "mid-wife" crisis.  One friend described her experience in the midst of her mid-wife crisis as stepping into a fast moving stream and having it knock you off your feet, no matter what you do, you can barely keep your head above water, and you know it ends with a waterfall.  I once described it as walking up a steep sand-dune; with every step, you slide back two, and you are exhausted and you want to give up.  How ever it feels to you, a slide or an overwhelming force, what you need to do today is STOP it, so you can begin building your marriage back up.

S - Start having open and honest conversations
When I say open and honest, I don't mean screaming, crying and blaming.  I know you are tired and you feel like it's your husband's fault, but if you really want to make it better, you can't dump it all on him at one time.  Take a day or two, pray, consider and write out how you are feeling.
Next, take what you've written and remove every blaming statement.  Talk about how you are feeling, but don't blame your spouse.  If you must reference some particular behavior say "my husband" or use his first name.

Next, re-read what you wrote as if he is writing it to you.  Rephrase or remove any statement that is hurtful without being constructive.  Add four or five statements about what you want out of marriage.  Try to avoid saying things like "I don't think I ever loved you", "Marrying you was a mistake", and other inflammatory statements.  Remember, your purpose is to make things better.
Finally, tell him that you want to talk to him about your relationship and ask him when a good time would be for him.  Try to make it during a time where your children will not over-hear, and you will not both be exhausted and/or sleeping.

You might consider talking to a pastor for couples counseling or seeing an actual Marriage therapist, just two or three times may get you on the right path to healthier communication.

T - Think the best of your husband
During this time, often we spend so much time thinking about what is going wrong, we are unable to see what is going right.  You are looking for examples of how your husband is not treating you right, not holding up "his part of the bargain", not trying or any other negative or critical thing you can think.

Take some time and come up with a list of 10 things that your husband does well.  Think back to when you were first married and remember how you felt about him then.  Does he work hard for your family?  Does he make you laugh?  Is he caring, compassionate and helpful to friends and family?

If you are only looking for negative behaviors to back-up your feelings, you will have no problem finding them.  Instead, look for the positive.

O - Offer compassion and mercy
Look at your husband through the "lens of love".  Even if you aren't feeling it, start to look at him the way you once did.  Remind yourself of those things that you fell in love with originally, and focus in on those things.  Instead of assuming that he is silent at the end of the day because he hates you, assume that he is exhausted, worn out and tired from a long day, and offer him compassion (and maybe a back-rub).

When he is grumpy in the morning, instead of lashing out at him, offer him mercy, treat him with kindness, get him his coffee, make him his breakfast.  Don't do those things as more ammunition, do those things without expecting anything in return, just keep loving him intentionally, until it comes naturally again.

P -Ponder how you are contributing to the current situation
Maybe during one of your open and honest conversations your husband told you how you are hurting or neglecting him, or maybe he was silent and just listened to you rant and rave.  Take time and ask yourself these questions (don't make excuses, just answer them honestly): Does he feel loved by me?  Do I know how to love him in a way he understands?  Do I criticize or demean him?  Do I neglect my duties as a wife in any way?  How am I contributing to our relationship drifting apart?  What have I done in the last 5 days to strengthen our relationship or attempted to build intimacy with my husband?

Often it is easier to blame our husbands than it is to change ourselves.  As soon as you realize your fault, do your best to change the negative behavior, and do your best to keep changing.  Do it regardless if his behavior changes at all.  Do it for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days.  It will be hard and you will fight the voices telling you to just give up, that he is taking you for granted, that it's not worth it.  It IS worth it.

At this point I want to encourage you, some of you may be in contentious relationships with fighting that is mean and nasty and painful, and some of you may be in silent relationships where no one is fighting anymore.  Fighting is better than silence, believe it or not, it means you are still fighting for your relationship.   None of these things will change your marriage overnight.  Your husband has to be willing to work with you as well.  Both of you should work together toward a healthy relationship.

The goal is to stop the downward spiral before it reaches a critical point.  Maybe you feel like you've already reached that place.  That's when the term "Fake it till you make it" becomes helpful.  When my husband and I started up this road, my heart was hard, my mind made up.  But then I allowed God to soften my heart, I prayed and turned toward my husband, and God made-up the difference.

It may seem impossible, but I began to feel love for my husband, a warming of my heart, an aching in my chest and suddenly I could see him again.  I began to notice a change within a couple of weeks.  It's taken a few months, but God has miraculously completely changed my heart and his.  He can do this in your marriage as well.  You just have to give it a try. 

Have you ever had a sudden change of heart toward your spouse?  What prompted it?  How did it happen?   Do you have a story of how God intervened in your marriage?  Please share it in the comments with those who are reading this post.

Lord, I confess the places where I doubt that you can do anything to change my marriage.  I give my doubt to you and pray that you can intervene in an amazing way.  Soften my heart, help me to see my husband with new eyes.  Give me words to say and the right timing to say them.  Give me patience as I wait for my marriage to turn around.  I pray that every day I will be able to love my husband in tangible ways.  Thank you for loving me, and loving my husband.  Please help me to have eyes to see him for who you've made him.  Amen.

The whole series:
#1 - Three warning signs your marriage could be in trouble {Monday}
#2 - Four ways to STOP it in it's Tracks {Tuesday}
#3 - Five Ways to Make it WORSE {Wednesday}
#4 - Six Thoughts on Leaving {Thursday}
#5 - Seven ways to turn your marriage around {Friday}

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  1. Hi AJ,

    I'm catching up and read last post and this one. The last post on warning signs is sobering isn't it? Thanks for talking about this and for your honesty here.

    On this post, the T there of think the best of your husband is so vital! I agree, and it helps then as a couple works through the harder conversations too. Thanks

    Jennifer Dougan

  2. Dear AJ,
    Wise show how when we seek to obey God and act despite our feelings, but act on faith, usually the feelings will follow ...eventually...unless there are other deeper issues, which could be the subject of another post :) So happy for you and your husband :) My husband and I have been married 22 years and I often ask God to help me to love and respect my husband well because I know in my humanity, I can be naturally selfish... - he is pretty easy to love and respect overall, but we all have our moments :)


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