Marriage: Is it too late for mine? In this frank article, Julie Ganschow says when God’s involved, nothing is impossible. . even when husbands move on or wives check out. Julie is listed here on our Heart2Heart Counseling Directory. Her article appeared first here and is reprinted with permision.
“Is it too late to save my marriage?”
I have been asked this question over and over in the counseling office. And I hesitate to say that “too late” applies to a marriage that involves a Christian, and especially two Christians. I also hesitate because that implies that God is not able to change them.
When God is involved, nothing is impossible!
There’s Hope. . .Always
When troubles persist even in a “Christian” marriage, damage continues to mount and love grows cold. The actions of love cease to exist as withholding of affection, attention, and serving each other become commonplace. Bitterness and resentment often grow between the couple. And distance becomes preferable.
This is where things usually are by the time the couple comes for biblical counseling.
I want to encourage you by reminding you nothing is impossible when God is involved. This is true even if your husband has left you, moved out, or moved on. When people are willing to do what God asks of them in spite of how they feel great things happen!
Maybe You’ve Checked Out
That being said, some women reach that certain point emotionally where they just give up and refuse to believe anything will ever change. I call it “rounding the corner.” When this happens it is very rare for her to return to the marriage. Her heart hardens. She refuses to cooperate anymore in counseling, or to give her husband another opportunity to change and get it right.
Sometimes it is because he has promised for months or years to change and nothing lasting has happened. Sometimes she finds someone else. And other times she is just without hope anymore.
All of these are sad, and even sinful responses a person can have to someone else’s sin. That may sound harsh to you, but I speak from the perspective that God is able to do more than we ask or imagine according to His will.
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It is not God’s will that two people who make a covenant before Him to be husband and wife . . .decide they don’t want to be married anymore.
Change Begins in the Heart
Christian woman, if you want to save your marriage, begin by becoming husband-oriented.
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Eph. 5:22-24 gives us some instructions about our role in the marriage with respect to submission.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
But how many women have ceased complaining and arguing but are unsubmissive in their hearts? Many I fear!
Women who are not husband-oriented are as much a problem as husbands who are not wife-oriented! Many women have become so supremely selfish! In counseling I hear about “my career”, “my private time”, “my time for the spa” (or shopping or fill in the blank). With this attitude, soon the couple leads separate lives.
Make a New Commitment
If this describes you totally or even remotely, then it is time to make a new commitment to become a “new person.” Yes. . .1 + 1 = 1
If you have lived for years or even months independently as a couple, it is going to take some work from both of you to change this. You will need to commit to change, change of the heart. But there is hope.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
You have a choice to heal, even when you’ve faced childhood sex abuse, among the most awful experiences a woman can have. In this article by acclaimed author Dawn Scott Damon, you’ll discover potholes on the road to recovery.
BONUS: BOOK GIVEAWAY! If you’d like to enter the giveaway for Dawn’s latest book, When the Woman Abused Was You, leave a comment at this blog post or contact me. Use the words, “I want Dawn’s book!” I’ll contact the winner through email by Friday. Thanks! –Lucy
Some women live for decades unaware of their abusive past. Others who were abused as children live in the shadows of shame, afraid to confront the monsters of the past. Still other women let their abuse define them.
But there is another choice: the choice to heal.
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The choice to heal can be difficult, yet it is the only choice that brings healing and new life.
So what things hold us back from making the choice to heal?
Potholes on the Road to Recovery
FEAR: We are afraid we will slip into an emotional “hole” and never get out again. Or we’re
afraid to give up our old coping mechanisms or to be seen as “weak.” Or we may fear going
crazy, losing a relationship, or facing the truth or allowing ourselves to feel. No matter the
fear, denial is destructive. Ignoring a wound only brings festering. Commit to honestly looking at your past and grieving your losses.
We’re unwilling to admit we have a problem. We’re not one of “them.” We don’t want to be identified as weak or a sexual abuse survivor. Everyone else has a problem. We default to control and manipulation
, and we are afraid to trust people.
We develop a victim mindset. We stake a claim for what we believe we deserve and build a case for ourselves. But our attitude is our choice and the basis of self-control. We can refuse to think like a victim by refuting “thought saboteurs.”
, apathy, blame, criticism, depression
, dishonesty, fear, guardedness, hatred, indifference, intolerance, irresponsibility, jealousy, mistrust, pessimism, pride, resentment, revenge, sadness, self-pity, shame, skepticism, suspicion, and a victim mentality.
Are you struggling with pain from your past? With childhood abuse
? Is it time to take steps toward
healing? Pray through the areas above and ask God to help you face your fears
and recognize pride,
negative attitudes, and thought saboteurs. You’ve taken your first steps toward healing, and your life
will never be the same
You’ve carried scars long enough. It’s time to shed the layers of pain that hold you captive and find freedom and healing.
In When the Woman Abused Was You, author, pastor, and survivor Dawn Scott Damon openly shares from her own abuse experience and serves as a guide to help you make your way through the arduous healing journey. With raw and honest transparency, Dawn helps you take the necessary steps that will lead you to your own powerful breakthrough and personal healing encounter.
Experience new freedom you never thought possible. The journey may be difficult—even exhausting—but you’ll find reward and fulfillment as you transform into a confident, fulfilled, and overcoming woman.
“You’ve carried scars long enough. Its time to shed the layers of pain that hold you captive and find freedom and healing.” ~ Dawn Scott Damon
Dawn Scott Damon is a pastor, speaker, and author whose most recent book, When the Woman Abused Was You, released in 2017 and is the second book in a series. Dawn’s first book in this series, When A Woman You Love Was Abused has touched thousands of lives – both men and women.
Dawn worked closely with New York Times bestselling author Cecil Murphey (90 Minutes in Heaven, When A Man You Love Was Abused) and together they presented a conference, When Someone You Love Was Abused, Help for Those Suffering from Childhood Traumas, in Michigan and Georgia..
Dawn also writes a blog for women who have experienced trauma. It is named Freedom Girl Sisterhood at freedomgirlsisterhood.com.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Abused? Were you abused, phyically or sexually, in your marriage? In part 2 of this multi-part series on domestic violence, guest writer Jim Newheiser carefully looks at common assertions and takes a balanced view. This post appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is reprinted with permission.
Read Part 1 here: When to believe the victim, when to believe the abuser
I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse. Abuse affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.
Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop. They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings. Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).
While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups.
I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.
If You Feel Abused, Then You Were Abused?
ASSERTION: If you feel abused, then you were abused.
- The valid concern: This statement is often made to express the reality that abuse may have taken place even if the abuser does not recognize or acknowledge his behavior (yelling, pushing, bullying, coercion, threats, and intimidation) as wrong.
- The harm that can be caused: On the other hand, the Bible teaches that it is possible to wrongly interpret the words, actions, and motives of others (1 Corinthians 2:11).
For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11
For example, Eli falsely accused Hannah of drunkenness because her lips were moving as she prayed (1 Samuel 2:12ff). We cannot judge one person merely by the subjective feelings of another. For example, a man may be in a rush and accidentally bump into his wife (with whom he had had a recent conflict) as he turns a corner. She may accuse him of doing it deliberately to harm her when that was never his motive.
Words also can be misunderstood. What is taken by one person as angry and abusive might have never been intended as such. Nor might it have been interpreted this way by an objective third party.
Scripture reminds us: “Love hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7); in other words, love seeks to assume the best.
3. It would be better to say: A person who feels abused should be helped to objectively evaluate what has happened and to get assistance if genuine abuse has taken place. Part of this objective evaluation involves considering the ongoing pattern and cumulative effect of the accused person’s behavior, as well as the immediate accusation at hand. Proper evaluation over time keeps us from wrongly escalating the consequences for one individual incident while also not dismissing the whole situation because one incident wasn’t deemed as abusive.
Sometimes a Victim Has a Sin Issue Too
ASSERTION: It is never the victim’s fault.
- The valid concern: Many abusers claim that their victims are to blame because the victim provoked him or failed to be as good a wife or child as they should be. Many victims suffer from false guilt. There is no valid excuse for physical or sexual abuse.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
2. The harm that can be caused: Some victims have sin issues which also need to be addressed. I counseled in a case in which a wife would berate and insult her husband, saying “Come on Jesus man, hit me!” She admitted that she felt that she had won the argument when he finally struck her. Again, I emphasize there was no excuse for him hitting her. But she also needed to address her personal sinfulness.
There have been cases of sexual assault in which the woman got herself into an extremely compromising and dangerous situation (i.e., drunk, alone, and making out with a man with whom she is not married). Again, the man should have stopped when she said, “no”
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(also see Habakkuk 2:15). If he assaults her, he is guilty of a crime and should be punished. But she also needs to acknowledge before God her personal sin in the situation. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 addresses situations like this.
3. It would be better to say: Abuse is never justified, but victims may need to examine themselves to see if they have any sin for which they also need to seek God’s forgiveness.
(Friend, if someone has abused you, please seek help from a caring pastor, a spiritually wise woman at your church, or from a biblical counselor, who counsels the compassionate, effective Word to your hurting heart. Learn more about biblical counseling by Skype.–LAM)
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Leadership at home becomes unbiblical when husbands fail to lead lovingly and wives become angry and even usurp his role. This insightful post by biblical counselor Julie Ganschow, featured in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, appeared first here and is used with permission.
“He won’t lead!”
This is a common complaint from women in my counseling office. If it is a session where her husband is present, the next words spoken are typically,
“Oh yeah? Well, she wouldn’t follow even if I did!”
The issue of leadership is a frequent issue in biblical counseling situations. If you are a woman who is married to a man who does not lead in your home, you need to understand that he has been conditioned by our culture to be conciliatory, and to not lead his wife and family. There has been little or no instruction or biblical discipleship in his life that would enable him to lead his wife or family.
Men have been taught to be our partners; to be permissive and have the role of a consultant in the home instead of being a leader. They are trained to be sensitive and strong only in opinion. Many have never taken the mantle of God-given leadership seriously. They do not know how and are not at all sure they even want to know how.
Leadership and the Women’s Movement
Over the past 40 years, the feminist movement has emasculated men. The women’s movement and our “liberation” has also created tens of thousands of homes led by women. They are raising sons who will never know the leadership of a man or father, and daughters who will never see or learn what it means to biblically submit to godly male leadership.
I suspect many of you will agree with me, and some will be upset with me for these statements. But please sit back and look at the result of all this “liberation” on our society.
Do you think it is any coincidence that the number single parent homes have skyrocketed? Is it an unhappy chance that more children than ever before are on psychotropic medications (along with their parents)? Is it happenstance that society as a whole is worse off than in the 1950’s? I don’t think so.
While I am certainly not encouraging a return to the Victorian Era, when women were little more than pampered decoration, the consequences of progressive thinking have been terrible for the family and our country as a whole.
Many of the people entering the doors of the church each week come from homes or families under matriarchal rule. Couples have entered into marriage with little training or understanding of the biblical roles of manhood or womanhood. This creates a mess of problems in the marriage — men who won’t lead and women who won’t follow.
Wives Are Angry
The wives are angry. They bear the burdens of managing everything in the home alone. The husband views his only obligation to be that of a co-bread winner. He has a passive interest in disciplining their children and takes little interest in discipling them. He leaves most things to his wife. The husband doesn’t understand that this is not biblical because it is all he knows. She resents his unwillingness to step up and “be a man” and may consider him to be weak and lazy.
The women I have in counseling and discipleship situations have become aware of the biblical model through a women’s Bible study or women’s conference. They observe the marriages around them that do operate biblically. They desire for their husbands to take the leadership role in the marriage and home.
She begins to have expectations for him that he cannot meet because he is not equipped to meet them. By the time she gets to my office she has become frustrated with her husband. She already decided to “encourage” him to take the mantle that is rightfully his and has taken it upon herself to teach him how to lead her.
Books and pamphlets on the subject of leadership and biblical manhood have begun to appear in the home. She wants him to watch videos and attend conferences about marriage and relationships, and is devastated when his interest is minimal. From the husband’s perspective, things have been going along just fine thus far, why does she want to rock the boat?
Wives Begin Leading at Home
Complicating matters is the fact that in his absence of leadership she has stepped handily into the vacuum and has become the leader of the family in the affairs of life and spiritually. She has been the driving energy in the home, making decisions for the home and family with some consultation and input from her husband.
She is the spiritual leader as well, teaching and training the children to honor God. There is a part of a woman that loves the seat of power, and this is part of our curse to bear (Gen. 3), for we want to rule over our husbands.
If this resonates with you then you need to consider if the first problem in this equation is you. Pray and ask God’s help in changing your heart toward submission and leadership. Find a Godly woman in your church who can help you to learn these principles and then begin to build them into your life.
Be aware of the times you respond sinfully to your husband, and confess to him that you have become aware of your usurping his authority in the home and ask his forgiveness. Give him the grace and the space to be the leader.
Stop making decisions and doing his job, and put him back in the place to succeed. This is going to be a process, but with a humble heart and a submissive spirit you will see rapid positive changes.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Self-gratificaiton, also called masturbation, is the topic of biblical counselor Julie Ganschow’s all-time favorite posts on her blog, appearing first here and is used with permission. Julie is also listed in Heart2Heart Counselor Directory on my website. (If you are a conselor and would like a listing, let’s talk.) –LAM
This issue has been a long time in coming to the blog. I undertake it with some fear and trepidation because of the sensitivity of the topic in such a public forum. However, because this topic holds such power over so many women I will enter into this arena for your benefit and for the glory of God.
A few things for you to know:
I have counseled many, many women who are struggling with this issue. They have no idea where to turn for information or help. They believe it is sinful and are burdened with guilt and shame. These women are fearful of being discovered and their secret being uncovered. They are afraid of being judged.
As with every topic we look at on this blog, we have to go to the Scriptures to see what God’s Word says about the issue. What we will quickly learn is there is no direct reference or prohibition to masturbation in Scripture.
There are certainly direct commands to avoid types of sexual behavior such as adultery (Ex. 20:14), bestiality (Lev. 18:23 , homosexuality (1 Cor. 6:9), fornication (Eph. 5:3), orgies (Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21) and the like. But nothing that directly tells a person not to participate in self-gratifying sexual conduct. There is nothing telling a person to do it either.
Now before you think there is a green light to go forward with the behavior, let me clearly state I am not saying that.
My task is to present what the Word of God says about this topic, and I must be true to the text. I cannot say the Bible says something that it does not say. What is required is that we look further at what Scripture says about sexual immorality to determine if despite masturbation not being specifically mentioned, it is included in some other aspect of that group of sins.
Self-Gratification and Porn
Most people who engage in this practice achieve a state of arousal by viewing or reading pornography. This is either hard-core or suggestive enough to bring arousal to the forefront of the mind. Because the mind is so effective at storing information, many times a person can recall something they viewed or read previously to meditate or play over in their thoughts at any time.
I think we all would agree that the consumption of pornography of any kind is sinful. It is at the least voyeurism and at the most adultery. Pornography both creates and feeds sinful lusts in the flesh, something Scripture commands us to abandon.
For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 1 Peter 4:3
Debauchery (extreme indulgence in immorality) will be the inevitable result of pornography. While many claim to be able to “moderate” with pornography, statistically people gravitate toward more and more forbidden behaviors as they view it. This in my opinion is one evidence that our flesh grows more corrupt (Eph. 4:22) the more it is fed.
Secondly, Scripture is also clear on our obligation to put to death the desires of the flesh.
Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality (pornea- unlawful lust), impurity (physical or moral uncleanliness), lust (suffering a passionate lust), evil desires (a longing for forbidden desire) and greed (covetous practices), which is idolatry. Colossians 3:5
More Questions About Self-Gratification
Is it immoral?
The question before us then is, is masturbation a form of sexual immorality? Based on the above Scripture, I would say it is. Self-sexual stimulation stirs up an unlawful lust and leads to forbidden desires and passions that cannot be righteously satisfied.
It becomes idolatry when satisfying those desires is more important than glorifying God.
What about widows and divorced women?
A common complaint from women is with respect to what to do with “illegitimate” arousal. This is arousal that is a result of prior sexual contact and having that person or practice removed from your life. This can take place in the life of a widow, a divorced woman, one who is no longer living with a man, or someone who wants to break free from the old habits of self-gratification.
Those desires are still there and are used to being satisfied. In the case of a widow or divorcee sexual satisfaction was a part of normal life, and is now history.
I believe the admonition to put to death the desires of the flesh applies to all forms of desire that cannot be righteously satisfied within the bounds of a marital relationship. Widows are encouraged to remarry rather than burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7:8-9). I believe that women who are divorced having been abandoned or who have been given clearance by their churches to remarry in the Lord would also fall into that category.
As for the rest, Scripture commands them to put to death the desires of the flesh.
What’s the godly way to handle self-gratification?
If we are commanded to put something to death, that sounds very final to me. To put it to death means to snuff the life out of it, to kill it off, to cut off the flow of its life blood. In the case of sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires that would mean to stop doing anything that keeps those things alive. Those who struggle with any kind of sexual immorality have to evaluate their daily activities to determine what must be put to death to keep them from entering into sexual immorality.
For each person the trap is different, so I won’t list them. The origin of it all is the same for this sin as for any other: the heart. (You can check out these links here.)
Sharing hope with your heart,