Linda began counseling several months ago to address concerns about her marriage. She had been married for only two years when she noticed that her husband was coming in later and later every night. At first she didn’t say anything, but 11 p.m. turned into 3 a.m., so finally she realized she had to say something one night. He stated he was out helping his classmates from school change a tire. But when he got home this particular morning his shirt was off and there were no sign of oil or dirt on his clothes. She asked him why didn’t he call or even text. He stated “I knew you would be mad so I stayed out to prevent the argument.” She turned to him and said “I must really look stupid to you.”
The next morning Linda called my office very upset by her husband’s behavior. She admitted that she started checking the cell phone log to see if he had been calling one particular number. As she suspected, one number kept popping up, a female friend of her husband’s. She told me later that week in her counseling session how ashamed she was for checking the phone logs. I reassured her that there was nothing to be ashamed of, but asked her, “where do you go from here?” Linda still loved her husband and wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and continue to trust God. I told her that I would respect her decision and continue to counsel and support her.
Several weeks passed and Linda’s husband continued to come in whenever he felt like it regardless of the anguish it was causing her. She would stay up night after night waiting for him and calling the hospitals to see if he had been in an accident. He continued this same behavior month after month. She prayed and cried out to the Lord and she also continued her therapy sessions weekly. Finally, she asked him to attend therapy with her. Although he was very reluctant, he agreed to come.
Arthur and I were both in attendance for the session and Anthony was very polite during our greetings. He said that he wanted his marriage, but that Linda is insecure.
Therapy Red Flags
“I am tired of all her tears,” he said. “She cries about everything.”
Linda tried to stop crying during the session, but it was very difficult. She tried to express herself but her emotions overwhelmed her. After a few minutes helping her to compose herself she turned to him, “ You are making me like this. I don’t even recognize myself in this state of mind.”
Anthony got up to walk out but Arthur called him back in. “I don’t need this marriage,” he said. Arthur walked out with him into the outer lobby and convinced him to come back and rejoin the counseling session.
After two hours of processing Linda and Anthony’s problems we suggested that Anthony consider Linda’s feelings and try to come home at a decent time. He turned to her and said “no one controls me and I will come home when I feel like it. I raised myself and I had no rules as a child. So I will not change for you or anyone”.
Big red flag for Arthur and me. Anthony’s family of origin used little authority during his upbringing, and offered no positive influence during his adult life either. Therefore, he rebelled against Linda asking him to be a good and respectful husband. Arthur and I reiterated that to stay married it would take sacrifice on both parts. Before the session ended the couple agreed to work on their marriage. They left the office feeling empowered to work together and respect one another.
Later on during the month Linda attended a wedding out of town that Anthony was unable to attend. She had stopped checking the phone logs and he was coming home by 11:00 p.m., so she thought her marriage was moving in a positive direction. She told me during the session she was worried about leaving Anthony alone, but she had made this commitment and she was going to keep it. She had spoken to Anthony a few times while she was away and everything appeared normal. Linda said she relaxed and had a very nice time visiting family and friends.
Upon her return she called Anthony to pick her up from the airport, and he said stated he could not come because he was busy, but would see her later at home. Linda was so amazed at his tone and response that she knew he had reverted back to his old ways in such a short time. Or, had he ever really changed?
She had to then find another way home and this was very unsettling for her. While on her way home she checked the phone log and Anthony was on the phone for hours at a time with the female friend, even while Linda was at the airport. She became so hurt and angry. An hour later when he walked through the door he didn’t try to kiss or embrace her. Linda didn’t say anything because she didn’t want to argue. The evening ended quietly but she knew Anthony was not being honest.
The next day she went to work but she came home early because she was so upset. As she entered the house she noticed that the house had been cleaned and certain photos of her had been turned over. Realizing that in their two years together Anthony had never cleaned the house or changed the sheets on the bed, she asked her neighbor if she had noticed anything out of the ordinary. The neighbor stated that she noticed a women getting out of a car and going inside her home, but she thought that Linda was inside. The description of the woman matched her husband’s “friend” exactly.
When Anthony received Linda’s letter informing him that he had 30 days to get out of the house, it was he who could not reach her by phone.
“It is interesting how he can call and text now that I am putting him out, but for the past five months he couldn’t call or text if he was going to be late,” Linda said.
How To Pray Through And Stay True
Linda never had any evidence that Anthony was unfaithful but she knew within her heart he had been. She reflected upon the many scriptures I had given to her during counseling and one of her favorites was 2 Chronicles 20:15 (For the battle is not yours, but God’s). She committed herself back to God, His Holy Word, and she started attending church. She made a decision to be baptized.
Linda realized that she made Anthony her God, and she worshiped him. She was so consumed with Anthony’s actions that she lost her own reasoning, voice, and joy. Though she is still waiting and trusting God to turn her marriage around, she realized that she has to allow God to deal with Anthony.
One thing for sure about Linda now, she can say “either we grow, or you go.” She has learned to apply those words to herself and stop standing in her own way. She is no longer fighting severe depression or acute stress disorder. She has become a stronger woman in Christ and is taking more control over her emotions and impulses. Anthony continues to come home late, and continues talking to and spending time with the other woman.
It is important to recognize, as Linda did after several months of clinical therapy, that she cannot have a healthy marriage without a willing partner. Every marriage takes complete sacrifice and respect which empowers love. True love begins with God, and you loving yourself. Linda loved Anthony more than God or herself. Marriage is a team effort and there is no getting around it. It takes three to make a marriage work. God, you and me. “Though one may overpowered two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not easily broken” (Ecclesiasties 4:12).
The names have been changed to protect the innocent.