By Dr. Kim Logan-Nowlin & Arthur E. Nowlin, LMSW, CAADC
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This article was written by Dr. Kim and Arthur Nowlin for Message Magazine : Drama Files
Peter and Joan’s anger often echoed throughout their small bungalow. Insults and name-calling were the normal mode of communication. The anger was not only affecting the relationship between them, but their two small children were unable to participate at school without demonstrating the same behavior!
Early in their marriage, Peter and Joan’s relationship was good and they resolved their disagreements in a more sensitive manner. Somewhere, something broke! It appeared to start out as a minor incident but was soon picking up steam. Their sensitivity to each other was changing.
Peter considered himself a fairly clean and organized person and he became bothered by Joan’s apparent lack of house-keeping skills and the amount of clutter around the house. He felt he was not receiving assistance from Joan and was always asking for her help to keep the home clean. Joan, on the other hand, was more focused on their day-care business and had a difficult time coming home to clean and cook for the family. Plus, as far as the house was concerned, Joan thought that the children should be able to play in the house after school.
Peter also had a hard time with the fact that Joan allowed her cat and their youngest child to sleep in their bed every night! He was allergic to cats. Peter had mood swings because of the on-again off-again relationship in the home. He thought he lacked the support from his wife within the household and felt the issues had become a problem. After all, he thought, all things should be done decently and in order. And in Proverbs 31:27 the Bible states that “[s]he looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
When to see it coming
One of the major areas of dating before marriage is to discuss how two personalities could come together and create a household. Peter and Joan were willing to spend time with each other during the courtship so they tolerated the little red flags of concerns. For example, Peter had convinced himself that he would accept Joan’s cat and just take medication to live in the same environment with the cat. Peter’s plan did not work because as the union between Peter and Joan weakened, so did Peter’s desire to consume medication to adjust to the cat. Another example was housekeeping and responsibilities. Joan was not raised in a environment where that was a major concern. Her parents where not neat, and they did not create an argumentative household simply because of the clutter. Peter, however, was OCD–he had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Peter needed to have everything in their place and would become stressed if the dishes were not washed or the bathroom was in disarray. Joan felt she could adjust to Peter and he could adjust to her.
The marriage was set up for a conflagration. Failure to express sincere concerns of living together caused enough issues that simulated a volcanic explosion later on. This far in the marriage, Peter and Joan allowed their anger to prevent them from moving towards reconciliation. They forgot fundamental principals to enhance their marriage.
The simplicity of praying together on a regular basis was an essential endeavor that had been lost. Reviving that prayer habit was a primary step towards healing Peter and Joan’s relationship. Increasing their prayer life has and will continue to assist them transition from the negative to positive interaction.
The couple allowed anger to be a barrier causing the erosion of their union. The Bible’s prescription in Romans 12:21 is a helpful fence-mender: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Peter realized that he wanted to improve his relationship with his wife and he needed to change his feelings by demonstrating humility, and he truly wanted change.
Being determined to focus on the areas that are broken such as communication, sensitivity and intimacy requires a strategic plan for healing. Recognizing and praying for God to intervene in these areas is crucial.
Peter and Joan are progressing because of their willingness to keep their family together. They are attending prayer meeting and bible study together and have progressed in how they communicate with each other. Joan is even willing to keep the cat out of the bed. The couple is currently in counseling and their names have been changed to protect confidentiality. Remember there is always a solution to change behaviors.