By Dr. Kim Logan-Nowlin & Arthur E. Nowlin, LMSW, CAADC
Back to Blog
Tara and William have been married for 12 years. They met while attending graduate school in Detroit, Michigan. They both secured excellent employment in Detroit and decided to remain in the area. Tara was an account executive and William was a certified public accountant. The couple had one son who was eight years-old.
The couple contacted my office to schedule an appointment to address a martial issue. William and Tara arrived in a timely manner and were very polite. The couple was escorted to my private office where William began to share their concerns with me.
William stated that he found out that Tara was having an emotional affair with a man she met on a dating site. William asked his wife ” Why were you on a dating site in the first place?”
Crossing the Line
Tara sat there in shock because she had no idea that William knew she was on the site. William shared in the session that a client for whom he was preparing taxes showed him the site. He told William that he had met a wonderful woman and had been talking to her for five months. They had not be physical but he was anticipating them crossing that line.
William never told his client that the woman in his pictures was his own wife. Nor did William even let on that anything was wrong. He finished the taxes, left his office and sat in his car crying and trying to pray.
Tara and William were both Christians and faithful followers of Christ. William would have never suspected that his wife could do this because of their love for God and for one another.
Tip of the Ice Burg
During the session Tara was asked to take down her profile page from the dating site, but she was not just on that site, she revealed she was on four other sites. William lowered his head and cried.
Tara tried to extend herself to him but William stood up to pull himself together and stood there looking at her with so much hurt. He finally returned to his seat, but could barely control his emotions. William stated that he felt Tara always had barriers between them and he felt her lack of commitment within their relationship. However, he focused on caring and loving for her hoping that his concerns would soon pass.
Tara shared that her father was an emotional cheater. When her mother found out, she decided to remain in the marriage though it caused such pain. She didn’t want to separate her family. Therefore, she tolerated his behavior for 45 years, praying for his life to change. He finally gave his life to Christ, Tara said. “My mother’s prayers were answered,” she said, and my parents are still married and doing well.”
William asked Tara “Why didn’t you ever tell me about your father?” Tara explained she was ashamed and it was their past hurt and now this negative behavior had become her present situation. She apologized to William and promised him that she would never do anything to undermine God’s will for their marriage again. William told her he didn’t trust her and needed more time and counseling.
Tara’s family origin and her father’s negative behavior had transferred to her development, and her pattern of thinking. It made a lasting impression on her life, and led her to experiment with his former lifestyle.
I explained to the couple that Tara may be experiencing Attachment Disorder in her life. Attachment Disorder is defined as the condition in which individuals have difficulty forming lasting relationships. They often show nearly a complete lack of ability to be genuinely affectionate with others. They typically fail to develop a conscience and do not learn to trust.
An emotional affair is sometimes referred to as an affair of the heart. An emotional affair may emerge from a friendship and progress toward greater levels of personal intimacy and attachment. What distinguishes an emotional affair from a friendship is the assumption of emotional roles between the two participants that mimic of those of an actual relationship – with regards to confiding personal information, and turning to the other person during moments of vulnerability or need.
Four main styles of attachment have been identified in adults:
Tara exhibits all four attachment styles. She feels secure within her relationship with William, but feels overwhelmed and anxious if he becomes to close to her. Unfortunately, she avoided and dismissed her husband’s concerns about her behavior when he confronted her, and therefore would become fearful and avoid him. She seeks other attention from other men from whom she is already detached. As long as she is not committed she feels safe within her own space. As the therapist it is important that the treatment plan address attachment disorder, trust, rebuilding the levels of communication with God and with one another.
Being the Bigger Person
Before the session concluded, William shared that he understands what his wife was going through. He reminded Tara that when he was a child, his mother was unfaithful to his father. But, William said, he wanted to be a man that would hold his relationship with God and his family in high regards.
He turned to Tara and said “Just a reminder that I personally choose not to entertain or consider any female offers, invitations, or wallow in flirtatious or ego-stroking actions. I am confident and at peace with who I am, how God has wondrously and uniquely made me. [I am confident in] the joy and happiness that I can bring into your life, physically, emotionally and romantically. My life is what it is, hopefully to only get better. My heart, feelings and love is to you and you alone. I am totally committed in my efforts–and with God on my side–to winning your heart, your love, your trust, your attraction to me and your friendship. This is what I want to do, trusting the outcome to God. Love always finds a way. “He who finds a wife, he finds a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22 Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)).
William told Tara that he loved her and is willing to trust God and move forward. He looked her in her eyes, kissed her as she was crying and said, “I forgive you, now forgive yourself.”
Tara and William continue their counseling and Tara has not engaged with any outside interests and they both continue to hold themselves accountable to God and one another.
Back to Blog
This article was written by Dr. Kim Logan-Nowlin for Message Magazine : Drama Files
Within our society individuals are living with domestic violence and afraid to speak out to help save themselves and others.
Shana suffered domestic violence for more than 10 years at the hands of her husband, Sean. From the onset of their marriage he had been violent towards her, but Shana never told anyone. Sean would verbally and physically abuse her on a regular basis. Because she wanted to save her marriage, Shana thought that if it meant being abused, she would just have to live with it.
One afternoon Sean came home early from work and the laundry had not been completed. He picked up a bottle of bleach and poured it on Shana. Some of the bleach got into her eyes and she had to be rushed to the hospital. Sean did not want her to go because he feared, rightly, that the medical staff would see her other bruises. He had caused so much pain in her life, but she had convinced herself that she triggered his anger. She believed that he could change, if she just loved him more.
Staff called in Shana’s parents, and the attending physician told them that Shana had three broken ribs along with damage to her eyes. Her X-rays revealed other deep scars and broken bones. Her parents had no idea that their daughter was going through this type of abuse from Sean. He always appeared to be kind and very nurturing towards her whenever he was in their presence.
Courage to Press Charges
Sean tried to enter Shana’s room to persuade her not to press charges against him. He knew the outcome would not be in his favor. Doctors, however, would not allow Sean access to Shana and called the police instead to investigate.
Unless Shana pressed charges against Sean there was nothing anyone could do, the officers explained. She decided to file charges against him this time, and he was immediately arrested. Sean pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison. Though he attempted to contact his wife through his family and friends, not one contact was successful.
Shana broke her silence and told her parents she was so ashamed and did not want them to be worried about her. So many nights she would pray to God for the abuse to stop, she said. She truly understood how people are driven by fear, shame, and guilt to live with domestic violence.
Shana is filing for divorce in order to move on with her life. Since being discharged from the hospital, she relocated and is attending church on a weekly basis.
Her insight regarding this violent aspect of her marriage has been sobering. When a person living with domestic violence holds their silence because of fear you are just as guilty as the abuser. You constantly allow it in your life, therefore, you validate the behavior. “I had to let go of Sean’s drama and not allow it to overshadow my life any longer,” she told me during counseling sessions.
With support from counseling, support groups, family, and friends Shana is now a vocal advocate and helps others break their silence with her advocacy. It is important to do something, read, and to extend yourself to others who need help to also break their silence.
Love, Power, and Clarity
Shana’s favorite scripture is 2 Timothy 1:7. “For God has not given me a spirit of fear but of love, power, and a sound mind.”
Shana wants everyone to know that abuse is a form of bullying, and the abuser attacks the person suffering with low self-esteem. Sean took advantage of Shana’s loving and mild spirit as well as her desire for her marriage to succeed. She did not want to disappoint her family and friends.
Shana now attends church, prays daily and studies her bible to gain confidence in herself and trust God more every day. Domestic violence will remain a negative life style within our society if others choose to keep silence and not seek help. In Shana’s situation it almost cost her the use of her eyes, and her life.
Be encouraged to break your silence and not live in fear and violence. In domestic violence each case is different, but don’t let it be said that you kept your silence to protect someone who does not value life. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Back to Blog
An unexpected reconnection at my office reignited lost embers.
It was a Tuesday morning and I had a very full schedule. I was meeting with several individuals coping with a loss of a spouse. I prepared to take them through all the stages of grief and prepared their treatment plan.
First came Travis, who lost his wife two years prior. He suffered with depression, crying spells and Insomnia. The first session went very well and he stated he would be returning for his next session. As he was leaving he recognized my next client Lisa and extended himself with a gracious hello. She was startled but so pleased to see him.
When Last We Met
They shared with me they knew each other since college and even dated for three years. The relationship ended when Travis went to study abroad. He stayed in Europe after graduating with his MBA.
Lisa completed medical school and is a physician at one of the hospitals in Detroit. They exchanged numbers and ended their conversation.
Lisa stated during her session how she loved Travis and never allowed herself to love anyone else. She came from a good family and spent a great deal of time with them, but she never dated anyone seriously. Our entire session focused on her feelings for Travis. She also told me she knew he was married and was doing well.
I knew I could not break confidentiality and I continued to listen. She was fully of aware of the HIPPA law and she never asked me why he was meeting with me. I wanted to say something to ease her interest but neither did I want to give false hope about Travis and her reconciling.
Give It Time
Two weeks later I met with Travis and he told me had connected with Lisa and told her about his wife and she was saddened by the news. Travis told her that he is going to counseling and wants to work through his pain and grief of losing his wife. Lisa understood and was very supportive to him.
Many months went by and Travis was still doing well. Lisa also was maintaining her session regarding her anxiety and learning to trust God. After two years of counseling I’m happy to report that Travis and Lisa are dating and taking their relationship very slow. They are now coming to couple counseling and looking forward to being married in the future. They both stated it was only God who could reconnect them with the same therapist on the same time and day.
Back to Blog
Paris sought counseling with me while going through a divorce. The problem: she always had concerns about her husband working around women, and not setting boundaries with his students.
Paris and Jamal had been married for only two years. She was a high school teacher and Jamal was a college professor. They loved each other very much.
Jamal had been receiving text messages on his phone consistently. Paris noticed he would turn his phone over, or just ignore the text. One afternoon, she received a text that her husband was involved with one of his former graduate students and that she needed to go immediately to his office.
Paris was off work on that day so she went right over to Jamal’s office. She opened the door and there he was kissing another woman, and she was pregnant. Jamal was in shock and all Paris could do was stand there and cry. She calmly walked out of his office and waited for him to come home.
She never saw any signs of the unfaithfulness in their marriage. She tried to play it over and over in her head, but she would become more frustrated. Finally, Jamal came home and told her everything. He also stated that the child was his and that the affair had been going on from day one of their marriage. On the day of their marriage, he had sex with her, yet and he claimed he loved them both. Jamal had tried to keep it a secret, but he knew it would eventually come out. He was to afraid of loosing Paris and being away from his girlfriend and his new baby.
“You lost me the moment I walked through that door today” Paris told him.
Too Late to Apologize
Jamal’s pleadings of “Please don’t do this to us, and I love you Paris,” made no headway with Paris. He was selfish and only cared about himself.
Paris had been trying to conceive and Jamal kept making excuses why they should not have a child. That evening Jamal packed his bags and moved out. Paris filed for divorce and never had any further contact with Jamal until three years later.
Paris was the keynote speaker at an educational conference, and after she finished greeting people, Jamal stepped up. She was taken a little off-guard, but not totally surprised that he would possibly attend. After they exchanged greetings Jamal plunged right in with an apology. His relationship with the other woman broke off shortly after his divorce, and she had a miscarriage. He lost everything over his own pride and selfishness, he admitted.
For Paris, Jamal’s admissions and apologies now brought closure to their dramatic and painful divorce. It was still over, however, and Paris made that very clear. She forgave him, but would not reconcile with him.
Choice At the Heart of the Matter
“But, you never gave me an opportunity to choose you,” Jamal countered.
” You chose the day you brought a another woman into our marriage,” Paris wisely observed. Their conversation ended, and Paris walked away never looking back. She continues to flourish and is focusing on her life with Christ and family.
I shared with Paris something my father told me. “If someone you have trusted can’t make a decision for the betterment of your life, then you need to make it for yourself.” Paris will continue her counseling with me me, is looking forward to a wonderful future and trusting God for her outcomes.
Back to Blog
Writing for Message has been a joy and pleasure for us this past year. I never thought that I would be sharing this story about my husband Arthur E. Nowlin, who passed away on October 30, 2016. As I reflect over the past 26 years with my husband it was truly a love story beyond measure.
No risk brings no reward. I stepped out on faith with Arthur and he with me, and it was worth every day of our lives together. He shared how he had handled a great deal of responsibility within his life and had been through so much. I realized that he was a great investment because of his genuine humility and desire to learn more about Christ. He had vision for family and what we could become together if I could only trust him. He was sincere about our direction to unite our skills and talents to develop family ministry to become change agents and help empower others.
Love At First Sight
Arthur and I met in June, 1990 at an AIDS prevention event in Detroit, Michigan. He was a social worker for one of the local family agencies and I owned and operated my own clinic for counseling and speech communication.
It was time to meet someone and build a life with the Lord. Though I had been married before, it lasted only four months. My first husband was a very nice man, but we did not share the same faith. This time, I prayed to God and asked him to lead me to the right person. That person would sacrifice his life for God, join my church, and inspire others to strive for excellence in their lives. If not, then I would remain single and raise my daughter alone.
When I arrived at the event, I got out of the car and my skirt split up the back. I was so embarrassed but I did not have time to return home to change, so I walked in very discreetly not knowing that Arthur Nowlin had seen the whole thing. He greeted me with some of his friends who served as hosts for the event.
I was friendly, a bit reserved, but I turned to my cousin Karen and said “That’s going to be my husband.”
Love at first sight is never easy to explain. Some people think that it is all a physical attraction, or that it is a myth. What is really amazing was that I never doubted in my faith that he was to be my husband. I continued to follow God’s teachings and His obedience and God favored me with a wonderful friend, husband and partner. I believe in true love and love at first sight with God’s guidance, honesty, and transparency.
Dance of My Life
That following week I attended a conference on AIDS prevention and I met a good friend of Arthur’s. I told her that I met him, but I was told he was married. No, she insisted. “He is divorced and has one son.”
“Is he a good guy?” I asked.
“The best,” came her reply.
I still prayed and trusted God to have His way. When a mutual friend of ours was having a cabaret she invited me. I don’t attend night clubs, I told her. She told me it was a fund raiser for her son’s football team, and I asked her if Arthur Nowlin would be there.
“Yes,” she said.
“Then, I will buy all of your tickets!” I told her. Even though I asked her not to tell him, she did, of course. I was stuck buying the tickets anyway.
When I saw Arthur again, he greeted me warmly. I observed him mingling with his co workers, but became uncomfortable when people started dancing, and I decided to leave early. Just when I was about to leave he asked me to dance. I told him ” I don’t dance.”
“I’ll lead,” he said smiling. That was really funny to me because I was not good at allowing other people to lead me, especially men. “What are you looking for, Mr. Nowlin?” I asked as I looked up at him.
“To grow with someone,” he said.
What that meant, I did not know, but wondered. We left the conversation at that, and I went back to the table to get my girlfriend Rita, then left. Arthur said good night to his co-workers, too, and followed us to my car. He asked if he could follow me home to be sure that I arrived safely. I was impressed and he opened the door for us and followed us home. When we arrived he kissed my cheek, and we said good night.
That night I called my mother who asked if I enjoyed myself. I told her the evening was fine, and that nothing exciting happened.
“What did he say?” she prodded. I told her that when I asked him what was he looking for he replied, ” to grow with someone.”
“And you felt that was the wrong answer?” mom said laughing. “He is looking to grow with someone, child!” I thought about what she said and I prayed and left it all in God’s hands once again.
Looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right
When asking God for a life partner I would tell my daughters to put their faith and trust in God and allow Him to give you divine wisdom on your earthly mate. My oldest daughter has said ” I want a husband like you, dad,” several times. Our son has also stated he wants qualities of his mother and
I: someone who has the qualities of strength and family values and morals.
In balancing a relationship it is critical to set attainable and realistic goals for yourself and your relationship. External appearance is nice, but in a constructive one-on-one assessment, communication, and sharing time together helps you distinguish between infatuation and true love. One must understand how to utilize courage, have the ability to measure growth, and know how to recognize and respect boundaries. Respect boundaries, and you leave a person no other choice but to respect you. If you allow yourself to compromise on your affections it could cause profound consequences in the future. Reflect and examine your motives for your true love.
Back to Blog
This article was written by Dr. Kim Logan-Nowlin for Message Magazine : Drama Files
One afternoon I was in my office about to leave for the evening when I heard an unexpected knock at the door. I opened it to find a woman named Channel standing there alone. Channel could barely compose herself.
“I just flew in from Europe to surprise my husband Clayton for his birthday. I had told him a few days ago that work would prevent me for arriving in time for his birthday.”
She was an attorney whose case settled early, enabling her to return to the states sooner than she had expected. All she could think about on her long flight was hugging her husband and enjoying a pleasant evening together.
As she pulled up to their house she noticed how dark it was. When she walked in she heard music and there were several couples in the living room, deep in embrace. More surprising to her was that they were all men.
She looked around the room and did not see her husband Clayton anywhere. She quickly ran upstairs to their bedroom and she could hear music playing so she opened the door. There he was with another man.
“Channel!” Clayton screamed. She turned quickly, ran out of the house and drove away crying and so confused. She kept asking herself “Did I really see him with another man? I never knew he was on ‘the down-low’ or bisexual. How could I be married to a man for 15 years and never suspect anything?”
“Do you think he was bisexual when I married him?” Channel asked.
I told her what she saw that night was not a one night stand. It was too calculated. I suspected that Clayton was very familiar with this man, more than likely he had been in their home before as well as the other men.
Can This Marriage Be Saved?
A recent national survey released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) revealed that more Americans are identifying as bisexual than ever before. Also, more straight-identifying men are admitting to having tried gay sex. Researchers interviewed more than 9,000 men and women ages 18 to 44. Of all the men interviewed, 6.2 percent of them said they had engaged in same-sex sexual activity at least once in their lifetime. And of that 6.2 percent, 2.3 percent identified as straight.
After several weeks of counseling, I encouraged Channel to decide whether she wanted to continue in her marriage. Clayton had been leaving her messages indicating that he wanted to talk to her for some hope of resolution. She decided that she would meet with her spouse to hear his explanation but she asked me to be in the meeting. I offered my office and Clayton agreed to come. As we prepared for this session I noticed Channel’s discomfort, but she remained focused and prayerful.
Then, on a Thursday afternoon, Clayton walked into my office, greeted us both, sat down and began to cry. He was so ashamed and wanted Channel to try to understand. He admitted he was bisexual and he had tried to stop his lifestyle when he met her, but he got pulled back in. He pleaded with Channel not to divorce him.
“I don’t hate you, but I can’t be your wife any longer,” Channel said. “I don’t know who you are and I have been married to a complete stranger.”
Clayton stated he would file for divorce and pay all expenses. Channel thanked him and the room went silent.
In the family way: Clayton’s lifestyle stood in the way of the intimacy and security he sought all along.
“I love you,” Clayton finally turned and said. “I never wanted to hurt you.”
Clayton reached over to hug his wife goodbye and noticed she was pregnant. She quickly closed her jacket, but she knew he realized she was with child. The had been trying for years to conceive and now they would be parents in five months. Clayton was overwhelmed with emotions and pleaded with her to attend counseling with him to overcome this desire to be with men. Clayton knew that this was God speaking to him to change his life and be the husband and father he had called him to be.
Clayton admitted he experimented with homosexuality in college and became addicted to the emotional attachment to men because his father was never in his life until after law school. He wanted to be heterosexual but Satan had a hold on him and he was fighting for his life.
Clayton shared in the session that when Channel was out of town men would show up at the house. Why is this happening? he wondered. He learned that Channel’s secretary was homosexual who learned about Clayton from an old college roommate who stopped by the firm to say hello. Channel’s secretary kept her calendar and would notify the other men when she would be out of town.
In our book Attitude Adjustment of the Christian Man and Women my late husband, Arthur Nowlin, LMSW, developed the behavioral concept module entitled the RACE syndrome which stands for: Rejection, Alienation, Complication and Experimentation.
The RACE syndrome is an extension of personal fear and anxiety that hinders positive growth in the attitudes of men and women. Rejection relates to fear, fear of rejection, which implies one is not at peace in their relationship with others. One cannot bare his or her true feelings because of this fear. Alienation relates to the lack of trust and the barriers of low self-esteem, shame and guilt. Complication is a major concern, resulting in the acceptance of sin and running away from God and our Christian walk. Experimentation prevents one’s socialization skills from achieving full potential and stagnates their opportunity to become positive influences.
With the guidance of the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and counseling the couple agreed to continue with me. Channel and Clayton’s strong desire to raise their child together gave them hope and a motivation to rebuild their marriage. She asked him to sell the house and purchase another one, and he agreed. She also determined that she would not be traveling due to her pregnancy and marital counseling.
Clayton received the Christian counseling perspective positively. His many emotional scars cried out for resolution. He has a great motivation to change his lifestyle and a great desire to leave his homosexual orientation behind to live within biblical teachings. That is the only reason this worked. The hard work involved requires patience and perseverance. He seeks the transformation that comes from his relationship with Jesus Christ.
I am happy to share as their therapist that they completed our book and Clayton has not been with another man in seven months. He has also severed all connections with his former associates. They moved into their new home, awaiting the arrival of their new baby. Channel works with me on rebuilding her trust with Clayton and Clayton is rebuilding his relationship with God and Channel.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Back to Blog
- CThis article was written by Dr. Kim and Arthur Nowlin for Message Magazine : Drama Files
Editor’s Note: Arthur Nowlin, half of the dynamic Drama Files Team passed away October 30, 2016. His dedicated work, honest wit, and spiritual leadership to this and other ministries will be sorely missed. Our prayers continue with Dr. Kim Logan-Nowlin and their family.
- Carmela Monk Crawford, Editor of Message Magazine
Russell and Rachael began counseling with Arthur and me three months ago. Russell had a problem with Rachael being so friendly with her co-workers.
Rachel tried to reassure her husband that it was nothing, but he was still very uncomfortable with her behavior. The couple had been married four years.
Russell made the initial call to help clarify his wife’s nonchalant attitude towards the matter. It was driving a wedge between them and he did not want it to continue he said several times. Rachael thought he was over-reacting and that counseling was a waste of time and money. Russell still wanted her to attend, so she did.
How Things Look
After listening to the concerns of Russell and Rachael we shared a perspective with them on the understanding of perception. Rachael never thought about how things were being perceived by her co-workers and began to realize that what she was doing gave them the wrong idea.
Perception is a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression. One of the major problems in communicating is the differences in perception. What is my perception verses your perception of the communication, whether verbal or nonverbal? It is important that individuals in a couple examine their perceptions, feelings and concerns to come to an accurate understanding of what is happening in their relationship.
Our approach, or “Nowlin Concept,” is called Message Identifying. It is learning to recognize and understand the sender’s message to formulate and then convey a correct response.
Here’s what remind our clients:
Did He Set The Stage?
Russell had to also learn that listening was not all about him, but that he needed to listen to his wife’s needs and desires. Rachael selfishly flirted and sought the attention of other men. The question became why? Why was she looking for love in all the wrong places?
Rachael admitted that she felt that Russell no longer desired her. He would not compliment her or encourage her. He had stopped inquiring about her day at the office or her interests. They had fallen into the trap of being a “routine couple,” going about the day-to-day business while neglecting their marriage. Therefore, she began seeking outside attention from other men and she began liking how it made her feel.
“I felt revived and like a beautiful woman,” Rachel said. Russell apologized for making her feel so unloved and unwanted. She told him “your perception of me was cleaning our home, cooking, attending to you and nothing more. My perception was to be a partner of equal importance and appreciation and also have our needs met and satisfied by one another but again your perception was not mine. It became clear that I needed more in my life that my husband could not provide.”
Rachael also mentioned in therapy that “What is very interesting is that you noticed I lost interest in you and that frightened you.”
Russell and Rachel must continue to build on the right perceptions of one another, to appreciate one another’s interest and enjoy one another.
The couple continues to receive counseling and both parties are working hard in their commitment to one another. Rachael is no longer flirting or dressing to attract other men. She has learned to carry herself as a respectful woman and always give the right perception to others. Russell continues to support, compliment and date his wife on a regular basis.
Once a week he brings flowers home, washes, cleans the house and cooks dinner. His perception of a wife has changed from housekeeper or maid to helpmeet. He has recommitted to loving his wife with all appreciation, kindness, and respect. They both have a positive perception of their marriage and they are both pleased that they attended Christian counseling.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Back to Blog
When through guilt and shame Sharon surrendered her child, she never realized God would give her a second chance at being her mother.
Sean and Sharon contacted us about their marriage and requested counseling sessions. Sharon had given birth to a child prior to meeting her husband and never told him about it.
The child was born when Sharon was twenty years old in her third year of college. She took a semester off from school, had the child and returned to complete her education without telling her family. She decided to allow the father of the child to have full custody, but she would have no contact with the child, ever. Her parents never knew the child existed nor did her family or friends.
Sharon moved ahead automatically for more than ten years afterwards. One day a letter notified her that the child’s father had become very ill. He wanted her take custody of their child, had scheduled a court hearing, and hoped to relinquish full custody to Sharon.
The Court DateSharon became very fearful. This child was now 11 and it looked as if her old secret could destroy her marriage, she thought. Further, her entire family could reject her.
In spite of her anxiety, Sharon agreed to meet with her child’s father, but first she had to tell her husband about the situation. Sean was in total unbelief. “How do you keep a secret like this from your husband?”
As the history unraveled, Sharon explained that she did not want to have an abortion or give the child away for adoption to strangers. The right thing to do, as she thought at the time, was to let the father know and give him an opportunity to raise the baby in a good and spiritual environment.
“The condition of not seeing her was mine not Kevin’s,” she said. “He never wanted me out of her life. I did not have room in my life for a child. Call me selfish or heartless but I felt it was the right thing to do for her.”
Sean got up and left the room, hurt and frustrated. Sharon sat there, crying alone. She composed herself and then called her parents and asked to meet with them immediately. As she prepared to pull out of the driveway Sean jumped in the car with her. “I’ll be in court with you and I look forward to bringing her home,” he said
Sean had no reservations about this situation and he knew God was working things out. He knew something stood in the way whenever he would discuss having a child with Sharon. Sharon became so emotional that Sean had to drive.
” What kind of mother gives her child away?” Sharon asked sobbing. “I just could not bear the shame or guilt, so it was easier to avoid it at all cost.”
When You Hold The Family SecretWhile walking into her parents’ home Sharon realized that her two brothers and three sisters were all there. Sharon’s parents called them to come over right away and they all thought that the couple was either expecting or adopting a child. All the other siblings had children except for Sharon.
Tears of shame began to sneak down Sharon’s face. The sight of everyone overwhelmed her and she just didn’t have the courage to tell them all so she asked to speak to her parents privately and they agreed. Her parents had always been supportive towards her and all their other children. Sean with her as she told her parents the truth.
“We have a granddaughter and you never told us?” her father asked.
“You had sacrificed so much for me to attend college” Sharon explained. “I was so ashamed and I made a decision to have the child alone.”
“I remember you taking a semester off and you couldn’t come home,” her father said. “Now I know why.” Sharon’s mother reached out and held her, asking for no explanation. She only told her that she loved her and she wanted to meet her grandchild.
When after an hour Sharon went back into the other room and told her siblings, they held her with unconditional love and laughed. “We have a new addition to the family!
Three days later the entire family attended the custody hearing. Sharon had not spoken to Kevin in 11 years but when they greeted each other she knew everything would be fine.
Sharon and Sean signed the papers and promised Kevin that they would be good parents to Elise. Sharon shot a glance at Kevin when he said the child’s name.
“Is something wrong?” Sean asked her.
“No, it’s just that Elise was my grandmother’s name,” Sharon said.
” I knew how much you loved your grandmother and I prayed someday you would meet your daughter,” Kevin said. He had only one request for them: “please raise her continually in the will of God.”
They all agreed.
Two days later Sharon, Sean, Kevin, and Elise met for dinner. Elise was the reflection of Sharon they could have been twins. Sharon extended her hand to greet Elise and after a few silent moments Elise said “I have waited eleven years to meet you and my father gave me a picture of you and I prayed to meet you and God answered my prayers”.
She then gave her mother a huge hug and kiss and there was not a dry eye in the group, especially not Sharon’s. They spent the next few hours and many days ahead getting acquainted.
Kevin’s House Was In OrderElise was made aware of her father’s illness two years prior to this. Doctors diagnosed Kevin with leukemia and his prognosis wasn’t good. He knew he had to find Sharon and reconnect Elise with her. Kevin had a very successful law practice and he made wise choices regarding Elise’s financial stability and future education requirements. He also knew of Sharon’s and Sean’s success and knew his daughter would continue to excel.
Sharon’s parents gave Elise a welcome home party and she met all her mother’s family and Sean’s family also. Kevin had always told Elise that her mother loved her very much but needed him to care for her until the day came they would be reunited as mother and daughter.
Kevin made sure, through God’s guidance, to secure a safe and godly environment for their child. Elise had moved in with Sean and Sharon and they began a new journey together. The couple repeatedly thanked Kevin for his kindness and love for God that showed them that God never stops loving or forgiving us and they helped him in his final months until he passed away. Elise was by her father’s bedside the evening he died when she told him, “I’ll see you in the morning; rest daddy, just rest.”
Restoration Eased the Guilt and ShameThe family was so moved by her love for her father and God. Kevin had raised his daughter to fear and love God as he was raised by his parents who had passed away several years ago. That witness lead Sean and Sharon to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Today, Sean, Sharon and Elise attend family counseling with Arthur and me and they are blending, adjusting, and growing well together.
Sharon has said that she allowed fear, selfishness and disappointment to interfere with God’s plan for her life. She had to work through her personal pain–the knowledge that she missed eleven years of her daughter’s life. But, overriding that was the unselfish, forgiving love of her child’s father, a dear friend, who restored a mother and daughter together once again.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Back to Blog
Edward and Natalie met through a mutual friend while attending a graduation celebration. They dated for two years and have been married for 13 years. During that time they traveled and built a wonderful life together, so it seemed.
Edward works as an executive for a major company and Natalie is a dentist in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Together they worked very hard to save their finances for their agreed-upon future endeavors.
One day as Natalie reviewed the transactions in one of their accounts she noted expenditures that were not clearly justified. She decided that before calling Edward, she would go to the bank herself. The banker told her $10,000 had been withdrawn from their joint account. When he showed her a printout of the debit card usage she thought there had to be an error. The card number belonged to Edward, but they could not determine where the money had gone.
That evening Natalie waited up for Edward to come home, but decided to go to bed when he didn’t show. When he tried to leave the house early the next morning, Natalie was already awake. She asked him what he had been doing and what happened to the $10,000 from the joint bank account. Edward, furious with her for questioning him, walked out slamming the door.
After a few days of avoiding Natalie, Edward told her that he had been gambling for a long time and was taking money out of the account over the months, just a little at time. She trusted his version of events and told him that she would go to counseling with him to work through his problem. Although he was very reluctant to attend he agreed.
Unfortunately, the storm lurked just ahead, threatening to sink and destroy their entire relationship because Edward was still lying regarding his true addiction. After three months in counseling and all appeared to be mending between Edward and Natalie the real truth came to light.
Open Up, In the Name of the Law
One afternoon a probation officer came to meet with Edward for his monthly visit. Usually, Edward visited his probation officer in his office in downtown Detroit. On this day, however, the PO visited and Natalie happened to have take the day off from work.
It turned out that Edward was serving three years probation for soliciting an undercover female police officer for sex. He had been going to strip clubs and soliciting prostitutes for five years and in addition to probation, he had to pay fines and lawyer fees.
While she was meeting with the probation officer Edward walked in on their meeting and was stunned. He finally admitted that he had an addiction to pornography for more than twenty years, managed to stop after they were married, but went off the rails at his new job. His colleagues there routinely patronized strip clubs during lunch and after work.
At first, Edward said, no one missed a few dollars from the account, but one day he noticed that almost all the money was gone. He got comfortable in his lies when no one detected that the money was gone, and Natalie didn’t know. He convinced himself that there would be no consequences. His lies covered his whereabouts when she tried to reach him at his office or on his cell phone. Edward convinced himself that as a habitual liar, he was pretty good.
Help For the Habitual Liar
Edward and Natalie attend counseling with Arthur and me to work through and understand the consequences of his lies. Compulsive lying disorder affects the sufferer and those that care about them tremendously. She has forgiven her husband and he has worked diligently to repay the money to their account. He also attends sex addiction therapy, meets regularly with his probation officer and attends church services with Natalie.
Treatment options for this disorder can only be effective if the person with the compulsive lying disorder agrees to treatment. In most cases, friends and family have to learn to adapt in order to maintain the relationship. Therapy addresses the addictive aspect of the disorder and helps the individual understand his or her behavior and how it impacts others. Later, we introduce measures to help change the way of thinking. Some psychiatrists prescribe antidepressants to treat underlying depression and self-esteem. Further, they may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to decrease the feelings of anxiety that may unconsciously prompt the individual to lie.
Hiding and Lying versus Openness and Honesty
A lie that one has told over and over can become one’s reality, at least in that person’s mind. We know our clients who have habitual lying disorder carry a heavy burden on a daily basis. They accrue very damaging and long-range effects too. One lie turns into many lies and the well gets deeper and deeper until there is no way out. When Edward hid from his inner demons, he trapped himself, a factor that reminds us all to meet issues head on rather than running and hiding. Throughout the recovery period, individuals with habitual lying disorder need help setting boundaries and maintaining them. Every part of recovery must be based on not reliving the past but learning from the past.
One must stop looking for the happiness in lust and through a sinful nature and find inner peace in Christ and within yourself. During the treatment process Edward re-dedicated his life to God, his wife and to himself.
We changed the names to protect the innocent.
Back to Blog
After 26 years, Maya was worn out and determined to find her personhood.
Maya is in her early 40s and came for counseling because she is in a long-standing, verbally abusive relationship. She has been living with her son’s father, Eric, off and on for the past 26 years. They would break up for years, then reconcile and this pattern continues into the present.
Emotions overwhelmed May her story unfurled. Eric berated her both in private and in public. It did not matter who was in his presence; he couldn’t control his temper with her. He has never taken responsibility for his actions, but blames her for everything wrong with their relationship. He has never apologized for his behavior towards her because he assigns all the fault to her. It was Eric who told Maya that she needed counseling for her behavior and not his.
When Maya told their sons that she never wants them to treat women the same way they asked her, “Why do you let dad treat you this way?” “I don’t know,” she responded. As they reached out to hug and comfort her, she wept. She knew that day she was going to look for help.
“Why do I do this to myself?” she asked through tears at her first session.
We had not interrupted her or pushed during this meeting. We wanted her to feel safe and not under attack. But, with this question, it was time for some therapeutic input.
"I asked her if he ever had been unfaithful and she said yes. I asked her if the abuse was ever displayed in front of her sons and she responded yes. Then I asked her if she was tired of it. She responded “I’m simply warn out.”
I then began to share with her four components of nurturing herself and they begin with God.
Maya admitted during the first hour of the session, that she had left the church and stopped obeying God. She loved her boyfriend more than God, she admitted, and she could not and did not want to live without him. She asked ” How did I allow this to happen?” It’s not difficult when you lose sight of the most important Person in your life–Jesus Christ, I told her.
We shared with her that the second component calls for realistic goal-setting and an idea of what a positive outcome in their relationship would look like. Maya now expects to be treated the way she always treated Eric–with kindness and respect. She hopes for a relationship in which Eric demonstrates respect towards her. She also wants him to be equipped with skills to care for his family in a proactive manner. And, very importantly, she decided she never wanted a repeat of this abusive ordeal.
Having realistic goals for her family began with her respecting and loving herself. To be able to make those goals, she also had to accept responsibility for allowing disrespect to continue as long as it had. And, she had to forgive herself. That issue will be addressed further in future sessions with her.
Refuse To Be A Doormat
So, quite naturally, the third component involves respect for one’s personhood. Maya has to learn to be completely honest with her feelings and the need to express herself openly to Eric regarding the abuse within their relationship. She must be willing to say no to anyone who feels that they can use her as a doormat because of their own insecurities. She must also find within herself the ability to reconstruct the framework that has fostered this negative lifestyle.
The fourth component is to adapt to a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift is an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way. Maya’s thinking and actions did not produce healthy characteristics for her family or herself. She already knew that Eric was the abuser, and that she was the codependent. She knew that the household structure was falling apart, but didn’t know how to rebuild it alone. Counseling opened her eyes and motivated Maya to make a change.
What Happens Next?
Maya hopes to have a home that reflects a sense of balance, respect and love. It is out of hope that things could be better that she recognized that she needed change. Maya’s counseling is in the initial stages but she is making progress.
Eric should attend a few sessions with her because he is unwilling to address the problem on his own. However, if he is not willing to attend, it is time for Maya to leave. That prospect will be difficult for her because she truly loves him. As her therapist, however, I had to remind her this is a very unhealthy type of “love.” Ending the relationship will be hard, but it is better to end the relationship than for her to continue in a long-term, unhappy relationship that could destroy her life.
Maya made a decision right then to give her life back to Christ and asked us for a bible study. She is ready to take a good look at herself and make some significant changes in her life. She no longer desires to be Eric’s doormat and settle for less than excellence. She is looking forward to counseling and becoming a better woman and mother.
The name has been changed to protect the innocent.