By Dr. Kim Logan-Nowlin & Arthur E. Nowlin, LMSW, CAADC
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Elijah and Katrina have been friends since childhood. They attended the same schools from the first grade through high school. Both were very active and involved in sports and community services. The two worked diligently caring for the elderly after school. They both loved to read and sing to encourage the senior citizens in the nursing homes.
One day Katrina was not feeling well and she collapsed at work. Elijah dialed 911 and she was rushed to the hospital. After a complete examination it was revealed that one of Katrina’s kidney’s was failing and she would need an immediate emergency transplant. A variety of tests were done and there were no donors that matched her blood type. The doctors were very concerned because time was running out.
Elijah said to the doctors “Can I be tested please?” Katrina could not speak as tears rolled down from her face. By this time, her parents had arrived and Katrina had become very weak. The doctors informed them that it would take time to complete all of the tests but if Elijah was a donor match then she had an excellent chance of surviving.
A Perfect Match
Elijah prayed and asked God to please let him be a match to help save Katrina’s life. The testing process began and soon Elijah learned he was a perfect match. His decision was an act of faith and a sign of love and genuine friendship for Katrina. The surgery took place the next day and the procedure went well.
A few hours later Elijah and Katrina were taken to the recovery room. Soon afterwards, they were awaken by the nurse. Their vitals signs were steady and strong. All Katrina could say is “Thank you my dear friend. What a sacrifice of love you have made for me.” Elijah smiled and replied “You would have done the same thing for me.” During the next few weeks and months Katrina was coming along just fine and Elijah was doing well also.
As the years passed, Katrina never forgot Elijah’s tremendous sacrifice to save her life. They both went on to college, graduated and became physicians with a desire and commitment to serve and bring healing to others.
Recently, Katrina and Elijah contacted my office for counseling because they decided to get married. Katrina said that ever since they were children, she knew that Elijah was so special to her. Elijah felt the same way about Katrina. Truly, God used Katrina’s situation as a test for Elijah, not realizing that God was saving her life just for him.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13 (KJV)
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Gage and Terri have been married for a short time. Terri is a loving wife to her husband and Gage is very compassionate towards Terri.
From the very first day of her marriage to Gage, his mother Kelly constantly would say unpleasant things to Terri to upset her. Terri would constantly mention this to Gage, but he totally ignored her by saying “ Mom means no harm.”
This made Kelly very uncomfortable over time. Her mother in law would bring Gage his favorite dishes over to their home, and stay for hours talking to her son while Terri ate alone. She would buy him gifts and offered nothing to Terri. The coldness and meanness was taking its toll on Terri. Terri started experiencing anxiety and depression and contacted my office to discuss the possibility of family intervention.
Seek to Understand
As Terri’s therapist I shared with her the purpose of family intervention is to provide counseling in an objective manner to help guide the family to a resolution. I also shared with her I felt it would be a positive way to address her concerns about her mother-in-law and help Gage to understand the seriousness of the situation.
Terri asked Gage to please ask his mother to come, and she agreed. Terri led the session with my guidance and shared her feelings and concerns. Kelly said she didn’t see the harm in still caring for her son.
“That is my responsibility to care for him, and for us to love each other and care for our home,” countered Terri. You have to stay in your lane as a mother, she told her.
Terri began to lay down some ground rules. Kelly would always be welcomed, but, she needed to please call first out of respect. Kelly apologized to Terri and Gage for her negative behavior. Over the next few months Kelly would call and greet Terri with a sincere warm greeting.
One afternoon Kelly told Terri that “I feel I need to see Dr. Logan to help me with my fear of being alone and separation anxiety.” Terri told her that she would go with her to counseling if she would like. Kelly said “Thank you and I would appreciate that.”
Throughout the counseling process Terri and Kelly worked closely together and was able to learn coping skills to manage their concerns. Kelly had been suffering a long time since the passing of her husband and she began to lean on Gage for everything, even companionship.
Kelly developed realistic goals to engage in a healthier manner with Terri, also, intervention for her own healing and her only child getting married. She humbly apologized to Terri and made a commitment to follow-through with her counseling.
Now, That’s Progress
Terri and Gage are planning a vacation and asked Kelly to join them in Europe. Kelly has always wanted to go and she cried during the session when they told her. “I promise to stay in my lane,” Kelly said.
Tips from Dr. Kim
When the day comes to meet your future mother-in law it will mean making adjustments in the relationship. Be open minded to suggestions. Be willing to share quality time together, and be careful not to isolate yourselves. Remember your future spouse has a family who still wants to engage and be a part of both your lives. Treat your mother-in-law with respect and kindness. Involve your spouse, especially if there’s conflict. Get comfortable with compromising and being firm when necessary. Don’t be afraid to be transparent and honest with one another. It may be painful going in but the end result will be worth it to eliminate the mother- in- law blues
A soft answer turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1
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It May Have Been Too Late to Say Goodbye, But Not Too Late to Address His Addiction.
Carson had been a substance abuser since entering the military. He returned four years later, upon an honorable discharge from the army. He was one of 13 children and always a loving and devoted son to his parents.
Carson was reared in a very spiritual and loving family. He was very supportive, caring, and helpful towards his parents all while struggling with his personal drug and alcohol addiction. One afternoon after a day helping his mother and enjoying the afternoon with his parents, he walked out and told his father “I’ll be back.”
Passing of Time
Later that week Carson’s father, James, went into the hospital for a breathing treatment. His physician decided to extend his stay because the effects of a longstanding smoking habit were now exacting its toll. James’ lungs had been deteriorating for at least 10 years. After a week, James was no longer breathing on his own. His body was getting weaker and weaker and his lungs were no longer functioning properly.
Carson’s mother and siblings visited James several times throughout the week, until the doctor called and told them nothing else could be done for him.
James and seven sons all served in the military. “You never leave a wounded solider alone,” they believed, and the family gathered around James one last time as the life support was removed. He passed away early the next morning.
A week later when James was buried, Carson was absent. He missed his father’s illness and passing. Carson’s ex- wife, a police officer, went looking for him for the family. When she found him and told him that his father had passed away, Carson was in total disbelief. He remembered seeing a huge funeral possession going down the street and was so surprised by how long it was, not knowing that it was his own father’s funeral.
Immediately, Carson went home to find his mother and a single obituary in the china cabinet. Carson realized he had to live with this for the rest of his life.
Ever since that day Carson has lived with his mother and finally found healing in drug recovery. Carson has begun counseling for PSTD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and also grief counseling.
Alcoholism and drug addiction have obvious and well-documented effects on chronic substance abusers. Prolonged abuse of drugs and alcohol deteriorate a person’s physical health, impair mental functioning, and damage the spirit. These adverse effects also impact the immediate family’s finances, physical health and psychological wellbeing.
Family roles naturally shift to adjust to the behaviors associated with drug or alcohol use, and to continue maintaining order and balance. Including the addict, there have been six roles identified to understand how the family functions around the substance abuser. They are:
No matter how old a parent’s child is, discovering that a child has an addiction can be an unpleasant, rude awakening. It may cause mothers and fathers to question their parental abilities or the decisions they made. Parents of addicts, much like children of addicts, often blame themselves for the development of the substance use disorder.
God is a forgiving God. We must be willing to forgive ourselves and grow from our mistakes. God can turn even the tragic addiction, and the grief-filled experience of losing his father into complete recovery and restoration.
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Belinda and John met at a neighborhood party store. John noticed Belinda and was attracted to her, but Belinda was not attracted to him at all. John walked out of the store but waited patiently for Belinda to come out. When she saw John waiting for her, he approached and offered her his cell phone number. They talked, became friends, dated and later she moved into his home. Three months later Belinda discovered that John was a drug dealer. This frightened her and she wanted no part of his lifestyle.
Belinda wanted out of the relationship but John pleaded with her to stay and promised Belinda he would leave this illegal profession alone. Six months later, John was still selling drugs and Belinda was now expecting their first child. She did not want to separate the family and had no means to provide for herself and their son. Therefore, she remained in the relationship.
This is Not How I Was Raised
Belinda began to feel guilty because she was not raised to live in sin, but to live as man and wife. When speaking to John about her feelings, he expressed that he had not given any thought to marrying, but if that is want she wanted he would marry her. “But,” he said, “I am a man who cannot be faithful. ” Though she was certain at that point that she should have left, she stayed because of her child. She feared she had no resources of her own, so she married John.
Belinda knew that John had extra marital relationships over the years, but never confronted him because he provided for her and their son. John, finally after many years, left the drug life behind and secured a job working for the post office. One afternoon he left his cell phone at home and Belinda discovered several women that he was having an affair with. When she confronted him, he told her “ You knew the type of man that I was then and I had several women in my life.”
“We are man and wife,” Belinda countered. “Does that mean anything to you?”
“ No,” John replied.
No Options on the Table
Belinda sat in the room alone and cried. At the moment she bowed down on her knees and prayed to the Lord for help. A few days later Belinda was referred to me for assistance. We met and discussed her options.
Belinda stated her husband refused to seek counseling and would continue to have sex with other women because she no longer satisfies him. John wanted a wife to cater to his every whim and Belinda said she would not do this. She is now preparing to divorce John, at the age of 45. She has to start her life over again, still with no resources. The house, car and her real estate business all belong to him. John told Belinda she will leave the way she came into his home, with nothing.
After her first therapy session Belinda willingly returned to church, and is not afraid to start again. “ I never signed up for this type of life and I deserve better”.
During the therapy session I shared several scriptures and suggestions to assist Belinda on her new journey.
Scriptures and Suggestions for Guidance
“He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself” Proverbs 6:32.
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners,” 1 Corinthians 15:33.
When an individual decides to become involved with another person who is openly living a life of lies and corruption, you must be strong enough to separate yourself and dissolve the relationship, immediately.
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Tyrone and Lydia* have been dating for two years. He is a steel worker in a blue collar town and Lydia is a physician. The couple met through mutual friends and their relationship has blossomed. They both are Christians and are very active in their respective churches. The couple contacted me to assist them with premarital counseling. They want to fine tune any concerns regarding their upcoming engagement.
Tyrone and Lydia both feel that money is a concern and that it is factor in the relationship. Tyrone makes under six figures per year and Lydia makes well over seven figures per year. The couple has been arguing about who will pay for the new home, and also provisions for Tyrone’s two sons. Lydia thinks that it is not her responsibility to pay for them to have the lifestyle that she is accustomed to having. Tyrone thinks that in marriage the two become one in every aspect, including finances. Tyrone feels that Lydia is looking for a partner and not a husband. Lydia has no children and is very independent.
Should They Invest in This Relationship?
Lydia admitted she is afraid to trust because of her last relationship and that her last boyfriend was only interested in what she could provide for him. She admitted she is stuck in the past and is holding Tyrone hostage with her insecurities and feelings. Lydia requested counseling to find help with her feelings and her relationship with Tyrone.
Tyrone stated he seeks God’s counsel daily and does not want to have another failed marriage. His first wife was unfaithful and he was scarred deeply by her indiscretion. With Christian counseling for the past three years he is in a better emotional place in his life. He continues to pray and fast for wisdom. He relies heavily on his faith in God and his total desire is to please God. They have both made a commitment not to be sexually active and to remain celibate until marriage. He stated he would rather stop investing his time and heart in Lydia rather than continue to invest in her if their relationship is hopeless.
First, Lydia must decided what she wants from herself and from the relationship. Secondly, she must reconcile whether the finances are the real concern, or whether her fears and insecurities from her previous relationship are. Thirdly, I believe the question of whether she can approach the financial situation as a joint effort, not a separate effort, is a real concern. Tyrone and Lydia realize that they cannot move forward if these issues are not resolved.
Financial Concerns Cause Relationship Stress
Many couples spend hours arguing about what they feel matters, but at the end the day, it all points back to the lack of trust, respect and open communication. Family finance is one of the major causes of divorce. Disagreement over finances can tear apart the lining of of the relationship when one spouse may not be employed, or not contributing enough. Or one spouse may believe “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours,” an unrealistic and selfish way of thinking. The Bible states upon marriage, the two become one, Genesis 2:24.
Finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship, according to a survey of people in a relationship or partnership released by SunTrust Bank. Some 35 percent of all respondents experiencing relationship stress said money was the primary cause of friction. (Annoying habits came in second, at 25 percent.) Among respondents with relationship stress aged 44 to 54, 44 percent said money was the primary cause.
“Money really touches everything. It impacts people’s lives,” said Emmet Burns, brand marketing director for SunTrust.
Prenuptial Agreement Covers More Than Money
Lydia feared that if the marriage fails, Tyrone would be legally entitled to portions of her property. “I do not want her money but only her love and respect,” he said to me during their session.
“I may not bring seven figures to the marriage, but I bring something you can’t put a price on: friendship, advice, companionship, spiritual leadership and love,” Tyrone said. “How ridiculous does it sound for me to hold back on friendship, protection, love, and companionship and when we get married I’ll hold back sex? Do we sign a prenup on those concerns because it may not work?”
“I may not bring seven figures to the marriage but I bring something you can’t put a price on: friendship, advice, companionship, spiritual leadership and love,” Tyrone said.Tyrone told Lydia that she is only looking at the tangible things and that she is not ready for marriage. She said she never looked at the situation through those lenses and she apologized to Tyrone. She told him she values what he brings to the table, acknowledging that it is priceless.
Work it Out
Lydia and Tyrone both stated that they want to marry one another and they love each other. They will continue counseling to help resolve the concerns and Lydia will receive individual counseling for her fears about sharing her finances in her future marriage.
*All names and locations have been changed to protect privacy.
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Eighteen year-old Jenna came from a loving environment. She grew up in a Christian home and attended some of the best schools in her city. Her parents always provided all the advantages that life could afford.
When the time came for Jenna to attend college her parents wanted her to follow them and attend their alma mater where they met. When her parents drove her to school and attended the parent orientation, everything fell in place. It was difficult for Jenna’s mother to leave her only child, but they embraced one another and said good bye.
Soon after classes began Jenna settled in with her schedule. She began to meet new people and enjoyed the routine of campus life. One afternoon she was studying in the library when Richard greeted her and started a conversation. She liked him instantly. The pair began to spend a lot of time together and soon became very close.
The Day That Everything ChangedOne afternoon two men brutally assaulted Jenna as she walked to her dorm. They almost beat her to death and she was unrecognizable. The campus police found her behind a building on campus. She was rushed to the hospital and then lingered in a coma for almost six months. Richard and her parents would visit her everyday with hopes of her regaining consciousness.
Late one evening, and after much prayer, Jenna awakened and recognized her parents. It all came back to her–Richard, her close friends, and the devastating attack. She had always been an action-oriented person who set the bar high for herself, and this awful situation created in her a vulnerable state of mind, understandably.
Jenna felt helpless and hopeless. Her parents sought Christian counseling because they recognized she needed intervention as soon as possible. She was depressed and very angry that she had been a target of such a terrible crime.
What Ray of Hope?I hoped to help Jenna focus on the fact that she was alive, though she had to acknowledge her brokenness. She was mentally and physically broken, exhausted. Jenna recognized that she could have died, and, or could have been raped. She blamed herself for trying to defend herself to prevent the attackers from hurting her more than they did.
Jenna’s parents continue to care for her as she made every attempt to return to her school routine. She and Richard are still together and he has been very patient and supportive with her during the whole process. The counseling treatment provided
information to help Jenna understand that she is not alone.
Sexual violence on campus is pervasive.
* 11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students).
* Among graduate and professional students, 8.8% of females and 2.2% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
* Among undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
* 4.2% of students have experienced stalking since entering college.
After many months of counseling, and the police apprehending the two men as they tried to attack another woman, Jenna is healing from her own brokenness and was able to bring closure to her past.
What Closure Looks LikeJenna testified against both men and they were sentenced to ten years in prison. She is now an advocate against campus violence. As a volunteer to support other victims, and speak out against the violence, she is thankful that God spared her life.
Jenna is also attending church and Bible class that has allowed her to trust God in everything. And, she believes that God has empowered her to speak out to help save others. She is very thankful for her Christian counseling and being able to acknowledge her brokenness to become whole once again.
As she grows stronger, Jenna shares this scripture everywhere she speaks:
Phil. 3:13-14: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
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Anthony and Tina were expecting their first child and had been married for seven years. They made all the preparations for their daughter’s soon arrival. One evening Anthony had to work late during a terrible storm. He was employed with a local electrical wiring company. Tina was home alone and was not due to delivery for six more weeks. The couple felt comfortable and Anthony remained at work.
While Tina was preparing dinner the storm knocked out the lighting for their entire home. Three trees had fallen near the house and one in the driveway blocking her car. Eventually, the temperature chilled to 35 degrees, and she realized she had forgotten to charge the landline phone. And, of course, she could not get a signal on her cell phone.
Tina began to get nervous and was becoming very cold. She knew that stress could cause the baby to arrive sooner then expected. Therefore, she tried to remain calm and prayerful. As she was lighting candles throughout the house, God reminded her of her favorite scripture Daniel 6:16. “Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.” Tina knew without a doubt that God would protect her through this storm.
All Went WrongWhen Anthony could not reach Tina, he knew his home had been impacted by the storm. He left his job and requested that an electrical crew be sent to his home immediately. However, it would take several hours for the team to arrive.
Tina still did not know what was going on outside of her home and continued to trust God. Before Anthony could arrive the roof caved in and some of the roof fell on Tina causing a terrible impact on her and the baby. Tina could not move and she felt an excruciating pain all over her body.
Tina tried to move her body to remove some of the lumber off her abdomen. However, the more she moved the worse she felt. She felt herself losing all her physical abilities due to the cold and the debris that confined her to the floor. She soon felt herself having contractions and was screaming for help. She called on the name of Jesus and recited scripture to help put her mind at ease, but subsequently lost all consciousness.
Power in the Name of JesusShortly, after Anthony and the electrical team arrived, they began to assist with saving Tina and the baby. Anthony knew that they didn’t have enough time to get Tina to the hospital and he remembered that their neighbor was an OB/GYN. He ran next door and knocked on the door and providentially, Dr. Winston was home. He told Anthony that although was scheduled to be on duty at the hospital that night, he was unable to get get there due to the storm. The same trees were blocking his driveway.
Anthony told Winston the situation and they ran to assist Tina. They worked to revive her, and were happy when she rallied because she was in labor and needed to assist in the birthing process.
Winston directed them to call an ambulance because Tina would need to be transported to the hospital right after she delivered the baby. Inviting the electrical team to join hands, Anthony prayed with Dr. Winston, and for God’s healing power and deliverance in this situation.
Trust That Speaks VolumesWinston coached Tina while Anthony stood by her side encouraging her. She soon gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl. By the time Tina delivered the ambulance had arrived and transported them to the hospital. The electrical team had removed all the trees so that Winston could also get to the hospital. Within thirty minutes followed up with Tina and her doctor.
Anthony, Tina, and baby Danielle were all doing well. Several days later Tina and Danielle were able to leave the hospital and during this situation they have become good friends with the Winston family and have been witnessing to them about Christ. Winston was so moved by Tina and Anthony’s trust in God and the circle of prayer that he wanted to know more about their God. And, what was behind the name, Danielle? he wanted to know. They wanted to name the baby after Daniel in the Bible, the couple explained. Just as he did for Daniel, Tina stated, “I knew my God would rescue me.”
Tina’s Faith StrengthenedOver the next couple of weeks Tina realized she was experiencing anxiety and contacted me for Christian counseling. She shared two points in her counseling session with me because of her experience and the affects of the storm. First, God has a plan already in place as He did with Dr. Winston’s inability to get to the hospital that night. God had him available to assist. Second, she noted, nothing catches God by surprise.
While we are worrying we must learn to trust and lean on God totally. Tina thanked God for showing her a new path of trust and faith. She and her family are all well and truly thank God for her life and the life of Danielle.
Tina wants to remain in counseling to help overcome her concerns and learn new skills and tools to develop her walk and faith in God. She now clings to a new scripture of hope in Psalms 91:15: “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.”
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This article was written by Dr. Kim Logan-Nowlin for Message Magazine : Drama Files
Mother’s Day 2018, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel and Linda Carson* were notified that their two sons had been arrested for armed robbery. Linda Carson stated that her sons could not have committed any crime because they just arrived home the day before to celebrate Mother’s Day with her.
She called me to pray with her and to ask for my attorney’s number. I made myself available and went to meet with the attorney, the police, and the Carson brothers that day.
Tale of Two Sons
Alex and Andre are both third-year medical students and doing very well in school. Linda stated that her sons had been mistaken for two other young men, misidentified when they went to visit some of their old friends from high school in the old neighborhood.
Two young men had robbed a store, and were identified as two African- Americans wearing white t-shirts and blue jeans. The Carson brothers wore similar clothing, but during the time of the robbery, they were visiting with their pastor and other church members. After leaving the church they stopped to say hello and socialize with old friends and were arrested by police soon after. That is when someone identified them as perpetrators in a yearlong robbery spree.
Police arrested Alex and Andre and allowed them to call their parents. Soon, however, police acknowledged that a mistake in identity had been made. While the Carson brothers were being held in custody, two other young men committed another robbery on the other side of town.
The “Right” Brothers
As the Carson brothers left the precinct, they recognized the other two young men coming in. They had gone to middle school together. What happened to them over the years? It was clear they had chosen a life of crime while the Carsons had chosen God, a crime-free life, and education.
The brothers told me that they prayed together daily, and they called their parents everyday for family worship. They were thankful that they remained close to God, family and church. They recognized early in life from their parents that there are no easy, fast tracks in this life. You must pray, study God’s word, be kind to others, remain connected with positive family and friends, and work hard.
Fortunately, for them, all charges were dropped and the family was reunited.
Mother’s Love Rewarded
Linda Carson stated she was praising God all the way home. The family attended Sunday evening service together and she was thankful for an amazing and eventful Mother’s Day with her family. After church she asked her sons why they had gone to visit their friends in the first place. Their answer was that they had gone to visit, to give them a Bible, and pray with them! Linda smiled, hung her head and wiped a tear from her eyes.
“Continue to use them, Lord” she said, breathing a soft prayer.
Alex and Andre both reached out their hands and said, “Love you, Mom.”
Can We Talk Values?Samuel Carson prayed, never forgetting that this was truly a test of faith and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to others. He repeated the words of the Psalmist: “I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise will continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).
It is important for parents to teach their children morals and values with spiritual principals because, as they say “a family that prays together stays together.” There are at least 10 practical ways to teach your children the right values. I especially want to see our parents instill: respect, kindness, honesty, courage, perseverance, self-discipline, compassion, generosity, and dependability.
Most parents want to instill these kinds of values in their children, too. Doing so will protect them from potentially negative societal influences and lay the foundation for them to become good citizens. We’re not fulfilling our responsibilities as parents if we don’t try to instill solid morals in our children.
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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.
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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.