Twenty some odd years ago, I was preparing for a life of marriage and family. Learning to become the wife I thought I should be. Soaking up all the knowledge being thrown my way. I was bound and determined that I would do this marriage thing right. I was nineteen years old and had dreamed for a very long time about being a wife and a mom. And it was all about to come true.
During an extended weekend of marriage counseling, it was repeated more times than I can count that, “you never speak negatively of your spouse to anyone.” The reason being that for you, a situation may arise that causes hurt or frustration that you and your spouse might encounter but later end up working through and are able to move on from in a positive direction. But for those in your life that you might share this struggle with, they are stuck in that moment involving what you have shared and may not be able to look past the offenses of your spouse and so they then hold it against them. That made sense to me and so that became a principle I held to with everything in me.
Fast forward many years later. I had spent many years married. Many things happened. Many things kept a secret because of a principle. I did not speak a negative word about my spouse. I followed those words of instruction as if my life depended on it and it cost me. a lot.
It wasn’t until yesterday, when I was having a conversation with someone that this was pointed out to me. I have been through YEARS of counseling trying to reconcile what had been done to me by family and friends. I experienced some of the worst forms of betrayal, and I have been unable to figure out why. But now I better understand.
The lesson I thought I learned, and what I thought was good advice, ended up being anything but.
I had never once spoken ill of my spouse or the things happening in my home. I never shared with anyone until it was too late. And because I never spoke up. No one believed me.
A few months ago, our pastor was talking about marriage. One of the things he shared that stuck with me was that by the time most people turn to their pastors for help, things have gotten bad. To the point, that it makes it difficult for staff to determine what is happening or how they can help. He also said that usually by the time someone comes forward they have reached the point that they are beyond wanting to save their marriage. As I thought about his statement, it made a lot of sense, and it can be applied to the “principle” shared with me all those years ago. Talk to someone before things get worse. Do not stay quiet! Find a trusted person that you can confide in about what is taking place. Keep a journal. If you are not in immediate danger, write down events as they happen and then check in with someone who can help you process and decide what steps to take next.
At the end of the day, people mean well. But people are not always right. And this goes for believers too.
The takeaway of this story: no one needs to trash or demean a spouse to ANYONE because they are mad at said spouse. That is NOT okay. However, if someone is causing you harm, repeatedly, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally, DO NOT STAY QUIET. Tell someone! Abuse of any form is not okay and should not be kept quiet.