Sorry it has been so long since I updated the ongoing saga of my healing home school marriage. We have been doing a lot of traveling recently, plus school has started for another year. Those of you home schooling know that a new school year means a time of adjustment: planning, scheduling, and the inevitable lack of sleep as we start getting up again at the same time every morning after a summer of sleeping in.
Two weekends ago I went to another wedding. After the last two weddings I attended, I was wary. The last two were heavy on the patriarchy women submit themes, so much so that I fear both marriages are doomed. See this post for why I am so pessimistic.
Thankfully, this wedding was far more grace-filled than the last two. The scriptures my niece and her groom chose to read at the wedding were wonderful discourses about how to live together as Christians- loving, encouraging, exhorting, speaking truly, praying for each other. The vows they personally spoke made no mention of submission/authority. They vowed to love and mutually support each other, as well they should.
The pastor just had to stick in the word submission somewhere, though. *mimes sticking finger down my throat* He actually said to the groom that he might at times find it difficult to love his wife, yada yada yada. Then to the bride, she at times might find it difficult to submit to her husband, yada yada yada. I was greatly encouraged that none of this poisonous talk came from the bride's or groom's own lips, at least. =)
Then came the reception, and it was F-U-N. They had a band, with dancing (!) and an open bar. When it came time to toast the young couple, my husband had the courage to go to the bar and get us wine. His Plymouth Brethren brother saw us, but my husband didn't flinch a bit.
After the toasts were done, since my feet hurt, we went back to the hotel. My husband put some Al Green on the computer, and we danced and danced together in our stocking feet. Dancing was strictly forbidden growing up, and attending dances in college was one of his first acts of freedom as an adult. =) After that, we went across the street to sit a spell in the rocking chairs on the porch at Cracker Barrel. It was a charming way to spend the evening.
The next morning we spent some time at breakfast talking to his relatives, since we all lodged at the same hotel. Then we drove home, stopping several times for scenic walks like we used to do in the early days of our marriage, before kids. All in all the weekend was healing, relaxing, playful, fun.
He did have trauma reactions twice. Once on the drive up to the wedding. The therapy/training I have been getting in recognizing abuse and maintaining strong boundaries helped. After briefly and futilely trying to reason with him, I stopped talking. My final statement was "I shouldn't have come. I wish I had not come." Then I remained silent with tears streaming down my face. After several minutes of silence, my man came to his senses and apologized for what he had just done.
What was that? The typical PAPD stuff. I don't remember the particulars now. I do remember that it followed more or less the same old pattern. He either does things that he knows will annoy me (like erratic driving or rude comments) or does not do things to annoy me (ignoring a question, failing to keep his word in some area I am relying on him for) until I, in frustration, take up for myself. (By now this is all so wearily familiar for long time readers of this blog, but I explain for any new readers.)
Taking up for myself in any way is construed by him as "nagging" or "telling him what to do". At this point, he can feel fully justified in venting his resentment and anger at me. I am, after all, reprimanding him just like mommy would and all of the pent-up anger at his parents can flow out towards me- and he doesn't have to feel guilty about it.
He is not being a bad, rebellious child for being angry at his fundamentalist missionary parents' neglect and outright abandonment. He is being an indignant husband. It was always totally acceptable in his missionary culture for a man to be ugly to his wife, as long as he doesn't cuss or resort to violence. So he can vent his unresolved anger on me guilt-free- if he can just goad me into being the first to bring up an offense.
Ugh. Just typing it out is wearisome. Anyway, that Saturday morning when I stopped cooperating with this tiresome game he/we play(s), it was hard. I wanted to take up for myself. I did not want to go through this AGAIN. But, by refusing to take up for myself or accept his blame, the conflict was over.
Honestly, if he did not pull over and humbly apologize, admitting he had initiated the same old ugliness, I don't know what I would have done. Gotten my own room at the hotel and refused to attend the wedding with him? I was considering that.
Thank the Lord Jesus Christ that my husband is truly wanting to be healed and happily married, and once I stopped responding (and that is HARD for me!!), he was able to come to his senses.
I already wrote about how wonderful Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday were. On Monday he reverted back to hiding in his shell, only to come out swinging barbs at me when I poked around asking if he was okay. Putting into practice skills from counseling, we worked to resolve his unhappiness pretty quickly. Once he identified that he was feeling something, and what he was feeling, and then identified the real reason behind his feelings he was able to deal with it.
"It" was the realities that a) his family/parents didn't know the real him, b) they made no effort to know the real him, and c) he was pretty sure if they did know who he really was, what he believed, how he felt, etc.- they would not accept him. This truth was heart-breaking.
But it helped so much to have some one bear witness to his truth. Of course I also pointed out how wrong they were. They are missing out on knowing a wonderful human being. They should be proud of my husband for who he is. Instead they are only proud of him as long as they believe he is exactly who they raised him to be- conservative, evangelical fundamentalist. I also told him over and over that their rejection of his real self is NOT HIS FAULT. Their eyes are too blinded by their religion to see reality.
It was a very emotional evening for us both, but finally the true source of the depression and anger was getting the blame, not me. And instead of numbing out the pain through compulsive behaviors, he was able to actually release it and let it go. I am very happy for him.
Well, that was two weeks ago. Last weekend we got a chance out of the blue to go on a free weekend to the beach. That will be for another post. I am out of time and I have other things to do, so I can't tell all now. But I do want to come back to that weekend, because *I* had a PTSD moment, and I think that by sharing it I may be able to help other wives in crappy (or formerly crappy) marriages out in some small way.
Peace and good will to all who read here. SS