Resolving Marriage and Relationship Conflicts
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”1
Frieda (not her real name), a Daily Encounter subscriber, asks: “Dear Dick, I write with a heavy heart and confused mind. My husband has chosen to withdraw all affection from me as he says he is fed up with my controlling him, and that I make him feel like a child. We have been married for 25 years and I am not aware that I have acted differently towards him over this time even though he has said from time to time that he hates my telling him what to do, I had just put it down to his low self-esteem. I believe I am being helpful while he thinks I am trying to rescue him. I don't know how to get our relationship back on track. Please clarify what you refer to when you talk about not rescuing people.”
Dear Frieda, Rescuing people is doing for them, or wanting to do for them what they need to see and do for themselves, or telling them what they need to do; that is, trying to change and fix them without considering what you might be contributing to the situation yourself. Doing this makes matters worse because people rightfully resent this. It is giving unsolicited (unasked for and unwanted) advice which never works, because it is assuming that you know the needs of the other person better without looking first at what you need to see and do. In every marriage conflict there are always two sides—always!
Furthermore, realize that the only person we can ever change is our self. Trying to change others makes them angry and drives them away. It also causes some to withdraw.
Next, learn to pray the right prayer. Usually we want God to change the other person. What we need to pray first is that God will face us with the truth of what we are contributing to the situation we are in--and first change us! We are ALWAYS contributing something. It is absolutely essential that we first see the truth about ourselves--the way God sees us. Without facing the truth about ourselves first and foremost, there is little or no chance of recovery.
Finally, I suggest that you see a professional marriage counselor. If your husband won't agree to do this (and my guess is that he understandably won't to start with), that is fine. You go yourself and work on your own recovery and growth. If you live in North America, for the name of a qualified Christian counselor in your area, call the Narramore Christian Foundation at 1-800-477-5893 and press "1" for Dianne, and tell her that Dick Innes suggested that you call to ask for the name (or names) of a Christian counselor/s in your area.
As YOU CHANGE, your husband will be forced to change as his relationship to you is partly in response to your actions and relationship towards him.
Again, always pray for God to face you with the truth about you before ever praying and asking God to reveal to you the truth about your husband. As Jesus said, it is the truth that sets people free! See John 8:32.
Suggested prayer: “Dear God, in every negative situation in which I find myself, please always confront me with the truth and reality of what I am contributing, and what I need to do to change me. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus’s name, amen.”
1. Romans 12:18 (NKJV).