Left for the scheduled counseling session this morning, not knowing if I would see JD there or not. Remember, he left Monday evening – bags packed – hasn’t been home. So……will he be there? This was the question running through my mind.
In a couple posts ago, I wrote about his email, requesting I cancel the meeting. I replied: you cancel! Not knowing if this was done – I went. If he wasn’t there, a good time to talk on an individual basis and get some direction. That I did!!
The meeting started by Dr. Hanson asking what happened. I laid out ALL the details since our last meeting, two weeks ago. I even spelled out the nasty emails I forwarded to JD and my actions. He didn’t think it was out of line at all. I mentioned the attempts to have date nights, and I declined due to other responsibilities. But also told him about JD informing me last Wed. that he was expecting to have a “date” night after he returned from his meeting (with the Pastor and group). This gave me 4 hours to prepare for the evening and to be ready for “date” night. Which means sex.
Dr. H’s first response was, “you have been so graceful, have carried yourself in a manner that is surprising, given what has taken place just in the time we have been meeting. You are a very intelligent and strong woman. A person who has had to deal with quite a lot, keeps her head up high, carries out everyday responsibilities, even through these times. Even if JD thinks I’m off base regarding sex, it’s not everything. It’s what happens in a marriage AFTER you have dealt with all the other things. It’s what you build up to when you marriage is not strong. It’s not what just happens because you’re married.” I have to say, this was really nice to hear from someone. I don’t think because he’s our counselor that he’s obligated to say these things.
He further went on to say, “You have given JD so many chances and opportunities, have let him know just how you feel, and have both agreed that alcohol is a serious problem in your marriage and his life. He (JD) has admitted this on many occasions. You have been so forgiving, understanding and encouraging – I see this in the meetings. JD has made many promises to you, and has not kept these promises. At this point, his words do mean anything. It will take action. And you will know when this is concrete.”
I asked, “At what point do I not go any further?”
Dr. H: “Please don’t think that I am suggesting divorce. Of course I want the best for you. And I would like to see you work things out and stay in your marriage, that’s what our goal has been. But I have seen so many excuses made by JD, broken promises, and not lasting action that will gain any amount of trust.”
Me: “JD will say he’s not been drinking for weeks now, what more action do you want, what more do you expect of me?”
Dr. H: “He obviously can’t do it on his own, he’s even admitted this himself. He’s said he’s going to seek professional help. Has not. You’ve been extremely understanding and forgiving. But nothing seems to change, change from the heart, that is. I’m ever more convinced this is alcoholism. And at this point you have to protect yourself from further emotional and mental abuse. You have endured years of this, even if he doesn’t see it that way. I can see it and recognize it. And again, you have been so graceful and gone further than I know most would. Your questions should be, what do I need to do to protect myself and look forward to the future. Not so much a question of, should I stay or should I leave. Obviously that question might be attached to the first. No one should stay in an abusive marriage, and I regret to tell you that you are in one. No, you don’t have physical marks. But many times it’s much harder when there isn’t physical abuse. And you have endured mental and emotional abuse.”
Me: “What happens when he comes to me, like he’s done in the past, and says sorry. Also says he’ll get help, he’ll do better, etc. What then? I don’t trust him. He keeps packing his bags and leaving. Help seems to only happen for a short time and then we’re back in the downward spiral. He always puts this back on me. Oh, how I’m in such a terrible marriage. How I’ve been so mistreated. Anyone would kill for the life we have. Many would kill for a husband like him. A good provider, a beautiful house we live in, luxuries we are afforded, the help I receive around the house. No other husband that he knows does all that he does. And how I’m so ungrateful and do not recognize what a great life and husband I have. I should be so unfortunate.”
This meeting lasted an hour. I felt very confident that my actions were not over-reacting and I had a right to respond in the way I did.
Dr. H: “This is an affair, not with a woman, but with alcohol and the feelings associated with it. Yes, we have defined it as being “The Beast”, but JD keeps opening the door to let “The Beast” in. And he has to take responsibility for it. And every time he allows “The Beast” to come back in, he’s allowing it to slap you in the face. It’s like allowing a complete stranger in your home to come and punch you right in the face. Yes, he’s choosing this over you. And continues to. Not drinking for a long period of time does not excuse not owning up to his words and action and protecting you.”
But what was the most profound analogy in the meeting came from a comparison in the movie “Fireproof”. And it hit me right between the eyes. He explained that Caleb (Kirk Cameron) started the Love Dare, and did ALL the right things to prove to his wife that he wanted their marriage to work. Day after day, even after the time period had ended, he continued to fight for her. But she didn’t respond. She didn’t care. Why? Because she didn’t trust him. Been there-done that, nothing was really different from times before. She noticed he was doing different things. She noticed he removed major obstacles in their marriage. Yet she still wasn’t convinced. He even made the statement to his father, how can he be expected to love someone who refuses to give him a fair chance, John (his father) tells his son that this is precisely the same love that God shows for humankind. Now, with a little help from above, the man who makes headlines for saving lives will fight to be a hero to the one person who matters most — his wife.
It is at this time that Caleb changes his disposition. He changes his focus. His wife is sick in bed, he cares for her, even when she doesn’t want him to. But the turning point is: when he comes to her bedside, takes responsibility for the harm he has caused, confess, and asks her forgiveness. Bringing tears to his eyes. You know at this point that his “heart” has changed. He no longer is prideful and humbles himself to his wife. She now can trust him and extend complete forgiveness.
I see the actions JD has taken. I see the struggles he faces and I’ve continued to be forgiving. He has done many wonderful things since counseling. But here’s the missing link: his heart is still full of pride. Thinking he can do things on his own. I have asked, over and over again, to bring God to the center of our marriage. It doesn’t happen. And probably because JD doesn’t have the room for God when he’s filled with so much pride. This is evident when he tells me that, “no one will tell him what to do, he’ll do things his own way – his way”. If this isn’t pride, then I don’t know what is. And fighting pride is futile.
Dr. H ended with a very positive statement. He said, “You should be honored for what you do with your family, how you have handled this situation with your husband. But instead you have to carry much emotional baggage. Your husband should honor and respect you for being such a strong woman. I’m sorry you have to go through this.”