Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Battle with the Evil Tongue, from Fear to Hope

Just an update on my battle with the evil tongue. So far it has gone miraculously well. But the real miracle isn't how my efforts have paid off, it is what the Lord has brought into my husband's life.

My main source of frustration, the one that oozes onto everyone and everything, is my husband. Now, he is a wonderful person, but in many ways we dont work that well together. He is rather ubrupt, and hyprefocused on his many projects, and highly sensitive to criticism. I am ever on the lookout, like a radar machine, for any signs of emotional disingaging, implied or actual derision, and in general feeling like I don't have enough priority with him. And I am critical. Now, this is a pretty volatile combination. I can not picture our marriage like this for the next twenty years, and don't want my life to be so full of pain. SO , this lent, I am determined to fight the evil tongue ( I can't control him, only my response, etc, etc...).

At first, I was frustrated and hurt beyond tears - what am I supposed to do when I am angry and feel as if I am being treated poorly? I realized I had no idea how to respond without anger. Still determined to curb the evil tongue, I prayed (some) and fasted (a little) and begged God for help. And I got terrific advice and help from my blog friends, especially m2. Dh and I also went to church alone together every Monday evening. Praying together really does wonders.

Two weeks ago, there was a men's retreat at church, based on the Theology of the Body. This is pertaining to what it means to be a man, and how to navigate manhood in our confused culture. I will say to you that this was the answer to my prayers. My husband is a new man. He has confidence and clarity I have never seen. He now understands something about my role in his life that I was never able to accuratly relate to him. All of a sudden, he is looking at me in an entirely different way, and I have literally felt myself soften up inside and relax. I was WHISTLING in the shower the other day. Haven't done that in years. I know the blush is still on the information he recieved, and we will slip back into our old habits from time to time. But my dh insists that he will never see some things the same again. His eyes have been opened, what was blurry was brought into focus, and what was uneasy for him finally makes perfect sense.

God bless everyone, from the Holy Father, down to the priest who presented this retreat. I think it saved me from a life of crankyness, and instead delivered a life of hope. Hope that I will have the love I need; that the relationship between us, in marriage, reflects God in the Holy Trinity, and is THE SAME LOVE. This is big, big, big.

When your husband refers to you as "God's masterpiece of creation", it does something terrific for your self image. When he refers to your body as a "sacred space", it becomes so clear that God is intimately involved in your marriage. I feel we have entered a new phase, a "springtime" if you will, and am so looking forward to our future together. Again, this is big!!

I feel the effects of this all over my life. I have been dealing with the children more confidently, and with more clarity. I have been so much less hungry, and feeling much more energetic. I see some of the reasons for my over eating - frustration. I can't believe how happiness takes the munchies away! Anyway, I keep cautioning myself not to get overly optimistic, as we are all human and may slide back to our poor habits. But just having the tools we need to come to real union gives me hope beyond measure. Praise God!!


Blogger Julie D. said...

Praise be to God indeed! What beautiful fruit has been brought by your efforts and those of your husband (it is such a huge thing for so many guys to even consider going to a retreat).


March 16, 2005  
Blogger ~pen~ said...

renee, i've been trying for two days to leave a comment, and am hopeful this one will *stick*

theology of the body - that is such heavy stuff!! i had christopher west's cd and listened to it in the car and the first half, i was like "whaaaaat??" but it tied everything up quite nicely in the end.

but let's talk about the apparent affect it is having on things at home -- would you look at God? i am thrilled for you and while it is easier to slip back into old habits, sometimes all you need is a refresher (or you dh) and you are right back on track again.

i've been struggling for a while with my husband (my junk, trust me, not his) and i know beyond a shadow that he is who God intended for me. i have to work on myself before i start working on everyone else around me...

i am glad to hear things are going so much better for you - and you are whistling? what's next, humming??


March 18, 2005  
Blogger Mama_T said...

I'm so glad to read this! Good, good, good. And thank you, God!

March 18, 2005  
Blogger Kate said...

I agree with you that it is beautiful (and heart-melting) to have your husband regard your body with awe and your sexuality as the great sacramental gift that it is.

I do have something to recommend to you if you have troubloe again finding non-angry responses to your husbands behaviour or perceived insensitivity. There's a book out there (can't recall the author, sorry) called The Four Love Languages. The author claims to have saved very troubled marriages by softening the heart of the uncooperative partner by consistently showing them love in the mode which works best for them. Ideally, both partners would use the guidelines in this book to identify their primary love languages so that not only are they being loving to each other, their doing it in a way that the other understands and responds to.

Greg Popceks book "For Better Forever" has a chapter on this to. My husband and I are continually referring to this book - its really helped us become marital acheievers rather than under-acheivers.

Anyway, an example of how Love Languages could help you would be if your primary love language was "words of affirmation" but your husbands was "acts of service". He feels like he's expressing his love everytime he takes out the garbage, and doesn't feel the need to say it very often. In the meantime, you're starving to hear him say it, but everytime you tell him that you're feeling undervalued, he resents it because he's doing everything he can think of. If you can identify these love languages, you may be able to help your husband understand that he can do less so long as he remembers to compliment you verbally - and you can take extra care to do little things for him to make his feel loved as well. Popcek even suggests making a list for each other of "twenty ways my spouse makes me feel loved" and list twenty everyday things your spouse does or could do. Then check the list regularily and make sure you are doing some of the things your spouse has listed.

Anyways, I've talked long enough. I hope you look up the book and find it useful.

March 19, 2005  
Blogger Philothea Rose said...

I am so glad things have made a turnaround for you. What a beautiful testimony to what can happen when we turn to God with our struggles.

March 20, 2005  

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