“Victim” may not be the most appropriate term, but it feels right given what we’ve been through – and what we know so many have been through as well.
Whether it is in marriage, or at work, or in other areas of life, we sometimes encounter people who attack us – and don’t stop. For almost two years now, there has been someone in our lives who has gone all out to ruin our marriage and steal our joy on a weekly, and at times daily, basis.
During our engagement and through our first years of marriage we have been attacked and we didn’t know how to handle it. We felt like victims. And like most victims, survival is hard and even traumatic.
We’ve talked with and leaned on friends and they have constantly said, “Don’t let that person steal your joy.” Logically, we know they are right. But as we get relentlessly attacked, it is hard not to feel victimized and helpless.
Only recently have we figured out how to survive…and actually thrive.
Several things have come together for us to get beyond this season in our life. By creating a stronger marriage we are more equipped to handle the arrows headed our way. We hope these few points can serve as hope for you or someone you know too.
- First and foremost, focus on your marriage and your relationship. Make sure you are both FULLY understanding each other. Understand how you are being impacted and specifically hurt. If you are being attacked it will impact you and your spouse differently – primarily because you are different people and different genders. It is vitally important to get on the same page as your spouse in every possible way. Counseling has been so important for us reconnecting better than we have ever connected.
- Research and use some self help books or video studies on marriage. This will help you put your focus elsewhere. We have a group that is learning about Love & Respect in marriage. This has driven us to focus further on our marriage, our relationship and understanding each other. We are more prepared now when one of us starts getting upset for one reason or another. The group will also help you talk through the struggles.
- Find friends and people with wisdom to talk to and seek their support. Perhaps they have been through something similar or maybe they will just be there to listen. If they are a good friend, they will have something to offer. Don’t be afraid to ask them.
- Now the real hard part. Avoid, ignore, and withdraw from any interaction with the person who is attacking you. We have heard from many, and we understand that may be next to impossible with an ex-spouse that you share children with, but there are things that you can do to limit contact. We won’t bore you with all the detail here but we are happy to chat privately about it with anyone who is interested. The critically important element is not to engage in nonsense and only interact when necessary. Don’t get drawn into fights.
As Christ followers, we know that the devil is after us. We know that the devil truly hates that we got married and are growing a family together. We know the devil despises the fact that we are trying to help others build strong, resilient marriages. And we know that the devil uses people to pierce us where it hurts most. John 10:10
Just knowing that doesn’t always help. But, now that we have strengthened ourselves, we are moving beyond surviving and we are using our experiences to thrive. This difficult season has helped us come together, understand each other and love even more. We are very thankful for that blessing and that season. And we hope you can gain some peace working through this too.
By the way, even if you aren’t being attacked, it is always good to practice the first 3 points above in an effort to get closer to your spouse. You can never be close enough!