Little Magpie: Bill - it's tough. We don't spend time together. He stays up to all hours reading or watching videos or goes to sleep before I get home.
Bill: Little Magpie: I don't know how to say this tactfully so allow me to ramble. Your H is exhibiting typical "I am committed but have no idea what to do" behavior. He isn't going to leave. He isn't going to say he wants you to go. At the same time, he probably thinks your needs are too big and beyond his ability. As a result, he is hanging around; coming home every night hoping the relationship gets easier so he can feel like he can succeed. Some of it is probably true while some of it is his perception of the way things are. The things that tend to help are prayer for your marriage, a focus on your own personal growth that lowers your needs, specifically asking the Holy Spirit what to say and what not to say (and then responding to how he leads) and finding ways to enjoy his presence without presenting expectations. I am not sure how you could pull this off apart from the active help of the Holy Spirit but it tends to be what works. At the moment you two seem stuck in this cycle neither of you are enjoying.
Little Magpie: All - this is our first child going away to college and this one is planning to go a long way away. How did you deal with kids going away to college?
Bill: Little Magpie: Great question about releasing kids to pursue their college goals. There is no formula but I will share what we did with our kids. First, we had them spell out their goals for us (in writing). We knew we were going to be helping them financially (although not everything) so we wanted to know they were not just floating or doing dumb things. We wanted to know there were real and measurable markers they were trying to hit. Second, we set up a routine for staying connected. In this day and age of technology it is easier than ever so we wanted a weekly, dependable, face to face way of communicating so we could get a read on how they were doing. Third, we talked up the opportunities they could have in a new, stimulating environment since we wanted them to become better people as a result of going to college. Fourth, we outlined the conditions under which we would bring them home. This included such things as willful sin, irresponsible choices, choosing a peer group that dragged them down, failure to perform in school at their ability and disrespect for us as their parents and the sacrifice we had made and were making to invest in them. Hope that helps.
Pualani: Bill, in all honesty I don't know that I have learned that much. I just know that almost 9 years after my H dropped the 'bomb' on me I'm still struggling a lot of the time...
Bill: Pualani: Thanks for the honesty! Some of what I have learned includes: (1) We need to forgive the people who loved us for the things they said and did that had a negative impact on us. Since they are all human, they are guaranteed to have made mistakes. Colossians 3:13 challenges us to forgive whatever grievances we have so we need to forgive everybody for everything. Another step in making real change is (2) Do an honest evaluation of the people how had the biggest impact on us growing up. Gen 2:24 says we are to "leave our father and mother and cleave . . ." In the west we think of this as a physical move. When it was written, families continued to work together on a daily basis and usually lived on the same property. Therefore, leaving is not necessarily physical. It means we intentionally embrace the good traits of the people in our family and capitalize on the benefit of those traits. We also "relieve them of responsibility" in the areas they weren't good at. Rather than expect them to be good at what they aren't good at, we take those areas over so we can bring them to Jesus and put together a better strategy.
Little Magpie: Bill - Do you have any tips to help me when I awaken with anxiety?
Bill: Little Magpie: Anxiety. In this context I am going to oversimplify it just to help gain perspective. In simplest terms there are three components that create these moments of anxiety: The first is spiritual in nature. Demonic forces will take advantage of vulnerable moments to assault us with lies that seem so real they are hard to deny. Speaking God's word out loud helps with this one.
Bill: Anxiety #2: A perceived fear goes active. We may be afraid of physical harm, emotional harm, financial, relational harm, etc. Whatever the source of the fear, it creates an environment that doesn't seem safe. Some expression of love tends to help here (hug from a loved one, loving words from God, the Bible, radio or TV, a distraction that gets us to focus on the good side of life rather than the scary side of life).
Bill: Anxiety #3: Physiological. Whenever we feel things are unsafe, the fight or flight syndrome goes active, floods our bloodstream with adrenaline causing our muscles to tense and our nerve endings to become more sensitive. Our bodies do this to give us energy and strength to either fight or run away. When there is nothing to fight, anxiety takes over. For this side effect, physical activity is about the only thing that uses up the adrenaline and calms us down physically.
Little Magpie: Bill - I find it hard to be gracious about some things. I have found that years of dealing with the same situations/disappointments has hardened my heart
Bill: Little Magpie: Thanks for your honesty. I think your experience is very common and, quite honestly, the expected response. From a human point of view, people's failures, obstinate behavior and foolishness should deeply wound us and cause us to lose faith and hope in them. Grace somehow keeps these things alive and sets the stage for transformation. I don't exactly get it and I think God asked this current group of people to do things nobody has a right to ask. It is, however, working. I am not sure why this group decided to pursue grace when so many others can't quite get there.
Little Magpie: Bill - He will make meals, get fuel in the car, etc. but though I appreciate him doing these things it doesn't speak anything to me.
Bill: Little Magpie: This is, IMO, where the expectation battle is at its most intense. Let me use your description as an example. Your H is expressing love by doing things for you (because this is the language he speaks). You don't feel the love because it is not the language you speak. If you felt free, you would give H gifts to express love. He wouldn't feel loved because it is not his language. As a result, you are both saying, "I love you" but neither of you is hearing this. The best scenario is for each of you to learn the other person's language and speak it often. This would make both of you feel loved and add confidence to all you do. This is a very selfless pursuit, however, and many couples find this difficult. The next possibility is to train yourselves to recognize the love that is being expressed. To use myself as an example, Pam likes to do things for me to let me know she loves me. I would rather have her sit with me, talk over what is going on in our lives and enjoy a relaxing meal or cup of coffee. This often makes her feel restless. On good days, I accept her acts of service as statements of love. On my less than stellar days, I am just frustrated that she "won't" speak my language.
Little Magpie: Bill - on this vein - I was listening to "Live the Promise" and the guest Robia was speaking on "Counterfeit Comforts" and spoke about asking the HS to help. How do you connect with the HS when you are empty??
Bill: Little Magpie: You just connect. We tend to think the Holy Spirit is only interested in helping us when we are doing well and on our game. The reality is He is a constant help to anyone who is humble enough to ask. The other part is, of course, is resting in Him so our ears are open. We all have a tendency to overwork our requests. In other words, we ask and then we strive to find the answer rather than just rest for the answer.
Bill: LM: Since you admitted to "self-destructive" tendencies, what is it like when you picture yourself staying in the situation you are in? What is it like to picture yourself living outside your current situation? Is one better than the other?
Little Magpie: Bill - I don't know. I have hung with him for 25 years at the end of the month and can just as easily keep existing in our broken world though it isn't ideal. I pray for blessings, joy and connection. I just want the depression and oppression gone and want positivity, joy and uplifting. Christian life to surround us, does that make sense? My self destruction has to do with finding ways to medicate to feel good and not in such pain
Little Magpie: Bill - okay. Oh, at counseling last night we spoke about Valentine's Day and our wedding Anniversary. He talked to H about making some type of plan since celebrating is important to me. He even suggested that H ask one of the d's to make a reservation some place if he didn't "have time". So, we shall see
Bill: All: Yeah, us guys are relatively simple and prefer situations that we perceive are easy for us. We don't mind complex problems as long as they are "easy for us." When we encounter what looks like a no-win situation we lose motivation to put much into it. Not good, but real.
Little Magpie: Bill - I know I have made lots of mistakes with him and shut him down because I didn't understand. I am trying to make changes to fix things but he does hold my mistakes and judges me by the past. He throws the past in my face all the time.
Bill: LM: I hope you recognize that his "accusations" are defense mechanisms. He obviously wants to be with you but is afraid of getting hurt so he pushes you away. My experience is that these are reactionary tests to see if you will withstand the criticism until trust reemerges. It is a tough process but I don't believe he would have much of a response at all if he wasn't interested.
Little Magpie: Bill - I was a trusting person and I was a loving person but then my skepticism and control, being matter of fact and working on accomplishing tasks made me more stand offish. But, I am starting to want to find out what the triggers and such are that caused all of this. I know some is my MLC and Trauma prior to the MLC.
Bill: LM: Way to go. You can get back to who you "used" to be. You just have to work at it smart. Self-evaluation will help but self-condemnation will not. Forgiving yourself will help, giving up on yourself will not. Identifying steps you can take will help, criticizing yourself will not. We all make mistakes, we all need grace and we can all become who God desires for us to be with His strength working inside us.