In a recent article I wrote about Sandy, a 50-year old woman who was swimming in a sea of confusion. We received a tremendous response to this article because, as no surprise, many of us are overwhelmed with life and find ourselves wondering which way is up. We struggle with making decisions that will bring healing and wholeness to our lives.
I shared how Sandy, a professional woman, in the midst of “a relationship that isn’t working,” was not sure what to do. She had caught her boyfriend of a year cheating on her. She did what most of us do—poll each of her friends. (I can see you cringing, because you know how well that often works!)
“I’m just so confused,” Sandy continued. “One friend says I should dump my boyfriend, and another says I should hang in there to see if he changes. Another tells me to pray about it and the answer will come. There’s something wrong with the Heavenly Mail Express because the answer’s not coming!”
“I know this is very hard for you, Sandy,” I said empathically. “You see the positive things Kerry is doing and that gives you hope. Then he doesn’t something extremely hurtful, and you lose trust again.”
“Why does he do that?” she shouted with exasperation. “Why can’t he just do the right thing? It’s not that complicated. If he loves me, he’ll do the right thing.”
“It actually may be more complicated than you think, Sandy,” I said. “I think it is entirely possible that he loves you, and yet he has character issues that play out in him acting the way he does.”
“I do the right thing—he can too!”
“That would be nice, wouldn’t it,” I said. “But again, Sandy. Some of your confusion comes from the way you’re looking at things. Your expectations, in part, lead you to feeling confused. Please don’t hear me saying that you should tolerate bad behavior. You’re hurt, for example, because he has cheated on you. That’s wrong and there should be consequences for it.”
“Like what?” Sandy said with notable exasperation. “I’m not his mother and shouldn’t have to parent him. I can’t monitor his every move now.”
“Having clear agreements with clear consequences is not parental, Sandy. It is the way our world works. Can you see that much of your confusion is generated from within you? If you keep complaining about his behavior, but have no real consequences for it, you’re sending a very mixed message.”
“That sounds like you’re blaming me for his bad behavior,” she said.
“Not at all,” I explained. “There are some things I want you to do that I think will alleviate a lot of your inner chaos. Would you like to hear them?”
“Of course,” she said. I offered the following counsel:
1. Seek counsel carefully.
There can actually be wisdom with many counselors, but it must be wise counsel. Too often we seek counsel from whoever will listen to us. We don’t stop to really consider who we are seeking counsel from. Scripture says, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.” (Proverbs 20:18)
2. Slow down and consider your feelings, the situation and the best course of action.
Solomon said it well: “In good times, be happy; in bad times, consider.” (Ecclesiastes 7:14)
3. Step back from a situation, reflect and pray.
Simply getting away from the cacophony of voices, and most certainly from the one you are entangled with, can clear up much confusion. This can be frightening, as we fear feeling or being abandoned. But, perspective cannot be gained up close—and certainly not in the midst of strife and emotional turmoil.
4. Weigh out your choices.
Consider how you are handling a situation. Are you setting good boundaries? Are you holding your loved one accountable for their actions? Are you teaching them that they must treat you with respect? Emotional boundaries are protective barriers that create inner safety.
5. if you remain in the relationship, set out clear expectations build in a plan of accountability and be prepared to make difficult decisions.
Don’t keep doing what you’ve always done, and getting what you’ve always gotten. Don’t keep yourself in a traumatic situation, bound to keep your feelings in a constant state of turmoil. If your mate will not change, be prepared to separate for a season while they consider their actions and behavior.
Do you have confusion in your life? Would you like clarity, leading to conviction stemming from courageous choices? Consider taking the steps necessary to truly change your situation.
Share your feedback or send a confidential note to me at [email protected] and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website www.marriagerecoverycenter.com and yourrelationshipdoctor.com. You’ll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.