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Marriage 911 09/05/17

Have You Checked Out of Your Marriage?

Couple growing apart

There comes a time in many people's lives when they have had all they can take emotionally. They have been hurt once too many times. Having lost a sense of innocence and hope for change, they check out.

We all know what this is like. We've all been hurt deeply by someone we once trusted, someone we believed would always be there for us. For some it is 'all at once,' in an instance of betrayal they close their heart. For others, it is gradual. Nonetheless, there is a turning point.

To get help for your marriage from Dr. Hawkins and his qualified staff, please visit The Marriage Recovery Center website or call 206-219-0145.

Most have a sense about when and where it happened, when they 'checked out.' Others can't pinpoint a date, but can vividly recount having trusted someone and then found out that person could not be counted on to protect them.

Kelly knew when it where it happened for her.

"I had trusted my husband to be there for me and had given him my heart," she said. "We were so connected the first couple of years of our marriage. He really had my heart."

She paused.

"I couldn't have predicted that after we married he would put his friends, career, and even his hobbies before me. I never thought I would be last place in his life. I just wasn't prepared for this to happen, especially after he knew how much I looked to him for protection."

I listened to her tell this story as her husband, Rob, listened as well. He seemed to genuinely care about her feelings now, but was it too late?

"I remember asking him again and again to pay attention to me," she shared, tears running down her face. "I expected married life to be so much different. After a while, I figured I was never going to be important to him again. So, I invested my life in other things. I invested my life in the church, my friends, and our kids. Mostly though, I checked out."

Rob was solemn as he listened to his wife.

"I know I've closed her heart," he said sadly. "I wasn't there for her and I know it. I feel terrible that it has come to this. She said coming to this Marriage Intensive was the last chance for us. I don't want to blow this and know it will take a lot for her to open her heart to me again."

Indeed, Kelly had closed her heart to her husband. She had 'checked out', or more accurately, closed up. She harbored bitterness and deep-seated feelings of abandonment. There was a flicker of hope, however. She was here for marriage counseling.

Her feelings are understandable. Solomon said, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life." (Proverbs 13:12)

What can Rob do now to open his wife's heart? Is it really too late or can he do something to give her hope again? Here are some suggestions for him and perhaps you too (if you are in a similar situation):

1. Take complete ownership for your spouse's wounds.

You must invite her criticism, hurt, and anger. You must 'stand in the heat' as she shares her pain. She will only share it, however, if she believes you really care. You must show you care by taking complete ownership for how you have abandoned and neglected her. Be specific as you validate her pain.

2. Change your heart and your life.

Assuming you've had 'the breakdown that leads to the breakthrough', allow God to change your heart and your life. Ask God how He will use this situation for your growth. Critically inspect your values and truthfully change from the inside out. Explore honestly your values and what you have placed before your marriage and make necessary changes.

3. Be patient as her heart heals.

Ask nothing from her. Allow her time to heal from her profound hurt. She's not likely to automatically respond just because you have had an awakening. In fact, she may be angrier that you now see the light. Tolerate her distress and remember that her healing will be at her pace. 

4. Consistency convinces.

Your consistency will be what convinces her. She must see and feel your heart change. She must see and feel the difference in your attitude and new ways you will take interest in her and value what is important to her.

5. Offer hope and help as she heals.

Hang in there. She must see that you have hope for your marriage even when she does not. She must see you have faith and will stand for something she has closed her heart to. Extend yourself in small and large ways to help her heal.

Has your mate closed his/her heart to you? Has he/she given up hope for your marriage? We are here to help. Share your feedback below or send us a confidential note and read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on my website: www.marriagerecoverycenter.com.You'll find videos and podcasts on saving a troubled marriage, our special Marriage Intensives, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.    

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