I know there are many physicians that walk out of their practice every day shaking their heads in disbelief of how people let themselves get into such poor physical health. Well, there are times when counselors do something very similar. I find myself walking out of my office very often shaking my head in disbelief. I am just amazed at how mean spouses can be to each other and how unhealthy they have allowed their marriage to devolve.
It hurts my heart to hear the name calling, sarcasm and blaming that is used in an attempt to hurt this person whom they had chosen at one time to love, honor and cherish. The volume could be loud, the posture attacking or defensive, or there could be stone, cold silence. These are all symptoms of what was once a relationship filled with hope is now just filled with pain and often regret.
Somewhere along the way the focus was moved off of the other person. The desire to please and to be considerate was exchanged for what "I want" or where "I hurt". Selfishness replaced service. Self focus replaced empathy. How could this Jekyll to Hyde, 180° shift take place? On TV, when one is investigating a crime, there is a common theme voiced when trying to find the offender. "Follow the money." Well, in relationships, it can be almost as simple. In the words of a colleague of mine, "follow the pain."
We do a lot of crazy things when we cope with the pain we have. We usually call that pain, "buttons", although we often do not slow down our reaction enough to determine what those buttons are. We just know they got pushed and we are reacting to them. Our partners are always pushing our buttons. There is a long list of buttons, and it can include feeling rejected, alone, inadequate, failure, judged, worthless, and out of control. In an earlier blog, I talked about how some of those pains developed, so I won't go there again. What I would like to zero in on is the one key to prohibiting that destructive behavior that is so mean.
We have choices. We can either choose to be mean, to react out of our pain, or we can choose a different, more compassionate route. For this to take place, humility must be present. Humility is not giving in, avoiding or being a doormat. Humility comes from a clear knowledge as to who you are. It is a strength that allows one to stand in the middle of a storm that is pressing down on you and not giving into the emotional tone of the moment. The person who is humble accepts responsibility for when he is wrong and does not have to prove to the other if he is right.
In Gayle Erwin's, The Jesus Style, it is noted that it is Jesus' humility that gave Him strength to say, "No," when people wanted him to do things that was contrary to his purpose. He did not give in to being manipulated (Mark 12:13-15). He did not allow His abilities to do signs and wonders to be used as a sideshow (Mark 8:11-13). He withdrew into the hills when the people were coming to force Him to be king (John 6:15). It was humility that helped Him because He knew who He was and what His purpose was.
When couples are hurting each other so deeply, I see no humility. They lose their direction and their identity. They only thing they are focused on is protecting themselves at the expense of the relationship. "I'm sorry" and "Please forgive me" are absent from their communication. Even those in Christ park their identity in Him and return to the old person they had supposedly "taken off" (Colossians 3).