(Note: in this post, I write as addressing husbands who find themselves in Hades-marriages. However, Paul Byerly’s suggestions and my comments and suggestions apply to any wife who finds herself in the same situation.)
This is the second of a three-part series; here are the links to part 1 and part 3.
In my first post about truly Ugly marriages, those spawned in Hades, I wrote about how Paul Byerly, of Generous Husband, had recently experienced an unsettling nightmare, in which he dreamt of being trapped in a Hades-marriage. His next post told of his thoughts on how he would attempt to deal with the situation if he were in one.
In his article, Dealing With A Nightmare Marriage, Paul B. presented several suggestions for husbands and wives in a Hades-marriage, and I want to go over his suggestions and share with you different resources from Curmudgeonly Librarian that will help you with his ideas.
Suggestion #1: First and foremost I would need a solid relationship with the Lord.
Sweet Lord, yes! All too often, we christians make an idol out of our relationships, our marriages, and get our lives out of balance. We have to be reminded that our husbands, our wives, our marriages aren’t God; God is God, and when we let our situations take our eyes off of God, we can’t be right. Just as ancient sailors needed a North Star to navigate on seas, we need a North Star in our lives to help us know where we are.
I ended my Waiting #1 post with this recommendation:
Realize that what you have received and believed is a lie, and go to God to do a mental and spiritual reset.
I’m going to recommend that you read Paul Coughlin’s No More Christian Nice Guy. While a bit of a bombast, Coughlin writes with a guy-in-the-pew perspective that lets you know that being a guy doesn’t mean that you’re automatically toxic, and that it’s okay to have wants and needs in your marriage. To my mind, the title of the second chapter is worth the price of the book: Jesus, the Bearded Woman! (And for wives in a Hades marriage, just letting you know that Coughlin didn’t leave you out, but has also written No More Christian Nice Girl.)
Suggestion #2: I would pray and try to figure out what my reasonable responsibilities to my wife were.
Paul B.’s first suggestion was to go to God and learn to rebuild yourself as a man of God. With this second suggestion, I see Paul as saying that you need to go to God to re-learn what marriage is supposed to be.
In my Bad Teaching series (listed on this page), I discussed how today’s church has spawned a deformed version of the Love Your Wife As Christ Loved the Church teaching (LYWACLTC™) that has, in essence, devalued Christian men as men, glorifying self-abasing milquetoasts as Servant-Leaders instead. Yes, Christian husbands are to serve, but this is not the biblical position of a spouse, husband or wife:
Instead, when God created us male and female, He imbued us with an intrinsic value as humans, and “doormat” isn’t part of the job description. Much has been written over the years about such problems in marriage as passive-aggressive relationships, narcissistic relationships, emotionally abusive relationships, ad nauseum. It’s not my purpose to try to analyze all these possibilities and give solutions. One, I’m not a trained counselor, and two, …. I got nothin’.
But being the librarian that I am, I am not without resources. And as to the problem that Paul B. addresses, that of defining reasonable responsibilities? That problem comes from allowing your spouse to impose his/her responsibilities on you and you not learning to say “No” to those things that harm you and your marriage. The best resource for learning what your “reasonable responsibilities” is the book Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend.
One of the best things you can do for yourself and for your marriage is to learn to not feel guilty about things that aren’t your responsibility. Boundaries is a must.
Suggestion #3: Next, I would build a healthy life beyond my marriage. I wouldn’t intentionally exclude her, but I wouldn’t say no to things just because she wasn’t interested.
If you are in a Hades-marriage, there is no way that you have not been affected by what has transpired.
Years D ecades Years before, you stood at the altar promising to love, honor and cherish the person standing next to you. Today, however, the downward spiral of your marriage and relationship has affected every aspect of your life, spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically, and has sapped all joy of your vow from your being.
I’ve written about losing yourself in your relationship, being altered in such a way that you don’t recognize yourself anymore. So I’m going to repeat the same thing I said in my Waiting #6 post:
Find the guy you lost.
And, yes, I mean “lost”. Many times, a husband will give up activities and avocations that he enjoyed for the sake of creating togetherness in a marriage. …
[M]any times we guys will allow our interests to be subsumed into the marriage because they pull us away from the marriage. This is not a bad thing, as the marriage becomes the object, the focus of our lives, now. But the person who cycled or flew or studied the Benko Gambit until 1:00 in the morning should still be there, and not have been transmogrified into a mere marital factotum.
I’ve said it before: marriage changes us. There is no way two lives blending into one cannot change us. But understand this: there is a difference between growing together and one being subsumed into another. In this third suggestion, Paul B. tells someone in a Hades-marriage to begin to disentangle him/herself from the brambles that seem to bind them from finding life in God.
Journey of Three Re-discoveries
Paul B.’s first three suggestions are a challenge to engage on a journey of re-discovery. You have known for sometime that your marriage is not what you envisioned, that it has somehow become something you never saw coming. Now you need to begin the process of re-discovering God, of re-discovering the truth about what marriage is supposed to be, and of re-discovering the man or woman who got lost over the life of your marriage.
[More on Paul Byerly’s further suggestions in my next post]