I’m back from a much-needed vacation to continue the series on how our spouses can control us. Today’s focus is about feeling like a victim in a hopeless marriage.
Sometimes people who are in a hurtful marriage for a very long time and have tried to combat the issues for as long as they’ve been married, allow their mates to dictate how they feel and respond.
It is very much like an experiment that was conducted by psychologist Martin Seligman in 1967. He used electric shocks to elicit certain conditioned responses in dogs. Initially some of the dogs received shocks no matter what they did to avoid them. Those dogs eventually gave up on trying, even after the shocks had been removed at a later point. They developed a “learned helplessness”—much like a spouse develops a “victim mentality.”
It takes years and multiple experiences of frustration, loss and pain to develop a true victim mentality. But like in the case of the dogs, it is an illusion because you always have a choice.*
I had a victim-mentality at one time. Our marriage was so messy that it seemed relentlessly combative and painful to me. I felt as if I had tried everything to change my
marriage husband, but nothing was working.
Did you notice that subtle difference? I wasn’t interested in changing the marriage as much, because that meant changing myself! But you can bet …
[Tweet “I was on the “change-my-hubby” bandwagon! #victim-mentality”]
I came to believe that he held the key to our happiness and fulfillment as a couple. Whenever he would do something that was hurtful, I felt helpless to deal with it, because he was the one who needed to change! Poor pitiful me! 😦
It wasn’t until I decided to do what I could do—what was within my power to change—that my marriage and life began to heal and improve. In my view, I wouldn’t have been able to realize that or to get to where I needed to be without the Lord’s motivation, strength and wisdom.
So here are three key beliefs that got me off my “pity-pot” and embracing my life and marriage …
God loves me more than my hubby ever can.
Once I began to embrace this amazing truth, I was able to let go of my dependency upon my hubby to make me feel loved or to respond in right ways. Here’s a document to grab that’s full of biblical reminders – “God’s Love for Me.”
Meditate on these, memorize them, say them out loud, pray them, claim them especially in times of frustration and pain.
I have more power than I realize.
Through Christ I am able to impact my marriage in a powerful way.
- I can pray for my husband daily and spontaneously in moments when it is crucial.
- I can pray daily for my heart to be encouraged in my marriage. God has been faithful to answer that prayer!
- I can become God’s vessel of love to my husband—where love is abundant and never dries up!
- I can forgive and release my husband from the debt he owes me—freeing us both to bask in God’s mercy and love.
- I can be kind and patient—which convicts my husband more powerfully than any eloquent or persuasive word of correction.
I can become a safer person.
There’s a great book entitled Safe People that has helped me over the years to know how to relate in healthy ways with my husband and others. When I learned how to respectfully set boundaries and adjust my expectations, my husband was challenged to mature and become safer himself. We are still a work-in-progress, but have so much more satisfaction and depth in our marriage because we both were proactive to pursue becoming safer people.
FYI – If you attend my church, I’ll be leading a women’s group that is studying Safe People starting January 19th. Let me know via email or commenting below if you’re interested in joining! I’d love to have you!
Next week, I’ll continue in our series about the ways our spouses can control us with a post on “Choosing to have an affair or to look at pornography because you believe you’ve been deprived of ‘whatever’ in your marriage.” You won’t want to miss it!
One last tidbit – I am starting a private Facebook group that will be going through the book of Philippians. I’d love to have you join me if you’re interested in learning a simple and meaningful way to study your Bible. What better way to start off your new year than to get into God’s word as well as to learn to rejoice in all circumstances?! 😉 All you need to do is “friend me” and request to be added and I’ll gladly include you! Click here to go to my Facebook Profile.
What have you done to free yourself from a “victim-mentality”?
In what ways have you allowed yourself to take on a “victim-mentality”?
[Tweet “Feeling helpless to change your marriage? Be the change! #proactive”]
*If you are in a marriage where emotional, sexual or physical abuse is taking place, do not hesitate to seek professional help! In these cases you are truly a victim that should take drastic measures to protect yourself. These measures require the objectivity and guidance of a professional who is also trained in avoiding potential separation abuse. Check out the National Domestic Abuse Hotline’s website.
Linking up with – Mommy Moments, Weekend Whispers, Making Your Home Sing, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Sunday Stillness, Sharing His Beauty, Spiritual Sundays, Words with Winter, Sitting Among Friends, Family, Friendship and Faith, DanceWithJesusFriday and Playdates with God