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Many women believe they are having normal marriage problems when they are not. You see, we were spiritually and culturally discipled to accept immaturity, pride, and negative, chronic, and unrepentant behavior as "common issues" in a relationship.

I came across this post recently by an author named Ngina Otiende who is a marriage coach. I want to include it in this blog for women who are struggling to define whether or not they are having normal marriage problems or toxic marriage problems. Ngina also writes from a christian perspective, and I believe it’s still valid for many because spirituality has and is used widely to by many even if they are not practicing Christians. It pervades the very foundation of our society in ways that when we get married our husbands have an unspoken expectation prior to marriage that once we’re married we will become all he needs. 

I personally experienced this and was shocked when after marriage a guy who participated in the house cleaning, cooking etc. literally said to me it was all my job now. For a deeper explanation of this we cover it during Core Unit 3 of the Complex Trauma Certification. What is happening for men internally is also derailing their life.

Here’s the article and please feel welcome to do the exercise it contains to help clarify what is happening for you.

“Many women believe they are having normal marriage problems when they are not.
You see, we were spiritually and culturally discipled to accept immaturity, pride, and negative, chronic, and unrepentant behavior as “common issues” in a relationship.
We were trained to love our husbands no matter what. To “respect them as the leaders of our home.” To “understand the weight of responsibility on their shoulders” and thus “lessen that burden by not adding our many needs to their full plate.”
We were taught men need respect, and we need love.
We were set up to believe that every problem we experience in marriage is something a couple needs to work on. Or something that can be fixed by more giving, more sacrificing, more prayer, more submission, more sex.
We were not taught to discern individual problems. It was always about saving the marriage and loving that man no matter what.
We were told that ALL marriage problems are something the couple needs to work on. (Funny though, because we often bore the emotional/connection load.) 🙆🏽‍♀️🙆🏽‍♀️😏😥
Here’s the truth that many women need to know. It’s not a “normal marriage problem” if:
⚡Your thoughts, feelings, and opinions don’t matter as much as his.
⚡You’re made to feel guilty for having a different opinion. Or just having a brain.
⚡You feel your spouse is happiest or your marriage is “most peaceful” when you’re least yourself.
⚡Your spouse doesn’t want you to talk to someone else about your problems.
⚡Your recollection of events is constantly questioned, edited or dismissed.
⚡You feel like he’s playing games with you. He was mature enough to get married but acts suprised, with deer-in-headlights moments when simple basic responsibilities of marriage come up.
⚡Your relationship is “mostly great” but it has bouts of rage or long simmering anger—huge emotional reactions to small events. He’s “a great guy” most of the time, but he has a devastating side you can’t wrap your soul around.
⚡Theologically, he believes you were made to serve him (and he wasn’t.) That he deserves respect, based on his gender. All problems are to be addressed from that “understanding.”
⚡He sulks and withdraws when you try to address issues. The sun comes out a few days later – he’s happy and “loving” – but before long, he’s irritated by something else, and you’re back to the bottom of the roller coaster.
⚡You feel pressured to project the image of a good marriage, regardless of how you feel. Looking happy is more important than being happy.
⚡Addictions like sex, gambling, substance abuse e.t.c are devouring your relationship.
‼️ I am not a therapist.
But as a marriage coach, I’ve seen women take these crazy rides and their community stood by and told them it was a normal day in marriage. As someone who has learning about destructive relationships, I’ve heard from hundreds of women who did life from those dizzying railroad tracks.
Working harder on themselves, trying to appease their spouses, making themselves smaller and smaller in the hope of pleasing someone who never got pleased until they get their way.
Dear friend, I want you to weigh the “normalcy” of your problems.
You can’t be dealing with the same immaturity, same pride, same hard heartedness, same zero accountability straight non-stop f.o.r.e.v.e.r.
That is not the way of Christ. Those are not “normal marriage issues.”
Anyone who tells you to accept immaturity, pride, neglect, toxicity or abuse in its different forms as “normal things couples have to put up with” is blind, an abuser or allied to abusers. The Bible (the whole of it, not just a few select verses on marriage) is clear.
“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray.” 1 John 3:6
Indeed, healthy marriages are sanctifying. Healthy couples can have soaring conflict, or stressful seasons of profound grief.
Well-adjusted spouses can also make each other feel small and unheard. Pride, immaturity, and lack of understanding can cause deep hurt. Past trauma can throw a wrench in a relationship.
The difference is patterns.
If you were to look back and write down the the stories of your conflict/problems, would it be the same story, same patterns, repeated over different areas of your relationship? (I encourage you to actually do this exercise if you think it would be helpful).
  • When you think about any growth and change, is there a sense of responsibility by the problematic spouse?
  • Do they own up without blame, deflection, or minimizing?
  • Are boundaries honored?
  • Is there genuine repentance?
  • Are we seeing real change, real growth or is it a crazy ride, up one day and down the next?
  • Is your spouse committed to change, and even more important, is there consistent fruit?
~ Ngina Otiende

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