What actually defines a bad husband? There seem to be plenty of men who qualify. I keep meeting women who refuse to admit that theirs does. They tolerate abuse and keep defending them.
Here’s the most recent victim.
She has several teenage children, living in a small house, dependent on government assistance. She doesn’t quite qualify for all she needs, based on a marginal income. She is married to a man who shows up randomly, usually around a holiday. He generously contributes less than $200 a month to support his own children and wife. He hasn’t lived in the house, with them, for years. He knows how bad they are struggling. He occasionally does nice things for them.
He does just enough good to keep her on edge. She can’t quite accept that this is a useless idiot. He is just nice enough to keep her hoping that he will come back. He is not violent or physically abusive. Not a bad person by most definitions. Just not man enough to take care of his own family.
Yeah. I said it. Not man enough.
I am pretty careful to blur the details and protect anyone I mention in these articles. However, if this guy happens to find this and figure out who he is, he should know exactly I feel about him. Loser. Abuser. Coward. Toddler. Idiot. There’s more, but I think that covers most of it. I would LOVE to speak with him in person.
My intention, in writing this blog, was to be an encourager of other men. To offer a map to a minefield that I crossed and survived. To explain the hard stuff that has been sugar coated for too long. I had no intention of going into attack mode over these hurt wives. But, the bulk of my readers are now women, searching for some kind of hope. They want to know that there are men out there who understand. They refuse to accept that every living man is an abusive, clueless, self absorbed tyrant. They also need to know that the ones who are, have a chance of changing.
They can. However, not by coddling them or tolerating abuse. Not by living with unrealistic hopes. Not by hiding from the people who love them and honestly want to help. Not by defending someone who has ruined their life.
Guy, if you are listening, here’s what we are telling your wives to do.
If this husband qualifies as an abuser, we are telling them to get a lawyer and file for divorce. Yep. Not to stay in the abuse or to pray for your sweetheart. Get out of the abuse, protect yourself and those kids. Get away. Stop defending him. Stop lying to yourself.
If he really is a good man… Deep down, like you think… He will come to his senses and pursue his family. He will do everything in his strength to save that family. He will repent of the bad things he has done and get his priorities straight. The threat of losing you will wake him up and get him working on fixing the problems. If he commits to the process of becoming a better man and learning to truly love his wife, you will have a great marriage soon.
If he is truly an abusive man, he will start looking for another victim and let you go. Cut your losses and move on. It’s better to know now than drag it out and waste more years. Those divorce papers will just draw a line and see which side he chooses. We don’t want to see anyone divorced. We want to save all of these families. But the fact is, very few men will actually humble themselves and pursue their family.
The whole process is predictable. Sign up for the marriage forum, you can find hundreds of people who have already been through the same things. There are several amazing counselors that will help you through the whole process. They can tell you when it’s safe to trust again and when to cut him off completely. Get some support.
My wife tolerated my junk for twenty years. It took a few years for me to deteriorate, the last ten of those were the worst. I wasn’t really violent, but still managed to score 16 of the 21 forms of abuse within a marriage. She wasn’t even being counseled by Joel and Kathy, she was just sick of me and wanted out. Without even knowing their process, she handled it pretty well. She took my power away and took control of the situation. She got a lawyer and started planning a life without me.
Because I honestly wanted to love her and be with her, I cracked pretty quick. I knew she was serious. I knew she was leaving as soon as she could make it happen. I had to get busy quick. It took almost four year of pursuing and fighting for her, but it was worth it. It was a miserable, painful experience; but it was only as bad as I made it. I consider it a fairly easy break. It took me over ten years of serious digging to get that deep into the hole I was in. I got out in less than four.
We have two daughters who were married and divorced during that time. Both of them married their best friends, started off great, and ended up in abuse quickly. Both girls filed for divorce in less than two years, neither husband lifted a finger to fight for them. One was physically abusive, one was just am immature tyrant. Neither one deserved our girls. Both of them gave up immediately. No fight. Just decided our girls weren’t worth it. The moved on to ruin someone else’s life.
As hard as those two divorces were, I am very proud of my girls for standing up for themselves. All three, including my wife, refused to accept abusive treatment. All three decided that their life was worth more than their husbands thought. All three decided that loneliness was better than abuse. They took a chance to protect themselves and came out on top.
The other two husbands, will never know what it feels like to fight for your family and win. They will never know what it feels like to truly love their wives. They will never experience the freedom that I feel. They will never completely understand what it means to to be a man the way that I do. They chose the selfish path. They missed the selfless path that takes you into a strong, loving marriage.
I wish we had made our choices sooner. I wish I had never become the selfish monster I was. I wish I had never put my family through the things I did. But, I did. It’s done. I can’t change the past, but I can change the present and the future. I can see her for who she is. I can love her the way Christ loved the church. I can make sure, every day, that she knows how much I love her.
She saved my life. Not by protecting me and coddling me. Not by making excuses for me. Not by praying more, loving more, submitting more. She saved my life by forcing me to wake up and get back on track. If she hadn’t taken a stand, I would still be deteriorating and becoming more angry and more abusive. I wasn’t allowed to continue ruining her life or mine. She is the real hero. I am just the knucklehead that woke up and listened.
You probably won’t hear that from traditional counseling. But those are the facts. Think about it. Get up and fight for your family.