Monday, September 3, 2012

Support Your Spouse

For me, supporting my wife was not an option. It’s one of the reasons God gave her to me. I’ve come to realize that I may have an advantage over some spouses because I knew about my wife’s abuse within the first few days of dating. My wife thought that I’d run off scared. We’d both been through trying times in our lives and it just made us connect. I know that knowing about her abuse before I fell in love with her is an advantage over some couples but love is a choice. When you got married, you made a commitment “for better or for worse.” We always hope the “worse” never comes but now that the secret is out, I pray that you’ll stand by your spouse. Here are some things that I’d like you to think about.

Be proud of her
When my wife told me her story, I was proud of her. She’d endured so much abuse and she still loved God and wanted to serve Him. She did right by giving her baby up for adoption and had moved on with her life and was trying to make the best of it. I admired her for her strength.
Don’t blame her
It’s not her fault. My wife had no control over the things that happened to her. Blaming her in any way is putting the blame on the wrong person. You can also play the “what if” game but it does not matter. She was abused. Someone took advantage of her and it was not her fault.
She’s not damaged
Some might view a person who has been sexually abused as “damaged goods.” This is far from true. A person may have wounds and scars from the life they have endured but this does not make them damaged. I’ve never looked at my wife as being less of a person because someone abused her. I look at her and realize that she’s a better person because of her past. I’ve always thought that God was going to use her in a special way to be a blessing and encouragement to others because of what she’s gone though.
Help her get justice
This is an area that I feel bad about because it never crossed my mind to get justice for Tina. Tina may not have been ready for it but I never brought it up. She had moved on, had accepted it as her past, and was trying to get on with life and “forget” about it. The great thing is that God had His timing and when the time was right, God worked out the details.
Stand with her (Be Supportive)
It is not an easy thing to bring up the past. It’s even harder to make things right and bring about justice. It’s even harder when you, as a spouse, are not supportive. Your spouse needs you. She needs to know that you support her and will stand with her. She needs to know that no matter what happens you will be with her, not judge her, and do whatever is necessary to make sure she feels loved. It makes everything a million times harder if she thinks you’re going to do to her like everyone else who has abused her in her life.
Most of the time you’re not going to know what to say but if you just listen, it will go a long way. You may not even understand because you have not gone through it. That’s fine. If you can be a sounding board for her, it will show you how much you love her.
Get Counseling
If you’re having a hard time coming to grips with your spouses abuse, get a licensed counselor who specializes in abuse and have that person help you walk through the issues that you are and will face in the future. Your spouse may be dealing with things that he/she may not understand and it will help them also.
Conflicts will happen
There are times when conflicts will arise between couples because of the stress caused by dealing with the past. Be aware of this. This is probably where I struggled the most because I sometimes took it personal and it wasn’t really me that she was upset with but I was the closest and even the little things were made bigger.
Be aware
Pay attention to your wife. There were times I could tell my wife was not sleeping well and I could only imagine the nightmares she may be having. Do something to help comfort her. I used to turn on the radio or put on a CD of Christian music for her. This seemed to soothe her because the positive, life-affirming music would drown out the dreams and subconsciously dwell on something more positive than her past.
My prayer was for me to understand my wife better. I knew it wasn’t her that needed to change but me. I figured that if God could help me see things from my wife’s point of view, than I could help her through the things she was going through. In turn, this would translate into a stronger relationship between us.
See the light
You may be going through a dark tunnel right now and see no end in sight but keep your eye on God and He will bring you through. Eventually, you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. The best light you see is when you see God’s hand directing and leading and bringing glory to His name because you did what was right. And hopefully you get to see justice. Unfortunately, that does not always happen but it’s great when you do.

This is not an easy thing to go through but it’s easier when you do it with someone you love and with someone who loves you. The Bible talks about two being better than one because when the one falls the other is there to pick them up. That’s marriage and when the trials of life, both literally and figuratively, happen, you’re there to support each other. 

I realize that it’s not just men that have to deal with a wife that’s been abused. Unfortunately, boys have been abused also and it’s just as hard for men to admit they’ve been abused as it is for women. There are a lot of books about abuse but I’d like to introduce you to a man who had to go through this journey. Bill Harbeck lived with his secret for over thirty years. I’ve read his story, Shattered: One Man’s Journey from Sexual Abuse and it is heart-wrenching. I’ve met and talked with him and his wife a couple of times. I would encourage you to read his story.