Category Archives: a marriage journey

Danny and Me – Sweet Success

This is the last of my marriage journey blogs. If you haven’t read my previous posts, click here. Danny and I have come a long way in our relationship. I hope to post a guest blog from him someday soon. I’d love for you to hear his perspective.

Somehow, through lots (AND LOTS) of practice, Danny and I made it through the process of learning a new way of communicating, a new way of handling disagreements, and a new way of handling our emotions. I truly believe it was a miracle. We almost didn’t make it. But we did. We did it with God’s help, with really great counseling from a trusted professional (God Junior ;)), and with an awesome support system of friends and family.

We tried several other counselors over several years before we found the method that worked for us. The point is, though, that we kept at it. We were literally on the brink of divorce. I had already thought through the worst case scenario, trying to prepare myself for what might happen. I thought about holidays split between me and Danny with the kids and grandkids. I wanted them to have parents and grandparents who were together. I thought about how much it would cost for me to live alone, pay my bills alone, and support myself alone. I thought about living alone. While it sounded good for a season, forever was a long, long time of loneliness when I had a husband I could fight to keep. I thought about how much I wanted our family to be together, how I didn’t want to be divorced.

Thankfully God was faithful, as always. And thankfully, Danny wanted the same thing I did. He wanted our family to be intact, he wanted us to live to be old together. If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have made it.

One day as I was driving home from work I realized that I was looking forward to seeing Danny. It caught me off guard – it had been a long, long time since I’d anticipated with excitement him being home when I got there. It felt good. When I leave town now I look forward to coming home. I am so glad we stuck it out. We always said that our marriage was worth fighting for, but when the fight got horribly hard I’m glad we kept our armor on and our swords engaged.

We still have our ups and downs. Terry, our counselor, often told us that if we came back to see him in ten years, whatever problem we were currently struggling with would boil down to that same ol’ cycle. He was right. Even though it hasn’t been ten years yet, every single – and I mean every single – time we have an argument it is the exact same cycle. It’s frustrating on one hand but on the other, we know just what to do to spin out of that cycle . . . and we do.

We are happier with each other than we’ve ever been. We enjoy being with each other, which is great because we are in that “empty nest” time of life. Trust me when I say that if you are married, your marriage is worth fighting for. Every marriage is different – every spouse is different. I realize that every spouse is not willing to “go the distance” like Danny and I both were. I hate that because if they only knew that there really was an end in sight, they probably would. It takes faith and without it, you just can’t make it through hard times like Danny and I have had. We had faith in Terry, that what he said would work even when it felt like it was fruitless. We knew he prayed for us between sessions. We knew he loved us and wanted us to succeed. The Holy Spirit gave us peace with Terry’s leadership even through the muck. A relationship with God brings that peace in the storm. He’s so good.

I’m so thankful for my husband. He’s not perfect, any more than I am or anyone else, but he’s stronger than I ever thought he was before. I’m proud of the man that he is and proud to be his wife. Thanksgiving is about 10 days away. This year I’m thankful for my man.

Danny and Me – The Solution

I’ve been blogging about Danny and me, and our journey to a healthy marriage. If you haven’t read my previous posts it would help this one make more sense if you did. Click here to read them.

So, Danny and I were in a rut – a frustrating, maddening rut. We had tried to save our relationship for so long that we’d almost given up. We were exhausted.

Terry (God Junior), our counselor, was convinced that we could have a wonderful, fulfilling marriage. He constantly encouraged us that we could work through this – but he was always honest and forthcoming on what it would take to succeed. He didn’t sugarcoat anything…..and I mean ANYTHING.

Danny and I were relating to each other based on how we felt – our feelings. If Danny felt disrespected, it was my fault. I needed to do something to make him feel differently. However, I couldn’t seem to fit the bill. The more I failed at making him happy, the more withdrawn I got and the more hopeless I became. The cycle.

Terry taught us to break the cycle. He gave us homework.

Danny was supposed to talk over his feelings with me every single day. The plan was for him to tell me how he felt (disrespected, angry, rejected, etc.) Then he would tell me what the truth was (that he was a good man, worthy of respect, and that God loved him). Then he would say what he normally did when he felt this way (blame me, attack me, and get angry) and what he was going to do based on the truth (serve me, bless me, and put his confidence in who God said he was.)

Me? Well, I had to say when I was feeling hopeless and angry. Then I would say that what I normally did when I felt that way was to shut off and pull away. But the truth was that things weren’t hopeless, I was pleasing to God and a good woman. I could choose to be happy and content. Based on that truth, I was going to talk about my feelings and not pull away or ignore the issue. I was not going to go back to the way things were.

I cannot tell you how difficult this was. Danny told me several times that it was like learning a new language. There were countless times that I wanted to leave, to call it quits, to give up. I guarantee you that he felt the same way. We practiced our homework some, but not consistently – not daily. Those couple of years were the hardest I’ve ever experienced. I can’t think of words to say how hard, just HARD. It was like we were teetering on the edge of victory, yet kept sliding back down the wrong way.

On one particular day, we once again came to a stalemate. Danny called Terry and told him this was not working. He was furiously frustrated and so was I. Terry challenged him that day. He challenged Danny to work the “process” every day for 90 days before giving up. Every single day for 3 months.

My Husband is My Hero.

The key to breaking a lifelong cycle is consistency and time. It just flat out takes constant practice for a long time. Exhausting practice. Danny wrote in his journal (the Notes app in his iPhone) his feelings, what he normally did, what the truth was, and what he was going to do based on the truth EVERY SINGLE DAY for 90 days. In fact, he still does it today. Slowly, but surely, he began to feel more like what the truth was telling him than what his feelings had told him in the past. He literally changed his feelings.

For me.

He did it for me.

He did it for himself too, but it was amazing to realize that he would do that for me. We had gotten to the place where we did not love each other anymore. We had very few “happy” feelings toward each other. But it is IMPOSSIBLE not to love a man who would go to such great lengths to change for you. I grew to respect and love my husband again and it felt awesome!

As for me, I stayed “in”. I didn’t walk away, I didn’t shut off . . . even when I wanted to. I did it. We did it. Together.

Here’s the key:

  1. Admit your feelings. Take responsibility for them; don’t blame them on others.
  2. Say what you normally do based on these feelings.
  3. State what the truth is. Go to God’s word if you’re unsure. The truth is true no matter what anyone says or feels about you. It is not based on anyone else.
  4. Then say what you will choose to do based on the truth. Then do it.

This works! Try it. I challenge you to work this process for 90 days – see if it changes you!

Danny and Me – The Cycle

If you’ve been following this story, you know that Danny and I were on a one-way trip to a miserable marriage. If you haven’t read my last few posts, you might want to check them out before you read this.  (Click on the “a marriage journey” category to the right of this blog post.) After more than 30 years of marriage, we were stuck and very unhappy with each other.

In fact, one day I decided I was done. I’d had enough. Because I ran into a lot of counseling situations in my job at the church I often referred people to a particular licensed professional counseling center. I had met most of the counselors there and was impressed with what I was hearing back from the people I sent to them for help. I called to make an appointment for Danny and me. I decided that if he wouldn’t go, I would just go by myself. I needed help.

Terry, the counselor I wanted to see, was booked up. He put me on the waiting list and I waited. I felt hopeful for the first time in quite awhile, but it took several months for us to get in.

Finally the day came.

Danny and I went to meet with “the professional”. It was a little unnerving, embarrassing, and scary. I felt so desperate for Terry to straighten Danny out – oh my, did I have a lot to learn!!

We met with him twice, maybe three times, before he identified our “cycle”. Remember the hamster wheel? Well, it’s true. We were in one. We had developed a way of relating to one another that was very dysfunctional.And obviously not producing our desired results!  When we got into a disagreement Danny would do the exact same things every time. Then I would respond to him in exactly the same way every time. Which would instigate him responding to my response and on and on and on. Ad nauseum. It didn’t even matter what we were arguing about.

And so the work began. And when I say work, I mean WORK. Terry was so kind to us – we both felt loved and valued – but he did not take any crud off of us either. We could not sway him no matter how hard each of us tried! He was brutally honest combined with such love and kindness. It was awful and amazing all at the same time.

Sometimes I would go in to our appointment with an agenda and to my great disappointment, he would do what he thought was best in spite of me! Oh, how I hated those visits! I’m sure Danny could say the same thing. We left after each appointment with encouragement and homework. Always homework.

There were some days that I would almost run from his office, anxious to get in my car and drive away. So angry at Danny and so frustrated at how long this “process” was. Then there were other days that I left with a lift in my spirit just knowing that we were going to make it through. It was a roller coaster of emotions that was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.

Danny and I both knew that Terry had our “number”. He knew what our dysfunctional cycle was and he clearly knew how to help us get past it. But it was by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced and I’m pretty sure Danny would agree. Terry would grab his legal pad every single visit and draw out for us our cycle.

Here it is: Danny would feel dishonored or disrespected and blame me. I would feel attacked and shut down. When I shut down Danny would feel disrespected. Then he would blame and attack and I would shut down, which made him feel disrespected. And so on and so on. Vicious cycle. The only way out? Someone had to break the pattern. Terry patiently showed each of us how to stop our part (I’ll describe this more in my next post). His counsel made perfect sense until we got home.

We would get into an argument. (Terry made us set aside times to talk through stuff, so our arguments actually increased – joy.) We would try to work through it but honestly in the middle of our cycle we couldn’t even remember what he had counseled us to do! So we would go to our next appointment and talk about our attempts, and he would patiently tell us the exact same thing. He had the patience of Job. We did not.

We were exhausted. I can’t even begin to describe how hard it was.  But I knew, we knew, that Terry had the answer. (I affectionately dubbed him God Junior!) This stuff he was telling us would work if we could just “get it”. Even through the frustration there was one thing we knew for sure, there was no way we were going back to where we were before, no way.

If you are, or have been, absolutely exhausted – sick of living the same nightmare over and over again – decide to change something. Danny often says that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. Decide to change. That is the first step. If you need help, get it. You can do it!

Danny and Me – The Tape

This post is about me. Just me.

Not Danny – Why? Because I can’t begin to speak for him. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll ask him to write a “guest blog” for me sometime soon….great idea!

As Danny and I continued to struggle, my mind began to wonder if I’d married the wrong man. I mean, what if I’d missed it? We’d gotten so much help at our church, yet things were still wrong. What if I made a mistake? What if I should’ve waited, rather than getting married so quickly? What if I missed Mr. Right?? And what if I got Mr. Wrong?? Then what?

We were both so frustrated with each other. I began to rehearse our arguments – after all, they always boiled down to the same thing. I could’ve written a script.  It was as if I had a VCR tape (I know, I know. I wish I could say DVD, but folks, it was a VCR!!) playing over and over in my head. A video tape that played each fight. When I laid my head down at night, it was as if that tape was automatically pushed into the player. And I could.not.turn.it.off. I couldn’t do it. It played over and over all night. Most every night.

I not only reviewed every harsh word that was spoken, but also the emotions involved. I was dying inside and we were climbing right back into that hamster wheel. I felt so hopeless and of course, we continued to fight – providing more “tapes for my player”. Soon I dreaded coming home from work. I would drive into the driveway, push the garage door opener and if Danny was already home, my heart would sink. When I went out of town to a conference, retreat, or girls weekend I wouldn’t want to come home. I hated my feelings but couldn’t seem to get them to change.It’s so hard not to rehearse hurts, traumas, injustices done to us. Sometimes it can seem impossible to turn off that video tape. Before long, there is such a case built up that freedom is seemingly out of the question. A dear friend of mine used to call it “the crazies”. I felt like I was hopelessly trapped with no way out.

Those tapes don’t play in my head anymore. I don’t run in the wheel, or at least not long! I broke that cycle. There truly is hope, always.  Trust me when I say that whatever it is that you cannot seem to shake – there is victory. You can stop the cycle, no matter what the other person does. Watch for my next post! I pray that with each piece of our story, you’re encouraged to face your own crazies and take ‘em down.