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How Do I Figure Out What Is Wrong in My Christian Marriage?

How Do I Figure Out What is Wrong in My Christian Marriage?

Have you ever been driving a car when a fog rolls in? One minute you’re driving along, toodly doodly doo, and the next minute you can’t see three feet in front of you. It’s scary. You slam on your brakes and slowly steer to the side of the road—hoping you don’t drive off or get hit—to wait for the heavy, grey blanket to lift.

You can’t go places when you can’t see where you’re going. Likewise, you can’t make decisions with confidence if you can’t see why you’re making them. Clearly.

“I want clarity!” I hear this all the time.

“I want to know what’s going on FOR SURE!

“I’m so confused!”

“I don’t know what to do!

How Do I Figure Out What is Wrong in My Christian Marriage?

We all have this universe between our two ears. It’s called a brain, and it’s efficient. So efficient, in fact, that it will quickly offer us the same sentences—over and over again, on repeat, forever and ever AMEN—that it always does. That it always has since we were children and didn’t realize how powerfully all the things around us were being programmed into our universe.

And most of the time we are completely unaware of what those sentences are. What that programming is.

But it’s all there. The background noise to our everyday life. And our brain already thinks it knows the answers. It doesn’t even want to give us the chance to question any of them.

You see, it’s efficient, but it doesn’t want to do any extra work that doesn’t feel familiar. That might slow it down. So in order to keep the train moving, it will always choose the road most traveled. The freeway.

Here’s the problem with the freeway. It’s fast, but it’s false. I’m serious. Most of the time it confuses the facts with the meaning we’ve always given those facts. And that, my sisters, is what keeps us in the fog.

Let me illustrate.

A little girl grows up hearing voices around her tell her she is stupid. She is fat. She is ugly. But she notices that when she does what those voices want her to do, they are nice to her. And she craves the attention and the nice words. Her brain makes sense of all this by telling her a story. The story says she is ugly, fat, and stupid, but she is useful when she makes other people happy or gives them what they want. Candy, sex, chores, money – it all depends on who’s asking.

She grows up and converts to Christianity. In her church her story holds true. When she volunteers in the nursery or for VBS, she is praised and well-received. When she gets a DWI one Saturday night, she is reprimanded and shamed. She’s stupid.

When goes on a diet and loses some weight, everyone encourages her and cheers her on. When she gains it all back again, nobody says anything. She’s fat.

When she goes out on a date she feels pretty. When he never asks her out again, she remembers how ugly she is.

She gets used for sex more times than she can count. She gets used for her generosity and naivete. Later in life, she gets used by her husband for her ability to have children and bring in a paycheck and keep the house clean.

It all fits. The story of her life. And her brain knows this story by heart.

But there is something deep inside of her that knows something isn’t right. Something—no, a lot of things—don’t make any sense. But because her brain is trucking down that freeway it’s been driving on since birth, it’s just going to ignore anything and everything that might sidetrack it from the road. Don’t ask questions. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.

As a child, that story helped her make sense of her crazy world. She didn’t have a choice about where she lived, who she lived with, what she did, where she went to school, or what happened to her. So her brain came up with the most logical reason it could find to help her cope and survive.

It was all her fault.

BUT if she worked hard enough, she could make reparations and find true happiness.

It takes a while, but women eventually get to the end, totally exhausted, depleted, and confused.

Nobody will ever be able to work hard enough to make everyone in the world pleased and happy and good. Nobody. It’s totally illogical. These are the illogical thoughts of a small child; the problem is those thoughts are now embedded in the freeway of an older woman’s universe.

So what do we do? Because most of the women I know are totally, passionately committed to their stories. They might give up their faith in God, but they will not budge when it comes to giving up their faith in their childhood survival narrative.

Imagine that the sentences in your universe (your brain) are a garden. Every day you water that garden. You give that garden lots of sunshine and air time. When the weeds of other thoughts begin to question any of the flower thoughts in your garden, you quickly yank them out.

What happens to a garden that is allowed to grow unchecked?

It gets big. REALLY big.

Until you become like Alice in Wonderland, lost in the forest of your childhood crazy.

Here’s what I’d like to offer you: what if you stopped watering and feeding that garden and started growing a new garden instead?

Oh, at first it would feel impossible. Can’t be done. Uncomfortable. There would be lots of cognitive dissonance as you introduced new thoughts and ideas and beliefs into your universe. Thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that contradicted all the ones you’ve known and believed since childhood.

But in time, if you concentrated and tended on your new garden of thoughts while starving out the old one, the old one would begin to wither, and the new one would begin to thrive.

Gardens take effort. And time. And so does your universe. And honestly, what is more important than the universe God gave you to steward?

So let’s go back to your relationship. You’re probably reading this because you’re in a destructive relationship or you used to be in one. You feel confused in that relationship. You feel like you keep spinning in circles in that relationship. You go back and forth between feeling desperate to make it work and feeling desperate to get out.

This is your brain on the freeway. This is your foggy day. This is your overgrown garden.

And by golly, it’s confusing.

The way to clarity is inside the very universe that is causing all the problems. Here’s how to tap into those answers:

  1. Discover what’s growing in your garden. Do a thought download in the morning to see what your brain likes to think about all. the. time.
  2. Ask yourself if each thought is a fact or a story. Be brutally honest.
  3. You can’t change the facts (we all need to simply accept those), so look closer at the stories. Ask your brain why it wants to tell those stories. It will have very good reasons, so pay close attention.
  4. Purposefully decide what stories you want to keep (and have good reasons for keeping them!) and which stories are no longer helpful for you.
  5. Replace the overused stories with new ones that are also believable, that reflect your core values, and that will help you get to where you want to be five and ten years from now.

I recently experienced flying in an airplane through a thick fog before the plane broke up through the surface and into the brilliant light. It was spectacular to realize the sun was always there, making things as clear as day, even though all the little people on the ground couldn’t see it. In that moment below me, someone might have even been stranded by the roadside.

Sisters, just like that sun, clarity is always there for you, tucked inside that amazing universe of yours. It’s just waiting for you to ask the right questions so you can let go of what no longer serves you in order to step into the light of a new day.

This is the incredibly important work we do in Flying Free and Flying Higher. If you are ready for this kind of work, you can learn more HERE. We’d love to have you join our growing community of survivors who are breaking through the fog of confusion in order to fly free.


Natalie Hoffman

Flying Free Sisterhood

An online coaching, education, and support community for women of faith in destructive relationships.

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