Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

Hi there beautiful ladies

Happy New Year to you and your families! May 2017 be your year of joy, blessings, and freedom in Christ.

I’m shocked to see that I last wrote here to wish you all a Happy 2016. Believe me, I had all the intentions of writing at least one post a month this past year, but alas, it was not possible. The good news is that I am chipping away at my studies. Next year this time I will be getting ready to graduate and I can not wait to get back to blogging, webinars, talking to all of you on the forum, and of course, adding some one-on-one professional counseling for those who may need it.

Now back to the question: Are We Letting Men of the Hook?

Tony and I had been married for 24 years this past December, and a few days before our anniversary I had an interesting conversation with a group of very intelligent and beautiful young women at my college. We were talking about marriage and dating and they all agreed that we (our society) are letting men who are emotionally unavailable off the hook too easily by stereotyping their behavior as “typical male” or “something women should simply accept”.

I definitely saw their point, especially for the men of my generation (Baby Boomers and GenXers). I think that the Millennials are doing a better job at this because guys are expected to be more in touch with their emotions and to work harder at understanding the women in their lives. Also, for the most part, it seems that they agree with this and are happy to do it (I asked my sons).

However, I felt a pang of shame as the truth hit me: I am totally letting my husband off the hook (translate forgive and let things go) all the time! Like so many men of my generation, my guy is pretty much emotionally unavailable. Nine out of ten times he does not know how to react to my emotions and claims to have no clue what it is that I want or need him to say.

This kept bothering me: Why do I do it? Do I have a dependent personality disorder? Am I willing to put up with everything just because I need a man in my life? Am I a doormat? Am I settling for less than I deserve? Do I put my own needs on the back burner to avoid conflict?

In order to process my own questions, and also to justify my 24 years of “letting things go”,  I made a list of the pros and cons of my marriage. Here is what I came up with:

Pros:

  • I can tell him anything without (for the most part) being judged or belittled
  • He never makes me wonder about his love for me by flirting with or commenting on other (prettier and younger) women
  • He has a dry sense of humor and we laugh a lot
  • He forgives swiftly and never digs up my past offenses (yes even the big ones)
  • He keeps me grounded when my head is in the clouds and I have difficulty making a decision or thinking rational
  • He has stood by me through really bad culture shock, three pregnancies, raising four children, emergencies, surgeries, sickness, depression, and years of struggling with food issues
  • He encourages my dreams and helps me make them a reality by giving me practical advice
  • He tells me I am beautiful often, and did so through the years whether I wore a size 6 or 16 dress.
  • He holds my hand in public, draws me close to him in church, and opens the door for me
  • He flirts with me in front of our friends
  • He brings me flowers often for no reason at all
  • He brings me coffee in bed
  • He fixes anything that needs fixing
  • He often lays next to me in bed and pray for our family
  • He supported me financially through years of studying and homeschooling our kids
  • And of course, last but not least, he speaks Afrikaans

Cons:
Believe me, there were also a bunch of cons that I would rather not list for the sake of confidentiality, but it basically comes down to the fact that he is not perfect. He is a born entrepreneur who regularly locks himself away emotionally (like Einstein did I’m sure) to tend to a new invention and only appear again once the mission is completed. He works way too much which makes me feel lonely and neglected, and many times he makes me cry because he just doesn’t get me.

However, the main discovery I made in looking at my list of pros and cons is this: I can make up some of the deficits in our relationships by spending time with girlfriends, actively pursuing my own career and dreams, getting some counseling, and turning to God (which incidentally are all healthy things that I need). Most importantly,  the pros in our relationships are things I simply do not want to live without, they are too important to me personally.

So I guess I will keep letting my man off the hook, even if it seems to others that I’m a fool. It’s a trade I’m willing to make, because who he is to me, without changing anything about him, is worth hanging onto.

Challenge: Why not make your own pros and cons list to see if the trades you are making are worth it to you personally? Let’s face it, marriage at its best is difficult, but maybe, like me, you need a reminder of all the beautiful things about marriage that we tend to take for granted.

On the other hand, you may discover that the knawing feeling you have is actually not your imagination and that its time to seek help for your marriage. Please don’t wait, call someone today. Tony and I went for counseling many times through our 24 years together, and it never failed to bring a new perspective.

IMPORTANT: 
It is NEVER okay for any man to abuse you verbally, sexually, or physically. If you are in a marriage where you are often being belittled, humiliated, neglected, and hurt, then the pros CAN NOT outweigh the cons.

Please seek help if this is you. You can not do this alone! It is impossible to just pull yourself up after years of neglect and abuse. There are people who know exactly how you feel and how difficult it is to get out of an abusive situation, and they want to help you. Please get in contact with a counselor, a social worker, or a close friend who can get you to a safe place and help you take the next step out of this pain you are living under.

There are shelters and hotlines for women and children who are abused. Please search for those on the internet, even if you are in a different country than the USA, you will find similar hotlines and shelters in your area.

Books to Read:

  • Christian Men Who Hate Women: Healing Hurting Relationships by Margaret J. Rinck
  • Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Wishing and Hoping He’ll Change by Robin Norwood

Great Resources and Articles:
http://armsonline.org/getting-help/resources

My dear friend, may God lead you and guide you, may His light shine upon you and give you peace in 2017. I pray for your marriage and relationships, but also for your safety and health. You are so precious to our Heavenly Father. You are his little girl, always.

Love,
Heleen

A Marriage Saved by JOY!

As promised: My annual post about marriage, just in time for Valentines Day!

Actually, this is perfect timing, because I have a lot to tell you.

I have talked a little about 2013 being a tough year and that my marriage was also caught in the cross fire. However, I did not mentioned how bad things got, partly because it is always so much easier to write about painful things in retrospect. In truth, things were looking pretty bleak, and the more I tried to fix things, the worse they became. 

I WAS AT THE END OF MY ROPE, to put it mildly, and working together as a couple (as my husband and I do) did not make things easier at all. It seemed that I was in need of something NEW; some new direction, a new job, a new hairstyle, a new book to write, a new project, a new city to live in, or possibly A NEW LIFE!!  I wanted out of the old so bad, and especially wanted to run far, far away from the arguments and pain that seemed unending! 

I complained to God, cried, begged, and whined. I had to find an answer.  I should have an answer, right? I’m a planner and a teacher, certainly I could find a way out of this. But for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how I got in this mess, or how to get myself out of  it. 

So I kept crying out to God, mainly because there was nothing else to do, and also because I always tell you to do it  (Jer 33:3). Have to practice what I preach for Pete’s sake!

I thought for sure God was going to answer in some mighty earth shaking way. I had some ideas of how He could do it: A brand new career for me (as He did for a friend), or a huge chunk of money to go on a long luxurious vacation (as He did for another friend), or at least change the hearts of my loved ones miraculously, so they would stop what they were doing, and become everything I wanted them to be. None of  it was too hard for God, right?

But no, you probably know that’s not at all what happened.  Instead it rather happened as per the old cliche that God many times changes his CHILD rather than her circumstances.

I was standing in a worship service when I felt the Holy Spirit whisper one word to me: JOY. I didn’t get it. I could simply not comprehend such a thing in my broken state. But even so, a small glimmer of hope was forming inside of me. Hope that maybe, just maybe, there could be some joy again in my future. A few days after this, a friend prayed over me with the greatest care and compassion. She also put a book in my hand (which I quietly vowed NEVER to read!) However, that book kept bugging me, and when the first words (straight from the Bible) rolled over me, I started bawling.  It reminded me of the book THE LOVE DARE that I’ve been wanting to read since I’ve seen the movie Fireproof. So I bought it and, as I kept reading through the 40 days, JOY slowly started thawing my frozen soul, and as a result my frigid marriage.

I can not even begin to tell you about the miracle of joy that happened in my marriage! We were not even so happy 21 years ago on our wedding day!
Now before you roll your eyes at me and start checking your Facebook posts instead, let me be completely honest: It did not happen overnight, and initially it had nothing to do with my husband. It happened in me, the JOY started spreading through my being, AND TRULY BECAME MY STRENGTH as the Bible says it would. I started opening my mouth with words of encouragement, support, kindness, and thankfulness. I saw the Holy Spirit empower me to forgive the unforgivable, to love without expecting anything in return. I even started praying for my husband every time I felt like complaining or biting his head off, and saw how  this simple act stripped away the anger and filled me with compassion and care instead. Unbelievable!

Dearest reader,  I want to encourage you, if your marriage is at a tipping point, ALLOW GOD TO CHANGE YOU. Take the LOVE DARE challenge in this book. I know you may not want to at all! I know that everything in you may be rebelling against this and you may be thinking: I’m already doing everything for everybody. Why do I always have to humble myself while he acts like a complete jerk? I have been doing all of the work in this marriage all these years, it’s his turn now! I am not the one who _______ , why should I fix things?”

Remember I just went through all these angry questions and legitimate excuses in my head, so I REALLY know how you feel. However, THIS IS IMPORTANT, it can change EVERYTHING for YOU.


Like me, you may be standing before a choice:
Do you want to be right, or do you want a relationship?
Or more to the point: Do you want JOY in your marriage (and in every area of your life), or do you want to wait for him to come around?

Please don’t wait. Don’t let pride hold you back. Throw all caution to the wind and let God change you from the inside out. It may not immediately impact your marriage, but the changes will impact YOU right away, and it will spill over to every area of your life! 

WHO is going to take the LOVE DARE with me on this Valentines Day? I can’t wait to see joy abound in your marriage as well! If you are working with your husband, I want to urge you that this love dare is absolutely CRUCIAL!

My husband is so in awe of the miracle that God has done in me that he wants to read the book and do the dare himself (who would have thought!). This can be your story too… 

Here is a link to this book on Amazon (it’s on kindle too): THE LOVE DARE

Your sister in Christ who is praying for you to take the dare
Heleen 

 

Keeping the “Spark” Alive

So with Valentines day upon us, I thought it would be good to write a little about my own love story.

I haven’t written a lot about me and Tony (the love of my life:) probably because this blog is more about helping women with their food struggles than it is about marriages.

However, every February I tend to wander a bit onto the path of love…

I have been a lucky girl for sure. God knew I needed Tony. All of the things that I desire deeply in my own life: self-control, patience, and endurance just come so “natural” to him. I’m the high maintenance one in the relationship, so I got the better end of the deal, I’m sure:)

We will be married 20 years in 2012 – so almost 20 years of  good times and definitely bad ones as well. We moved across continents and raised four children together (well technically we’re still busy raising some of those young ones) And then recently we’ve been thrown into a total different ball game ( by the economy and God’s plan of course) when we started up a brand new business at home. Some days I have to hang on to my sanity for dear life – homeschooling, phones are ringing, emails are coming in, work needs to be done, orders need to be processed, laundry, dinner, quiet time, exercise…well basically just a normal day in the life of a working mom:)

During times like these romance sort of fades into the background, and it bothers me. So I do what any decent Christian woman would do – I whine, and then I cry, and then I pout, and then I threaten, and FINALLY I cry out to God… and what do you know… He always first start with my heart. A pinch of gratefulness, an ounce of respect for my man, and a heap of forgiveness.

When we’re done with phase one (aka working on Heleen) God will surprise me with a sudden burst of laughter between me and my guy, or some secret we get to share, some inspiration for a project we can do together, some book that comes our way, or some marriage seminar that I “stumble” upon. He’s even been known to draw us into in-dept marriage counseling at times … and ever so miraculously… the “spark” comes back.

How’s your marriage doing?

Listen girl, NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH OUR GOD. He holds the universe in His hands. He created love between a man and a woman. We can not bring the “spark” back into our marriages by whining, crying, or threatening. Believe me, I’ve tried it all. We can not let our husbands be responsible for our happiness or our wholeness. We can also not expect our marriage to be exactly like our friends’ marriages, and definitely not like the fake marriages we see in movies or read about in books.

God may want to restore your heart first before he restores your marriage. Granted, He may need to restore your husband’s heart too, but why don’t you allow him to start with your heart. This quote of  Oswald Chambers sums it up perfectly ” No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first”

However, when we’ve allowed God to heal us and fill us with His love, we can also ask Him to restore and heal our marriages. He knows exactly what is needed to put the “spark” back in your marriage. It might be a good book, a good laugh, a marriage seminar,  OR it might be something you and I never thought of. Go ahead and ask Him…HE IS STILL IN THE BUSINESS OF HEALING BROKEN PEOPLE AND RESTORING BROKEN MARRIAGES!

Tony and I  – 19 Years ago on our wedding day

Not so young anymore (but still in love:)  – this picture was taken last Christmas

Here are some of the resources that helped us through the years:

Laugh your way to a better marriage by Mark Gungor (Book)
Laugh your way to a better marriage by Mark Gungor (DVD Series)
Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Check Focus on the Family‘s Website for a possible Love and Respect Seminar in your area.
His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley
Fireproof (DVD)
Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective by Martha Peace

There are obviously many more resources out there, and if you ask God to show you the possibilities are endless…

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!
Heleen

augh Your Way to a Better Marriage: Unlocking the Secrets to Life, Love, and Marriage

Strife steals!

Strife is one of those things that can steal a life and destroy relationships.

I don’t want to be someone who bickers and complains about stuff. However, if I don’t stay on guard in this area it creeps up on me. I know that we are warned in Ephesians that strife grieves the Holy Spirit and in my struggle with food addiction I’ve learned that I can not afford to grieve the Holy Spirit. In fact in order to break free from eating disorders or any other addiction, one needs the living, guiding Spirit of God right beside you, every step of the way.

For a few weeks now I have been bickering, not outright fighting or arguing, although I have had my share of that too. No, this was more a constant complaining and fault finding, especially surrounding my marriage. When my husband pointed it out I was defensive and the bickering escalated into a full fledged argument.

Fortunately God loves me too much to let me wander off onto a path of destruction. So he cornered me. I picked up a book of Joyce Meyers and it was all about getting rid of strife. I listened to a sermon a few days later and Strife was mentioned. Sure enough, this morning when I picked up my Bible study, there it was again.

Finally convinced, I hit the carpet and confessed. What a relief! What a difference when God opens our eyes! It’s the same eyes that others tried to pry open, but in a second God can remove the veil and you can see… Strife can not be tolerated, not even during PMS:)

Sad Valentine (:

With just a day to spare until Valentine’s day, I find myself in tears. Now some would call these tears of self-pity, but I just call it “real woman tears”

You don’t have to live long as a a woman on this planet of ours to have your heart shattered into tiny pieces, and Valentines day sure gives ample opportunity for just such a heartbreak.

Of course not everybody is a Sad Valentine. There certainly are those “young and in love” who have only tasted the sweet side of love. They make us drool and think of our own first love. Others have discovered new romance in their marriage after many dry years, and we wish them the best from the bottom of our hearts. And then of course there are the few fortunate women, the ones we don’t speak of, who married incurable romantics. This rare species of men embrace Valentine’s day (and their wives) with everything they have (gasp).

I belong to the group that has been married for a while, and sadly wised-up to the fact that romance takes some work. On Valentines day some extra work will pay of: A hint here, a reservation there and a grateful heart for even the smallest token of affection will do the trick. So, through the years I’ve had many happy Valentine’s days because of an extra effort, but also my share of ones where I’m overwhelmed with self-pity (okay I’ve said it).

So, today is one of those above mentioned days where I just have this yearning to be swept off my feet on a white horse and carried away to a “castle of romance”. Off course all the adds on TV and stores filled with tokens of “love” are not helping! It’s not that my man has never shown any sign of romance. He was actually very romantic when we were dating: I know, I know, aren’t they all? There was also this one time when dearest hubby forgot all about Valentine’s day (despite all the hinting and reminding the kids to remind Dad:) He was in the dog box, to say the least. A few weeks after, I received a big bouquets of flowers delivered to my doorstep. The card said “Happy Roger’s day”. He explained that he made up his own special day to show this St Valentine a thing or two. Now that was pretty romantic (and practical seeing that he saved a bunch of money), so I know there’s hope…

However, usually during one of my pity parties, just before I totally give in to despair, I am reminded of others who think that I’m the lucky one. I have so many family members and dear friends who lost the one they love, and for them Valentine’s day can be excruciating. Some are married like me, but it’s never easy: They pretend to be callous, but are deeply wounded by husbands who hate all the hype around dates that are important to a woman’s heart. They go on and on about the waste of money, the pressure etc, etc. My heart aches for all these loved ones of mine, and I am grateful again that I have someone who really loves me for who I am. I don’t know what the future holds and if I will still be this lucky next year.

There is one thing we do know for sure: God loves us! He says that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He assures us in His Word that nothing will ever separate us from His love. I am not suggesting that we don’t need someone “with some skin on” in our lives. I’m merely suggesting that we can go to Him, as I did this morning, with tears of sorrow, loneliness, rejection or a broken heart. He will mend it, and something else will happen: If we keep coming to Him with our deepest darkest secrets, a new relationship is forged: A relationship that can never be taken from us, and that will only cause love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

Would you be His Valentine? He’s eagerly looking, and waiting for you and me to accept His tokens of love…
And lets not forget that He has good things in mind for us: We can keep waiting for that miracle of blooming romance in our marriages, keep praying for that special someone to come into our lives, and keep believing that love might be waiting around the next corner when we least expect it…

Happy Valentine’s Day
Heleen

 

 

Woman in a man’s world?!

My husband is convinced that he cloned me!

He created another man (just like him) that likes to work on the computer till the crack of dawn, doesn’t need to talk about every little thing, has a skin as thick as a crocodile, and loves to see Jack Bauer on 24 send his enemies off to a not so happy place.

Actually, not so much… I might act as if I like all of that, and I might have migrated toward more work and less play, but in my heart I’m still a girly girl. Sometimes I have to put a piece of scotch tape over my lips to keep all the things in my head from spilling over. After almost two decades of marriage, hubby is still surprised that we can be sitting at our computers, in deep thought and intense concentration, and I would start talking about some long lost cousin of mine. Most of the time he will just stare at me with “What in the world?” written all over his face. Other times he has this puzzled look that speaks of utter disbelief when the boys tell him that I spent a whole day, curled up on my favorite couch, wrapped in my favorite blanket, living and crying through 6 straight hours of Pride and Prejudice.

However, I like to keep the illusion alive: Hey, a happy husband, especially in this economy, is not a small thing. So I live my secret life: I talk to my Mom on the phone for hours, I eat chocolate and watch chick flicks, and I laugh with my girl friends about things no man could ever understand…

Salute! To all the women in the world of men who share my secret…