When Your Spouse Stonewalls You And WW Linkup

God's Comfort 2Creating a confessional culture is not for the faint of heart, especially if you are trying to do so in a deeply wounded and dysfunctional marriage. As a marriage life-coach and counselor, I’d say that the majority of folks I deal with are in a relationship where one partner is doing most of the humbling and confessional work while the other is resistant, detached and stonewalling.

Most of the time in these situations, one of the main secrets to breaking through is perseverance on the part of the “worker-bee.” Sadly, there are times when no amount of perseverance will break through that {stone}wall of resistance. Often in these cases, divorce is the outcome— and it’s not necessarily initiated by the “worker bee” as you might expect.

However, I have also seen couples who’ve stayed together regardless of this unhealthy dynamic because the “worker bee” has learned to sip the honey and sweetness from the Lord’s “garden of flowers”keeping that worker bee content and happily distracted with higher and better purposes in life. Yes, this kind of scenario is rare, but with God’s grace and strength it is more than possible!

What if you are in a situation like that? What should you do? Where should you begin?

Well, referring to the posts I’ve written on creating a confessional culture are a great place to start (click here for a complete listing). But that’s not where it ends.

You must also add in at least two very important choices to your arsenal—making sure to do both!

1. Adjust your expectations …

… By not looking primarily to your spouse for the comfort and intimacy you long for. Accept that your spouse may never see the importance of being humble and repentant with you or with the Lord. Quit beating your head against a wall, thinking that your good choices/actions will change your spouse.* Ultimately, only the Lord can do that and even He limits Himself if someone rejects Him time after time after time {see Prov. 29:1, Is. 65:12. Mt. 3:9-10, Mt. 10:14-16, Mt. 12:31-32, Rom. 1:18-32}.

2. Instead passionately pursue the Lord as your “Husband.”

“‘For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife-deserted and distressed in spirit—a wife who married young, only to be rejected,’ says your God.” ~Isaiah 54:5-6

[Tweet “Whenever your spouse is not there for you … Pursue God!”]
[Tweet “Whenever your spouse is unwilling to work on the marriage … Pursue God!”]
[Tweet “Whenever your spouse is quick to accuse and slow to apologize … Pursue God!”]

I know that what I’m saying is often extremely painful and can be devastatingly lonely at times, but that’s when the Lord’s healing and comfort are poured down abundantly, as well as, felt more sweetly. {To read more on how to rely on and grow closer to the Lord, check out this post.}

“Bee” that kind of spouse!Bee 2

 

Do you agree? Can a spouse find lasting joy and contentment in such a hopeless marriage? Why or why not?

 

If you have been in any kind of hopeless scenario, what Bible verses have added God’s sweetness and love to your life?

 

*If abuse is part of your marriage dynamic, then remaining in the relationship without certain boundaries being respected is neither healthy nor wise. Making the choice to remove yourself for purposes of protection from your spouse should be discussed with the help of a counselor trained specifically in issues of abuse, as well as, the careful process of separating from an abuser.


Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Cozy Reading List, So Much at Home and Wholehearted Wednesday.

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Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to visit every blog that links up here, but I do try to visit the blogs of those who comment here. Most importantly, know that you all matter and provide great resources for this linkup. I’m so grateful for your participation!

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  • Oh Beth, hard but true words! And what an important and vital reminder to “pursue God” when things seem at their worst… Marriage is not for the faint of heart, but brings such amazing blessing to those who persevere!

    • Yes, I know this is not a popular perspective or an easy answer to swallow or do, Pat. I’ve also not had a spouse who continued to refuse to deal with his offenses or responsibility in our marriage, so I realize this is simply my belief based on what I know of God and not my experience per se. My heart goes out to those who are in this situation and I only hope this gives them eyes to see the Lord longs to comfort and heal them. Thanks for your kindness to me, my friend!

  • This was an amazing post. Thans for the linkup. Have a wonderful week.

    • Thanks for saying, Judith! You’re welcome, my friend and you have a great week too. 🙂

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    A valuable set of insights into a very difficult kind of situation – thank you for writing this.

    I had to think a bit before commenting, because I am in a situation in which certain aspects of the marriage have been stonewalled for years – including physical intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and emotional intimacy. Since 2008, for most of them.

    What’s left? The vow I took, first and foremost, a genuine love for my wife, and the realization, coming quite recently, that the walls were of my own making.

    Not deliberately, mind…but I have ownership nonetheless. I’m simply terrible at vulnerability. My training and combat qualifications were built on a pre-existing persona (good snipers are born, not made, and it’s 99% emotional…anyone can learn to shoot).

    That persona’s salient feature is self-reliance carried to an absurd extreme. Professionally, I had to be able to exfil a bad place under my own power and with no support, and today, though I can now barely walk (and that with savage pain) I still force myself up, and forward, without help.

    How lonely my wife must have been! She wanted to help, wanted to contribute, and I gave her no hand-hold. The walls were her way of protecting a heart bruised once too often, not by deliberate action on my part, but simply by the perception that while she was wanted, she wasn’t really needed.

    In “The Last Lecture”, Randy Pausch wrote a few times how when faced with the gravity of his situation, he and his wife held one another and cried.

    I cannot even IMAGINE doing that. I can give comfort, but I’m afraid that my comfort comes with the professional detachment of a Civil War surgeon amputating yet another limb.

    Please do not misunderstand; there is genuine love, and a form of closeness, but there are barriers that can no longer be overcome, at least not in the time remaining.

    I ask you pardon for the length of this comment, and its personal (and probably statistically irrelevant) point of view. There may not be too many people like me; I hope not. And I ask your pardon for any awkwardness of phrasing, as I am very ill as I write this – slapping my face to stay conscious, actually – and have neither the energy nor the focus to go back and edit. I just hope that maybe someone will be helped by this example.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2015/07/your-dying-spouse-30-caregiver-meltdown.html

    • You bring up a good point, Andrew. Sometimes spouses think that they have done the work in the marriage, but have really done the work of isolating and surviving alongside their mate instead of building a deeper bond and intimacy. However, with that said, I think there are ways to build intimacy in a marriage that have nothing to do with holding our mates and crying. Building intimacy could be a whole new jumping off point in this conversation for sure! Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability here, my friend. I think you don’t give yourself credit enough for the attempts you’ve made through your writing to touch and connect with your wife. I hope she sees that and lets you know in some way, my friend. Praying for you, as always!

  • Great insights Beth. Like you’ve said, it’s not easy to hear these words, or put them to work when we are in THAT difficult situation. It wasn’t easy for me to hear almost similar words when we were working at our young marriage messes years back. But taken to heart and keeping our hand in the hand of the Lord, its possible to fight and find victory in the Lord. And His peace and rest, ah nothing can compare! Thanks for this encouragement!

    • It truly isn’t a post that I relish sharing, but I know there are those out there that need this reminder, no matter how “bittersweet” it is, Ngina. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree about keeping the hand of our Lord who is able to lead us to those green pastures where He, alone, can restore our souls. We must stay by His side, however hard our lives become, though. That’s the secret–persevering in faith. I’m so glad you persevered, sweet friend! What a testimony you have now because of it!

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  • Mary

    Yes! Pursue God! A lesson I learned too late in my marriage but one that I cannot live without now in my life. I was able to bravely open up with my younger son recently who is very close to asking his girl to get married. The cleansing and healing that came from that conversation about my own marriage was God ordained. I am blessed by two sons who surround me with their own love and draw me in closer to God all the time.

    • But you learned it, Mary! That’s what matters. And now you are paying it forward with the Lord guiding your steps and helping you to be His useful and powerful instrument–not just on your blog, but with your son as well. I’m so glad that you have sons who love and support you–as I’m sure you do them. Perhaps the lessons they’ve seen you live out in your life since your marriage are growing them in ways that are deeper and stronger than if you’d done all the right things in the first place. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend. You are always a delight to have in the comment and linkup sections!

  • Mary Flaherty

    Oh my…stonewalling…never thought of that before. As usual, Beth, you give me food for thought.

    • Actually, that’s a term that’s been used largely by Dr. John Gottman and the studies he’s done on the stages of “stonewalling” that determine a couple’s level of detachment. There’s a scale and signs to look for that give counselors a better understanding of just how detached a couple is and how to intervene. I think it’s a pretty good way to describe what occurs–a stone wall erects in the relationship that we cannot scale or go around. Thankfully we have the Lord to help us find contentment even when we are walled out of our spouse’s hearts. Thanks for your kind words, my friend. Have a great rest of the week!

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  • I agree Beth. When we seek God inspite of our challenges (stone walling inclusive), looking to Him for joy and peace, He manifests Himself in ways we never imagined possible.
    Thanks for sharing and hosting Beth. Have a super blessed day!
    Love

    • Yes, Ugochi, there are so many that have never really looked to or allowed God to provide the abundance that only He has. What blessings they miss in those really dark and scary times. Thanks for your kindness to me, my friend. Have a great week as well!

  • Betsy

    This is a great post. My marriage has been full of stonewalling by myself and my husband. I didn’t realize what I was doing, other than looking for a way to survive a marriage where I had no skills to be a healthy partner and I also had deep seated trust issues, as does my husband. Last July 2014 he said he wanted a divorce. He has threatened it on and off. Now he says that he doesn’t want a divorce, but our marriage is just a legal document and he I’ll not connect with me emotionally because I am not a trustworthy person.

    I have been working very hard on myself and looking at the ways I disconnected and stonewalled him. He continues to keep me at arms length. We are in counseling and he continues to show up. My goal is marriage restoration, his is not. He is very stuck and emotionally abusive. I continue to honor him, repent, love him unconditionally, watch my expectations ( this is where I mess up because I am so lonely and everyday I hope my husband will acknowledge me the way I want him to), ask God for help, and keep showing up even when I want to crawl back into bed.

    My question is…..how can I peacefully and effectively love my husband, confront my husband about his stonewalling, and feel hope for marriage restoration?