Marriage | What Marriage Problems are Common

The following is a letter we received from a Christian wife and doctor who is longing to find Christ-likeness in her marriage.

Dear Life Partners Friends,

I wanted to write you and thank you for writing your book, Discovering the Mind of a Woman. It was recommended to me by a young man from Hungary at our church retreat. I frankly told him I had given up on all Christian books about how to be married. He said, “Then get it for your son so he will be able to learn a better way to be married than what he saw growing up.”

The book was in the retreat’s store and I picked it up and opened it about in the middle to “check it out.” Still scornful. Still thinking to myself, “They all say the same thing and I have tried it as hard as I can and it doesn’t work for the woman. Christian marriage books only help men get their needs met. It’s manipulative religion at its worst.”

The page it opened to was the one with the bold headings, “The Strong-Willed Wife.” I just knew that was going to be about me. I read it and it was like you’d been following me around for years; totally on the mark. It was spooky. I closed the book and said, joking to myself, “I’ll get it for my son — after I read it myself.”

I so appreciated your words about how women don’t get divorced because they want to be happy, they usually do it to stop the pain. I couldn’t believe the section in “Let’s Get Real” — all your descriptions about how the typical wife has to examine herself for respectfulness, relaxed body posture, casual tone of voice, pleasant look and soft-spoken gentleness in her approach as she seeks to share her heart-felt concerns with her husband. I just had that conversation with my husband where I had to maintain this “respectful, soft, uplifting façade,” and yet tell him how I really feel. Even then he said I was attacking him and being hostile. I started crying out of frustration. I am still trying to get it out of my head. I’m referring to the conversation where you start the wife saying, “Sweetheart, there’s something I regretfully submit to you…” I felt lower than a dog after it was over. I avoided him for a week and only spoke when spoken to as much as possible.

I am convinced that the same, old “Christian” advice that is hammered on over and over is the reason that Christian divorce has increased to match the rate of the secular world. It’s almost sadder for a Christian woman because we not only walk away from our marriage, we also walk away from the Bible, saying to ourselves, “It doesn’t work. Jesus doesn’t, God doesn’t, Christianity doesn’t work.”

When I was in medical school, I remember three Christian men all going through divorces tell each other, “If she would just submnit, this could all have been avoided.” You think a woman wants to divorce someone she has supported as he sets out to be a doctor? Hardly.

I also wanted to back you up on your comments about women getting serious illnesses when these problems go unresolved. I have been making myself stay married to my husband until the last child graduates from high school. With only three years left, I got sick with cancer and was given a prognosis of one to three years left to live. To me, that can’t be a coincidence. One of the biggest changes I made in dealing with the disease is to develop confrontation skills. No more stuffing emotions. It has helped, but we’re still a long way off the mark. In the meantime, I went through intensive medical treatment and, as of today, am cancer-free.

So mostly this is a letter saying thank you. I don’t know if it will help my marriage, but it was so freeing to hear that my struggle is common and that there’s not something wrong with me. I did use your book to encourage myself to be more Christ-like. That is my upward calling, too. I think you have a huge, upward battle to convince men that they need to see this helpmeet thing in a whole new paradigm. I’m sure you know that. But here’s one letter of encouragement. God bless you.

— Dr. C. S.

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