I married the wrong man. When we met, he was separated and had a married girlfriend he had met online. We got drunk and had sex. I tried to break up several times because of my reservations about being in a relationship and the fact that he had never been alone. After he threw me across the room during an argument, I left, and I did well by myself. Later, he bailed me out financially and proposed. I said yes and have been emotionally numb ever since. Our relationship is draining me of energy. He scoffs at my Lutheran upbringing, saying, “Religion is a crutch for the weak-minded.” I have been seeing a Christian psychiatrist, and my inner voice says I should be alone to heal. I feel sad and empty. I was married once before to my childhood sweetheart, but we couldn’t end the cycle of hurt, mistrust and betrayal that plagued our relationship. Getting divorced again frightens me, as does being alone. I am afraid of the responses of friends and family. I’d like to make amends with my ex-husband. I still love him, so having his forgiveness and respect would mean a lot.
Neglect the belief that your husband is the wrong man. Stop distracting yourself with nostalgia about your former spouse. Focus on why you are not yet the woman God is calling you to be. This is not an invitation to denigrate yourself. This is a step toward taking responsibility for your life.
Therapy is a great act of self-care. You can discover what childhood experiences inspired you to marry a man who threw you across the room during an argument and who is not in therapy to understand why. You also can discover why you purposely chose someone whose actions (affairs and violence) screamed, “I am incapable of genuine intimacy!”
If you understand the premise of religion—we all suffer and need support—then the idea that “religion is a crutch for the weak-minded” is not disturbing. When I am weak-minded, I turn to my religion for solace. When I am centered and peaceful, I turn to my religion to express gratitude. Your discomfort with your husband’s belief is based in your fear of being seen as fragile. And both of you scoff at your Lutheran upbringing. After all, if religion and its values were important, you would have selected a spouse who shared them.
Let’s examine your other beliefs: If you feel sad, then you’re not emotionally numb. Being alone frightens you (yet you did well on your own), but you tried to break up with him when you were dating because you thought he should be alone. He bailed you out financially, and you repaid him by giving yourself to him in marriage. Hmm … I think it’s your beliefs about relationships that are draining you of energy. A 12-step program would be a wise addition to therapy.
I keep dating men who are just like my father, and I have trouble leaving these relationships! Why?
The Buddhist sage Milarepa said, “To leave home is half the Buddha’s teaching.” The problem, as you’ve discovered, is that few of us ever leave home. We exit the building but recreate the dynamics wherever we go. As relationship expert David Richo said, “If a relationship reconfigures an original bond with one’s father or mother, leaving it may pose a terrifying threat to our inner security. Then all prospects of change—even for the better—represent a threat.”