Unfinished Business

A man’s foes will be those of his own household.

Matthew 10:36

Pam came into my office with the look of a martyr. She hadn’t bothered to fix herself up, and her overall demeanor showed me she didn’t want to be there; her pastor had referred her. Pam told me a story she had repeated to many others before me. She talked about her alcoholic husband, Joe, and the abuse she had received all of her married life.

As we talked, it became clear that both Pam and Joe were trying to complete unfinished business passed on by their parents. Pam’s unconscious message from her mom had been, “Pam, I can’t change  my alcoholic husband, but you marry a similar man and heal him.” Joe’s message from his alcoholic dad had also been subconsciously received as, “Carry on, son; try to be a success-even if you have to be an alcoholic.

Pam and Joe had done a great of job of receiving those messages, but they were not doing a very good job of carrying them out.  Pam certainly was not healing her husband! Through therapy, however, Pam came to realize that the only person she could change was herself. As she gradually stopped responding to her mother’s message, Joe was forced to look at his own unfinished business.  He is now on his way to recovery through an Alcoholics Anonymous program.

Prayer:  Lord, help me live my life under your guidance instead of spending all my energy trying to complete my parent’s unfinished business.


The Myths of Marriage

Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.

I Timothy 6:20

Carol walked into my office, sat down, and started crying. Through her tears she told me her story.

“It was like being packed for warm Hawaiian vacation. Our shorts, swimming suits, and sunhats were neatly packed. We got off the plane and were instantly hit with a gust of cold wind. As we looked out of the airplane, we saw snow-covered mountains and snowdrifts at the edges of the runway. We weren’t in Hawaii. We were in Switzerland!  I think marriage would have been fine if we had been prepared for it,” she went on. “We had so many ideals that were crushed. We’re both so disillusioned, I don’t know  if we can ever get our marriage back together.”

Carol and Tom were an example of many couples who had been swept away by the myths of marriage. I explained to Carol that theirs was a common problem. When  they came together for counseling; as a couple they erased such myths as “Having to work on marriage means we weren’t  right for each other in the first place” and “If you can’t meet all my needs, I need to find someone else.”  And together they relaid the foundation of their marriage.

Prayer:  Lord, grant us the courage and the love to base our marriage on reality, not myths.