Do you have trouble getting your man to open up to you? Here’s some advice for making your relationship a safe space for him!
When I was in elementary school, I was molested by a family member. That same family member introduced me to porn for the first time. That was just one occasion too, but I can never forget those two things. They’re stamped in my brain.
After those events happened, I felt ugly and dirty. I had a stain on the inside of me that I couldn’t escape. As I got older, I started becoming afraid that if people got to know me, they’d see what I saw and run the other way. I became so insecure and down on myself that I couldn’t affirm myself unless someone else did it first.
I got good grades because I saw how proud it made my parents, and I figured if that’s what it took to make them love me, I’d do it all the time.
I was a super strict vegan and was super religious and “holy” because I thought God would love me more if I did those things.
When I got married, I asked my husband’s opinion about every little thing and second and third-guessed every decision I made because I was scared of messing up in any way.
All my life, I had to be the good girl because it was the only time I felt like a person of value.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was struggling with toxic shame.
You see, when someone suffers from shame, they can’t distinguish the acts they commit, or the acts done to them, from themselves. In their minds, they think, “I’ve done something bad, so I am bad. I am a terrible person.” Or if they’ve been the victim of abuse, they may think this way, “I must be a terrible person for them to have treated me that way.”
That’s exactly how I felt. I thought to myself, “I’ve been molested. I’ve watched porn; therefore I’m permanently stained and damaged. I’m unlovable.”
No matter what has caused you to feel toxic shame-abuse, rape, criticism from others, poverty-you are NOT your past. You can be free from your shame.
Acknowledge the source of your shame.
Until I acknowledged my shame, it had power over me.
It wasn’t until I had been in therapy for 6 months that I was finally able to pull the curtain back on my thoughts and emotions and pinpoint those memories and the pain I associated with them.
I finally got the courage to tell my therapist about being molested. I could barely say the words out loud. I had never told anyone, not even my husband, about what happened.
That’s the day my life changed for REAL and the weight I had been carrying fell off.
2. Allow yourself to grieve.
When I started explaining what happened to my therapist, my throat got really tight, and the tears started flowing. I felt like I was watching myself as a little girl all over again in my mind.
It’s okay to feel sad about the things you’ve done, or the things that have been done to you. Let yourself feel the pain. Allow yourself to relive that moment and feel what you felt when it first happened, because that’s when you’ll finally be able to start letting it go.
3. Develop compassion for yourself.
We’re only human. And nothing we do can make God love us any more, or any less. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Unfortunately, we live in a sinful world. Our hearts and thoughts naturally turn toward things that are corrupt. Naturally, we’re enemies of God in our minds. So some of us may have been victims or even perpetrators of evil.
But God has compassion on us, and He forgave us freely.
We need to do the same for ourselves. We need to forgive ourselves.
When I talked to my therapist, I told her I felt angry with myself too, for not doing anything to stop the molestation from happening.
She asked me a simple question: “What could you have done?”
“I could have said no. I could have told my parents so he wouldn’t have gotten away with what he did.”
But as I said it, I realized how irrational that sounded. It wasn’t until I said it out loud that I realized I had been taking my molester’s guilt and placing it on myself. I finally understood and accepted that what happened to me wasn’t my fault, and I didn’t have to blame myself anymore.
That day, I became free, because I finally developed compassion for myself instead of blaming myself for the things I couldn’t control.
4. See yourself the way God sees you.
You are a masterpiece. I’ll say it again. You are a MASTERPIECE. There’s nothing you, or anyone else can do, to make God see you any other way. You can take a $20 bill and crumple it up, jump up and down on it, but guess what? It hasn’t lost it’s value. You can still take it to McDonald’s and get you some food. How much more true is that of us, God’s own children?
5. Get professional help.
I can’t say enough how much going to therapy has helped me uncover the broken pieces of myself and heal from the inside out. My marriage is so much happier. I mean, my husband and I had really good communication and an amazing friendship before that, but he could see that there were things in me that made me super insecure and down on myself. Now, my marriage is on another level simply because I’m happier. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin, no matter who’s around. I’m okay with myself messing up.
We couldn’t afford therapy at the time, but we made sacrifices to make sure I was able to get the help I needed. It’s by far the most important I’ve ever made in myself.
What will your choice be?
**This article was a snippet from my new e-book bundle “Love From the Inside Out.” To find out more about how you can get it, click here.
Are you ready to start working on yourself and making sure your (future) spouse gets the BEST you? Join the PureCouples movement and get all our amazing resources right in your inbox!
I used to dread Sundays.
I don’t know about you, but on Sundays I have the BIGGEST to-do list: lesson planning, meal prep, laundry, not to mention washing and styling me AND my daughter’s hair. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I would go to sleep Sunday night feeling anxious because something on my to-do list wasn’t done. Then the rest of the week I would have to play catch-up, which of course made me feel even more stressed out.
I remember going to sleep on Saturday night already feeling like I had lost the battle for the next day.
Then I had this amazing epiphany that shifted my thinking and made my life a lot less hectic.
Are you ready for it?
Here it is: It’s okay if EVERYTHING on my list doesn’t get done.
When I finally accepted that, I had so much more peace of mind. I was actually able to start enjoying my Sundays-and even started looking forward to them.
But there were a few changes that I had to make that made a huge difference in my productivity that I hope you can start implementing too.
1. Make a to-do list and PRIORITIZE it
On Saturday night, I would make a list of everything that needed to get done, and then spend the rest of the day trying to multitask every moment to get it all done.
I would cook while waiting for laundry to get done, try to lesson plan while playing with my kids, and basically try to do the impossible in a 12-hour period.
When I started prioritizing that to-do list, things go so much simpler. I used Brian Tracy’s A--B-C method to figure out one or two things that absolutely had to get done that day and make those my “A” items. If I got nothing else but those 2 things, I went to sleep feeling accomplished.
Every day highlight no more than 3 things that you ABSOLUTELY have to do yourself every day. Some things you can delegate, other things you can eliminate entirely and do at some other time. Using this method will also make your to-do list a lot more manageable and take away the feeling of being defeated before the day even starts.
2. Make a daily schedule
For the longest time, I would crawl out of bed and go straight to the kitchen to get breakfast ready before the kids woke. Then once they woke up it was time to get them ready for school. I would leave for work every morning wishing the day was over so I could get some time to myself. I kept hoping and wishing for more time to work on my blog, or enough time to exercise.
It wasn’t until I made a schedule for myself where I included all the things that I wanted to do but couldn’t seem to find enough time to do. I realized that I had more time than I thought. Once I accounted for every hour that went by, I was able to squeeze more productivity into my day.
Something about having my daily schedule programmed into my phone with alerts put me in a different mindset. I was eager to go to the next task and get it done. I stopped feeling like I was constantly falling behind.
My husband and I started scheduling our date nights, and time to do things with our kids as a family. We even scheduled financial meetings and found our relationship got SO much better when we were on the same page about our money.
And maybe most important of all, I started finding ways to get the spiritual upliftment I needed. I figured that if I was too tired to wake up early to get that time alone with God, I could have it in my car on the way to work. I started listening to sermon podcasts from Steven Furtick and motivational podcasts by Rosetta Thurman.
Getting into a daily routine that I had planned out instead of just letting the day happen to me made a huge difference in my state of mind. I was more upbeat and excited to start my day because I had more control of it. My spirit was being nourished constantly instead of running on fumes.
3. Focus on ONE thing at a time
Multitasking is overrated. At least for me it is. Whenever I try to multitask, I end up burning breakfast, or putting the wrong answer on the exam’s answer key, or some other mistake that makes me regret multitasking. I used to love listening to my favorite YouTubers while I did stuff during my planning period at work, but then I realized I got more done, and done well, when I focused on ONE thing at a time.
The same thing applied at home. My nerves were less frazzled when I just enjoyed playing with my kids and reading stories to them instead of trying to prepare Instagram posts while trying to spend quality time with them, then feeling guilty about it.
When you use all your brain power to accomplish a task, you’re able to figure out ways to get it done more efficiently, and then you have more time for the next task. If you keep doing it for every task on your to-do list, you’ll find that you actually have time left over at the end of the day to do something you enjoy or get ready for the next day.
Sometimes it’s so tempting to feel like YOU have to do everything: the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, helping the kids with their homework. But I realized something after several attempts at laundry: my husband is better at it. He folds the clothes like a military man, and puts everything away. So after a while, we agreed that he would be the laundry person.
It’s okay to let someone else help. Family members, friends, professional services-use any and all of them if they’re going to help you use the time you have more efficiently. =
Just a word of caution though: be okay if your helpers don’t do things exactly the way you do it. I know it’s easier said than done, but trying to micromanage everything will only stress you out even more. Focus on your strengths and try to delegate the other stuff.
5. Be realistic.
Your to-do list and daily schedule can’t have 500 things that ALL get done. If you get you’re A-list items done, consider that a win. One time I was talking to a close friend of mine and telling her how overwhelming it felt to try to get so much done on the weekends. She casually replied to me that she had been stopped trying to do all that. “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” she said. “It’s either I clean, or do laundry.” he let her husband know that she was only going to do one of those things, so the other stuff would either get left undone for a week, or he could pick up the slack.
As moms, we want to make sure that we take good care of our families. Sometimes though, that desire causes us to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to get it all done, and to make sure everything is perfect. The reality is, there will always be more to do. Everything won’t be perfect.
If you get into the habit of prioritizing the most important stuff (that includes self-care by the way), being realistic about what you will accomplish every day, and focusing on one thing at a time until it’s complete, you’ll find that you actually get more done than you thought possible. You’ll go to sleep at night content instead of stressing about stuff that was left undone.
In other words, you won’t dread Sundays anymore.
Get these articles sent straight to your inbox!
One night a few of years ago I lay awake in bed, restless. Our daughter was about 8 months old, and I was on summer break from work, which meant I was home with her during the day every day. My feet ached, my back was sore, and I felt so hollow inside. I remember thinking to myself, I have what so many women keep hoping for-a husband who loves me, a beautiful child-why don’t I feel happy right now?
I thought maybe I needed to get out the house more, that he needed to take me out more often. We tried that, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling of dissatisfaction with my life. I would go on Facebook and see people I had gone to school with traveling, going on vacation, getting promotions, getting advanced degrees, and then look at my life and wonder why I wasn’t doing anything great like them. I would look at my own life and in comparison I felt like mine was very mediocre.
My unhappiness started to spill over into my marriage. My mood started to become very depressed at times and it made my husband feel like he had to tiptoe around me because he didn’t know what would set me off.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, know that you’re not alone. So many women struggle with feelings of unhappiness after their first baby. So many women continue to struggle with it even after several babies, and here’s why:
Getting married and having kids doesn’t bring fulfillment-it only EXPOSES your state of fulfillment. So if you find yourself feeling unfulfilled NOW, chances are you were already living an unfulfilled life THEN-you just didn’t realize it.
So what’s at the root of that feeling you have deep down inside? Why aren’t you happy?
1. You saw marriage as the cure for your issues.
I came across a quote today on Twitter that said “Getting married won’t make your baggage disappear, it’ll make it more visible. Sit down and unpack your baggage.”
So many of us are living in a state of avoidance. We’re avoiding dealing with our baggage-those deep-rooted issues that we’re so desperate to hide from people. Were you abused as a child? Did you grow up an orphan, or abandoned by one of your parents? Are you insecure about your looks or have an addiction?
Getting married CANNOT cure you of these things. You know what will? Facing them head-on. Go to therapy, join a support group, find people who can help you overcome whatever it is you’re dealing with. Until you get REAL help, and start working towards SOLUTIONS, you will be stuck. Nothing can make you happy if you’re broken inside.
2. You haven’t gone after your big dream or goal.
As women, especially as mothers, it’s so easy to put ourselves on the backburner for the sake of our husbands or kids. It’s so easy to use them as an excuse for not chasing our dreams and getting our goals accomplished.
I know this because this is exactly what I was doing. I had a dream in my mind that was so big that it scared me. I didn’t know how to make it happen. It didn’t seem practical or logical, so I sat on it. And the longer I let it sit in my mind without taking action, the more dissatisfied I became with my current circumstances. I felt angry and resentful with myself and I would take it out on my husband as if it was he was keeping me from living out my potential.
No matter how long you’ve been married, or how many kids you have, if you have a vision for yourself that makes you excited and that you’re passionate about, YOU CAN STILL MAKE IT HAPPEN. It’s simply a matter of making a plan of steps to accomplish it.
How can you teach your children to go after their dreams if you’re still sitting on yours? How can you teach them to be happy if you aren’t happy yourself?
3. You got married before you were settled in your identity.
Some of us got married very young. It wasn’t until I hit my 30s that I finally started to feel like I had clarity about who I was and the type of person I wanted to be. It was only then that I had a clear picture of the place I wanted to occupy in this world and what I wanted to contribute to it.
Brain scientists say that our prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed until about 25 years old. For some people it happens sooner, and for others it happens later. This is the part of the brain that’s in charge of planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and controlling your social behavior. In other words, it’s where you decide who you are.
If you got married before you were settled into who you are, before you had a chance to decide your personal values and the principles you want to live by, you may find yourself in an identity crisis once you’ve reached your 30s or 40s.
Maybe you were raised in a church culture that was very legalistic, and you’ve lived your life by rules other people made for you because you were afraid of God’s wrath or going to hell. Maybe you’ve been living according to norms ingrained in you by your culture because it’s what everyone is expecting of you and you don’t want to disappoint them.
Whatever it is, you will never be happy living a life that other people want you to live. You’ll never be happy in the box someone else has created for you. God created us with a free will. He himself doesn’t force anything on us. And you know what? He’s not as restrictive as our Christian culture has made him out to be.
Take a good long look at yourself. Do you have deep-rooted issues that you need to stop running from? Are you sitting on a dream that you’ve been too afraid to chase? Have you closed yourself in a box and live your life trying to live up to the expectations of other people?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these 3 questions, then you are living an unfulfilled life. And you can’t be a great wife and mom if you’re not happy, healthy, and whole. Take time to do some soul-searching. When you’re done reading this, get a piece of paper, or a journal, and write down what those issues are. Start making some phone calls to find a therapist or support group. Write down your big dream, and start working backwards step by step to make a plan on how to make it a reality. Ask yourself, what would make ME proud of me?
Happiness starts inside you as you come to love yourself for the person you are right now. Your happiness is found in the gap between who you are right now and the person you want to be. As that gap closes and you become someone you are proud of, you’ll find your happiness increasing. The way you view yourself will start to spill over into your external world-your marriage, your relationship with your kids, and your career, and you’ll find yourself happy and whole.
P.S. Want to ask me a question about this post? Write me at email@example.com