Hey Girl, Avoid This Pitfall Before You Say "I Do"
I was married for eight years before I realized the tremendous mistake I made. Haphazardly, I discovered it one Sunday morning as I sat listening to a singles message by Andy Stanley. “Nobodies looking for a woman with daddy wounds.” He said sarcastically. “You got daddy wounds? Ah, I’m not interested in you. I want someone who comes into this relationship roaring angry and blames me for everything she’s mad at her dad about. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Initially, I assumed the message did not apply to me because I was married, but those words became the arrow and my soul the bulls-eye. As I sat in the balcony I wondered if anyone could tell I had the wounds he spoke about. What I failed to realize was the person who knew about my wounds was sitting next to me; I was married to him. “Do I do that?,” I asked (Even though I knew the answer). “Sometimes,” he responded (being kind).
As we walked out of the auditorium a mix of emotions overwhelmed me. Shame reminded me how I periodically morphed into a wounded little girl with my husband. Doubt questioned whether I could ever be different. Despair encouraged me to give up. And they all grabbed a cup of mojo at cafe confusion in my brain.
I began to internally question all the ways my daddy wounds had impacted my marriage. There were too many to count. This process was like looking for a lost earring in a fur rug. I had become so comfortable with my behavior that distinguishing dysfunction from functionality was incredibly difficult.
How could I determine if I was mad because of something in the moment or subconsciously dealing with some unresolved father wound? Argh! This was not a quickly answered question and for me it took loads of intentional self-reflection. During that season I discovered the following key truths:
Truth # 1: My Husband is Not My Father
Early on in our marriage I wanted my husband to affirm me the way my Father didn’t. I yearned to hear him say I was smart, beautiful, a great cook, the perfect wife (the list goes on). Now don’t get me wrong, it is natural for a wife to want her husband to compliment her, but she should not be dependent on his words, and I was.
His opinion, good or bad, had the power to cripple or empower me. And it wasn't what he said but the authority I gave him. The truth I had to realize was that although my father did not affirm me as a child, God affirms me through His word, and He alone is enough. I value my husband’s opinion but his words come second to God’s. This knowledge has enabled me to handle his compliments and critiques in a healthy way.
Truth #2: I Must Forgive My Dad or It Will Impact My Marital Relationship
Unresolved angst with a parent prior to marriage, is redirected towards a spouse when you say “I do.” I know this from experience. Shortly after we jumped the broom, anger seeped out of me like hot steam. My husband became an easy target because he was male and close by.
In an effort to have a healthy I marriage had to comb through the tangled mess of my emotions and identify why I felt what I felt when I felt it. It took counseling, journaling and much prayer just to say, “I’m angry. . . I feel rejected. . . I am hurting.” Then I had to learn the lifestyle of forgiveness and how to move on.
This process has lasted more than a decade and although it has been difficult, quitting and avoidance have never been an option for me. I knew in order to have a loving relationship with my husband I needed to resolve unforgiveness with my dad. In forgiving my dad the overall quality and health of my marriage improved.
Truth # 3: I Must Look to God to Meet My Needs and Not My Husband
Going into marriage I had a romanticized perspective of holy matrimony. As the product of a divorced household I was clueless as to what a marriage should look like, so I made it up. My fairytale included a husband equipped with flowers, continual compliments, an abundant bank account, endless amounts of quality time and a completely checked off honey do list. I never said it out loud, but I thought it.
I assumed my husband was supposed to meet my every need. I soon discovered that was never God’s intentions. No human being is capable of doing this.
God may choose to use my husband to meet my needs but I am to look to Him first. This is something I had heard all my life, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19 (NIV), but I didn’t really believe it.
Finally, after years of disappointment I decided to take God out of the box I confined Him to. I began to expose areas of my soul that I previously believed were beyond His reach: "God, I’m lonely (yes even in marriage), I feel discouraged, I am afraid, I’m hurting..." These are just a few of the conversations I allowed myself to have with the God of the universe. I expanded my list of things God was concerned about to encompass the intimate details of my soul and overtime He met my needs.
Unfortunately, I was already swimming in the deep end of the marriage pool when I realized I had daddy wounds. If you are realizing you have some father issues too, be courageous and deal with them - I did. A choice not to...well, it will gravely impact your marriage.