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Case Study #1-The Angry Husband

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counselor
In Case Study #1, Dr. Don Dunlap sets the stage to explore the truths of biblical forgiveness. -

The Forgiveness Series – Article 8 of 71

In Case Study #1, part of a series on forgiveness by Dr. Don Dunlap, a husband’s anger forces his wife to ask him to leave. At this point, the husband agrees to go for counseling. Like many people, only when his back is against the wall does he finally consider doing what must be done to save his marriage. Using this case study, Dr. Dunlap exposes the deceptions that this husband believed for years regarding true biblical forgiveness.

The use of case studies is a helpful tool to more effectively communicate the truths of biblical forgiveness. In an effort to closely protect the identity and privacy of the people involved, I have intentionally changed some of the facts. Some of the studies are composites of many counseling situations. When I tell you, for example, about a grandfather who sexually molested his granddaughter, I assure you that there have been, tragically, many such situations that I have dealt with throughout the years of my counseling ministry. Although I have changed some of the details and combined some of the circumstances, I believe that I have been able to relate the true essence of each case study that we will review.

“He’s just like his father!”

This case study involves a woman who came to me with a marriage problem. She was very unhappy in her relationship with her husband. They were both committed Christians. They had been married for several years, and they had three children. Her husband was a gifted individual who was active in church ministry. She told me that she was on the verge of asking her husband to leave. She said, “This is so unlike me. I can’t believe that I’m even thinking about this, much less expressing it to a counselor.”

When I asked her what the problem was she replied, “He is often harsh and angry. He loses his temper at the slightest provocation. He yells at me; he yells at the kids; and it’s affecting my love for him.” She went on to explain that the affection she once felt for him was almost gone. She said, “I don’t want him to touch me, especially after he has been harsh.” Her husband, like most men, wanted to hug and kiss her as a way to “make up” after they had had an argument.

His wife and children dreaded his frequent bouts of anger.

She continued, “I’m seeing the effect that his anger is having on the children. They are afraid of him. One of the worst things about his outbursts is that we all have to walk on eggshells to prevent setting him off. Another thing I’ve noticed is that when he’s not around, the children have begun to express that same kind of anger towards one another.” She concluded with the statement, “I just don’t think I can take it anymore. I know Christians are not supposed to separate, but I’m ready to ask him to leave.”

Too many husbands wait until the situation is desperate to call for help.

Many husbands agree to go for counseling only after their wives have threatened to leave them. It is a sad and unfortunate truth that when a man’s back is against the wall, he is finally willing to consider what it is he must do in order to save his marriage. That is what happened in this situation when she asked him to leave. He saw his wife’s desperation and the seriousness of his sin. He realized for the first time that his anger could lead to the loss of his wife and his children. He agreed to go for counseling, and he came to see me. Thus, we began the task of exposing the deceptions that this husband had believed for years regarding true biblical forgiveness.


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