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COUNSELING

The Wife Who Demanded Respect

By Dr. Don Dunlap
Pastoral Counseling
Acting sullen and hurt is an unbiblical response to the person who has offended us. 


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The Forgiveness Series – Article 19 of 71

A case study of a woman who is driven to attempted suicide reveals the final deception regarding biblical forgiveness. We give in to this deception when we act sullen and hurt when someone offends us. The underlying hope is that the offender will learn his or her lesson and will never again make the mistake of violating our rights. Something innate in the heart of a sinful man or woman seems to naturally respond to offenses in this manner.

The final deception regarding biblical forgiveness is a popular one that has a widespread following. It is the practice of acting sullen and hurt when someone offends us. The underlying hope is that the offender will learn his or her lesson and will never again make the mistake of violating our rights. Something innate in the heart of sinful man seems to naturally respond to offenses in this manner.

In the psychiatric ward, the doctor required her to attend group therapy sessions.

This case study involves a woman who had checked into a private psychiatric ward because she was experiencing depression. In most psychiatric facilities, group counseling is the method of choice. The doctor on call placed her in a group of about nine or ten women the first night she was there. A social worker moderated the group therapy, and required the woman to express her problems to the entire group.

She confided in them the fact that she was depressed because of her marriage situation. She told the women that her husband was insensitive, uncommunicative and ungrateful. She had tried to maintain a good relationship with him. She had been willing to go to counseling, but he would not go with her. She believed that she was doing most of the giving in their marriage, and he was doing most of the taking.

They told her that it was time for her to draw up some guidelines in her marriage.

Before the session was over all the women in the group came down hard on this new member. They told her that she had become co-dependent. This is a very popular word in modern psychology. They told her that when a woman allows a man to take advantage of her, he does exactly that. They warned her to establish boundaries in the relationship. They advised her to demand to be treated with respect, dignity and consideration.

All of this sounded pretty good to her. She had tried the nagging and complaining approach, and it had not worked. She thought, perhaps, she had finally found the missing ingredient that would make this marriage work. After a ten-day stay in the psychiatric facility (where she ran up a bill of more than $10,000), she was released to go home. She took a little notebook home with her that outlined exactly how she was to talk with her husband.

She told her husband she wanted to have a meeting with him.

The first thing she was supposed to do was to call a family meeting. That’s not a bad idea. I frequently recommend that sort of thing. However, her assignment was to tell her husband how they were going to restructure their relationship based upon mutual consideration, kindness, self-sacrifice and communication. The women in the group had suggested that this husband and wife meet together each evening after the dinner meal for 30 minutes and talk about three things that had happened to them that day. Then they were supposed to talk about how they each felt about those three things. It’s not a bad idea either and would have been an excellent suggestion if it had been made under different circumstances.

This husband, however, didn’t appreciate his wife giving him a list of demands. Three weeks later, a colleague who is a physician, got a call from the emergency room at the hospital. The wife had tried to commit suicide. If she had been discovered half an hour later, she would have been dead. She was not merely trying to get her husband’s attention.


She had actually tried to take her life. I was thankful for the opportunity to meet with her and for the principles of biblical forgiveness, which I knew could change her life.





 




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