Guiding Principles in Marriage Reconstruction
The content of this website aims to introduce husbands to ideas, perceptions, and practices that can lead to the hope of a healthier relationship with their wife who is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. One husband described his experience as the reconstruction of assumptions, behaviors, and expectations. The goal of this site is to assist husbands of survivors in finding new patterns rather than new partners.Some common road signs in road construction zones designate the guiding principles of Marriage Reconstruction.
I live in the Midwest. It is often said that we have two seasons in the year, winter and construction. Road construction is a norm for us as roads are continually repaired from the outcomes of the climate’s abusive treatment on the roadways. When passing through these areas of road construction or reconstruction, I often wonder when the construction will be done and I wait for that “End Construction” sign where we can resume normal speed and driving.
A common expression during any marital strife is often, “When will this be over.” Spencer summarized his response to the effects of his wife’s childhood sexual abuse by stating, “My goal was to put a band aid on it and hope that the whole thing would just blow over and go away. I didn’t have to think about it anymore.” We want to resume normalcy; whatever that may be in marriage.
“End Construction” may be a sign in road construction that has meaning and promise. However, the roadway of marriage does not have an End Construction. This is not to say that marriage is always rough road. Instead, any marriage, whether or not it is affected by childhood sexual abuse, requires an ongoing process of growth and renewing that can include some bumpy areas along the way.
Stay in Your Lane
In highway reconstruction zones, there are segments where the hazards are greater if the driver were to change lanes. So drivers are cautioned to keep their attention focused in their own lane by staying in their lane.
In marriage, there are phases when the hazards, or struggles, are greater. It is tempting during those phases to look over into the other lane. In other words, during conflict it’s easier to focus on the issues in our wife’s lane rather than paying attention to our own lane.
It is necessary for husbands with wives who have been sexually abused as children to stay in their own lane because they can so easily become enmeshed in their wives. Sometimes husbands of survivors cannot differentiate their own emotions from their wife’s emotions. Others make it their mission in life to counsel and “fix” their wife.
Marriage Reconstruction includes husbands of survivors staying in their own lane. This includes identifying and often adjusting – or reconstructing – their assumptions about marriage, perceptions of psychological and emotional health, patterns of communication, and much more.
Caution Rough Road
Highway signs indicating rough road inform the driver of the unpredictable nature of the road. There will be bumps, ruts, and holes not found on normal roadways.
Though all marriages include stages of rough roads, clinical practice indicates that the normally unpredictable rough roads in couple relationships can be further exasperated in marriages involving a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Husbands of survivors express a sense of unfairness due to unpredictable behaviors, moods, and outbursts (Bacon & Lein, 1996; Cardwell, 1998; Reid, Wampler, & Taylor, 1996).
If you are the husband of a survivor, you might have said or felt that you are “walking on eggshells” in your relationship with your wife. “Walking on eggshells” expresses the sensation that you are on a rough road and must proceed with caution.
It is never easy, fun, or relaxing when we are on the rough road.
The hope is that our own personal reconstruction might point us to new perceptions and patterns that lead to new levels of healthier relationship with our wife. The Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC – AD 65) said, “It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.”