Humility and Empathy… (Part 3)

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

I’ve really enjoyed working on the last couple of posts.  You can find them here and here.

In this post, I’d like to share some tips for the husbands out there on this journey.  {Note to wives, you might have to put on your brave pants again and send this link to your guy.}  I say again because isn’t brave such a huge part of this journey?!  I guess that’s another blog post, though.

I thought nobody better to discuss how our husbands can go from prideful and self-protective to humble and empathetic than my own husband, Jason.  Not because he is perfect in this area but because this has been a part of his process.

So I asked him if he’d shoot a quick clip and I didn’t tell him what we would be discussing.  I told him it was for my girls (that’s you!).

You can also access the video here.

And yet, even with viewing this video, I want to make sure and close out this blog post with some helpful hints for wives, too.  Because our reality is – we can’t change our husbands.  That’s between them and God.  We can’t make them become humble or empathetic.  I wish it were that easy, don’t you?  Even still, here are a couple of things that you can do to try to give your husband the best chance at cultivating these oh-so-important character traits:

  • show your husband your pain – how can our husbands learn to be empathetic if they don’t see first hand how broken and torn up we feel?  This is difficult because after being hurt beyond belief, my reaction was to draw the bridge and put alligators in the mote.  I wasn’t about to be vulnerable with Jason.  But he needed to see my hurt, my deep pain, in order to learn to be empathetic toward me.  (As a side note,  remember that some of us use anger to self-protect so it’s important that we dig deep and engage the feelings underneath the anger.)
  • allow your husbands to feel the consequences of his choices – It is so easy, no matter how much our husbands have hurt us, to try to protect them from the negative effects of their behaviors.  Whether you pick up side work to pay for the therapy, wake up early to drive your husband to work because his license was suspended, or protect him from sharing his reality with his close friends or family (the list goes on and on), remember that God uses painful circumstances to humble us.  Humility comes through situations where we feel lowly and come to terms with our smallness.
  • be clear about what you expect from your husband and communicate it to him – This as well is so difficult because when we feel pain, our default is to isolate and self-protect  – not ratchet up the vulnerability.  I can’t promise you that your husband will hear you or follow-through with your requests.  However, I can tell you that in order for you to be true to yourself and your needs and to invite your husband into something different, it’s important that you share with him what you need and how you expect him to live.  And…as I sit here, I realize, this is still really hard for me to do some 12 years later.  What I grapple with is – will he even hear me?  what if he doesn’t follow through?  how will I deal with that pain?

And it’s because of the vulnerability that I encourage each of you to find your girls.  Find women that will love you and support you no matter what phase of the process you are in.  When you doubt yourself, they will hold you up.  When you want to hide, they will seek you out.  When you feel the pain, they will feel the pain with you.

xo-Shelley

15 thoughts on “Humility and Empathy… (Part 3)

  1. Lisa Taylor

    March 22, 2016  |  01:32 pm

    OH MY GOODNESS!! Thank you guys so much for that video. This is so spot on… and so timely for the people we’re working with right now. Bless you both.


  2. Laura Hunter

    March 24, 2016  |  09:23 am

    Thank you for having Jason share from a man’s perspective what they need to do and the long process that it is. I feel encouraged and a little hopeful.


  3. Chelle

    March 26, 2016  |  06:36 am

    Thank you guys, this is hitting the mark . I don’t know if I can today but I will try to show more of the raw pain. I show the anger , so much hurt and anger , it’s so hard not to when I’m still only getting truth when he knows I have proof in hand like phone records etc… I have been hanging on and in for six months past d day and he has only confessed when he is caught . Full of pride . But ok Shelley , I’ll continue to work on me because at the end of the day that’s who I have to live with right? You two are so young yet so wise , I’m sorry for your pain , you are beauty for ashes .


  4. J

    March 28, 2016  |  01:40 pm

    Where’s the like button? Loved the video that accompanies the post. It really added insight and helped with practical application. Getting the male perspective was perfect. I think the male perspective can be so helpful. Particularly when it’s coming from a male you don’t want to possibly strangle every time he opens his mouth.


  5. muchalone

    April 1, 2016  |  08:33 am

    This really grabbed my attention: ‘after being hurt beyond belief, my reaction was to draw the bridge and put alligators in the mote’ and I’ve been thinking about how it was for me…

    First reaction was definitely to draw the bridge…but not to put alligators in the moat…and I was trying to find an image that described how I reacted…I didn’t feel any need to retalliate with alligators…but I defninitely wanted him to leave me alone…maybe I’m just slower to figure things out, so I just left the muck in the moat…and after a while, it just dried up. I think if I were to put anything in there, it would be disinfectant, because the whole think left me feeling SO dirty! Definitely an image that got me thinking about my situation.

    The video was interesting…and showed me the extent to which my husband lies to himself about his addiction. He will admit his addiction, say that he is taking responsibility for ‘his problem’ and insist that he is fine now…but, in the next breath he will accuse me of not praying enough or the right way for him, and insist that I could have been better at helping him with his stuff…not exactly humble or empathetic. So, maybe now I want electric wires in the moat–something like a lie detector that will deliver just a bit of a shock when he is sinking into his fantasy world where he is perfect and I’m his problem…sigh…

    So, that brings us to a real problem with the vulnerability part…for both of us.


  6. Connie Spiegel

    April 8, 2016  |  07:03 pm

    Shelley, one of my favorite moments is when you very tenderly say to Jason, “when did that happen to you?” Asking our husbands when the wound for them occurred which took them from innocence to self protective hiding & eventually leading to angry entitlement could literally be an opening to their healing and a transition in the relationship. Also hearing Jason say that he shifted from “taking care of himself at your expense to taking care of you at his expense” is not only a biblical concept but also a foundational necessity for true intimacy. You two shared some really good stuff. Way to go Martinkus’s! God bless


  7. Lynette

    April 22, 2016  |  11:23 pm

    I cried when I saw your video with you and your husband. I am at the begining of this “Battle” with and for my husband and the future of our marriage of 22 years. There is so much wisdom in you words. I am so incouraged and no longer feel alone and helpless. Last month was my “D day”. I know with the help we receive we will be victorious too! Continued Blessings.


  8. Anne

    May 23, 2016  |  12:39 pm

    I’m still hanging in but always doubting and distrustful. I know this will sound bad but sometimes I want him to act out with me. I think it is a way for me to feel like he chose me this time and not her.


  9. Stacie

    September 19, 2016  |  11:49 am

    Thanks for this video. I’m going on 8 years of hanging in there during my husband’s fake recovery. He is going through the motions (12-steps, counseling) but still acting out, still hard-hearted, and FULL of shame that keeps him there. I appreciated Jason sharing how shame made him feel and how difficult it was for him to let go of his self-protection. But I also really needed to hear that it’s ok for me to expect my husband to “go first”. That he needs to be courageous and that it is Biblical. My experience is that sharing/showing my hurt and pain gets me pummeled. Retaliation and anger and blame are hurled back at me when I share my hurt (not anger). So, for now, it’s not worth it to me.


  10. L

    March 19, 2019  |  04:20 pm

    I love this topic – a commenter on Part 1 said that she thought her husband must have a psychological disorder: me TOO!! I am very, very, very new to all of this and too scared to use my real name. Thank you for this helpful blog – it is, right now, a bit of light in the darkness.

    p.s. Disappointed that the video is no longer linked. Anywhere else I can go to see that??


    • Shelley Martinkus

      March 19, 2019  |  04:26 pm

      Oh no!!! I didn’t realize the video wasn’t linked anymore. We changed video platforms so I’ve had to go in and add a different link. Let me see what I can do to get the video back up and going. Thanks for letting me know! xo – Shelley


  11. L

    July 7, 2019  |  06:29 am

    I still can’t see the video. 🙁 Any chance you can email me a link or the video itself? This 3-part post is SO GOOD!


    • Shelley Martinkus

      July 8, 2019  |  05:31 pm

      Done! I will send you a quick email to let you know it’s active again!


      • L

        July 8, 2019  |  08:05 pm

        Thank you so, SO much!!! Amazing video …. and I am pulling on my ‘brave pants’ and sending the link to my husband. Bless you both.


        • Shelley Martinkus

          July 24, 2019  |  11:07 am

          Do it girl! xo – Shelley


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