Guiding Principles in Marriage Reconstruction
This website exists to provide support, ideas, and tools to husbands of women who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). Our hope is that men will receive the tools necessary to support their wives through the process of healing. This will lead to the development of healthier relationships. One husband we previously worked with described his journey with his wife as the reconstruction of assumptions, behaviors, and expectations. We understand the struggle in reconstruction and aim to assist husbands of survivors in finding new patterns rather than new partners. Throughout our website, we have pulled inspiration from common road construction signs to designate the guiding principles of Marriage Reconstruction.
I live in the Midwest. A common joke is that we have two seasons in the year, winter and construction. Roads are continually being repaired from the harsh effects of weather on their construction. When driving through construction zones, I often wonder when the construction will be done. I wait for the “End Construction” sign that designates when we can return to our normal driving speed.
During marital strife, the continual question is often, “When will this be over.” One husband, Spencer, responded to the effects of his wife’s childhood sexual abuse by stating, “My goal was to put a band-aid on it and hope 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 our 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 a rough road. Instead, any marriage, whether or not it is affected by childhood sexual abuse, requires an ongoing process of growth and renewing that will 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 and safe by staying in their own 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 times of conflict, it can be easier to focus on the issues in our wife’s lane rather than paying attention to our own.
It is easy for husbands to become entangled in their wives pain. It is necessary for husbands to survivors of CSA to stay in their own lane. 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 helps husbands of survivors to stay in their own lane. This includes identifying and often adjusting – or reconstructing – assumptions about marriage, perceptions of psychological and emotional health, patterns of communication, and much more.
Caution Rough Road
Rough Road signs inform drivers of the unpredictable nature of the road ahead. There will be bumps, ruts, and holes not found on normal roadways.
All marriages include stages of rough road. However, clinical practices indicate that rough road stages can be further exasperated in marriages that involve a survivor of CSA. Husbands of survivors often 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 a rough road. The hope is that our personal reconstruction will point us to new perceptions and patterns that lead to new levels of a 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.”