It’s Day Two of the Respect Dare here at Affaircare, and we are joining with Jennifer at Unbroken Woman as she leads us through Nina Roesner’s “The Respect Dare: 40 Days to a Deeper Connection with God and Your Husband.” Jennifer is a little over half way through her Respect Dare, but here at Affaircare we are looking at this Dare with just a little twist: how do our childhood scars relate to infidelity? What can we learn to keep our marriages affair-free OR bring them back from the brink of unfaithfulness? Or if that has been an affair, can learning about our pasts free a couple to help them rebuild?
To join us on our Affaircare Respect Dare journey, please get Nina’s book (or e-book) and all the info by CLICKING HERE.
As we go through this Respect Dare together, one thing I’m trying to do is to talk about the correlation between some of the topics of the Respect Dare and Infidelity. How do they relate? Is this something we often see in marriages that are struggling with an affair? This topic is particularly related to unfaithfulness. Time and again we hear from Loyal Spouses something like “Well my spouse had their affair because they were abused as a child” or “Oh S/He couldn’t help themselves–they had a bad childhood.” For all I know, you may be a Disloyal Spouse thinking that right now!
But if there is ONE THING I’d like readers to take from this Respect Dare, it’s that whether your spouse is the cheater or you were the cheater, the person you need to start with is the person in the mirror. We ALL have childhood scars. We ALL have incidents in our lives that affect us for the rest of our lives–some good, some…not so good. But rather than looking at your spouse and thinking of all the ways that they need to change, look at yourself. Keeping ahold of the past or abuses from your childhood is an excuse for you to behave poorly–or a justification for having an affair–or a rationalization for your bad choices.
As children these events affected us. They impacted the way we see ourselves and our spouses and our families and our lives. But we are not children anymore; we are adults. If you are an adult, and you KNOW that you had a traumatic event in your childhood (or your whole childhood was one big trauma) you are responsible for yourself now. When you know that you have PTSD flashbacks from the abuse you suffered as a child and do nothing, you are not a helpless child; you are an adult choosing to harm others so you don’t have to face yourself. When you know you have a skewed view of Love and Sex due to sexual assault at a young age and do nothing, you are not a helpless child; you are an adult choosing to harm those who love you whom you love so you don’t have to face yourself.
To defend your marriage against infidelity, sometimes we have to be brave enough to face our childhood dragons and admit that “It’s me! I need to work on myself and my wounds so I can be a healthy adult.”
Today in the Respect Dare book we are asked to ”be aware that our experiences with our parents’ marriage as a child has impacted the experiences, beliefs, and unconscious behaviors in our own marriage.” “Sometimes our beliefs are healthy; some are not.” “Sometimes our beliefs are not grounded in Truth, but these beliefs still become the filter through which we see our own circumstances.”
We are asked to pray and ask for wisdom in understanding a key experience that has impacted the way you currently walk through marriage. After praying, wait for an incident to come to mind and work with it to answer these questions. In one sentence, respond to the following questions about the incident that came to mind:
This particular Respect Dare is EXTREMELY hard for me, because I had a very painful, abusive childhood. My father was and still is an alcoholic, although at times he has dry spells when he’s ill. My mother was and still is undiagnosed bipolar–she has a degree in “Sociology” so in her mind she *couldn’t* have a mental illness, although pretty much everyone who knows her agrees she has mood patterns. When my parents were not christians, they would drink and become physically violent with each other. When they became christians, they “hid” their alcoholism and mental illness so they looked like good christians, and behind closed doors they hit us children. And then my dad had an affair, my mom went nuts with grief and pain (understandably), and they divorced. Rough childhood!
Question 1: Who was there? When was the incident? Where were you?
I have my incident in mind. I was there and my mom was there. The incident was when I was about 14 years old. We were in the kitchen.
Question 2: What happen? If this is something that happened many times, pick one of those times and describe it as best as you can, as if you were reliving that moment in time.
My chore as a child was to do the dishes after dinner. We had a dishwasher, so I would load the dishes and everything, then wash the pans by hand. This incident occurred over two nights. The first night, I did my chore and afterward I was spanked with a brush from my knees to my shoulders for not using Comet in the sink after finishing the dishes. The next night, I did my chore and afterward I very wisely thought “Ah ha! I am going to avoid the spanking by using the Comet this time!” and that night I was spanked with a brush from my knees to my shoulders for not getting permission first. Why didn’t my dad stop her from hitting me? I don’t think he was home; I think he was at a bar at the time.
Question 3. What was revealed to you about how you interact in your marriage as a result of this incident?
Two things: #1 My first instinct is to try to please others. I don’t want to get hurt so I’ll “please you.” #2 When someone is mad I just SHUT DOWN because I learned that there is no figuring it out, just shut up and take it.
Question 4: What possible interpretations exist of that one event? List as may as you can in seven minutes.
- I misunderstood what I was being punished for.
- My mom was just making up reasons to punish me.
- I was completely innocent and didn’t deserve either spanking (LOL)!
- I completely deserved BOTH spankings, because I’m a little devil (lol)!
- My mom had an issue or weakness that didn’t really involve me at all.
- Comet is good on Monday-Wednesday-Friday but on Tuesday-Thursday it’s bad
- It wasn’t about me or Comet or the sink at all.
Question 5: Write out a prayer of release from any unhealthy habits of thinking you’ve developed as a result of that incident.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Creator of Heaven and Earth and my wise and loving Father. Thank You for bringing this memory to mind tonight, as I go through the Respect Dare, share myself, and lead those who are joining me on this journey. Thank You for giving me the parents You gave me, so I could grow up to be the dearly beloved daughter of the Most High God that I am today. Thank You for never leaving my side as I lived through those painful times, and for never leaving my side when I made choices that were not pleasing to You. Thank You for your faithfulness in teaching me to grow more and more like Christ, even though it was not easy! Thank You for giving me the emotional and physical strength to survive and even thrive! I pray that as I remember this particular incident, that You would help me to remember my parents were human beings just like I am a human being–imperfect and weak. They had their own issues and their own struggles; and although they may have been struggling “in their own strength” they did the best they could do at the time with what they knew. Help me to forgive them and deal with them with grace and mercy. Remind me that YOU forgave me, and give me Your heart toward them both. Help me to let it go–that is to say, to release any hurt or pain I have held onto, and to release any desire I have to keep it as an excuse for sin now. Help me to keep my focus on You and pleasing You and doing what is holy in Your sight, right now. Thank You for promising that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me–I claim that promise. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
Now to see what other’s have written about Respect Dare Day 2, here are some links:
The Respect Dare, Day 2 – Childhood Scars by PeacefulWife
The Respect Dare – Day 2 by Tiffani at My Beloved is Mine
Dare 2 ~ Childhood Scars~ by Jennifer at Unbroken Woman (our “Fearless Leader”)
The Respect Dare: Day Two by Orenda at Broken But Not Forgotten
Day 2 ~ Childhood by Kamila at Your Marriage Is Your First Ministry
Respect Dare 2: This One Hurt by Forgiven Wife
In the comments below, please share thoughts and where we can pray for you. If it is private, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your prayer request with us anonymously.