From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this – “The weird thing about houses is that they almost always look like nothing is happening inside of them.” (John Green) That’s certainly true in today’s air conditioned houses where people come and go through their garage and are never seen on the front porch or out in the yard. I’ve even had clients who had to get new front door locks because they never use that door and had no idea where the keys were any more.
Jack went on to include another little quote from a welcome mat that he saw somewhere that reads: “As far as anyone knows, we’re a nice happy family.”
Sadly, all too often neither of those statements is true. As a Realtor®, I get involved with many people when the things happening inside those homes turn out not to be so happy. I deal with a lot of divorce settlement sales of the family home. Quite often I get to hear the stories from both sides of what they think had been happening in the home. It is seldom a pretty picture and the stories never match up. The atmosphere in those homes is usually a confused mix of anger, disappointment, guilt, remorse, relief and hope.
In most cases the outside world had little idea what was happening in those homes. It is perhaps the deception being carried on for the benefit of the world that contributes to the eventual breakup of the marriage and the family. Rather than face the issues that are causing friction, many couples try to contain it and hide it, many times with the rationale that the deception was “for the kids.” Most of the time, the kids (especially the older children) can sense that something wasn’t right between mommy and daddy.
An open and honest dialogue with your significant other is the foundation of a lasting relationship. Things won’t always be wine and roses. Sometimes life throws you vinegar and thorns instead. It is your reaction to those hard times, as a couple, that will determine whether you weather them together or let them drive you apart. The old saying about what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger certainly applies to marriages, too.
Unfortunately human nature is such that many men will normally try to hold things in, to “deal with it”, to “be a man” about it. They think they are protecting their family when they hold it in; however that eventually leads them to becoming moody or angry or fearful and feeling lonely. They don’t seek outside help and they turn away from the very support structure that is right there under roof with them. As they withdraw the relationship often turns sour due to confusion or a sense of loss of interest on the part of their significant other and eventually that isolation leads to a breakup of the marriage. Sadly I saw that a lot in the recent Great Recession as men reacted badly to job losses or even to the loss of their spouse’s job.
I’ve written before that women seem better equipped emotionally to deal with adversities, plus they are more likely to seek support or comfort from another woman who might be their friend. They are also more likely to have friends like that to whom they can turn than men are.
The other thing that I have seen more of than I can understand are couples who have finally called an abusive or manipulative relationship quits. While that is normally an action taken by the women involved, I have seen the opposite when a weak man finally has had enough from an overly strong and domineering wife. I have also seen it in the GLBT community. I’ve never really understood why someone would commit to be in an abusive relationship to begin with; however, people that I’ve talked to about that said that it didn’t start that way or that the abusive partner changed after they entered the relationship.
Another deception that I’ve seen, that can lead to the breakup of families, involves either alcohol or drug abuse. Whether it involves the adults in the house or the children, the families often go to great lengths to keep the deception of a normal home alive for the external world. In some cases the family may seek help for the substance abuser, but in other cases the old saw “We don’t talk about that” seems to hold sway. All too often the substance abuser eventually turns into just an abuser, due to the huge mood swings and stresses that accompany the habit. Eventually these unions also break up and I’m called in to sell the family home.
Finally, there is perhaps a missing guest in your home, someone who could help you with any and all of these problems. If God is missing from your home and your life, you may feel like you have nowhere to turn for help and answers. Sometimes as we progress through life we may wander away from God and become like lost sheep. Fortunately the Good Shepard is always looking for us and trying to bring us back to God. We just have to ask. There is an interesting Web site – www.everystudent.com – that gives a road map for bringing Jesus and God into (or back into) your life and your home. The web site was created for students who are in that questioning or non-belief stage of life, but it provides good advice that can help everyone. Visit it and see if it helps you.
So, what’s happening in your house? If I’ve hit a nerve with any of the scenarios that I described above, hopefully that will help you snap out of whatever state of denial you’ve been in and recognize that you and your significant other may need to seek help. At a minimum you need to be able to have open and honest discussions about the things that aren’t going as you would like and how you both are reacting to those things. I really don’t want to meet you and be asked to sell your house because of your divorce. I much rather that you call me because your moving to accommodate a new beginning in a new job or getting ready to expand your family. Maybe you can get back to being that happy family that was mentioned on the welcome mat that everyone thought you were all along.
Have a great weekend. Invite God into your house.