“You know, I don’t know how you feel about what happened last night, but that is not appropriate behavior, and I want you to know that I love you very much, I want us to have a wonderful marriage. I want us to grow old together, but I will not allow that to happen again. If you ever do anything like that again, I am telling you now that I am moving to my mother’s, and I will not come back until you have had extensive counseling to deal with your anger. I am willing to go for counseling with you. I am willing to do anything we can. In fact, I will do it now. We will do it before you do that again, but if you ever do it again, I want you to know that is what I will do.” 

Then you follow through with it. That is the easiest time. Obviously, as you well know, there are people who have been in abusive relationships for years. Sometimes, it is also associated with alcohol or drugs. The person may not be an alcoholic, but they get drunk from time to time, and that is when the abuse takes place. Wherever you are, however long it has been that you have been in the abusive relationship, it is time for you to take that kind of stand. Assure them that you are not abandoning them. You are saying to them, 

“I love you, and I love you so much that I have really done you a disservice by staying here for 10 years and letting you do this. I finally realize that I love you so much that I will no longer sit here and let you do this. I can’t keep you from beating people up, but I can keep you from beating me up and beating the kids up, and we are not going to be here. When you come home tonight, we will be gone. I am not abandoning you, I am just saying to you if you want to have a marriage, then you go for counseling. Whenever the counselor wants to talk with me, I am fully willing to talk with the counselor. Whenever you learn how to understand yourself and your anger, then we can start marriage counseling. Whenever you, me, and the counselor feel like it is good for us to come back, then I will come back.” 

CW:  Thanks, Dr. Chapman. Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know about your book before we close?   

GC: I hope the reader’s sense that I am deeply empathetic with the pain of being in a desperate marriage, but I also believe that the person who is married to the abuser or the alcoholic or whomever has the greatest potential for helping them. So, this book is really a book on how to be a positive change agent in a very, very difficult marriage. I am not promising that all individuals will be responsive to the approach I take, but I do believe that many marriages could be saved... could be healed. That is my hope.   

CW:  Wonderful.  Thank you very much. 

To purchase Desperate Marriages or learn more about Dr. Gary Chapman, visit his website at http://www.garychapman.org/

Published March 3, 2009