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A Poisoned Mind

A story

Being married to her is the greatest happiness a man could feel. I could never love anyone more. My only desire is to love her and provide for her. I have made sacrifices for her, but she is worth every single one. I always want to be there for her. I want to save and protect her. I want to shield her from worldly dangers. She is my woman, and I want to be her man.

I want to take the burdens away from her. I want to handle all the stresses of life for her. I will make the tough decisions. I don’t want her to have to worry about anything outside our home. I want to give her the perfect family and a life where she can just be a wife and a mother to our two boys. I want to give her everything.

We are a Christian family, and we live in the Word. I want people to see us and know that we have everything right. I want to be the leader that the Bible has called me to be, and to fulfill my role of biblical manhood. I want to give her the life that God has intended for us. I will make the perfect life for her, where I am a man and she is a woman. But she doesn’t always seem to understand that this is how we are meant to live. I need her to be a woman so that I can be a man. She doesn’t always follow her role like she should. She questions me sometimes, and she undermines my authority. People look at me like I’m not a man. Why does she do that to me? Doesn’t she have any regard for my authority or the Bible? She knows the clarity of God’s commands in the Bible just as well as I do. She challenges the Bible when she challenges me.

As the head of the house, I’m the one who is accountable for her faith and her actions; just as I am accountable for my own. I am her spiritual leader. I take that burden for her because I love her. I am the one taking the bullet. I am the one who faces the danger. All she needs to do is submit and be safe with me. I will take care of all her needs. I will fight her battles. She only needs to be my helper. But she acts like she doesn’t need me. She doesn’t think about how her words reflect on me. She just blurts out her opinions when they come to her mind. She needs me. I put a roof over her head and food on the table. That is how I show my love for her. That is my role as a husband, a father, and a man. She doesn’t have to do any of that to show me that she loves me. All she needs to do is clean, cook, and take care of our children. That’s how a wife shows her love, and I need to see it.

She sits watching television, filling her mind with nonsense. Why does she need to see such things? She doesn’t need those opinions. I am her husband. I am the only one she needs to listen to. Why doesn’t she act like a woman? Why doesn’t she do housework and show her love for me? Doesn’t she love me? Sometimes she makes me crazy and I lose my mind. I can’t take it. I shut the television off. She doesn’t need it. I don’t want her to worry about the world outside. I will take those burdens.

But she challenges me. She complains; she talks back. She needs to follow her role. She needs to submit. It’s what the Bible says. What about our children? God, what about our children? What will they think if they see their mother second-guessing their father?  They will be twisted and confused. I can’t take it. I am accountable for their actions as well. I need to show them how to be men. She doesn’t understand what she is doing to them. 

She is upset. I don’t want to make her unhappy. I don’t ever want to do anything to make her leave. I couldn’t live without her. Just the thought of her leaving is more than I can bear. It is the greatest pain a man could feel. I feel like I’ve been shot in the chest. I couldn’t ever be happy without her. I ache for her. My mind can’t take it when she acts like she doesn’t need me. Doesn’t she know how much I love her? Doesn’t she know what this does to me? I grab her. I don’t mean to hurt her; I just need her to be with me. She starts to cry. I don’t want to lose her. I don’t want her to cry. I hold her against the wall. “Stop!” I yell. But she doesn’t listen to me. I know I shouldn’t put my hands on her like this. But when I do, I know she is thinking about me and her mind isn’t with anyone else. I know she feels how strongly I care about her. I shouldn’t do this to her. I should just let go and apologize. But this is the only way I can stop the panic. 

My heart is pounding. I think I’m going to go crazy, or even die. Everything is collapsing on me. I’m overcome by a surge of adrenaline. My ears start ringing, and my mind races. My grip on her arm tightens. It makes me feel better to know that she is in my grip. She is still crying, complaining. “Stop it, I said!” I scream. “Shut up!” But her mouth doesn’t stop; she sobs now. Why does she still not listen to me? Why doesn’t she take me seriously? Why does she continue to treat me like I’m not a man? She can’t do this to me. I am a man, and she is my woman. She has no right to disrespect me. My open hand meets the precious skin of her cheek. My palm stings.

She is finally silent. She doubles over onto her knees. I had to, that was all. It was the only way to make her stop. “I’m sorry,” she chokes out through chopped breaths. And I believe her. She tells me she loves me. That’s all I ever want to hear. I just need to know. I tell her I love her too. “I didn’t mean to,” I say. “But you wouldn’t stop.”  I put my arms around her. After a moment, she leans her head on me as I sit holding her. This is all I want. I am a man with a wife, a house, and a family. It is the greatest happiness a man could ever feel.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. How is this man confused about the definition of masculinity? What does the Bible teach about being a man?
  2. Note how the narrator’s desire to protect and cherish his wife has become dangerous and possessive. How does the biblical concept of mutual submission in marriage counteract this? What, if any, role does theology play in ending or perpetuating abuse?
  3. How can your church address the complexities of domestic violence within Christian marriages and families? What are practical steps you can take to foster healing for both those who are abused and those who abuse?

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