Discussion on “Pierced with Deep Wounds” (Ensign, June 2010) Part 3

“And, although at that point I felt I could not trust my husband, I knew I could trust the Lord.”
“I learned my husband was truly my brother.”
“…this addiction was primarily my husband’s trial, not mine.”
“I must not police his actions or take his behavior as a personal attack.”

I feel that these comments made by the unnamed author of “Pierced with Deep Wounds” should be discussed together. Refer to the diagrams above.(Sorry, my skill with graphics is very amateur. I will try to learn how to make it easier to read.)

Of course, there are no doctrines written by prophets modern or ancient that describe relationships in the terms of the diagrams above, but I have found them quite useful to help both husbands and wives to understand the current condition of their relationships and what needs to be done in order to improve the relationship based on these descriptions.
Celestial is, of course, the ideal. In these relationships, the man is tightly connected to God and is leading his family in a patriarchal fashion. He is not perfect, but he is trustworthy as well as all other characteristics found in D&C 121. The wife, although maintaining her personal connection with God, instinctively allows and supports her husband’s efforts to lead because she trusts him to do so in a manner pleasing unto God. She feels safe and secure; he feels confident and competent. He is providing and protecting; she is nurturing (Proclamation on the Family).
In a Terrestrial relationship, both have a direct connection to God yet maintain a loose, but supportive relationship to each other. This is true in friendships and healthy sibling relationships. When a relationship between a man and a woman is just getting started, this is very healthy. When a man has done a few things that cause the other to lose some trust in him, it is also wise to drop back to this level…hopefully, temporarily. (I tend to work with couples where the husband is the one who has misbehaved, so I will avoid complications in descriptions by referring to him as the offending party. There are some differences in the dynamic when she is the one who has misbehaved, but those differences are not addressed here.)
In a Telestial relationship, the man has misbehaved to the degree that his wife cannot trust him. Also, she is significantly hurt by him. In these cases, more often than not, her continued “support” becomes at best enabling, and at worst, continued abuse. She needs to move on without him for two reasons. One, her own well-being is at stake. And two, in these cases, the fear of losing his spouse is a greater motivator for him to improve his actions, than her support. This is even truer when children are involved. As a clinician, I do all I can to keep the relationship from dropping into this category, but sometimes the addict behavior is too significant. Hopefully, this also is a temporary condition.
By moving on, we mean for her to focus all her attention on her own relationship with God, for her sake, for her children’s sake, and for her healing. She needs to withdraw to a safe distance (see “Truck” analogy in previous posting). In my work with women, we call this, “Pioneer Woman Mode”. It is as if she is alone on the plains, pulling a handcart through the snow, with her children and without a man to help her. Every woman I have met has this capacity, although none of them want to use it, unless they have no choice. So, if necessary, strap the boots and bonnets on, and press forward!
Okay, that was inspiring! Back on topic. Based on the unnamed author’s description of her experience, both his behavior and her response to his behavior put their relationship at the Terrestrial level. I am thrilled for both of them that this is as low as it got. She had lost some trust in her husband, but she did not experience pain to the degree of feeling abused (I am guessing). She was able to let go of some of her emotional attachment to his behavior and her tendency to feel responsible. She could still feel like he was her brother. What she did not voice was that is very difficult to have romantic feelings for a man who feels more like a brother than a husband (according to my clients).
Unfortunately, there are many others who are experiencing (or are on the verge of experiencing) much worse. These women chose their husbands because they felt Celestial with him at the time of their wedding. It is sad when a man falls to the Terrestrial level, and devastating when he falls to the Telestial level. BUT, we hold out hope for these men! These men are in a position to experience miracles like they have never seen before! With good training and an ever improving alliance with God and the power of the Atonement, not only can the man return to his Celestial state, the woman can be brought back from the jaws of death (as demonstrated by Christ in the New Testament) and so can the marriage. Some marriages I have seen even brought back from the dead as was Lazarus!
So, if you are experiencing a Celestial relationship, proceed as you have been. Be cautious that Satan desireth to make you his, and if he tries to bruise your heels, crush his head! If you have dipped into the Terrestrial world, let the pain of touching such a fire cause you to cling to your wife and your Bishop and fight your way back to where you belong. If you have slipped beyond that level, and Satan has dragged you kicking and screaming into the Telestial world, when the kind and nurturing support of both the Bishop and the spouse are not enough to improve behavior in a timely manner, it is time for professional intervention! Stop taking chances with your wife’s safety and get the training you need! You can still return to where you belong, but not alone. Be the man, and make it happen!
If you need me to elaborate on any of these concepts, please email me.

About Maurice W. Harker, LPC

Director of Life Changing Services, Director of Sons of Helaman, Facilitator of the WORTH group, Consultant for the Daughters of Light program.