Books have been written about detaching with love. I cannot possibly begin to cover it in one teeny tiny blog post, and yet, it’s an important enough topic that I’m frankly surprised I never touched on it before now.
Detaching with love is the goal in any dysfunctional relationship. (Actually, learning to detach with love is the goal of any relationship, healthy or dysfunctional.)
But here’s what I’m a master of: meddling in utter frustration. If there were a club of people who meddle in utter frustration, I would meddle so much they’d make me president.
Meddling I’ve got down pat.
In utter frustration, spades.
Detaching? Umm, getting there.
With love? HA! Detaching with ‘I’ll show you’ or ‘you’re going to wish I were meddling’, now that’s my sweet spot.
Okay, so, let’s say you’ve got a situation something like this. You are in a relationship with someone. And this person does something that is detrimental to himself and/or to you.
Stop and think for a minute. This isn’t just for people who live with addicts. This can be a myriad of circumstances.
I’m going to make up a scenario for the sake of this post but please plug yourself in if you can.
Let’s say your husband hates his job. And in hating his job, he does a couple things. One, he complains about it to you every day. EVERY DAY. And two, he comes home not just grumpy but downright mean sometimes, and you get the brunt of it.
How are you supposed to deal with that?
One, pray. Pray for your husband’s job situation to change. Pray for your husband’s attitude to change. Pray for you to have wisdom about how to respond. Pray for it to not bother you as much as it might be bothering you (hypothetically, whatever).
Two, you remind yourself that your husband is a grown man. He got himself that job. He can take steps to change that job. He can take steps to change his attitude about his job. He can leave that job. He can find another job.
Three, next time he brings it up, say to him, “May I make a gentle suggestion?” And then gently, respectfully, lovingly, give him your two cents (maybe it’s time for a new position somewhere else, I can help you look or maybe you can talk to your boss about so-and-so, I can help you figure out what to say). If he takes your suggestions, aces. If he doesn’t, step four.
Four, if your husband doesn’t make any changes and he continues to complain and continues to take it out on you, try saying to him, “May I talk with you about something? I know your job is difficult. And I’m grateful you feel safe with me to share about it. But when you say such-and-such in your frustration, it hurts me. Or when you say the same thing over and over without making any changes, I get frustrated for you and want to jump in and help. I’d appreciate it if you’d stop such-and-such in the future. I love you and I’m on your side.” If he listens and backs off a bit, fabulous. If he doesn’t, Then move on to step five.
Five, if your husband continues to not make any changes and continues to complain and continues to take it out on you, even after you’ve shared with him, change the subject, walk out of the room (but tell him why you’re walking out of the room…I asked you to not such-and-such and you’re not honoring that, so I’m going to get some space), or simply say, “I’m so sorry. I know how frustrated you are. I’m praying for you.” And then zone out if you have to.
Repeat as necessary.
You are your husband’s partner, not fixer. You are your husband’s partner, not emotional punching bag. To take this one step farther: you are no one's fixer, you are no one's emotional punching bag.
You are allowed to end a conversation that is damaging to you.
You are allowed to put space into a situation when advice has been given and not taken, and yet the complaining continues. “I think it’s best if we don’t talk about work for a while.”
You are a grown woman. You have a full life to live on your own. Your eyes should be on Jesus and asking him what he wants you to work on, and when we’re doing this, we don’t have the bandwidth to walk around carrying everyone and their brother’s problems.
This isn’t an easy one. This is like RELATIONSHIPS 401. But girls, it’s a worthwhile cause to learn to love well without being cut and drained emotionally.
If this resonates with you and you are struggling in this area, let's talk.