During our marriage, I tried to control much of my wife’s life. I made her give an account for every dollar she spent. I expected her to think and believe like me. I expected her to always tell me where she was going and when she would be home. I criticized her often. In my mind, she was the problem and our marriage would be so much better if she would change and do what I wanted her to do. My words wounded her and destroyed her self-image. My behavior eventually led one of my daughters to use self-harm just to numb the pain.
This continued for the first eleven years of our marriage. If circumstances did not go my way, often my response was to erupt in anger which I would take out on my family. They became my verbal punching bag.
We were married only a few months when we traveled to my hometown. I realized I had forgotten something I needed. I blamed my wife when she told me she did not get the item that I had forgotten. I exploded, slamming my fists into the steering wheel and my hand into my side window yelling, “Stupid! Idiot! Fool!” She feared that I would turn my rage on her and told me to pull off to the side of the freeway so that she could get to safety.
My wife eventually left me and moved to another state with our children. She left me a letter stating that she would consider returning to me if I would go through ManKind at ARMS. In that moment, I realized I was the problem. I was an abuser.
Once I was in the program, I quickly discovered anger was not an addictive behavior as I had believed. I had the ability to control my responses to circumstances. ARMS did far more than teach me how to manage anger. They changed the way I thought and therefore, how I behaved, leading to far less instances of feeling angry. I learned how to respond to the emotion of anger in a healthier manner.
I came to realize that I was self-centered and selfish. ARMS helped me see that controlling someone is not love. I eventually saw that becoming a servant of people was a key to living free of abusive behavior. I made it my goal to serve my family.
For three years, we lived separately as she waited to see if I had truly changed. We have been back together as a family for the past three years. I now see my wife as my partner rather than my adversary and she feels safe to confront my behavior when she sees me acting in ungodly ways.
ARMS taught me how to accept her confrontation as a positive rather than a negative. She truly has become my ally and partner in life—even though, at times, it’s painful to accept what is wrong in my thinking and behavior.
I hated my life prior to ARMS. Now, I have a sense of wholeness. ARMS helped me discover the pain that lay below the rage that I often felt. Needless to say, I owe much of my new life to my wife and to ARMS. It’s not an overstatement to say that ARMS was instrumental in saving my life. ARMS brought healing to my wife and indirectly to our children. I am truly grateful.