Father Wounds Create Marital Baggage

"I will never leave you nor forsake you."

My daddy issues and father wounds showed up in my marriage in a huge way. The fact that I have always felt deserted and had to prove myself reared its head in those times in my life when things were uncertain. After my third year in marriage my wife and I went through a tough time deciding whether or not we would stay married or get divorced. This happened in 1997 when I was in my first year as a teacher in the public school system. My wife had been teaching for two years at that point. We had two kids and rented my grandparents house in Los Angeles. I was enjoying the life of a first year teacher. Hanging out at Acapulco for happy hour on Mondays. Going to Karaoke on the weekends coming home after midnight on many occasions. You could only image the stress and strain I caused leaving her to take care of our two kids while working full time. Our started having trouble. Our conversations with one another were far and between. Little things would cause arguments. Often times she would compare me to her dad when things in the house would need fixing and I didn't have the capacity to fix them. 

I remember clear as day the one weekend she left to San Diego to attend a reading conference with her now deceased room partner. That weekend it was me and the kids. I did what any good father would do with two small children. Needless to say, the house didn't get clean and they ate junk food all weekend long. The day she returned from that conference something was different. I couldn't put my finger on it but I could feel the atmosphere in our house went from lukewarm to worse.

It was the Thanksgiving holiday when it all came crashing down. We attended a family get together for the holidays. That day she sat at the table unusually silent. I looked over at her and asked what was wrong. She said, "nothing is wrong, I'm just thinking." I then took her outside for a walk to talk because something seemed off to me. While we walked down the street I asked her what was wrong again. Thats' when she said it. "I don't think I love you. I think I married you for the wrong reasons." My immediate reaction was "what's the guys name!" Of course in my mind it had to be another guy. It could't be that she wasn't happy in the marriage because or because we got married at such a young age (21). It couldn't be because I was always hanging out with my colleagues at happy hour. It had to be another guy. Boy was I wrong! 

For the next three months we went through a tumultuous time. We sat with our pastor for counseling. During that session I could remember her crying and my pastor saying "Look at her, her heart is broken. You guys need to make a decision of what you are going to do." We began having hard conversations about splitting apart and who was going to get what in the marriage with regards to children and material possessions. I reflect back on this day because it was at that point that something in me began to rise up. It was this sense of insecurity and possessive behavior. 

I had not realized that my own father wounds would be carried into our relationship. Even after we reconciled, I still had this sense in the back of mind that she could leave me at any moment. Every time there was an inkling of troubled waters in our marriage the first place I would go to in my mind was the place of desertion. It wasn't until years later that I realized that these thoughts and feelings all came from my own father wounds. My dad deserting his family when we were most vulnerable. 

The way that I overcame that sense of insecurity came about through the promise of God that says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." I had to plant that promise deep down in my heart and be reminded of those words every time I felt deserted. Today our marriage is the strongest it has ever been. When we reconciled over 20 year ago we said that we would never talk about divorce or even contemplate it again. The fact that I was able to reconcile with my own father plays into the way I love my wife today.

 We all bring baggage into relationships with people. That baggage come from our own past experiences. Until we can deal with those things and reconcile them they will continue to be obstacles in our future. This journey of reconciliation plays into the way I lead my family and raise my kids. I committed a long time ago to be the father to my own children as well as other kids that my own father wasn't to me. As a pastor I understand the need for strong male stability. That's why its important that we celebrate the success of pastors who remain in their communities. It's an honor to break generational curses when it comes to fatherless homes in our neighborhoods of color. When God says He will never forsake us, its a guaranteed promise of his commitment to the family. 

Peter Watts