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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Four (4) steps you can take to end negative obsessive thoughts in your marriage/relationships and heal them once and for all.

End negative obsession in your marriage or relationships. 

Yesterday I wrote (here) about what it is to be obsessed over a person or situation, from the perspective of loss.

You lose a spouse to death (the ultimate loss), a break-up, something is lost via theft, or you lose a job or ministry. These lead to Valid Pain as well as Lie-Driven Pain. The lie-driven pain leads to obsession.

As I discussed this today with a good friend, I realized there is another layer to uncover here.

Obsession within the relationship. I'm going to use a marriage example but it could be within any relationship (parent/child, employer/employee, etc.).

Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash

Obsession within Relationship

Over the years, I found myself obsessed with what my wife and kids were or weren't.

  • They always...
  • They never... 
  • If only they...
  • Why won't they...
  • Why do they...
  • I wish they'd just...
As we discussed yesterday, obsession is always about you and never about them. Obsession is your emotional hunger-pangs. It's telling you that you are lacking in some profound way, that you have valid emotional needs that are not being met. 

Unhealthy Response to Obsession: Escape Pain's Fruit

As a result of these types of obsessive thoughts, we often turn to things that help us numb the pain. These could be things like:
  • Workaholism
  • Binging Netflix/Hulu
  • Excessive Shopping
  • Alcohol/Drugs/Substances
  • Pornography/Illicit Relationships
  • Overeating / Undereating (control)
These are a few of the more common examples, but any number of other behaviors could be used as "escapism".

Humans will do anything to avoid or escape pain. 

Some people look at addicts and say "how can that drug be so powerful that they would leave their job and family for a high?"; truth is they aren't going to the drug for the "high" they are going because they are in pain (physical, emotional, psychological) and they are using that drug to escape pain. 

Clue: If at any point, you are obsessed with what someone else is or isn't doing for/to you; you are obsessing. This is a sign that you have unmet emotional needs. Rather than turning to escapism, there is another way.

Healthy Response to Obsession: Heal Pain's Root

1. Find the unmet emotional need

Even the apparent need for "sex" that causes men (and women) to turn to pornography, isn't actually a physical need. The needs that drive us to self-destructive behaviors are emotional needs. 

They are things like value, worth, identity, and meaning. They drive questions such as:
  • Am I worthy?
  • Am I enough?
  • Am I lovely?
  • Do I have what it takes?
  • If I reveal this, will you reject me?
  • Will you abandon me? Discard me?
  • Am I wanted, desired, appreciated, loved?
  • I want to be seen and heard, known and loved.
These kinds of unmet emotional needs are the driving force behind our obsession. Like a movie makes us cry, giving us access to an emotional reaction, the "movie" of what we want or don't want from our relationships can replay over and over like a broken record. But the real thing this tells us isn't about what they do or don't do for us, it's about our own need. It's telling us we have an unmet emotional need. 

So what are we to do with that?

2. Expose that need within safe-community. 

If you and your person (spouse, child, boss, friend) are in a good safe relationship, you can bring it directly to them. But for many, they may not feel safe to take it to that person yet. 

Find at least one other human being (pastor, counselor, support group, close-confidante friend) who you know and trust will be safe with your vulnerability, and share this discovery with them. That might sound like this:

"I've been obsessed over my marriage. Constantly thinking about what he/she is (and isn't) doing for me. I've spent some time sitting with that and I realized that this means I'm having unmet emotional needs. I don't feel ___need goes here (valued, wanted, known)___. I wanted someone safe to discuss this with."

Once you have found safe community, you can move on to getting that need met. 

3. Find safe-community and get that need met. 

Warning, Safe Community Is Not an Affair: This doesn't mean to get the need met by another woman (or man) in the office outside of your marriage. This doesn't mean to leave the relationship because this other person isn't doing for you what you need done. This is not an advocation for an affair. In fact, an affair would fall under an unhealthy category (escapism). It doesn't deal with the real issue, it simply allows you to escape that pain for a period of time, then compounds the fracture and makes it worse.

Safe community is a place where you can be open and vulnerable without fear of judgment or reprisal, where you're value and needs can be met without negative consequences.

Safe Community could be any combination of:

  • Friends
  • Counselors
  • Pastors
  • Support Groups 
The goal would be that they will hear you without judgment and help you see the truth. You are valued, wanted, desired, and cared for. You are enough. You are loved. And none of this is about whether another human loves you or not.

4. Find your identity outside of anyone's opinion.

You need to know in your deepest heart that Your Daddy Is Proud of You! That has to be the ultimate place of healing.

As long as your identity is based in an external locus (coming from outside of you, what others tell you), it will always be subject to the situation. You're value and felt-needs will ebb and flow with the people around you, their mood. People are imperfect. Situations change. Your value cannot be based on the outside.

Inside Out: Your value must come from what you know to be true about you because your Daddy (God) has spoken it to your heart. 

When you have an internal locus of value, you change the atmosphere of the room and your relationships; rather, than your room or relationships changing your value.

Back to Comunity: And most often, when we are in pain, we cannot hear God's voice speaking to us through the noise. We need a community to remind us what He says about us and point us to our true value.

Note: If you don't know Jesus (the ultimate source of your identity), if you don't know LIFE Himself, click here

Your Turn: Comment on this post

Have you found yourself obsessing over things inside your relationships/marriage? 
What could that tell you about the unmet emotional needs you have? 
How could you find a safe, healthy, community to meet those unmet needs?


Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ

1 comment:

  1. Really appreciate this article. The tools/steps you lay out are simple and yet incredibly life-changing if taken to heart and applied. Its like you've taken a myriad of self-help books and boiled it down to 4 simple yet challenging steps. Thank you!


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