a. In my experience, there are a lot of “voices” that try to influence the thoughts and feelings of all women. Many of these voices are on the outside: mother, father, inlaws, culture, religion, the children, and the husband. The inside voices include fear, panic, “should”, “supposedto”, anger, overwhelm, sadness, etc.
b. I strongly encourage every woman to do what it takes to withdraw from all of this “noise”, and apply herself to the activities that will help her to clear her mind, and find her “true self” or her “best self” or “her soul”. It has been my experience that when a woman finds this voice within her, no matter how difficult the plan of action may be that comes to mind, she will gain the confidence to proceed.
c. Steps to doing this:
i. First, check to see if there has been a phase of life in your past when you were really “on your game”: clear, sharp-headed, strong, confident, centered. Hopefully, this was on purpose. Do your best to recall what you did at that time in your life to get yourself so centered.
ii. Find the activities that will clear your mind. Others find that walking, hiking, writing, reading, listening to edifying music or discussions, and in some cases accurate medications, or talking with a trusted friend or edifying therapist.
2. Prepare for the Worst: "Pack your wagon"
a. Being in this situation is similar to what the women of Nauvoo experienced. There is a possibility that you will be able to stay in your home in Nauvoo and build your promised land there, but you really need to be prepared for the worst. We call this preparation "packing your wagon". The idea of being kicked out of your home in the dead of cold winter is always a possibility for some of you women, no matter what you do right. Yes, a marriage can fall apart, "after all you can do", if the decisions of someone else leave you "out in the cold".
b. Be warned or informed that there is really no way to get through this experience without experiencing the grief cycle over and over and over again (see my lesson from last time). In other words, you should experience a cycle of feelings; hope/denial, bargaining/thinking, anger, sadness, and resignation.
c. Things that go in the wagon:
i. Confidence - nurture the awareness that you have within you the ability to do hard things. Women throughout all of history have done things much harder than they ever dreamed they could do.
ii. Courage - quash all fears that what will be coming before you is too scary for you. You are woman. You are strong. You are powerful. It might be your greatest challenge, but you can handle it!
iii. Trust in the Resilience of Children - remember the history of what children have been through and how they have used those difficult experiences to become strong: death of loved ones, freezing conditions, insufficient food, physical abuse, etc. The parenting philosophies of the 80's helped us become more sensitive, but much of the "entitlement mentality" of the modern day is the result of us forgetting that kids can handle hard things. I recognize that it is the deepest instinct of a mother to "nurture" her children… as encouraged by the Proclamation on the family, and watching them experience pain is quite the opposite of being nurturing, but think back again to the experience of the Pioneer women of Nauvoo. I believe one of the things the women of that time did with their children, which is typically different from the women of the modern day, is that instead of apologizing to their children, "I am sorry I put us in this situation where we have to cross the plains in the cold. I am sorry I have a testimony and so I put you in this difficult situation." Instead, a woman decides that the man she is in a relationship with is breaking the values system too much. If she, after a great deal of agonizing in both heart and mind, comes to the conclusion that it is best for her to move on, I strongly encourage her to send a message of confidence and courage to her children. "I know this will be difficult, but we can do it." "There is a good reason that we are taking a more difficult journey, there is a good reason we are standing for truth and goodness, and although it may be hard and scary, we are strong and brave and we can do it!"
iv. Tempered Pride - I do see times when the difficult decision a woman has to make in these situations is excessively influenced by what other people will think. I encourage each to consult with wise friends and family, but wise friends and family are rarely judgmental about the decisions we make. Please do not be swayed by the opinions and perspective of the unwise, judgmental associates (I hesitate to call them friends) in your life.
v. Get Legal Advice - perhaps start casually, with internet searches and inquiries. Tell someone your situation (be honest and thorough so the advice you get is accurate). Take your time with this process if you can. Don't be secretive about this (unless you fear being abused). Don't be manipulative either. Just gradually gather information so you can make an educated decision. Separation and divorce should not be spontaneous emotional decisions.
vi. Begin Learning About Ways to Provide Yourself with an Income… just in case. Don't underestimate your value in the income world. Employers often value people who are dedicated to hard work, more than someone with formal education.
vii. Rebuild Your Foundation on Your Higher Power - many women, while in marriage, build their emotional foundation on the man they are married to. When this foundation cracks, crumbles or tilts, we need to remember, "Do not rely upon the arm of flesh." And, "If any of you labor and are heavy laden, come unto me..." not unto your spouse. Having your foundation built upon your Higher Power will increase your emotional stability and will increase the accuracy of your words and your actions. It will decrease any disappointment you will have in yourself.
3. "Hope for the Best"
a. Hope with Caution - I don't spend a lot of time on this topic, because in my experience, women are natural "hopers". Almost all women I know accidentally hope. To be warned, hope sets your heart up to be hurt. Hurt, due to disappointment, creates pain. Pain often comes out in undignified behavior. It never makes things better when you lose your dignity. It usually makes you feel worse at the end of the day. You have enough pain without adding your own misbehaviors to the mix.
b. Hope in the Right Foundation - to avoid this, make sure you trust and rely on God more than you trust and rely on the man who you are in a relationship with. It is recommended that at least once every day you reconnect with your Higher Power. Get direction… Work on the marriage, or withdraw from the marriage. It might take time to get this clarity, especially if you are new to this connection. Be stable and courteous either way.
c. Miracles Can Happen - on a positive note, sometimes people come to me and ask, "What are the chances that this marriage can be fixed?" My response is that it does not depend on statistics or chances. In the kind of work I do, helping families grow together after painful experiences, I have the opportunity to see many miracles. I often see not only "healings" of relationships, but more than once I have seen a marriage "raised from the dead". It has been my experience that there exists one powerful entity in the universe that is very dedicated to helping couples and families overcome major pain. But it takes both people to do their own work to help with that process. Sadly, if one of the two does not do their part, it doesn't matter how much the other, more willing participant does, the relationship can die if just one person lets it. So, if both of you can have hope in healing and in experiencing a new, born again, relationship.
Read Maurice Harker’s “I’m Not Okay, You’re Not Okay, and That’s Okay” for more about the ideas behind healing marriages on the verge of death.
He married his wife, Nanette, shortly after graduation. At that time he became the adoptive father of his then 3 year old son, Nikolas, who had been born to his wife in a previous marriage.
Maurice spent three years working at Decker Lake Youth Center, Salt Lake City’s maximum security facility for teen-agers. He went on to work for the State of Utah as an Independent Living Specialist helping youth who had been in foster care to transition into adult living. Maurice teamed up with his wife to run a group home for girls with Utah Youth Village for a year, followed by a few years working in treatment foster care.
As he was finishing his Professional Counseling Master’s Degree program at the University of Utah, he took an internship counseling position at Davis Counseling Center in Farmington, Utah. Upon graduation he also started working as a counselor at LDS Family Services in Farmington, Utah. His daughter, Syrena, was adopted during graduate school.
In May of 2005, Maurice opened the private counseling agency Life Changing Services, while still working part time at LDS Family Services, primarily as the Pre-Mission Evaluation Specialist for northern Utah.
In September of 2005, Sons of Helaman was created due to the influx of young men struggling with sexual addiction issues. The development and expansion of this program has been a major focus since then. In his ongoing private practice at Life Changing Services, Maurice specializes in marriage therapy (especially if sexual misbehaviors are part of the problem). He trains adult men to overcome sexual addictions. He works to help heal the wives of sexual addicts. He works with individuals fighting anxiety and depression issues.
He runs another program called The W-O-R-T-H Group: Women of Rebirth, Therapeutic Healing: designed to help women work through difficult issues relating to any form of abuse in their marriages. He still sees clients for various issues once a week at LDS Family Services in Centerville, Utah.
Memoirs of an LDS Therapist