If my dog gets out of the backyard, she takes off. The street is busy, but she doesn’t know its danger. My temptation when she runs is to chase her. However, if I chase her she will keep running. Why shouldn’t she? She is getting what she wants—to go where she wants to go and to have me go with her. It’s the best of both worlds for her. It’s horrible for me. Not only is she running toward danger, but I’m having to expend the energy to go after her. She is disobeying, but I am suffering.
When my dog gets out of the backyard, I have to do the counter-intuitive thing. I have to go the other way. As she runs away from the backyard, I go to it. And I call her as I go. My action forces a choice. She has to choose—me or where she wants to go. She doesn’t get both. She has made the decision to run; now she must make the decision to keep going or come with me.
Funny thing—when I chase my dog she keeps running, but when I go away from my dog she comes back. (See: 5 Keys to Save Your Marriage)
What is true with dogs is often true with husbands.
Far too often when a husband runs from his responsibility, the wife chases him. Terrified of what she might lose she runs after him begging him to turn around. Ironically her actions can enable his behavior. Instead of experiencing the consequences of his decision, he is able to try freedom while keeping the comforts of home. Instead of being forced to make a decision, he can continue going the direction he is headed without any loss. (See: How to Stay Married in the Tough Times)
Instead of chasing a running husband, a wife should stop. She should set her boundaries. She should make it very clear who she is, where she is, and where she will be. She should communicate her desire for her husband, her desire to work on their marriage, but her refusal to chase after him. She should draw her lines in the sand and make it clear she will not cross them.
- She will not live with someone who is having intimate conversations with other people.
- She will not be married to someone who continues to sleep with other people.
- She is going to counseling with or without her spouse.
These and other boundaries should be communicated clearly. (See: Marry a Partner, Not a Child)
Standing one’s ground seems counter-intuitive when a spouse runs, and it never guarantees a positive outcome, however, it is a much wiser choice than chasing after someone. If you chase them, they will run. If you don’t chase them, they will be forced to decide what they want.
When my dog runs, I don’t chase her. Every time I turn the other way, she turns around and comes to me. But my dog is trained and loving, not every man is that way. However, some are. If he runs, don’t chase him.
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