Some time ago I counseled a church member who felt trapped in a cold, nonsupportive marriage to an alcoholic husband. She had come feeling hopeless, looking for comfort and suggestions. I tried to help her sort the options, hoping to open up some new ways of thinking about her problem.
"Do you think marriage counseling might help?" I asked.
"Oh no. My husband would never go," she answered.
"Have you thought about a trial separation?"
"I have no way to support myself, and we can't afford two homes."
"Have you ever been to an Al Anon meeting?" I pressed.
"I couldn't bear the embarrassment of going to a public meeting like that."
For every new avenue I tried to travel, she had a quick detour.
Years of living with emotional barrenness had made her rigid. Despair had become such a constant condition of her life that she could no longer see beyond the pain. Finally, she apologized for taking up my time and began to gather up her purse and her wet tissues. I felt so inadequate. I had been unable to give ...1