helping people connect & discover true intimacy

Wanted: A Father's Attention

Bill and Susan (not their real names) came to see me to work through their fear of intimacy. Bill grew up with a father who never listened. Whenever Bill tried to talk to his father, he would just walk away. He wanted his father's attention and never got it. Bill felt his father didn't love him.

Recently, Bill began a conversation with Susan. She didn't like where the discussion was headed (she hated conflict), so she walked away. As Bill recalled this incident, it was as if a switch had been flipped. Bill went ballistic. He followed Susan up to their bedroom to continue the fight. In order to keep the argument from their kids, they went into a closet. Before long, they found themselves locked in an embrace. They were so angry, they had begun wrestling!

They didn't hurt each other, but suddenly Bill was struck by a revelation. When Susan walked away from the argument, Bill perceived that act as a rejection of him. It tapped into those long buried hurts from his father's rejection. He just couldn't stand it when anyone, especially Susan, didn't pay attention to him.

Bill had been depending on his wife to make up for the pain his father caused. So when they disagreed, it was incredibly important to Bill that Susan make-up with him. That desire drove Bill to wrestle Susan that day. He was trying to force Susan to pay attention to him when in actuality he was pushing her away emotionally.

The extreme need for Susan's attention brought Bill up short. How could he wrestle his own wife? Bill says he melted when the Lord reminded him that He was the one who could heal the wounds, not Susan. This was the breakthrough Bill needed.

Bill shifted his dependency from his wife to the Lord. Where he had been looking to Susan to fix his hurt, he allowed Christ to fix it—the right way. This one change in thinking actually changed the whole dynamic of their intimacy.

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