As a professional Christian counselor for more than 20 years, I believe insecurity is the No. 1 struggle of both men and women in America. No one is immune. Here's how a typical scenario plays out for my clients:
"Honey, I just saw on social media that Jim got a promotion!" Anne says. "Isn't that fantastic? This is an answer to prayer!"
"Why do you care so much about Jim's promotion?" Gary scoffs.
"Well, Carol and I have been praying about this for a while," Anne says. "Jim has been working diligently, and it looks like his hard work finally paid off. This will make things much easier for them."
"Yeah. Sorry I don't have anything like that to offer you. Maybe you should just find someone like Jim," Gary murmurs.
"What?" Anne asks. "What just happened? Why can't I share the successes of someone else without you feeling belittled? I'm so tired of this!"
"Just forget it, Anne." Gary slams the door as he retreats to his basement workshop.
They don't speak the rest of the day.
Insecurity is common
Gary's response may seem unreasonable, but it's incredibly common. Gary feels threatened by the successes of others. It's not that he doesn't want to share in their celebration; it's that he can't. Insecurities have stolen that pleasure. Perhaps insecurities have robbed you and your marriage, too.
We live in a competitive culture, and we all wrestle with comparisons. Many of us struggle with the feeling that we don't measure up, that we're not good enough. If insecurity can affect us significantly on an individual level, it can also have an impact on our marriage. Insecurities can even become so out of control that they trigger toxic behaviors.
You may be enduring serious marital challenges resulting from the deep-seated insecurities of your spouse. If you can identify addiction or a controlling and dangerous jealousy in your husband or wife, then he or she will likely need assistance to break free from the patterns that keep him or her stuck. Don't hesitate to involve law enforcement and professional counseling if your situation is characterized by violence.
Or you may be able to work through your insecurities by becoming more self-aware and seeking help. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Confront lies born from insecurity
If your husband struggles with self-worth like Anne's did, reassure him. Let your husband (this is equally likely to be the wife) know you want the marriage to work and encourage him to begin a journey toward healing. Be aware of his sensitivity to criticism and his need for gentle validation and affirmation. Partner with him in this journey, but also remember that this is his journey. Volunteer to join him in a discussion with a trusted pastor or counselor, but he will have to take the lead. Pieces of his past have left him vulnerable to insecurities, and you will not be able to heal his struggle. Provide support and encouragement along the way.
If you struggle with self-worth, begin your journey to relinquish your insecurities. You likely have negative thoughts like: I'm not good enough. I'm such a failure. I'm fat. I'm worthless. You may also have negative thoughts about your spouse like: He's probably tired of being with me or I don't deserve her. These thoughts rob you of joy and damage your marriage.
Everyone has an internal dialogue that no one else hears. If you rehearse and repeat thoughts that you're not good enough, you'll feel anxiety, anger, jealousy or depression. Your destructive thoughts, combined with these negative emotions, will provoke harmful responses and behaviors, inadvertently hurting your spouse and marriage.
Believe God's truth about self-worth
To break free from insecurities, address your destructive internal dialogue. Here are some practical tips:
- Write out your most familiar negative thoughts. Most people have three to five on autoplay. Remember, insecurities are born out of destructive thoughts. Seeing these written out instead of just keeping them in your head is a powerful way to prepare you for freedom.
- Have an honest conversation with yourself. Consider how destructive thoughts have affected your emotions. Examine how personal insecurities have trickled into your marriage.
- Challenge destructive thoughts in light of scriptural truth. Reject and correct false charges against yourself, remembering that God alone defines you. Write out a scriptural truth beside each negative thought you had written in step No. 1.
- Fight against your negative thoughts (which will continue to harass you in the beginning of this process). Work to abolish false beliefs by meditating on the truth in God's Word. Allow your brain to heal as you acknowledge that you are God's child (Romans 8:14), you are chosen (Ephesians 1:4), you are holy and blameless in His sight (Colossians 1:22), you are forgiven (1 John 1:9). Allow God to rescue you from the oppression of your false beliefs. Allow His to be the solitary voice that defines you. Let Him alone measure your significance.
- Embrace your weaknesses while also acknowledging the gifts God has given you to fulfill His purpose in your life.
The good news? Much like a destructive belief, a healed identity will spread into every area of your life and marriage. Imagine what your marriage would be like void of doubts, comparisons and the dark cloud of inadequacy.Donna Gibbs is a licensed professional counselor supervisor and the author of Silencing Insecurity: Believing God's truth about you.
A variety of marital issues can lead to challenges or even hopelessness for one or both spouses in a marriage. Gaining a sense of hope and direction often requires understanding the underlying issues and relationship patterns which may have led to the crisis. Reach out to well-trained helpers even if you are the only person in the marriage willing to take action at this time. We can guide you as you seek a referral and take your first steps toward recovery. You can contact us Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Mountain time) at: 855-771-HELP (4357) or