Overcoming Your Dark Side to Protect Your Marriage

We All Have A Dark Side

by: Saleama A. Ruvalcaba 

I really love to share the many flaws I have. It’s not an embarrassment to me because I am deeply flawed, and God gets the glory for my flawed life. We all have shortcomings. If we did not, we would have no need to rely on God. If we had it all together, the magnitude of God’s power would never be revealed. God has done amazing things in my life and my husbands’ life and I LOVE sharing His power with others.

Proverbs 13:10 “Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advise.”

I recently completed an outstanding book called Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, by Gary L. McIntosh and Samuel D. Rima. This book was both deeply disturbing, yet a profound revelation. The book is written to the church and ministry leaders. It highlights personal stories of public leaders who had humiliating falls from grace because of their unresolved dark side.

The book was a great reminder that we all posses a dark side in which we inherit through our upbringing, or from traumatic experiences. If our dark side remains unchecked we will eventually bring our dark side with us into our careers. If we have a public career, we face the dangers of public fallout and humiliation when we choose to ignore our dark side.

That’s Them – Not Me?

Have you ever sat watching the news wondering how a trusted public leader could fall so far?

Don’t be so quick to judge my friend.

In Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, one of the first stories in the book is about a young pastor. Pastor Tim had been pretty content serving his mid-size rural church. However, a call came from Los Angeles to pastor a church. The opportunity was a dream come true but Tim ignored the warnings inside his soul not to pursue it. He didn’t even discuss his true feelings with his wife. Instead he went forward with the interview process and eventually was hired.

A few weeks after the transition, Tim started to propose some changes – expensive changes. The beloved children’s pastor, Stacy, did not agree with Tim’s ideas. She never publicly disapproved his decision in order to respect his authority as senior pastor, but she did mention her disapproval in private. Well, in Tim’s mind her disagreement was a total blow to his ego.

He wouldn’t stand for it.

Instead of talking with Stacy to come to an amiable resolution to the new ideas, Tim devised a plan behind Stacy’s back to get rid of her. He met privately with the inner circle of elders and the executive pastor to put together a plan to get rid of Stacy.

To make a long story short, when the congregation got wind of the possible removal of the beloved children’s pastor, Stacy, everything backfired in Tim’s face. This event caused Tim to experience severe depression.

The book describes Tim’s dark side as acute insecurity resulting from paranoia that went unchecked for years.

Have you ever read the very disturbing upbringing of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton? The book shares extremely graphic details of their dysfunctional childhood. The book as well shares vivid details about the childhood of Evangelist Jim Bakker, from the infamous Praise The Lord Ministries.

The book also shares the dark side of Rev. Billy Graham and how because Rev. Graham was aware and dealt with his dark side he was never a VICTIM of his dark side. Rev. Graham passed away as a flawed human being, like the rest of us, yet he died with an impeccable reputation.

Psalm 15:7 “I will praise the LORD, who counsels me, even at night my heart instructs me.”

Your Dark Side and Your Marriage 

While reading this book it made me think about marriage. While this book has a central theme regarding church and ministry leadership, our dark side will also impact our marriage. The dark sides mentioned in this book are: paranoia, codependent, compulsive, narcissistic, and passive aggressive behavior. Remember these dark sides usually come from our upbringing or from a traumatic experience.

Early in my marriage I was paranoid, and I know for a fact it had everything to do with my upbringing.

I shared some of my upbringing in Your Unstable Emotions Will Ruin Your Marriage. Not having stability as a child and moving so often caused me to have trust issues. Living as the “new girl”, I eventually put up a wall and simply stopped trying to make friends. One day in seventh grade I remember a girl in class walked over to me to talk and asked a few questions. The entire time she was talking I kept wondering what she was up to. All through junior high I wondered why she started talking to me. I mean it couldn’t have been just a nice jester.

No, she was up to something I just knew it. We even went to high school together and I always had my eye on her!

As an adult when I started working, if I saw my boss talking to someone else, my immediate assumption told me they were talking about me in a negative way. They couldn’t be talking about the other ten co-workers in my office, or even just making small talk.

No, they were talking about me.

This type of paranoid behavior is not okay, and it did not simply go away. The many issues me and Omar faced early in our marriage had a lot to do with my lack of trust. Omar is a very affectionate person and I could not allow myself to accept his affection. I distinctly remember feeling that if I allowed myself to be vulnerable he might one day leave, and then I’d feel foolish for allowing myself to get close to him. So I put up barrier.

One evening Omar came home from a long day at work. He was happy to see me, and he wanted to sit and cuddle. I immediately pushed him away from me in anger.

I can still see the confused look on his face.

When I talk about physical intimacy in marriage and how it is a major component to a healthy godly marriage, our physical intimacy during that time was simply a formality. I was too paranoid to enjoy our time together.

So What Changed?

McIntosh and Rima make a very important point in their book. They say one of the biggest reasons Christians will fall from grace so often is because we blame everything on Satan. Yes, spiritual warfare is very REAL. I just wrote about it in my last post. But every bad behavior we exhibit is not the work of Satan. We take ourselves off the hook when we blame Satan for everything. We have a responsibility to search our inner soul.

We must act.

We must take steps to change our lives.

After I wrote You Unstable Emotions Will Ruin Your Marriage, a woman emailed me to let me know she made an appointment to see a Biblical counselor. This particular woman emails me regularly to let me know that her counseling sessions are going great and really helping her and her marriage.

Praise God!

This is exactly what we must do.

That is exactly what I had to do.

I had to take the fist step and acknowledge I have a dark side. It’s not “them.” It’s not everyone else. It’s not my husband – it’s me!

That is how my marriage changed. I took the first step. I admitted I had a problem. I sought God. I asked for His guidance. I went to Biblical counseling for a while as well. It has not been an easy process, but I can assure you Omar does not get pushed aside any longer. I can assure you Omar knows I love him. I no longer treat him like he’s my enemy. When we go to the store I grab his hand, so we can hold hands while walking. I no longer dread our intimate time together. We no longer have a bad marriage. We now have a wonderful marriage!

It was not an overnight change and I still have to work on taming my dark side every day. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I am a daily work in progress.

Psalm 18:1-2 “I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.”

Ladies, we all have a dark side. Your husband has one too, but today this is about you. You have one, and if not dealt with it can hinder your marriage. It can hinder Jesus Christ from being the center of your marriage. You are likely living with one of them; paranoia, passive aggressive, compulsiveness, narcissistic, codependency.

I would encourage you to take some time to research these dysfunctions. The point of this article is to help you understand that we all have a dark side, and when gone unchecked it will hurt you, your marriage, your children – and others.

Please do not ignore it.

Begin some research and seek God for His guidance in your life and marriage.

God is a good God. The home is the foundation for salvation – and God wants you to realize His glory in your life!

Saleama A. Ruvalcaba