Have you ever (be honest) thought about being married to another person, having some different children, and being a different person? Perhaps you already are involved in an imaginary relationship. Just perhaps.
In all my years of teaching counseling and doing counseling I have worked with many couples who came seeking marriage counseling. I was able to help some of them and unable to help others. Many of those who I was unable to help really didn’t want to be helped; they were going through the motions. (“Of course, we’ve gone for counseling, but it just didn’t work”). However, some of those who I was unable to help really wanted to be reconciled but were simply stuck. Whatever I tried didn’t work; they just couldn’t seem to find common ground. They couldn’t “see” things the same way in many important areas.
Recently I had the opportunity to work with a mom, a dad, and several of their children. This was a blended family. Each parent had been married before. (I have a signed release so I can share their story with key facts changed).
The husband had history of aggression, violence, adultery, and drug and alcohol use during his first marriage. His first wife shared a similar history. Eventually they broke up and divorced. In the midst of the aftermath of the disaster God had demonstrated his grace and rescued him from destruction. He had since slowly put his life together as he sought to follow the Lord.
The wife had been the victim of abuse throughout her first marriage. She had left and divorced her first husband to protect her children and herself from her husband. To say that she was sensitive to the slightest hint of abuse would be an understatement.
Both had been single for several years when the met and married. Each worked hard not to bring the damage of their past relationships into this new marriage. Each also brought several children into the relationship. The family came to me because they wanted to make sure that there “wasn’t anything there.”
I worked with the mom first. While many things in her marriage were going well, she shared that she was scared of her husband and that she wasn’t sure how long their relationship was going to last. She was, after all, responsible for caring for her children and herself. I got the impression that the relationship was on shaky ground.
I also had the opportunity to work with two of the children, one of his, and one of hers. One was a teen, and the other was a young adult. When I spoke with them they both reported that the two sets of children had blended beautifully. His kids loved her kids and her kids loved his kids. They were “family.” Both children reported how much they loved the fact that their parents had found someone special. His child reported that all of his kids all loved their father’s new wife. She was wonderful and they were so blessed to have her in their lives. The mother’s child reported how pleased she and all of her mother’s children were with her mom’s new husband. They considered him to be a positive addition to the family. Neither mentioned any tension between their parents, or any violence or abuse taking place in their parent’s relationship.
After hearing what the mother had said and hearing what the children had said, I was interested in meeting the father/husband who evoked such different reactions. How could this man engender such different reactions in his wife and his/her children?
He was a normal guy. He spoke with sadness and regret of the damage that he had caused in his first marriage, to his first wife and to his children. He spoke of how much he loved his current wife and what a blessing she was to him and to his children. He didn’t mention any tension between him and his wife. He wrestled with the things that guys wrestle with, but seemed a normal, relatively healthy man. He mentioned sometimes wrestling with anger, but nothing excessive. He hoped that would disappear after the deliverance. From my perspective his wife’s fears made no sense. No one else could see what she was seeing.
As I was pondering this apparent contradiction I remembered one important piece of her deliverance. During the last part of her deliverance when we went “into her room” we encountered a demon that looked exactly like her husband. More than that, when she demanded its name it gave her her husband’s name. What was this? This was the “husband” that she saw every day. This was the one to whom she reacted. This was who and what she thought her husband was, as viewed through a demonic lens. It was to this demon that she responded every day. We cast it out.
While I have no clear evidence that this demon was what was causing the problem between this woman and her husband, what I do know from having done well over 1000 deliverances in my career, is that demonic spirits have the ability to influence our perceptions of reality. Those who are demonized view the world through demonically colored lenses.
May I suggest that perhaps this woman’s reality was filtered, not only through her past experiences, but also through the lens of this demon. Telling herself that her husband was not her first husband, that he loved her, and that he would never hurt her he didn’t change anything because demonization takes us to a place that is beyond reason. We can’t talk our way out of this perception, nor will it yield to reason.
I made me wonder how many of us who are having marital problems are wrestling with partners who don’t really exist. How many of our conflicts with children or other family members are influenced by demonic spirits who are live for the sole purpose of destroying our relationships. How many of us wrestle with imaginary spouses and children (or even our own distorted self-image)? How many of us view the world through demonically influenced lenses? I know that it has happened to me. How about you?