QUESTION: I have a family member who is a Jw. He converted when he was very young. He met a very nice girl who was 8 yrs older than him. He was head over heels for her, and would have done just about anything she asked of him. She seemed nice enough, and they seemed happy, so all was well at first. During the marriage we saw him grow increasing unhappy. I cannot attribute his misery to the religion alone. She was older, and was very controlling and had concerning mental/behavioral issues, as did her family members. He never goes against her wishes for fear she will lash out at him or their children. The all walk on egg shells around her. Her sister had a nervous breakdown, and she is showing similar symptoms. She refuses medical help and opts for "homeopathic" help, which never seems to help her in any way. He feels trapped. He is not the most assertive guy, so I do not think he will confront her. Any suggestions? Thank you for listening.
ANSWER: Hello and thanks for writing!
That is so very loving of you to reach out and want to help your family member who seems to be going through a lot.
Let me first say, that being a Jehovah's Witness is the best thing he could have ever done, because Jehovah God is real, and he gives real inner peace and joy to his faithful servants. (Phil 4:6,7) When a person serves Jehovah the way that is acceptable to Him and does not lean upon their own understanding, (Prov. 3:5,6)life even with trials can be extremely happy.
But we know that we live in critical times hard to deal with, (2 Tim 3:1) and things won't always be a walk in the park.
You didn't mention if his wife was a JW as well. I will assume that she is...So the only thing that I can think of is that somewhere down the line, she stopped applying Bible principles in her life and in their marriage and if she suffers from mental illness that may be the reason why. And also why he's becoming unhappy, because if they were happy at first, then something had to happen to change that, and it's most likely the reason for their problems, the age difference really doesn't matter, my grandmother was 11 years older than my grandfather and they got along just fine.
We as Jehovah's Witnesses in no way feel that going to a doctor for help is wrong. (Matt 9:12) If she doesn't want to go to a doctor that's a personal choice on her part.
Now again, assuming she is a Witness, then maybe a family intervention would be good for her. And the Elders at their local congregation could be a good source of encouragement for her to realize that she needs more help then what she's doing now.
She may be upset and mad at first but in the long run it's for her own well being as well the children and her husband,(your family member) that she realize this, the best thing is to be honest, but also loving and caring, not playing the blame game, but letting her know that she is loved but needs some more help.
Hebrews 12:11 "True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness"
Most times people who have mental illness do not realize their behavior is different or that things are as bad as they are. And if they do, they don't know how to control it.
If she is a Witness, appeal to her love for Jehovah, and in pleasing God, because her love for God will cause her to want to do what is right before Him, and in turn she'll want to do what is right in regards to her family and herself. We know that in marriage, the husband is the head of the wife, in a loving manner (1 Cor. 11:3). Life is a precious gift from our loving creator Jehovah, and we should want to do all in our power to care for that precious gift that his son Jesus died for (John 3:16). As long as it does not go against Jehovah God's Bible principles as laid out in the Bible.
Make sure she knows that if she seeks help it will mean that she appreciates and respects the gift of life that Jesus gave up just for us. Help her to see the need to be as healthy as she can be and if that means going to a doctor and getting medication then so be it. Sometimes people get use to being miserable, I know that sounds silly but it's true. Appeal to the times when she was happy, what was going on in her life then, that is not happening now? She has to see the difference, from before and now.
James 5:13, 14 "Is there anyone sick among YOU? Let him call the older men of the congregation to [him], and let them pray over him, greasing [him] with oil in the name of Jehovah. 15 And the prayer of faith will make the indisposed one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, it will be forgiven him."
Now let me say here, that the Elders are not doctors in the case of mental illness or otherwise, but they can give her wise scriptural counsel that may help her see the need to go to a doctor for more help. Also your family member, (her husband) probably needs that spiritual help as well to be able to continue coping with the situation, because it's not easy to have to walk on egg shells, I know what that's like and you are afraid to say ANYTHING because even the most well meant things are taken the wrong way and things just blow up and get out of hand, and you're left wondering what you did or said wrong.
But reasoning from the Scriptures is very helpful and the Elders can do that with them both, together, or separately. I don't know how bad things are getting, but your family member needs to take this mental illness seriously and seek help from the elders for spiritual food, and get her to a doctor as soon as possible, love doesn't heal mental illness, he can love her and do whatever she tells him to do, but if she has mental illness, that isn't going to work, he'll just be miserable, he needs to take steps to get her the help she needs now.
Here's a short helpful article about Mental Illness...
Let me know if I can be of any more assistance....
Thanks for writing and I'm sorry things are like they are, and I hope you can let me know how things go for them, please? May Jehovah bless your efforts and your family members in this trying time.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you for your quick response. Yes, she is a devout Jehovah Witnesses, as is her family. She persuaded "Frank" to covert at the age of 22. He has had no inner peace or happiness for some time. We offer suggestions to him, but he just shrugs his shoulders. He is a beaten man. She makes life miserable for her whole family. We dare not offer advice or suggestions to her for she has no respect for our side of the family. She views us as "worldly", therefore we are the enemy. She is very paranoid, and thinks the world is "out out to get her". She isolates her children with no outside communication other than their meetings. One of the children said "We look like the perfect little family" at our meetings. Is there a way I can contact their elders at their church. I am not sure how to go about that. She needs medication. She is slowly destroying her family.
Hi thanks for explaining more fully.
If she is a Jehovah's Witness, and again, they were happy at one time, it's not the religion that is the problem, our religion brings us happiness as well as our children. It's all about a person's love for God, if they don't love God and fear him, then Satan will make sure they feel like they are missing out on something. Just like Eve thought she was missing out on something and so she ate of the fruit. (Gen. 3:6) But was she? No, not all. It's all in how a person perceives things.
It's her illness. And you said "Frank" was at one time happy, it's just now things are bad. And she needs help fast because no one should have to live that way.
First I think you should talk to 'Frank' in private and let him know your concerns and the children's concerns. There really is no 'perfect little family' anywhere. But dealing with mental illness makes life miserable.
You can either go to the Kingdom Hall on their meeting night and go up to one of the Brothers that's behind the literature counter and ask to speak to an Elder. You will not be able to tell who is an elder and who is not just by looking around. Pull him to the side and ask him if you can speak to him about something very important. I would also let "Frank" know what you are planning to do as well, it's important that you both be on the same page.
Or you could look up the Kingdom Hall they attend and call it early on a meeting night, if the meeting starts at 7 pm, call at 6:45 pm and get a name and let them know you'd like to speak to an elder. You don't want to spread their business around, because that will not make for good relations.
Being "Worldly" is not the enemy as you may think. By isolating the children. Do you mean they watch who they associate with? or do you mean all the children really does is go to meetings and do you know that for sure?
Because as JW's we are admonished to be balanced, so while watching our kids association, we also want them to be with others who have the same goals and out look in life. To be happy. Many kids think they are missing out on something because a lot of children are free to do whatever they want these days, with little guidance, and many times end up in trouble later, with regrets. This world is evil and kids sometimes don't see the big picture, and is why they should be told of why they can't do this or that.
As I said her mental illness seems to be the culprit of causing her entire family misery. That would be the case even if she was not a JW. Everyone would be miserable regardless because mental illness is just that, it doesn't pick and choose, it's a brain dysfunction, when our brains do not work right, there is no way we can live a balanced life, Witness or no Witness.
A lot of mental illness people can put on a show for a while, like at a meeting, at the store, etc, but then when they are home, they can't control it. I've been around many mentally ill people, ones who were not Jehovah's Witnesses and ones who were, and in both cases, the results were the same, unhappy family life. But since she's a JW, as I mentioned before, appeal to her love of Jehovah, because that's our motivation, GOD!
If she and Frank feel that you are opposed to their faith, then they will automatically have up the defense mode. When mental illness is not an issue, our faith makes us want to improve on ourselves, in how we live and how we treat others. It's all positive, as God is light, nothing about him is darkness.
1 John 1:5 "And this is the message which we have heard from him and are announcing to YOU, that God is light and there is no darkness at all in union with him."
I have people in my family who are not Witnesses and we get along just fine. Why? Because they respect my faith, and they don't try to force me or my children to celebrate things that I don't want to or go behind my back in secret and give my kids xmas gifts, etc. They respect that I won't be over for Christmas, or Thanksgiving. Not because I think they are the enemy, or that I think I'm better, but because I want to please my God. I won't get into all that now, but it all boils down to respect for one another on BOTH sides. You're not saving the children by making them think they are missing out on something. It just makes way for contentions...you can't control them or their lives, (not saying that you are) so the best one can do is respect each other's decisions.
You may feel hurt because you may feel that this older controlling woman has taken Frank away from you, he doesn't do the things he use to do, so he must be miserable, but that's not always the case, and you may not understand that. But you have to let him go his way and live how he wants to, that's aside from the mental illness part though. It's fine to step in and help, like in this case with mental illness, but other then that, the best thing to do is love him and respect his/their wishes.
Step 1: Talk to Frank
Step 2: Talk to Elders
Step 3: Duck....
Duck, you say? Things may be pretty hostile for a while, but the main thing is to get help for her sickness, show that you truly care and don't make it be about JW religion,let them know it's about the well being of the whole family.
Does that make sense?
Write any time, please....