Phantoms can be a difficult standard to measure our performance, appearances, and characters. They can also derail marriages.

During World War II, the American forces in France had a phantom army outfit — the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops.

They created a false impression of troops by staging their scenes carefully and using show-business theatrics to fool the Germans.

They created fake tanks and equipment to hide the real location of their troops.

Fighting Imaginary Phantoms

Many wives and husbands have these phantoms in their heads — mental images they believe they need to fight.

The phantoms are only visible to those who conjure them up. However, they appear real.

Phantoms are a standard that we cannot measure our performance, appearances, and characters.

Although having a goal is fine, a Phantom is a false representation of reality.

You have an image in your head of what you should do as a father, husband, or mother. This image may seem so perfect and idyllic that it’s almost impossible to achieve.

But, you still judge yourself by this Phantom every day! Your self-esteem will suffer if you don’t meet those standards.

Struggling Daily With Phantoms

The further away your phantoms from reality are, the more difficult it is to live in their shadows. This can also make it more difficult for the spouse to see and wonder why their mate is unhappy and dissatisfied. Phantoms can derail marriages.

Barbara, my wife, described her Phantom one day. She felt that she was not expected to be a mother and wife. Here’s a sample of her writing:

  • She is kind, patient, kind, and loving.
  • She is organized and has an outstanding balance between being flexible and disciplined.
  • Her home is always clean and tidy, and her children follow her every step of the way.
  • She is severe but lighthearted, submissive yet passive. She is always energetic and never gets tired.
  • She is always fresh and attractive, in jeans and a sweater working in the garden, or silk dresses and heels for dinner.
  • She is never lonely, sick, or discouraged.
  • She prays daily with God, walks with Him daily, and studies the Bible regularly. She isn’t afraid to share her faith with others.
  • She “prays with no end.” She prays for flat tires, lost keys, and lost teddy bears.
  • When her husband is late for dinner, she “gives thanks.”

Remember, phantoms can be illusions. They are illusions that we can’t recognize as such.

They can lead to insecurity and make you wonder if you are being realistic. Your mate might consider you a winner, even though you may feel like a loser.

My Phantom is as lofty as Barbara’s.

  • He gets up early and reads the Bible before praying. After that, he jogs for several seven minutes.
  • He presents a 15-minute devotional after breakfast with his family.
  • He arrives at work every morning 10 minutes earlier than usual, remembering to kiss and hug his wife.
  • He is patient with coworkers and is always happy with his job.
  • His desk is always clean and organized, and he feels wholly controlled.
  • He is punctual when arriving home and never refuses to play with his children.
  • He is an expert on politics, world events, and other critical social issues.
  • He is never discouraged and never gives up.
  • He plans romantic outings for himself and his wife all the time.
  • He can quote large portions of Scripture in one bound, has faith stronger than a locomotive, and is faster than a speeding bullet when solving family conflicts.

These phantoms ultimately lead to a heap of guilt. Here’s where a marriage relationship can help. Spend some time with your partner and describe your apparitions.

Ask your friend where the expectations came from. Discuss which expectations are realistic and which ones are unrealistic. Be able to defeat the phantoms within.

How to defeat the Phantom

Are you setting unrealistic goals for yourself?

Is it possible that your mate has a “phantom”?

What is the difference between healthy personal goals and unrealistic self-images?

Write down your version of the “phantom.” This can be shared with your spouse.

Make a list of new goals. Now, make them achievable and realistic. Then share them with your partner.


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