My wife has to put up with a lot when it comes to her husband. (Honestly, I think most wives do.). For more than too many years, she had to deal with a workaholic, social alcoholic of a husband who would come home on the weekends, demand the remote, and ask her to quiet the kids down because daddy had a headache and just wanted to relax.
At the time, three words defined my life: anger, bitterness, and resentment. And because I didn’t know why I always felt that way or what to do with those feelings, I tried to drown them in drinks and “providing for my family”, an excuse many men love to use as a justification of their decisions.
Even though I said all the right things to my wife and friends (sometimes), I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that something was very wrong with my life.
At a low point in my life, that’s when I first learned about “the father wound.” As I define it in my book, “the father wound is something a father has said or done (or hasn’t said or done) that’s left a lasting, negative effect on a child.” I learned about this wound through my friends and the books of Gordon Dalbey and John Eldredge.
I suddenly realized that my father wound, inflicted on me when I was eleven years old and my dad left our family via suicide, had led to that bitterness, anger, and resentment.
As soon as I saw how pervasive my wound was, I thought, everyone should know about this. Eventually, that led to the filming of The Father Effect documentary and, a few years later, the release of the book, The Father Effect: Hope and Healing from a Dad’s Absence. (Most people write the book first and then make the film. Not me. I'm now a rebel with a cause.)
My life began an incredible transformation after that. I am not the same man, husband, or father I was before. Coming to understand the depth of my father wound and experiencing the forgiveness I later found for my father freed me from needing to numb those hurt feelings through drinking or overworking.
When I began that life-changing journey, I asked my wife, “Is there any regret you have?”
She said, “The only regret I have is that the John Finch I know today is not the John Finch I knew for the first fourteen years of our marriage.”
Knowing what I know now, I so wish someone would have told me about the father wound when I was a young man. I truly believe it would have saved me—as well as my wife and daughters—from a lot of heartache and trouble.
That’s one of the many reasons I wrote The Father Effect: to help college-aged men and women become aware of a deep psychological and emotional issue that may be affecting them in ways they don’t even notice. I hope they will read this book, or be given a copy of this book, so that their journey toward father forgiveness can begin a lot sooner than mine did.
Even though I wouldn’t wish them on anyone else, in hindsight, I am appreciative of the often self-inflicted trials I had to endure. They taught me alot about myself and about many things I needed to change.
And I am beyond grateful for the wife whom I was fortunate enough to marry and who stood by idiotic me for fourteen years. I am one lucky dude.
I'm not perfect by any means, and I still screw up all the time, but I know she has a little less to put up with now than she used to.
John Finch is the author of The Father Effect: Hope and Healing from a Dad’s Absence and creator and storyteller of The Father Effect Movie.