Well, we had quite a challenging week at leslievernick.com. Our blog didn’t post correctly last Wednesday and therefore your responses weren’t showing up. Then we discovered other problems with people trying to access our CONQUER membership site. After two days of searching, we found that our hosting site had installed a plug-in that negatively affected my website. The website was down all weekend, but I had a great tech team on it and they worked tirelessly to restore it. I really appreciate all their hard work, especially on a holiday weekend. Thank you, Martha, Cassandra, Jael and Howard.
If you posted a comment to our blog on Men being victims of Domestic Abuse it probably didn’t post and was lost somewhere during the transfer of my entire website to a new hosting site. However, I would encourage you to take a moment to go back and repost what you said in your comments. It’s that important of a topic.
And, when you think of it, pray for me. I am feeling way overwhelmed and stressed and I don’t like that feeling. I guess moving and trying to stay on top of everything has caught up with me and I am not on top of things, and some things are falling through the cracks. We also decided to do some remodeling of our house before we have company in March, which has everything torn due to our floors and countertops being replaced. I’ve been living in my bedroom for 8 days and it’s starting to get to me. Plus, it poured rain all weekend – in the desert of Arizona. Am I whining? A little bit, but I want to keep it real sisters. How can you pray for me if you don’t know a little bit of what is going on?
Todays’ Question: After 20 years of financial, spiritual, verbal and emotional abuse by my husband, one of my pastors woke me up to the fact that the way I was living was not the way a professing Christian man who served on the worship team was to treat me and our 5 kids. In the following 3 1/2 years my church stood behind me by confronting him, removing him from the worship team, and supporting me. We engaged in couples counseling with 2 different psychologists, 2 pastors and I was in a group with 2 other ladies who had husbands with mental illnesses causing abusive behavior at times. Nothing impacted him to look at himself and the abuse was worse during those 3 years.
This fall I wrote an appeal to the elders asking for intervention after a particularly hard week. Since husband was on worship team he had to agree to meet. I met with our counselor and told him I was done with couples counseling, as it was damaging me and not helpful. My husband’s behavior was confronted by the elders and he lied, gas lighted, blame shifted etc.
They asked us for a report from our psychologist who wrote the behaviors were abusive, saying he had times of altered reality affecting his perception of events and recommended individual sessions for him. The elders removed him from the team, rebuked him in love, confronted his behavior, supported my physical boundary (no sex) and appealed to him to meet with 2 of them for accountability.
We have met every other week with a group of 3 elders and 2 women of my choosing, and are going through a study called “solving marriage conflict” by Gospel Way. The men are spirit led and since my husband respects them so that they are able to push hard. A month ago, all of a sudden, he seemed to “get it.”
He humbled himself, repented and began immediately to make amends. He is learning and continues to be in individual counseling and with his 2 men accountability partners.
My problem now is that I feel numb, and frankly do not feel love for him. I am committed to staying married; my kids have said they prefer that. He has repented in front of them. I believe I have forgiven him, now the reconciliation process is possible and I'm not sure I want that. I’m not sure why I wouldn't want that after all this.
|The issues are his lack of respect for my boundaries…not to smother me with hugs and kisses and to stop being critical and create issues where there are none and still being mean when talking to our middle child. He doesn't show the same attitudes and behaviors towards the other kids.
These are some areas that I feel are still unhealthy and cause me anxiety and prevent me from healing and feeling close to him since these are very regular occurrences. How often should these unhealthy occurrences happen and what should I expect from him? I just don't know how to shake this gut feeling that it's just not right. On the other hand, I struggle with the fact that he has made much progress and know he has put forth effort enough to change in the past.
Please help me be able to clarify if this behavior is okay.
Answer: First I want to applaud your church for their leadership, their care, and for faithfully standing beside you and your husband for many years.
That is rare.
You mention that it’s only been a month since your husband had this wake-up time of repentance and that as a result, he immediately began to make amends to those he has hurt. I assume that has been with you as well.
The problem now is that your feelings are numb and cold towards him, you’re not real excited and you don’t feel like jumping up and down for joy just yet even though you think you have forgiven him.
You are in exactly the right place, which is that you don’t trust him yet. You’ve forgiven him, it seems like he is willing to do the work of repairing the damage, but you are in a wait and see mode to see if he will keep his word, respond to constructive feedback and self-correct when he falls into old unhealthy destructive patterns.
A destructive person never does a complete 180 turn around in every area of his or her life in a month’s time. That would be unrealistic. Recovering from blindness often occurs in stages, just like the blind man who Jesus healed. Remember when he said, “I see men like trees walking” (Mark 8:24). He didn’t see clearly yet, but it was coming.
In the same way, your husband isn’t clearly seeing all he has done to harm you and your children, he’s only at the beginning of his journey. Therefore, he will still engage in behaviors or attitudes that you consider “old habits” or “old history” which he hasn’t begun to recognize as destructive yet.
Right now you don't know what will happen long term. You long to see some new history that God is at work in his life and that his change will continue. During this early phase of change, I want you to pay attention to two primary areas. The first area is do you see greater humility? We can’t see humility itself but we can see its fruit. When someone is humble we see a teachable spirit, a willingness to be wrong, and gratitude for forgiveness and second chances. Are you seeing those fruits in his life?
The second area I want you to pay attention to is an offshoot of humility. As you interact with him do you see him open (as opposed to defensive) to your and other people’s constructive feedback? For example, when you say to him, “I don’t like you coming at me all lovey-dovey right now. It feels yucky for me and I want you to stop.” Does he hear you? Is he open to stopping his behavior? Does he respect your feelings that you are not at a place right now to receive his affection? It might feel confusing for him because he’s trying to express love or affection and he doesn’t “see” that as harmful or wrong. And it’s not.
Where the old destructive pattern is repeating is that he’s not hearing you or respecting your wishes that he not does it to you right now. That is the repeat pattern that he needs to see. In his mind, if it feels good for him, it must feel good for you. Therefore, part of his new seeing has to include seeing you as a separate person who does not always like what he likes or feels what he feels or wants what he wants.
Here’s another example. How does he handle your feedback when you say to him, “I notice that you are speaking harshly to our middle child when you don’t talk that way to the other kids? What’s going on with you?” Does he stop and reflect? Or does he minimize your feedback or worse, ignore it?
If he truly wants to change, he is going to have to come to a place where he sees you as his greatest helper in the change God wants to make in him. Not that you are going to do it for him. You can’t. But you are going to function as a mirror for his blind spots, the things he doesn’t see or can’t see just yet. When a husband and wife can do this for one another in a spirit of humility and love, the marriage thrives and each person grows stronger and more godly. When one person refuses to hear, or listen to the feedback of the other, the marriage relationship deteriorates and old patterns repeat over and over.
The biggest mistake we make with our mistakes is that we don’t learn from them. When we are not open to feedback, we can’t learn and self-correct (Click To Tweet).
Therefore, if you see your husband humbly learning and receiving feedback, and reflecting on that feedback and correcting his mistakes, then be encouraged change is continuing. If you see defensiveness, blame shifting, an unwillingness to listen to instruction or counsel from his mentors or feedback from you, then understanding whatever is happening, it is not enough to repair a damaged marriage.
Friend, what things have you looked for or seen that has helped you have greater confidence in the change process?