Good Morning to my Wonderful Blog Friends,

I’m getting ready to fly to Lynchburg, Virginia later on today to do a Tuesday evening webinar on Love Addiction, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship and Co-Dependency with Greg Jansen Ph.D, for the American Association of Christian Counselors. If you’re interested in attending, you can go to aacc.net at look for the webinar sign up for December 7th. It starts at 6pm and goes until 9pm. You can also watch it at a later date if that night is not good for you.

There is such a great need in the area of relational abuse from a solidly Christ-centered Biblical perspective. I’m going to be offering some exciting new things next year. First, I’m currently writing discussion questions to go along with my book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. They can be used in a small group, a support group, or a therapeutic group to help people recognize destructive patterns in their relationships and heal. I also hope to include short video segments that will compliment each chapter of the book so that the leader will have resources to facilitate the discussion.

In addition, I’m working to develop a Coach the Counselor training program for pastors, lay counselors as well as professional counselors to receive specific, hands on coaching help from me in dealing with their counseling cases on destructive relationships. It’s still in the beginning stages, but if you are interested, please let me know and I’ll give you information as soon as it’s ready.

My December newsletter will be sent out this week with a special sale for the weekend of December 10-13 for 25% off all my products. If you’d like a book signed to someone specific, please indicate that on your order form.

Today’s Question: I recently finished reading your book The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. My husband left me because he was hurt from both of us verbally abusing each other and he said he couldn’t take it anymore. He said we brought out the worst in each other.

We don’t have any children but have been married for 4 years, dating for 9. It came as a bit of a shock to me that he would leave because of how I treated him. He didn’t give me any idea or warning on how angry and controlling I was acting. Since then I have gotten some counseling and have been reading your book. I realize that I was acting wrongly and am very sorry I hurt him. I know the only thing I can do is change me. I can’t make him come back.

I have asked God and him for forgiveness, but he’s not willing to work on anything. God doesn’t want divorce and I don’t want this either. I love him and want to be married to him for life. Why do you think he’s allowing the hurt to get in the way of our love, and not healing from it? I guess I am looking for guidance as to what I can do, say or show him that I wouldn’t want to go back to this destructive behavior either? I know that at this point he’s not willing to see past the hurt.

I have listened to Dr. James Dobson’s love must be tough series and he recommends a letter or e-mail releasing him so that you are giving up that control, almost like you don’t care, and he said it gets him questioning the relationship. Not sure on the timing of that letter.

I guess am still trying to heal his hurt. Is that something he has to find on his own?

Answer: I hear you struggling with trying to let go and yet still wanting to control your husband’s decision on how he handles his pain and whether or not to reconcile your relationship. It’s tough to wake up with a bucket of ice water thrown in your face but I commend you that in the process you didn’t just get angry and retaliate but you got some help. Through your reading and counseling you have realized that you have been destructive and cannot continue to have a good relationship with someone you love while verbally abusive and controlling him (or her).

I want to backtrack a bit. You said that you had no idea how angry or controlling you were. Does that mean that your boyfriend/husband never told you in 9 years that your words or actions bothered or hurt him? He never asked you to stop or change your behaviors but then suddenly packed a bag and left? If that’s the case, shame on him. But more likely he did try to tell you but you never heard him or took him seriously. His leaving finally got your attention.

Now that he’s gone you want him to work on healing so he will come back. I think that’s a normal desire but totally out of your control. A healthier goal is for you to work on you. You need to understand what fueled your anger and controlling behaviors and learn new ways of communicating your needs and handling your negative emotions. These new skills are not gained simply through reading and/or counseling but only when you daily practice managing your negative emotions when you don’t get your way or things aren’t in your control.

This separation is your season to learn a new way of thinking and emotional skill set and trust me, it can only be learned with lots of time and lots of practice. Therefore, I encourage you not to rush into having him move back home or most likely you will return to the same set of destructive behaviors that you’ve always used when you get upset. Not because you want to but because they’re easiest, because they’re all you know, because they’re a habit, because you haven’t learned any other way.

What else can you do? You can pray. You can ask God to show your husband why he was so passive and unwilling to deal with confrontation at the expense of his mental health and your relationship’s wellbeing. You can ask God to bring wise and godly people into both of your lives so that you will mature and become better through this experience.

In addition, you can ask your husband for the gift of time so that he will not make any final decisions on the marriage for a year so that will allow you to demonstrate the fruits of repentance through your changed behaviors and attitudes. And you can practice being aware and awake to your own emotional temperature and how you handle things when they feel out of control so that you can stop yourself from reacting out of your own ways and continue to practice your new ways (Ephesians 4).

These are the things that you can do that will help you have the best chance at a true reconciliation of your marriage.

3 Comments

  1. Anonymous on December 9, 2010 at 5:19 am

    Leslie – Excited to see the new things you'll be doing next year to help with abusive relationships!
    Also, glad to see you address a woman owning her abusive behaviors.

    To the woman in this week's post- I applaud you for seeing your sin and desiring to change it. Leslie's comments about showing him over time, again and again and giving him the space he needs to heal and decide if he would reconcile is sound advice. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix and no guarantees.

    I hope you will elicit the help of some good supports.
    Best wishes for healing and wholeness in your life.

  2. Gar on December 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    I also work with couples in conflict. I have see some common denominators with them. They have not resolved the first conflict in their relationship. I find it necessary to identify the first conflict and help them walk through the forgiveness and resolving model that Leslie describes. For individuals that can't forgive, it is usually because they have never forgiven anyone. If the come for help I will take them back to the first offense in their life. If you want help with that please go to my website http://www.theoaksministry.com you can download my free workbook.

  3. Anonymous on December 13, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Thank you for this question and answer. I am going through almost the same situation with my husband. We have not separated, but I have hurt him continually over the years and never listened when he asked me to stop. I'm listening now and working to change my destructive behavior. Good luck to you. I'll be praying for both of us.

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