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Morning friends, I’m in sunny California today visiting my daughter and family for her birthday. Yesterday we went to the zoo. My favorite moment was at the gorilla exhibit. We were watching a huge male gorilla walk around with a ratty piece of cloth stuck to his foot. We were feeling sorry for him when all of a sudden he went to a corner, pulled the blanket off his foot, shook it and laid it nice and flat against the rock wall. Then he gathered up some straw, formed it into a comfy cushion and sat down on top. We were enthralled with how intentional he was. He purposefully carried that ratty blanket around with him until he needed it. Don’t you just love watching God’s creation?

This week’s video is “Does God Care More About Sex Than Love?”  Don’t forget to tweet, and share it with others who you think could benefit from it.

Today’s Question: I am struggling with how to approach my husband with a request that he address the deeply rooted patterns that are distorting his life and affecting those around him. How to I pinpoint my request? How do I avoid bringing up too much yet make it clear and be calm and not emotional. How do I avoid passivity and fear in putting it off? When am I ready?

I spoke with a friend and said that it is hard to know what to say; the whole thing seems so big. She said she started with her marriage. Even then it seems big. I think I am clear that I am asking for action. Awareness or agreement does not go far enough. I am aware of the likely words I will hear “it's never good enough” and “you aren't perfect, you have stuff too.” I know the answers to those, “I am seeking counsel and reading to gain strength and growth. I would like you to do that too” (not “I need you to” as something seems weak in those words).

Thank you for your help and balanced, simple words.

Answer: Planning a confrontation is never easy and it takes preparation, prayer, and practice for you to do it in the way you want. I have three chapters on how to do this wisely in my new book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage,” but let me give you some main points.

Preparation: There are several ways you must prepare for this important conversation. It sounds like you’ve given it a lot of thought in terms of what you will say when he objects or counters with your own stuff and what you’re asking for–action, not acknowledgment. That’s a good start. Let me give you a few more ways you can prepare. First, pray that God will give you the wisdom and strength you will need. Confronting someone is never easy.

You must prepare your own heart. Jesus reminds us to take the log out of our own eye before attempting to remove the speck in someone else’s (Matthew 7:5). When we confront and do so with humility and gentleness (Galatians 6:1), we’re more likely to be heard. Don’t confuse gentleness with weakness. The goal is for someone to take action to change sinful and destructive behaviors, and that’s more likely when they don’t feel shamed or attacked.

When possible, prepare documentation or proof of his destructive behaviors. Jesus tells us that when someone sins against us and we go and talk with him and they do not listen, we’re to bring witnesses to help us make our point. (Matthew 18:16). In destructive marriages, there may be people witnesses, but if not, you may find other types of witnesses that help your husband see just how destructive his behaviors are. For example, are there financial records of his mismanagement? Are there video recordings of him stumbling, falling down or being abusive when he’s been drinking too much? Is there documentation of injuries he’s caused to you or your home when enraged such as photos of broken furniture, holes in walls or doctors reports? These witnesses are not to shame him, but to verify that this is serious and we’re not just talking about “normal” sins that happen in every marriage.

In preparation for your conversation with your husband, you must also be prepared with what consequences, if any, you will implement if he refuses to take the action you desire. For example, if he’s vulnerable to road rage and refuses to take action to get help, you might say, “Okay then, for my safety and the children’s safety, we can no longer drive together as a family unless I drive the car. If you won’t let me drive, then I’ll have to drive us separately.” He won’t like that, but you are stating clearly and firmly that if he chooses not to take action on these destructive behaviors, then you will need to do something else to protect yourself and the children.

Lastly, you must prepare what you want to say and how you want to say it. Words are an imperfect medium for communicating deep feelings and problems; therefore, choose your words wisely. You’re right to not overwhelm him with too much at once. Here’s what I tell my coaching and counseling clients to do. List all the incidents of destructive behaviors you are upset about. I’m talking about the one’s you feel threaten the safety and stability of your marriage or your emotional, spiritual, mental, financial, physical or spiritual health.

Once you get that list, try to group them into “themes” or “patterns.” For example, you might see you have a lot of incidents of destructive behaviors when he’s enraged or drinking too much. Or maybe on your list you see numerous examples of deceitful behaviors, etc. It’s the larger issue you want to speak to, not the specific incidents. Use the specific incidents to illustrate that you fear his anger, or his drinking has gotten out of control, or you can’t continue to trust him when he continually lies to you.

As you prepare what you want to say, begin your confrontation with this sentence. “There is something important I need to talk with you about. Are you willing to listen?” If he says yes, then start. If he starts interrupting you or diverting you, stop and say, “I thought you said you were willing to listen.” You want to stay in charge of this conversation. If he’s willing to listen, begin by telling him the good things about who he is, what you fell in love with, and how important your relationship with him is to you. He’ll likely listen to that without objection. Then move on by adding that there are some things happening that are destroying your marriage (or your health or whatever fits your particular situation).

Start with the biggest thing first. If he is willing to hear more, then you can go on to the other things. If he refuses to listen to the first one, don’t bother with the rest because you’ll be wasting your breath. Just move on to the consequences stage because your words are not making an impact.

Before you confront him: practice, practice, practice. That will help you feel calmer and stronger when you actually say it. Since you’ve disclosed this to your friend, you could role play with her. Let her be your husband and have her object or divert or change the subject (however he does it), and you practice what you’re going to say when he does that.

For example, if he starts to say “I’m never good enough for you,” you can say, “that’s not the issue we’re talking about. We’re talking about your lying, and I can’t continue to ignore that because it’s destroying my trust.” Keep your answers short, don’t let him distract you into these rabbit trails or you will lose momentum and it will get exhausting.

Finally, it’s better if it isn’t too long. Therefore, make sure you know how to stay on course and say what you want to say and then stop and wait for his response. If you have any fear for your physical safety, make sure you seek advice from an expert in domestic violence before you do this because it may not be safe for you to do it at all.

 

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34 Comments

  1. Brenda on August 19, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Leslie, I’m jealous. I love the zoo. I could watch a gorilla all day, unless there is a koala, then a half day.

    “I’m never good enough for you,” I have heard that line so many times. From there it only went into a long lasting tirade. I hope much better for the person who initiated the question.

  2. Susan on August 19, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    This is all sound counsel. I would add not to be discouraged if it’s all a bit much for him at first. Don’t give up. Sometimes it might be a lot for a man to take in all at once. In fact, perhaps one subject or one issue is best to tackle first. I’ve found that if I mention too much, my husband feels a bit “piled on,” so just picking one thing, addressing it, and dealing with it succinctly and concisely is important.

    If he doesn’t want to hear it, just make sure the major issue has been addressed (ie, lying or drinking – and the examples are only supportive of the pattern you’ve noticed). It may take more than one hearing for it to sink in.

    Make sure the issue is addressed calmly, without anger, and as unemotional as possible. It’s taken me years to get to this stage and even now it seems like I have momentary breakthroughs with my husband. That is, not I, but the Lord.

    It’s all the Lord’s work really – and to God be the glory.

    • Marie on October 13, 2013 at 3:46 am

      I have been married for 35 years, my husband was a practicing Christian for some of the time but now doesn’t want to be a Christian. Recently I discovered a large amount of pornographic material that he has been watching. He also wants to smoke Marijuana everyday. I let this go for quite some time going against my own conscience.

      He has now moved out and says the marriage is over and there is nothing wrong with his use of Marijuana, since it is legal in our state. I keep hearing how I’m supposed to love him back into the kingdom. Everything in me resents that I have to accept this, when he is so willing to throw me away like a piece of garbage to indulge in his desires. Just discard me after 35 years and it’s up to me to make it right! I can’t do it!

      • Leslie Vernick on October 13, 2013 at 5:59 pm

        I don’t think you can make it right all by yourself Marie. Don’t put that burden on yourself. You can love him all by yourself but love does not mean enabling him to continue to sin with no consequence. That isn’t love that’s foolishness.

  3. Belle on August 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I really really want to read your book. I will have to find a way to get my hands on it. Confrontation is an issue I have not had success with in my marriage. I have tried so many ways of confronting, and I do it as little as possible. When I do confront, it is exhausting. In recent days I don’t get sucked into it all as a general rule, and, like you said, I keep my words at a minimum(that is great advice.) But it takes forever as he goes on and on. (I don’t recognize I have problems, why can’t love cover sins, why don’t I talk about things right as they happen, why am I so negative, I over blow things, he didn’t really do anything that bad etc… etc… Oh, and when I once began a confrontation by recounting his wonderful attributes he criticized, “Why all this stuff, why don’t you just get to the point.”

    We are going to a counselor, but I don’t think they get what I am talking about. I would like to go to a Christian counselor who deals with a lot of experience, who deals with a broad range of people difficulties. I would like someone I could talk to privately without him sometimes, since me saying something negative to the counselor offends my husband. I have read different things on the web, and believe my husband is a narcissist, and I feel he manipulates me verbally and is often agitating in his speech. I think he needs some serious help. I think he is blind to what I see.

    I am willing to look hard at myself as well. I have read lots of books on marriage, but haven’t been successful in turning this marriage around. I have seen the folly in how I was viewing submission and things have greatly improved around here as I have become more savvy in how to respond to him.

    Nothing in the marriage is really that terrible. There is no physical abuse, no drunkenness, no adultery. He has only called me names in the most heated moments. (although he doesn’t apologize) It is just mostly difficult because of criticism, verbal spars, double standards,him not acknowledging wrong doing, anger if I ever feel hurt by something he says or does, and as I said, it is difficult to confront him. I need someone to help sort through all this and help us.

    Where can I find a counselor with a wide range of experience to help with this?

    • Leslie Vernick on August 19, 2013 at 11:58 pm

      Counselors are usually not experienced in dealing with these more subtle forms of abusive behavior and often try to be as neutral as possible which actually enables the abusive one to gain momentum. To find someone experienced in abusive relationships who is also a Christian, contact Focus on the Family or AACC.org for a list of approved Christian counselors in your area. Then call each one individually and ask how much experience they have in dealing with destructive/abusive relationships. Word of mouth is also a very good way to find a good counselor. You may want to contact your women’s domestic violence shelter in your community and see who they recommend.

    • Brenda B on August 20, 2013 at 7:34 am

      Belle:

      Nothing in the marriage is really that terrible. There is no physical abuse, no drunkenness, no adultery. He has only called me names in the most heated moments. (although he doesn’t apologize) It is just mostly difficult because of criticism, verbal spars, double standards,him not acknowledging wrong doing, anger if I ever feel hurt by something he says or does, and as I said, it is difficult to confront him. I need someone to help sort through all this and help us.

      Are these things just once in a while? Are you minimizing these things and the impact they have on you? The reason I ask is because I did minimize all of the above for years. “It’s not that bad he didn’t hit me or cheat on me”, I’d say. But those things began happening more frequently without any remorse and then hitting walls or posts as his fist went by my head and then objects thrown at me. It was an escalating process into out and out rage. I don’t know how long you’ve been married or your tolerance level, but this type of thing started out slowly eating away who I was until I ended up taking drastic action. It was either his way or the highway; I took the highway.

      I don’t say this to alarm you or shatter your hope, but am concerned for you. You may want to think about getting individual counseling for yourself before getting into any type of marriage counseling. I did and I am so glad. It gave me a better perspective of what I was dealing with and if there was anything I could do to make things better. For me there was nothing more I could do. I have been seperated for almost 3 months now. The abuse hasn’t stopped but I am handling it better not being in the same room with him.
      Last night I was getting emails saying Ex needed my help. He was overcharged for his Satellite service on his charge card, couldn’t find the account number and just knew I could do this for him. I didn’t see how this was my problem but I suggested getting the phone book, finding the number and calling them. Well that didn’t set well with him. I was still to jump and ask how high even though I don’t live with him and pay my own bills in my own apartment. You would think a man or 59 could make a phone call without ordering his wife to do it. My response was “you can either calm down, look up the number, call and politely say there has been an error and get it corrected or you can hit things, throw something still find the phone number and call them, yell at some poor person on the other end and threaten to sick the attorney that you don’t have on them. The choice is yours.” His reply, “some help you are. I’ll bet you’re sitting there laughing at me.” I wasn’t laughing. I was praising God for his rescue and thanking Him for my not sitting in the room where the X was at the time and being the target for the objects that would be thrown.

      I say all of this hoping that your marriage turns around, but you can’t do it by yourself. He has to want it too. If he doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, as my X doesn’t, it won’t get better and you will have to decide what you are willing to do to either stay as it is or go. I will pray that your marriage will turn out so much better than mine did. In all things may your relationship with Christ be strengthened.

      • one on a journey on August 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm

        My eyes have been opened finally after 15 years of crazy. God opened my eyes first to His love and how He loves me to be able to break my distorted view. I am torn between feeling so angry that I didnt see the abuse all this time and mad at my husband for taking advantage of me, and then Im so elated and happy that God has opened my eyes. I told my husband to get belp and focus on his healing months ago. Still nothing. I will just see what step God calls me to make next. Has anyone else felt this anger beforewhen you realized what has been happening all these years?

        • stuck in this mud on September 17, 2013 at 5:25 pm

          Sometimes I think I’ve overcome and I get glimpse of sanity and then another episode or anther call from a woman friend and I’m rite back to square one,tension,anxiety,hate and so on.
          27 yrs of inanity,now I have no resources can’t afford to move. Not what I had hoped for

    • Susan on August 20, 2013 at 11:58 am

      I’ve been with my husband to three counselors over the past 12 or so years (We’ve been together 20 years), the most recent two claiming to be “Christian.” None of them understood the problem, although the last one did understand that I am married to a passive-agressive man.

      You may want to research passive-aggressive personality disorders (and/or other personality disorders) to see what best describes the behavior and speech you’re encountering in your husband. When the Lord revealed to me that my husband (and his mother) are p-a-, my world changed. I finally knew what I was dealing with and things made more sense. I was able to pray more specifically for him (and me) and handle myself differently. Previously, I’d look at all the charges he leveled against me (his behavior always being my fault, for example) and realize that it wasn’t me.

      I really understand what you mean about nothing in the marriage being all that terrible, and yet, I used to wish things were worse or that I’d have some kind of justification or “out” because the deception and manipulation was so insidious. So false. It’s like Chinese water torture. Just drip by drip by drip wearing you away.

      Try reading up on these disorders and see if something sounds like your husband and then find literature (especially Christian, but there’s some good information about the disorders in other-than-Christian material) to educate yourself, and it may help in learning how to approach him.

      In my experience, my husband wasn’t interested in counseling at all anyway, even though he’d attend. He doesn’t see himself as needing “help,” and sometimes rebuffed the suggestion of counseling as if I’m saying he’s flawed. I’m not suggesting that you not seek counseling, just offering a perspective of how he might receive the suggestion.

      My husband has apologized for his words and/or behavior now and again, but it never changes the behavior. It’s usually a superficial acknowledgement followed by, “I know I need to change,” “I know it’s my heart about you,” or whatever, but he never really repents and changes.

      All I can do is continue to pray for him and me and seek the Lord that He grow me and teach me what He wants me to be and do and say in this marriage.

      ((((hugs))))

      • stuck in this mud on September 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm

        “My husband has apologized for his words and/or behavior now and again, but it never changes the behavior. It’s usually a superficial acknowledgement followed by, “I know I need to change,” “I know it’s my heart about you,” or whatever, but he never really repents and changes”.

        I always thought I was the only one goin thru this craziness LOL.WE went to a ‘christian’ counselor and my husband had to show him how powerful he was and threaten to throw him out of his office window. that was the end of that.

  4. mommy0f3 on August 20, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Belle-

    Your story sounds so similar to mine in certain aspects. What you stated was the beginning for me in when God was opening my eyes to the fact that my family was being emotionally abused. It was hard to accept, but I had to. Then I knew I had to confront, implement strict boundries (which didn’t work in my case) and finally today we are separated and have been for 5 months. That whole journey took close to 2 years because I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing according to God.

    Belle, please don’t let your husband continue to do this to you and especially to your kids if you have any. Take action fast before it destroys you. In my case, my husband is in counseling but doesn’t seem to be helping much…his heart is still not open. It didn’t matter what I said or did before we were separated, he had to WANT to change and he didn’t.

    Let your husband know you mean what you say and make sure you follow through with action/consequences. This was the hardest part for me, but it’s a must. It took me forever to build up the courage (God given) to confront and move forward. Even today I struggle, but we must do it even when we are scared.

    I am a stay at home mom with 3 kids. I have little to no income to speak of as I’m just in the beginning stages of building a business. I had to take a bold step even when I knew everything was stacked against me and I still don’t know where things are going. God is good and he WILL provide for you.

    I will pray for you. God will guide you through this journey…

  5. Dora on August 20, 2013 at 7:35 am

    I am working on getting my husband not to call me “dear”. It sounds sweet but not the way he uses it. I imagine its something his father said to his mother, not sure.. But, he usually says it when he is answering me… Like if I say what is this and point to one of his tools. For example he will reply back “It’s a monkey wrench — Dear!” Like he’s angry that I asked him. It’s not the word it’s self obviously that I’m not liking, but I am asking him not to use the word. I feel like he’s trying to hide his anger behind what is supposed to be an endearing word.

    It’s probably a chicken way to handle it.. confrontation is very hard for me especially when the behavior has been occurring for a long time. I feel like as I work on my identity in Christ it is helping me have the confidence to stand up a little more in my marriage. Anyway, that’s where I’m at. Blessings to you!

  6. Peter on August 20, 2013 at 11:27 am

    This sort of thing just reinforces to me the great need for peacemaker ministries within every church. Conflict resolution is the greatest rising need in our country today, whether its in marriage, business, friendships or way too often between very wounded members of the body of Christ. An organization out of Billings, Montana called Peacemakers is another resource. Check them out online for more conflict resolution guidelines. Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God. It takes work but worth it.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2013 at 10:37 am

      Peacemakers is a wonderful ministry but if one person isn’t willing, you still can’t make true godly peace. Romans 12 says, “As much as it depends on you, be at peace” but when one person refuses to admit wrong, take any responsibility, refuses to be accountable to others, or make amends to the damage he or she has caused another, reconciliation of the relationship is not possible, even when it’s marriage.

      • stuck in this mud on September 17, 2013 at 5:48 pm

        This is true… my husband does not want to change. he lives in his own world and thats the only world that matters.
        Literally everybody is wrong and he is the only one that has all knowledge.
        How can anybody help some like that???I have just resigned to doing the best I can with what I chose.

  7. Sherry on August 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I tried confronting my husband only to have the blame shifted and deflected back at me every single time. Even when I confronted him on his frequent strip clubbing he blamed me! His excuse: I spent too much time with the kids. I was stunned and had no reply! I spent time with the kids because he spent most of his time at home hidden in his bedroom with the door closed. Someone needed to give them attention!
    I sadly gave up. I am married alone. I stick around because I have nowhere to go, no family, no work (other than in the business my husband owns), no money.

    • Bev on August 26, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      Sherry, it breaks my heart for you to believe that you need to stick around because you have no life outside of this abusive marriage. Have you ever asked yourself what God has put you on earth for? God has a mission for every believer! We are all vital parts of the body of Christ. You are extremely valuable to him. Is this your calling? Is staying in this relationship fulfilling God’s commission to you? You sound resigned to a life of abuse because you feel you have no alternative, but if you step out in faith, believing God loves you, you will find the abundant life God has promised all of us. It won’t be easy. You will go through horrible times. But on the other end is LIFE as God intended. I’m also pretty sure your husband feels confident that you will never leave and that you have accepted this as your cross to bear. Martyrdom to abuse is not glorifying to God. It is teaching your children, also to be passively submissive to abuse, or, if you have sons, that it’s ok to be abusive to your wife.

      I went through the same blame-shifting and deflecting every problem back to me in my marriage. I know of what I speak. I also felt like I had to be a martyr and hang in there. When I got to the end of my rope, God pulled me out of that pit and gave me a life.I also believed I had no value and deserved to “live” out my days under constant oppression. To think God didn’t want me to live a life of abuse sounded arrogant to me. One day I decided I would rather be dead. Thankfully, my plan failed, but it was the wake-up call I needed.

      I pray you will not continue on the road you are on. Realize who you are in Christ. Read Josh MacDowell’s book, See Yourself As God Sees You. I pray you will find the courage to be the woman God created you to be.

      P.S. Your children will thank you one day for getting them out of that situation.
      P.P.S. You have a family: your children. God will provide for all your other needs, financial, emotional, relational, and more. Trust him. I’ll be praying for you, sister.

      • Sherry on August 26, 2013 at 9:17 pm

        Bev,
        Thank you for your encouraging words! I know you are right – I wrote that after a really long, long day! I know God will provide if I step out in faith but I’ve been afraid to take that step!
        Thank you for your prayers also.

        • Bev on August 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

          Fear kept me in bondage for many years also. I remember sobbing hysterically when I realized it was over…I was so terrified of how I would survive. My sobbing mantra was, “I can’t do this! I am too weak!” I feared poverty, loneliness, rejection, etc., but my fears were unfounded. I have learned to trust God to meet my every need. I’m still trusting him for a church that will accept me as a divorced Christian. Greater is Jesus, who is in you, than Satan, who is in the world. Through Christ we can overcome everything. Be encouraged. God will lead you beside still waters and restore your soul. Have peace, dear sister. 🙂

  8. Gina on August 21, 2013 at 2:56 am

    I relate to all of your responses. Yea, my husband HATES when I tell him the positive stuff first. He thinks I’m being especially manipulative then.

    I’m accused of expecting perfection from my husband when I confront him and ask for change in his behavior; when the whole reason I’m confronting him is because he’s hurting the kids and me by expecting perfection from US to begin with.

    When I try to convey to him that the way he treats me breaks my trust and erases emotional safety (no matter how politely), I’m accused of using the word “trust” as a weapon to seek revenge, to manipulate him, and as an excuse to sinfully withhold sex. After all, HE apologized, he reasons. He believes that if I’ve truly forgiven him each time he seeks forgiveness (short accounts, he calls it), then I will allow myself to feel safe and open my heart to him again. (Translation: forgiveness means no consequences.) His putting this burden on me helps him to believe in his mind that it’s my sin problem, not his. I’m standing my ground as best as I can with God’s help, though.

    Adding to this is that 4 years ago my husband, while in counseling, confessed emotional and verbal abuse to the kids and me, and reassured me to take as long as I needed to trust him again while he worked to change. Last December, however, he yelled at me during a conflict that he “never abused anyone”, and that he did what the counselors said to back then because he figured it was the only way to make peace in the marriage. He loathes those counselors for “unjustly” labeling him an abuser. I’m still struggling with this betrayal, to say the least. I have confronted him, but his heart has not changed.

    Interestingly, I’ve heard my husband’s abusive father verbally sling the exact same accusations of weapon usage at my husband when he has attempted to set boundaries and allow consequences with his dad.

    Because of our sin natures, we can so easily gasp at sin in another but not notice the same sin in ourselves. I know I’ve been guilty of it, too. Just like King David when the prophet confronted him after he had Bathsheba’s husband killed. That’s why God had to tell us to get the log out of our own eye first, because He knew we wouldn’t. While considering my own logs, I’m praying that my husband will finally “get it” the way King David did. It’s been 17 years; I battle hopelessness and bitterness; but I know I’ve got to keep praying.

  9. Sally on August 21, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I have tried to talk to my husband also. We have been separated for 6 mos and I filed for a divorce after he left me in Florida and came back to Michigan. I ruined his image in our park (because he left me?) We had already tried Christian counseling but he did it only to get me back into the bedroom (I had moved to the other one for 4 months) I had seeked Christian counseling because of our destructive marriage and I did not like who I had become. I did not know how to deal with him. I still care deeply for him and since we had both lost our spouses, I know I was vulnerable and I saw where he needed me and I could nuture him. Long story short, he is seeking help and dealing with his issues about his mother who he did not respect. He had been belittled and at one point beaten for not spelling a word right. I know he is AWARE of his issues but I don’t see a CHANGE in how he handles things when they don’t go his way.
    In giving this every every effort, I offered him to meet with my pastor (he does go to a different church than I do but has accepted Christ). He puts on a good front but there was an incident that the Pastor saw also that makes me nervous about his real intent. Even getting him to agree to meet he stalled. Now we are down to the last few weeks and it will be final. All along he has asked for my settlement proposal. His atty had me do an extensive discovery letter but when my atty requested a few items from him….he hit the roof. I tried to explain it was not what I was going after it was for him to disclose what he had before and what was acquired after our marriage. After I was exhausted, cried all night for someone who I want to be different, I realized that I have to divorce. I still don’t want to. He was all differemt the next day. He said he was a great guy and I was making a big mistake. I said I am offering Christian counseling again but he was only 95% sure he wanted to do it and he didn’t think his counselor would agree to it. (and she told him if he did other counseling he couldn’t come to her anymore). He said I have been dictating to him what he has to do. I said I am telling you this is what I NEED to build my trust back. I want God to be #1 in my life and in his and our marriage. If our counseling isn’t biblically based then our marriage would not change. I am working on my part of the destruction of our marriage and I have to see where he is doing more than acknowledging it and I haven’t. I get an. ” I m sorry, I should have done things differently”.
    Yesterday as I reinterated to him that I needed this to be a Godly, and I understand, Not Perfect, marriage, he was distracting, making comments etc. I said when you don’t listen to me I feel what I have to say is not important or of value to you.
    IF he did decide to do this counseling again with a different counselor who has been highly recommended, should I stall the divorce or divorce and if he still wants to work on the reconcilation do so after. I am torn.

  10. Susan on August 21, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Btw, if I may add to my comment of yesterday – what I have found helpful, because although I’ve been praying for my husband since the Lord saved me more than a decade ago, I don’t know if the Lord will ever change my husband or if he himself will ever take responsibility for his actions and words.

    So a few things I have found to do in addition to praying are to educate myself on what I believe my husband is (ie, passive-aggressive, a liar, etc, so I can read up on these patterns), inform a few trusted people about his behaviors and words so I can call and/or email them during the hard periods; find trusted counselors on-line if none available locally (Leslie’s site here and others through the Association of Biblical Counselors); keep a notebook or journal of what you remember to establish a record of the pattern (not a record of wrongs, as the Bible warns against, but documentation to use in discussions with your husband and/or others if need be). I’m finding the latter to be necessary because I forget the details of so many events especially when dealing with his lies, which are changeable.

    Sorry to be so verbose, but I woke up with Belle on my mind and heart.

  11. Shannon on August 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I do not like confrontation. When I do confront in a way that is what I think is loving, my husband tells me that I am trying to be an authority over him.
    I have tried to express to him that what he did made me feel_________but
    to no avail it does not work, He turns it back on me. How do you
    confront someone that refuses to change jobs if the ones he has does not
    bring in enough money and I work but things are still tights

    • Leslie Vernick on August 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      Shannon, most of us do not like confrontation or even giving feedback to someone if we know it will hurt them or make them feel bad. With your specific situation – ask yourself why he refuses to change jobs? For example is he unskilled or unable to secure a better paying job in this economy? Or does he LOVE what he does despite it’s poor pay? Or is he lazy and unwilling to work hard while expecting you to carry the financial weight for the family? Here’s what you might want to try. Put all your living expenses in writing. Put your monthly income and his monthly income down too. Say something like, “Can you help me with this problem? We are short $500 every month with our current bills. I do not know how to solve this problem. What do you think we should do?”

      Men are a little more receptive to solving a problem then being told what to do. However, if he is defensive or feels entitled he still may say it’s your problem to solve and refuse to engage. That’s a marriage that’s not working as a partnership, nor is he carrying his weight of responsibility for the marriage. The next step is consequences. Watch my video this week on the importance of implementing consequences for someone who refuses to change things that are unacceptable behavior.

  12. Deanna on August 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I have beenbsearching the internet trying to find a good Christian book on destructive marriages and came across your blog. I ordered 2 books this morning. I see you are in So. California, well that is where I live. I feel as though I am going crazy! We have been married 5 1/2 years and the entire marriage has been a roller coaster (2nd marriage). I have been to marriage counseling a few times. The first time he refused to go because he doesn’t have a problem, I do. The second time, he only showed up twice when we weren’t fighting. We both are very involved at church and everyone that meets him just loved him but at home he is a different person. I have 4 kids from a previous marriage. He is always belittling everyone. Nobody can do anything right or say anything right. He gets mad because me kids don’t talk to him and he says they don’t do anything around the house. They help clean up when asked and pretty much stay in their room when home because no one ever knows what kind of mood he will be in. This last weekend, he knew my daughter had friends coming over, my husband waited all day until everyone came over and decided to pack his stuff up in the truck while screaming at me and left. Well, 2 hours later he sent me a text asking if he could sleep in the garage. I told him he could sleep in our room. I told him he needs to go to counseling and he did make an appointment with the counseling pastor at our church. The appointment was double booked and he couldn’t get in. In the last two weeks he has told me to drop dead, he hates me, my kids are horrible, I have serious problems….. Well, last night he got mad at me because I am not affectionate and talkative. He has torn me up inside. He makes me question my self worth. I have never felt like a bad person until now. Any advice would be welcomed. I literally feel like I am crazy.

    • Gina on August 23, 2013 at 2:16 pm

      I hurt for you in your situation, Deanna. It does make you feel crazy, but you’re not. I have been through similar things in my marriage. I would suggest getting into a support group yourself – perhaps a Christian 12-step program or codependency program at a local church. That’s what I did. The fellowship and wise counsel I received there were lifesavers for me.

      • DeAnna on August 26, 2013 at 1:02 pm

        Thank you so much for the information on the 12 step program. I have never even considered that. I will contact my church today.

    • Brenda on August 23, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      Above everything, you need to make a decision on what is best for those kids. If you are questioning your self worth, so are they. His opinion of you and them is pretty low. Perhaps he should be sleeping in the garage or somewhere else entirely. It is not fair to your family to allow him to make them feel less than what they are…Loved by God. It is hard enough growing up in this world without having their roll model make them feel unloved and degraded.

      • DeAnna on August 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        Thank you so much. When he is in an angry mood I am a horrible person but when he is in a good mood I am the best wife…. He is playing games with my mind. He left today for 8 weeks, I am going to take that time to get help and seek God.

        • Mavis on August 26, 2013 at 6:08 pm

          DeAnna,
          Your sisters in Christ will be praying for you during these eight weeks in particular, and beyond. You are not alone.
          Mavis

    • stuck in this mud on September 17, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      What is it with us woman!!! Why do we even choose these buggers in the first place. Gion on 27 years here and now Im too darn old and broke to atemp to do anything else.

      I hate myself for It!!!

      Now I’m stuck with caring for his elderly mom.

  13. Mavis on August 25, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Deanna,
    You said that your husband is causing you to question your self-worth. Please try to understand that who you are as a person has NOTHING to do with what that man thinks. Unless he faces the consequences of his behavior, he will continue to escalate the abuse. After many years of marriage, I finally realized that it is not my role as a christian wife to submit to his anger. My responsibility is to help my husband be the best person he can be and if I allow abuse in my marriage, I am not helping him do anything but continue in the selfishness of thinking that he can do and say anything and people are just supposed to put up with it. I will pray for you and the children that God will give you the strength to say no to the hatefull attitude and anger he heaps on your family. Here are a couple of scriptures I cling to when I need to remind myself that God is always with me and wants the best for me: Deuteronomy 31:6 & 8, and Psalm 91:4.

    • DeAnna on August 26, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Thank you so much for the prayer and verses. I know that I have allowed his behavior to continue and I have finally realized that I can’t do it any longer.

      We went to a prayer and worship night at church last night. He asked the pastor to pray for our marriage. He didn’t take any responsibility for his actions, just blamed it all on the kids. That is typical around our house, it is everyone elses fault and never his. He says he always feel left out of the family so that is why he behaves like he does. I try to explain, when we have to walk on eggshells with everything from talking to laughing because he might get mad.

      He left today for 8 weeks, I feel as though a big weight was lifted off my chest. I am going to seek God and get professional help while he is gone. This time away is a much needed break. I know the damage done is going to take more that 8 weeks to heal.

      Again, thank you for the prayer.

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