Morning Friends,

It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the end of 2013 and Christmas will be here in a few short days. I hope you’re not getting all crazy busy and not giving yourself some moments to pause, reflect and enjoy the music and beauty of the season.

Today’s Question: In the 24 hours since discovering this site, I’ve read the Destructive Marriage e-book, watched every chapter on YouTube, scoured the blog posts, and read the Nine Tactics of Manipulators PDF… I’m desperate to understand how to restore my situation through any means necessary, but I just don’t know how to stay well OR leave well.

Staying well means take care of yourself, don’t harbor bitterness, don’t engage in behavior that matches or retaliates the abuser… But we’re also to show the law of consequences… How? How do you show consequences to a man that disdains your existence? Who is just as happy to lecture you for five hours as to ignore you entirely for weeks? I’ve demonstrated sacrificial love and perpetuated this cycle deeper every time, so what does the balance of good behavior and consequences look like?

Leaving well means establishing a community of support (which will certainly violate his expectations of privacy and respect) so you can do so safely and sanely. But how do you kick out a man who refuses to leave, except on his terms? And how can you walk away from a home to leave him to destroy everything of value to you?

Answer: Your feelings are valid and many women (and men) in your situation feel the same. They feel desperate for answers that will restore or fix their marriage – at any cost or any price.

But that approach will never lead to peace, true reconciliation or healing of your marriage. You don’t really tell us much about what’s going on in your marriage but you are quite clear that you feel ignored, distained, lectured, and trapped. You don’t know how to stay well or leave well. Either choice will result in some pain and staying and doing nothing is also painful.

You said, “I’ve demonstrated sacrificial love and perpetuated this cycle deeper every time, so what does the balance of good behavior (CORE STRENGTH) and consequences look like?”

Let me take you to that passage in 1 Peter to give you a couple of examples of the balance of good behavior and consequences.

First, Peter tells us how to handle ourselves in the presence of abusive people. He is clear that believers should be respectful of others regardless of how we are treated. That’s good behavior.

Often in destructive marriages a spouse who is verbally battered or emotionally neglected or abused can start to lob some verbal bombs of her own. Instead of responding to mistreatment in a way that honors God, she dishonors herself, her husband, and God by her building resentment as well as her explosive or sinful reactions to his abuse.

God tells us that as godly wives, we must choose a different path. Peter encourages us not to pay back evil for evil by reminding us of Jesus, who, “when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22,23).

However, good is not merely being passive in the face of evil. The apostle Paul reminds us that we overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21) and overcome is not a passive word.

Second, Peter explains when a believer should endure abusive treatment. He writes, “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”

The good Peter is talking about here is a moral good, a “doing the right thing” kind of good and that often means implementing consequences and setting boundaries by refusing to go along with immoral or abusive behavior. Although in this passage Peter specifically advises Christians to submit to authority, Peter himself was flogged after he refused to stop preaching about Christ even though he’d been ordered by those in authority to stop. Peter refused to submit because in doing so, he would have to stop doing good (Acts 4:19; 5:17-42).

In the same way when a wife refuses to submit to her husband’s sinful behavior, refuses to pretend or lie, stands up for her children who are being mistreated, refuses to sign a dishonest income tax report, or calls 911 when her husband is threatening to harm her or himself, she is doing good even if it doesn’t feel good to her spouse.

Her behavior is good. It honors God, protects her children and does what is in the best interest of her spouse (It is never in someone’s best interests to enable sin to flourish).

When a wife takes these brave steps and sets boundaries and implements consequences for her spouse's sinful and abusive behavior she will most likely face suffering. She may suffer financially as her husband sits in jail because she called the police when he hit her. She may suffer the censure from her church when she separates from him because of his unrepentant use of pornography and verbal abuse. She may suffer with loneliness, retaliation from her spouse, disapproval from her friends and family for the stance she’s taken. That’s exactly the kind of suffering Peter is talking about. He’s speaking about suffering for doing good instead of being passive, fearful or doing the wrong thing or nothing at all. Peter is saying that when we do what is right (stand up, implement consequences, refuse to go along with wrong doing) and we get mistreated for it, God sees it and commends us.

As I’ve said repeatedly, we all have choices to make and those choices have consequences. When a husband (or wife) repeatedly chooses to treat his spouse with contempt, abuse, indifference, harshness, cruelty, and deceit, he or she cannot demand the benefits of a good marriage. To do otherwise is to lie and pretend, which is not good.

To not implement consequences for serious sin also reinforces the abusive person’s delusions that he can do as he please with no negative impact. It would enable him to stay blind to his sin and colludes with his destructive ways, which is not good for him, for her, or for their family. That kind of passivity does not honor God.

Peter concludes his teaching with these words. “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:19 ESV).

So friend, your first step is to tuck your heart and mind in close to God and ask for wisdom and discernment for your next steps. You also need to be crystal clear on your highest values. You said you fear walking away from a home because you believe he will destroy everything of value to you. I’m not sure here what those valuable things are but your mental, spiritual, physical and emotional health and that of your children should be your highest values and priorities right now, even if it means a lower standard of living.

Friends, please share your support and wisdom of how you handled your fear of the next step.

 

 

 

54 Comments

  1. vicree on December 16, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Our right behavior may be commendable but it won’t put food on the table.

    • Caroline on December 16, 2013 at 5:13 pm

      Vic ree, I assume you mean we need our husband’s money to live decently. This is dangerous path and I beg you to reconsider.

      First if all, God is totally capable of taking care of us in ways other than a husbands income. This is a common theme throughout scripture and I have lived it myself.

      I am married to a man finally in recovery after thirty years of habitual porn use. I have stayed for all sorts of reasons and many of them were bad ones.

      A few years ago my husband got laid off from his job and I finally woke up. If God is ultimately in control of leaders and Kings, then of course he’s got my husbands income under control too. He can turn it off and on and He has.

      We must be willing to risk it all for the sake of Truth, which is Christ himself. When we put other things above Truth (public opinion, material comforts, our own pride, etc.) it is idolatry. And God has said he will not have any other gods before Him.

      We can trust the Lord to guide us step by step by step through even the darkest of valleys.

      In fact he is asking all of us , bad relationship or not, to follow Him.

      • Nancy on December 16, 2013 at 6:21 pm

        Amen!

    • stacy on December 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      I stayed until I was ready to live in a whole in the ground….until I was ready to be abandoned my husband’s extended family and my own children if it turned out that way. Not saying that is right but it was my path.

      But God did not abandon me! My friend found me a roomate so the kids and I could stay in the same house. I didn’t think i made enough money to make ends meet much less have a life, but i did.I started babysitting jobs from care.com and i have three families that I love and get to take care of their cute children and get paid. It feels like the fishes and the loaves. Where does the money keep coming from?

      Teachers never get bonuses but my hansband moved out the end of August and in the Oct 1 paycheck i got a 500 bonus (after taxes) and in the november paycheck i got another bonus. miracle!! (if you are a teacher then you understand)

      I havent’ heard from my husbands family save the inlaws and from his sister once, but god has muted that disappointment.

      Not one of my kids has asked me why I split with their dad. Ever!

      Thanksgiving came and although I thought for all of these years i couldn’t make it on the holidays, it was’t as bad as i expected. The kids were stressed because he was pressuring them but i was at peace about my decision. Christmas is coming and i am not anxious or sad. I’m not going to miss or idealize what were always pretty unhappy times anyway.

      God is more than enough. I understand that I could not know how he was going to come through for me until i took the steps. And looking back it wasn’t as if my faith was that great. It wasn’t because my faith was great that i made the split, but God didn’t hold that against me! He was still faithful to me!

      I am so grateful to God.
      I now trust God more than I ever have in my entire life. I go to bed every night thankful for my pillow, thankful for my bed and thankful for peace.

      Thank you Leslie for this sight and this community. The first thing i do every monday when i get to work is look for your blog. We are so fortunate to have each other to learn from and share with.

      • Elizabeth on December 20, 2013 at 8:51 am

        Stacy.

        I can completely relate to everything you have said here. I keep expecting things to be much harder than they have been. God’s loving and faithful presence is calming the waters.

        I am so happy that you have found peace. God is so very good and faithful.

        Merry Christmas!

      • Caroline on December 23, 2013 at 10:27 pm

        Stacy thank you for sharing the details of God’s providence. What a beautiful testimony, a Christmas present for us all!

      • Sarah on January 28, 2014 at 4:55 pm

        Stacy, your note spoke to me, I am going through a divorce after 30 years of marriage. My husband is deceitful, adulterous and financially extremely irresponsible. I let him come back twice because he said he repented, but he wasn’t serious. I finally got strong enough to tell him to leave. It is very scary, because I cannot support myself financially, I worked for him (he has his own business, which his lawyers devalued along with him buying a new work truck the last 2 years) for 13 years. I held other jobs as well, but nothing that paid a lot. I am 59 as well, so it is hard. I have a part-time job that I hope will be full-time eventually, but no benefits. I am walking in faith, because in my own mind I cannot do it. I would not be worried as much if it wasn’t for my animals, I worry for their fate. But God will find a way I pray. I have seen Him work mightily in a friend’s life and He has done some amazing things in my life, so I am trusting Him to get me to a new place in His strength. Thank you for your words here!

  2. Tara on December 16, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I really appreciate this question and answer. I too have struggled in the area of setting boundaries and consequences with my husband who struggles with pornoraphy. The latest boundary I put in place is in regards to my husband downoading movies with nudity in them. (Rated R movies). I have asked him to look up movies before downloading them because I don’t feel comfortable with having them in our home. He says he can just look them up before he watches them, not enforce he downloads because it takes too long. (He downloads a bunch at a time). I have emphasized to him that I don’t even want them on our hard drive and that I don’t trust that he won’t watch them. (He had watched them numerous times when I am not home). Finally just recently I told him that if he downloads any more movies to the hard drive that are inappropriate I will put a filter on our internet that blocks the downloading sites. (Consequence). Now I struggle with the movies that are already on the hard drive. There are hundreds and he refuses to go through all of them to take off any inappropriate ones. (Says it would take too long). I need to establish another boundary. Maybe if he doesn’t take off the remaining inappropriate movies, he will have to delete all of them and start over? I’m not sure what woul be appropriate.

    • Traci on July 29, 2015 at 2:50 am

      I just happened upon this website an hour ago so this may not be an acceptable answer here but, I would absolutely delete them ALL. Tell him you are starting clean and now it’s his responsibility to keep it that way or you will put the filter on.
      Just my opinion. I am a Christian woman, but dealing with these husbands with NPD (which mine is one as well) is too much. Certain things are non-negotiable to me. This would be one of those. If he can’t take the time to filter through them out of respect for you then do what you need to do to be comfortable. I’m tired of living by their altered reality.

  3. Joy on December 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I’ve been where you are. His heart is the problem, so any restrictions/consequences you continue to put on him are external and will not fix his addiction (which, by nature, will continue to get worse).

    Part of the answer may be to test whether he sees this as sin and would be willing to confide in a spiritual friend and ask to be held accountable.

    If not, you may need to speak to your pastor/leader about the problem?

    Another aspect is to offer him some excellent books. “Every Man’s Battle” is the best, as well as many other helpful Christian books to help him get victory.

    There is also much help online and, I think it’s Pure Heart Ministries that has a camp just for men who struggle with sexual sins and also support for their wives.

    • Tara on December 17, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Joy,

      Thank you for your feedback. I really appreciate it! I realize that his heart has not changed. I guess in the meantime I just want to make sure that these things are not in our home. I know I can’t change his heart which is ultimately what needs to change!

      I have asked that he be accountable to someone I trust. He has a guy who is NOT helpful on our accountability report for the internet. He has the email of a guy from a group at Celebrate Recovery but has yet to put this guy on our Covenant Eyes (accountability report for the internet). He is beginning to go to group at Celebrate Recovery but is not consistent. It’s been a year and a half since I caught him with porn and his recovery since then has never been consistent or serious. I am getting so worn out. I know I can’t change him. I am in Celebrate Recovery as well to work on my co-dependency and separate myself from his recovery. I have made lists of what I need in order to trust him, told him what I need, etc. But you’re right…just no heart change. I can’t change that!

      I’m thinking/praying about my next step which as you said may be some sort of intervention. We are members of a church that we just recently started attending after my husband was let go from his worship leader position at our previous church. (Long story!).

      I cannot get him to read or listen to anything that would help him with his struggle. He refuses. Again, I have to let this go I think. I have told him that I expect him to go to group each week. However, what would be a consequence if he doesn’t go or get the accountability? Loss of my trust? He doesn’t care about that. 🙁

      • Chuck on December 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm

        Two additional resources that I use are: “Closing the Window” by Tim Chester, which looks at porn in all its forms; and “When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography” by Vickie Tiede for wives. Both have their own websites if you want to check them out before buying their books.

        • Tara on December 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm

          Chuck, thank you. I’ll look those up. Although I’ve read tons of books and info on the topic and it just makes me bitter. I think I need to work on my own issues (co-dependency/bitterness) and stop focusing on my husband!

          • Chuck on December 24, 2013 at 10:01 am

            That is what Vicki Teide’s book is for.



          • Dianna on January 16, 2014 at 6:18 pm

            Tara, I applaud your honesty and persistence in setting boundaries and consequences.
            When asking a godly friend advise to deal w/ my husband’s porn problem, she made it clear that she believed he was addicted. I had known that her husband, a godly leader in the community, openly admitted struggling w/ porn but did not know that he has an addiction and has been in recovery for years ONLY w/ godly counseling and accountability partners.
            As crazy as this is to admit, I was surprised to have my friend have to tell me that my husband has an addiction! I had known there had been too many instances of porn over the years. The point being, an addiction needs special treatment, I believe, beyond your setting boundaries and giving consequences. I say this with all kindness because you have been so diligent w/ taking responsibility w/ consequences and I sure did not – rather hid my head in the sand!
            My bottomline thought is, Tara; can your husband overcome his addiction until he recognizes it for what it is and then gets treatment for something that he probably cannot do on his own. Also, like Chuck was saying, you probably need resources/professional help for yourself, too.
            Like you, we attended CR for some time, w/ great results, to my surprise. Then key members of my husband’s support group left the group for various reasons and he had lost that support. He also did not get professional help. He had some serious relapsing last year, which was when I turned to God for help and direction. My friend’s name came to mind and I got the courage to approach her & she was very helpful. Things have continued to deteriorate in our marriage since then and we are in the process of legal separation for a long period of time, so I am dealing w/ getting on my own financially & emotionally. I have put aside his addiction concerns because I have needed to work on my own core. God gave me Leslie’s guest speech on Midday Connection, which has given me godly resources to sort out the insane thinking and reacting in myself.
            I have probably over explained, Tara, but I did so to encourage you to seek professional help for both you and your husband. I hope this has been helpful.



  4. Bev on December 16, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    I can really relate to this one. I stayed way too long and perpetuated the abusive behavior by being passive and submissive to it. When I finally realized I’d rather be dead, I divorced him.

    As for the things of value, God blessed me with a decent income despite having stayed at home for 20 years raising and homeschooling the kids. In the settlement, I kept the house and most of what is in it. NO matter what the outcome, I was determined to trust God for his provision, knowing I was being obedient to the word (finally) by standing up to the abuse and refusing to submit to it any longer. God has been infinitely faithful; I can attest to this first hand.

    None of it made sense to me financially, socially, or a myriad of other ways. That was why I stayed so long. It has been difficult to re-establish myself as an individual, but again, God is faithful. Nobody even asks about whether I was divorced any more (when I meet new people), and it hasn’t even been legal a whole year yet.

    I feared loneliness, poverty, social stigmas, rejection, and a lot of other similar things that kept me in that destructive relationship. Don’t let fear control you. God says repeatedly not to fear.

    Sister, God loves you. This man either doesn’t or just doesn’t know how to show you love. Either way, he has already broken his vows to you.

    I’ll be praying that God would give you the courage and wisdom to do the right thing.

    • Christine on December 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

      Bev,

      Excellent advice. And I am so sorry you had to endure what you did.

      I am afraid that too many Christian women, thinking they are placed under some biblical mandate to endure all as suitably submissive wives, end up seriously damaged physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and their children are seriously damaged as well.

      Why is the attention always on what they, the abused, must do or not do?

      Much, much more attention needs to be focused on the abuser, his crimes, his damaging behaviors, his sin, his wrong choices, and how he is destroying not only his marriage but the lives of his children to some degree.

      In the meantime, I wish that in her last video on what to do when the spouse doesn’t change, Leslie had included information such as the national domestic abuse telephone number, or at least, an encouragement for women to contact their local women’s shelter for the many kinds of assistance offered there. At the very least, “dial 911,” for starters.

      Yes, ideally, the church should have as many if not more sources of real aid and practical help for women and children such as financial aid, safe houses/shelter, counseling, and so on.

      But because so many churches are afraid they might violate some biblical mandate that requires women to submit to this, unfortunately, the church has little to offer.

      And many Christian women go to the secular crisis centers, who (the centers), by the way, are well aware of the demographic, and usually have at least some resources for them.

      Some years ago, my sister and I donated quite a few resources geared for Christian victims to our local shelter. They received it with thanks as at the time they had so few resources of this nature.

      What prompted this was my sister’s roommate’s experience when she sought help in the church (back then). The last straw for her in her marriage was when he tried to run her over with his truck, she, pregnant at the time.

      All her church told her was to come in and schedule an appointment for couples counseling after he violated his restraining order and came to her church and harassed her there. That’s all they had to offer as she stood, sobbing, between my sister and me, that evening in church after the service, in front of her soon to be ex husband who kept repeating, “Your’e supposed to forgive and forget, forgive and forget…”

      To my sister and I later, the church “leader” said, “Well, we don’t really know if he was harassing her. She could have been sobbing because she stubbed her toe.” This, after it was explained to them why she had the restraining order.

      They had absolutely and profoundly no clue.

      At least an usher, who had witnessed the scene, offered, after the church “leaders” abruptly left, to escort the three of us out of the building as the angry husband was still trying to get at his wife verbally…

      Thankfully, there is at least a little more help these days in the church for victims of domestic violence. However, if not, there are good secular sources of help.

      And I’m not even touching on marriages where a spouse is destroyed mentally, emotionally, and relationally, by the “thousand little cuts” of contempt, put-downs, sarcasm, rudeness, rages, abusive silent treatments, but he never leaves a physical mark…

      Jesus had a habit of leaving hostile crowds, we can leave hostile ones, too. After all is said and done.

      When Jesus DID submit to murder, it was for an entirely different, unique reason: He was our sacrificial lamb.

      He already died for the abusive spouse.

      No one else has to.

  5. Nikki on December 16, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I think some prayer and fasting are in order to truly understand and follow God’s will in this situation. When seeking marital advice, I often get stuck in Ephesians – examining the scriptures from a perspective of fear and suffering really is a new lens for me.

    Regardless of the next direction, I value the Biblical counsel and fellowship of believers. Thank you.

  6. Lila on December 17, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    I have recently discovered that my husband has been unfaithful after 21 years of marriage. Don’t know what to do. I kicked him out …. and ten days later he came back saying that it will never happen again. Again, what do I do? Is there any sin that God hasn’t forgiven me for? but is that the right way to look at it. We gratefully have no children. Any advise?

    • Leslie Vernick on December 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm

      Lila, this is such a hard call. Of course you must forgive him if you want to obey God. But also this is a serious wound to the marriage and I would highly suggest you insist on counseling for the two of you.

      • Lila on December 19, 2013 at 7:29 pm

        Asking him to go to counseling is like asking him to become a Christian. He is not a man of God. And he does not feel the seriousness of the wound that he has placed on our marriage. He does not feel shame. He does not know what repentance even means. He says that he is extremely sorry. He says that it will never happen again. yet, I’m not so sure. And I do not know if I want to live this way. But what does the Lord want me to do?

  7. Cyndy on December 17, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Precious sister! I so KNOW your heart! I have been there for so many years. Just last week, my counselor nailed it for me when he said “you cannot control the outcome”. My job is to simply look to Daddy God as I have been and take each step as He leads. In the last 2 1/2 yrs of my living separately from my husband HE has proved Himself 100% trustworthy!! I left (from a foreign mission field), telling my husband I wanted reconciliation, but could not continue to live under his domination. I told my teenage girls I trusted the Lord and them to be able to choose who to live with(I did NOT want to play the verbal manipulation game my husband does!). My oldest daughter stayed with my husband. Our church leadership promptly encouraged him to continue in his calling as a missionary. My oldest daughter and my husband continued to live over seas. My youngest daughter chose to stay with me in the USA. It has been a difficult 2 1/2 yrs as I did not request any financial covering from him because I didn’t want to be financially manipulated. God has provided EVERYTHING for us! I am still connected with my older daughter, though the relationship is tense because she is completely won over to her dad’s perspective. God has given promises to me for her and showed me how to pray for her, and I believe she will not always be deceived. Daddy God is SO good. We can trust Him!! He is all we have– and yet He has surrounded us with old and many new friends. I am CONTINUALLY AMAZED. I love your heart and I know this seems rather trite to say, but I LOVE YOU! Hang in there and don’t get twisted up in too much of the “am I doing everything right” worries! God has me in a place where I am taking everything “one step at a time” and He is showing me where the next step needs to be– it is scary sometimes, but usually a RELIEF to know Someone bigger than me has my GOOD in His capable Hands. Trust Him, dear one! We are rooting for you!!! xo

  8. Robin on December 17, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    As I listen to different stories of women’s lives, it seems like alot of it comes down to being able to set personal boundaries to protect yourself, and then consequences so the abuser understands his sinful behaviors will not be tolerated. As someone who learned this very late in life, and after 30 yrs of living with an abuser…. I think what I learned is solid boundaries and firm consequences are absolutely a must!! I think I hear fear often, in women not knowing what to do. I remember so well – living in fear and confusion and it freezing me up, so I did nothing effective. I would encourage anyone in an abusive, confusing relationship to find a counselor that can help you walk thru this. Your core needs to be built up so you are strong enough to set those consequences now, rather than later. You don’t have to start with the most difficult ones, but just start. Consequences say, I cannot allow myself to cooperate with your evil behaviors. If he doesn’t hear you, than maybe your counselor can help you with some consequences that you havn’t tried. I do want to say, they do change homes from total chaos and oppression — to calmness and peacefulness. But it is alot of work!! Go towards it and be strong.!!!! Being passive destroys our homes.

  9. Charity on December 21, 2013 at 12:38 am

    I’m actually in the process of “leaving well” right now. I did surround myself with support first (counselors, church, friends) and I agree that that is absolutely necessary. My husband DID get angry about the “violation to his privacy and lack of respect” when I first started getting help, but I had gotten to the point where I wasn’t going to let him manipulate and control me with fear anymore. I needed help. Period. And I got it. I’m so glad I did, and I don’t regret for one minute setting and enforcing boundaries. God has faithfully and tenderly walked me away from that abusive relationship, and He has provided for me and my kids in miraculous ways! We have witnessed powerful and amazing provision, and it has strengthened our faith in HUGE ways. I loved everything Leslie said in her response. I did have a couple personal thoughts to add…if the things this girl values are financial security & standard of living–then yes, she has to focus on the more important things that Leslie listed. But when I had those same thoughts–that I would be “destroying everything I valued”–I wasn’t worried about material things…what I valued and didn’t want to lose was my marriage, an “unbroken” home for my kids, and the ability to stay home with them and continue to homeschool. But God has given me so much clarity since I left. Yes, I valued my “marriage”, but my marriage was bad…very bad. What I was clinging to was not the actual relationship, but a dream of what I wanted it to become…and what I thought I could create if I tried hard enough and waited long enough. So, in losing that, I didn’t really lose a marriage. I never really had one (and what I gained was the perspective that I could never “create” a good marriage anyway! “Unless the Lord build the house”…remember?) Secondly, I used to think that a broken home was the worst thing that could happen to my kids. But God has shown me that the home they lived in was way more destructive. Now that we are “on our own” we live in peace! Sweet, beautiful peace. When we first left, we lived in an RV for 3 months, and then in someone’s basement for another 3 months. It was cramped and uncomfortable. And we had just left a beautiful 4200 sq ft home! It spoke volumes to me that my kids would rather live in an RV in peace than go back to that beautiful, big house and live with their dad in all that chaos and fear! God showed me that their emotional health did not depend on me staying in that marriage. In fact, they are emotionally healthier by far now that we don’t live with him. And thirdly, I do have to work now, but God has provided a job where I can still spend a lot of time with my kids–and I can even still homeschool. He is the God “Who Goes Before Us”….and in every step of this journey, I can see that He has already prepared the way. All I have to do is walk in it. He is the BEST Husband. He provides for EVERY need….physical, emotional, and spiritual. So I am here to testify to what Leslie is saying. I’ve read her books, her blog, watched the videos, everything. And she is spot on! Loving someone sometimes means drawing the line and not wavering on that. Even if the relationship crumbles. God is at work, leading and guiding, and we have to leave it in His hands. He will bless the obedience that she speaks of….that hard obedience that calls for deep faith and much bravery. But He doesn’t just ask us to do these hard things alone. He is with us and He enables us and strengthens us to “leave well,” and He surrounds us with His peace and presence through the process. There is nothing to fear.

    • Elizabeth on December 21, 2013 at 8:43 pm

      Bev. That was so well said. Thank you so much for taking the time to share that with us.

      I too am in the process of leaving well. Every difficult moment I am faced with God has this beautiful way of showing me my blessings and filling my heart with peace. He is so faithful.

      Blessings to you and your children.

    • Mary on December 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      Charity
      What a beautiful entry for all of us here.You said it all for us.I experienced some of the same feelings you did. I was at rock bottom and my NPD and abusive husband NEVER wanted me to share our problems with anyone. It had been 22 years and I needed help badly! This was the beginning stages of implementing my boundaries. A couple months after I left, he called me, in tears, and said he doesn’t have any boundaries. He was so angry with me and said I betrayed him with our trust. This was 2 years ago.I had to leave 5 months ago. He has been terrible since. He filed for the divorce, one I didn’t want and it’ll be final on the 6th. These last 2 years he felt that I betrayed this trust but in reality he did the betrayal.God was with me the entire time,from packing to leaving, to arriving at my destination. Then the following months, oh how God pulled me through and how everything fell into place.I had never experienced this when we were together. God is faithful and showed His love as my emotional pain was unbearable. He was by my side as the scripture in Isaiah says…holding my hand.It continues to be hard work, some days better than others, but God is always there for me. I really do “talk” to my God and He answers. My relationship with Him is so strong,a strenght I never had. My husband, through his actions and perceptions, was my God. Lesley brings this thought up as that’s what some of us do. Our husbands or us place them in this position. In my case it was my husband and I oblidged. He still thinks this way. He told me through an e-mail this week that he’ll find a woman that’ll follow his lead as then he’ll be her only family. Family, when the kids are grown and gone, only incorporates the husband and wife he believes. It’s his NPD and other personality disorder that gives him these thoughts. Hard to take but God, through His Son, delivers in a big way. I love Him. God Bless us all. We will continue on.

  10. Bev on December 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    My word, Charity, you took so many words right out of my mouth! Fear of losing my “marriage,” when what I had wasn’t one anyway; fear of losing his love, when I didn’t have that either; fear of having a broken home and what that would do to my kids, when the home was already broken while we lived with him; living a delusion that I had love, a marriage, and a functioning home for my children, when what I really had was so terribly far from it. Thanks for validating what was on my heart and expressing it so beautifully.

    • Joy on January 1, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      ditto!

    • Ann on August 22, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      I really relate to your comments Bev.

  11. Robin on December 21, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Charity, thank you for taking the time to share your story, its so encouraging to see how God leads a way and then provides for every need. I also like the part very much that says how well your children are doing. Sometimes its easy to get confused about what is best for our children. You made it clear, you didn’t break up a home, but you provided for the children’s needs- which required you to leave a beautiful home for a greater security to meet your children’s real needs. Bless you!!

  12. Elizabeth on December 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    I have to spend a lot of time with my husband (we are separated) in the next 24 hours to celebrate Christmas with our children. Being in his presence and having to listen to him really triggers my anxiety and frustration. He will test my boundaries or just simply ignore them. I will be forced to witness the charming Dr. Jekyll personality around friends. I am praying that God fills my heart with His peace and helps me to act with grace, wisdom, strength, and courage.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 24, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      We will pray too. Its tough not to allow those negative feelings of fear and anger rob us of the joy and peace we desire.

      • Elizabeth on December 24, 2013 at 1:02 pm

        Thank you <3

      • Leslie Vernick on December 24, 2013 at 1:04 pm

        One more thing: For those of you who feel stress coming up or other negative emotions this holiday, calm yourself instantly by breathing. Yes that’s right. Breathe slowly in for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of six. Slow down the number of breathes you take per minute to about 4.(not forever, just for a few minutes). This immediately helps your emotions to calm down and your brain to refocus instead of react. Try it and let me know how it goes.

        • Elizabeth on December 26, 2013 at 11:03 am

          I don’t react. I internalize then implode. Reacting or standing up for myself or my kids seldom resulted in any thing beneficial usually it made things worse. I would get frightening levels of anger directed back at me or my husband would be so hurt and upset I would end up putting my emotions aside to help him handle his. Another option was that I would be placated and then ignored. Because it made things worse it just seemed to be counter productive to speak up. So I learned over the past 20 years to just shoulder his needs, the children’s needs, my needs, and the household needs myself. Needless to say I am exhausted.

          I find myself needing to take deep breaths and trying to calm myself before I saw him or after he left. While he was around I was just sort of anxious and numb. Is that normal?

          • Leslie Vernick on December 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm

            I think it’s normal for now – when we are in the presence of someone who feels toxic to us we flight, fight or freeze. It sounds like you do a little anxious freeze for now. Take your deep breathes and be kind to yourself. You will never change him but you can stop him from affecting you so much.



  13. Melissa on December 31, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    My husband left Dec. 1, but moved to a spare bedroom 2 weeks before. Our 21st anniversary was Sunday, Dec. 29. My husband has/had been communicating through emails and I have saved them all. About a week after leaving he asked if I wanted him back in a 2 page email. I didn’t respond immediately, instead thought and replied the next day. Most of this year has been a roller coaster with him leaving for 2 days in February and threatening a few other times this year. He’s verbally, emotionally and mentally abusive, angry and controlling and will not take responsibility. In his email it was my lack of attention being the reason for his behavior including acting out with other women. I told him in my response that I wanted him to actually take steps to work on his anger and control, that just saying he will doesn’t mean anything. His response is “I am done, this was your last chance”. He seems to look at it as all or nothing. He said I have hurt him and is scared to come back, it just seems so ironic. Instead of using the separation to work on himself I feel he’s acting out with more destructive behavior. He’s ready for separation and divorce. I really do not want that. At the same time I’m trying to face the reality of who he is and how he continues to treat me. He wanted me to sign a form to have his name removed from the water bill and it would just be in my name. I said no and he actually said he would have it turned off. This is the home where our children live, unbelievable he would say or do that. We have 3 children: 17, 15 and 11.

    My husband started telling me to get a job in February after he left the first time. I’ve been a stay at home mom for almost 18 years and he has supported that until February. He stopped saying it when he came back and of course he says I need a job now. He’s active duty military and legally I will get between 40-50% of his retirement depending on when he retires. He seems to be bothered with this, like I don’t deserve anything. He stopped the e-bills for some of our monthly bills and says he’s putting enough money in the account so I can pay them myself. I don’t know if that’s true yet. He always managed the bills before. I have consulted with a few attorneys. I’m trying to avoid retaining an attorney yet. I’m trying to wait and see how far he will take the financial control. I haven’t notified his command on base and I think he knows he could get in trouble if he goes too far. I also don’t think he wants anyone else to know.

    After staying home with the kids all these years I’m not qualified to get a high paying job. I hope to get a part time one in the next few months. Two of our children have medical issues and have frequent doctor’s appointments at times. So that’s part of the reason I’m hesitant about full time work. He sent an email today revoking any powers of attorney I had for him.

    I’ve seen some of the posts about narcissism and he does have some of those traits. I think that’s why he’s acting the way he does. He has said twice that I should be out of the house instead of him. Yet, he’s the one that left. Both of our names are on the mortgage. He also doesn’t visit our kids like I thought he would. I have found a domestic violence support group that’s been helpful as well.

    It’s interesting as I become a healthier person through counseling and personal growth that it’s something my husband cannot accept. In an email he suggested I might have Borderline Personality Disorder. He also told his mother I might have a mental disorder because she told me. One of the facilitators of the group said it’s common for the abusive spouse/partner to claim the other has a personality disorder. I suppose anything to discredit. Anyway there’s so much more, I just need to get this out.

    I’m careful not to respond to my husband’s emails unless I need to. I just don’t know what he’s truly capable of and sometimes I’m uneasy. In efforts to protect myself I’m concerned how he might react. And I don’t want to be fearful anymore. I just checked my email inbox and there’s one about a separation agreement. I don’t even want to read it, this is so stressful.

  14. Robin on January 1, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Melissa, it sounds like you’ve been very thoughtful and have walked out your steps well. Have you read Leslie’s bks- The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage?? I think they might help to empower you and give you additional support and wisdom. Chapter 7 (BUILD YOUR CORE) in the marriage bk, is highly recommended by many women, who are walking in a destructive relationship. What I have learned by surviving many of the things you mentioned is – care less about what he says, and more what you know to be truth. If you are not seeing a counselor adept in Control, Dominance, and Power I personally recommend you find one.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 1, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      Thanks Robin. Melissa and other’s I am going to be offering a new CORE Focus group – The sessions will be January 22, and 29th, Wednesday nights at 9PM ET. I will be sending out a video inviting people to participate on Friday of next week – January 10th. There are only 30 spots available. This has been an very empowering group for women to get their CORE started and gaining confidence in their growth and has been completely filled up very quickly every time I’ve offered it. I’d love for anyone who is in this blog community to have first options if you want to be a part. If you’re interested please contact my assistant at assistant@leslievernick.com and we will get you the notice a day before it goes out to my general mailing list so you can be sure to join if you’d like.

      • Melissa on January 1, 2014 at 8:11 pm

        Thank you Leslie for all your work. I will check into the new focus group.

    • Melissa on January 1, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      Thank you Robin. I’m reading through The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and it’s been very helpful so far. I will look into The Emotionally Destructive Relationship as well. It really is getting easier to care less about what he says. In phone conversations it seems he’s contradicting himself constantly. And it goes in circles, too confusing. I’m definitely in a better place than 6 months ago. I do have a personal counselor, she doesn’t exactly specialize in domestic violence but she is the one that recognized the financial control this past summer. She has been helpful so far.

      • Robin on January 1, 2014 at 9:00 pm

        Melissa, I’m glad to hear you have a counselor who you feel is helpful. Couple things that come to my mind are
        #1. Really consider what is in the best interest of your children. Its easy to get confused and think they need their unhealthy dad more than a stable and safe home. I wish I had known more about that, when my children were enduring so much emotional pain.
        #2. I have wasted so much time, allowing my abusive spouse to be my focal point. Do all you can to nurture your own growth, by building a healthy support base, and maybe trying some new things. Its so easy to get caught up with him, as he’s usually the loudest. And that’s what destructive spouses are aiming for- to keep their spouse focused on him and ineffective. I’ll be praying for you!!

  15. Robin on January 1, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Leslie, thank you for all you do for women in destructive relationships. I try to read your blog and hour or two daily, as I have learned so much from listening to others share their stories. I want you to know, I have been in a very abusive marriage for 32 yrs, and much due to this blog, I will be separating and divorcing soon. Your information has been invaluable, thru the many resources to help me to understand what my responsibilities to myself, my children, and my husband are. THank you for all you provide for hurting families.
    Robin

    • Jessy on January 4, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Leslie, i too am in an verbally ,emotionally abusive marriage for 20 years. We lost our house 2 months ago. Our kids are grown both in college now. I cant do it anymore and just yesterday told him.i was done.

      • Jessy on January 4, 2014 at 9:59 am

        Now i want to separate and get healthy move forward. I get depressed bc of the constant abuse for so many years. The fear at the thought of being on my own paralizes me but i wont let it any longer.

        • Jessy on January 4, 2014 at 10:01 am

          I have been reading your blog for a while now and it has also given me the strength i need. Thank you leslie for what you do to help so many of us in these destructive marriages.

  16. Tara on January 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I would really like to reply to Dianna on this thread but I don’t think I have the option to! Is there any way I can get your contact info Dianna? Could someone help me if I’m not doing this right?!

    • Leslie Vernick on January 19, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      We don’t give out personal information on this blog because of the desire for anonymity. We don’t put e-mails on the site for that reason.

      • Tara on January 19, 2014 at 9:55 pm

        Okay I understand. Thank you!

  17. Lisa on February 6, 2014 at 10:38 am

    Thank you, Leslie for providing so many wonderful free resources for women in this situation. After exhausting all my resources for counseling, this site is a tremendous blessing. The wisdom in your blogs and your YouTube videos are a tremendous support.

    It’s a journey that can feel lonely and isolating if we allow it to be. Your blog has given women a way to reach out and get the help we need for that next step. With this blog, that opportunity is available to ANYONE.

    As I face new hurdles in this process, your blog has reminded me to trust in our Lord’s perfect love and timing. I had forgotten the perfection in God’s timing. I had been witness to it when I had to flee our home.
    Yet, somehow in this legal battle, my old fears returned.

    I doubted that I was in God’s favor for taking this extreme step to end a marriage I so wanted to be steeped in the riches of God. But it wasn’t… It was a far cry from anything close to that.

    Fortunately, this blog has given me great advice and insight to ease my fears. I see that I am not alone. You’ve given me true insight into my situation and that I am not ” hard hearted ” for doing this. I truly didn’t think I was, but after hearing it so any times, I questioned myself.
    Fortunately, your blog has given me hope again. Hope that I can become the woman I want to be. It’s given me the truth that I am not the person my husband insisted I was.
    My sisters in this pain, I want you to know you are never alone in this. Don’t believe the lies that keep you from trusting in our God. His timing and provision is always perfect…always.

  18. Brenda on January 12, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I spent so many years trying to “fix” my marriage. Got to the point where I realized I was an empty shell of human flesh. I worked at a library and one day I came across Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Once I started reading it, I broke out in a sweat and started feeling sick to my stomach, but I couldn’t put it down. Clarity started as soon as I realized I wasn’t going out of my mind, that what I’m living is such major dysfunction. I’m also reading up on co-dependency-as I believe that is also a big issue for me in this mess. Still working through things. I’ve tried to keep a journal, but when I go to write something, I can’t even think of how to put what just happened down on paper because it’s so nuts-he is so uber covert that my head still gets scrambled. I do know one thing though-I don’t love him like a wife should love a husband. I love him as a brother in Christ (this can be debated also) but there is nothing I want from him. He stopped initiating sex shortly after we were married. I’ve thought he had affairs, was gay, you name it. He has no desire to please me or himself with me. I look at him with sorrow and pity. He is so insecure and angry, no compassion or empathy. I’m really becoming more convinced that relationship happiness is something that has been elusive for me and what I’ve learned is that I would rather wait for heaven….no matter how great any Godly marriage is here on earth will never compare to the joy of heaven. I know it sounds sad, but knowing Jesus has given me more joy than any man in my life ever has (except for my dad who adored me and showed me unconditional love-my dad made it easy for me to believe in my Father in Heaven. I will persevere, try to stay well and let God guide my steps.

    • Donna on August 3, 2020 at 11:23 pm

      Leslie, I have followed your blog and webinars for a year. I’ve tried to stay well but find I can’t. I’ve sought counsel, talked to church leaders, talked to 3 attorneys and the same one twice 6 months apart. The reality has been so discouraging. Church leaders won’t help, they feel it’s over their head. We were separated off and on for 5 of years married. Husband would never agree to a non contested divorce when asked. My attorney encourages divorce but says it will be hard for me before it gets better and there’s no guarantees. My husband will fight costing a lot of money in court and trying to make me at fault creating more emotional trauma for me. I could lose a lot financially, have a lot more stress, and the outcome may not be what I hope and could take a long time. I’m also told unless there is hard proof of physical abuse like someone seeing him do it or a recording of him threatening to kill me, that I could have to live in the same house with husband during the divorce as judges don’t kick people out of their homes they own without hard proof here. Courts are siding more with men and narcissist man knows how to work the system. I work from home part time, have no benefits and have physical limitations from health issues.I can’t leave my home without losing my income. I’m 58. I have had to move 6 times in 7.5 years of marriage and had to rebuild my students all over again each time. I can’t teach out of an apartment. I have a music studio in my home. I have truly felt stuck and pray God will make a way when there seems to be no way. My attorney really scared me this last visit because it took away my courage and hope and I felt like I may not be able to handle it. I don’t have a support system, just myself and God. God promises not to give us more than we can handle. He knows my situation and how hard Ive tried in every way. Is it right for me to trust Him to provide a way out when he wants to release me or is that too passive? I truly don’t know what else to do.

  19. Rose on August 24, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    I am so thankful for all of you sharing your feelings and experiences. Right now I am really going through so much confusion. I left my husband because of verbal and emotional abuse and control. He would put me down and give me orders in front of his family and mine. I am 60 and this is both our second marriage. Everything has to be his way and I can never disagree with him. He is always right and if I disagree he says I am trying to start an argument. Every argument is my fault and when I don’t want to make love after he curses me out and calls me the B word. He even said he never had a woman treat him as bad as I do because I try to express myself. I have never shouted or cursed at him. He yells and curses at other drivers and if I tell him to calm down he says I am taking the other person’s side and then proceeds to curse me out.

    After an argument over something small, which it usually is, he started cursing me out, simply because i said the tv was too oud! He cursed and cursed and called me all kinds of names. I then got up and told him I was going out for a drive and would come back when he decided to talk not argue. I tried to leave but he would not let me and all of this on top of cursing, calling me all kinds of names and putting me down. I told him I had to leave while he calmed down and that’s when he grabbed my pocketbook off my shoulder as I was walking out and pushed me on the sofa. I was terrified. Once before he choked me and Idid not want that to happen again. After the choke I left and we went to counseling and I went back. But getting back to this last event, I knew I had to escape and I did. I left. At first I felt empowered, but then after the calls, texts I started to miss him. This has been the third time I left him and I promised myself the second time that if it happened again I would leave for good. And, it did happen again and I feel torn – why? I know the facts, but why do I feel so weak? Why am am worried my marriage may be over when I know it more than likely already is over? I’m praying for God’ direction and it seems that God is taking him out of my life. After several hospitalizations on his part for physical and now recently for severe depression. While in the hospital for depression he called saying he loved me and my heart went out to him thinking this could have been the reasons for some of his behavior problems. Since then he is now home re-cooperating with his family and has made no attempt to call me since his family say I am the blame for him being depressed since I left him and got a restraining order on him for the verbal abuse and for pushing me. I ran and left him, got the restraining order because I was afraid. Now however after he called me and begged and went for counseling by himself I started to feel he might change. Then he got depressed and ended up in the hospital for that. As said his family blames me and he is now home with them and has made no attempt to contact me. Now I miss him, but I’m praying for God to direct this situation because God may just be taking him out of my life not allowinighim to call me because it’s for the best. I have not called him because I’m waiting to see what God does with him. I pray for wisdom and that you will pray for me too. A couple of my friends say I should run as far away as I can from him and his family. Pray for me please. I love him and feel sorry for him and me too. But I am not going to reach out to him. Waiting on God to show me.

  20. Rose on August 25, 2016 at 4:39 am

    I am so thankful for all of you sharing your feelings and experiences. Right now I am really going through so much confusion. I left my husband because of verbal and emotional abuse and control. He would put me down and give me orders in front of his family and mine. I am 60 and this is both our second marriage. Everything has to be his way and I can never disagree with him. He is always right and if I disagree he says I am trying to start an argument. Every argument is my fault and when I don’t want to make love after he curses me out and calls me the B word. He even said he never had a woman treat him as bad as I do because I try to express myself. I have never shouted or cursed at him. He yells and curses at other drivers and if I tell him to calm down he says I am taking the other person’s side and then proceeds to curse me out.

    After an argument over something small, which it usually is, he started cursing me out, simply because i said the tv was too loud! He cursed and cursed and called me all kinds of names. I then got up and told him I was going out for a drive and would come back when he decided to talk not argue. I tried to leave but he would not let me and all of this on top of cursing, calling me all kinds of names and putting me down. I told him I had to leave while he calmed down and that’s when he grabbed my pocketbook off my shoulder as I was walking out and pushed me on the sofa. I was terrified. Once before he choked me and I did not want that to happen again. After the choke I left and we went to counseling and I went back. But getting back to this last event, I knew I had to escape and I did. I left. At first I felt empowered, but then after the calls, texts I started to miss him. This has been the third time I left him and I promised myself the second time that if it happened again I would leave for good. And, it did happen again and I feel torn – why? I know the facts, but why do I feel so weak? Why am am worried my marriage may be over when I know it more than likely already is over? I’m praying for God’ direction and it seems that God is taking him out of my life. After several hospitalizations on his part for physical which is now okay and now recently for severe depression. While in the hospital for depression he called saying he loved me and my heart went out to him thinking this could have been the reasons for some of his behavior problems. Since then he is now home re-cooperating with his family and has made no attempt to call me since his family say I am the blame for him being depressed since I left him and got a restraining order on him for the verbal abuse and for pushing me. I ran and left him, got the restraining order because I was afraid. Now however after he called me and begged and went for counseling by himself I started to feel he might change. Then he got depressed and ended up in the hospital for that. As said his family blames me and he is now home with them and has made no attempt to contact me. Now I miss him, but I’m praying for God to direct this situation because God may just be taking him out of my life not allowing him to call me because it’s for the best. I have not called him because I’m waiting to see what God does with him. I pray for wisdom and that you will pray for me too. A couple of my friends say I should run as far away as I can from him and his family. Pray for me please. I love him and feel sorry for him and me too. But I am not going to reach out to him because maybe God wants me to leave him alone and I don’t want to go against the will of God because I know He knows best. Waiting on God to show me.

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