Good morning friends,

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. And if you didn’t, I hope you have let it go and surrendered it to Christ. Life is too short to brood over what didn’t happen. There is a freedom in learning how to let go of those negative emotions and if you need help with that, I teach you how in my book, Lord I Just Want to be Happy.

In this New Year I will be posting some short video clips on helpful ways to manage negative emotions as well as your internal critic. You know, the one that always tells you that you are falling short or are not enough – not good enough, not thin enough, not smart enough, not spiritual enough, not pretty enough, etc. When you’re in a destructive marriage, those negative emotions and thoughts can be pretty strong.

I still have a few openings for my group coaching program starting January 13, at 8:30pm. If you’d like more information, please e-mail Amy at assistant@leslievernick.com.

One more thing. I wanted to clarify a bit on my last blog about boundaries and consequences. Although we cannot and should not take responsibility FOR another person’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes and actions, that does not mean we do not have a responsibility toward others, especially those we say we love.

One person wrote to me after my blog and said, “I’m free. I don’t have any responsibility for my spouse.” And although technically she’s right, biblically her attitude represents a lack of love or care for her own part of a destructive cycle. When we take responsibility for ourselves, we acknowledge that we impact and affect other people in our lives. We don’t just callously respond when we cause them pain, “well that’s your problem, I’m not responsible for your feelings.” We can’t take responsibility for them but we can care for them. This is a very tricky dance for those in destructive marriages because you usually have one person who is overly responsible and the other who is not responsible at all. However, the healthy stance isn’t to remove all responsibility but, just to be clear, what you are responsible for and who you are responsible to.

Responsibility to love, to care, to be good stewards of ourselves and our resources, not so that we are enriched, but that God is glorified.

Today’s Question: I divorced my husband 7 years ago and now have been living with him for 6 years. Things aren't any different and for some reason I can't leave. What is wrong with me? He is only nice when he wants something from me. He doesn't work and gets his money from his mom. It is a sad situation. I need to figure out why I am still with him and very unhappy with myself.

Answer: Sometimes we struggle like Paul talked about in Romans 7 where we don’t do what we know we should do and we do what we know we shouldn't do. It makes us feel crazy and helpless. When we get stuck in this place for any length of time we are definitely unhappy. The good news is, you are asking the right questions but I want you to start listening for the answers.

I want to do something different today. Instead of processing this for you, I want to teach you how to process this for yourself. First, let’s start with your biggest question. Why are you still with him? Get a piece of paper and write down all the reasons you haven’t made the break emotionally even though you went through with the legal papers of divorce.

For example, you might write down, I’m afraid to live on my own. I don’t want to leave him alone, I’m afraid he’ll deteriorate and I’ll feel responsible. I feel too guilty. I feel too selfish. I feel scared that no one would ever want me, or I still love him.

You’ve already gotten divorced but perhaps you’re also thinking that God will be displeased with your decision, your children will take sides making it uncomfortable for you to celebrate holidays or family events, or that financially, you will have to live with less. (Although you say he doesn’t work and gets money from his mom, you did not say you if you were financially independent, had a good job and could support yourself).

One clue as to why you stay is you say he’s nice to you sometimes. Especially when you have something he wants. You don’t say what that is but it might be sex, or money (that he doesn’t get from his mom) or favors, acts of service like cooking or laundry. It makes you feel good (important, needed, special) when he treats you nice and maybe you stay because a little niceness is better than none at all.

Once you allow yourself to list all the possible reasons why you have stayed, read them all out loud. Is there one that jumps out that feels “more true” than the others?

Second, I want you to ask yourself what would you feel if he suddenly died? You would no longer be living with him but would you feel the same way as if you didn’t live with him now? Why or why not? Write those things down. Does losing him through death feel easier than losing him through divorce? If so, why? That will give you some more clues as to why it’s hard for you to leave.

Third, I want you to imagine yourself two years from now healthy and happy and no longer living with him. What specific things would be different about you? Write them down.

Now, what I want you to do is to write a letter from your future self – the one that is happy and healthy and no longer living with him and I want you to share with your current self (the one who is stuck) what you learned about yourself from this unhealthy attachment to your ex-husband and how you broke free and grew stronger. What were the steps you took? Who helped you? What specifically did you need to do to get where you are right now (two years in the future?)

Sometimes we hit brick walls and we don’t really know why we’re acting in a certain way. Taking some time to ask ourselves important questions and not only asking, but listening to our answers provide some important wisdom.

 

 

 

 

55 Comments

  1. Elizabeth on December 30, 2013 at 11:09 am

    WOW What a great exercise!!! I know what I am doing tonight after the kids go to bed. Thanks Leslie 🙂

    • Robin on January 2, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      I would encourage anyone to do the above homework assignment that Leslie suggested, if you feel stuck and wonder why you are staying?? I did it, and it helped me get unstuck. T
      I followed the assignment, and wrote my husband a letter he will never read. I wrote it for my good to get all my thoughts down, and being able to safely say everything I might have wanted to say. It helped clarify what I’ve experienced in my abusive relationship and why I must move forward and leave it. It empowered me, strengthened me and my resolve to get healthy and be responsible to myself, my children, and stop enabling my husband.

  2. Christine on December 31, 2013 at 2:17 am

    I’m confused. I remember reading a woman’s post about being free and feeling happy for her. I have only been separated from my husband for a short period of time and I already feel free. I’m not sick, or nauseous, depressed, have aches or pains, a foggy brain, anxiety, and feel free for the first time in a long time because I realized that God didn’t want that for me. I was sexually abused by one person at the age of 4. Then between the ages of 7-9 by another, raped by 2 men at the age of 15, and many other incidences that left me with PTSD. I’ve been married to a man who has cheated on me 4xs that I know of, have me several STD’s, I raised my kids in the marriage …but alone. He sexually abused me, and when I developed the PTSD at the age of 40 due to all the trauma… My husband could care less. Of course I played a part in the destruction of the marriage. I stayed. I thought God wanted me to be a slave. I had rage and anger too. Everyday was filled with pain, and I clenched for years and years whenever he came near me. I admitted, in spite of it all, I will always love him, but it’s hard to be in love with a man who has abused me for years. I think that it is by the grace of God that I even have any feelings for the person who promised to love, cherish, honor, in sickness and in health and did nothing but ignore my pain and felt inconvenienced by my PTSD. It actually made him angry I couldn’t function well enough for him. It was like I was laying flat in my face and he was kicking me to get up. in a couseling session after i cried about the nightmares bring do bad thst i was waking up in my own urine, he literally asked me,”Where is your Christian faith now!” I contributed to allowing it to go on, and eventually started to lash out which I believe in some way was righteous anger. I responded appropriately to a hateful crime against me. So my confusion comes from a place where someone is saying, it’s ok to leave them, but it’s not ok to celebrate your freedom? Did the Iraelites not celebrate their freedom from Egypt? David grieved his sons death when his army killed his son, but was it right for him to not see that God restored him and be happy about that? Can’t we grieve our lost marriage and move on to joy? How is that not caring about the spouse we left? And is it our responsibility? It’s like you’re saying don’t feel guilty but then we should if we get to a place where we feel free from grief. The fact that I have love for my husband has to be from God. Who could love a man so cruel? It is my belief that this is something that God gave, and not necessarily something we should feel, but do because of God. On one last note… I believe it’s Jer. 17: that says the heart is deceitful above all and despatatly wicked above things who could know it. Which means, do we really know what is in this woman’s heart? I know God does! I say all this because there has been years of confusion, and as you know, so many women who struggle with as far as church influence, counseling influence, friends influence, our own misplaced guilt, and misplaced responsibilities. What if she was feeling victory and it was appropriate. Where is the sin in celebrating being free of bondage to a man that was evil to her? Who says she didn’t acknowledge her contribution to the destruction, but accepted Gods forgiveness for it, and allowed herself to feel that freedom? How much can we really know if we don’t know a persons whole heart.

  3. Anisa on December 31, 2013 at 11:47 am

    This is one I would like clarified as well please.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 1, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      Not sure where the confusion is coming from. What do you need clarified?

      • Anisa on January 1, 2014 at 2:36 pm

        Actually, Christine’s answer helped clarify for me. I struggle a lot with feeling good for the positive changes in my life and not taking on the blame that my husbands family attempts to put on me. Also, when you try to express how much better I feel right now with people I think I confuse their grief over the fact that my freedom came through a tragic situation. I end up feeling guilty for feeling better and experiencing others disappointment. I am sad that ultimately my kids and I will experience sadness and loss of our “intact family unit” and we are walking through that grief. However, we have all experienced now the freedom from the oppression that was here and as I have continued I am recognizing even more areas that I had lost in my life that are beginning to blossom again. I wish sometimes I didn’t feel bad for feeling good but I suppose I will grow past this too. Happy new year of freedom to all of you 🙂

        • Anisa on January 1, 2014 at 2:40 pm

          I meant Kathy’s response to Christine. Sorry 🙁

        • Christine on January 6, 2014 at 11:39 pm

          Thank you Anisa for explaining what i was trying to say so perfectly, about what it feels like. Thank you all for your responses. So grateful to have somewhere to go where people understand. Please indulge me, I have much to say and no one to share it with. I have not told anyone in my family about my separation for the very reason Anisa states. I want to paint you a picture of what it’s been like for me for the past 29 years of marriage for a purpose. You know about the adultery, and of corse there is so much more. To start I’d like to say as a young Christian wife, i knew I biblically had an out for adultery but I struggled with it in my heart for many reasons not to leave. First i loved him so much i thought it would kill me! I had 3 small children. (And i was 1 of 4 children that went into foster homes where I was terribly abused due to my parents divorce). I was surrounded by violence as a child, because my father used my mother as a punching bag on a regular basis, and the victimization that my parents neglect left me open too. (Sexual abuse by various people) I knew I could never make it on my own with 3 kids and keep them safe so I couldn’t be separated from them, or lose them. I needed my husbands financial support, and had no family to turn to for help. I couldn’t let my comfort come at the price of my children. I managed to hide from my children their fathers acts. They grew up clueless as I raised them in a Christian home. Then their was this guilt and fear that if I left my husband and didn’t forgive him for the many adulteries, IV drug use (which i found out about after we were married,) that God wouldn’t be pleased with me. Why did I fear this you wonder…. 3 of his five brothers show up at my door begging me to have mercy on him and let him back home. I was a christian and i should forgive! Then his parents who demanded God doesn’t want divorce! No one ever offered me a hug or comfort at all. Then my own family wanted me to take pity on him because he tricked them into sympathizing with him with his sad faces and declarations of love for me. … Even after adultery after adultery. It’s taken me 29 years to realize he was manipulating everyone to confuse me and make me 2nd guess myself. To make matters worse, after about 18 years of marriage I hired a biblical counselor who happened to be on payroll at my church. I ask her to help me get through a divorce. I ask her to help me help my husband see that he needs to let me go, and do right by me to support my children. This was all when my youngest was in middle school. (Now imagine your precious baby knowing the bible says there is only one out for divorce and asking you if you’re the adulterer) Moving on.. When my husband comes into the session, the counselor gives us a book to read, and homework on how to work on the marriage. When I return a week later and pretty much tell her that she betrayed me, that i hired her but that she was pretty much working for him. She replies that she’s not my friend but my counselor, and someone who is there to help me and to trust her. I made my decision, and yet another Christian was telling me what I should do causing guilt and confusion as to what God wants me to do. I thought… She’s the professional right! So he is found out during many sessions and he quits counseling leaving me at square one again because he refuses to change and love me the way God wants. My counselor hooks me up with Christian lawyer who literally steals my money! Things got so bad at home that he would not give me a moments peace. If I tried to leave for a few hours, he would block my car in the driveway with his truck, and tell me I wasn’t going anywhere. He’d tell me I needed medication because I was sick, and tell everyone else we knew that I was on drugs! All this while I was fighting off guilt and shame due to my sexual abuse and suppressing it just so i could get through the day. My faith was somewhat skewed because i used it to treat my guilt. I worked so hard on being good so that I could feel clean and worthy of anyones love. Of course i wasn’t aware because i was too busy surviving to self counsel. Imagine all this and everyone else’s opinions and voices in my head keeping me in this perfect storm. (We must remember the shame and guilt associated with abused women when helping them.) I almost became a cutter for all the shame that was impressed upon me. I felt like i was having a break down being trapped in my house while he’s on his knees gently telling me that this is how it’s going to be and I just have to accept it. If I locked myself in a room just so I wouldn’t be thrown into a rage and sin, he’d take off the door knob or take out a window and climb in to give me my talk. My pastor finally stepped in and asked my husband to do the right thing and leave. My husband was shocked. He thought this meeting would be them setting me straight and putting me in my place. My husband got so scared I was getting help through the church (which he knew my faith was what kept me enslaved) that he went back into counseling and left for 9 months. All the while, manipulating me. Every time I separated from him, he’d put on a sad face and I would have compassion for him. The church told me he wasn’t ready to come back, but I related my own pain to his and took pity on him, believing and trusting he had changed. He didn’t! My kids were now grown and it was time for me to do something for me, so i happily entered school for Biblical counseling. I had grown comfortable with the lack of love in my marriage, and God was my all. It was the happiest time of my life those 2 years. ..and then a case study in school on sexual abuse would rock my world. In fact, as I parked my car at Westminster about to enter my class, I said to my sister on my cell phone that I was the happiest I had been in my whole life at that moment! It was God and I against the world… And then I entered that class that would wreck me for the following six years. After a while I realized I couldn’t go back to school because my first PTSD episode happened in that classroom, and it triggered me. I curled in a ball for 3 months locking all doors and windows, crying, and never left my sofa. My pastor who had once called me a force, who was also a prominent PHD in psychology, was and now telling me i had PTSD and had disassociated my abuse successfully for 40 years. I faced all the ugliness of my abuse alone, scared, and sleepless for the next year and a half because I was being raped night after night in my sleep. I had no friends anymore because I suddenly saw how flawed everyone was, their capacity for evil, and hid myself away. I mean I couldn’t trust my own parents to care for me, the people the state left me with beat me and my sister daily (in the name of The Lord) and I certainly could not trust my husband, or people at the church. When I never went back to church, not one person called me. I mean …I had my best friends husband from church come on to me, and when I told, my husband was angry he had to deal with an uncomfortable situation and lashed out at me. He loved his comfort! My best friends husband lied and said it was the other way around, and my friend thought it was some big misunderstanding when there was no mistaking anything! Turned out her husband was on and off crack. I had well meaning friends at church over the years that always said that Jesus would heal my marriage if I just believed. I had my teachers teaching that Jesus would heal my mind if I just believed. I trusted God and my PTSD never got better. I did the unthinkable! … I went on Xanax before bed! I was told my fear ruled me. There was no question about that!.. But there was this whole physical thing going on that I had no control over. … Sleep! After a year and a half, and finally getting some sleep on medication, i went back outside into the world. I had basically became more paranoid from not sleeping and was able to re enter the world after catching some sleep. From then on, for a whole year I search for another church but none followed scripture like my old church, so I went back there. I was in this church for 25 years and when I left. I still can’t believe not one person called me! Granted it was a big church, but after all those years not one good tie. Even when I returned, my pastors saw me but never approached. One night on my return, i made friends with a woman who cried during service. After service I just hugged her and slipped her my number. There were no words between us. She calls and tells me her husband is beating her terribly. She’s afraid to return home. I meet her the next Sunday and a well meaning woman walks up and says to her that God will heal her marriage. …knowing shes being beaten, and encourages her not to give up on her marriage. Not necessarily a bad thing, unless you are as screwed up as we are. Therefore, a seed of guilt is planted again in a struggling abused woman who wants to honor God but doesn’t know what to do because of all the judgment, advice, and manipulation around her. She doesn’t understand it because she’s not like these people. Her problem is much more serious than they understand, and she sees herself as someone who is good and can’t relate to the evil that she endures everyday. She’s alone. A foreigner in a foreign land. Like me… A person who has relatives, but has no support and can’t return home. Me because I never had a home. Her, because they are in another country and neither she or they do not have the money for her return. Then lastly, I leave my husband once again. I had to get out of the house. In my grief, i went to stay with my daughter and a friend. I was so uncomfortable no matter who I stayed with. I go to my Christian counselor and wringing my wrist and telling him my story in a panic about how I left my husband and why. (This is the same counselor that heard my husband say, “Where is her Christian faith now,”)… after admitting that my dreams were scaring me to death so much so that I was waking up in my own urine! The counselor suddenly interjects in a panic with, “You have to go back to your husband!” I assumed he concluded that for my state of mind and comfort, that i should be in my own home before i cracked. I mean, after all… it was my safe place concerning my PTSD. But i had to ask! Why should i go home to my husband? His reason,”Because he’s your husband!” I haven’t taken advice, or gone to church ever since. Its been 4 years. I began to drink on occasion, watch lots of tv, and used my husband money to take up to 4 vacations a year to visit my childhood friend who was also sexually abused and the only support I had. I couldn’t hold a job because the physical aspects of the PTSD would kick in, and i didn’t know what was going on. I had been disassociating for so long that I didn’t know what was happening when it happened. After years of no work, and staying at home, I had progressed enough to a point where I told my husband that I would spend money to go where I wanted when I wanted and I wasn’t going to ask for permission. He was happy I wasn’t the goodie goodie saint anymore, and that I was broke and broken enough that he was content to go along with it as long as I stuck around. There has always been compete indifference on his part, but I was his trophy wife. He liked showing me off, I have always been there to listen to him, counsel him on business relationships, intervene on his behalf in business, handle HIS finances, and be there when he wanted to have sex. He didn’t want to listen to me and my problems or thoughts about our relationship. He didn’t care how sex effected me even though I got nothing from our relationship, and even though I pleaded for change. I assured him it wasn’t about “worshiping relationship” but I just needed to feel like I wasn’t being treated like I was with my abusers. They’d come to me for one thing and leave until they’d come back again to use me again. I cried and pleaded for 6 years for him to hear me and he wouldn’t. He is a christian who had no problem watching me fall apart, drink, and never return to church. He didn’t care that everything i cared about concerning God had slipped away. I hope its obvious i have come back to God, but the things i am about to say may not be accepted as so.
          And that is…However well meaning ….Christians who give advice to women like us …are hurting us, confusing us, and playing Lord over our lives when they tell us what we should do, think, or how to behave and respond to our circumstances. Sometimes the only appropriate response to abuse is anger and acting on it. If someone tries to kill me or my spirit, ill try reasoning. If that doesn’t work and I have the strength, I’m fighting back! God wants peace but wars will come. It’s a reality. I personally had to clarify to my husband that i was not concerned about his feelings or needs when i separated from him, when he tried to tell me who i could have in my house to visit me. He wants me alone and desperate. I told him straight up that God wanted my concern to be with my restoration right now. And that is the truth! I know it, and I’m not afraid to show it! Am i concerned for him? Of course! But the focus is my recovery if he refuses to repent after 29 long years!
          Us abused women are not keepers of our husbands souls. My husband is certainly not MY enemy, but he acts as if I am. And I may forgive my enemies so that God may be glorified, but it is by His power that I do it. … And I don’t have to worry about my rapist, husbands, or abusers soul or feelings beyond that because its not my responsibility! Some have a problem with that distinction between husband and rapist… I don’t. Sometimes the good caring wife thing doesn’t work! Believe me i tried! Sometimes a not so nice dose of reality is called for! What are we! mini messiahs? I guess people cant really relate to the nightmare that is our lives. God has made clear what are within my responsibilities, and that is Him, my children, work if I had it, and ministry. Everything else is a concern and nothing more. After we get the courage to leave them, we have to accept where God sends us… into this dessert or foreign land, or our own personal Nineveh that I don’t want to go to. … we shouldn’t be told to be accountable for their emotional response to our relief, when we finally get to our land of milk and honey. These ideas that are impressed upon us weak and broken women are what keep us in the sick cycle. We are told to take action and when we reach God grace and accept it for ourselves, we are told we did wrong, and ripped back into the vicious cycle of pain, guilt and confusion. It’s as if we are told to hide our joy and be a fake actor for our husbands sake, and God’s sake. Us christians being so concerned about sin, we forget about grace. What about keeping it real so others can see what freedom in Christ really looks and feels like? What about being human? What about being authentic? I heard an awesome pastor once say while being honest about his anger, and referring to the mask christians wear… that he would rather be an authentic clown than a fake actor! What about authenticity! What about the apostles separating from the gentiles when the Jews showed up? How good was their witness when they pretended to be something that they weren’t? Where is God’s glory in pretending we don’t feel joy in not owning responsibility that was not ours to begin with because we carried it longer than we should have. As a counselor, we were taught never to make assumptions about the circumstances that you hear within a session. Never ever confuse your own life experiences with that of the counselee or you will judge the situation unrighteously. You always take them at their word. When a woman declares she is free, and that she is no longer responsible for her husband…don’t assume what is in her heart. It may just be a fact she is stating in a community full of women that she feels understand her… And that’s it! … A safe place! I for one rejoice with her! The Christian community needs to support the abused woman, and when they see her moving away from her husband, not be afraid they played a part in the deterioration of the marriage. Its there concern, but not their responsibility! The marriage is between 3. The couple did it all on their own! For Gods sake… Embrace her, and don’t abandon her in her restoration and rob her of her joy! This in my opinion is the biggest issue for abused women in the church. People don’t really know our experience, and they lay heavy burdens at our feet we shouldn’t carry. I know what God meant when he referred to me as the weaker vessel. I have had to be so strong, but he did not intend this load for me. Please God! … Help people to see us! When i think about the concubine in Judges 19, specifically as she lays at the threshold that leads to her husband..God painted the ideal picture of what it’s really like. How sad and sick we can become when we hang on to the false hope of… “He will let me in when he sees how broken i am and come to my aid” when he is the very person who victimized us in the first place. How I cry for the woman who make that mistake that leads to death. Thank you sincerely Leslie for all of your help.

          • Leslie Vernick on January 7, 2014 at 12:02 am

            Christine, you have really suffered and much of at the hands of people who should have helped you. I’m so sorry and I hope and pray that women around the world will begin to wake up and understand that the counsel and character of God are incompatible with abuse of any kind even if you’re married to the person.



          • Elizabeth on January 7, 2014 at 11:11 am

            Christine,

            Wow, just wow. I am so sorry for the abuse that you suffered through. So very very sorry. You are very right when you say that well meaning people in the church just don’t understand. They unintentionally do damage and burden us further when trying to help. I would be so lost and much more broken if it wasn’t for communities and resources like this. God led me here after desperate prayer that he settle my mind because all of the “help” I was getting was confusing me and burdening me further. God is faithful and I am learning to spend more time listening to His counsel and less to well meaning people that profess to counsel in His name. They try and most don’t intend to do harm but they do. I feel so blessed that God led me to understanding counsel like Leslie’s. You are a such a blessing and gift to us Leslie 🙂

            Lately, people ask how I am doing and sometimes I feel some guilt when I am honest and tell them that I am doing really well (there is so much peace being out from under my husbands oppressive personality). Some even make me feel guilt for doing well. I try not to take on that burden I try to stay authentic, I am not always successful but I do try. My feelings are a reflection of the beautiful, loving, and at times difficult work God is doing in me and if I deny my feelings I kind of feel like I am robbing Him of His glory and disabling the work He is trying to do in me. Not to mention the work he may be trying to do through me to others. So, I find peace in the knowledge that my joy and peace are a gift from my very loving and faithful Father. His will for me and His gifts to me matter much more than what people expect of me. This is a huge awakening for me. I have spent the majority of my life living to please the people around me. I pray God gives me the strength to stay strong and focused on Him.

            I love your analogy of the mask -vs- authenticity and honesty. I want my relationship with God to be 100% authentic. He knows my heart so I can’t fool Him even if I tried 🙂

            I love the wisdom and strength I see in you and your writing. God can and very well may use us to help break this cycle of evil and sin. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Christine. (((hugs))) and blessings to you sister.



      • Leslie Vernick on January 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm

        Got it. This next year I’m going to write something about Feeling bad about feeling bad, but I think another article I’m going to write is Feeling bad about feeling good. Which is exactly what’s happening to you Anisa. I do think once we get clear and stronger, we do feel much better, but sometimes the disapproval of others makes us second guess our decision and feel shame for our feelings.

        • Christine on January 7, 2014 at 10:06 am

          This makes me very very happy. Thank you for speaking up for us, and guiding us to the light at the end of the tunnel.

  4. Kathy on January 1, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Christine,
    Thank you for sharing your heart. Of course, you should celebrate your freedom. My heart overwhelmingly rejoices for your freedom from bondage and pain.
    You have acknowledged that you made the right choice by leaving your husband. That is also a freedom God gives us, to choose.
    I believe Leslie was clearing up the fact that we should celebrate our freedom, but not have the attitude that we have a right to hate.
    We have the freedom to choose whether we allow God to live through us. So with that, we may separate ourselves from evil treatment/people, but to live as Christ we are commanded to love our enemy. Therefore, we have a responsibility to have an attitude of forgiveness and love. That does not mean we embrace the enemy, but it means we choose not to sin against them. You are also correct to say that only through the grace of God can we possibly ‘love’ our enemies. But first, we must choose that path.
    I love you girl! I am praying for your continued recovery!
    Continue to rejoice! ~~~

  5. Anna on January 1, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Thank you, Leslie, for the time you devote to responding in such depth to questions. I’ve been following your blog for over a year and have a reason for not leaving that you may have addressed but I’ve missed. My husband is a verbal/spiritual abuser with a victim mentality. We went for counseling until he quit. His opinion was that I was not interested in getting help for myself and just wanting to tattle on him which was a lie. The counselor quickly saw through his charming personality and encouraged him to read books on narcissism and misogynists. My husband was furious. The counselor suggested I read, Why Does He Do That–Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft, as well other books. This book was helpful in many ways but also very sobering. The author had a great deal of experience with the court system’s ignorance of the amazingly charming and highly manipulative tactics of an abuser. The author cautioned women to carefully prepare their case and to be aware that many abusive men successfully convince the court system that it is the wife who is the unstable one. Also included, were many examples of how even physically abusive men end up with joint custody of young children to the wife’s horror, even after she has presented evidence of physical abuse. God has done a tremendous work in my life using you and others to build truth into me. I have come to a place where my husband’s accusations that I have a demon, that I will come against the wrath of God for tattling on him and his use of twisted scripture no longer confuse me. What troubles me most is how he lies to our pre-teen children about me telling them that I hate him, that I look for ways to tattle on him, that I think he’s a psychopath etc. I am typically slow to speak and ere on the side of being silent rather than speaking my mind. I have never vented at my husband that would cause him to lie to our children the way he is and actually love him deeply wanting more than anything that he’d be free from bondage. What he has found unsettling is my own personal freedom and ability to boldly speaking the truth in love to him, walk away from his tirades, and set boundries. Recent tirades have caused me to consider legal separation. I’m in contact with a lawyer who hasn’t been very helpful. My main concerns are as follows: that my husband would convince the courts about lies about my instability–none of which he could substantiate with anything more than his eloquent false reasoning, that he would get joint custody (at least now our children rarely are alone with him), or that social services would get wrongly involved based on my husband’s lies and work against me instead of alongside me–something that does happen based on the book I mentioned. I’ve been secretly recording on a digital recorder some of his bizarre tirades and talks but the lawyer isn’t certain a judge would even listen to these. My whole purpose for a separation would be for both my husband and me to have a time of emotional rest and time to seek God regarding our future. My children’s emotional safety during separation is my primary concern. Does your office have a list of lawyers who are skilled at working with abuse cases? I could use some wise counsel from you as well as a lawyer. Praying that God keeps giving you an “excellent spirit”–like mentioned of Daniel.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 2, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      Anna, I think you bring up a very good point and in my book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage I put that as one of the reasons women stay. They are afraid their husband could get custody of their children and/or they could make their lives miserable because they have more financial resources to keep dragging them into court over trivial issues. I don’t know where you are located but there is a good attorney in the Doylestown area who understands abuse.

  6. Sharon on January 3, 2014 at 7:29 am

    Leslie, I cannot tell you how much you have helped me. I have been searching for 3.5 years for someone to help me to understand and break through this nightmare of a life I have been living.

    I was a single for 29 years after I divorced my first husband. I met a fell head over heels in love with “the most wonderful Christian man.” During the 9 months that we dated, there were absolutely no signs of “red flags”. One week before we were to be married, I found out about his horrible criminal past. (We are talking prison time.) I decided to forgive all that, because God had forgiven me of all my past sins.

    Two days after the wedding, the screaming rages began. I was so determined to make this marriage work, that I would do whatever it took. I really didn’t have a clue what I had signed up for!

    Very little has improved, but still I stay. Why? I have a home in another city that is all paid for, I have three adult children that love & would supportt me emotionally.

    I am very involved with our church and have some very close friends that tink I am nuts for staying. I have talked to our pasture and 2 other councilors. I have talked to my brother who is a pshcologyst. Not one person has ever told me to stay and work things out.

    Leslie, it wasn’t until I watched all of your videos and read your blogs that any of it made sense. Now I realize that I am not alone in this darkness. I also feel like the time is getting closer thar I can take the big step and escape from here. Than you so much for what you do!

  7. Lynn on January 4, 2014 at 12:42 am

    Romans 7 is a scripture my husband of nine years has quoted several times the last few years. I have been reading this blog and have been so reluctant to share my story until I read this particular scripture mentioned.

    A couple of days after asking my husband to move out of our home, I was listening to focus on the family when I heard Leslie confirm many decisions I was making. Up until that point, I was so uncertain that I was doing the right thing. After reading and listening to all of this information, I am absolutely certain that I have done the right thing in finding my voice.

    My story is very difficult to share because similar to many women who share on this site, my husband and I, up until recently, have always been very active and involved in our church. Serving God has always been the priority of our marriage. But unfortunately four years ago, my husband fell back into a habit that I thought was dead and gone. When he was young he suffered but conquered a heroin addiction. I did not marry a drug using man, but I married a God fearing, respectable, strong, faithful man who I admired very much. The last four years have been traumatizing as I tried everything a “Christian Wife” should do! Pray, have faith, forgive, forgive more, help bring the wayward sheep safely back from sin, for better or worse, in sickness and in health.. all while maintaining our business, our home and our college age children and my job. So yes, I have become a master enabler “who holds it all together” and still smiles. I watched my husband use, get clean, use again, get clean again. But 2013 was the worst! He went to rehab/detox twice (willingly), but also took up gambling, drinking and smoking heavily. Several months ago, he left for a few nights (which has been typical behavior the last couple of years) and as usual he shuts off his cell phone and I have no way of knowing if he is even alive. Nonetheless, I moved money around and did things to protect myself financially and he went, out of anger, and got himself a credit card with the assistance of his mother. As a result, the credit card is now maxed out today and has a $15k gambling debt.

    Two months after asking my husband to leave, he still has shown no effort or has made no attempt to get professional help to change his pattern of destructive behavior. He believes that going through detox and staying out of the house should be enough. I have since gone to see a lawyer even though the thought of divorce is so difficult for me cause I have taken my vows very seriously and I love him very much. But I feel as if I don’t have a choice anymore. He has retaliated and it hasn’t been pretty and let me tell you – this hurts like nothing I have experienced! But I am holding onto God’s hand and I know that the suffering here and now will never compare to the Glory that awaits me! I have long way to go in this journey, but I am learning everyday about my codependency and I am learning from people like you that we all need strength and encouragement from one another. My prayer is that we all will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God is all we need. He is the lover of our soul, our healer and the only husband we will truly need.

    We are children of the King, ladies! – We are worth far above rubies and deserve to be treated as such. So with a Godly attitude and lots of prayer, set your boundaries and consequences but don’t fail to put on the armor of the Lord because you will need it! Leslie, I am open to additional advice/encouragement you can offer. I can use all that I can absorb. God bless you for your work.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 7, 2014 at 12:08 am

      I think you are doing the right thing. He is driving his car straight off the cliff and there is no reason why you should be a passenger along for the ride. Hopefully he will wake up but sometimes that isn’t possible until someone hits bottom. Make sure you’re not on any of these credit cards.

      • Lynn on January 21, 2014 at 11:09 am

        Leslie, thanks for your response. No, I am not on his cards and the lawyer has documented all these charges making it clear I am not responsible for them.

        I’m really sad today and the worst part of this awful life is feeling in limbo. My husband has somewhat cleaned up his act or at least he says he has and now says “I want to come home now”. After everything I am trying to learn and practice, I replied something along the lines of “lets work on you coming home. We need to get professional help for you and for us”. Of course he responded negatively and said he wants a divorce since I wont let him back home NOW! He started moving more things from our home this past weekend. He continues to hurts me despite my still not giving up on him. I am scared to file the divorce papers based on his inability to handle his emotions and the consequences of his bad choices. I hate to get divorced based on threats and with bitterness and resentment in either one of our hearts? Am I wrong for thinking or feeling this way? Thoughts like these are what keep making me stay 🙁 I feel like I am losing my mind.

        • Leslie Vernick on January 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm

          You don’t have to file for divorce, but you can stay separated and keep inviting him to do his work and show he’s changed. But his demand that unless he can move home NOW or he’ll divorce you is a good picture that nothing has changed. Is that what you want? More of the same?

          • Lynn on February 12, 2014 at 1:07 pm

            I’ve stay strong for four months and have not given in to “more of the same”. I have not let him come home despite all this manipulation tactics – some of which he has followed through on and many he has not. He is angry and says that I am using scripture to “justify my cruel actions” and that I have pride issues. I’m learning that is pretty typical behavior. None of this bothered me until today when read a daily devotion about agape love and how the father received the prodigal son back home, back in, “full force love and instant restoration”. I suppose he felt that his son had learned a lesson. I just feel like I keep hearing so much conflicting information about situations such as this that I am in and I know confusion is not of God but I have to admit that I do get confused.



          • Leslie Vernick on February 15, 2014 at 9:38 am

            I know these stories can make us feel like we’re not doing “enough”. But Lynn, have you invited your “sorry” husband back into fellowship and instant restoration in the past? I suspect most spouses have if their spouse has shown remorse and said they were sorry. But I also imagine that if the prodigal father’s son did the same things again and again and again, sorry would have less impact and perhaps he would be more cautious. Also in the story, the father still had the full power in the relationship, the son didn’t get back any of his inheritance, the older son still received everything else that the father had, so that there were still consequences that the younger son and to live with even though the father welcomed him back to the family. And it is implied by the narrative that the son was not opposed to living with those consequences. Often when accepting someone back after “sorry” they do not want to live with the consequences of broken trust, or continued accountability but want it to be in the “past” with no further discussion.



  8. Jennifer on January 4, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I wasn’t sure if it was ok to post this question under this topic, because I’m not sure if it’s applicable, but I was hoping to get a response and since this was the most recent post… 🙂

    I have just recently begun to implement boundaries and consequences. What an abstract thing it feels like to me! I see that there is such a fine line between consequences and manipulation. I pray that I stay on this side of the line and don’t cross over.

    My husband is a verbal/emotional abuser. We have been in counseling for some time now, and as of right now have separate counselors for individual counseling and then occasionally go together to my husband’s counselor when we need to see someone together. This happens rarely. He has begun to somewhat see his destructive behavior, but still feels entitled to his occasional rages. When I draw boundary lines he will say that I am being mean or that I am the one who needs to calm down (because I am standing up for myself – “don’t speak to me that way.” “Please calm down. You are reacting inappropriately”). What usually ends the interaction is that either I walk away when he refuses to comply with my request to stop his behavior or he storms away and ignores me for hours to days on end.

    Here’s my question. After a period of his ignoring me he will usually decide that he is happy again and will spontaneously begin to act as if everything is fine again. I have been following suit until the next big blow up, but I am tired of the cycle. Is it unreasonable for me to keep up an emotional wall and/or withhold sexual intimacy until he admits his wrongdoing and apologizes? And even then, by giving in to the cycle, am I perpetuating the behavior by accepting an apology. He has already given in to my request for counseling and my counselor says if I leave now when he has made some progress that I am communicating to him that his progress is for naught. I appreciate your response so much.
    Jennifer

    • Leslie Vernick on January 7, 2014 at 12:06 am

      I think the difference between consequences and manipulation can be tricky if you’re heart isn’t in the right place however boundaries is nothing more than stewardship of your emotional, physical, financial, spiritual and financial health. If your husband is verbally abusive and you said, “I can’t listen to you when you talk to me like that.” that is being a good steward of you – you’re physical, emotional, and mental health. If he says that’s mean he’s manipulating you into second guessing your right to exercise good stewardship over you. It is not mean to refuse to allow someone to treat you disrespectfully and abusively when you have the choice. Even Paul said “I”m a Roman Citizen and you aren’t allowed to treat me this way.”

    • Robin on January 7, 2014 at 12:36 am

      Jennifer, I love Leslie’s definition of boundaries below. Simply put- living out our responsibility to the stewardship of our lives. To ignore that seems like sin. AS someone who has done exactly what you mentioned in your note- recycled the destructive behavior over and over for 30 yrs… can I please say to you, please stop!! He will continue to apolojize, do whatever it takes.. so you continue to allow him to damage your family, your home, and him. Of course they stand up and get mad when you lay a healthy consequence. Thats you saying, I am not a doormat. I am not going to do what I once did that wounded all of us. NO MORE! I am standing up drawing a line, so you can have an opportunity to turn away from this destructive behavior. Stand strong for your family ..He is likely hoping you will believe his words. Bibical love uses consequences to stop foolish behavior. Just tonight, my daughter text me and said, Mom please don’t watch for him to change and be distracted from taking care of yourself first. EXCELLENTLY PUT!! If you do what you need, to take good care of yourself, your family will get well!!

    • Christine on January 7, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      Jennifer. When I was in counseling, I told my counselor that I couldn’t stand to engage my husband in intimacy as a result of his abusive ways. I was encourage and actually told i could do it! I could continue to be strong and engage with my husband in this way. … As if it was my duty, and the loving thing to do. I believe it was bad advice. In the long run, i believe it harmed me terribly, and my husband too because i did it for so long that i got to a point where i couldn’t stand for him to touch me. Then i lashed out. I will say this… Your body will tell you. If it doesn’t feel right to you, It probably isn’t. People say things like, “sometimes feelings lie,” and that may be true, but your feelings matter just as much as his if not more. Whatever good intentions your counselor may have, sometimes their attempt to help only hurts you both more. If it feels horrible its because you are pretending that you are ok with the abuse mixed with intimacy and its a lie. Your counselors fear that if you stop being intimate that you will make things worse… And that may happen. But your husband can be counseled to understand why it has come to this. Why should you suffer this indignity? Can’t they just as easily counsel him to consider your feelings and what you need right now? … And shouldn’t they? I know this is a difficult situation to move through and you probably really want things to work with him, but this is where you listen to what your body is telling you. When i looked back on it, it was Gods way of saying something wasn’t right. Your counselors are not living in your circumstances, and as difficult as it is to make these decisions alone, you may have to. If you chose not to do it their way, they will like you… Wait and see what happens. People see it as a dangerous move, and they may fear it, but so do you. You probably feel like Alice in Wonderland. You’re standing at the crossroad trying to make a decision about which way to go. One thing is for sure, if you stand there nothing will change. Decide a direction and walk down that path. The marriage is between 3 of you, and it’s not anyone else’s job to fix it but the two people who made the mistakes. So don’t put it on others to make that decision, and don’t let others make that decision for you. Sometimes God sends the ship, it’s right in front of our face, and we don’t realize God sent it. Pray for clarity.

      • Leslie Vernick on January 11, 2014 at 5:29 pm

        Thank you Christine for sharing this because although our feelings and our thoughts may lie, our body is usually spot on. When our body is shaking, or numb, or getting sicker and sicker, or we throw up or have an panic attack SOMETHING is wrong. Pay attention.

    • Peg on January 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      I agree with Robin. You must stop the enabling of your husband. Just as you think you have made progress and he lets you down again and then he is nice for a short period, you lose all the ground and progress that you suffered through and you go back to square 1 or 40 however many times he’s done this. When we pray for God to strengthen us in these abusive turmoils, and then he does strengthen us to a point of making some progress emotionally, and then our spouse comes back in with excuses and poor pitiful me attitudes, we are dishonoring God if we allow the abuse again. In her book, Leslie strongly advises that the abusive spouse must show evidence of change and that change must be proven over time. The abusive manipulator is skilled in his maneuvers and he knows exactly how to play his games. I have finally had to break all ties with my spouse because he would try to come back over to my house to deliver something he had bought for me and I would tell him I’d get it later. He would come anyway regardless of my wishes. So, I finally had to set him straight on the rules of the boundaries. Then, he goes and uses that to paint a picture to other people of my “meanness.” Fortunately, my friends know me very well and they now know some of his sinful ways. It’s so sad to know that they try to hide behind scripture and God when they are dishonoring God in every way! I have written quite a number of letters to my spouse and delivered them personally to his farm gate and left messages that I left him a letter. So, now whatever I communicate to him is mostly done in writing because he misrepresents everything I might say on the phone. I am learning to be very careful and if I have my communications in letter form, he cannot deny or change what I have communicated to him. It’s working to stop his abusive lies to others about me.

      So, Jennifer, please consider establishing those boundaries and those consequences and STICK TO THEM. There’s no way you’ll ever affect change if you keep going HIS route. Enabling him is not loving him. It’s putting off the inevitable. It’s like allowing a child to eat candy all the time because the child loves candy. Just because your spouse puts on the act of being nice doesn’t mean his heart is right. Don’t fall for it. I’ve been there and done that for sure! I just don’t fall back into that pit anymore. I know that God is making me stronger because I am staying away from the sinfulness that my spouse displays. As God keeps making me stronger and blesses me, I must remain faithful to God’s commands. If I slide back into the “old history” with my spouse, then I am letting God down after He has sustained me so faithfully. It takes much prayer and it takes God’s strength. I hope you will make progress in setting your boundaries and realizing that ultimately those boundaries may make all the difference in whether your marriage is restored. If we honor God FIRST, then He will work for our good. It takes time and faithfulness to God. God bless you!

  9. Robin on January 7, 2014 at 12:46 am

    One more thing, MY LIFE improved greatly, when I quit the PRETENSES. Everything is NOT okay. WE can not have an intimate relationship, when you live destructively with your wife. WE can not go on as normal, when you abuse me. Everything is not okay, and I’m done pretending. I quit doing everything, with him. If he desire’s to have a close relationship with me, then he needs to go to counseling and tell his counselor the truth about his destructive behaviors, acknowledge it, and desire help. But until he does, the way we do relationship, will have to change. I believe this is not manipulation, but a healthy consequence to stand up when someone is sinning against us.
    Jennifer, if you havn’t listened to Leslie’s video’s on her website, I would encourage you to do so. They are short, but will answer all your questions. I am praying for your family!!

  10. Elizabeth on January 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I just would like to request prayer. I have made a decision to leave. My situation is difficult because I was a stay-at-home mother and did not build a career. We have five children. I enrolled them in school today in the town I grew up in. They are excited. I feel lost. I will be staying at my parents home which does not thrill me at all. My goal is to be in my own place in two months. I have asked my husband for child support and plan on getting whatever assistance I can to get myself on my feet.

    I feel fine about being on my own. I don’t feel fine about being at my parents. My dad has his own control issues.

    He told me today he has already found my 14 year old a job….without running it by me at all. 🙁 He also told my son he would take him to the shooting range which is an issue he has discussed with my husband already. My husband expressed a desire to take him himself the first time. Granted he hasn’t yet and not sure when he’ll get around to it….but my goal is not to disrespect my husband in this. I respect his wish to take his son shooting for the first time. My dad is not respecting that and thinks because we are living there he can say what he does with my son. Oh boy. Not looking forward to this at all.

    • Robin on January 11, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      Elizabeth, you sound so courageous, in being willing to leave an abusive situation and stand up for your family. GOOD FOR YOU!! If you havn’t seen a lawyer to find out if you can get spouse maintenance, I would do so immediately.
      It’s scary to leave, and I applaud you. Remember, God is your center, not your parents. Ask Him to give you wisdom and resources. Praying for you!!

    • Elizabeth on January 28, 2014 at 12:55 am

      I wanted to update my status.

      I did not move into my parents’ home. I have a friend who works for a management company that rents out low income apartments. They are actually clean and well built apartments. I never thought about them after my friend suggested them because I figured they would be run down. When I kept feeling angst over my living with my parents, I rode out to see them. I was pleasantly surprised. I am almost done with the process of applying and I am expecting to be able to move in within the week.

      However, my husband is pulling out all the stops. He is calling me sweetie, telling me how great a person I am, being patient sometimes, telling me he knows we could work this out and it would be better than ever, and telling me he loves me. Honestly, I don’t want to hear it! I know that sounds mean, but I’ve left five times before this and have heard this many times. I WANT to be separated. The relationship from the time we were married was toxic. He began telling me in year 1 how he made a mistake and he shouldn’t have married me. He started cursing, belittling, berating me over things as small as cooking hot food on a hot day or picking out the wrong shirt for him. He said I never respected him hundreds of times. Then, it went on to cheating when I left two different times because he was cursing at me and I decided to set boundaries and I didn’t want to continue the destruction. He has thrown bowls, broken mirrors, broken phones in half, hid my keys because I didn’t roll the windows up in the car immediately when he said to, and last November he grabbed me around my neck and covered my mouth. He has controlled the money and put himself first so many times while blaming me for our financial situation. According to him, I am lazy, weak, and could never make it on my own. He also has told me many times he wishes I was a man for five minutes and minimized his cursing and verbal abuse by saying that there are men out there that beat their wives.

      When I tried to pursue him sexually early in the marriage at night as we were going to bed, because he was very tired, he rejected me. I thought (at 20 years old) I should keep pursuing him. I thought that was the fun of it. I did. He finally felt the need to put me in my place and went off on me yelling for me to leave him a lone and got way angrier than I expected. It was embarassing, shocking, and changed me. I couldn’t believe this was our first year of marriage. Later, as I had trouble desiring him in that way because of the cursing and yelling, he would tell me there was something wrong with me and I must be a lesbian.

      Well! I’m done. I’m tired. Worn out. I’ve been done for a while and wanting to leave, but didn’t know how to do it. Like I said, I’ve left and gone to my parents and another friends for a total of five times….never more than three weeks. He promises counseling, becomes patient, humble, etc. and then soon it’s back even worse.

      I don’t believe all of his apologetic words right now. I don’t want to be with him. Is that bad?

      His reasoning for cheating on me to our counselor was “to slap me in the face” ….for making a family move difficult on him. He said I didn’t try to make it work and after he broke my phone in half, I left. That’s when he called for a prostitute and spent $400 on that and a hotel room I guess. On a side note, he is so stingy with money towards myself and our kids. I have a big problem with him spending that kind of money on another woman.

      Is it wrong to just not want to be with him anymore? I want a relationship with someone who loves me and WANTS to be with me. Even though he says he wants to be with me now, I prepared myself that he would say these things and it would be just more of the same.

      I’m scared in a way, but excited too…..to leave and separate. I am nervous about what people will think because we were very involved in church. Most people do not know about his issues. The ones that do just found out in the last year. I did not air his dirty laundry for 14 years. I’m worried about my children. Although the older two have seen most of the junk, there is a lot they don’t know. The younger three do not know the ins and outs.

      Thanks for the previous encouragement. I guess, after him laying it on thick tonight, I felt myself shrinking back again, and got worried that I would remain trapped here forever.

      The friends that I’ve described the relationship to all ask me why I have stayed so long. That shocks me and I have no answer except that I thought Satan was attacking our marriage and prayer and me changing would work. I have come to the conclusion now that he isn’t going to change and I need to move forward in spite of his last minute attempts to get us to stay. He can be very charming.

      When leaving is discussed as separating so that the relationship can be restored, I just think that’s not what I want. I don’t know that I could ever trust my life, my heart, my security, emotions, etc. in his hands again.

      I’m bracing for someone to tell me I’m wrong for feeling this way…..although I really feel peace about it.

      • Elizabeth on January 28, 2014 at 1:09 am

        An example of how he has treated our children is he threw our daughters scooter away she had received from her grandmother (his mom) as a birthday or Christmas gift when she was five. Why? My daughter left it out in the yard after he said to have her toys put up by 5 o’clock when he got home.

        He is very harsh on them and critical and negative. He doesn’t curse at them. I believe he is crushing or already has crushed their spirit. I don’t know how much healing needs to happen in them because they seem resilient. My husband is harder on my older two than the younger three for some reason. Coincidentally, the older two wet the bed until they were eight years old.

        One situation I remember with my oldest son (now 14) was when he was three and his dad angrily jerking him up out of his bed as he was laying down with me at night. I fussed about it but he said it was his bed and he didn’t want him in his bed. Here is an example where he may have been mad I wasn’t being intimate enough with him and thought my son was taking his place….but how am I supposed to desire someone who is calling me names and yelling like that.

        With my daughter (now 11), he blatantly refused to watch soccer on tv when she was five and told her he hated soccer. She had just started her first season on her soccer team. I just can’t wrap my mind around how a dad can look at his child and be so mean and without compassionate. He said it like this…. “Hey ****, can I tell you something? (as he stopped on the soccer channel for a few minutes.) I hate soccer.” She just looked at him with no facial expression.

        • Peg on January 31, 2014 at 5:16 pm

          Elizabeth,
          This is just so sad to me! Those children DO NOT DESERVE any of that awful treatment. And your children are learning how to “harden” their hearts to him! That is how they cope! How very disturbing that he is so very unfair and expects them to be little adults when he is so unbelievably immature! Do your kids have another older male role model? I hope so! They need to see a man they love behave fairly and with grace toward them. I’m so sad for you and your kids!

          • Elizabeth on February 4, 2014 at 5:24 pm

            We go to church, but other than that he is their male role model. I’m having a difficult day though I was called and the apartment is ready for me to move in tomorrow. I’m having a wide range of emotions. I don’t want my husband here when I move furniture. As much as I know this is best, I feel for him. This is a big deal for me. Just request prayers for strength and grace. Reminding myself that I need healing time as well is helping me instead of focusing on his faults and feeling like I’m being vindictive by leaving. I AM excited but nervous as well.



          • tawnya on February 8, 2014 at 8:17 am

            IF YOU HAD A GIRLFRIEND, SISTER, MOTHER, OR DAUGHTER AND YOU RE READ WHAT YOU WROTE…WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE HER? AND IF YOU SAY LEAVE WHY DO YOU NOT THINK YOUR JUST AS VALUABLE TO TAKE THE SAME ADVICE? BECAUSE YOU ARE, YOUR MENT FOR GREAT THINGS.. YOUR SET APART.. GOD REVERSE THE CURSE AND SET THE CAPTIVE FREEEEEEEE.. IN JESUS NAME AMEN!



  11. Peg on January 11, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Christine, I like your comments. Pretense is just NO GOOD! In fact, I think making oneself engage in sexual activity when there are no real true intimate feelings there is like living in total denial. And I agree that it just makes things worse. The sinful spouse doesn’t have to try to understand his wife’s feelings at all. He gets what he wants without having to be accountable for mistreating her. That’s just wrong and I don’t believe God wants us to feel guilty for refusing to pretend we want to engage with our spouse sexually when we are repulsed by his abusive behavior which dishonors God. If our spouse is dishonoring God and is not repenting and turning away from his wrong treatment of us, then, why should we continue to honor him(the spouse) with the preciousness of sexual intimacy. It just doesn’t make sense.

    • Robin on January 12, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      WOW Peg, excellently said. I struggled with this for yrs, even while being abused (because of his threats)- until I listened to Leslie’s video on this subject. I pray more women will get this message- just another consequence, when you dishonor your wife.

      • Peg on January 12, 2014 at 5:34 pm

        Leslie’s videos are awesome. They have helped me so very much! She’s is just amazing! I’m so thankful that I found her website and have her book and can visit her blog. I pray as well that more and more women will be able to be strengthened to the point of rising up out of the abuse and can move forward to sanity and safety. It is unreal how many women are enduring this kind of life and are almost stuck in it!

  12. Sharon on January 12, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Peg, your input is true! I have been married for 3.5 years. For the first 3 years it was a very abusive marriage. He would go into screaming fits, for anything that displeased hiim. During the last 6 months, he has made a great effort in controlling his temper. That’s also because we just don’t talk about real issues and problems within the marriage (my adult children, money, no plans for a future, etc.)

    It’s just so hard for me to enter into subjects that I know can easily set him off. I just end up living in the moment and avoiding any uncomfortable subject. The sad , bad thing is that I end up feeling like such a loser & a coward.

    I just pray that God will continue to give me the strength to get through and deal with the real problems. Maybe that’s what i am afraid of, “What’s next?”

    • Peg on January 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      Sharon,
      I dealt with the screaming tantrums (like a 2 year old screaming and kicking on the floor) as well. The final straw for me was when he threw one of his tantrums when I was trying to drive us from Atlanta, GA to home from a doctor’s visit after his spinal surgery. I had done everything for him that I could feasibly do as his wife to make everything comfortable and peaceful for him during his recovery period. The list of things I did is LONG! He showed no appreciation for any of it! He got angry while I was driving down the interstate because he couldn’t get his back comfortable in my front car seat. So, I had to pull off the interstate at an exit and let him switch to the back seat. I told him that he would need to buckle up his seat belt because that’s the law and also the surgeon said he could not risk being thrown or thrust forward in a car because of the large incision in his spine. You would have thought I had pierced his heart with a spear. He threw a fit and said he was tired of me “teaching” him. My blood pressure shot up and I began to cry and I told him to either buckle up and shut up or I would have to call someone to come and drive him home. He did exactly what I ordered. I drove down the road hoping and weeping and praying that I would find a little country church with a cemetery where I could just stop and walk and pray. In about 5 to 10 minutes, a small brick Baptist church appeared with a cemetery. I stopped near the edge of the cemetery near some woods and got out. I told him I needed space and a time with God away from his ugliness. I walked around near the woods and sat on the ground and prayed. I called my daughter and she gave me wisdom and clarity. I made up my mind that day that I would have to separate and establish definite boundaries. A book that helped me is by Cloud and Townsend entitled “Boundaries in Marriage.” They both are Christian men and that book has helped me move forward. I also bought Leslie’ book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” and USE it all the time to shore up my determination to press on in my plan. Yes, I too was afraid once I made my decision. O! Talk about fits! I moved him out on June 11 and there have been quite a number of angry phone calls and hanging up and just plain ugliness. After all this time, he has never apologized to me for the hurt he’s caused. However, he has admitted that he has no idea why he’s behaved so badly all this time just weeks after our marriage in 2012. He asked what he could begin doing to correct his behavior. I told him he could begin by treating me with the same respect he treats others at church and others in his family. Also, he treats his pets better than he treats me. BUT that attitude didn’t last long. He’s back to his anger filled reactions on the phone. So, I had to cut off ALL contact from him. No contact at all! He is honoring my wishes that he not call me. I have found such wonderful peace and God-given space. Healing cannot take place when the same old stuff is being pumped out at a person. Healing cannot occur if there is fear of possibly causing your spouse to trigger. I lived like that for a while and I hated living like that. Whenever I disagree with my spouse of minor issues, he flips out and shouts at me and will not even listen to anything I try to say. That’s his control mechanism. SHOUT at her so she will quit responding with truth. He doesn’t like the truth at all.

      So, keep praying to God for strength and direction. I found more books to help me and I underline important things in them and go back and read them over and over. I watch sermons on abusiveness and I’ve also gotten a book entitled “How to Rise Above Abuse.” That one uses a lot of scripture and it’s wonderfully helpful. I find the posts on this blog help me as well because it gives me the knowledge that I am not alone and also gives me ideas to use to survive. God bless you in your struggle. Satan wants you to feel like a loser. If you are a born-again Christian, you are a daughter of the Most Powerful being in our Universe. Consider yourself highly capable and more than a conqueror. You have the authority through Christ to stand firm through any storm.

  13. Robin on January 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Its very difficult to be brave and approach subjects that you know will cause great tension. But is it harder to do nothing ???
    Thats what I did for a long time. My husband also—-said he would make great effort, till one day he risked my life in the car with a roadrage attack, he thought he could handle, and I jumped out of the car, downtown large city.
    My life changed that day. I have learned to confront his anger. Anger is just a symptom of a larger problem, some deep root that needs to be dug out. While I still avoid speaking up at times- i KNOW there is a price to pay for that. So I speak to you and myself, be brave, speak the truths, to protect yourself, your family, and doing what is best for our husbands.

  14. Peg on January 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Robin, that roadrage attack was very scary I am sure! WOW! And the tough thing is that one never never knows when these triggers are going to happen and as you wrote, your life was on the line! I’m glad you managed to get out. Yes, the anger is rooted deeply either in a past trauma or perhaps being abused as a child or young adult. I read a book entitled Deep Wounded, Deep Healing by Dr. Charles Kraft. He has ministered to hundreds of people he who needed to be delivered from deep wounds from the past which kept them from healing and in some cases caused destructive behaviors. Confronting the issues brings conflict but it’s best to NOT enable the bad behavior and speak the truth. I began to write letters to my spouse because he was twist what I would say and make it fit his analysis. Sometimes, he spoke just out and out lies about what I said or did. I finally got wise and wrote everything down in letters and of course kept copies on my computer. Now, he cannot misrepresent anything I communicate to him because it’s on paper and on my computer. That is helping me KEEP those boundaries established. He cannot claim that he didn’t hear me or that I didn’t say certain things. I also type notes about our various episodes right after they happen so I can write those to him if he says he doesn’t remember what he says or does. That has helped as well. It’s like backing him into his corner of lies! He has no where to run!

  15. Robin on January 14, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Peg, thank you for acknowledging my scary episode with roadrage. But it was a day of independence for me. He hd never scared me that bad before. When I felt obligated to myself, to get out fast, it was a day that set me free. My counselor strongly suggested I stay out of his car, until he went to counseling and acknowledged the harm he caused that day, and the total loss of control. He never did that. I respect all you women who are working so hard to set boundaries and consequences. I went to my first meeting with the lawyer today. He was so shocked by the abuse my family has endured, he hired himself without even asking me if that’s what I wanted. I didn’t have enough money to file, so he accepted what I did have. I was so impressed. He said several times, it was his job and privilege to help families flees these kind of situations. I feel so loved and supported tonight. I have been told for years I am a terrible person for standing up to his abuse. But this has been a day and a year that the abuse is out in the open, and our family is receiving the help and the support we need. I feel so relieved tonight. I know I am doing the right thing. And I am surrounded by people who will comealongside and help, thru this process Thank you everyone on this blog. I am learning so much from you!!

  16. Robin on January 17, 2014 at 12:46 am

    I have been working on going towards seeing a lawyer, and starting divorce proceedings, after 32 yrs of a very abusive marriage. I have been working to set up a Protection Order, for my safety. My problem is, so many people are expressing great concern for my welfare, as my husband is extremely controlling, possessive, and can turn to rage quickly. They are afraid for me if I remove him from his house, he will come after me. I’m just wondering if anyone has had any experiences in this, and how it worked for them??? I prefer to stay in my home, and get proper protection. Any thoughts??

  17. Peg on January 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    O! Robin! I am so glad about your attorney wanting to help you! I know you must feel like a huge burden is being lifted. Actually, it is! I know how much more peace you will begin to have once this is all behind you! Just keep the vision of that peace and keep moving forward! It’s so encouraging to know you are step-by-step freeing yourself from a miserable and stressful life! God bless you as you keep moving forward toward your freedom!

  18. Robin on January 19, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    Thank you Peg. I am very blessed and cared for by the Lord, as I walk out these steps. What I’ve heard others say, I am finding to be true. He is there for us, every step of the way waiting for us to trust Him, for all we need. We just need by faith, to take that step. and fall into His arms.

  19. Sue on January 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I live in A emotional, sexual abuse marriage my husband doesn’t take no very well to not having sex,it doesn’t matter even if I am sick. He actually came in to the bedroom one time and told me all I have to do is lay there and it wouldn’t take very long I had been sick for two days he actually came into the bedroom two or three times within 10 minutes asking for sex. I feel like a object to him. my problem is that he’s also passive aggressive with a little bit of narcissism thrown in. We have been married for 36 years and this is pretty much the way it’s always been . I finally went to counseling and the counselor told me that I was nothing more than a vagina to him. It still took two years I guess, to believe that. But my real problem is is that he knows exactly what buttons to push and I always blow up and start screaming it makes me look like the one that is causing the problems and then he will walk away and say “look at you there is the real you”every single time. I usually hate myself after that? I have tried to do everything the counselors have said but he pushes me and pushes me and pushes me until I cannot stand it anymore. I stopped having sex with him and I told him when he started to treat me like a wife and go to counseling then we could start acting like we’re married. But as for now I just keep trying to make it through my days until I decide what to do I have a number for a lawyer I’m just scared to death to use it I feel defeated scared lost state of confusion and I don’t know how I’m going to make it through it. there doesn’t seem to be any articles on what I’m going through because I feel like I am the one that does the verbal abuse even though it’s him that pushes my buttons I try. He is very good at what he does he’s the master of it
    I have blamed myself for it all telling myself if I would of just had sex we wouldn’t be fighting. But then I think is that all I am good for. I don’t know why I wrote this I guess I felt like venting

    • Lonely wife on November 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      Sue….I don’t know if you will see this…but your post really made me sad. I hope by now that you are free of the terrible abuse you’ve endured. Will be praying for you!

  20. Robin on January 31, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    an update….. to my life and choices since leaving my home. I left 8 days ago. I am staying with wonderful, stable friends. Everything that is happening, reveals Gods loving hands at work for my good and safety. I have had no close calls or run-in’s with my husband. I have a no-contact order/restraining order. We have changed the locks on the house, so when the first hearing is over and I see how his reactions are, I will return to our home. We are in the process of getting a security system in place for my extra protection. My testimony is- God has been in every step. I cannot imagine doing this w/o Him. I have been surrounded by loving people on all sides, many leaders thru Sheriffs dept, Domestic Violence support team, my counselor, pastor, and many others. It is obvious, my abusive husband of over 30 yrs, is about to reap what he has sown. I continue to pray God will grant him a heart of repentance and healing. And I praise God for working so perfectly for me, and those I love.

  21. Peg on February 4, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Robin,
    I am so relieved to know you are safe and that you are resolved in your plan of action. Your support team sounds great! It’s wonderful that you are still praying for God to give your spouse a heart of repentance and yes, healing too. It is amazing how God blesses us in these trials with these abusive men! I hope everything will go well as you proceed step-by-step to bring peace and safety to your life. I do find at times that I mourn for my spouse’s lostness! He has claimed to be a Christian for quite a number of years, but as I see him now, he’s deceived and lost. That is pitiful to me. So, I pray for his salvation as well as repentance for I know not if he is truly saved. I would encourage you to pray for your husband’s salvation as well because it could be that he isn’t a child of God.

  22. Robin on November 14, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    When I saw the recent comment in my ebox on this blog, I thought wow I havnt seen that blog in quite awhile, so I came to check it out. How fun to go back aways and see how far one has come. I wanted to write esp to Leslie and say, thank you for this assignment of writing yourself a letter 2 yrs in the future. It was a turning point for me- and 2 wks later I rmember sitting with my counselor and her saying, so what keeps you from leaving?? I knew it was time and the rest is history. I think one of the biggest things I think about now is, when we are trying to make these decisions to define stricter and healthier boundaries for ourselves- we fear it is the end. The Lord has shown me several times, it is never the end. It might be the end to chaos and abuse. But the abusive perpetrator, or husband…… always gets an opportunity to acknowledge his sin against his family, make things right, and show that there has been a true heart change. If that ever occurs, it won’t be too late. There is always hope. I have found, I just took better stewardship responsibility of my own life. I can’t express eloquently enough, how blessed and lovely my new life is without abuse. I am in a new church with new friends, I have new oportunities all around me, because when the Lord spoke and said ENOUGH, I listened. And Ive never regretted that moment. THank you Leslie for this assignment. It truly brought the opportunity I needed to make some big changes!!

  23. Sharon on November 14, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    So happy for you, Robin! I am looking forward to the time when I can claim the victory like you have!

  24. Sharon on November 14, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    So very happy for you Robin!

  25. Robin on November 14, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Thank you Sharon. It’s a tough road to walk — if I can answer any questions or be a listening ear, I’m here.

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