Morning friends,

Today is day two of audio taping my book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. If you think of me today (Wednesday), say a prayer for me, please. And again for Friday. But, once it’s done, it will be awesome to have this information on audiobook for people to listen to.

This week’s question is one from a response to last week’s blog. I thought it deserved a little more in depth answer than what I could provide in my short response to her. She asked:

Question: You mentioned that our hearts are predisposed to believe lies first. My question is this: how can I know that leaving is right for me and my family if biblically all I can see is 1. divorce is only an option for adultery 2. God says vengeance is His, and 3. He (God) will not give me what I cannot handle. Each time I am prepared to leave my (not God-honoring and at times verbally abusive and controlling) marriage, something holds me back. Is it Fear or God? How can I distinguish between the 2? I also have a hard time trusting my own thoughts, and my capability of finding and identifying God’s will for my life. Am I supposed to wait for God to deliver me or take a more proactive measure?? 3+ years of this dilemma is making me so weary!

Answer: First, I’ve already mentioned in other blogs as well in my book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, that there are different opinions on Biblical grounds for divorce. But what you are saying is the only grounds you see right now is for adultery. To explore a broader perspective, I’d encourage you to read Barbara Robert’s book, Not Under Bondage and/or Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible by David Instone-Brewer.

These two books tackle the various Biblical interpretations and the passages that support other views on divorce other than what is traditionally held by conservative Christians. As you are reading, ask the Holy Spirit to teach you truth, as Jesus promises in [truth]John 16:13[/truth].

That brings me to your second dilemma – the ability to trust your own mind. I don’t think God has designed us to completely trust our own mind. However, He has given us a mind to use and tells us to pray for wisdom from above ([truth]James 1:5[/truth]) and to seek wise counsel from other individuals ([truth]Proverbs 11:15[/truth] and [truth]Proverbs 15:22[/truth]).

Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom takes God’s word coupled with our mind and will and puts it into practical application in real life situations. For example, [truth]Proverbs 2:12[/truth] says, “Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted. These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths, they take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil. Their actions are crooked and their ways are wrong.”

Proverbs also says, “Turn away from evil, then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” ([truth]Proverbs 3:7,8[/truth]). and “The prudent see danger and take refuge.” ([truth]Proverbs 27:12[/truth]). As you think through God’s whole counsel and not individual verses, you may begin to see an entirely different picture of what you should do in your marriage. If you’d like to see more information and scripture verses on Guidelines for Biblical Separation, please go to my special report on this topic.

You ask what’s holding you back from leaving? Is it fear or God? It could be both. Realistically it is scary to leave a marriage – for various reasons. Even women who are quite sure God is leading them out of bondage feel scared to actually make those steps. But perhaps God is also checking your heart attitude about why you are leaving and how you are leaving.

You talk about vengeance being God’s domain and you’re right. That leads me to wonder if you’re leaving out of vengeance rather than for safety reasons. Or to let your spouse know by your actions that his abusive behavior will no longer be acceptable and you cannot continue to live with him in the same home if he is not willing to change it. Most women in destructive marriages who separate or end up divorcing do so for safety reasons- physical, emotional, financial, sexual, and/or spiritual safety. They are not out to harm their spouse but to keep their spouse from harming them and/or their children.

I think it’s important for you to know that the Bible assures us of many things, but it never promises that we won’t be slammed with overwhelming hardship. Job is a good example of overwhelming stress. Job’s ten children were killed in an accident, his financial resources were wiped out, and his health failed, all within a span of a few weeks. In addition to physical and emotional pain, the endless negativity and criticism from Job’s wife and friends added more stress to his broken heart and weakened body. It’s no wonder that he said he’s rather die than continue to live that way ([truth]Job 7:15[/truth]).

Jesus himself says to be prepared, that we will have tribulations ([truth]John 16:33[/truth]). The apostle Paul said he suffered “hardships beyond our ability to endure.” It was so much that he “despaired even of life” ([truth]2 Corinthians 1:8[/truth]).

I think one of the things that puts many women in destructive marriages over the edge is not their spouse’s destructiveness or what God is asking of them, but their own internal lies. It’s their unrealistic expectations of themselves, that somehow they should be able to handle it all and do so with a good attitude. They expect themselves to somehow be able to continue to endure abuse, verbal batterings, sexual abuse and humiliation, financial mismanagement, continued deceit, and crazy conversations that leave them reeling with their head spinning and still respond with loving, warm affection for their spouse. They wonder why God isn’t helping them live these idealistic goals out. Yet Scripture tells us of the terrible consequences we suffer when we live with a foolish, argumentative, irresponsible, abusive, evil, deceitful person.

Many women put unrealistic expectations on themselves to do it all, be it all, and have it all. The truth is, we’re not perfect. We can’t do it all or please everyone all the time. We get worn out and beaten down. I don’t think God expects otherwise. He has created us. He warns us of the consequences of living with destructive people. He gives us his wisdom to navigate through the tough process of confrontation and reconciliation. When that fails, what’s next?

Paul encourages us, “Repay no one evil for evil but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” ([truth]Romans 12:17-18[/truth]). Is it possible for you to live peaceably with your spouse? If not, then perhaps you have done all you can do and it’s time to acknowledge your humanity and realize that you cannot fix a bad marriage all by yourself. That doesn’t mean you immediately file for divorce. But it may mean that you separate yourself from the abuser. For the purpose of sending the clear message that the way we are living is not healthy, not honoring one another and not glorifying to God. Not to mention the horrible example to your children.

This may be the only consequence that will speak loud enough to wake your spouse up to his destructive behaviors. God is good to the saint and sinner alike and loves both unconditionally, but as I’ve said before, he does not offer unconditional relationship to both the penitent sinner and the prideful, rebellious person. Why do you think he expects that of you?

Friends, how have you learned to listen to God’s wisdom coupled with your own mind in making good choices in your marriage?

37 Comments

  1. Vikki on April 23, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    I’m so grateful for this question and for the terrific answer you gave, Leslie.

    I will say I’m not perfect, so this answer will be just as I understand it for my life…

    I told God I would not want to dishonor Him ever. I knew what no divorce sounded like. But one morning, when I could not get out of bed, I asked God what His voice would sound like IF He agreed I could divorce.

    I believe He told me the following:
    Even if you were everything he said you are, you would deserve love.
    Even if you didn’t keep the house, work, etc. you would deserve love.
    Even if you were crazy, you would deserve love.

    And honestly, in my spirit, I had my answer. This was not loving, not honoring, not changing, and now, depleting to me as I began the stages of depression.

    The miracle is often the when, how, what, of leaving. If you look through the posts you can find how we’ve all done it, but honestly, again, everyone will start with “I just knew. It was just time” and they all had a peace.

    I find the place of peace where my mind quiets enough to hear God’s wisdom and just whatever the next steps He gives are what’s next. It’s always “peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, producing good fruit.”(James)

    My mind wants to hold on for what it feels is dear life. But the dear life it needs is in Jesus, not a lifeless marriage that is no longer responding to CPR.

    God’s got you. No matter which side you are currently on. He’s with you. 😉

    • Emily on April 24, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Thanks, Vikki..your words are so encouraging! <3

      • Vikki on April 25, 2014 at 10:29 am

        Thank you!! It’s been given to me here many times – so glad I could encourage you Emily!!

  2. Anisa on April 24, 2014 at 1:35 am

    I have been in this process for a little over a year now. I coached with Leslie for several months and one thing she repeatedly prayed for me was to expose my husbands heart. If there was any repentance of softening make it obvious. And if there was no change make that very apparent as well. So as I stepped slowly through this it was very painful and difficult because God honored that prayer. As I began to express my feelings, attempt to set boundaries and establish what I would no longer tolerate, he began to get more difficult, destructive and controlling. I would complain to Leslie about the mistreatment and how they hurt me and she would say “Sounds to me like God is answering our prayer”. So I pulled up my bootstraps and continued to endure the periodic persecutions of this man.
    I, like you, struggled with the same scriptures and more. You can not center your life on a few verses. Psalm 119:160 says “The sum of your word is Truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” That means that when you add it all up, what does God desire for your life and your children’s lives? What also, does he desire for your husband? He doesn’t think highly of those who misuse their power or authority to mistreat his people. And in these situations, where His people were being grossly mistreated, He repeatedly provided them with a way of escape. (which he promises in 1 Cor 10:13) He doesn’t desire that your continue to go unchecked either.
    One of my most difficult struggles was with “what kind of christian will people think I am?” Well, I can’t control what anybody will think about me in ANY situation. Ultimately I only have to account for what God thinks of me. I was putting more weight on what people thought of me rather than what God thought. You need to remember who you are, as do I.
    **You are a daughter of the King of Kings, Creator of all
    **You are so precious His thoughts toward you are more than the sand
    **He has numbered the hairs on your head….as much as i love my kids I have NO idea how many hairs they each have.
    **MOST IMPORTANT…You are His sheep therefore you HEAR HIS VOICE and the voice of another you will not follow.

    Will you make mistakes, yes. But He already knew that and loved and cherished you even with that foreknowledge. There is a line in a song that, when I heard it, messed me up. It goes “I knew what I was getting into when I met you. And I knew what I was getting into and I still chose you. I knew what I was getting into and I still loved you” God has first loved us in our sin.

    I am right in the middle of the battle and some days are better than others. What I do know is the heart of my husband has only grown darker, harder towards me. As for myself, I had to choose which “pain” I was willing to live with. If I stayed the pain would go on as usual and i would decline in health, as I had been, and I would perpetuate a legacy of destructive relationships. Or I would face pain of lost dreams, hopes and expectations of what I thought my life would be and the reality of what it had become. However, with that, comes the hope of God making all things new in His time. And Him giving me His Beauty, for the ashes of my life. AND, giving God the opportunity to work ALL things together for GOOD to those who love Him.

    I hope I have made some sense. Another thing I had to learn was how to make a decision for myself. Get wise counsel from a “limited” few that you explicitly trust and then TRUST that YOU hear HIS voice. He will NEVER leave or forsake you. Take each situation as it comes (something that i still struggle with), try not to fret or worry. He will give you the answer right when you need it. Your walk and journey may, or may not, look like anybody else’s so resist the temptation to compare. However, gain strength from the testimonies of others. you truly are NOT ALONE!

    God bless you and BE BRAVE!
    Anisa

    • Leslie Vernick on April 24, 2014 at 7:35 am

      Anisa, – how strong you have become through this horrible year. God is giving you muscles you never had before. I’m thrilled to see your wisdom and courage grow.

    • Tanya on April 24, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Anisa, what a great comment you make about talking to a limited few. I know too the pain and confusion of learning how to make decisions…again, after so long in a controlling marriage. Thanks for sharing.

    • Vikki on April 25, 2014 at 10:32 am

      This was great! I honor your hard but joyful journey!

  3. Kathy on April 24, 2014 at 8:34 am

    I asked my husband to move out last August – a few weeks before my Dad very suddenly passed away – and after a truly horrific year, my husband finally signed separation papers and moved out April 4th. The house immediately took a sigh of relief and the four kids have been completely different people. I don’t know if they recognize that they have a different mom or what, but once it became clear to me that separating was the only thing left for me to try, I just stuck to my resolve, knowing that my ex’s escalating control was just a last ditch attempt to get his way. God has already done the most amazing things to show His faithfulness to provide. And the peace! The exchange of fear for peace over the past year was my biggest guide to God’s heart for me and my kids. Hearing Leslie’s counsel that God does not elevate sanctity of marriage over sanity of the partners was a good place for my heart to hear that I had options. I have also found Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why does he do that?” to be so helpful. Living with the emotional and verbal abuse has a way of clouding our minds and confusing our red flag alerts and to read Lundy’s words really points out the nonsense we’ve been living with. And has freed me to see the wisdom of separating in different ways because Lundy’s expertise is with abusive men. I loved Leslie’s encouragement to find support too. It makes all the difference when you have to say the crazy-making stories out loud. You hear them differently and realize that you’re putting up with sin – not just idiosyncrasies. Be blessed and encouraged! God is with you.

  4. Mary on April 24, 2014 at 10:40 am

    My husband and I had a pretty serious talk last night, it was the first one we had in a long time. I am about 1/2 way through the Emotionally Destructive Marriage. I told my husband I didn’t feel ready for a conversation because I don’t know where the marriage is heading. We have put so many band aids on the marriage there is no clear skin for new adhesive to bond to. He pressed me for conversation, I just started counseling and he is annoyed that I have to pay $10 (copay) each week. He asked if I was just using him for his paycheck and if I was considering asking for a separation. What do I say to that? I am a stay at home Mom (he asked me not to work), and I have been considering (he doesn’t know) going back to work this fall when our oldest starts Kindergarten in order to ask for a separation. He said if I ever asked for a separation we would be over and done.
    What do I do with this?

    • Leslie Vernick on April 24, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Sounds like he’s trying to control and manipulate to me. I think you should continue your counseling and tell him that its important to you. It also sounds a bit threatening – if you ask for a separation he’s done. For that reason, because your marriage sounds very rocky I think it would be wise to prepare to be able to support yourself and your children in the event your marriage doesn’t make it.

      • Jennifer on May 3, 2014 at 8:22 pm

        Exactly my thoughts! Wise counsel

  5. Amy on April 24, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Another wonderful post, Leslie! And I love the responses of the women who have been there done that! Thank you all for opening your hearts to help others be free. I’m sharing this question and answer on facebook.

  6. Martha on April 25, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Well, when is the last straw really the last straw? It happened for me just recently, and we’re nearing our 39th anniversary. We’re not going to have that anniversary. All of Leslie’s writings and everybody else’s writings are things I have lived with and grieved all these years. I have paraphrased Psalm 55, and I’ll bet all the women reading these blogs could agree with the psalm – Look up Psalm 55 in the Bible, and also read this paraphrase, and see if it applies to you – Martha

    Psalm 55, paraphrased
    Listen to my prayers, O God, please open your ears when I call out to you, and don’t turn away from me. Take care to hear me, as your dear child.
    I am restless in spirit, and my soul groans loudly, because of the voice of my husband. He counts me as his enemy, oppresses me with wickedness, brings down trouble upon me, and hates me without cause.

    My heart is severely pained within me, I’d almost rather die because the thought of life with him terrorizes me. Fear and anxiety have been my unwelcome companions, and the horror of my marriage has been overwhelming.

    So I said, “O that I had wings like a dove, I would fly away and be at rest. I would surely leave and stay far away, even into a barren desert. I would escape quickly from this storm that threatens to destroy me”.

    O Lord, my husband talks from both sides of his mouth: destroy him! He has brought emotional violence and strife into our house. Day and night, up and down the hallways, wicked thoughts, words, and behaviors live in my house, unwelcomed. Destruction lives there too, oppression and lying will not leave my home.

    This is not an enemy who tears me down, if it were, I could bear it. Neither is it a stranger or an acquaintance who hates me and wishes to harm me – then I could avoid him. But no, it is YOU, my husband, my love, the father of my children, the companion of my vows before God. We built a life together, and I thought we worshipped God together. (I’ll never understand why you have so viciously turned against me and betrayed me.)(quotes my sentiment)

    Lord, let death sieze him; cause him such shame that he will repent, or else let him be sent alive into hell, for wickedness lives deep in his heart – so deep that he can’t see it – and it refuses to depart from him.

    As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord will save me (God loves me a lot!) (quotes my sentiment)
    Evening and morning and noon I will pray and cry out, and God will hear me. He has redeemed my soul, so I shall have peace from the battle against me.
    My husband turns others against me, but God will hear me, and convict them, MY GOD, the creator of the universe, the God of all time. Because my husband will not repent and change, the fear of God is not in him. He decided to destroy me when I was at peace with him; he has broken his covenant and disregarded his vows. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but there was war in his heart. His words were smoother than oil, but they were really drawn swords, eager to injure and destroy.

    I will lay this heavy burden on the Lord; he will relieve me of it, and carry me safely away. He will keep me safely in his hand. He counts me as righteous, he will never let me go or let me be destroyed.

    You O God are the final judge; you will bring vicious and decietful men down to the pit of destruction, and shorten the lives of the wicked.

    But as for me – I will trust in the Lord!

  7. Jenny on April 25, 2014 at 10:56 am

    I am in the process of separating from my partner of 12 years. We have 2 kids and i have asked him when we would get married on several different occasions and his answers have varied from he is not ready ,i am not good enough for him ,i need to fix issues about myself he doesn’t like ,he doesn’t trust me ,he feels i am not committed enough and he hasn’t really been happy enough to want to be legally bound to me . i have tried being a good woman but this has weighed heavily on me for the past 12 years and has made me bitter and angry and sad and i know i also have not been at times the best person i can be . i have spent days in sulky silence unable to express myself to him as he has stated he is happy with the way things are and i should not bring it up since it always results in a fight .
    now that i have finally moved out he has been pouring blame on me ,i have destroyed our family ,we were happy and i have destroyed all that ,i will regret this decision ,i am destroying the kids etc etc . I have prayed about this for so long and i have peace with the decision even though i am so scared of whats ahead . i am scared for my children i can’t take them with me now because i am unemployed . i worry and wonder am i being selfish ..as a christian woman should i be making decisions for just me or i should sacrifice self for my children and my partner. the kids have been happy and now are rattled by whats happening . H e has subtly threatened how he is now tempted to date other women since he is sex deprived but that does not move me since in the past he has had 3 affairs i have discovered and all were blamed on me and how i have not been the perfect wife . I am exhausted by all the conversations we have trying to fix things and we end up blaming each other . I however don’t see any good this is going to do for my kids and that scares me . Should i save myself at their expense? Last year i was extremely depressed and ever since i decided to move out i started feeling hopeful and now i sleep perfectly now that i moved out . He has told me if i come back and act like a perfect wife and respect him and be obedient then maybe he can consider marrying me ..i cry and ask myself am i really that worthless,is this why the blood of Jesus was shed for me so another human can tell me my worth ? I know he tries to brainwash ,me by making me fee;l he is the best i can ever have and sometimes i believe that but i am just so tired of living that way

    • Leslie Vernick on April 25, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      If he hasn’t married you yet, I don’t think that’s going to happen now. Plus do you want to be married to a person who cheats on you and tells you he is much better than you are? You’re right you shouldn’t be making decisions just for your own welfare but for your children’s welfare. Can you get yourself a job and take care of them? Do you think it’s bests for them to see their father constantly cheat and demean their mother? You have no easy answers and my heart hurts for you, but going back to that insanity doesn’t seem wise to me unless you think your children are in danger.

  8. Valda-Julie on April 26, 2014 at 6:07 am

    My husband is domineering, controlling, manipulative, spiteful, spiteful (to the point of being vindictive)and prideful. My fight is with a generational curse of lust (the root spirit)adultery and compulsive lying to name a few. He’s drinking and sets out to deliberately hurt me. The abuse is overwhelming. I cry and cry and cry when I have no words. I’m digging through all the rubbish trying to find JULIE at 55. It’s hard. I want a life! I’m able to exhale for the first time as I read your resources. It’s liberating and I look forward to more freedom as I apply these truths to my life and one day be a blessings to someone else. Relief come to me now in Nassau, Bahamas in Jesus name.

  9. wife on April 26, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    Thanks Leslie,
    I appreciate the time you spent on this, as well as your passion for helping people in need. To clarify, when I was mentioning Vengeance being God’s not mine, I was thinking of it as I do not have to fight for myself because God would be taking care of it and me and I should just wait for him to “rescue” me for lack of better terminology, not in that I was trying to lash out against my spouse because he was hurting me. My leaving would be me being proactive against his domineering and crazy-making ways. It is a cycle, and right now, it isn’t so bad…I feel like I could handle it. Other times, it gets really bad and I feel like I can’t stay even another hour. He has made it clear that if I leave or if I seek outside help then it is over for good, and he won’t support me financially and he would fight tooth and nail for the kids. He talks tough and most people back down from him with anything (business/personal) myself included. I have tried to live peaceably with him, but it takes too much out of me. He treats me like a child who needs punished each time I mess up by either disagreeing with him or by not doing things to his expectations. Sometimes, though, instead of wanting to please God or do what is best for my children, I just want to be selfish and leave, though I know there will be other problems/issues even when/if I would leave. I just go back and forth over and over and am so wishy washy about what to do and what God wants me to do. I have a friend who has told me that she thinks I should go, but she always says things like, “he’ll get what he deserves” etc, and I don’t want to think like that! I just want my kids to have a “normal” life and not get totally screwed up because their parents are selfish jerks!!!

    I appreciate this venue…it is nice to hear from others out there!

    • Leslie Vernick on April 27, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Well you could be passive and “wait” for God to rescue you but I think that’s why God has given us a mind to think and feet to run and eyes to see danger so that we exercise good stewardship over our selves. Proverbs says “The prudent see danger and take refuge”, not The prudent see danger and wait for God to rescue them. I can’t determine how dangerous it is for you right now, only you can do that with God’s help and wise others but I’m sure if you decide to respectfully speak out and become more proactive against the sinful abuse of power your husband wields,it might get more dangerous for you. Yet being passive and doing nothing is also sending a message to him and to your kids that bullying works and that it’s okay for him to act this way and treat you this way. That sounds awfully dangerous too.

  10. Lydia on April 27, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    I am at the point in my marriage of 27 years of lots of realization. I’m currently reading your book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

    My husband is like the man described on pg53. A rescuer, fixer, hero etc and is attracted to women that give him affirmation by thinking he is so amazing when he helps them out. He says I don’t give him affirmation. He says I’m unthankful and selfish.

    He loves it when I’m weak… I’ve suffered two breakdowns in the last 12 years and I’m on anti depressants. Over the last few years I have begun to get stronger. I lost a lot of weight and gained confidence and strength, he felt threatened by this and slowly wore me down and I our half of the weight back on and ended up back on my medication. My strength is coming back again. He does not like this. He does not like me becoming my outgoing self. He is a very jealous man.

    He reacts when I give anyone attention that is not him. My older children like to sit and chat to me, he gets jealous. My dad recently passed away, he got jealous of the attention and care I was giving my dad. The verbal abuse regarding my dad towards me was hideous…..only a few hours before my dad died he let me have it, crushing my heart and spirit.
    I react to his abuse most of the time. He is controlling, verbally abusive, emotionally abusive, jealous (has ownership of me), loves me to death, obsessive, dismissive, critical,and many other things.
    Many people from the outside say I have such an amazing husband. He is a great dad and a wonderful supportive husband. Yes, these things are true. BUT ….

    so in regards to Can I trust my own mind? My mind is telling me I love him… I love his loving gentle side… But then my mind is saying I cannot live like this anymore, it is killing me.. I feel like this situation is physically killing me. Leaving is scarey…he would never leave. I have no money, I have two dependents. I have older children that would abuse me verbally too. I love my home. I’m scared. I have lost all my friends after leaving a strict church. I have no one that understands. I am alone.

    He has resorted over recent months to throwing things and punching things saying his frustration boils over. I am always frustrating to him. Always always … It is always when I talk to him about something in regards to him. If I bring up something about him such as ‘I feel you don’t support me’ I get a barrage of rage…this happened recently.

    I’m tired, weary, exhausted, burnt out, depleted and my faith is wavering. I am asking what is acceptable behaviour for a dad and husband…. Is it normal behaviour? Is it ok for a dad to constantly order the kids around and be on edge a lot of the time? Is it normal that a dad corner his teenager in a blind rage and goes to punch him in the face but stops just sort of his face? Is it normal for a husband to clinch his fists and yell in his wife’s face in front of the children?
    He puts all this down to frustration…. Just plain old frustration.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      I don’t know how you can say, “Yes these things are true” – (he’s a great dad and a supportive husband) BUT and then go on to describe how he treats you and talks to you and your kids. Am I missing something? Lynda your heart is telling you that you love him and you are attracted to the good sides of him, but your mind and body are telling you that that this is NOT normal frustration or a normal way for a husband to treat his wife or children. So do you need to wait until you have another breakdown and gain all your weight back before you say that this environment is toxic to your body, soul, and spirit, not to mention what’s happening to your kids? How can we pray for you?

      • Lydia on April 27, 2014 at 7:35 pm

        You are not missing anything. I guess I’m confused and in my mixed up head trying to work it all out.
        He has criticised me so much about what and who I am and what I think. I see him taking the kids out and doing adventurous things with them, he supports me in giving me space from them at times. He tells me he has laid his life down to support me. Friends tell him I don’t know how lucky I am having such a supportive husband. My kids tell me he has been there for me through my breakdowns so he can flip his lid. I guess I am paranoid of being unthankful and critical of him. He has been so harsh with me over the years with being unthankful.
        His last outburst was a week ago. At the moment he is being so nice to me. Touching me affectionately (which makes me feel uncomfortable), wanting a kiss goodbye (which I do not want to do, but do it anyway). He thinks because he has apologized and said sorry that everything is now ok….with me it is not.
        I need prayer for God’s wisdom … I need him to give me the courage to do what I must do (I am terrified of having to leave). I also need strength … I need Gods strength to do what He leads me to do.
        When I read what I wrote above, seeing it in writing makes me realize that my husbands behaviour is very bad. He is just like his father was with his mom.
        You are right I am in a very toxic environment.
        His behaviour has got worse in recent months…
        Can I ask you what your advice would be to a women married to a man that is on Pg53 of The Emotionally Destructive Marriage?

        • Leslie Vernick on April 27, 2014 at 11:12 pm

          She began sticking up for herself and refusing to allow her husband’s moods or words control her. She practiced her CORE strength and was responsible for herself and respectful to him without dishonoring herself. She set boundaries on how much she would tolerate from him before speaking up or leaving the room. As far as I know they are still together but she feels much better with herself.

          • lydia on June 1, 2014 at 7:06 pm

            Leslie… through my doctor and new counsellor it has been suggested that my husband has a personality disorder. It looks like Narcissism. Ideal Love being his thing. He has many traits and it all makes perfect sense. Im some ways this is a relief and I feel like I can do what I must do. Thus us plan to get out. He seeths with anger every day.



  11. Robin on April 27, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    I’ve been reading this blog that answered the question from another blog topic…… and have been just listening to the many comments and stories shared. I would like to speak to those, who are not quite ready to leave. For 30 yrs, I wasn’t ready. I kept thinking like many of you, he has many strengths, he does love his family, I think things are better this year… Those were all lies, I told myself. I did, like many of you; think it was my job to be patient – endure – and wait for God to move. What I found out many yrs later, is that I was not loving and honoring myself or my children. I beat myself up with just about every bible verse you have heard, believing it must be my fault. And I wasn’t honoring God and His Word. I was living in a false reality. My children grew up, all 4 of them in an abusive home, damaged and where only the people in our home, saw the truth of how our husband/father really lived with us. I could share the details of some of the things my children went thru, but I don’t think its necessary- we all experience abuse on different levels. The point is- don’t wait. Don’t wait till the ‘cost’ of staying is way more than you ever wanted to pay. I would never advise a woman to stay until she knew for absolute sure this is what God wanted. Believe me, God wants safe and sane women and children. God wants honor and love to be what defines your home. If your husband is saying, if you get outside help, we are done, I can promise you that is a RED FLAG.
    If a husband says, he won’t go get help with you or on his own, or won’t be accountable to a counselor or church leader, believe me this is a RED FLAG. Do your part, get help for yourself, work on your core as Leslie recommends in her book, but please don’t make the mistake of waiting till the sin of abuse has destructed your home. It will never feel good to leave!!!!!! I was one, that had allowed so much abuse for so long, when it was time to separate, I had my husband removed from the home by the police. What a price I paid for that!! 3 of my children stood up against me, in the first hearing because they thought I was unloving. I chose to stand up for Righteousness and in doing my part to end a chaotic mess, and build a healthy legacy for future grandchildren. The price has been huge. I walked away from a unhealthy marriage never feeling good about it, and walked towards the arms of God depending on Him to take care of me. He did and He does it more than I could have ever imagined was possible. So ladies, be bold and be full of courage. Stand up for your families. Honor God and your children, and He will be faithful to provide a future unimaginable.

    • r on April 29, 2014 at 11:35 am

      Robin, thank you for your post. You are so right in all that you have shared. I am in a similar situation the difference being I had an emotional affair. In a nut shell, i am insignificant to my husband. We are separated now and have been almost a year. He refuses to go to counseling. WE have been to four therapists and he always stops going about the 4th visit saying I have a motive for being there other than working on our marriage. Ugh. He has become increasingly more emotionally abusive because of the sin I have committed. It is my fault for everything. I could go on and on about the details of our marriage. Basically, I have been put on a shelf for years and never validated, or paid attention to. The reason i loved your post is because It is hard to leave. I think as women we are so afraid of not being able to make it. I feel defeated, i have no confidence either. I would love to hear more about how women can become strong and NOT doubt themselves and what they see is happening in their relationships. I go back and forth, telling myself it is all my fault and then the next day I feel differently. Please let me know if you have any strong words that will help me get past this. Thank you so much

      • Leslie Vernick on April 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm

        With God’s help YOU CAN DO THIS!

      • Robin on April 29, 2014 at 2:30 pm

        Dear R, Please don’t beat yourself up, God says there is no condemnation. We simply take care of our own issues, before the Lord. Abusers have a tendency to deflect their own issues onto others, as they place a false guilt on us. True, we do make mistakes. But when we believe our spouses words that they need to be abusive, because of our errors, we are believing a lie. I allowed my spouse to hold something over me, and I spent yrs feeling guilty. All the Lord ever requires is repentance and acknowledgement of our sins. He is eager to forgive us. UNlike our spouses that want to use it against us.
        What are the things I could share about how I have received a real strength??
        #1. I found a Christian counselor who was willing to help me renew my mind with Truths, and not what my husband said was truth. Together we found the lies I was living under, and replaced them with what God really says.
        #2. I prayed for Godly friends, and God was so faithful to bring a wonderful SUPPORT TEAM to me, so I could stand up to the abuse in our home. I had support on every side of me, which I believe was a real significant part to me growing stronger and healthier.
        #3. I grabbed ahold of every resource I could to learn more about abuse. Leslie’s materials and this blog were of great importance to me, and support. I learned many wonderful new things through her video’s on her website, even had my husband listen to them. I spent one whole year just learning new information, and doing homework assignments my counselor worked thru with me.
        Because I have spoken boldly about leaving a destructive environment; let me take a moment and talk about possibilities. When I left, I didn’t believe it was forever. God had spoken to me and said, Robin, you must stop this abuse. Your heart will know when its time to be able to pursue your husband. But for now, we must stop the destructive behaviors. I do not know the end of my story. I just know when there is major abusive – destructive behaviors in a home- women who stay will pay a huge cost to herself and her family. When I say – be bold – I mean go before the Lord and ask Him what He wants of you. Some stay and some go. I just say, He doesn’t want any of us to stay in a unsafe situation. I have very much benefitted from ‘standing up’ to my husbands abuse. My life is filled with peace, abd joy and God supplies for all my needs. I can’t say what He would do for you, I just know that as you trust Him, and go towards doing the things that please Him – He will become your husband and the center of your life.
        Bless you!! God will be ENOUGH!!

        • r on April 30, 2014 at 2:15 pm

          Thank you so much Robin. This is very helpful. I truly feel like I am exhausted from this past year. I do have a great support group who are christian friends. My therapist isn’t a christian counselor. She believes based on her years in therapy that my husband will not change. He is a bit of a narcissist as well. So, you feel and believe that even though I had an emotional affair does not make it ok for him to say the awful things he does? I am just trying to make sure that i understand his anger. Is his anger justified because of my emotional affair and my deceitfullness? so exhausted. Trying to believe and do the right things. Blessings to you.

          • Robin on May 1, 2014 at 12:07 am

            One of the most important things I learned thru counseling, is what a freedom it is, to take personal responsibility for my own life. That means my choices are mine. My bad decisions are mine. Sometimes couples think they own one another, and can or should cast guilt and condemnation on one another. If you are sorry for what you did, and have asked him to forgive you, I would think its up to him to choose whether or not he is. And from what you have said, it sounds like he hasn’t. As I said before, abuser and narcissists often try to put the attention on the spouse and their wrong– so you can’t spend your time telling him where there needs to be changes in his life. WE all sin and make mistakes. Its what we do afterwards with the weight of that sin, that matters. If you have cleared it up, and he refuses to walk in forgiveness, I believe counselors would say, that’s now his problem. You have taken care of your part. A huge part of surviving abuse, is understanding the mind of the abuser. The way they think is what makes them so deceitful ….. They generally are not looking out for your best interest. Narcissists minds are fixed on what is best for them only. I know this is hard to absorb. WE ask, how could that be?? But in my life and relationship, I have found it to be true. He never had my best interest. I hope that helps.



          • Robin on May 1, 2014 at 1:18 am

            His anger is never justified, by what you did. His anger is his responsibility.

            Have you read any of Leslie’s bks or watched her video’s on her website?? Excellent information, that could help you or any of us !!!!!



  12. Cheryl on April 28, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Hello ladies, I am attempting to post here and this is a test post. If it goes through I will post my reply. I don’t want to type a long post and it not go through. Thanks.

  13. Cheryl on April 28, 2014 at 9:22 am

    OK. It looks like I can type this post and it will get though. I don’t know how to post except here. I thought my marital situation might be sorted out better if I put it into words. I have read some here on the passive-aggressive husband/wife. I am married to a passive aggressive man who uses appeasement as his tool to deflect from the real problems. I have been married to him for 42 years and have become numb. I got so frustrated that I started a ministry in my 40’s, went back to school and got a master’s degree in counseling to have a life of my own and find some satisfaction outside of my marriage. He was supportive as long as I never asked anything from him emotionally. He will talk to me about anything except us and how I am feeling in our relationship. I just gave up a $50,000 job so I could take care of my ailing father. He wasn’t happy but realized I couldn’t work 12 hour days and come back to my hometown and visit and care for my father for two more hours each night. We raised our children and all three have problems. Two completed college but one is very OCD about exercise and gets up in the wee hours of the morning about 3:30 am to go to the gym EVERY day before work. Another of our children, a son, is addicted to drugs, and now regularly uses medical marijuana. He was extremely destructive and lived with us for many, many years, only recently moving out at age 35. My husband has never been willing to look at they family dynamics of his illness nor will he repent for his passive aggressive attitude toward me. I have tried counseling numerous times and even left for short periods, once, telling him I would only return if he went to an intensive marital conference with me out of state. He went but he did not submit to anything he learned there, only dismissing everyone due to them being of another denomination. They were somewhat abusive in their approach and I didn’t agree with it either. He always finds faults in the counselors and refuses to deal with his issues resulting from being raised in an abusive home. His mother was abusive and he totally shut down emotionally. He never reads his Bible and prays at mealtimes, only. He turns off Christian music, TV and radio if I try to listen. He is not interested in Christian fellowship and belittles every group he has visited. He has no friends, relationships. He is happy to work and surf the internet all night sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. The frustrating part of all this is that he goes through the motions of being a good husband but it is all a façade. If I try to explain my feelings and how lonely I am married to him, he apologizes and says he knows he should try harder and for me to leave a book out and we will read it together. I blew up and said that he has been lying to me hundreds of times saying he will do something about his problem of lack of emotional connection but NEVER follows through. I tried for so many years to just be nice, love him more and more and be a perfect wife. I finally read Dan Allandar’s book “Bold Love” and realized that I was dealing with a biblical fool. He professes to be a Christian and I am not trying to judge that, I can only evaluate and surmise that his commitment is only superficial not the type of laying one’s life down for another, FIRST to Christ, then for others. He is probably depressed and it is maddening because when I put boundaries on our sexual contact, he just gets “nicer” and starts doing things like getting me coffee or making a sandwich for me. He refuses to ask what is wrong and I am now refusing to ask him why he won’t ask. How about 42 years of this. I have finally realized I am co-dependent with him and can only address MY issues. I am going to try to find a women’s support group in my area. Problem is I am very well known in my community and have even had radio programs and was involved in a well known ministry. People do not know I have been suffering with loneliness, emotional deprivation and extreme suffering due to my husband’s non-interest. He is not interested in my ministry. He says he has been supportive but it has always been on a superficial level, him being on the outside looking in and saying he was supportive. He was supportive as long as I was bringing money in. When the support fell off he pressured me to drop out and get a job that I hated for 7 years. Due to his pressure and lack of involvement, I have gradually lost my ministry completely. Now I have no job, no church (we are in transition because he refused to get involved in either of the last two churches we attended) I guess I could go on and on but I want to warn younger women not to let this type of behavior go on unchecked because it can take a terrible toll emotionally and spiritually. I have developed an eating disorder that is hard to deal with due to emotional issues not being addressed in healthy ways. Believe it or not I am a biblical counselor myself and have had a huge ministry in my community. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors. I was forced to stay quiet if I wanted to stay in ministry. I feel perhaps God has released me from ministry for the time being to give me time to deal with these issues. I have no idea what to do because this is such a hidden, silent, ugly problem. Even my children don’t know what goes on between us. It all revolves around sex for him. If I move out of the bedroom, he just withdraws more and makes my life miserable. If I try to set a boundary he blasts the boundary and refuses to ask himself, Why is she doing this? or what am I doing that is causing her to withdraw from me?” Instead he just withdraws and makes my life more miserable. This is my punishment. I always give in and capitulate. I am learning this is co-dependency and weakness and that God does not expect me to be a sexual slave in bondage to a passive-aggressive pink elephant sitting in the middle of our living room every day, that we do not talk about. The more I type the sicker I see all of this is. PLEASE HELP and give some suggestions ladies. Thank you so much. I have all of Leslie’s books, books by so many but I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO, especially now that I’m not working and due to my age of 65 will probably not work again. We are not financially well off at all as he changed jobs a lot over the course of his life. I worked in ministry. I get SS but could not live on it at all. To move out would be devastating for us at our age. We could both be paupers in our old age if we don’t watch how we handle our finances during this decade. He is going to work until he’s 70 so we can have a livable pension. How could things be so confusing and unmanageable? Thanks to Leslie for understanding the plight of women caught in the clutches of abuse, whether it be emotional, verbal or physical. My problem is mine is so hidden and I’m the only one suffering. No one knows…………………………

  14. Elizabeth on April 29, 2014 at 8:14 am

    I have been struggling with this idea this week….how do I know what thoughts to follow in my head?

    I have been separated for two months now. It has been extremely difficult. I was fine for the first month. I found a way to track my husband using old passwords (that he gave me when we were together and he has not changed). What I found out was that he was calling escorts and meeting them at hotels. I noticed one number that kept coming up. I found out this week he has a relationship with one of the escorts he met and is trying to help her out of this lifestyle he found her in. I believe he is helping her come off of heroine as well. They have pet names for each other. He is even talking to her about spending the rest of his life with her.

    Ever since I found this information, my stability has suffered. I started blaming myself, feeling guilty, questioning my decision, etc. But then I think maybe it’s just the reality of the person I left coming to light. He knows I know now and told me if I hadn’t left, this woman wouldn’t be there.

    He actually confessed all of this to a man that had been mentoring him from our church. The man was blown away because my husband had been lying to him. He told him if he didn’t get professional counseling and a restoration program, he would have to leave the church. I felt guilty about that. I also feel guilty because I know he needs sex and our marriage had been so bad for so long, I had come to a point where I refused to be intimate with him. I told him I felt like he used me and I didn’t want to be treated like that anymore. So, now, I think, well, I did refuse to have sex. He just needs sex. So many thoughts.

    So, the peace and security I felt at first vanished once I found all of this out. I am not sure why. Maybe it’s the finality of it all? But I feel sick and depressed pretty much constantly now. I feel like I put him in a position to run to these women and crave and search out relationship. He went from a house full of people to none and needed a relationship. Then, I think I am just being sucked back into his chaos by tracking him and that’s why things inside of me have changed. Not sure which is true.

    I can’t think logically right now. My mind is a mess. A friend offered me a better job and I explained to him that I couldn’t make a decision right now because I’m not at that point. I may be burning bridges….I don’t know. Reading these posts makes me feel not crazy though. I realize someone knows what I’m dealing with.

  15. Betty on April 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Cheryl, I really feel for you and your agony of indecision. Have you thought of a break away for a while to stay with a member of the family where you can be out of the situation, rest and relax and prayerfully reassess your situation? Don’t call it separation so that it doesn’t put pressure on you until you decide about your future, but I would advise that you make it a good length of time.
    In your deliberations, look to the Word of God is also my humble suggestion here, What God is telling me to do? Sometimes matters are taken out of our hands as we seek His face, but if not, when His Word makes the way ahead clear, you can move forward with confidence and KNOW that he will give the strength and help you need.
    Much love to you.

  16. Linda Sylvia on May 2, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I have been married 32 years and had to kick my husband out (again) last week. The first time I left. He seemed to have worked really hard to make things better, went to a counselor, etc., but the minute I went back (after 4 months) he was the same, or actually worse. He’s a passive “nice” guy who is a liar, a sneak and lives a private deviant life in his little private world. It was so confusing to me because he could be nice to my face, albeit distant and shut down, but he was secretive and seemed to have no conscience with some of the things he did. I also kicked him out of the bedroom once for 3 months and he seemed to try to work on things, but again, the minute the pressure’s off, he is the same. He was a pastor for 10 years and there was such duplicity, it killed me. The thing is, it is always good and important to try everything else first before separating. Go to counseling, go to intensives, get accountability, but in the end, they have to be broken. They have to want to change, not jump through hoops so they can get things to be back where they can settle back into their comfort again. And we are complicit in this. We want homeostasis too. That is a normal human reaction to disruption, but the thing is, we end up in the same situation, only worse, because now we have all kinds of self-doubt. Our abusive husbands want what they want and don’t want to love and trust God, but what about us? We want what we want too, so we overlook what we can, and we cajole them to change. We have to stop. We have to have the courage to say, “Enough. You want to be married and live a happy life? Then you have to earn it because I and WE are worth it, but I refuse to pretend and to try to do this on my own.” Be prepared, because you will have to follow through. If you’re not prepared, stop whining, you are making a choice.

  17. m on September 24, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    wow that is exactly where I have been for 8 years now. My husband has been emotionally abusive for 8 years and it has been hard to trust that it is the right decision to leave. I have tried and let him come back and he has changed some but is still VERY controlling. I don’t trust that the change is real or will last but I struggle with totally ending it because I want it to be HIS will not mine.

  18. Liz on October 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    I am struggling with this same situation. My husband has been emotionally abusive to me and my children as a result of mental illness. He suffers from depression and anxiety. He gets stressed ad then explodes with rage at us, so we’re always walking on eggshells around him. I never know when the next outburst is coming. He’s even hit my 5yo son a couple of times, and says horrible things to him like he doesn’t care if my son gets hurt. He is in therapy right now but he’s not telling them everything that has been going on. He says he loves us and doesn’t want to hurt us, but he still keeps doing these things. He belittles me and blames me for everything that has gone wrong in our marriage. I no longer leave my children alone with him because I’m afraid he will flip out and do something awful, but even that he sees as me over reacting and being too sensitive. He seemed so sweet and gentle when we married, and it seems almost surreal that now we’re in a situation where I fear for my safety and my kids’ wellbeing. I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I think, surely it can’t be that bad! But on the other hand, I know deep down that it is. I cry all the time, I feel so uneasy around him, and my kids are having behaviour problems due I how they’ve been treated by their father. I’m terrified that they will end up with serious problems in later life, but I’m also afraid to leave. He would be so upset an I’m afraid he would kill himself- he’s been suicidal in the past. Plus so many people we know would say I just we’d to forgive and support him so he can get help.

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