Hi Friends,

I would deeply appreciate your prayers. I feel a bit on overload and just need some time to be quiet, be creative, read, rest, etc. I think I’ve asked this before, but I haven’t really taken the time to actually do it (yes, I’m human like the rest of us and sometimes don’t follow through on what I say I am going to do).

I’m hoping to take some time this summer, but pray that I use my time wisely. I’m also pondering whether or not to write another book geared more for the Emotionally Destructive spouse, collaborating with my friend and colleague Chris Moles who is a pastor and batterer interventionist. I’m wondering if those who recognize themselves as abusive will really read a book, or should we make short videos instead? What do you think? I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Today’s Question: In the past, we had a few different marriage counselors who did not have experience in abuse situations. This morning, I was calling a few different ones – asking for specialty in verbal / emotional abuse.

Praise God I found one who has seen your videos. I hope the counseling will work for my individual counseling.

My husband said he will go to a counselor. Do you suggest that we go to the same person at different times during the week or should he go to another counselor?

I heard you say in your video that these are Evidences of the fruit of the repentance.

1. Accept full responsibility. No blaming and be responsible
2. Recognize and have compassion for the hurt and pain that he caused
3. Accept the consequence of sin – without excuse, demands
4. Make Amends for damage caused
5. Show that he has grown in a healthy relationship

When the above steps are in place, am I the one to say I feel we are ready to have marriage counseling together or the counselor or both?

Is it best to have us come together at that point, my husband with his counselor and me with mine?

We were married in 1983, separated by the court system for 14 months with the risk of losing our younger 2 kids.

When he came back, abuse cycle happened and there were times it was unsafe for me to be at the home because of his anger, etc.

I am wondering what God has in store for me, a sinner but a woman who wants a better relationship.

Answer: Let me address your last question first. God loves you. He wants your best. He doesn’t want you to be abused, especially by someone who has promised to love and cherish you. He doesn’t want your children to be abused or to witness you being abused.

God also wants you to have good relationships with people, just like you want those relationships. Jesus says that there is nothing more important to God than we learn to love God and love others well. ([truth]Matthew 22:36-40[/truth]). He knows that loving relationships are vital to our emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health. God also gives us wisdom throughout the Bible on how to make and keep good relationships and guidelines on what kinds of people to choose to be close to.

A great book in the Old Testament to read to see the characteristics of different types of people and how they function is Proverbs. A foolish person and an evil person cannot have good or loving relationships. Proverbs warns us to stay away from them if at all possible.

But you also ask some very practical questions about where you and your husband go from here. You have had years of abuse but you say your spouse is now willing to go to counseling.

I do not recommend that you and your husband have the same counselor while you do individual counseling. Most licensed counselors would not do individual counseling with both a husband and a wife, especially in a troubled marriage, because of the confidentiality issues as well as a conflict of interests.

For example, if your husband told his counselor he was watching pornography or tempted to have an affair, would the counselor tell you or not tell you? If you were thinking of ending the marriage and were discussing that with your counselor, would your counselor feel obligated to tell your husband what you were thinking? It puts the counselor in a terrible position to manage those issues in the best interests of both individuals. What might be in your best interests might not be in his best interests. When you both see the same counselor individually it also impedes full and honest disclosure if you fear that what you disclose will automatically be revealed to your spouse.

Lastly, if one of you decides the marriage is irreparable and you want to divorce, who gets to keep going to the counselor? It would be a huge conflict of interests and unethical for the counselor to be counseling both husband and wife who are getting a divorce. Therefore either you or your husband will feel abandoned by your counselor in a time of great need.

My policy is this: I will see either a husband or wife, and the other person goes to another counselor for his or her own individual counseling. Both parties sign a release of information so that the two counselors can consult and collaborate on what’s going on and do better case management. That keeps everyone on the same page as much as possible without the conflict of interest issue or the fear of a breakdown in confidentiality. If you disclose something to your counselor that you do not want him or her to share with the other counselor, all you have to do is say “do not disclose that” and your counselor is bound by confidentiality not to disclose.

You asked who decides when and if joint marital counseling takes place? That decision would be made by a collaborative conversation with both counselors and both individuals, however the abused person’s feelings would have more weight and veto power if she (or he) is not ready for joint counseling.

However, if there is no new history of safety and not enough evidence of growing sanity, marriage counseling won’t work and will actually make things worse. Therefore you want to see those evidences of repentance that you mentioned earlier but also a few other things in order for marital counseling to be effective:

1. You need to see over a period of time a consistent willingness in your husband rather than his typical willfulness. In other words, you want to see evidence that he’s had a change of heart and he’s not just going through the motions or checking off a list of do’s and don’ts. You want to see that is more humbled and teachable, rather than arrogant and unwilling to learn. Marital counseling won’t do anyone any good unless they have a problem that they can recognize and are willing to learn new things. If they still believe it’s everybody else’s fault and aren’t willing or don’t need to learn anything new, then joint counseling becomes a waste of time and worse, it can become an opportunity for blaming and justifying his actions because of your faults and shortcomings.

2. You want to see a growing self-awareness. Individual counseling helps someone grow in their ability to know their own feelings, their own thoughts and take responsibility for them instead of blame-shifting, denying, repressing, or minimizing them. Individual counseling helps a person grow in his or her ability to receive constructive feedback (from the counselor) and take steps of personal responsibility to change dysfunctional thoughts, habit patterns or ways of responding to life and others. If someone doesn’t know his own thoughts or feelings, can’t express them, or doesn’t take responsibility for them, joint counseling doesn’t work well.

3. You want to see evidence of working hard at the process of healing. When there has been a long history of destructive behaviors in someone’s lifestyle, changes take time and hard work. There is no magic or instant fix and for marriage counseling to be beneficial, both parties in the marriage must be committed to working on the things that hurt one another as well as their destructive communication patterns and maintaining safety while together. If only one person is working and the other is not, you cannot do good joint counseling. Instead it becomes an individual counseling session with the other spouse observing. This often gives the observer the idea that the “real” problem is you because he sees the counselor focusing on you more and more. But the reason the counselor is focusing on you isn’t because you have more issues than he does but because the counselor senses his resistance and your willingness to work and so the counselor gravitates to the individual who is more open to change and work. In many instances that can be fine for a season of marital counseling with non-destructive couples, but not in these cases. The reason is because it fuels his fantasy that it’s you who needs fixing and if only you got your act together, things would be fine.

Lastly you asked if both individual counselors get together to do the marital counseling piece when the couple is ready? That would be ideal – but costs and logistics often make that impossible. So the options are: Find a third counselor who can do the marital counseling, but make sure he or she consults with the other two individual counselors on the work that has been done previously.

Or, one of the individual counselors becomes the marital counselor. The problem with this approach however is that once the individual counselor becomes the marital counselor, he or she can’t go back to being the individual counselor anymore. That would be unfair to the other spouse, and so when you decide to both go to one of your individual counselors, one of you must be prepared to lose your own personal counselor. The other downside to having one of your individual counselors do the marital work is that the spouse who did not see this counselor individually, may feel that the counselor sides more with you and cannot be objective. Also when the counselor tries to be fair and neutral in the counseling session, you may feel that he or she is now charmed, fooled, or siding with your abusive partner.

Messy? Yes. Impossible? No. But these obstacles and challenges need to be discussed ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page as to what is expected and what some of the pitfalls might be as you enter into joint counseling.

Friends, those of you who have been through this process, share your experience – what worked? What didn’t work?

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97 Comments

  1. Sherry on May 1, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I’ve been in an abusive marriage for 29 years now. I finally got so miserable I started individual counseling 5 years ago and learned about boundaries and why I chose the man I married and it has been very helpful. I learned to leave the house when my husband began to rage so he figured out that raging didn’t work anymore.
    Two weeks ago I told him I ‘was done” and wouldn’t be abused anymore. He decided we needed marriage counseling (after I begged him multiple times for it!) so he found a counselor, a retired minister who means well, who will also not charge for his services. He gave us both a 5 page form to fill out, which my husband has not done yet but I have. He met with us each separately so now it is my husband’s turn to meet with him. However, we had to make a short day trip over the weekend and my husband decided to “talk” to me about our issues. He had excuses for everything and would not accept my pain or apologize for it. It is still “all my fault”. As we talked I got a mind picture of him closing a bank vault door on me – that I am being locked up again in this painful marriage. My individual counselor does not believe he will follow through. I don’t either. He seems totally unable or unwilling to “see” his selfishness and abuse. I believe God can work miracles but He will not overstep someone’s free will. I think we are truly “done”.

    • there too on May 6, 2014 at 8:54 am

      After 37 years of an alienated and abusive marriage,I filed 2 months ago. I realized after years of begging for counseling that he wouldn’t go. He finally went and the counselor said we were so far gone, he couldn’t see us. I started with another counseling center and after a few sessions with me, my counselor wanted to meet him to get a clear picture of our situation. After the one and only session he went to, she said she understood the situation better and would not see us together again. If he wanted counseling he would have to e seen by someone else in the office. Ever time I come home from a session and am working to get stronger, my husband becomes super nice that evening and next day. He works hard to gain my emotional trust, which I long for from him; then from day 3 or 4 until the next session, he is his old self. Admitting that it took 2 or 3 times, to recognize his pattern is hard But I want to trust him It is misplaced trust. I thought I was pleasing God by staying married, I was wrong. I am working at recognizing patterns and not falling into them again. Please know you are not alone.

  2. Hoping on May 1, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Great topic today! I have just come through working through a lot of those issues and am so grateful to be able to say that we FINALLY have a team of counselors with whom we are making progress! It was a long time in coming, and they were not easy to find! There are those who are experienced in helping the victim, but not many who are geared toward the perpetrator. . . . .

    Leslie, I know you are busy and I wouldn’t want you to feel any more overwhelmed than you already do. . . . However, my husband is one of those who recognizes that he is abusive and really wants help and has been very frustrated at the lack of material available. He watched all of your videos and has been reading books relating to other areas in which he struggles. I believe that he would have read a book geared toward the perpetrator if we had found one . . . .

    • Leslie Vernick on May 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm

      Thanks for letting me know that. I know that good material on this subject is tough to find so I’m glad he is working hard to get the help he needs.

  3. Sherri on May 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Hi Leslie, in response to your first question, in my opinion, true abusers will not “recognize that they’re abusive,” nor will they read books or videos on the topic.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      At one level I agree that if you cannot recognize you are abusive or destructive, no change is possible. However I have fielded numerous calls and e-mails from those who have recognized themselves in my books as “destructive” and are asking for help. “How do I change?” So I’m going to provide some teaching/training on this issue – I too was both a victim of abuse and had a tendency to abuse when raising my children so I know that it’s possible with Christ’s help to truly change if YOU want to.

  4. Tanya on May 1, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    I am on my fourth counselor. So far, none have heard of your work. Two were aware of Lundy Bancroft’s book. I believe that you are doing an amazing job of filling in the counseling gap for those of us who need biblical counsel on verbal and emotional abuse. Thank you for following where God leads. I was so encouraged to hear you Leslie on the Focus on The Family broadcasts over the last year. Without your work, I would still be listening to a counselor tell me to just pray harder and stop pushing my husband’s buttons.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 1, 2014 at 9:29 pm

      Can you help get the word out to the counselors about the free video’s on my home page? It will help them understand. Especially the one’s about Why Trying Harder is Destructive and The Five Common Mistakes People Helpers Make.

  5. Alene on May 1, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    The title could make or break it.

    I think you’ve cautioned us that if the spouse will not accept the word ‘abuse’ the name the behaviors instead.

    It strikes me that how you title the book, could make all the difference in the world.

    What would invite further exploration? Realizing the Impact? Empathy…? Choosing to See? I rather like that Choosing to See one!

    If you want to stick with your typical words “emotionally destructive…” could that go in the sub-title? … though I’d still wonder if dropping that for words that would invite further exploration might lead to more readers.

    My son chose to hurt a neighbor child a few years ago. He had to work with a counsellor. The counsellor worked with him on empathy, seeing things from the other person’s point of view and caring for that, understanding that it was their choice to forgive or not.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 1, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      You’re so right – titling is everything for a new book. It’s just in the brainstorming season right now so I’m sure I will run possible titles through this blog for your input

  6. mommy0f3 on May 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    I have now been separated from my husband for 13 months. It took him about 6 months of counseling (the first 6 months of our seperation) before he could admit to his emotional abuse. He did all the steps Leslie has listed to show a true change of heart. The part I’m now struggling with is that im now seeing regression in some areas (NOT THE PAST AREAS OF ABUSE THANK GOODNESS). He is still struggling very much with his own issues that its become harder as time goes on for him to focus on our marriage and 3 kids and fixing/working on that.. My question to you Leslies is what happens if a person has had a change of heart, wants to change, but just can’t (for various reasons). I know that if my husband cannot change ill be in a very miserable marriage as abuse was one of serveral issues that brought us to our seperation. Depression and paranoia are two of the major issues my husband just can’t seem to get a handle on quite yet.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 1, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      You are right, sometimes someone is willing but not yet capable of making sustained changes. Medication might help with the depression and paranoia. Is he willing to try that? It’s a tough place to be in because you want to applaud and support his awareness and his willingness, yet the toxic effects of his lack of change are still quite damaging to the marriage and family. I will pray you get lots of support and wisdom in knowing the things you need to do.

      • mommy0f3 on May 2, 2014 at 2:06 pm

        Thank you Leslie,

        He isn’t willing to take medication due to his job. That is something that has been discussed before in the past. Depression, paranoia and extreme negativity is very hard for me to deal with. It’s made a deep impact on me and our almost 12 year marriage. It’s so difficult to deal with when I’m feeling I need HIS support for all the damage he caused me.

        Thank you Leslie for your response and your prayers. I pray that God will show me a clear path as to what I must do each day.

        • Robin on May 18, 2014 at 1:03 am

          If he’s not willing to take medication, I would wonder if maybe there is a boundary for your own safety and sanity in all this??

  7. Hidden In Christ on May 1, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Leslie,
    I think a series of videos for those who abuse would be very helpful. A short video can communicate so very much and grab your attention, interest and impart hope. Much of communication is visual. Your demeanor communicates an excellent non judgement attitude. You communicate care and concern, “I’m for you, God is for you, and God can meet you in this difficulty. These qualities portrayed in short topical videos would be very helpful, especially in this youtube age. Also, pastors and people helpers can be quickly equipped. I have used your website to educate and instruct many pastors, people helpers and emotionally abused ladies in my life. People are waking up to this problem and lives are being changed. God is being glorified through your wisdom and experience.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you !!!

    • Leslie Vernick on May 8, 2014 at 9:11 am

      Thank you. Go to this week’s video (not mine) on my blog. You’ll see a great example of this.

  8. Vikki on May 1, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I loved this post and responses!!!!!
    I LIVED those fault finding sessions !! We had the SAME individual and marital therapist!! We did everything listed here- total mess!!! I thought being willing to work meant Im wide open and so is he. He used it all – and does to this day- to then point fingers at me. Total truth.
    6 weeks into our separation I confronted him and said that I didnt think he did the work, took notes, read the books for all the help we had.
    You know what he said? ” I didnt.”
    That was my gift from God. That explained everything.

    After 11 months of separation he’s ticked off that I dont trust that he says he’s changed. The list above in the question- vital and life giving checklist. This whole post helped me on every front tonight- thanks!

    Leslie- I do think men would respond to videos more than a book. But please, strongly add that just because they watched the video does not mean they are now better… and they need to respect that its a looooong road back, not a quick jog home.
    And maybe you should make a ” For Today” video with your top 5 points they need to learn to live by- and listen to it daily while in recovery.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 2, 2014 at 9:27 am

      You’re right. I can watch all the video’s I want on exercise but unless I exercise regularly I will not get into shape. The same is true with all kinds of learning. It must become practical and personal.

  9. Grace on May 2, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Hi Leslie,

    My husband recognises he is emotionally abusive and has already read other books (two on passive aggression, parts of yours, and Lundy Bancroft’s.) He has just broken off from Controlling People by Patricia Evans to read Depression: The Way Out Of Your Prison, having just been diagnosed with depression.) I am sure he would read your projected new book. Please write it!!

    Why not do the book and videos?

    My husband is on the 11th week of a 12-week abuser programme (following 12 weeks of counselling). He started making an effort to treat me right 7-8 weeks ago, did it for 2 weeks and then stopped. I am hoping this is mainly because of the depression and he will start again. 

    Thank you for all your great work. I really hope it influences pastors, in particular.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 2, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Thanks Grace and your encouragement.

  10. Meghan on May 2, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Hi Leslie,

    Thank you for all the incredible work you do. After realizing that I was in an emotionally abusive marriage, I sought individual counseling and insisted that my husband did as well. Your book has been so helpful to me in figuring out what I am dealing with. Over the past several months, I saw some many positive changes and some major steps back. It all came to a head in February when my husband was fired from yet another job and went into a tailspin – blaming me, my family, everyone except himself for his self-perceived failures. I said I was DONE, starting talking to a lawyer, and then God opened up a lifeline for our marriage by dropping a job opportunity in his lap that is two hours away from where we live. We decided that he should move out to focus on the new job and himself, and he will come home on weekends based on what we agree upon. I enjoy the peace in the house during the week and also now enjoy time spent with my husband when he comes home on the weekends since he is trying to treat me and our child as a priority, but I still have strong reservations about if he can really change. My mother and grandmother have decided that there is no hope for us and that I won’t be happy until I leave him. For the first time in our marriage, my husband appears to be making a sincere effort to draw close to God and mend past hurts with family members. They aren’t even willing to see the possibility that he’s changing and I feel like I’m stuck in the middle, and it’s making me crazy. How should we go about communicating with family members when trying to see if a damaged marriage is repairable?

    • Leslie Vernick on May 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Slowly. Change takes time and to rebuild broken trust takes a consistent effort of changed behavior over time. Don’t pressure them to accept “he’s changed.” He must understand that years of broken trust doesn’t get rebuilt in a few months of hard work. That is part of the consequences of what he’s done over the years. Don’t get in the middle. You can say, “I’m watching and waiting to see what God is doing in him.” They will have to make up their own mind as will you.

  11. Kathy on May 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Leslie:

    I DEFINITELY think you should write the book for the destructive spouses! I’m not going to promise mine would ever read it (I can pray!), but many others would. You have a God-given gift and your perspective on this problem is needed. However, please make sure you take that time to recharge – you’re well-being is important to all of us!

    • Jennifer on May 3, 2014 at 7:39 pm

      What Kathy said!

  12. Carol on May 2, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    There are various levels of ADD symptoms according to Daniel Amen’s excellent book. One of those symptoms is a need to hurt a spouse/partner when an adrenalin “fix” is needed. In addition, the ADD person may not be able to focus well enough to read a book. Both of these issues were involved in my destructive marriage, so I vote for a video as well as a book.

  13. Sheri on May 2, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Leslie,
    Thank you for your commitment to healing relationships. Your books and website have been a lifeline to me and my friends dealing with abusive marriages. I pray you get the quiet space you need for balance and renewal.

    If you decide to do something directed towards those seeking to end their destructive behaviors, I would agree with Grace and suggest that you create both a book and videos. As several have mentioned, there are people who wish to make changes in their behaviors, but not a lot of resources to guide them. Many abusers avoid accountability and thinking they can “fix it” on their own, would pick up a book or watch videos, depending on their learning style. It feels safer and at least gets the conversation started. Perhaps the materials could also be designed to be used by a counselor and/or abuse therapy group when the person is ready to work on their issues with accountability to others for change.

  14. Betty on May 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Hi Leslie. I hope that you will take any opportunity to rest and renew. Like a sponge, we are squeezing you for advice and counsel all the time so its important for yourself, family and for us hurting people that you get the time out that you must need. Praying for you to have wisdom as you mull over ideas for a new book.
    There should be help for husbands who have seen the light.
    Sadly, my husband doesn’t see himself as he is , at all. I just keep praying.
    I enjoyed you thoughts that you wrote about self-image and focusing on the Lord and His love for us. I am struggling with rejection feelings. Rejected by husband and avoided by the few that know my situation. i feel that somehow now I have become bottom of the ladder, a ‘don’t touch’ person….like the poor lepers in the Bible. Then I feel a bad Christain for feeling like that. People’s attitudes shouldn’t bother me, but they do

    • Jo Ellen on May 3, 2014 at 3:48 am

      Dear Betty,

      Know I am praying for you. I was in your shoes at one time. My husband and I were church leaders and (I was emotionally abused and some physical) but did not realize it till later after my husband left our marriage but still tried to control myself and children. It was very hard (but the Lord never failed). When my then husband walked out the door – family income went from $5,000 per month to $500 and I had 4 children ages 13 (daughter) 12 (son),10 (son) and 8 (son). This was all 20 years ago and yet seems just yesterday. Kids are doing well as adults and are all excellent parents with their own children.

      During the period before my ex left – We went to marriage counseling with our Pastor and the abuse got way worse. Now I know why – but years ago didn’t know that an abuser would escalate his behaviors after a joint (so called) Marriage Counseling. I’ve learned so much just from this site and Leslie’s writings and videos. Literally at several points, I was afraid my husband was going to kill me in front of our children. Anyway – while the hurt and confusion I was going thou was so hard – it was the Christians who I knew from church who became another wound to me. I hear you saying this … I felt like scum in that folks felt if this can happen to this couple then can happen to us and so folks would not talk to me. This was in a small bedroom community. One day outside our local grocery store – a lady I didn’t know well – asked me how I was. I told her ok. But felt I could barely lift my head. She then said a little louder, “How are you really … I’m married to an alcoholic.” She shared her vulnerability to me but mostly she shared that she really did care. That was a break through to me. As others have written – seeing scripture verses of how God see us (Proverbs and Psalms) are helpful. Take any negative thoughts you have of your self and repeat a positive. EX. God is my father and he created me and loves me and he who began a good work in me will complete it … Also where in the Bible it speaks that God knew us before we were created … he knew us in the womb. He LOVES US. There is an older Book called Search for Significance that is excellent too. Just your being on this site and speaking up is huge. YOU have courage. Know you are not ALONE. Though often the perpetrator and Satan tries to convince us we are. God did not make a mistake when he created you. Also know that I can so see you encouraging others after what you have been through down the road.

      Did you know also the Lord loves a Broken heart. Jesus knew suffering – he sees your tears and counts them. In time the Lord will bring to you healthier people as you begin to heal and learn about boundaries too. A Perpetrator (Emotionally or Physically) breaks boundaries and changes all the rules for what he thinks should be at that moment. NO ONE CAN PLEASE THIS PERSON as he blames and does not use ownership of his (or could be a her but men are usually bigger than a woman so in a physically abusive situation – more physically can hurt.) Physical wounds can mend (sometimes) – but emotional can be way more painful. I hung on to the expression, “Beauty for Ashes”. The thought helped me. I was ashes, but the Lord was turning my ashes into his Beauty.

      When we feel we are ashes … he sees our beauty and in time as you dwell on God’s words for you – you will see yourself transformed in your own mind. Then you will in time have a healthy friend or two that can validate you too. But He – Our Lord is our best friend. This took me … too … a transformation in my thinking. I thought my husband was to be that for me (my best friend). He even introduced me to the man (who had been his chief in the navy) who led me to Christ. So when my husband left after 15 years of marriage, I felt I was loosing God too for awhile. I knew deep inside he was there but I felt like Now I had been a Sun. School Teacher. Leader in the Community, and Awana Cubbies Director. Yet – I felt so low – I fought suicidal ideations for years (I had clinical depression from all I’d been through but at the time didn’t know what it was – medicine did help and great counselors in time.

      My point being – I too felt all I knew was being pulled out from me and that I was dirt. I felt no one wanted to be around me. I loved my children fearlessly … but did not want my children to be in the middle and torn in two literally but what they were seeing. My husband would lie in courts so many times as he didn’t want to pay child support – it was so painful. He was very charismatic and would just lie and went through as many lawyers as he could. I had to totally let go of trying to fight for our children in court – I did fight for two years. And prayed for many years. Mind you – we home schooled our children in the early years. We were on fire Christians!

      Finally some great counselors explained Stockholm Syndrome to me and told me that my kids would see though their Dad in time. They did and while my oldest son did not come to live with me full time,he went from high school to the Navy and got out that way. (but I lived close by and was with me on weekends, holidays, and summers for periods of time … my daughter came with in 2 months of her Dad’s and my divorce (we went back and forth in the courts 2 years) and his getting remarried, my daughter then 15 came live with me and her younger two brothers each also did a few years later when they turned 16 and then through through college.

      There is so much more. But would be a book. Counseling allowed me to get healthy and was not overnight and not always a straight line – a person can zig zag … but as you see yourself through the Lords eyes … in time – it will get better. YOU are loved and You are Lovable. You are HIS BELOVED. I wish I was beside you and would give you a huge hug. Thank you so much for sharing your pain. I am praying for you Betty. And praying that God brings along side of you – one female Christian who will encourage you in person and give hugs, etc.

      Your Sister in Christ,
      JO Ellen

    • Robin on May 3, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      Betty, abusive and destructive relationships and surviving or ending one is such a process. We all have good days and then the hard ones come– and sometimes it seems the hard ones are more often than the good. I hear you when you say you feel rejected. Its so tough when friends think they know what is best for you, or they begin to judge. I actually have had a very rough time, as many have stood behind my husband who is excellent at pretenses and building a façade others believe. I havn’t fought it too much and one thing that is helpful, is when its necessary, build new connections. I am starting in a church tomorrow 45 minutes away. I attend counseling, 90 minutes away. Getting away from some of the voices that want to condemn, has been a protective step for me, that is helping me to heal. I know it won’t last forever, but for now this is how the Lord is leading and protecting.
      And…..may I add, yes, people’s attitudes do get to us. You are human. It matters when people shun us.
      I will be praying for you!!
      Robin

  15. Jane on May 2, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    My husband and I have been separated (my choice) for 11 months and are now in counseling together with the same therapist. The counselor is Christian and calls himself a Biblical counselor. I am a Christian and don’t always see his interpretations of Scripture as accurate. Believe me, I do research and try to learn as much as I can. My husband agreed to counseling for his verbal and emotional abuses and started see the counselor first by himself. Then I was brought in and we are counseling together. I have had several red flags and uncomfortable feelings from the way some things were addressed by our counselor. After reading your article, I am going to seriously consider going to another counselor just for me. What you said makes a whole lot of sense.

    On the book/video question, I think you should consider doing both. My husband is not a reader and has a difficulty in reading comprehension, so video might work better for him. But other men might prefer the written word. In my quest for knowledge on this subject, I have made use of both resources and have learned from both.

    I really appreciate your work in this area of need!

  16. FloridaLizzie on May 2, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Great topic this week! I think some people would read a book, some would watch videos, and many would do neither. But I just think the more resources out there, the more people can find the help they need. Leslie, I really believe God has given you a vital ministry for such a time as this, and pray God uses your work to change the way the church looks at abuse in marriage.

    I know that many factors helped me recognize the abuse in my marriage, and the more I wanted healing and began to recognize what I did wrong, the more I wanted to make amends for my own faults. It was very freeing for me, and at first it seemed to disarm my ex-husband. But over time, it almost seemed like he became even more angry not to have a scapegoat. Joint counseling did not do much good with my ex-husband. He did not really work on changing at all, and just wasn’t honest with himself, much less the counselor. He suffered a lot with depression and anxiety, which seems to be a common thread in the above comments. I am now very thankful he left me, but still wish he had been able to come to a place of repentance and willingness to change and heal. God can do such transforming miracles. Even if my ex never takes responsibility for himself and avails himself of God’s power to change, I am thankful that God is healing and changing me.

    Thanks for tackling a very complex subject, Leslie, as it’s far too common in the church, and the silence needs to end.

  17. Robin on May 3, 2014 at 1:09 am

    I think putting out more resources, for those who are teachable is a great idea. Its bound to help those who will hear truth and respond. I had my husband listen to every single video on Leslie’s website, and read Lundy Bancrofts bk. Neither brought him to acknowledge his abusive, destructive behaviors. But God never gives up on the hope that someday, something might click for these men who are slow——–to repentance. We’ve tried both types of counseling, individual and together. Neither helped him. Individual counseling changed my life!!!!!
    and now I am living separate from him. My life has greatly improved thru counseling and reading bks, I am sorry his has not. I look forward to seeing more church leaders grab hold of these resources, and have their thinking changed!!!
    Keep writing Leslie!!!

  18. Betty on May 3, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Thank you Jo for your encouraging words and for praying.

  19. Confused on May 4, 2014 at 1:34 am

    Not sure if this is the best place to post this, but I need some quick advice, and it is related to this topic somewhat. I have been married to (& several times separated from) my abusive husband for almost 12 years. We have no children. I tried getting us in counseling several times to no avail. He has blamed me for everything wrong in our marriage from the beginning. During the last separation he finally agreed and we went together to a couple who did biblical counseling. After several months it appeared we were making progress, and he seemed to really be making positive changes. So after 2 1/2 yrs apart, and 6 months of counseling, I moved back to the house to live with him again, hopeful that we were finally on the right track. That was a year ago.

    The day after I moved back in, the red flags started going up again. The abusive behaviour and blame shifting began slowly and continued to escalate over the next several months. This has been the pattern/cycle each time I have gone back. Less than 2 months ago, he began destroying my things again and I went to the police. I asked the officer if there was any way I could get him to leave the house so I could live there, since he was the abuser, and in the past I have chosen to leave and had to support myself while gone and didn’t think that was fair. He suggested I apply for a protection order (not the emergency type, since I did not feel my life was in danger – yet).

    I applied to the court for an order to remove him from the house, stay away from me, and allow me to have “exclusive possession” of the house for a time. I included several pages of evidence listing all the abusive things I could remember that he had said and done to and against me. I left the house before he was served with the papers and have been gone since.

    He has submitted a response to the court, denying a FEW things I said, accusing ME of being abusive to him, and saying he has “never been controlling, manipulative, intimidating or abusive” toward me. Because of this “conflicting evidence” (he said, she said), the hearing judge refused to grant my requested order on that day and put the hearing off to a date several weeks later to hear the evidence in a special chambers (which apparently puts both persons under oath and both are questioned and cross examined to determine what the truth is so the judge can make an accurate judgement). This means that I am still away from my home and he gets to live in the house yet again while I try to prove my case.

    Okay, so here’s where I get confused. Instead of granting my request to keep him away from me through a restraining order against him, the judge granted his lawyer’s request for a MUTUAL restraining order until the next hearing. The lawyer I hired (after my first botched attempt without a lawyer), and his lawyer, is suggesting that we just agree to keep the “mutual restraining order” in place, divide the assets through a legal separation, and go our separate ways. Their reasoning is that because we don’t have children I would have to prove to the judge that I need to be in the house more than he does. And since I have already left and have a business that I can do anywhere, my lawyer thinks it may be difficult to prove that he needs to go.

    After all this mess and having to be gone and not getting to go back to the house for over a month and for who knows how long, I am okay with just dividing the assets and getting a legal separation. I have two concerns though:

    1) If I agree to a “mutual restraining order” it makes me look like I’ve been abusive and he needs to have me restrained – which is totally not true! And it makes it look like we are just a combattive couple that needs to be kept away from each other, removing the onus on him to get help for his abusive behaviour.

    2) If we avoid or bypass the special chambers hearing where all the evidence is laid out on the table, and don’t go through the questioning and have the judge tell him that what he has done IS abusive and he needs to be accountable for that and he needs to get help, he will just walk away being able to say yet again that I was wrong to leave and he hasn’t done anything wrong (blaming me and everyone else like he has for our entire marriage).

    Leslie, I know you and others are not able to give me legal advice. I am looking for some perspective on what the consequences may be to ME and to HIM if I agree to what the lawyers are suggesting to essentially save time and money and just get it over with. Yes, it would cost less and be less messy to agree, but wouldn’t this just further enable him to keep believing that his behaviour isn’t abusive and he’s okay? Please let me know your thoughts on this ASAP, as I have to give an answer to my lawyer ASAP.

    Regarding the book and/or video for the abuser, please do both, as some will be readers and some won’t. I am just getting into the EDM book. Even though I am already gone, I know it will be of help to me, and I am planning to give it to others I see in similar circumstances.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 4, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      I think much of it will depend on what “evidence” you have against your husband. If it is just your memory of what he has done/said and he denies that you’re telling the truth, I doubt that a judge will file a retraining order on him and reprimand him for “help” solely on your testimony if you don’t have additional evidence – witness who heard him say those things, photos of the damages to your personal property, tape recordings of screaming and other things, documented injuries, etc. Otherwise it looks like he says, she says, and then she would feel more justified in saying “mutual restraining order.” I know you want to see him “get it” but if he goes in there and lies or denies what you are saying is true, I don’t know how the judge will be able to discern who is telling the truth without other evidence.

      • Confused on May 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm

        Leslie, Thanks for your reply. Most of what I have submitted is memories of things he said and did, including a very descriptive entry from my journal outlining what happened just before I left last time. I also have submitted a dozen photos of things he destroyed. There were no physical injuries to document. Some people have seen the physical evidence of some things he destroyed, but no one actually saw him do any of it, nor heard him say any of what he has said repeatedly for years. I agree that the “conflicting evidence” might sound to the judge like “he said; she said,” but I believe that she will be able to discern the truth at the hearing.

        After having a few days to think and pray about it, and getting some perspective from trusted friends who know the situation (and know him), I have decided to go through with the hearing, whether or not I get everything I have asked for. I do not feel it is right to agree to a mutual restraining order. It feels like this would be me enabling him further to continue shifting the blame. If the judge decides that we need a mutual restraining order after hearing our testimonies, fine. I put my life and my future, including the outcome of this, into God’s hands, trusting that He will do what’s best, as He always does, even if I can’t see how it is best at the time.

        • Leslie Vernick on May 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

          We will pray for justice to prevail and for the judge to see clearly. When is your hearing? Let us know.

          • Robin on May 6, 2014 at 10:32 pm

            Leslie, I have a review hearing next Thurs at 1pm as the commissioner who ruled over my hearing in place of a judge– ruled so heavily against me when my abusive husband lined up many people to support him with declarations to the court against me. My lawyer very much agreed, we needed to ask for a reconsideration of the ruling. The Lord seems to be working for me in that a lady judge from out of town and this area, was appointed, and my lawyer believes she will be much more sympathetic to my case. This is on May 15th. I’d appreciate any and all prayer support, that justice WILL PREVAIL. My husband tends to show Sociopath behaviors/plus Narcissism and has always emotionally manipulated people and circumstances. We trust God will bless and honor our desire for Righteousness to be served. Truth be heard and the judge hear —- beyond doubt that which was hidden in the first hearing. Thank you,
            Robin



          • Leslie Vernick on May 8, 2014 at 8:33 pm

            We will pray.



          • Confused on May 8, 2014 at 8:24 pm

            Am waiting to hear back – my lawyer and his lawyer are trying to work out a mutually agreeable date. His lawyer will probably try to push it back as far as possible, but God’s timing is perfect. Will let you know as soon as I know. Thanks so much.



          • Confused on May 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm

            Leslie, I spoke with my lawyer again yesterday. Asked her exactly how much $ this will cost. The court hearing (with very little chance of getting the house anyway) will be ~$2500 – on TOP of the ~$3500 for the legal separation. We have a 4-way meeting (us & our lawyers) now scheduled for June 4th to deal with division of assets. The court hearing has been postponed to an undetermined date (probably end of July). I spent some time yesterday thinking and praying about WHY I really want this hearing anyway, and if it’s worth the time and effort for the results expected. I’ve determined that my ultimate purpose is to have something (a legal document showing his guilt) to “show” people who don’t understand my situation or don’t agree with the steps I’ve taken. To save my own face, I guess. In reality, this is a small group of people who I could probably meet with individually, if they asked me to explain things, and share with them the evidence that I have provided to the court, if necessary. Then let them make up their own minds and leave it in God’s hands. Since we can divide the house and everything else and come to an agreement about “contact” (or lack of it) in the separation agreement, perhaps this is the way to go. My husband never invested any money for our future, so anything I get out of the settlement will have to be used wisely – to invest for MY future (God willing). In letting go of the hearing and leaving it God’s hands, am I giving up? Or being smart about this?



        • Robin on May 6, 2014 at 9:49 pm

          My husbands lawyer tried to do a mutual restraining order on us, after I had been given a restraining order on him and he was just pulling a power trip. My lawyer said no way to mutual restraining order. But the judge ordered that both parties would agree to leave the other alone. And do nothing to destroy the peace of the other.

          • Confused on May 8, 2014 at 8:22 pm

            Robin, Thanks for sharing. I chose to reject the mutual restraining order. I have noted your review hearing on my calendar and will pray for that TRUTH and JUSTICE will prevail! To GOD be the glory.



          • Confused on May 14, 2014 at 12:28 pm

            Robin, covered you in prayer this morning for tomorrow’s hearing.



          • Robin on May 15, 2014 at 6:48 pm

            Thank you for praying. God certainly moved. At the very last minute and we didn’t have to go to court- he gave me a cash sum to provide for my temp support during the 9 months before the trial. It was a pretty lg amount, totally unexpected. He is not known to be a generous man- Im sure it was thru the prayers of many and the faithfulness of God to hear my plea for help. I hope this is a testimony- that when we don’t depend on ourselves, but in God as our ONLY HOPE, its amazing what He does. Please be encouraged God see’s you and understands where you are and is waiting for you to tell Him what you need. He loves each of you so very much!! Thank you very much for remembering me.
            Robin



    • Robin on May 20, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      Confused, how come you lost having the right to stay in the house, after you were able to get a Protection Order on your husband?? I got a Protection Order, left the house while the police were removing him, and stayed with friends for 2 wks for my own protection and peace of mind. I don’t understand how you lost being able to stay in the home, if he was removed?? I didn’t have strong evidence of his abuse, such as physical- but I wrote in my declaration plenty to show he is abusive in many ways.
      I am still in our home, and so thankful I stayed. My business is here, and I am hoping I will be able to stay indefinitely.

      • Kari (Confused) on July 6, 2014 at 10:47 pm

        Robin, Sorry I did not respond to your inquiry; I have been off this blog for some time. Since leaving my husband life has been topsy turvy and spending time on the computer is at the bottom of my priority list… The Protection Order I applied for has not been granted. The hearing was supposed to be April 22; then bumped to May 13 because of the “conflicting evidence” from my husband; then being bumped again to the end of July. I chose to leave the house with him residing in it, and because we have not been through the evidence with the judge (the hearing) he’s still there. I moved to my home town an hour away where my family is, and have found my own place to rent. I think this messed up hearing thing was perhaps God’s way of getting me out of my husband’s control zone. Now that I am far away he can’t spy on me or stalk me or come to my work place. We are working through the division of assets with our lawyers. At this point the hearing seems pointless. I have given up on the house and am fine being far away from him. Moving on. Once the separation agreement is done I can move forward freely.

  20. Lita on May 4, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I have been married for 21 years and I believe the emotional abuse, isolation, manipulation and control over me started about a week into our marriage. It probably started even before, but I didn’t realize it until we moved out of state and it was just the two of us. He sabotaged several of my friendships and tried with my family. I stayed because I thought that I made the bed, now I have to lie in it. I tried to take depression medicine a few times over the year thinking that would help me get through the pain. I went to a biblical counselor who counseled me to be more of a “traditional” wife and then I found one who understood and tried to help me grow but never pointed out what was going on until 3 years later when I found your book and realized that I wasn’t crazy, other people are going through this as well. I found your book by accident, I was actually looking for a book to help me fall back in love with him even through all the negativity and at the time was at the end of my rope, I wanted out. My counselor recommended marriage counseling before I made a decision to divorce. We tried two, one pointed out the issues and my husband decided to try someone else. The next person did not want to discuss the pass and only the future. He said my husband was repentant so it was not biblical for me to bring up the past. The struggle that I have is that my husband says that he has change and while I do see signs (regret and he doesn’t get angry like he was) I don’t trust him. He lied about so much and he is a very successful salesperson. He cries to me all the time and has turned my kids into thinking I’m the bad guy because he is so pitiful now. I filed for divorce because he wouldn’t agree to a separation (we tried twice and he came back after 2 days and then a week, both times he told the boys that he didn’t want it but I did). My counselor told me that I would not get peace from God because I was going against what He told me through the Bible. It has only been since I filed for divorce that he’s saying he’ll do the work. I have finally stood up for myself but I don’t know what to do now, I’m scared to divorce, but I’m just as scared to stay because I don’t know if I would have the guts to go through this again. I have felt peace in my decision until my husband starts crying or telling me how nasty the divorce will get because I decided to get lawyers involved. He has a very successful job while I am self employed and don’t make a lot nor would I have insurance or be able to keep the house. I’m not sure where to turn.
    Thank you for any comments and thanks so much for this blog and your wisdom Leslie, Lita

    • Leslie Vernick on May 4, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      So can you put the divorce on “hold” and go back to asking him to live separately from you while he gets the help and works towards rebuilding your trust? If he then fails in those things (like he did before) you can take the divorce papers off “hold” and move forward.

    • Confused on May 6, 2014 at 1:42 pm

      I can totally relate to what you are saying. This sounds very similar to my situation, but without the kids. At this point I would not trust him to keep his word. It looks like he is trying to manipulate you. But I agree with Leslie. If he will agree to stay out of the house while he works on his own issues, there may be hope for your marriage. It will likely take a long time though, so don’t give in until he has changed LONG TERM. My husband made “changes” until he convinced me enough to live with him again (after 2 1/2 yrs of separation). Then he reverted back to his old ways.

  21. Raquel Venegas maldonado on May 4, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    hello ah all and good afternoon tengon 17 esperos year you do not mind noce if mia is specifically ah try in this blog topic I am a Christian since I was in the womb of my mother I am from Venezuela , I am a believer but I never get ah servire ah god as ought never eh had a beautiful communion with me without my father never crie eh resivido affection of a father gives us everything we pass goes ah pasiar but until there eventhough my mother live with her and my father and mother be as a child made ​​him letters espresaba you all my love and all that but as I got older ah I miss noce but to give you hugs kisses had to be a birthday or mothers day or year happy things ah tell my mom never and I wonder how do young qe try ah her ​​mom as ah nadien I never eh could, eh always been insecure purchase almost everything up to Select a Size clothing about eh shoes been safe enough for that, leslie eh tried to leave twiter enter ah this pajina to see if I could hotmail rsponderme avia given up because no dry rspondias saw this blog that women respond to them wings hopefully I can answer whether or not ah my theme , chiro do what you do in the future I do not care if I paid or not only qiero help ah people with problems and god help through my or young ah like me eh needed help alguin like you, this is the point , I have a boyfriend with whom I have 3 years and 2months and a half a year ago and like something I spend five months , he was committing yourselves to me and that I loved to get me a thought ” and if I ‘m bored and if I get tired by both celarme ” empeso from that day that in my head day and night and get ah feel despair confucion cried because I felt like I was leaving him wanting my sisters were saying if you cry so if qieres that happens is because you love it or miendo but with all that nothing happened came one day to stop me firm and told me everything is okay that is a lie and everything step by step less than a month and peliamos foolishly felt no anger and fear felt by all that returned all but strongest felt more real than not the first time queriia not last even a month see arrives this month but instantly I was so desperate that orrible felt , ah felt I wanted someone who no longer wanted ah went to a psychologist and I did not say anything just told me are thoughts exesibos and sent me some pills get ah think I liked women I liked a classmate and thousands of todaslas things I thought the actual felt talk with my pastor told me ra shame that was clinging to what no longer loved him finish and was just all I talk to a profession of my high school psychology and giving me that felt so real that did not love him I said I can go back and returned with love as noce but everything happened and everything was better because it will contain because ah ah my mom and she I accept well spent months leslie on December 24 I stayed with the 25 diiciembre noce think a song hiso I agree ah the second time he gave me what I hiso feel something so strange wing look was as if been very boring noce as but vilvio that fear in the days left of diembre and part of the whole month of January solon was afraid because I felt that I loved him deeply was just a fear but I could not stop thinking and feeling that I’m coming to 5meses leslie with it during these months eh sense. than not what I’m clinging qiero is usual fad comes ah feel this profendamente l see that I liked or thought Mujere both nice and if everything is in my head or not eh sense until I like my CUNADO things that make me rage qiero better see happy couples and one is like quisera that they have to noce if you do not have it or have it and it will not let me enjoy e have finished eh felt all foulbrood think so real that it does not cirve queya sometimes I do not love to feel like I see ugly it is no longer attractive to me but I’m left here ah noce if poque been my only boyfriend oh if clinging deverdad usual or love It but this I ah never dominated thought I durario both that I feel I happen to feel that never happened eh read much your lei posts your book on how to live when it all comes down that helped me but I did not change anything noce is happening noce I should do and so many things I feel and think leslie until eh sense that all the ugly things that an past ah people go me ah psar ami, someone came and I fell in love in the univercidad to fall in love with another all feel actual noce that qiere do god all this eh sought only god help but I still like noce happens or that should happen, that qiere change god in me, please help me you can do it god I prepare for this, orita no despair but you can not imagine all foulbrood eh come ah feel these months eh wanted to die, to look in the mirror I feel about as extranabe things a say in my I’m very cute he is ugly and blabla everything he typed things you can imagine , god will bless dry I ‘ll read porfa responds qiero not continue more so qiero not fail mivida qiero a destructive marriage qiero live mivida more with this in mind with this in my heart

  22. Betty on May 6, 2014 at 1:52 am

    I was very intrigued to read what Carol wrote about ADD. My husband is ADD and dyslexic and we have seen in the home how he almost ‘needs’ to rant and rage for awhile…..needs a scapegoat. Is this typical behaviour? I wonder if not a lot of our husbands with abusive problems are not these men with these problems. They take out their insecurities on their families and yet the same people to solve all their problems.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 6, 2014 at 9:04 am

      Rage is a typical male response to “shame” and many men are shamed by their ADD deficits and when we want to talk about them it flares their shame and the quickest way to stop feeling shame is to get you to shut up and rage works really well to do that. The male psyche wants to feel “competent” and “strong”. When they don’t, (or are told that they aren’t) they feel shame. Perceived weakness and incompetence is their greatest fear and they will lie, rage, avoid, switch topics, or do whatever they have to do to avoid the shame attack. Part of therapy for an abusive man is to understand this cycle and deal with their shame and develop genuine humility rather than stay stuck in wounded pride.(shame)

    • Aspen on May 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

      Sometimes abusers use their “deficits” as a way to control people. My brother in law “always” had problems keeping track of things, losing things, etc. My sister was the one who “had” to know where the car keys were, how to do the taxes, etc. etc. Now that she has separated from him (after unsuccessful attempts by him to get her to do the taxes, etc.) all of a sudden, he CAN keep track of anything he wants to! So for 25 years she “had” to keep track of the car keys (regardless of who used them last), but a year and half later, he still had – and used – the little key to their outside shed. No, he isn’t that disorganized. He used that as a ploy for 25 years to make her responsible and keep her controlled!

      Lundy Bancroft, in his book “Why Does He Do That?” points out that abuse is separate from things like alcoholism, mental illness, drug addition, etc. etc. Some of these things make the abuse worse, but they don’t cause abuse. The mindset and choice of the abuser causes the abuse. There are millions of ADD and dyslexic people who don’t “need to rant and rage”. Blaming his behavior on his ADD is a way for him to avoid looking at his real thought patterns and choices – and responsibility for his own actions.

      George Simon, who is a psychologist who has written extensively about abusive people, is convinced that a lot of the rage abusers show is not at all a cover up for shame or poor self image. He says it is simply a choice they may because it works to keep people under their control. When he calls them on it (as only a very experienced counselor can do) they acknowledge that fact. They know what they are doing. They choose to do it. And if it didn’t work, they would quit with that tactic and use another one.

      Leslie, I am not trying to contradict you. I love your work and am so thankful for it. I just wanted to point out another aspect that may be at play in this situation.

      • Leslie Vernick on May 6, 2014 at 12:09 pm

        Abusers abuse because they can and get away with it. I appreciate your comments and agree with them. I’m just adding that the pride/shame dynamic often has a role to play in rage – it does not excuse it one bit but it is often there and their rage is used to shut the person down which in essence does control her. IF she’s afraid to bring up anything or say anything about his ADD or whatever, because he flips into rage, it is a very effective control mechanism.

  23. Betty on May 6, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    That is so familiar…..being responsible for keys and just about everything in the house. my blood runs cold when I hear the words….”Where is my….I left it on the kitchen counter two months ago….’ and then he glares at me and then after a while the shouting starts and slamming of things. Today, I was proud of myself because I stuck to my guns by not digging around the house for the thing and ignored the tantrums! he eventually found what he was looking for. Last month, he screamed at my son for losing a key and it was later discovered in his own pocket. He never apologizes. I never mention his ADD and help him with any spelling he might require with sensitivity to his problems.

  24. Liz on May 6, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Any advice on post-separation behaviors involving hiring call-girls, confessing to me he’s been with seven of them since I left. He’s cheated on me three of the five times I’ve left because of physical and verbal abuse. He told the counselor he cheated to “slap me in the face” over leaving. He does these things then begins to regret his decisions and tries to talk to me again. Inside, I feel I’m done. I cannot keep putting myself through this not to mention the spiritual and physical implications from him being with so many other women. I just want to believe I could have true love in the future with someone else possibly. As a an important side note, we had five children together over our 15 year marriage.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 6, 2014 at 8:08 pm

      I hope someday you can have a loving healthy relationship but for now Liz, I would just focus on getting yourself safe and healthy. It sounds like you’ve been through quite a lot.

    • Confused on May 8, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Oh Liz, you have more than enough reasons to get out. You are so much more valuable than he sees you. I pray the Lord would guide you, and I trust that He will take care of all your needs, and the children’s.

  25. Betty on May 7, 2014 at 6:35 am

    O Liz, he can not blame you for the sin he has partaken in. The Bible says in James 1 that it is our own evil desires that entice us. If he is making excuses, he is not repenting and therefore he is likely to do it again.

  26. Robin on May 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    The name of this blog subject is- My husband is willing to go to counseling….. After many months and even yrs of trying to convince my husband to go to counseling and letting go that he ever would….. the limits and consequences I had set due to his poor choices, finally convinced him that he should try counseling. Unfortunately the counselor was more interested in helping him ‘look’ healthy rather than go for the heart issues. He handed him a bk on “How To Influence Others”. My husband read it and did what it asked. Pretty much GOOD DEEDS. No heart changes, just continued in his pretenses. Obviously it didn’t work. He went 6 times and thought he had it down….. 2 months later, I filed for divorce. Im happy for those that have had good results with their abusive husbands in counseling. Just didn’t work for us.

  27. Jenn on May 11, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    I bought your book after dealing with my husband’s blame for his behavior. He cheated when our you fear was two months old, four years ago. I took him back, but I had to fight for it. Since then, things are still my fault, I am no longer sweet to him because I’m so angry and hurt with hue he chooses to treat me. He acts like the state of our marriage now is all my fault, and we’re in counseling together. We did have single sessions so we could speak with her apart, and I asked if she’d heard of your work. She had, but told me that she didn’t think I was dealing with an emotionally destructive marriage. I felt deflated but continued to go. Because I can’t stop crying over my husband’s callous indifference, she suggested I seek individual counseling, which my husband took to believe that everything really IS my fault. The first individual counseling session was the best thing I’ve done in 4 years. I was validated, and finally felt understood.
    I’ve read through your book twice, and highlighted so much that applies to my marriage. This is so frustrating, especially when nothing makes my husband realize that he needs to change. He’s now talking about moving out, and sometimes I think that would be a relief, although I’m worried about finances and my children’s mental well-being. How can you profess to be a Christian and treat your wife so indifferently, like she shouldn’t have feelings when you lie and cheat–and continue the hurt in other ways?? Ugh.

    • Jenn on May 11, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      This should read when our youngest was two months old…

    • Robin on May 11, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      Jenn, Im so glad you finally have been validated. It makes such a difference, when we are heard!! Are you able to continue individual counseling?? It sure helped me, to get validated, and to give me a voice, and get some personal healing done. I’ll be praying for you!!

  28. Jenn on May 12, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Most definitely–I plan on continuing both types of counseling. Just yesterday, which happened to be my birthday and Mother’s Day, we went to lunch and it was nice. Mu hysband carrues a pencil everywhere he goes. On the way home, I asked him what it would take to hold my hand instead if the pencil, in a non-threatening tone, and his reply? I’m fine. I started quietly crying and he asked me what was wrong. I truly believe that this man has zero empathy, respect, or true giving agape love toward me. He does things to make himself look good, (see, I took her out!) but refuses to show real love. It’s been going on for so long, and it’s incredibly hard.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 12, 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Jen what would have happened when your husband said “I’m fine” if you would have simply said, “But I’m not fine.” So often these men can’t think beyond themselves and need a gentle push although your husband may not care if you’re not fine which is even worse than not knowing you’re not fine.

      • Jenn on May 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm

        Hi Leslie–I can only assume based on his past actions that he would have ignored it. I went through a period truly thinking that I was overreacting about what was really happening, but then I went through our history and could pinpoint time after time with clarity how he chose to dismiss, diminish my feelings, and some of the main occurrences were: he stands and watches me cry, has asked what’s wrong, and if I answer anything regarding to the way he’s hurt me, it becomes a blame game and he blasts my shortcomings. After his affair, which I discovered 3 times, I took him back, but then he put a timeline on my healing. “It’s been 6 months, you should be over this.” And it went on and on. No true remorse or repentance. Leading up to it, I’d cared for him through thyroid cancer, death of a parent, and knew that after I had the baby we would be able to settle somewhat. It never happened, and its crazy how many times come to my mind–including the night I had our youngest.

        • Jenn on May 12, 2014 at 4:45 pm

          Actually, one of these two things would have happened. He would have reluctantly put his hand over mine (not holding it, just touching it)and sighed, probably with an eyeroll because he was put out, or he would’ve questioned why I wasn’t happy about being taken out for a nice lunch, and that I’m never satisfied.

          • Jenn on May 12, 2014 at 5:18 pm

            He told me a major lie about where he was two weeks into our marriage counseling. I figured it out, confronted him, and he proceeded to blame me for not telling me the truth. His knee was injured, he said he’d hurt it running at the local gym. I discovered a restaurant charge from our bank account at the time his injury would’ve occurred from across the county. He ‘admitted’ that he’d had an insulin reaction at home and collapsed, injuring his knee. This has never happened before, and he’s been diabetic since I’ve known him–I’ve cared for him!
            Because he lied and told me what he did, when some of my friends asked about him after seeing him in church, the lie was perpetuated. SO, he sent an email to our entire church group asking for forgiveness for the lie because they were brought into it. And never asked me before sending the email. Is he really that tone-deaf, or was he trying to get people on his side? I was mortified.



          • Leslie Vernick on May 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm

            I’m not sure I understand why you are unhappy he asked for forgiveness for lying as they were all told the same lie he told you? Is it that he tried to make you look like the bad guy in the e-mail blast to the church or did he take ownership for lying to cover up his own mistakes?



          • Leslie Vernick on May 12, 2014 at 5:59 pm

            Sad.



          • Jenn on May 12, 2014 at 6:27 pm

            There were four of my friends involved, because I went to a weekly Bible study-they asked about him and I told them he’d hurt his knee running. He sent the email to about 40 people. He never asked me for forgiveness. He blamed me in the body of the email-told them, our Sunday School Class, that he felt like he couldn’t tell me the truth. I feel like that made me look like an awful, uncaring wife.
            He asked them to forgive him because they ‘may’ have heard his lie. He involved people who should have never been involved.



          • Leslie Vernick on May 12, 2014 at 6:35 pm

            Got it – so it was a face saving measure not a true apology.



          • Jenn on May 12, 2014 at 6:30 pm

            Not only do I not have a firm explanation of the wayward restaurant charge, but he recently ‘lost’ his wedding ring. And refuses to replace it due to the ‘state of our marriage.’



    • Robin on May 12, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      Jenn, I have lived the life you speak of. My husband did all the exact things. He didn’t carry a pencil, but I remember when we visited my son in St Louis last summer- as we were walking downtown, I asked him to walk beside me, not in front of me. He would not. He was too concerned for others…… making sure we didn’t take up too much room on sidewalk. He has always done that and much more. No authentic feelings or respect for me at all. Always working to make sure others seeing him doing good- except for me. I pray you find the help you need. I did. I am almost divorced now. I feel sorry for my husband that he won’t get help for his childhood wounds- but not sorry enough to live the rest of my life, with no love and respect. Praying for you!!

      • Jenn on May 12, 2014 at 6:31 pm

        Robin, thanks so much. I’m trying to deal with reality, even though I’ve doubted for so long. I appreciate your prayers, and will return them for you this week.

        • Robin on May 12, 2014 at 10:26 pm

          Jenn, what I learned from many yrs of observing my abusive husband– is he lied, he manipulated, he cheated, he did whatever he needed to do, to get what he wanted. He would think nothing of telling others stories about me that had no truth in them. He even sold me out……… amongst my children causing GREAT DIVISIONS within our family unit. My encouragement is to get help for yourself. Get strong, be smart, and learn how to fight for the respect you deserve!!! If that doesn’t work out, separation is a good way to find out what is needed.
          Robin

          • Jenn on May 15, 2014 at 12:05 pm

            Thanks again Robin. I confronted him in front of our counselor this week regarding the text I mentioned below. I discussed how he would sit woth her in the driveway while our kids played, and i cooked dinner, and how I felt that was another boundary he continued to cross. He immediately began blowing it off, so I asked (in from of the counselor) if he ever texted, emailed, or talked to her by phone. He looked me in my eye and said “NO, of course not!” I said OOOkay, to which the counselor asked if I had proof. I did, so I pulled out a photo of the text I found on his work phone. He immediately started backtracking, OH YES, they did text “a couple of times” in the past two weeks, blah blah blah. I think the counselor FINALLY realized that I’m not the (whole) problem, like he has stated all along. I’M paranoid, controlling, rude (because I try to set boundaries), etc…. I’m sick about this stuff. I sent the neighbor a VERY neutral, kind text that my husband wouldn’t be texting her anymore, and asked her to please help due to boundary issues in thepast. She responded and cursed at me, said it was MY fault for making the situation awkward.

            WHY do I put up with this? I’m going to start making just-in-case plans–first by starting a separate bank account. Any other advice would be appreciated.



  29. Jenn on May 12, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    I really hate to be writing so much, but I just found a text written to him on his work phone from our single neighbor. It’s not lovey dicey, but WHY would she have his work phone number? All the other texts had been deleted and hers popped up.
    I don’t know what to do. He gave me the password two years ago during a fit and I wrote it down but I’m sure he doesn’t know I remembered it.

    • Robin on May 16, 2014 at 9:41 pm

      Jenn, what reason does a man give his wife, for texting a female neighbor. Im afraid, for me there would be no good answer I could accept. and does the fact that he lied about it when you confronted him in front of counselor- mean there is more you don’t know??

  30. Confused on May 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Jenn, I wish I could give you some really great advice that would help you quickly, but I can’t. Here is what I have been learning to do over the past many years: “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God…” Surrender yourself completely to the will of God, surrender your fears, struggles, hopes, dreams, wishes and wants. Put your TRUST in Him. Focus on CHRIST ALONE, and He will not only sustain you, He will guide you, protect you, provide for you, and bless you. Practically speaking, I think you are wise to set up a separate bank account and take control of your own behaviors and attitudes. Develop that ‘CORE Strength’ Leslie talks about in her book. Get strong and healthy yourself so that if and when the time comes, you will be able to take steps forward in CONFIDENCE, knowing that you did all you could and are following GOD’s will, not your own. This is my personal experience, and I am now on my own, going through a legal separation. May the Lord be your comfort, strength and hope.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 15, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      New Core Strength Focus Group starting in a few weeks. Check your mailbox tomorrow morning for the information.

    • Jenn on May 15, 2014 at 5:55 pm

      Confused, I am going to print your reply and put it in my book so I can reference it regularly. Thank you so much. Just reading it gives comfort, and I appreciate it.

      • Jenn on May 15, 2014 at 5:55 pm

        And thanks, Leslie–I’ll definitely watch for your email.

      • Confused on May 16, 2014 at 12:27 pm

        You’re welcome. Search God’s Word for His truths, particularly those scriptures that are just for you. And write those in your book too. They are much more powerful than any of my words. Blessings on you.

  31. Confused on May 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    YAY, Robin! (Not a word we use on this page much, so it feels good!) So glad to hear your good news. God is GOOD! Just this morning I was meditating on this verse that the Lord gave me almost 20 years ago: “Now TO HIM who is able to do FAR MORE ABUNDANTLY than all we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, TO HIM be GLORY in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. AMEN!” (Eph 3:20-21)

    Please remember to pray for me on (and before) June 4th, when we will meet with our lawyers to divide the assets and hopefully settle on a mutually agreeable separation agreement. Also please pray for efficiency in the process.

    • Robin on July 19, 2014 at 12:45 am

      Dear Confused, I don’t know your new name but Ive been looking for you for some time, to tell you I prayed for you on your day of court appearance. I heard it went well, Im so glad for you. Can you send a recent update??

      • Kari (formerly Confused) on July 19, 2014 at 11:20 pm

        Robin, thank you so much for your prayers! I am sure I replied to you not that long ago with an update to my situation, but maybe it was on another blog post. Anyway, here’s what’s happened in summary: We have not had a court date, and won’t now, as I have decided that my lawyer’s advice to work things out through the legal separation agreement is the best way (considering how things have turned out so far). The first hearing was in April (got sideswiped by my husband & his lawyer and we were done in 5 minutes), then the follow up date in May got bumped to “an unknown date”, which ended up being end of July. My lawyer had advised me to considering dropping the court hearing and trying to work out the details through the legal separation mtgs with the four of us: lawyers and clients. The June 4th date was supposed to be the first 4-way mtg; it got bumped to June 22nd. We met then and began working out details to divide assets (house, $, etc). After much discussion and a private mtg with his lawyer, my husband agreed to give me a sum of $ each month temporarily (my lawyer’s words: “to get her on her feet again”). It is enough to pay my rent. We still have to work out the rest of the details, including spousal support, and complete the division of property (he still has my furniture), but at least we’re getting somewhere. My lawyer is very tight lipped, but seems to know what she’s doing and is working to make sure I get half of everything, as well as support. Still waiting to firm up a date for the next 4-way mtg; the waiting is very frustrating, but I trust that God’s timing is perfect.

        God is good, and is providing for all my needs. I also started a PT job a few weeks ago that I enjoy & it helps pay the bills. Not yet ready (emotionally) to work FT, so this is good. The process of legal separation is NOT a timely or efficient one. Everyone is telling me 6 months to 2 years before it’s settled. I pray to God that is not the case for us. I left 3 months ago, and this has been dragging out 3 months longer than I had hoped.

        Getting stronger each week and looking forward to the day I don’t have to worry about all this junk. I know I need to go for 1:1 counselling, but I’m not sure who to go see. “Shopping around” for a good counsellor is not cheap. Please pray that God would give me very specific wisdom and discernment regarding this decision: who & when. Thanks, Robin! You are a precious sister 🙂

  32. Robin on May 17, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Im just throwing this out there, incase it has any value for anyone soon to be going to a hearing after separation. I have been surprised to hear from so many that they nor their lawyer asked for monetary support for wife and children. I walked into my lawyers office on the first day with only $200.00 I could give him. This is 4 months down the road, and I have not given him any money. I was very honest and told him my husband held all the money and would not give me any support. My lawyer was extremely understanding and gracious- and told me not to worry about the lawyer fee’s, he would get it from my husband. He did so at the first hearing. He also got me considerable monthly support so I could live on my own.
    I am sharing this, because I think its important to understand that there is help out there for you- but you must ask for it, and fight for it. Please don’t walk away from your family home with nothing, when there is financial means your lawyer can get for you. I am even still in our family home. I was able to have a temp/emergency protection order filed- and my husband was removed. He is not the type of guy that would volunteer to leave. I almost feel like my story is a true miracle. I believe much of the good that happened for me, is due to so many supportive people in my life that were fighting for me, helping to advocate and teach me how to move forward in the separation. I’m praying for all of you to get what you need!!!!!

  33. Joanne on June 4, 2014 at 4:13 pm

    It think it was a “God thing” that I came across these comments today. I have been divorced for 2 years, been through so much of the same things each of you – “Confused” and Robin especially – have described. The confusion, the blaming, the “crazy making” – things that my husband did that were my fault or someone else’s – always, always someone else has been responsible for his behavior. I thought I was through with him, but he has continued to be in contact with me, causing continued feelings of guilt and shame. And intimating that when I change, our marriage will be restored. After all, “God hates divorce” and “you divorce me…” I almost decided to visit him in the next few weeks – because he’s “so alone, so depressed, no one ever contacts him, everybody loves Joanne…” He even jumped on me verbally because of someone who wished me a happy birthday on facebook. I finally learned and blocked him. I have decided to go to AlAnon, even though my ex-husband is not an alcoholic. He is addicted to other things, especially to behaviors. Just prayed for you, “Confused” as today is your day in court, or at least with your respective lawyers. May God be the True lawyer and the one in charge!

  34. Robin on June 5, 2014 at 12:33 am

    Joanne,Alanon helped my daughter so much get over her abusive husband, that she still attends for the support. Have you been in counseling for yourself, and your own healing??

    For me personally, I am always learning how easy it is for me to show more care for him, then I do for me. Just today, my counselor had to remind me, TO RESPECT ROBIN, and not hear everything from the abusers reality. If he’s anything similar to my exhusband, he wants to ‘win’. So he knows all the manipulative tricks that will get him what he wants. I might suggest instead of being worried about his depression, you might do some investigating, and see if he’s ready to change, acknowledge his issues, and get some help.From what you said, it doesn’t sound like it. It sounded very wise, for you to block him on FB. He doesn’t have a right or a privilege to follow you anymore. Be strong. I pretty much have stayed committed to ‘no contact’. I have found it very beneficial to move on with my life. If you’ve been divorced for two yrs, you are probably ready also. Don’t let me pull you in……..for the attack. I repeat Henry Clouds words from his book- Necessary Endings- “Look at his past, and you’ll get a pretty good idea, what any future with him would be like, UNLESS he has worked very hard to make some critical changes.
    Enjoy being set free from unhealthy, destructive behaviors. I will be praying for you, that you are walking thru the steps to make a brand new life for yourself, and keep making wise decisions. !!!!

  35. May on July 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    We have been to so many counselors, all of them Christian, over the last 20 years and the abuse continued. They were nothing more than “fishing expeditions” for my husband to learn my weaknesses and then use them against me! And use them he did! He was rarely the focus of the counseling. He charmed the pants off of men and women alike. Get help for yourself so you can get strong, then you’ll be able to make wise decisions for your situation.

    • Kari on July 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Amen, sister! “Get help for yourself so you can get strong…” I have experienced the same thing: I admitted my faults and failures, repentent of my sins, and he used it all to throw back in my face.

  36. Robin on July 19, 2014 at 12:40 am

    May, I can so relate. Marriage counseling or couples is so unproductive for destructive relationships. My life really started to change, when I went to counseling for ‘me’, and got the help to change MY LIFE!! We just can’t do much to cause others to want to change, but if we want to start on a new path for self, we surely can. OH HOW I WISH I HAD KNOWN THIS SOONER!! But even at my age, it made such a difference, and every day gets better and better. In my situation, I filed for divorce and asked him to leave, hoping that would wake him up. It did not. But I had started making better decisions for myself, and really its hard to believe, but I am doing quite well separated. I strongly recommend women working on themselves, so they can put their focus on something they can change and see a good result!!!

    • Leslie Vernick on July 20, 2014 at 7:35 pm

      I shared my talk at AACC on 3 mistakes Counselors make working with individual and couples in destructive relationships and praise God it was well received. Thank you all for your prayers.

  37. Anne on July 14, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    my husband asked for a separation in May. We have been together for 21 years. He was very angry with me for much of our relationship. He blocked me from financial accounts and locked my identification and kids id up in a safe and wouldn’t give me the combination. He wouldn’t let me do the grocery shopping for two years. I finally had it and told him I couldn’t take it anymore and he started giving me money for groceries and the combination of the safe but did not give me access to the bank account. This might surprise some but I am devastated. I am religious and would’ve stayed the course. He wanted us to go to a couple’s counselor to detach from each other – we went and the counselor thought we had enough values in common and enough promise to work on our relationship. My husband didn’t like this and said it made him too sad so he stopped going – this was after 3 or 4 sessions.

    I feel like the therapy was starting to work and he didn’t like it. So he started seeing his own therapist – who we used to see years ago – over 7 years ago – together. We are starting mediation in two days and I am so sad about it. His sister suggested I go to see his therapist so I made an appointment and surprisingly he said okay. So I will see him today. I’m going to focus on myself. Not sure what else to do.

  38. Chandra on February 13, 2021 at 10:18 am

    Leslie, do you have specific videos for the abuser to watch that would be more directed for them. My husband is willing to go to counseling and did in the past for a handful of sessions. That counselor focused on his anger and really there was no depth to any of it. I have told my husband that he needs to learn about being an abuser because I believe he is emotionally abusing me. Ofcoarse he does not think he is abusing me but is willing to learn about it. I have told him that if after learning about emotional abuse, if he seriously accepts that he is an abuser then I will continue to work on the marriage. Yesterday I spoke with him about divorce. Mayb it’s just the victim in me that believes that he does not know that he is an abuser due to his abusive childhood, that he does not see. But this seems like willingness to me and the only thread I’m holding onto.

    So again, what resources would you suggest or do you have for a husband that seems willing to learn and start this process. I do not want him to select just a random counselor again that doesn’t get anywhere.

    Thanks you!

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