When is Enough Enough?

Morning Friends,

This weekend I’m headed to Branson, MO for the American Association of Christian Counselors Conference.  I’ll be speaking Friday morning. Pray that my presentation goes well.   There are a lot of people signed up for it (over 300) so please pray that I feel better and get there without delays.

I’m going to be doing a new Moving Beyond People Pleasing Group this month. If you’re interested in more information, click here.

Angry wife refusing apology

Today’s Question:  I’m married 25 years to my high school sweetheart. Two kids, daughter age 20, son age 12.   I thought we had a fantastic marriage, with just the usual ups and downs and stresses that all families face.  Before we got married, I knew my husband had a temper.  He's always been quick to judge others.  Our daughter, who just turned 20, and I have talked often about how he has a double standard…..”do as I say, not as I do”… and certainly don't call him on what he does wrong.  His abuse over the years has been verbal…belittling, demeaning, controlling, yelling.  But that's not something a “good Christian” divorces over……so I thought I'd just live with it.

My husband seemed to go through these cycles of anger.  He'd get angry at something, I'd have to pry out of him what was wrong, usually something I did (house isn't clean, laundry's not done, I don't cook enough, not enough sex).  I'd straighten up and do better, and he'd treat me better.  But 3 years ago, I found something that changed everything.  He was mad at me, but all those checklist items that he normally accused me of were clearly not the problem at the time.  So I got suspicious.  It was then that I found out he was cheating on me.

Over the next 18 months, both of us in counseling, him for sexual addiction…I found out, in little drips and drabs that he had been with more than a dozen women, mostly one night hookups, ever since about our 3rd year of marriage!  He had been able to keep these lies a secret for more than 20 years!  And I didn't know.

I finally asked him to move out of the house and I started divorce proceedings a year ago.  But the attorneys became so expensive; he convinced me that we could “work out” a settlement without paying attorneys.  I agreed, and we put a settlement in writing….which he refused to sign because “my word is good, I'll take care of you”.

He truly hopes our marriage will be restored in time, reminding me often that I am his wife and we are only separated.  A year later, after watching him closely, he continues to lie…..has continued to cheat, blaming the addiction.  His finances are nothing but lies, and he has recently decided to not honor a key part of our verbal settlement agreement.  I have a new appointment with my attorney tomorrow, to resume divorce proceedings.

Outward appearances, he is charming, funny, helpful to anyone who asks, giving, hardworking….a great guy!  We have been going to the same church since we were in elementary school…..we have the same friends.

His “story” to those he tells is that he “messed up big time”, and that he's working hard to restore my trust.  They believe he is the good guy he portrays, still buying me flowers every week and bringing them to my workplace.  He is still active in our church, acting like nothing is different.  However, I've been very, very reluctant to tell details, not wanting to put our friends in the middle, where they feel it's “he said/she said”.   Which puts me in a position where I feel as though I have little support from our friends there.  It's a large church, and it's not unusual for someone to come to me each Sunday and ask if he and I  “will make it”.  I love my friends….I love the church we go to….how do I let them understand it is so much worse than they can imagine, that it is full blown, Alice-down-the-rabbit-hole-bizarre????.  Even though he's the one who cheated, I'm the one who filed for divorce….and it feels like that is what people key in on.  He wants to restore the marriage, I don't think he can ever be trusted!  How can I relay to friends and other church friends that with what he has done and what he continues to do, that I am doing the right thing?

Beyond that, if I feared his anger before, he is going to be beyond livid when the new papers from the attorney show up.  How do I go about protecting my heart from his vindictive, acidic, 5-year-old temper tantrums? (that's what our daughter calls them) . I am afraid of what he might do.

Answer:  I’m perplexed about your initial description that you thought you had a fantastic marriage with the usual ups and downs but then go on to describe years of  temper tantrums, belittling, controlling behaviors and verbal abuse that were standard fare even before you found out about all the lies and sexual acting out.

You wrote, “It’s not something a good Christian divorces over…” so I thought I’d live with it. Your marriage doesn’t sound so fantastic to me, even before you discovered all the lies and affairs.

Next you indicate that your husband is a master liar. He’s been able to keep his sexual addiction a secret for more than 20 years and you had no clue.  So what I want you to ask yourself is this: When he convinced you to drop your attorney and agree to a financial settlement that he refused to sign because “my word is good” why would you believe that?  His word has been anything but good.

Now a year later you continue to catch him in deceit and affairs and yet he’s telling everyone that although he’s messed up big time, he’s working hard to restore your trust.  What exactly is he doing to restore your trust?  Buying flowers doesn’t restore trust. Telling the truth, being accountable and keeping one’s word does. From what you have written, there is none of that.

So you have some tough choices to make but ones based on the evidence before you. There is no evidence that your husband is repentant or working on changing his ways. Charm is deceitful and your husband oozes charm, but he’s lacking godly character.

Does your pastor know what’s going on?  I know you are reluctant to tell your “story” to all of your mutual friends and I affirm your desire to not to put them in the middle but at the very least, your pastor needs to know the full story so that he can support you and as the shepherd of the flock, hold your husband accountable if he is actively involved in this church.  Your pastor not only needs to know about the sexual addiction, but also the years of deceit, continued deceit and abusive behaviors.

I also think that you might need to sit down with your pastor either together or separately and work out a plan of what you are going to tell your mutual friends.  Although he’s admitted messing up big time, he’s still being deceitful when he says “he’s working hard to restore your trust.”  I think it would be more honest to say “I’ve messed up big time” and for you to say, “I don’t think that trust can be restored.”

You’ve decided to re-file the divorce papers.  As you take this step you will need to accept that you will never receive everyone’s support.  Some people will understand, others will not.  It’s important as you take this step that you have a clear conscience and are sure of God’s leading.  Also ask your church leaders (and their wives) to stand with you and affirm that you indeed have Biblical grounds for divorce (as you do). Without having to give all the details to all of your friends, the leadership support would be a big help with your Christian community.

Lastly you asked how you can protect your heart from his vindictive tantrums.  Probably the best way is to limit your contact with him. I would encourage you to put up some really firm boundaries right now. For example, no phone calls. No personal contact. E-mails only  (so you have everything in writing) or communicating through your attorneys.

One more thing. He will not like your strength as he’s used to manipulating and controlling what you do and how you think. If you don’t feel strong enough to be firm, surround yourself with some strong female friends who will help you stick to your resolve. He’s a sweet talker and seems good at convincing you that his lies are true.

You have been more easily swayed by charm but without good character and a strong conscience his behaviors will continue.

Finally, remember that his tantrums and what he says and does is not about you and what you have done or haven’t done. Bottom line is that his actions and attitudes show you where his heart is. Jesus reminds us that it is “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:46).

twitterWhen someone’s about to vomit all over us, we don’t ask ourselves why they're doing that, we just get out of their way.

Friends, how might you encourage this woman to stay strong and not cave under her husband’s charm or her church’s conviction that he’s such a good guy and trying so hard?

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35 Comments

  1. Eileen on October 1, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    I would be long gone this is not love.

  2. Jenn on October 1, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Leslie, I could’ve written so much of this, but I want to wish you good health and strength for your trip-I’ll pray for just that. I recently started attending DivorceCare at a local church, and was pleasantly surprised that you were involved in this ministry. I thank you for all you do to help those suffering.

  3. Eileen Otto on October 1, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    At what price do you have to live in order to feel safe, secure or to trust him? All that he has done are beyond “red flags” in the relationship. Distance yourself and let the consequences begin. he has had enough time to change his behavior. What does this all say to your child? That its ok to accept this behavior when he or she is in a relationship?

  4. Michael on October 1, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    I think Joyce is right on. Keep up your strength. Keep holding him accountable. Only then will things change. He will not like the stregth and expect you to roll over. Stay strong

  5. SD on October 1, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Years later, I still can’t stand to be given flowers! There were so many flowers, candies and cards that were suppose to mean he was so sorry. My ex had everyone charmed. He could walk into a room and within minutes everyone was on his side, but eventually his charm stopped working on me. Eventually, I had to face the facts that he wasn’t changing his behaviors only covering them up with gifts and smooth words. I too got pushed around after our divorce except mine was usually custody issues and child support. I continued to give him the benefit of the doubt thinking that was the “Christian” thing to do, but time and time again it ended badly for myself and my son. Cutting those strings was really hard, but so worth it! Just last year I won full custody of my son, I changed my phone number and all social media pages in order to end the abuse. Yes, it was still abuse! I wasn’t living with him and he wasn’t still physically hurting me, but he was still controlling me and manipulating me until I felt worthless. I am so happy to be free and to have the freedom of building myself back up. My son is happy and we are moving on with our lives. I pray you too can find peace and happiness!!! God Bless!

  6. Brenda on October 1, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    SD, I am so glad you and your son are free. God is good all the time.

    To the person asking the question. Stand strong. Keep reminding yourself that he is not the good guy that he fashions in front of people. He is an abuser and an adulterer. He has shown no effort of change and no matter what he says he will keep on doing the same thing repeatedly. Your daughter seems to have seen through him. You need to do the same. This man cannot be trusted. You need the legal system involved in order for him to keep “his word”. His word would mean nothing to me. Most likely he realizes how much he will have to give to you financially and he doesn’t like it. When you file the divorce papers this time, don’t retreat, do not surrender. You are much more valuable than what you have been getting. Even without the adultery, I more than feel that you had cause for a Christian divorce.

  7. Liz on October 1, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    In the beginning I was so anxious that my leaders in the church knew what was going on and tried to get them to understand, but I hit a brick wall. I did find one friend who was compassionate which was a relief that at least one person knew the facts. i was even afraid that I might be harmed and he would get away with it. Now, after 5 years of being ignored, i don’t care so much about they think. i have to make the decisions that are right in God’eyes firstly and then what is best for my children and then for me. Most people just don’t understand . Thats why this blog is so helpful because here, our stories are so similar and we understand each other. Your husband has betrayed you and does not seemed to have changed. You see him now as he is. Its not just what he has done, but who he is. My husband is not who I thought he was either and i am not even interested in reconciliation. I am way past that. I was blind. now i see even if others are fooled. My children also know the situation because they have lived it.

  8. Sunflower on October 1, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Years ago when I was looking for answers to our abusive situation, I was living in BC, Canada and trying to get some counseling at the government office. There on the shelf was a book about domestic abuse. It was called, “Please don’t Send me Flowers”!

    • Elizabeth Martin on October 9, 2014 at 1:16 am

      Amen Sunflower. I hate those flowers and dinners. It is a sham when the other days of the year there is unresolved anger, sarcasm and manipulation. Stay strong my sister. That is what love looks like!

  9. Caroline on October 1, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    This husband seems like a textbook covert narcissist, meaning only his nearest and dearest (family) will know the truth of his wickedness. He is not at all “rebuilding trust” and every detail points to a hardened heart, a man thriving off of sucking the life out of his victims.

    It would be worth finding a new church and a new circle of friends because Leslie is right, the wife’s description is so contradictory his public face confuses even her, who knows the truth better than anyone.
    Further more, someones “word” being good enough is for the recipient to decide. This guy is really sick.

  10. Lynn on October 2, 2014 at 3:41 am

    I’ve learned that my exhusbands barks have been worse than his bite. He threw tantrums over and over and I did fear “his wrath”. I’ve finally figured out that I do have strength to deal with whatever he tties throwing at me. I’ve figured out how to put my backbone where my wishbone used to be. its a daily battle that doesn’t get easier but we just have to chose to get stronger. I pray the woman in this situation finds her strength to know her worth. God bless!

  11. Paloma on October 2, 2014 at 10:58 am

    I have recently chosen to forgive my husband in spite of the fact that he insulted, spat on me, hit me and threw me out of the house. Right after that happened, I went to a shelter. But the children cried so much for me to return that I gave in. Under the condition that he leaves. Which he didn’t do. He was charming. Did a lot to show change. Which left me powerless and confused. Even my own daughter was angry that I did not recognize his efforts… Our friends told me it’s better to have a husband who is abusive but loves me than to have one who doesn’t care about me. Although I strongly disagree with all these opinions, I chose to stay, forgive and work on our issues… Give it a try… When I read this story, I can’t help but wonder if I made the right choice… Time and prayer will tell. Please pray for me. Thanks

    • Peg on October 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      Dear Paloma,
      As I read your description of what your husband did to you, I was very upset for you and your children. I hope your children didn’t have to witness that abusive scene. True love does not look like what you describe. Your children deserve to see you treated with respect and cherished! In my experience, these kinds of abusive scenes only get worse over time. It is not healthy to live this way. Did your spouse admit wrongdoing in treating you that way? Did he express sorrow for your hurt? It just seems to me that he put on the charm (been there and done that with my ex) so that you would come back into his madness. Yes, I will definitely pray for you and your children. But you may end up having to make a very difficult decision to leave again and to draw a boundary that will not be moved until your husband seeks to change and admits he’s responsible for abusing you. Remember—your children are not adults and they do not understand the damage that is being done to you and themselves emotionally. That damage will not be easily healed if the abusive treatment does not totally end.

    • Nana on October 14, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Paloma, my sister is in her grave today because of physical abuse from her husband. You are living in a life-threatening situation daily. Run, do not walk, to the nearest exit from that man. Your safety and your life is worth more than others’ opinions of you. Get counseling for your minor children so they will know why you made the correct choice. My prayers are with you.

  12. Janet on October 2, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    I could have written this too. It’s so close, yet so different from my story. Tack on another 12 years after the infidelity.

    The question Leslie posed, why would you believe…that the marriage was so good or that he could be trusted and believed? I almost feel ashamed to answer. We believed because we were told that trusting “him” was trusting God. We were told that if we trusted God, we would forgive and trust our husband and give him the grace God has offered us.

    My pastor knew. I told him again and again for 3 years. He simply offered to be praying for us. When he came to pick up my husband, after our second physical event, he believed what my husband told him and insisted that I let him return before the kids came home from school that day. Even in spite of my telling him I was afraid.

    Now that I am separated(I did so with the hopes of reconciling at some future time) and divorcing (my husband has counter filed for divorce), that pastor is angry at ME for leaving and forcing my husband to pay to support two households. (I have my own income, but am unable to make what he makes. These are the pastors words, not mine and no, I haven’t attended that church for 4 years) He only knows the things I tell him because, even though I have told him, he doesn’t confront my husband.

    • Paloma on October 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm

      Jesus is looking at all this mess in the church and shaking his head. Take courage. Do you have friends that offer you some support? That’s so important…

      • Janet on October 8, 2014 at 10:07 pm

        I do have friends that offer support and I started attending another church after realizing I could’t trust the pastor at the other church my stbx still attends. My current church has brought life back into my life. My pastor and the members have supported me in my separation and the recent loss of my job.

        I also belong to an online group for women in difficult marriages like my own. They have been a strength and a support throughout this whole thing.

        My favorite verses that have encouraged me are those telling me to not fear and be of good courage.

        God has been with me every step of the way and He has been my source in all of this.

    • Debby on October 15, 2014 at 3:07 am

      I am sorry for your negative experience with your pastor. Once you have confided in a pastor and the result is not beneficial, it adds more stress and difficulty to you when you are so vulnerable.

  13. Robin on October 2, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    When is enough, enough?? I’m not sure most of the blog titles are different. Some of the stories vary in the details, but it seems they all have some important things in common. A spouse sins. He damages those he or she lives with, and himself. He refuses to get help or only does it short term to appease the spouse to not separate . And the spouse that has been abused, throws her hands up in the air, as she doesn’t know what to do and many feel the church has failed, the husband has failed to be true to his wedding covenant, and friends and family have failed. Much of this is so true. But isn’t the real point that we can’t change others. But we can take responsibility for our lives. Building up our core is one way. Another is going to excellent counseling or therapy to see what I am doing to enable these destructive behaviors, and start a process of getting healthy myself. The easy thing is to do nothing and watch this family cycle destructive behaviors unto the next generation. My heart bleeds for every hurting spouse that is so lost and so confused. I just want to suggest stop looking to trust any institution such as the church, people, or any idol that you are putting your hope in. Jesus is the only answer. He will lead you out of abuse and despair. But you have to quit thinking you can save your relationship. You can’t. I can’t. Ask Jesus to lead you out. Seek wise people for counsel. Just get out of the rat cage running over and over repeating all the things that did nothing to help you out of your pain. There are answers. Acknowledge your part in this process, and begin a journey of greater health. You are so exceedingly and extravagantly loved by Jesus and He is waiting for you.

    • Cathy on December 9, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      Although I was never physically abused, EVER, the last three years of my life have been purely emotional abuse. I don’t think it matters whether or not it is physical or emotional, both are equally painful and destructive to all involved in the family. After 33 y2

  14. Shan on October 2, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I had the same issue, where my ex-husband was very funny and charming and most people did not know about the verbal and emotional abuse that happened behind closed doors. After I left him, I didn’t feel it would be right as a Christian to tell others about it, it would just be about selfishly trying to get people on my side and gossip, and I have kept to that. God knows all about it! You don’t have to justify your divorce to anyone – you know why you needed to leave. I do talk it about it with people I trust, or with people that don’t know him. There have been some that don’t believe me, or don’t know how to respond, or maybe they couldn’t handle my anger even if justified. I had to let that go – if they want to believe he is great that’s fine. For a while I hoped he would really lose his temper and hit a girl he was dating and have to go to jail, and then everyone would know. But now I don’t even care anymore, he can live his life to impress others and it is all empty and doesn’t matter. I focus on my life and how I can live a life that matters, that has real relationships instead of fake ones, and real relationship with God instead of legalism. It will take time for you but you can be happy – focusing on you and God and trusted family and friends.

    You might have to change churches, I know that would be hard to leave good friends. I was kind of lucky in that we changed churches a couple years before we split up and didn’t have any close friends at the new church. After we split we stayed at the same church and went to different services, but after a while he left and went to a different church. It is harder for the kids to be split between 2 different churches activities, but they work it out. Yours are older so maybe a little easier.

  15. Melissa on October 3, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    Are you sure we’re not married to the same man? And at the same church? Seriously, It is more likely than not that he will never change. He has NOT repented. Neither has mine. You seriously MUST have someone to talk to about this at church. I have and yet, I feel unsupported there and that he is more supported than I am. Hold your ground; let Jesus be your backbone. You are not alone. God bless you.

    • Cathy on December 9, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      Although I was never physically abused, EVER, the last three years of my life have been purely emotional abuse. I don’t think it matters whether or not it is physical or emotional, both are equally painful and destructive to all involved in the family. After 32 years of marriage, I am being discarded like a used car. We are living a life of being roommates yet share a bed. I am so torn over being a woman of God v.s. being “used”. Submission is not my nature! The sad thing is, no matter what I do, it has to be a two way street to help this marriage. Just recently, I found out that my husband has put a profile up on Match.com! On this profile, he claims he is “separated” which he is not! He claims that he is romantic, which if he was, certainly wouldn’t be doing this to our marriage/family. He believes in God but I feel we are very much unequally yoked. I struggle daily with what to do because at this point, my trust has been violated and I am in constant fear of what will become of me/us/family. I am simply trying to just put it all in God’s hands and let Him deal with my husband, because if there is one thing I’m certain of, I myself CAN NOT CONTROL this sad outcome. We went for a short time to counseling but he claimed he wasn’t getting anything out of it. I personally feel that although I’ve apologized many, many times for my past angry outbursts and temper issues, he does not forgive me even though he claims he does. Please pray that I am shown clearly what to do because I really don’t think God wants divorce but I also don’t think that God wants me to be emotionally destroyed either.

  16. Peg on October 4, 2014 at 9:18 am

    The pastor of your church should be made aware of ALL the sins your husband and what he’s done and continues to do is sinning against you and your children. That would have been my first step which is exactly what I did when my ex-spouse began to abuse me. My pastor immediately called us in for counseling and things just got worse after that. Matthew 18 covers church discipline for members who continue in sinfulness and remain unrepentant. If your spouse doesn’t change his behavior and never even acknowledges his sin, then, it should be made known to some of the elders. The elders are responsible for disciplining members who are wayward and who won’t repent and turn away from their sinfulness. They should approach the sinning spouse in brotherly love and hold him accountable. If the spouse refuses to agree to their discipline, he should be cast out of the church until he comes to repentance and is willing to correct his behavior. When my unrepentant abusive spouse tried to hide from the church that he had filed for divorce, I decided that it was time the elders/deacons were made aware of our situation and why I had separated from him. I wrote them a letter and asked that the pastor read it in the monthly deacon’s meeting. At that time, we had an interim pastor (long story) and he never contacted me to confirm that he’d read the letter. None of the deacons contacted me either. But at least, I had done what I knew I was supposed to do. The Bible states that we are to make known to the church leadership sinful behavior that is serious and harmful when the behavior is continual and the member is basically serving in the church as an unrepentant sinner. It is wrong for a church to NOT discipline such a member. And if the church allows the member to continue in the church even as a non-serving member, it is against Scripture. I had to leave my church because no discipline was applied and my ex was allowed to serve even with people knowing the truth. As it turned out, while my ex and I were in counseling with our “real” pastor, it became known that our “real” pastor’s wife was seeing a married man and she fell away from the church. My pastor resigned but the deacons asked him to take a sabbatical in order to try to save his marriage which he did. His wife didn’t want to reconcile and continued in her sinfulness. The denomination removed my pastor from his position as pastor and he was forced to leave. He has begun a non-denominational reformed church and I am part of the foundational group. God removed me from a group of people that I really cannot call a church. There are many hypocrites there and I am thankful to no longer be involved with people who are “playing church.” My pastor is an amazing man and even after losing his church, losing his wife, and now about to lose the home he built himself, he is teaching/preaching in our newly formed church without pay. He works as a carpenter during the week. He stood by me in my decisions and choices as my marriage began to fall apart. When he counseled my ex, he was very firm and yet very loving. My ex became very angry during many of the sessions. So, my pastor learned the truth quickly about how volatile he could be. So, my best advice is for this lady to write the leadership of her church a letter about WHY she has filed for divorce. The truth needs to be known to the leaders. That is what Christ requires. As long as your spouse is allowed to “fake it” in church, he is grieving the Holy Spirit and the church is basically going against God’s mandate. This is still what is happening in my former church. The people there know the truth but they are just not going to confront my ex and they have no idea that they are sinning right along with him by not applying church discipline. The church then becomes apostate and unless there is repentance and a willingness to follow Scripture, then I’d say it is not an environment that glorifies God. It is difficult to watch as people are so foolish, but a true believer will work to glorify and honor God and his commands. People pleasing churches are everywhere.

    • Dot on October 11, 2014 at 1:57 am

      There’s another scripture that if a pastor cannot rule his own house well, he won’t be leading the church well.

  17. Barbara on October 4, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    It is so amazing to me how many men who profess to be Christians behave in such an ungodly way. My ex spouse never professed Christ and for over three decades I attributed the ongoing behavior to his lack of salvation. To me, a man who is professes Christ with continual ongoing behavior must have never been a believer to begin with.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2014 at 4:48 pm

      I agree. A.W. Tozer says, “True spirituality manifests itself in certain dominant desires. These ever present, deep seated wants, are sufficiently powerful to motivate and control the life.” Meaning if there is no desire for change toward godliness, no desire to read one’s Bible, no desire to be in fellowship with God’s people, no hunger and thirst after righteousness, no desire to repent of wrongdoing, no desire to love God or others, then perhaps whatever they claim – isn’t true. There is no fruit because there is no root.

      • Peg on October 8, 2014 at 12:38 pm

        O! Leslie, that is a wonderful quote from Tozer. It is so difficult to understand how a person can think/believe he/she is a Christian and never examine their behavior/life to see if it reflects Christ. In Matthew 18, Jesus gives a very adequate way to deal with folks in the church who seem to be Christians and somehow they can control themselves when they want to maintain a certain image before other Christians. I have learned in my own experience that many churches do not apply church discipline when it is required. I discovered that even the most devoted deacons didn’t want to go there and yet Christ tells us in Matthew 18 how to deal with a member who continually sins and remains unrepentant. YES, it does register in our minds and spirits that perhaps these unrepentant habitual sinners were never saved. The issue becomes pride as I see it. And if Matthew 18 is applied and the person becomes haughty and prideful and will not be held accountable, then he is supposed to be turned out of the church with the hope and prayer that he will be humbled and repentant and return a different man. The fruits you wrote about, Leslie, should INDEED be present in a true believer and since Scripture backs that up, we can only assume that a defiant and rebellious church member is being enabled in his/her sinfulness when he/she is not disciplined and held accountable. Thus, the church is defiled in a sense and perhaps even apostate. God will not tolerate persistent sinfulness and He certainly expects church leaders to follow Christ’s teachings. If they are derelict in their duties and won’t abide by Scripture, then they are sinning as well.

  18. Caroline on October 8, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    Excellent advice Leslie! All of it was great. I especially like your advice to limit her exposure to him. When I left my abusive husband we insisted on email only, and that helped immensely. (I had a restraining order, and this was in the terms of the order). I also changed my email address so that he was the only one using the old email address, and everyone else got the new address. Then, I only looked at his emails when I felt like it. So freeing!

  19. Tuesday Thought | Life Inspired Thoughts on November 19, 2014 at 4:16 am

    […] When is Enough Enough? […]

  20. Brenda on December 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Cathy, I will pray. Putting a profile on a dating website and lying about his marital status is in my opinion in the adultery/sexual immorality phase. He might not have done it yet, but he’s headed there and his thoughts are on it. I no longer believe that God hates divorce or separation. He hates the sin that caused it. We have to own our part, but when we have tried everything to do what we can and it still doesn’t work then the spouse has to start doing some owning of their own. You are right, you can’t do it by yourself. Marriage takes 3–both spouses and God. God is always there, but when one of the other 2 is not doing their part it is setting up for disaster and , no, God does not want you emotionally destroyed.

  21. Caroline Abbott on December 10, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Cathy, I am so sorry for the pain you are experiencing right now. The bible clearly outlines what to to when a brother sins against you in Matthew 18. First, show him his sin, just the two of you. If he won’t repent, bring two others along. If that doesn’t work, tell it to the church. If he is still unrepentant, treat him as an unbeliever. In those days that meant have nothing to do with him. God’s will would be for him to repent and your marriage to be restored. If not, he can face the consequences of his sin. Hope this helps.

  22. Brenda on December 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    Caroline
    The Matthew 18 process rarely works in the best interest of the abused. Most churches see the victim as the problem. They see them as unforgiving and unwilling to reconcile. Abusers are very deceitful people who can turn the tables and look like the sheep when we know the wolf suit is close by. Also, many churches will not use Matthew 18 for married couples. Marriage is to be preserved at all costs, no matter what the abuser is doing.

  23. Caroline on December 11, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Brenda, I am sure you are right, sadly, that today’s churches would not usually know how to use the Matthew 18 process correctly in cases of abuse. What a shame.

  24. Chris on October 28, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    I just read this. I didn’t write it, but it is nearly word for word my marriage…minus the part that the husband says he wants to reconcile and I am divorced. That’s CRAZY that it’s so identical!! I’m just kind of stunned…and kind of not. I hear almost daily of other stories like mine. There are patterns to this sin. Love Leslie Vernick! She is (has been) a huge tool in my ability to use my journey for others by walking with them, and starting a support groups ministry at my church.

    https://leslievernick.com/when-is-enough-enough/

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