Morning friends,

I never made it to Branson.  God had other plans.  I was stuck at O’Hare Airport in Chicago for over 24 hours and ended up just flying back home without ever speaking.  Thanks for your prayers but God had other plans for me.

Be sure to catch the special articles and videos I’m putting up for Domestic Violence Awareness Month here.

Also, Moving Beyond People Pleasing is going to be starting next week. If you’re interested, click here.

 

 This week’s question:  I googled how to deal with controlling people/spouse and I found your articles.  It is the first time in Christian circles I have ever heard anything about dealing with an abusive spouse.  In the churches we were in everyone just put on a front.

I’ve been divorced from my abusive spouse for about 4 years.  He was mentally, emotionally, and verbally abusive but upon reading your article I see how I perpetuated that by trying really hard to be the submissive wife.  I had a slanted view.  He was so angry and acted like he hated/despised me.  He would not go to counseling. We were both teachers of the Word and leaders in the church.

I was afraid of him getting mad. I was afraid of him. When I would finally protest he would just get more angry.

I am married again and my friend tells me I am enabling my new husband.  My new husband has learning disabilities and is almost 70 years old so I have compassion for him just like I did my last husband, who had a bad childhood, so I do most of the work, etc.  Is this wrong?  Am I just making it too easy for him?

I am also carrying a lot of guilt because of the sin and divorce.  I fell with my second husband while married to my first because my second husband showed me the love that I never had from my first.  I have repented of course, but feel like I took a wrong turn now and I am not where I am supposed to be and cannot be used of the Lord.

Would you have recommended divorce from the first spouse if he was unwilling to change?

Answer:  Wow you asked quite a few questions and I’ll try to cover most of them. The one I can’t answer is your last one, would I have recommended divorce in your situation.  I never recommend divorce to anyone. I don’t think it is my place to recommend such a life-changing decision as to whether or not someone should continue to persevere in a destructive marriage or not. My role is to listen carefully, to help clarify what’s really going on and then help the person get healthy and strong enough to make wise and biblical decisions on how to handle it.  In my opinion, divorce is always the last resort when all other efforts to reconcile and bring true peace in the marriage have repeatedly failed.

So let me move on to your question about all the guilt you feel about having an affair with your second husband while still married to your first husband.  Guilt is an appropriate emotion anyone should feel when he or she breaks God’s commands.  It is hardwired into our consciousness. It helps us not to repeat sinful behavior because we feel bad.

You say that you repented of your sin, so I wonder if you’re still struggling with guilty feelings because you don’t believe you’re truly forgiven? Or, perhaps your guilt has morphed into regret. You regret that you rushed ahead of God’s best for you by getting involved with another man while still married to your husband and now the waters are muddied and you are unclear of God’s will and his purposes for you.

If it’s more unbelief, then understand you are in a spiritual battle. If Satan can’t get us to fall by tempting us with sin, then he will accuse us with our sin and remind us how unworthy we are of God’s forgiveness, mercy and grace. We might think things like, “God hates divorce so he must hate me because I got divorced.” Or “God hates adultery so how could he love me when I was so foolish?”

Jesus cautions us that Satan is a liar and deceiver and accuser (John 8).  God’s grace is so good that it even covers the sins God hates most. That’s why it’s called amazing grace.  Don’t let Satan rob you of your peace or joy of forgiveness by accusing you of your sin. Notice David’s confession and relief after he received God’s forgiveness for his sexual sin against Bathsheba (Psalm 51). We must choose to believe what God says, that “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

Remember, God doesn’t forgive us because we’re worthy of it, he forgives us because he wants to.  The psalmist said, “O Lord, You are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help” (Psalm 86:5 NLT).  Can you believe God is that good?  That willing to forgive and that loving?

On the other hand, if you’re struggling with regret because you fear that you’ve missed God’s best for you, confess that too.  I think most of us can relate. We look back on things in our past that we wished we had done differently and wonder if we have been forever doomed to God’s plan B because we got off track.

I’ve just finished reading through Genesis (I’m reading through the Bible this year) and most of the characters, Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Esau, sinned big time and made huge mistakes. Yet God still used them and his plan was not thwarted. In a nutshell God’s perfect will for us is not that complicated.  Paul says that it is God’s will that we mature and live a holy life (1 Thessalonians 4:1-7).

Could you have learned to do that in your first marriage?  Yes. Can you still learn to do that now?  Yes.  You have not missed God’s best for you if you believe what he tells you. The Apostle Paul says God’s best for you is to conform you to the image of Christ’s and he will use all things for your good (even your sins and mistakes) to accomplish that purpose. (Romans 8:28-29).  When we believe that, then we know that his work in our life is not finished. He is still shaping you even in this new marriage you’re in.

That brings me to your question of whether or not you are enabling your new husband. Again, I can’t know for sure because I don’t know what specific disabilities he has that make him incapable of doing his fair share around the house or to contribute to the marriage.  But sometimes our compassion for someone does motivate us to do things for people that they should be doing for themselves.  For example, if an adult child doesn’t have enough money to pay his or her bills, any parent would feel badly and be tempted to help, especially if his car is repossessed or she has to move out of her apartment.

However, if the reason they don’t have enough money is that they won’t work, or won’t work at a menial job, or he or she spends money foolishly, then for you to step and pay the bill because you feel bad would only enable their irresponsibility or laziness.  On the other hand, if your child was struggling with serious health difficulties, or an unexpected job loss or an emergency that took more money then was available, of course you would help if you could.

If your husband is capable of helping you with the housework or contributing financially but he refuses because you “do it” just fine, then your compassion is misplaced. If he refuses to do things for himself and you pick up the slack, then you are enabling him to be childish, lazy, selfish, or stuck.  You are keeping him from maturing into the man God calls him to be and in the long run, that is not loving him well.

Sometimes the boundaries between being compassionate and being co-dependent are not always as clear cut as my examples and that’s why we need help to gain clarity to see what’s really going on so we can gain the courage to make the necessary changes. Ask your friend what she sees that makes her think you are repeating some of your past enabling behaviors in this marriage. Then bring those things to God and talk with him about it.  You said some of your misunderstanding of submission caused you to put up with abusive behavior for far too long in your first marriage. Perhaps some of your misunderstanding of love and compassion are also causing you to enable behavior that is hurtful to you, to him and to your marriage.

Friends, how have you learned to draw the line between compassion and enabling?

28 Comments

  1. Linda@Creekside on October 8, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    Compassion comes from a place of grace, mercy, and confidence.

    Enabling comes from a desire to control, some kind of fear, or desperation.

    Sounds simple, doesn’t it, but it sure takes wisdom and discernment. And that only comes from a rich relationship with Christ, and hanging around with people that are tuned into His grace, His Word, His strength.

    Praying …

  2. Sunflower on October 8, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I see two cautions here. Dr. Phil always says, “If he’ll do it with you, he’ll do it to you. And the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” The fact that he was willing to commit adultery with you is scary, in view of his character. You have repented of that. Has he? The other thing I’d be looking for is, what was he capable of doing before marriage without your help? Did he change a lot when you got married? Anything he could do then he can surely do now.
    I also agree with the above comment as to what are your motives for doing what you are doing? If you’re afraid of the consequences if you don’t or if you’re trying to desperately control the situation in the moment, etc., then that would be enabling.

  3. Kathy on October 8, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    This brought clarity to me because I have been wondering if I have been enabling my husband. We were separated and are back together in the home with boundaries on my part now. But there still seems to be no change. AndI have not asked to leave because we are passively getting along as roommates. And whenever I talk about us needing more separation, he threatens that I will need to go out and get a FT job. We have a 3yr old and he knows I don’t want to do that right now. But I am enabling him by living in fear as to. What he will threaten? When you have events
    Telling someone for the last year what you need them to stop and they still scythes don’t understand ( after 2 separations) do they have a personality disorder or are they really pretending that they don’t know what you are talking about? I don’t want to live for his approval but for the approval of God. And I am stuck as to whether that means he needs to leave because he isn’t waking up or whether I wait and pray and keep my boundaries in the same home?

    • Leslie Vernick on October 8, 2014 at 8:54 pm

      You’ll know soon enough. The fact that you see no change, no willingness to figure out what you mean so he can understand, and continued threats says a lot right there. But you also have a 3 year old child and so there are other mitigating factors such as he will have joint custody or unsupervised visitation and are you ok with that, plus you said you are not keen about getting a FT job right now. But I would encourage you to start something part time. This marriage looks like it’s not moving towards healing and sooner or later you may need to work so it might be best to sharpen your skills and resume now.

  4. Kathy on October 8, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Thank you for your input Leslie. I do have a new PT job now. Just curious, when you made the comment about joint custody with our 3yr old, did you mean that you think we should stay together until she is a little bit older?

  5. Val on October 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    I have trouble with understanding where the line is for enabling. In my marriage (of 34 years) my husband doesn’t do much of anything. I used to be a stay at home mom, but got a fantastic job that I love, when my last child graduated. It is demanding, I work 5 days a week, I also daycare my son’s 2 children 2 days a week (horrible divorce), getting them off to school. The younger just started kindergarten. I usually don’t have a day off. My husband only mows the lawn and will occasionally load the dishwasher. Nothing else, unless he is doing a huge favor. I am left with everything else, including bills , all other home and yard maintenance etc. He says he doesn’t have time, doesn’t think stuff is important, I do it better, etc. Its so frustrating, I’m so worn out. He is also very passive aggressive so everything is double sided. I recently had to hire a housekeeper to come in once every 2 weeks because I’m too exhausted and depressed to do housework (it wasn’t done for 3 months – and he had time off during that time). If I don’t do it, it won’t get done, period. If I ask for more help he patronizes or gets angry or walks away never to bring up subject again. I think that because he won’t do anything and I have to do it or it won’t get done, that is in fact enabling him to continue his behavior, but I don’t feel I have any choice. I hate being in this position. It’s like living with a 14 year old with a sense of entitlement. In fact I’m told I’m not a submissive godly wife if I balk at any of this and he gets pleasure out of putting me in my place and hurting my feelings. But he is mr happy in public and knows all the right Christian thing to say even if it is the total opposite of what he does. I can’t oppose these things in public because then I will look like an argumentative bitter person. I know he is a hypocrite, but others think that he is mr fantastic and that I’m just not being thankful & joyful so I’m sinning!

    • Dot on October 11, 2014 at 1:07 am

      Is it possible that he doesn’t want to admit to not knowing how to do the chores you ask help with?

      • Val on October 11, 2014 at 4:15 pm

        Dot, As soon as I read your response I felt kicked in the chest. This is exactly the kind of response that invalidates the person who is bringing the situation to light and sides with the person who is abusing. Funny you would do that. I think this is often the response in the church. A person in my situation feels like they are going crazy, not being loving, patient, submissive, godly enough, and when after years, they can’t stand the pain, depression and loveless loneliness anymore finally reach out, only to get their hand slapped. You wouldn’t tell a 3 year old why their daddy was mad at them all the time was because they wouldn’t tie their own shoes. I wouldn’t be here if my husband wasn’t capable. He chooses not to participate. For the record he has always maintained his own vehicles, the only thing he doesn’t do is rebuild transmissions. He has built several houses, contracted them himself and he is in the home industry for a living. He also knows how to scrub a toilet and how to vacuum. In fact he does it way better than me he says, because when he chooses to do it, he must show me how a perfect job is done. He is capable just not willing. Do I have to explain more before I will be believed? Before you judge my complaint valid?

        • Trish on October 11, 2014 at 11:13 pm

          Whoa there Val! Baaed2upon the limited info you gave about your husband Dot’s question is valid. Try to keep that in mind. We all want to give validity to a poster’s concerns but your bitterness is speaking louder than your understanding. Now that we have more info it puts things in a different light.

        • Jilly on October 13, 2014 at 9:27 pm

          I have the same problem. 34 years. We both work. The only reason he does any laundry now is because I stopped doing his – it’s the only way he will have clean clothes is to do his own. I try to put into practice the advice of John Townsend in Who’s Pushing You’re Buttons? to allow consequences that naturally flow out of the situation. For example, I do not tell him to do laundry (like a mother to a 14-year-old would do) but simply told him I did not have time to do everyone’s laundry and instituted every person in the home (at that time 3 teens as well) would do his/her own laundry. (For awhile, he asked our oldest daughter to do his, but when she moved out, he was forced finally to do his own.)
          At this point I do the things I want done; the yard often looks terrible because I cannot get to it regularly. He is embarrassed to have anyone over because it looks so bad. I just let it go and consider that my true friends will come to see me and not my yard.
          He has recently gone to a special diet to help him lose weight. I’ve told him that I cannot keep up with learning his special diet, and he has learned to take care of that himself, even though that means I am cooking for me and 2 teens, while he cooks for himself. I have over the past two years gotten my own credit cards and removed myself from his cards, and soon I will tell him I don’t want to take care of all the bills – he will need to take care of paying his own. It’s tough. I expect he will be very upset with this arrangement, but I’m thinking I need to move to this to assist his “becoming an adult” rather than a dependent in this area.
          I feel your pain. I wish I could do more in this area myself.

          • Leslie Vernick on October 13, 2014 at 9:31 pm

            It sounds like you have been very strategic and wise in not enabling your husband to function as an adolescent without shaming him. I think it’s very tempting when we are newly married to sort of “take over” and be Mrs. Wonderful and try to be the Proverbs 31 woman – or the myth of the Proverbs 31 woman – doing it all, that we seriously allow our spouses to under-function and not grow into full adulthood.



    • Nana Babs on October 13, 2014 at 7:37 pm

      First of all, ask yourself if you haven’t taken on more than you should. Remember, this is your choice. You are working 3 jobs: your weekly job, babysitting your grandchildren, and taking care of your home. How can you do that physically? There is no way I would take on all that in the first place. I was a single parent from a nasty divorce, and I paid a baby sitter. I would have never expected my mother to carry that burden. Please don’t do anything for another person, if you are going to resent it. Only do it out of love and to the glory of God. If you can’t do it that way, don’t do it. If the other person is fully capable of doing for themselves but has an entitlement attitude, you do not owe them the task that they won’t do, and want you to do. It is not a kindness if you are going to resent it later. It is not a kindness to do for others when they are fully capable of doing for themselves. That’s enablement. If your husband wants his clothes clean, leave them for him to wash. If your husband won’t help with the dishes, buy him paper plates. If a person needs help, they will ask. If he doesn’t ask for help with a humble spirit, don’t do it for him. Stop giving in to his haughty attitude. You are training him to be that way, even though you may not think so. What would you do if you didn’t have a husband, then do those things and nothing more.

      • Leslie Vernick on October 13, 2014 at 9:33 pm

        I agree. If you say “yes” but end up resenting the person or yourself you are allowing yourself to be a victim or martyr. That is not God’s way. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. In other words, live wholeheartedly. If you want to do something for someone, then do it, and if you don’t, then don’t.

  6. Val on October 15, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Thank you so much! This feedback is so helpful. I guess really thinking through what I’m doing/feeling/thinking from this perspective is going to take work but will be very helpful in the long run. It’s like a redefining thing. Why do I do what I do? So often in the past it’s because I felt trapped. I think feeling like I had no choice except to suffer silently (or I would be sinning) isn’t realistic. Something had to give and I was going crazy, feeling helpless, depressed, angry and resentful. Now I will have to make sure going forward that I’m not acting on those emotions but thinking that I’m doing/ not doing something out of choice. I hope that makes sense. I know it won’t be easy. thank you for this, Leslie, Jilly and Babs. I really appreciate you.

  7. "Cindy" on October 15, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    How can a person avoid enabling, or frustrating their spouse, when there is a possibility of a disability (processing, executive function, Asperger’s, for example), and the spouse won’t go for an evaluation? I do not want to inhibit growth, nor do I wish to refuse to help, if it is true help (not enablement) I would be offering.

    • Jilly on October 15, 2014 at 9:00 pm

      Cindy, I understand your dilemma in not wanting to enable, and yet not frustrating someone who truly CAN’T function well. My son has Asperger Syndrome, and I am regularly evaluating myself to see if I am enabling his disfunction, while at the same time finding myself having to draw back from enabling my husband who is fully functional.
      I think the difference is in attitude. My son wants to function, fails a lot, feels bad about it, allows me to gently move him through. Gently is key, because his personality trait gets really anxious when too much pressure is applied. But I see that his attitude is that he wants to be functional, he wants to help others, he realizes he is needy and doesn’t want to be there.
      My husband, however, is fully capable of doing things. He will complain that he doesn’t know how to use the washing machine, but he can figure out the intricacies of smart phone, internet access, and computer things. He’s asked me twice how to use the crock pot and bread machine, but he demonstrates ability in reading owners’ manuals of other devices.
      Second is the attitude of entitlement – that somehow others should follow through on certain things like taking care of their own dishes (his rule for all in the household), but he consistently asks others to do it for him. If son doesn’t follow through and needs reminding, he quickly does it and apologizes for forgetting.
      So watch for areas where your person is truly able, but displaying helplessness simply out of laziness or wanting to be served. And observe the attitude. Finally, ask God to give you keen insight and wisdom in your household. God knows what’s in your person’s heart. Ask Him to make it evident to you! Also ask Him to give you patience. We can be patient and kind, even when we choose not to assist or enable.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 4, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      Doesn’t sound like you are the one who is refusing the help, he is. I would encourage you to connect with other wives who have husband’s who have Asperger’s and develop coping skills for dealing with this disability.

  8. Jessica on October 19, 2014 at 12:10 am

    I am still learning about this too. But what I have learned so far is that if I didn’t feel I could speak up about something because I knew it would upset him, that was enabling the abuse to continue. If I knew that trying to stand up to him about something that was wrong or would hurt our children would just be met with a manipulative argument that would twist my words and make the situation my fault and so I kept quiet, that I was enabling the abuse to go on. It breaks my heart.

  9. Diane on October 22, 2014 at 3:54 am

    I feel like someone just told my story. I’m so grateful for finding this blog. I was very angry over a situation with my husband tonight, and I prayed for help. I went to Pinterest and started reading anger posts because I was stuck in it. I came across a pin that somehow lead me here. Praise God! Thanks for letting Him use you.

  10. Rena on July 29, 2015 at 11:16 am

    To God be the glory for hearing and answering our prayers. Diane I concur with you, this sounds like my story too. This post was right on time, praise God, because I use to enable my husband and felt guilty when I stopped. God has taken away the guilt and has given me life again. I realized that I am not “superwoman” and stopped babying my husband, yes he got angry, but he know’s I will not enable him anymore, but I am happy to help him when he needs help.

  11. Sue on April 6, 2016 at 1:22 am

    Hello. My husband and I have been married a little over 5 years. It is the third marriage for both of us. He is 70 and I am 67. We are both Christians, active in our church, and our 4 years of dating before marriage were long distance due to the many miles between our two homes. If I knew then what our marriage now seems to be, I probably would not have married him. During our 11 month engagement, he told me he had some trouble getting hard during intercourse. We should have discussed this more because our honeymoon was very disappointing. I did not realize that we would NEVER have any intercourse in our marriage, EVER! He rarely touches me intimately . . around once every three or four months. Then he falls asleep while doing so, which is a huge turn off. During this once every three to four months time, he asks me to perform oral sex on him, which I do, but it is very distasteful to me because he seldom bathes or brushes his teeth, even though I’ve tried to tell him nicely that his being clean would be more appealing to me. He will not perform oral sex on me even though I am squeeky clean. (Oral sex is the best it has gotten for us, and I know it can be very satisfying IF both people are willing to please their partner). Men still turn their heads to look at me as I walk by, so I know my appearance is nice. My looks should be a turn on for my husband as should my personality because I try to always be pleasant, thoughtful and kind. My husband has diabetes, heart problems, and PTSD. His PTSD meds are for his depression. I know the meds he takes lowers his sexual abilities and desires, so I accept that intercourse most likely will never happen. There are many ways to show intimacy. I just wish he wanted to be intimate . . . that he desired me as his wife. I am burned out by usually being the aggressive one in bed, only to be turned down over and over. Now, I feel fairly numb and repulsed when even thinking of making love with him. We have been to many doctors concerning his health. Because he gave up driving three years ago after he caused two accidents, I drive him to each appointment, take notes, and ask questions since he seems to have little interest in his health. Another HUGE problem in our marriage is that he does NOTHING all day. He sits for hours watching TV or staring out the window, then he sleeps around 4 to 6 hours each day after sleeping 8 or 9 hours at night. He does not help with ANY housework or yardwork. I do it all, or we hire work done that I can’t do. My husband says he has no energy to do anything. I agree with him, however I think he is also very lazy and unmotivated. He seems to always be able to get up from his nap to watch the evening news, or go to church three times a week, or to eat the meals I prepare, yet he does not lift a finger to help, except he did mow the yard once two years ago, and he swept the floor two times in the past five years. He has lost all interests in hobbies he once enjoyed. If I try to accomplish things like remodeling our very old home (built in the 1800’s), he tells me to stop and relax. At first I thought he was being thoughtful, but later realized he was saying this to rationalize his doing nothing. I try to be a pleasant Christian wife and pick up all the slack, but I feel great resentment, much anger, and I fight through depression which I’ve not experienced until being in this marriage. I do not want to divorce him. I do want us to be able to resolve these issues. I feel much unhappiness in this marriage, and have tried to share my deepest feelings with him, all seemingly to no avail.I know he’s not feeling well much of the time but it has been difficult being his care giver (I sort and give him his twice daily multiple pills, and before meals monitor his blood glucose level and give him his insulin shots because he won’t do that for himself) and his mother ( I have to remind him to take a shower, brush his teeth, and put on clean clothes or it doesn’t happen). Early in our marriage I took over all our finances as he had a debt of many hundreds of dollars in overdraft charges. My husband is 70, but I feel like I’m married to a 99 year old. I want to live, but this is not living. The only thing he will occasionally do is go out for a meal. During restaurant meals, he continually stares off into the distance, rarely talking with me. I try to engage him in conversation but he says little, with very minimal eye contact. Many times I turn around to see who he is staring at, only to see thin air. I do not want to be selfish in any way, nor hope that I am not being picky – wanting that pie in the sky – however my reservoirs of contentment and well-being are very depleated because I am always giving, with very little being received. I would be most grateful for some wise wisdom. Thank you.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:15 am

      First of all he’s not acting 99, he’s acting like he’s 9 months old and needs a mother to take care of him, bathe him, etc. But he also sounds depressed and ill. I’d talk with his adult children (if he has any) to find out if this is a new pattern or typical of his entire adult life (not the sexual part) but the rest of it. I’d also go into his doctor’s appointments with him and let the doctor know his lethargy and inactivity. At 70 he could still be active and vibrant but something is going on. I’m sure it is very frustrating for you as this is not what you signed up for. That’s why long distance courtships are a red flag because you never really know what the person is like until you spend long periods of time with them – before marriage.

  12. Connie on April 6, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    I’m just wondering – who enabled him before you came along? Was he living alone and capable of taking care of himself, even to mowing lawns and stuff? Then it sounds like he has it made…….I mean, he has a maid……just what he wanted. I married around age 50, and a few years down the road h admitted that all he wanted was a maid. I’ve had to set boundaries and threaten to leave in a way that he knew I was serious, and changes have happened. I still am not sure if the changes are for the Lord or because he wants me to stay and actually finds life more pleasant this way, but at least I can live with this.

    I think you have a choice here. Do you want to be his caregiver? Then let go of all expectations of love and marriage, tell yourself, “I’m the maid. Like Joseph in prison, I have God as my spouse and will depend entirely on Him for my every need.” I’m saying this because I’ve been there. For a time I had to take every single thought captive, live in praise, and detach completely from h. Then God led me step by step in the boundaries department and I was totally prepared to leave if I needed to, but slowly things turned around and I almost feel like a wife now.

    • Sue on April 6, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      Thank you, Connie. I appreciate your wise words. I was up until 3 a.m. this morning thinking and praying about how I feel towards my marriage and my husband. I know some about enabling, but not too much about setting boundaries. I need to research this. Before we were married, he did his own cooking, cleaning, and mowing, although I think the cleaning and mowing were sparse.. He also was in charge of his meds and insulin. After our first year of marriage, I realized his meds and insulin taking by him was hit or miss, mostly miss. That’s when I took over, as skipping heart meds and insulin meds on a consistent basis could have tragic outcomes. This morning I began talking to my husband. He did not say a lot, but he did listen. I told him all my feelings, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I did stress that I loved him even though I didn’t feel it, and I was committed to our marriage for the long haul. I used some tough love on him saying I will still sort his pills as that task is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, and I finally have a reliable system down pat. I did say from now on I would not stop meal preparation to take the time to measure his blood sugar levels, administer his insulin, and write his numbers on his chart, along with the foods he eats (his doctors stress these exacting details, and I agree they are necessary to target highs and lows with his blood sugar.) I told him I would give him a 5 minute notice, “Honey, supper will be in 5 minutes,” and he would need to be responsible to take his meds and insulin, along with filling in his log book. Consequences – if he missed, he may face heart problems, mood swings, going blind, loosing a limb, etc. Today, I gave him his 5 minute notice before breakfast. He was asleep in his chair, which is common for him. Before I would wait however long it took until he woke up to eat, but today I went ahead and ate my breakfast right then and there. When he eventually woke up, I told him his breakfast was in the kitchen. He did not do his glucose monitoring and meds until after he ate instead of before, but at least he did it. I also did say how I felt bummed out about him doing nothing all day. I truly doubt much will happen in that area right now, but at least I have stated my feelings and he knows what he needs to do with his meds. Hopefully his energy will return so he can help some. I know that my being consistent with what was said is very important. Do you know a good book about setting boundaries that would help me understand this more? Thank you very much.

      • Connie on April 6, 2016 at 1:58 pm

        Wow, Sue, I think you need a whole cheering section already!! I first read the book, “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and John Townsend, and had to read it several times because it was so contrary to what I had been taught all my life. But that book did change my life so much. Leslie’s books of course teach it too. God is giving you the wisdom and strength already. Only He knows how much your h can really do and what is best for him. Blessings!! I know how disappointing it is to feel more alone in a marriage than single. Crazy, yet the closeness to God that has resulted from all this heartbreak……I wouldn’t give that up, either.

      • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:24 am

        Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.

  13. Sue on April 6, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you, Connie, for your encouragement and wisdom from your own experiences. I will look into one of the books you mentioned to learn more about boundaries, enabling, tough love, and/or whatever other good advice they offer. I already feel some relief in this journey by beginning to identify and verbalize my feelings, yet know there is a long road up ahead with much give and take, along with lots of understanding and love. Prayer, faith, and trust in God are of the utmost importance. God bless you in your journey!

  14. Sue on April 7, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    Thank you, Leslie. My husband used to be very active his 4 adult children have told me. Even the first year we were married, he did some things like mow and prune our fruit trees. But the last four years, he does very little, usually sleeping and sitting all day. I do drive him to every doctor appointment and I am the one who asks the questions and takes notes (because he chooses not to, and then forgets what was said.) He recently had a heart cath and spent a week in the hospital. He does have some heart problems which surgery will not help. His new meds are suppose to help. I know he feels badly health wise and is getting more and more feeble. To have a husband who is engaging and active would be wonderful, but mine is not. I do not think too much of his behavior is due to laziness, but rather due to his poor health. I am not making excuses for him, but merely stating some facts. I see there is a local Caregivers meeting coming up in our area. I believe I will attend as the group support may be very helpful. Thank you for your input which I truly appreciate. I am soon to order your more recent book that talks about boundaries to learn more about how I can survive this situation and still keep my sanity. 🙂

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