Morning friends,

Thanks for your prayers.  I had an amazing weekend speaking on Saturday in Iowa at Faith Community Church to over 500 women on how God Weaves Our Story into His Story.  Women can hungry and broken and left hopeful, healed, and filled. Our God is so good.

One more big event I need your prayers for next week. I’m heading to a conference in Aruba (yes I know – great place to speak) to speak to the community on Domestic Violence and Emotionally Destructive Relationships.  Pray that I am culturally sensitive yet biblically clear.

This week’s questionMy husband is basically a good man.   He is a school teacher and the music director/organist of our Church.  He can be patient, kind, loving and always deeply spiritual.  He can also be demanding, tyrannical and irrational.

He blames everyone and anyone for any problems that arise. It is a knee-jerk reaction to even the slightest, most inconsequential of events. If one of our children falls down, his first reaction is to scream an “I told you so” at them- never is his first reaction one of concern for their well-being or safety.  He expects our older children- living away from our home with lives of their own- to always be at his beck and call.  If he wants them to do something for him, it does not matter that they have jobs, plans, etc.  He refuses to be told no.  And, everyone cow-tows to him just to keep him on an even keel and avoid the rants and literal rages that he has demonstrated.

While he is a school teacher, his passion is the piano and he is an accomplished pianist and composer- just not as revered and accomplished as he would like to be.  Whose fault is that?  His parents. His father for having a health crisis when he was younger or his mother for not knowing or doing enough to promote his career.  The children and I are also to blame because he has to work a “meaningless” job to put food on the table.

He takes no responsibility for any failure, real or imagined, in his life.  He doesn't seem to have any concept that not everyone's life revolves around him and that people are allowed their own lives and opinions.  He is negative in all aspects of his life- except, of course, if it relates to music.   While I could write pages about this aspect of his personality, suffice it to say that he will always see the dark cloud around the silver lining.   He is also very vocal about his negative thoughts and when he's challenged, he plays the victim and accuses the challenger of attacking him.  It's to the point where conversation with him is seldom initiated because we all know what his reaction will be.  Want his opinion?  Just think of the most irrational response, and go with that.

He is like a petulant two-year-old who demands his own way and nothing is ever right for him.  Even if you do something considerate to try and make life easier for him or take care of something that he hadn't time to do, his reaction is never one of gratitude- there is always, always, always a negative reaction.  Things are still done or taken care of for him, but it's never brought up to him and, if he does notice, it's never mentioned.

While we all love him, he is driving a wide and very deep wedge between himself and the rest of our family.  It is very difficult to live with someone when you are walking on eggshells at all times.  I am not looking to leave him or my marriage.  I am looking for help in how to live with him and how to help my children live with him.  I do not want my children to grow up like their father.

Answer:  I feel a little confused. You say that your husband is basically a good man, patient, kind, loving and always deeply spiritual.  Then you go on for several paragraphs listing all the ways he is not patient, loving, good or spiritual.  Perhaps what you mean is that your husband can be charming and act loving when everything is going his way and everyone meets his needs and expectations in exactly the way he wants.  When that doesn’t happen, (which is real life) watch out!

Now your question, how do you live with someone like that and how do you help your children live with someone like that?  The best answer I can offer you is you can only live with this (if you choose to) with a good support system and lots of grace and truth, with no expectations of a meaningful relationship or mutual give and take.

I am reluctant to put a label on anyone but your description of your husband’s behavior is typical of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  A craving for admiration, an attitude of entitlement and lack of empathy for anyone else’s needs are usually the big red flags.   You can google it and read more information on it if you want to see if it fits.

Let’s start with grace. In order to live with someone like this you will need to learn to lean hard into God’s loving grace, knowing that when your husband doesn’t treat you well or love you like you wished he did, you are still deeply loved and valued by God.  You will need God’s grace to continually forgive your husband and keep a clean slate of the wrongs he does against you so that you don’t become hardened by bitterness and resentment. Your husband will never apologize or take responsibility for the wrong’s he’s done which makes it that much harder to forgive and let things go so your strength must come from outside yourself. It can only be from God.

You will need God’s grace to biblically love your husband when you feel like screaming at him and grace to not repay evil for evil. Jesus calls us to love our enemies but we rarely have to live with our enemies day in and day out.  To live in a relatively conflict-free relationship with your husband you will need to accept that you will always be more the giver. God sees how much you give whether or not your husband notices or appreciates it.  You will need His eternal perspective on your marital loneliness and suffering because you will feel unheard, unloved and unvalued much of the time, which may tempt you to seek other male companionship.

You will need grace to not judge your husband and have contempt for him as a man or as a person, even though truth tells you his attitudes and actions are sinful.  Grace keeps us humble, reminding us that we too are sinful and have our own brokenness.  Grace keeps us mindful of the logs in our own eyes before trying to remove the speck in our spouse’s.

You will also need to stay focused on God’s truth to stay healthy emotionally, spiritually and mentally.  Your husband blames and shames everyone around him and it’s tempting to believe his harsh words.  Don’t do it. Listen to what God says about who you are and not your husband’s words.  You will need God’s truth to explain to yourself and even your children that sometimes their father acts selfishly and it’s not wrong of them to say “no” or to ask him to consider their needs, and not just think of his own (Philippians 2:4).

Truth will help you know when boundaries are important and how to set them. For example, when he begins his angry tirade you might stop talking, turn around and walk away. If he continues, leave the house.  When you return you can say something like, “I can’t listen to you when you scream at me. You would do the same if I talked to you that way”  Keep it short and simple.  Or “I don’t want to feel angry and hateful toward you so I’m leaving until you can cool down.”  Then do it.

You will also need truth to guide you when to confront your husband’s sinful behavior and how.  There may be a strategic or teachable moment where you could say something that may cause him to press pause and think about his actions and you want to look for those moments and ask God to give you an anointed tongue.

We are to speak the truth in love to one another but it’s tempting to either to placate this kind of person or eventually get sick of it and blow up, only to later feel guilty, regretting your reaction which only adds more fuel to his fire.  Wear truth as a necklace and she will teach you when the time is right to speak. Hard words need not be harsh words.

For example, when he’s inconsiderate of your needs or your schedule, you could say, “I know this is important to you, but this is important to me so I have to do this first.”  Your goal in this kind of statement is to remind him that you are a separate PERSON with your own needs, feelings and thoughts.  You are not just a slave or a robot or a “wife” but a person and even if he doesn’t value you, you are going to value yourself.

You said you don’t’ want your children growing up to be like their father.  Children do learn a lot from their parents, but their father isn’t their only influencer.  You have a huge impact on your children and the way you interact with their father will say a lot to them about not only who he is, but who you are.  If you act as if he’s right and he’s entitled to act this way, they get the picture that men (fathers, husbands) get to have their way all the time that’s “normal”.  Therefore it’s important to speak truthfully to your children about things such as, “I think sometimes your father can be self-absorbed and not realize that you have your own plans. It’s okay to remind him that you can’t always accommodate him and stick to what you need to do for yourself.”

You say your husband is deeply spiritual. Galatians 5:16-26 speaks about the person who lives in the spirit and one who lives in the flesh.  Perhaps in a moment when your husband seems open or more in tune with God, you could ask him which one he inhabits most often?  Or when he is most negative or critical say, “You don’t seem to experience God’s joy or peace very much.  Why do you think that is?”  Your words will have little impact on him but God tells us that His words are powerful and don’t return void. They have the power to cut right to the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Ask God to use His Word, even those in the lyrics of the music he plays each week at church, to cause him to see the truth about why he is so critical, so miserable and so unhappy.

Lastly, don’t forget you do need good relationships, even if it’s not in your marriage. Seek out healthy girlfriends that can encourage you, love on you, pray for you and hold you accountable to be the kind of person you want to be while living in this difficult marriage.

Friends you who have walked in this woman’s shoes – share your words of wisdom here with her.

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136 Comments

  1. Brenda on November 12, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    A good man and a tyrant is an oxymoron. The two cannot live as one. The Holy Spirit doesn’t live in a tyrant.

    • Kim on November 16, 2014 at 3:33 am

      a solitarily right. I was once married to a damaged thug like this. They do not allow boundaries. They kick them down. Narcissistic abuse looks much like what is described here. These are not good men, they are abusers emotionally and the kids pay the price.

  2. Elizabeth on November 12, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    I think of Jesus’

    • T on August 28, 2016 at 2:45 am

      Jesus used to remove himself from explosive situations. Jesus did not stick around. There is often confusion regards the story of Jesus. He was born to be on the cross. We were not. what we need to do is do what Jesus did not just think of him. This woman needs to leave If you have not lived with a narcissist please do not give advice. They split people up. They do create narcissists out of some siblings. Or slaves. Children do need that kind of role model.. The put on a face of a lamb when it suits but beneath that they are wolves after your soul. Please anyone who has this situation – get professional help to get out and get a life that your children can emulate. There are enough abuses going on in the society. As a family we need to take responsibility for our environment so we do not breed poor habits. My mother is now in her 80’s and just as manipulative as ever even when she broke her hip and was told she may die on operating table due to her age. She told lies and continued to manipulate. She use the situation to get more support for her while plotting. Take it from one who knows. People – please do not give advice about love of Jesus while being blind to the horror of living in such situations. You have been given a life to live – learn discernment. teach your children discernment.Make sure you have protection ir you chose to leave because this can be very dangerous. You are living in terror but calling it love. To not fool yourself if not for you for your children and the next generation.

  3. Elizabeth on November 12, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    I think of Jesus’ words to those who thought they were serving God, “I never knew you.” When the Spirit of God is truly in us He will be seen. He will not be silent. I have struggled with this with my H as he speaks the language but has never lived it. I relate to all Leslie has described and I encourage you to start practicing this kind of love for your husband. Leslie is so right that it is only the grace of God that enables me to forgive everyday and keep my heart free of bitterness. I am not always successful but every day is a new day with God’s mercies fresh. He will do the same for you.

  4. Kathy on November 12, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    This reminds me exactly of the 22 years I was married to a man that could be charming. But, only if things were going his way and he couldn’t find anything to criticize. Something in one of Leslie’s books caught me up short and gave me a whole new perspective. It doesn’t matter whether he had a bad childhood or a bad day or has Asperger’s or whatever other disorder you can list, he is still responsible for the way he acts towards you and your children. If he is not taking responsibility for it, there is nothing you can do to change him. You can only change yourself. Leslie encourages us to stay well or to leave well. I have left well and couldn’t be more blessed to be out of the crazy-making situation I thought I could fix. It’s all about the fruit and you don’t describe any. You describe an appearance of fruit – but no actual fruit.

    • Vikki on November 13, 2014 at 1:18 am

      You hit the nail on the head – taking responsibility and seeing actions vs. words. Those are gold nuggets for every relationship.

      • Leslie Vernick on November 13, 2014 at 2:08 am

        Actions are always much more powerful indicators of what’s in a person’s heart than words.

    • Sharon on November 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Wow! Kathy, what you said sounded so very familiar. I have been married for four years . From the very beginning it has been a nightmare. I feel like he does have mental disorders- Aspergers, horrible upbringing…etc. He has absolutely no desire to change any of his actions. He also continues to have an inapproiate relationship with another women whom he has known for 10 years. They are by far closer than him & I. I separated from him two months ago. I enjoy the burden being lifted, but sadness comes in when I think of not being with him during the holidays. I just can’t stand the thought of wasting any more years in such a destructive environment. Thank you, Leslie and all the support from the other women. I also have made some awesome friends at church that know the truth.

  5. Christine on November 12, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    My only advice is that I agree all that Leslie has said. It is MOST difficult to live with a person like this, without it injuring the receiver’s spirit…trust me I KNOW. Taking care of yourself, with or without him will be an EXAMPLE to your children; what is acceptable in relationships and what is not. My daughter told me once, “Never underestimate the power of your own example.” I left after 35 years. It is difficult at times, but I don’t regret it. I am not fighting each day to maintain my self esteem and sanity.

    • Heidi on November 13, 2014 at 3:23 am

      Me too!! 36 years, 3 months & 8 days. My regret- not leaving sooner- especially for my children.

  6. Vikki on November 13, 2014 at 1:15 am

    I lived 19 years with a narcissist. I stayed because quite honestly, I wanted to be sure I didn’t deserve the treatment, and have some awful character flaw that God needed him to help take out of me. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? In the 19th year, my body (which already had adrenal failure twice, on hormones, and other signs of too much stress) began breaking down again (hormones just took a nosedive). I knew if I didn’t get out from the day to day chaos, I would be in the hospital. I’m not a dramatic person and I take a whole lot, but quite honestly, at some point, I hear one of two things happen – he leaves or she does. You can only take so much of daily life that is amped up with anger and confusion. Truthfully, he threatened my safety in cars several times and then ultimately, threatened to hit me . So, yes, be Christlike, have awesome friend support, but watch carefully if the anger is increasingly threatening, or if your body simply can’t take anymore.
    The one thing I did that was totally God’s idea was take responsibility for my own attitude, actions, responses and behaviors. I answered with kindness. I let him vent. I didn’t yell back. I accomodated his requests. You know what? I wasn’t perfect, and I could see where I was contributing to the chaos. So that helped me. But another thing – I saw that when I shifted, it pissed him off even more. His anger increased. Control is the root of all this and it’s awful. I have found the Proverbs on “fool” were of great comfort to me.
    I’ve been out of the situation and now divorced for 18 months. I am just starting to find healing and peace, realizing he yelled at me for all the things he actually was. All I can say is God is faithful whether you stay or leave, but in my opinion, nobody deserves a life like that. You are loved. You are more awesome than he tells you. You matter greatly in the world. Sending prayers and love.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 13, 2014 at 2:12 am

      A person’s safety (emotional, physical, sexual and financial) and sanity is more important than keeping the marriage together at all costs and at any price.

      • Vikki on November 13, 2014 at 3:09 am

        Your wirk saved my life. May God repay you Leslie!!! Huge hugs!!

      • Sandra on November 13, 2014 at 8:08 pm

        Thank you for this blog, dear Leslie. My heart trulu goes out to this lady. I also lived with my narcissist husband for 57 years. However, he was not a believer, so this man certainly isn’t following God’s Word, if he in fact is a Christian. My husband was also unforgiving and distrustful of me, resulting in extreme accusations and jealousy. When I begun to set boundaries, he left. I now praise the Lord for the freedom and peace I now have to serve Him alone.

    • Victoria on November 13, 2014 at 2:55 am

      Vikki, I had the same or very similar experience except mine included episodes if physical abuse… before the end (which I never hoped for) I had given myself to complete submission, responding in genuine kindness and humility to his rage… which escalated things. When he would rage I would pray… and he (my pedigree, preacher) would MOCK me as I prayed! The situation eventually became too dangerous to stay and (through his forcing his hand) ended up in divorce. We separated 18 months ago, divorced for 7 months. As healing and wholeness is being restored I am just beginning to see the incredible damage that he did to me and our children! I FULLY believe that God honored my faithfulness to Him by letting my ex harden his own heart and basically force a divorce…. Yes, as I see the deep, deep damage that living with this man did to me, I can only believe that either God hated me and wanted me to suffer and I just happened to get away OR(what I truly believe) God’s heart broke for me and my children and He led us safely AWAY from a deeply destructive marriage – which I really thought was just challenging at that time.

      • Vikki on November 13, 2014 at 1:33 pm

        Victoria, Im so sad for your experience but so grateful we are not alone. No doubt we learn a side of God that we rarely hear from the pulpit- of fierce protection and provision and guidance, I would not choose this for anyone but the lessons to me are precious. Thank you for replying and sharing your story, as it helps me further heal. Hugs to you!!

  7. Shellys on November 13, 2014 at 1:17 am

    I admire your sincere desire to love and honor your husband. despite what appears to be textbook narcissistic behavior. It is an ongoing challenge to maintain a peaceful heart and godly behavior when moment by moment you are invited to either deny your own truth, or respond in kind to your husband’s selfish behavior. Leslie’s advice is brilliant. It is truly the only way for you to survive in this impossible situation. If you stay, it will be for the sake of the shared memories – the history of your family, and in order to preserve the shell, or structure of your marriage. I tried mightily and prayed continually, asking for strength to stay godly and loving, and respond to harsh remarks with gentleness. However, looking back, I didn’t do as good a job as I wish I had. My increasing underlying indignation over the injustice of the situation became more than I could bear and my husband’s history of infidelity just made the weight of frustration even deeper. You will have to cultivate the attitude of staying “in the eye of the storm” – in the presence of Jesus, quietly trying to educate your husband, praying for the Holy Spirit to enlighten him, and not go crazy waiting for acknowledgement that will very likely not come. (It sounds like you are in this place right now). I second Leslie’s advice to cultivate girlfriends. You may find that it is difficult to do that, as your husband may subtly or even overtly undermine your relationships. Persevere. The more friends you have reflecting truth to you, the better. Being with healthy people is so important. You may feel disloyal to him, since at least some of the time you will have to unburden yourself to your friends, and ask for their help and prayers. Don’t. Even Abigail acknowledged her husband’s character to her servants and to David. 1 Samuel 25:25 “Please pay no attention, my lord, to that wicked man Nabal. He is just like his name—his name means Fool, and folly goes with him.” She was real, while at the same time, a good and godly woman. Your motivation is to try to stay in a lonely situation that is eroding your confidence and demanding that you assert things that you know aren’t true. If you want to stay, you will need to give your outrage to God daily and remind yourself that He is a God of justice.

    • Elizabeth on November 13, 2014 at 1:31 am

      Thank you, Shelly. It is a daily surrender. I like how you said it “give your outrage to God daily and remind yourself that He is a God of justice.” At first it was hard to see my own anger but over the years it started to come out. Good advice. Thank you.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 13, 2014 at 2:10 am

      Amen. And so difficult to walk out. Day by day. One day at a time.

  8. Kathy on November 13, 2014 at 2:19 am

    My husband has been very charming and then abusive. The cycles are tiring. I told him to leave and he reluctantly did. He has been gone for 2 days and is really wanting to come back home seeming very humble and apologetic. He didn’t get angry when I told him no. However, this weekend I have a strong feeling he will really and try to persuade me again. I don’t know exactly what to look for and if I should require that he do more than counseling as this gas not seemed to help much in the past. (Perhaps a group) Any suggestions? I want to make sure that I do my due diligence before I let him return. Thanks

    • Kathy on November 13, 2014 at 2:22 am

      As this has not seemed to help much in the past (re type)

    • Tammy on November 14, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      I have been divorced for a year now and regret that I did not end the marriiage sooner. We were separated twice over 5 years before our final break-up. I too was on a constant emotional roller coaster of abuse and repentance and his stated desire to make things work. I reconciled twice without real proof of change. When you experience this type of behavior, you above all need to give the situation TIME to see if changes are consistent. Nothing will ever change when a person says they will “try harder”. Change requires a plan and outside support and accountability. The offender must initiate this change for himself–this is the ultimate sign of sincerity. And by the way–my ex husband sat in counseling off an on for many month s, and I now call this a false front for change. I wish I had read Leslie’s “Critical Heart Changes For Successful Reconciliation” on her blog under repentance when I first separated.

  9. Lisa on November 13, 2014 at 2:46 am

    I, too, am living with a similar man. Leslie mentioned carefully speaking truth to him when the spirit leads and I wholeheartedly agree! If one of our children were behaving this way would we simply comply and tolerate it? Of course not. We should much less tolerate such abhorrent behavior from an adult. He needs to know how his behavior is grieving you and the spirit of God so that he has the opportunity to take responsibility for it.

  10. Valerie on November 13, 2014 at 3:22 am

    As I read the poster’s question I had 3 words- Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Then I read Leslie and others’ responses and was encouraged to hear an awareness of this insidious evil. (I use the term “evil” based on what I read scripture defining as evil). When someone knows how and when to turn off abusiveness (someone else walking in the room or calling, for instance) you can know without a doubt this person can fully control their “knee jerk reaction”. They chose to abuse. When confronted they do not self reflect but rather deflect, like a mirror, their abuse back on to you. An unrepentant person who chooses to live in sin and has no concern for the pain he inflicts on others is living as an enemy of God. They have no fear of God. There is a difference between someone who sins and desires to do better and a wicked person who has no such desire (based on their actions as Leslie points out as the true litmus test).

    As I see it, when we love God we must also hate what He hates. Proverbs 16:16-19 for example lists some of the things God hates and on that list is people…not just the action of sin. How often is that preached?

    In recent months as I work through the divorce I feel an awareness of the side of God rarely mentioned in churches these days- God’s wrath, judgment and hatred. Can we fully appreciate God’s love without acknowledging his wrath and judgment? I am starting to feel we have declawed the Lion of Judah and made Him out to be a loving grandfather who just wants us to be happy. Yes, God is love, but not at the expense of His HOLINESS. His holiness can not tolerate darkness and neither should we by calling it something other than the truth and responding in a way that glorifies God and upholds His character.

    • Jeff on November 14, 2014 at 12:19 am

      . . .You would think empathy would solve many of these issues. You can’t make a loser out of your wife (he rants/rages) and then somehow “WIN”. You win together or you fail –BIG TIME and everybody loses –even the kids. “Don’t lie, and don’t do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that can remain undisclosed.” –Jesus, Gospel of Thomas Saying #6 . . . . Ultimately, behaviors are more important than beliefs. God’s hiddeness is necessary on this account, since his presence would have people behaving as if good out of fear of Him or selfish interests, not out of courage, compassion, kindness and a sense of personal integrity.

  11. Robin Baumann on November 13, 2014 at 3:30 am

    I truly hesitate to say anything, Im afraid it might come across too strongly. I have been living apart from my narcissist husband for 11 months. I read the letter above and wanted to yell really badly. I can’t begin to tell you how much you are tolerating that is injuring yourself and your family. There are so many things us mothers think about, that are a false reality. Pretending becomes just what we do. We hope that things will improve. Those of us who have a strong faith, I think might even have it more difficult as we believe we should make our marriages work. I did that for over 30 yrs and nothing changed- he just got better at manipulating, lying, deceiving, and so on……. If someone was to ask me today, do I still love my husband and think about him- I would say yes I do love him and I choose to walk away from the destructive relationship we had because it was not doing anybody any good. It was destroying our family, and all of us became severely unhealthy. Please get some help for yourself. You likely have no idea how much different your life can look at this point. Im here to tell you, everything about my new life is different, and greatly improved. I live a life, I never even dreamed could be this wonderful. 30 yrs serving abuse and destructive living, is all I will pay. I pray you will find the answers you’re looking for. God Bless!!!!

    • Shan on November 13, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      I agree. My ex-husband has NPD too and I just had no idea how much it was affecting me until I left. The way they twist words and even use scriptures against you can really make you feel like either you are actually at fault or you feel angry for getting blamed for everything. I just can’t imagine trying to stay in that environment and being at peace, though I believe Leslie that it can be done with the right support. Each person has to make their own choices. I would just say to the person who sent in this question: watch your health which can be greatly affected by the stress, and watch how you treat others – for example do you blow up at the customer service person on the phone because you have so much anger inside and can’t let it out on the person that is making you angry. Read the Boundaries books and start with small ones. Realize that it is not your job to make someone else happy.

    • linda on November 15, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      All I can say is “ditto”.You said exactly what I was thinking as I read this letter. I just got out of a 11 year marriage and only in reflection, do I realize I should’ve left earlier and stay away. I hope the letter writer hears each of the ladies who have written.

  12. Susan on November 13, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Where do I start? I’m with you, girlfriend. I so greatly appreciate Leslie’s insights and grace-filled teachings. I have found very valuable wisdom and encouragement through one other site, “It’s Narcissist Friday”. (You can google it.) I am grateful ever day for the support and insight Gid is providing me through Leslie and Dave orrison’s (It’s Narcissist Friday” as well. We must know the truth and the truth will set us free. Bless you.

  13. Liz on November 13, 2014 at 5:14 am

    I am glad to read today what label is put on a person like this. This describes my husband also. I couldn’t understand why he behaves in these ways. The strange thing that he is doing now, is waking me up deliberatly…..like sitting on feet, throwing clothes on the bed, sometimes in my face…..all this in the early hours of the morning. Why is he doing this? I was also glad to read of Leslie’s advise to talk to the kids. I do and then sometimes I feel guilty, but we need to offload on each other and I think its good for them to know that I do not back him; I think it is wrong behaviour etcThey can vent to me, also. Its so weird how he blames my son for playing games on the computer, but he is addicted to porn. (Gets up in the middle of the night to watch)

    • Robyn on November 13, 2014 at 6:08 am

      This is a thought for Liz about why your husband is waking you. My husband did this too. It felt passive aggressive and sometimes, it seemed an immature way to voice resentment that HE had to get up early and go to work.

    • Amy on November 13, 2014 at 5:20 pm

      Liz,
      My ex used to do the same in the mornings. He would even turn on the overhead light and he’d sit down roughly on the bed to put on his shoes. And the crazy thing is, I would actually start feeling guilty for still being in bed, but after 20 years in an abusive marriage it’s hard not to start believing all the garbage they tell us.

      I’m grateful to be out of that marriage and happily married to a wonderful considerate man who gets up at 2am and never once wakes me except to kiss me good-bye…which my ex never, ever did.

      Just remember, it is NOT okay what he is doing and you need to talk with him about it or it will only continue on…and it may continue anyway or get worse because you say something. BUT you need to find your voice and put a stop to it.

  14. Cyndy on November 13, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Dear one, the gripping prayer of my heart for u is that when you come to the end of your strength and feel like u are failing to meet this standard of wife and mom that u so desire to be, that our gracious Father will remind u that He knows that u are flesh. U have access to the power of the Holy Spirit but He knows our frame. He made u and will show u when it is more than u can bear. Listen when He says ” enough” for u or your children and follow Him. He won’t ever lead u wrong but will “gently lead those who are with young” to a better place even if only for a time. You will know what to do. He’s good at guiding us on righteous paths “for His name sake”! Praying for u!

  15. Dianna on November 13, 2014 at 6:17 am

    Dear Woman making the question, I applaud your loyalty and concern to make changes in your family. I agree w/ Leslie’s answer and w/ the many comments posted from women in similar circumstances.

    I have some other suggestions: 1) get and read Leslie’s book, ‘The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.’ 2) View carefully and thoughtfully Leslie’s short, free videos on her website – let yourself watch them more than once to truly take in the content. 3) If you can possibly afford the time and cost, join Leslie’s six-month empowering coaching sessions coming up in January – I did this and there is nothing like the coaching, support and group support to help you w. the issues you have mentioned. 4) Look into good counseling for yourself as you go through the stress. 6) Delve into Leslie’s other free resources on her website and blogs to get other insights on how to manage, survive and cope in your situation. There is a wealth of information from Leslie’s godly professional experience and women’s experiences in your situation.

    Strength and grace to you as God gives you wisdom in your journey.

  16. Shellys on November 13, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Oh Elizabeth, It’s impossible not to be angry when constantly provoked. We confuse “In your anger do not sin” with “in your life do not be angry”. It’s easy to struggle with guilt over what is a normal human response to injustice. I certainly have. I think Leslie has said this elsewhere. The danger of being constantly provoked by anger, is that it can be damaging to us. When we are repeatedly injured without repentance, we get angry. God bless you and give you strength and wisdom!

  17. Liz on November 13, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Robyn, my husband doesn’t go out to work so thats not the reason he wakes me. I always get up before him as well. This happens in the middle of the night!

    • Karin on November 13, 2014 at 11:55 pm

      Robyn, you are describing another form of anger, aggression and control. Sleep deprivation/interruption have long been known as effective tools in the hands of interrogators and torturers. It leaves you exhausted, disoriented, and emotionally jangled. In addition, the fact that he is using unwanted and uninvited physical force (jumping on your legs; perhaps poking or kicking at you) to awaken you, and throws objects (even if they are ‘soft clothing’) on you is NOT accidental, or ‘passive aggression’, but a very active, deliberate and specific use of physical force in abusiveness. This sort of systematic behaviour on your husband’s part is an escalation of his abusive tactics toward you. You are in my prayers.

  18. Brenda on November 13, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Your relationship should erase your tears, not your smile. True love doesn’t hurt, it heals.

    This is not my quote, I read it on another blog this morning.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 13, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      I read that quote too and liked it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sharon on November 15, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Love this! So much truth in a few words!

  19. Cheryl on November 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    This is so timely for me this morning. Thank you. As I’m reading Leslie’s response I’m grieving all of the things this relationship will never be. After a huge blow up last week, he stated this morning he wants to talk and ‘come to terms’. I have already decided that, unless the ‘terms’ include him getting help for his anger and hatred of me, I will not agree to anything. For too many years I’ve always looked inward to what I could do to make things better, but am seeing more and more how dangerous that is, and how much of ‘me’ I’ve lost in the process. I am literally putting my marriage in God’s hands here as he has said several times in the past that he will not go for counseling and that he wants to just ‘work things out on his own’. Please pray for strength and discernment for me. Thank you!

    • Cheryl on November 13, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      A question too, on the NPD…the description fits, although when we try talking about his behavior, he sometimes gets to tears and insists he work on it himself because ‘he is harder on himself than anyone else would be”. Is that just an excuse?

      • Leslie Vernick on November 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm

        Do you see that he is hard on himself? If not then its probably a manipulative ploy to get you to feel sorry for him. If you see that he is hard on himself when he messes us, then encourage him that being hard on himself isn’t working to change his behavior and he needs to learn new ways of dealing with the things he doesn’t like about himself. Narcissists are often shame filled, insecure people who cover over those feelings with a huge bravado and iron clad mask of self-centeredness and selfishness that they rarely peek behind, nor do they allow anyone to speak into. So his awareness that he’s messing up and hard on himself doesn’t sound like NPD as they rarely “see themselves as wrong or messing up” it’s always everyone else’s fault, problem, or responsibility.

        • Lynn on November 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm

          Leslie, what works to change people with A disorder such as this? I’m divorced from a person who fits this description but I still have to deal with him. How can I better communicate with him?

          • Leslie Vernick on November 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm

            You can’t change a person with this type of disorder. PERIOD. Get that really clear in your head. You can learn how to have conversations with this kind of person that is more likely to result in a more positive outcome but that is about the best you can do. Only the person who has the disorder change change. It’s like saying What can you do to change someone who smokes and has lung cancer? Nothing. Pleading, bribing, threatening, and all rational arguments will not change the person unless he or she sees that he or she has a problem that needs to be addressed. Then and only then can that person take responsibility to work on their own problem. You can’t fix him.



      • Becca on November 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm

        “he is harder on himself than anyone else would be” is classic NPD. Do you know how many times I’ve heard that? It’s a manipulation tool to play on your emotions and empathy. The bottom line is that he is powerless to control his tendency to do the wrong thing and is probably also in denial about his need for help. Set firm boundaries. Work on yourself so you know the truth so you can stand up under his lies and manipulation.

      • Valerie on November 13, 2014 at 2:46 pm

        Cheryl, if he has NPD, this is most definitely an excuse. Someone with NPD has been known to easily turn on the tears as a manipulation tactic. Then the insistence that he work on it himself? Smh. Coming from someone with NPD, this isn’t a plea, this is a warning to you! Someone who truly wants to get healthy will want all the help they can get and not refuse it.

        Now that I have seen the light as to what our whole marriage was based on (his NPD) it is astounding the degree they are able to manipulate with their words. They can be so adamant in their claims that you can get to a point you truly believe the sky is purple and not blue. They don’t speak to gain information, they speak to tell you what is truth (according to them). It is their brazenness and sheer insistence that gets people to doubt. They are truly convincing.

        Again, this is relevant if he has NPD. If you feel like you are going crazy I say that’s a sign that your in an environment that’s making you feel crazy. A truly “crazy” person does not question if they are going crazy. Their faculties do not allow for that degree of introspection. Its not until you can remove yourself from your environment (at least temp) that you can see the crazy environment for what it is. I’m not suggesting everyone questioning their marriage should leave their marriage- God leads us to the right path when we seek Him.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 13, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      When he says “he will work things out on his own” tell him so far that hasn’t worked so you’re not holding out hope that it will work this time. When someone says that it’s because their pride is getting in the way of admitting they need help to change. The first step of the 12 Step program is “I am powerless over _________ and I need help.” That is the best place to start – at a place of humility.

      • Lonely wife on December 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm

        Wow….thanks for that bit of insight, Leslie…my H has said that to me so many times in the past…and of course he does NOTHING to work on himself! We are currently in separate bedrooms and he’s seeing a therapist. I put boundaries in place, and told him we are separating unless he gets the help he needs! I’m praying that this time he will stick with the counseling…He admitted to me that he was shocked when I moved him out of our bedroom, after I saw inappropriate behavior at his company Christmas party…and he got defensive and angry with ME when I questioned him about it! He didn’t speak to me for two days, then left to go out of town…and I moved him out of the bedroom! I’ve had enough! Thanks for all you do Leslie…I’m working on my CORE, and no longer a Peacefaker…and it feels GREAT!

        • Leslie Vernick on December 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm

          You’re welcome. So glad you have stopped being a peace-faker.

  20. Andrea on November 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    “Grace not to return evil for evil” . . . . this is SO big for me!! I am a very ‘black-and-white’ person and justice is very important to me. Over and over and over and over again, I have to let go of the fact that I am not my husband’s judge and I cannot decide his punishment. It is so easy to blur the lines between ‘punishment’ and setting boundaries and allowing him to experience the natural consequences of his choices/actions. It is so hard to allow him to keep receiving good things from me when he treats me despicably!!

    • Leslie Vernick on November 13, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Justice is very important to God and therefore it’s important that we not forgot that God is the final judge and justice will come, but you might not see it. Setting boundaries and consequences is not “punishment”. It is not our role to punish our husbands for their misbehavior, sins or attitudes. But what they sow, let them reap. When they sow abuse into the marriage, the reaping is a marriage that is broken down. When we as women think that God expects us to “pretend” we’re in a healthy marriage when it is full of cancer is craziness. God wants us to live in truth and in grace. That means that we understand we are in a broken, unhealthy marriage and therefore we’re not going to pretend otherwise. But to not retaliate against our husband and to forgive is grace, but forgiveness doesn’t erase consequences. The consequences are meant to teach us something. Don’t mitigate them because you feel sorry for the pain he is in. The pain is meant to instruct him to STOP doing what he was doing.

      • Andrea on January 1, 2015 at 8:26 pm

        Thank you. This is so helpful. I don’t think I back away from consequences because I feel sorry for him–I know that experiencing them is his only chance at repentance and redemption. I am more afraid of how onlookers will respond to me. I have experienced an incredible amount of judgement, criticism, and accusation in the wake of my honesty about my situation. I am accused of being ‘negative, disrespectful, and unsubmissive’ to my husband.

        • Robin Baumann on January 1, 2015 at 11:04 pm

          Andrea, a couple things come to me as I read your comments on this blog. Do you know he does not get to keep receiving good from you, when he is continually abusing you by disrespecting you?? I made that mistake until I read Leslies book. The other thing is– it seems many abused women get judged and critiized. Its the hard part we have to endure. I remind myself continually, I have to know the choices I am making are the right ones, and that God is pleased. Other than Him an dme, it doesn’t matter what others say and think, most of them are very deceived. But there are things we can do to help minimize the judgements. For me, I drive an hour to go to church out of town, so I can be away from the people that do not understand my situation, truthfully. I drive 90 minutes a week to my counselors office and that is every week. I do these things to build safe community for me. So far its been very helpful. Keep the healthy consequences in place. He will soon self destruct, because of them, which is their purpose, and things will either wake him up, or drive the destructive relationship into the ground. We’re praying for you!!!!!

          • Andrea on January 6, 2015 at 10:55 am

            Robin, safe community is so important–and, unfortunately, so hard to find!



        • Leslie Vernick on January 3, 2015 at 10:12 am

          So sad. Is is important that when we implement consequences we do them in a respectful posture of “I don’t know what else to do to help you see the damage you are causing our marriage or home” because sometimes we can get so fed up with their foolishness, we can “sound” retaliatory in implementing consequences instead of loving.

          • Andrea on January 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm

            Thanks for the prayers and support, ladies!! It really means a lot. Leslie, your advice is spot on! It is a daily battle for me, but with Gods help, I will come through this a better person!! You are so right when you say that we get so fed up with their foolishness that it is easy to sound retaliatory rather than loving! And those times are so damaging to ourselves because the abuser will use them to justify himself and/or to convince others that HE is being victimized!!!



          • Robin Baumann on January 5, 2015 at 1:01 pm

            I agree with everything that is being said, Andrea. We are blessed to have so much support. In my life with my husband, he would accuse me of being unloving, unrespectful, unloyal, whenever I told him things he didn’t want to hear. It was such a relief counsel, and found out all he was trying to do was convince me of false guilt, to win. It is not unloving to be assertive in standing up. It is not unl



          • Robin Baumann on January 5, 2015 at 1:06 pm

            my typing stopped. wierd. will try again. It was not unloving to stand up and speak into the damage he was causing in our home. I had to get very strong and realize all his attempts about saying I was unloving, was just a means to fill me with false guilt and get me to back off. Be sure you understand that loving is an attitude – unloving does not mean we dont speak truth where it is needed.
            my typing stopped. not sure what happened. will try again. Sometimes an abusive spouse will do anythign to convince you- you are being unloving. It is not unloving to stand up when he is damaging your family and will not listen. It is not unloving to stand up and be assertive about these things that are destructive. My husband had me convinced and sickly over false guilt he tried to lay on me. I believe many abusive husbands will do all they can to stop their wives from speaking truth. It is important we understand what ‘unloving’ really is- and not what our husbands say it is. I doubt they will ever receive words, they don’t want to hear. So they try to tear us down, by saying we’re unloving. Praying for you!!!



    • Valerie on November 13, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Andrea, you have every right to be angered at injustice. God is angered at injustice too! Hating someone’s sin is not hatred, it is holding fast to God’s standards. I feel like we, as women, are often taught somewhere along the line that to have any negative feeling is ungodly and unladylike. The “church” perpetuates this philosophy by telling us that to speak out against sin is considering judging and that all judging is wrong. Yet in 1 Corinthians 5:12 we are told we ARE to judge those within the church who call themselves brothers. We do this not in a holier than thou, going on a witch hunt fashion, but by calling out unrepentant sin for what it is.

      Leslie speaks much wisdom in pointing out that boundaries are not punishment. The problem is that with abusive people, they will most certainly get you to believe you are in fact punishing them and will question your character to get you to back down. Its the equivalent of a 3 year old “you’re a mean mommy” mantra in response to them not getting what they want…but carried out with the level of manipulation and craftiness capable of an adult.

  21. Becca on November 13, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    YES!! Narcissistic Personality Disorder! That was my immediate thought before I read Leslie’s response. My husband has NPD and has been working hard to change his behavior through regular counseling. The extreme selfishness and blaming of others still exists, but it is a LOT better than it used to be.

    Look it up, read about it! I found that discovering NPD and finally having an understanding for my husband’s destructive behavior was the first step for healing for both of us. It is not an excuse to use for his behavior, but rather a definition that has helped both of us understand it better and have a plan for change. Admitting the problem is the first step. However, almost all NPD’s are unable or unwilling to see the problem, and are unwilling to change. Pray for God to open your husband’s eyes to see how his behaviors are hurting not only others, but himself as well. Pray for a good counselor who has experience working with NPD and see if he can get help!

    My husband has gone from extreme selfishness, constantly pursuing relationships with other women, suicide threats when he doesn’t get his way, verbally, physically, and emotionally abusing me and the children to a man who operates mostly out of self-control, gentleness, and a true desire to be the man God created him to be. It’s not perfect but it’s FAR better than it used to be. I am still suffering with the consequences of long-term abuse, but by changing his own behavior and thought patterns he is a much happier and much more stable person. My hope is that as I work through the effects of the abuse that I can get to that point as well.

  22. Brenda on November 13, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    It is so easy to blur the lines between ‘punishment’ and setting boundaries and allowing him to experience the natural consequences of his choices/actions. It is so hard to allow him to keep receiving good things from me when he treats me despicably!!

    The pastor of the church I attend would also have this problem. Jesus did not allow people his company if they mistreated him. He left. Why are we to be any different? Christ moved on to those who listened to him and wanted to hear Him. He set boundaries.

  23. Shellys on November 13, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Cheryl, Your situation sounds so much like mine. When he says he wants to have a talk and “come to terms” you are right. His terms. Sadly, such a man will rarely follow through on his ultimatum, as long as you are willing to give him just one more chance. He’ll bluff and bluster, but in the end, it is you who will be forced to take action to end the madness. My husband would say exactly the same thing. “Enough”. “I’m finished taking this”. Followed by no action. It is unfair, but getting free of the destructive relationship is going to have to be another gut-wrenching, exhausting and agonizing job that will – again – fall on your shoulders. But you are used to doing the work of the relationship. You will be able to handle the work of getting free.

  24. Sandra on November 14, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Sounds like my soon to be x (stbx) husband. I stayed 26 years believing it was my fault. I still struggle days wondering if I did it wrong if I could still have been married. I broke down physically and emotionally. My stbx discarded me once I stood up to him and for the first time held to my boundaries. I wanted to deal with all his lying, establish a baseline of truth together. That was the beginning of the end. He has been so cold and demeaning through the divorce process all the time having our sons believe he’s the victim and I am wrong. It’s been a tough walk.Some days I wonder if I should have been able to be strong enough to withstand the silent treatment and the demeaning comments.

  25. bbdavis on November 14, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Would you all agree that most all
    abusers are narcissistic personality
    disordered?

    • Leslie Vernick on November 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      I haven’t seen the research on that but I would say that most NPD people are abusive in some ways towards their most intimate relationships. However, there are other personality types and disorders that are also abusive such as OCPD and BPD and Anti Social personality disorder and perhaps even a dependent personality disorder. And there are individuals who do not fall on that spectrum, who are still cruel, lack empathy, and feel entitled.

  26. Brenda on November 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Sharon,
    I will be alone for the holidays. My children have all moved away and the elderly lady that I usually spend Thanksgiving with is now in assisted living close to her daughter. It is sad and sweet all at the same time. I have been living alone now for 17 months. I may miss having someone to share it with, but not the abuse that I went through. It was even worse on holidays. Jesus is always with us. My plan is to go to Cracker Barrel for lunch and spend the day with God. I can play thankful songs on the piano, read my Bible and pray for those who are less fortunate than myself.

  27. Jenna on November 14, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    It’s been cathartic reading all of your comments. But to be honest, I am still in the phase of thinking it’s mostly my fault. My husband wants to serve our family and walk out what it is to be a man of God, but I just feel beaten down by years of negative comments about how I wasn’t what he had really expected and wanted/anticipated in a wife. I just want to do the right thing before God. I am in way wanting to leave him as I do care for him, I just feel lost….

    • Leslie Vernick on November 15, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Jenna, then he was wanting or expecting a fantasy wife that you will never live up to. So the question you have to ask him is he willing to love and accept you – Jenna and not some idealized image of who he wished you were. If not, then he’s still undermining your personhood with his critical remarks and chronic expression of disappointment. As I say in all marriage counseling, nobody gets all 52 cards in a deck when you marry someone and part of spiritual maturity is learning to love the person you married, not the person you thought you married.

  28. Elizabeth on November 14, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Sharon, I so agree. The first Christmas I was separated from my H was one of the best Christmas I have had. I was all alone because my children were married and lived out of town. I spent the day with God and it was so peaceful and special. Thank you for sharing. It strengthens my faith and gives encouragement.

  29. Pamela on November 15, 2014 at 2:41 am

    Recently I was listening to an audio version of this section of 2nd Timothy and I had to replay it several times because I was shocked by the context: “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, HOLDING TO A FORM OF GODLINESS, ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE DENIED IT’S POWER; (((( Avoid such men as these.”))) For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:1-7 NAS

    In other versions, after that fearful list of character traits, it explains that this ‘form of godliness’ is an ‘appearance only’ sort of religion. A thing only ‘dressed up’ to look like godliness– but isn’t, because it denies the power of godliness itself.

    I guess it was the context of that phrase that shocked me, sandwiched in-between that fearful list of ‘make believe’ godliness and burdened women full of learning– but barren of the experience of the Truth Himself.

    During the past 15 months of recovery, the Word of God keeps shocking me. Sharper than a scalpel– it pierces deeply into the reality of my situation described *exactly* by this passage…

    I had no defenses against the charming appearance of my NPD religious leader when he appeared on his ‘white horse’– because I myself had ton’s of learning crammed into my head– but little actual experience of the true goodness of God.

    A person with NPD doesn’t become that way all on his own. He needs an audience. Part of recognizing my part in this, is seeing how necessary I’ve been to my h becoming the monster he is. As scary as that recognition is, awareness is foundational to *not* doing things the same way anymore…

    God wastes no sorrow. No tear goes ‘unbottled’ or unrecorded. He notes down each and every one carefully in His book. And as much as I hate to admit it? When the man described in the first half of this section crept into my house and met me? It was the beginning of the perfect destructive dance.

    Now, learning to dance differently means knowing & believing! Stepping up to *experience* God by applying the truth– not just knowing it in my head.

    • Pamela on November 15, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      At the end of that passage, the Spirit of God reminds me of the fact that “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed…” He reminds me that– if I’m to be free? I have to take my eyes off my h, off my circumstances and fix them on Him– taking my cue from Him. How– if my responses remain dependent upon those who continue “deceiving and being deceived”– I’ll just be sucked back into the destruction once again.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 15, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Pam, I so appreciate your words because as we all know, you CANNOT change an NPD person. However when you continue to get sucked into their drama, their craving for admiration, their abuse of you, then you must have to ask yourself what is your part if you want to break free. It’s to just say,”If only he would change.” but thats not as likely as you saying to yourself, “What do I need to change to get out of this crazy cycle.” That you have much more power over and can, with God’s help, make those changes.

  30. Jeff on November 16, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    . . .Frankly, the stories on this BLOG of the belittling things men say to their spouses are obviously the work of individuals who have never tried to change themselves. Just give it a go. Pick one thing you wish were different about yourself and try to change it. Consistently change it in a sustainable way. If you are honest you will say: Wow, I can’t even change this about myself and I am going to berate my spouse? No way. Make a list —and it will be BIG— of our own faults and talk about them one-by-one w/Jesus. . . .TOUGH on myself, tender on spouse. . . . . Obviously, if you don’t have a good-willed/teachable/kind/grateful spouse committed to the Lord you need to get away from them. . . . I never fully realized what a HUGE/ HORRIBLE price people were paying for poor marriages. Who needs Satan when you have men and sometimes women like this. . . . I guess we can never see past the choices we don’t understand. . . . And it does matter what the Bible “says” but the Bible says lots of things about the exact same subjects. . . . I read the N.T. in the Greek apparatus editions that list all the variants for verses from the oldest manuscripts. The Greek gets you above all THE SPIN of the English translations/words and the textual variants show you how complex it really is. At times, I look at what I am reading about women (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, et. al., et. al.) and think to myself: “Wow, it’s like the bible was written by a bunch of misogynistic, xenophobic, men instead of our all-loving, all-moral God.” If I said that to my accountability group at church and really detailed why, they would send me packing. They encourage you to be only so real. That’s why people are hiding things. . . .Yes, we need lots of that first “C” –commitment to really being honest. —Yeah, real, serious honesty –And yes, honesty like that is embarrassing (absolutely) —but hopefully God rewards it? Being HARD CORE honest (while still being kind, gentle and caring) automatically humbles you because you “KNOW” a whole lot less when you are honest. Pastors would have much less to say if they were seriously honest about what we really, really know. . . . For example, woman’s subordination looks totally contradicted by woman’s equality. It is not logically possible for woman to be essentially equal to man, yet universally subordinate to man on the basis of an essential attribute (i.e., femaleness). And it won’t do to insist that even if it’s not logical it must be true because the Bible says so. Not even God can make a logical contradiction true –otherwise what does anything even mean? –And if it can’t be true, then it can’t be biblical. —Otherwise, we are just playing a game of ego with no real intimacy. We learn to read the Bible through a screen of reinterpretations and rationalizations that in effect make the Bible into a ventriloquist dummy for our inherited theologies. But the Bible is a complex book, its full of puzzles and mysteries and just because I think it shouldn’t be doesn’t change that (It’s the same as not getting all 52 cards in the deck). Scholars know we are missing all manner of cards from that deck. It does not give easy answers on many things just because I so wish it would. If we insist that it be so, we just wind up accepting somebody else’s rationalizations clothed with divine authority. If you really love God’s Word you have to accept it for what it really is warts and all (just like your spouse). —And this is why it is okay to divorce a narcissistic person. —Man, that was hard to say. My mind screams: No, no. Divorce is only allowed for adultery and then NO remarriage, ever. We have to have rules or the whole thing will unravel! But as Jesus said: Luke 12:57 “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right? —You mean we have to actually to think for ourselves? Are you kidding me, I need certainty. You can claim certainty but just like on divorce and remarriage, we don’t have it. We have more variants than words in the N.T. and in many places –if we are honest—we will probably never know what it says/means. We have to live with ambiguity and trust Jesus/Holy Spirit to lead us: If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thy heart that God hath probably raised him from the dead, thou shalt most likely be saved. . . .Now, that’s the first “C” –commitment to really being honest –straight up.

  31. Hope on November 16, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Yes, I myself have been freed from the incorrect thinking that occurs when living with someone who has personality disorder of some or every type, for six months now. I feel free, there are many amazing freeing affects to a change of thinking. God has never put his own in this type of bondage, we have always gotten there ourselves and it will only take ourselves to be loosed. I asked God to please stop this terrible cycle without knowing what it was, I only knew how grievous it was to God and all involved and it hasn’t ended but I have released it to my husband where it belongs and am not at all responsible for his part. Did anyone mention how these types of people never own anyone’s faults or emotions even if they’ve caused a particular situation, but they will always expect someone else to take on their faults or emotions to things that belong solely to them. Does that make sense. No, none of it does and when we stop trying to rationalize the irrational there is peace. You will never change the way someone thinks, be renewed by God and Live.

  32. Sharon on November 16, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Very well said, Hope!

  33. Sissy on November 17, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    I have so many questions and no one else to talk to, so I hope it’s ok to ask on here. I have only recently found out about a Narcissistic person and am starting to think this is why my husband acts the way he does. I have been married for 30 years. We married young and I guess had no clue as to what marriage was all about although at that age we thought we knew everything. He began to act differently towards me when we married, I became the object to his criticism. He began telling me I wasn’t built good enough, he wanted me to dye my hair, get a tan and many other things to improve how I looked. I of course tried hard for many years to do all those things he wanted, but he still wasn’t really happy. As the years went by he became more involved in church and really seemed different. We started having children and he became a minister and associate pastor. Life was better for several years, then he was treated very badly by a couple of his pastor friends. I must say he tried to handle the situation in a right way and I was very proud of him. Then he had some problems with his family that caused him pain and he started to go back to his old ways of how he talked to me. I became the one to blame for how unhappy he was. Now for the last few years he has become someone I don’t know. I still love him very much, but I don’t know how to deal with him. He has stood and screamed at me how I have ruined his life, how he has never been happy with me, that he knew he made a mistake when he married me, and the list goes on and on. He is constantly finding fault with how I look. He is forever pointing out every flaw(such as a small mole, my hair is starting to get some grey, etc.) I, according to him, have never done anything to contribute to our marriage. I have tried from the beginning to be a Godly wife and do what I thought and what I was taught I should be, but it has never been enough. He even mocks me now about “the proverbs woman” he just makes fun of me. I try to talk to him about what the Bible says and he just tells me to shut up that I make him sick when I try to tell him about the Bible. He told me a few years back that he would never listen to anything I said and that if he knew I was telling him right he would do the opposite just because I was the one telling him something. So of course over the years I really haven’t had many things my way or what I wanted. He works and I have always been at stay at home mom, so he controls the finances. He says that he is not going to go work then come home and hand over his paycheck, so I get the grocery money every week and he handles the rest. Like I said, we have children in the home and this is really affecting them. They love their dad, but they at times do not like him. He seems to demand respect, but he doesn’t act in a respectful way. Now that we are getting older he isn’t handling it very well. He has now become obsessed with trying to gain back muscle tone like he had in his 20’s. He has set up a small gym in our basement and has started listening to the music he listened to in his teens. (which by the way he had taught our kids to not listen to , because of the pull it had on him when he was young). He gets mad at me because I don’t want to work out with him and as he puts it,” get into shape”. I am so emotionally, physically(I have health issues that make it hard for me to get around and do a lot of physical activity), and spiritually exhausted. I had read about putting up boundaries and consequences. So when he started telling me how much he despised me and how he hated to even look at me, but then the next moment think I was supposed to be a loving wife, I just couldn’t take it anymore and moved out of the bedroom. ( I still take care of everything at home and try to be nice to him and talk to him), but this hasn’t helped him to see how his words and actions have hurt me, all he says is if he strays and finds someone else it will be my fault for not being what I should be. Can someone please help me with knowing is this a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or just someone with a bad attitude? Also, if this is NPD what do I do, I can’t take this forever. He seems to be getting worse with age and all of his anger is toward me. He seems wonderful to others. People who only know him from work or church think he is great. Sorry this is long I just need some answers, one last thing, I have tried for several years to get him to agree to go for counseling and he refuses, and I really don’t want to talk to anyone around where we live about him, because he is well known here and I don’t want to bring any bad light on him. I really do care for him and love him as a person, but just don’t know how to deal with him as a husband. The one who is suppose to love me and protect me.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Sissy, no one can diagnose him from just what you say but obviously something is wrong with him and sadly you can’t fix it. So whether it was NPD or bad attitude, it is still his problem to address and work on. However, his problem is causing you problems of being emotionally distraught and physically affected. My question is what do you need to do about your problem? How are you going to be a better steward of YOU so that you do not allow yourself to be blamed, accused, and beat on day after day? Does God care more about the sanctity of marriage than your personal sanity and safety? And if he’s so miserable, why doesn’t he leave? Have you thought of that?

      • Sissy on November 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

        Leslie, thank you for answering. You ask why he doesn’t leave if he is so miserable, well he gives many reasons at different times. Some day’s it’s because he wants to make things work, sometimes it’s because this is his house and he’s not leaving, then again he will say that if he leaves it will look bad on him and then I would be granted the house and he will not let me have that. His moods and answers vary daily. Life is like living on a roller coaster, many ups and downs, twists and turns. I will say that his father also treats his mother in the same manner and so do some of his male family members treat their spouses the same way. He will have days where he will say he’s sorry and ask me how on earth do I live with him. He will be sort of kind for a day or two and then he expects me to go back to being “the perfect submissive wife” and when I don’t do everything he wants me to, he’s back at being angry. I’ve told him ,that after the things he’s said and done for 30 years, if he wants to make our marriage work, then he needs to work on being a friend to me and help me to learn to trust him again. This just makes him more angry. Am I wrong in asking him to take things slow on getting a husband – wife relationship back? I have just been so humiliated, put down, lied to and basically left with feeling used and thrown down for way too many years. When a husband speaks to his wife in ways that make her feel unloved, unattractive, stupid and afraid, how does he expect her to be the loving wife of his dreams? Just doesn’t make sense. Anyway, he will use the verse about a wife is not to withhold from her husband and thinks that makes him right, but I now come back with, ” that happens when a husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church”. That makes his very angry. As I said before, I do love him (the person) very much, and would love to make our marriage work, I just don’t know how. I try to treat him with kindness and respect when he is being unkind, sometimes I fail at this because I get so angry myself. I pray for him all the time and want his eyes opened up for him to see all that he is missing out on in life and with his family. Every day that passes is a day he will never get back and a chance to love and laugh that are gone. I feel so sorry for him that he can’t see all the blessings he has been giving in his life. Even though I have lived with this situation for 30 years, I still feel I am very blessed. I have amazing children and a very loving family(on my side) and I love my mother in law very much(sweet lady) I try to look at all the small blessings of everyday, the flowers that bloom, the birds that sings, the laughter of my children, the smile of a friend. I just pray he would see those same blessings, but he seems to feel cheated, that he has not received all that he wants in life. He fits the bill of someone who thinks they should have been born a millionaire with all the perks that go along with it. He seems angry that he doesn’t have everything handed to him and instead he has to work. I wish he would go to counseling and maybe someone could help him to see he really is blessed and that we could have a great life ahead of us, but he has refused any kind of outside help, he said one time that he wasn’t going to go let no one tell him how bad he was. Everyone please pray for him, because he is miserable and I would love to see him genuinely happy.

        • Valerie on November 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm

          Someone once wisely said that if these abusers worked at their job the way they worked at the marriage they would be fired. Why, oh why do we have more strict and enforced expectations within a job than we do for marriages? Never mind that John just stole money from the register…we all struggle with sin. Never mind that Cindy just lost our two top clients because she swore at them, after all she brings such great brownies on Thursdays! Never mind that whenever I walk past Bruce’s office he is always texting with this feet up on his desk, he came from a rough childhood. Its nonsense.

          I am so encouraged by your faith that has held you. You speak of gratefulness despite your circumstances. This is God’s grace and mercy in your life and I praise Him for it!

          Sissy, it sounds like you and your husband have different goals. Has there been any consistent, unprompted behavior that tells you he desires unity in the marriage? It sounds like your husband is generally cantankerous when you ask him for anything that would not benefit him (as he sees it). You talk about what you see your husband missing out on and rightly so. The light bulb moment came for me when I realized my husband’s goal was never for unity in the marriage. He never had a goal to be close to me. He never had a goal to sow seeds of righteousness and goodness that would reap the same. I desired closeness, unity and peace and it never occurred to me that he wouldn’t want the same. After reading about the mindset of abusive men it finally registered that as bizarre as it seemed, he never wanted any of those things. The light bulb that turned on in me after this realization could have been seen 4 states away because now…finally now…the confusion made sense. The fact that he never wanted any of those things explained perfectly all of his behavior since we met. The confusion arose in me when I believed his words about his goals, but his actions never matched his words.

          If your husband is grabbing the garlic and tomatoes along with the slow cooker and insists he’s making pancakes, sometimes it is best to pretend you are hard of hearing and just watch what he’s doing to know what his goal is. What does it matter what he says he’s making if in the end you will never, ever have a pancake from the ingredients he’s choosing?

        • Leslie Vernick on November 20, 2014 at 8:31 pm

          He’s miserable because he’s immature and unwilling to take a good hard look at himself to make any real changes. When he gets glimpses of the man he is he feels bad and acts sorry but then expects you to fall all over that crumb of an apology and when you don’t he’s angry all over again. Sadly he had very poor male role models in which to learn how to be a good man or a good husband and it sounds like the women in your husband’s life have learned to tolerate mistreatment pretty well. I’m glad you are starting to speak up and say things like, “I would love to have a great a relationship with you sexually or otherwise but it’s impossible with the way you treat me. Until you change that, I don’t see how you can expect me to feel warm and affectionate feelings towards something who is intentionally harsh, angry and cruel all the time. Even a dog wouldn’t want you to pet him if you treated him like you treat me. He’s be a afraid of you.”

          • Sissy on February 23, 2015 at 12:05 pm

            I want to thank all of you who post words of encouragement, I read them over and over. I so understand the others who talk about being confused when living with someone who can be kind one minute and then in a moment be someone you don’t know. I have tried everything I know to do : trying to be good enough, crying, begging, pleading and now in home separation. The last step hasn’t worked so far,( it’s been almost a year). I have tried to explain that I just couldn’t take the abuse any longer(verbal and emotional). This has just made him angrier! He still doesn’t even speak to me in a nice way. If he ask a question to just anyone in the house and I answer, a lot of the time he will tell me to shut up he wasn’t talking to me. When he walks by me in the house he will stop and just give me that “you disgust me” look and then will walk on. I keep trying to talk to him and tell him how much this treatment of me hurts and how can he expect me to be able to be the wife he wants if he isn’t willing to change how he treats me. All he will say is that I’m the one who moved from the bedroom and it’s up to me to make things right. He says he knows he’s not treated me right, but that it is my fault he keeps on being the way he is for not moving back to the bedroom. I just can’t do that anymore, I can’t allow myself to be mistreated, not valued as a human being and then let that person use me for their own selfishness. Is it wrong for a wife to move out of the bedroom because of the meanness of her husband? He has told me that things will not get anybetter until I go back to being the wife I’m suppose to be. I feel so confused as to what to do next. I know this isn’t a good situation, but it is so hard to accept that the man you promised to love until death do you part, is the one who is hurting you so badly. I still love my husband, but I’m starting to think that it is the love of Christ that I feel toward him at this point, because he has destroyed the wifely love in me. If he were to change, is it possible to regain that kind of love again or is it gone once you have been treated this way for almost 30 years? I know a lot of people think you should leave at this point, but like I said, I do still love him and want him to be happy. I worry about what will happen to him if the kids and I weren’t in his life. He has said on more than one occasion that he sometimes wishes his life was over, that he hates his life. He has told me that even as a kid he can’t remember liking his life. I guess in some way I think that if we are here he will be ok and if we are gone he might do something terrible. He controls all the finances(he always has) so I don’t have any money to do anything on. So if I leave and make him pay for child support , he would probably lose everything he has, and right now I just can’t do that to him. I know I can’t go on like this forever, it is starting to effect my health. I stay depressed and sad, and have some health issues that it is effecting. How do you know when it is time to stop trying? I am really struggling with this, because I just have a hard time believing my husband is not going to change and be the man I know he can be. (I can’t remember if I shared this or not, but my husband use to be a pastor). Thanks for letting me ramble on and put a voice to how I feel. Hope it has made some sense, this little box is hard to write in. 🙂 Blessings



        • Liz on November 22, 2014 at 6:40 am

          Liz, sounds like you are married to my husband. I have finally separated and yesterday he had to move out. He is miserable and I think what Leslie said is true, he is immature and unwilling to look at himself. I’m hoping with me out of the picture for now, he will have to look at himself. One minute he says he will never get back together with me after what I did to him, I took him to court, but the judge said he had to leave and give me support. Then he took some things I wanted and said it doesn’t matter because when we get back together he’ll bring them back. Time will tell if he is willing to change but the week before he left was unbearable. I stayed at a friend’s house and he wanted to know why? He still doesn’t get it.

  34. Confused on November 18, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    I was reading this post and also felt like it described my husband…but he has never been unfaithful, nor does he look at porn, he never lies about our finances…so perhaps my situation is not that bad? I am so confused…I have been suffering a terrible bout of anxiety and depression the past few months and recently came to the conclusion with my counselor that this is abusive and could be contributing to my anxiety and depression…most people on the outside think he is a perfect husband..he is but there is other side to him that no one knows…

    • Valerie on November 20, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Confused, I second everything Brenda said.

      Go to a shoe site and type in “boots”. Got a picture in your mind of what you’re looking for? All of these show up in results: cowboy boots, booties, thigh high, ankle boot, motorcycle boots…They all have the same basic structure but they all look a little different.

    • Liz on November 23, 2014 at 1:34 am

      Confused, if you are anxious and depressed it is that bad. My husband has not been unfaithful, used porn as far as I know, and lets me take care of the finances but he needs power and control over me. When I don’t act like his fantasy wife should, he blames, calls names, puts down, threatens, and gets extremely angry. He has never understood how that effects me and basically says I deserve it, so we are separated. Still waiting for God to work on his heart but now I can have some peace while he does.

      • Leslie Vernick on November 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm

        Glad you’re in a more peaceful place.

  35. Brenda on November 19, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Confused,
    I have found that when we start saying, “maybe my situation is not that bad”, we really need to take a deeper look at what is really going on. Just because there is no adultery or financial abuse doesn’t mean there are not mental, sexual, emotional, spiritual or other abuses taking place. Abusers tend to be able to hide their at home personality from their public one. Jeckyl and Hyde. I don’t know your situation, but it is worth really considering and making sure that your depression and anxiety don’t have an at home stimuli.

  36. Debbie price on November 20, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Thank you for this onsite. I to live with a narcissist. Not easy.

  37. Sharon on November 21, 2014 at 11:29 am

    You sound like me, confused. I would go through this stuff of thinking that his good out weighs his bad, or his bad up bring has damaged him so much, etc… Then I started reading about how many other women are in this horrible existence . I lseparated from my husband 2 months ago, and every day I feel a lstronger and happier!

    • Robin on November 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

      I believe separating, will reveal the true reality of your marriage relationship. Staying together is just survival, doing what we feel we must. But a time apart will bring out truth. Is this relationship worth saving– or is this relationship absolutely miserable and destructive, and I need to quit holding it together . Clarity is what one needs!!

    • Confused on November 21, 2014 at 2:23 pm

      Thank you ladies for all of your responses- I still keep going back and forth – feeling clear one moment and then utterly confused and crazy the next- Sharon-what you said resonates with me- for the past 10 years I have been trying to focus on his good qualities–thinking if he has some of these qualities he shouldn’t feel like a bad man to me…but the reality is is that he does. please pray for strength for me-. My husband just injured himself playing football and had major surgery on his achilles tendon. He is home on bed rest and will be home a lot more now during recovery-…and I have to take care of him. All while I am going through this terrible confusing, anxious and depressed state ! I used to get relief at least since he is gone most of the day and works long hours- now he will be home .

  38. Sharon on November 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Confused, once again, I can totally relate. My husband had a very serious heart problem, then seriously injured in a motor cycle accident. There always seemed like “something” would delay my leaving & I would stay depresses. It’s funny, after leaving, I get so happy about all the crap I don’t have to put up with!

  39. Brenda on November 21, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Sharon,
    Me too. I have my down moments, but then the X will text or drop in unannounced and I feel so much better about all of the time that I spend without his abuses. He doesn’t seem to get that I am never going back, even though I have said it, written it, emailed, texted. I would pray that he found someone new, but I wouldn’t want to curse that poor woman.

  40. Confused on November 25, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I had another argument with my husband this weekend. I ended up crying at the end because I was so confused again…I brought out counseling and he made it clear that it is not happening. I feel like I am living a lie- he acknowledges he has anger and control issues but puts it off as “his personality” so it is not something he needs help with…He pointed out again how I am unloving and inconsiderate and that I he emotionally detaches from me because of it. We never deal with real issues and if we do it seems to be on such a superficial level and he won’t go deeper with me. After crying at the end I told him I felt utterly confused and crazy.. That’s when he brought my anxiety and depression and asked me when the last time I saw my psychiatrist– so then I am thinking again- right I am anxious and depressed so I must be crazy! I know that anxiety and depression make me 10 times more emotional than usual- so maybe it is just that? I just don’t know if I can heal from this…..I feel so scared and hopeless

  41. Brenda on November 25, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    Confused,
    Did you have these anxiety and depression problems prior to being married. If so, were they as severe? Did you feel crazy before the argument or only after? There is always hope in Jesus Christ. You are not hopeless.

    • Confused on November 25, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      I believe I was always a bit of a worrier and suffered from mild depression in my adolescence but nothing this severe. My severe episodes began after we got married. This my 3rd episode thus far- each time in the past I went to therapy and went on AD.. but never discussed anything in my marriage even though I felt something was wrong- I thought that it was a betrayal of my husband..this time around, my 3rd episode- it just was not lifting. I finally opened up to my counselor about my marriage and that is when I slowly started to see…..

  42. Brenda on November 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Confused,
    I pray that you will continue to let out the issues of your marriage and that you will gain strength and wisdom through Christ our Lord. He is the only true Healer.

  43. Brenda on November 25, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Oh, and Confused. We have all been taught that talking to someone else about our marriages is a betrayal. IT ISN’T. It is confirming what you already know to be true and need help.

  44. Shellys on November 26, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Dear confused, Your husband’s attitude is so very typical, and reminds me of my own situation. I too was mildly depressed as a teenager and young woman. It was manageable, however. I now see that negative thought patterns and low self esteem from ongoing anxiety and depression made me a perfect candidate for an emotionally abusive spouse. I’ve heard it said that people who are relationally “teflon” (nothing sticks) are drawn to those who are relationally “velcro” (will accept responsibility for everything). Your depression and anxiety have been exacerbated by your husband’s treatment. You are not crazy. You have simply been subjected to crazy-making behavior for many years. It makes me sad and angry to hear that he is suggesting that you see a psychiatrist! How cruel. How typical! He wants you to accept all the blame for everything that is going on. My husband also used to say that my behavior and attitude caused him to withdraw. It took years for me to recognize that his withdrawal always came first. Our pattern then was – he would “disappear” emotionally, I would go looking for him, and seeking closeness, he would continue to deny the distance, I would escalate my demands, precipitating a fight, and then I would be blamed for his behavior. You need some distance from this toxic environment in order to get a fresh perspective. I have been separated from my spouse for two years, and I see more clearly all the time. Have you tried journalling your conversations/arguments? It might help to give you clarity. When it’s down on paper, you can sometimes see where the conversation went south. I finally started to recognize my husband’s manipulations. I would see where a conversation had been sidetracked and it gave me clarity. Eventually I could see that there was nothing I could possibly do to make the relationship more functional, because my husband did not want a functional relationship.

  45. Kim on December 29, 2014 at 10:39 am

    I believe that I live with a husband who is BPD. Similar to NPD, but not nearly as self-confident. His rages and attitudes toward others stem from a deep lack of any self-worth and a need to protect that fragile nothing by shifting blame and attacking others. We’ve been married for 24 years, have adult children and young ones living at home, and they all see it now. I personally am not an empathetic person; in fact, my h and I are somewhat role-reversed: he’s the emotional one that is perceptive and empathetic, I’m the analytical, engineering one who doesn’t like dealing with emotions. So I’m having to be very careful with boundaries, making sure that it’s NOT me causing the problem by my lack of care. Over the years, I’ve reacted by becoming indifferent to his pain, which certainly doesn’t help him at all.

    When I’ve suggested counseling, his response is that if I would just submit to him, repent of my pride and arrogance, let him be the leader, all our problems would be resolved. I think that’s a red flag, that he would be eager for wise spiritual help if he truly wanted change in our marriage. But I think he’s afraid to face the truth, to own his part of the problems, to admit that he is flawed.

    He has challenged my boundaries by saying that since I went to counseling, I’ve become more rebellious and defiant. That’s because now when he starts to rant, I leave, telling him that I’ll come back when we’re both calmed down. The last couple times, he wouldn’t let me leave but shoved me back into the room. So that’s a little scary. I’ve told him that I’m afraid of him (both physically and emotionally), and he has mocked me.

    I’m reading through Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and I don’t want to act prematurely. But things are coming to a head and I’m afraid of what may come.

    • Leslie Vernick on December 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

      You’re correct in having boundaries and safety is crucial here. Borderline PD are terrified of abandonment and your lack of empathy may actually escalate his emotional instability. What you can try is, “I know you’re very upset right now and I want to listen to you but I can’t when I’m scared. Or when you’re yelling at me. When you calm down I’d be happy to hear what you have to say.”

  46. Brenda on January 3, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I have found that most people think that setting boundaries and consequences in marriage is unbiblical and will say it is retaliatory no matter how we sound. It is right up there with not saying anything negative about your husband to anyone. There is no empathy or compassion, only get the victim to repent.

    • Robin on January 3, 2015 at 12:30 pm

      How true Brenda!! I wish I could have seen this sooner as he deceived me for years leaving me always feeling so guilty when I would try to find someone to help us. He would always say I was not loyal because I was speaking untruths and damaging our relationship. The minute I started setting boundaries for my own protection he was done with me. Our marriage went downhill fast when he realized I was starting to move in a healthy manner, and no longer would tolerate behaviors that were damaging me.

  47. Lynn on January 10, 2015 at 9:08 am

    I stayed for 27 long years. I was taught that the only biblical divorce was adultery. I met my preacher’s son husband at a Christian college where we dated for 2 1/2 years with no sign of a temper. The first month we were married he smashed a chair until it broke into pieces, he stood on the bed screaming and ripped his t shirt in half. He would be ok later & pretend nothing ever happened. This escalated over the years to being told I had s#\+ for brains and many other demeaning comments. I was shoved up against walls, shoved to the ground, pushed out of a recliner & pinned to the floor with him squeezing my arms to tight that they were left black & blue. We went to counseling about every five years. He would change his behavior for a while but his heart never changed. He promised to never hurt me again physically after 15 years but then it was my boys that he shoved around & pinned to the wall. I would tell him I couldn’t live in it, we would go to counseling, he would change for a while but it would start all over again. Two years ago after raging at our son he screamed for me to leave, saying he would help me pack & to take our boys with me. I left and asked him for a six month separation & counseling. I was still hoping that we could be the family that healed & was restored. He begged me to come back but I told him we had to get help that none of us felt safe. He told me he would do anything to regain my trust & restore the marriage but after five counseling sessions and seven weeks he filed for divorce. For the 27 years I stayed I truly believed that somewhere deep inside he loved us and that one day we would get the help he needed. I wish I would set the boundaries many years ago. My boys & I all struggle with anxiety from years of walking on eggshells. I didn’t want to be a divorced broken family, but we were a broken family anyway. Divorce is very hard, it means letting go of your dreams and facing the reality of what your life tuned out to be but staying in a destructive marriage isn’t the answer either.

    • Jeff on January 11, 2015 at 7:34 am

      Lynn,
      . . . . It is entirely biblical for a wife to leave or otherwise refuse to submit to abuse (against you/your boys) both physical and emotional. —Also, not allowing this abusive rage to run unchecked is BEST for your husband, even if it means divorce. (–Oh, I hate even saying that word and it is very obvious you hate it too). But, it sounds like you have a huge, well-defined, statistically significant data set of unchecked, rage/ violent episodes.

      . . . Wives are to do good to their husbands (Proverbs 31:12), and one of the best ways wives of abusive husbands can do this good is by challenging the abusive behavior through leaving (fleeing), filing assault charges, filing multiple lawsuits in multiple courts and last, because they do so little (resource constraints, et. al.), contacting church “authorities.”

      . . . . Real accountability and seriously PAINFUL consequences change abusive behavior. You refusing to submit to abuse (physical, verbal, emotional, financial, social, sexual, spiritual, et. al.) and instead taking action to NOT allow it to continue is good for your husband and your boys because this is one of the BEST ways to break through his distorted thinking and it stimulates repentance (–That is what we are ALL seriously praying for!!!). . . . . . . Also, it decreases the temporal and eternal consequences which accrue the longer your husband abuses you and your boys (Hell is payment for sin. . . . More sin, more payment. . . . This applies to our criminal/ tort system too.) —Not to mention the cardiac stress and hypertension when rage is experienced on a regular basis and psycho-pathological for both of you and your boys.

      . . . . . .You know what??? My friends who are PhD/MD researchers into these disorders tell me the most brutal aspects of a husband’s personality are often the VERY chinch in his armor. Always keep praying and try creative strategies if you are safe to do so (response disruption, relaxation techniques, problem solving skills, et. al.) It’s okay to experiment (controlled experiments) with your husband with Jesus as advisor. . . . . . BUT as you surely know –in your flesh, there is NO route out of that maze. The maze shifts as you move through it, because your husband is alive (constantly re-strategizing: RE: He promised to never hurt me again physically after 15 years) even while he is possibly dead spiritually. The only answer is Jesus –He is the veteran of a trillion physic wars and husbands/wives horrific/ hurtful words and mind games. Rage is one end of the spectrum of anger, and annoyance is the other side of the distribution.

      . . . So tap into Jesus because the more REAL you get with Jesus, the more UNreal everything you are worried about gets. . . . So many husbands/wives seriously lose their way –and the way WE act can bring them back (Lord willing). I know, I know. . . . soooo easy to just say things when every fiber of your being doesn’t want broken dreams (divorce) and screams dirty-for-dirty —I get it. –And yet, Jesus wants to see just how badly you really want to know Him. His way is just RIDICULOUS —almost always. It is totally opposite of how we would approach it (As I’m sure you know). –And that’s where you will find Jesus –out there in the desert of the UNreal. —That holy desolation where only the TRUTH survives, out past all the epistemology of church propaganda. That place where everything NOT (really, really) REAL is blown to bits by the solar storm of TRUTH.

      . . . . When I wrote this on the plane (because I upload them later –at least I try to), I knew, I just knew in my heart you had already really, really, really tried. Oh, how I prayed for you because I knew that. The whole time I was writing I was thinking —Lord, God, this women’s husband is making a fool out of her and you know it Lord. . . . There’s a voice in the wind that calls YOUR name, if YOU listen, you’ll never be the same, John 3:8. (–And I get that you are already doing that but we can always go deeper with the Lord.)

      . . .You can walk hand-and-hand with Jesus in the FRIGID freedom of really surrendering to Christ (–and it is almost impossible to do, maybe actually impossible –and it sure looks at times like the foolish path). —Or, you can stay on those shadowy Elm streets where you let your insecurities cut you to gummy ribbons. . . . .What kind of a husband wants his precious wife/ boys walking on eggshells??? We don’t walk on eggshells around Jesus.

      RE: “. . . . I was taught that the only biblical divorce was adultery.” . . . . You were not taught that by independent biblical scholars, who utilize international peer review, work with the actual extant documents of the New Testament and truly report only to the Lord Jesus. . .RE: Dr. Susan Barnett, Advanced PhD seminar in New Testament Greek, Oxford; Dr. Margaret Barker, Systematic Theology, Cambridge (I could list hundreds, just hundreds). . . .I bet whoever taught you that the only biblical divorce was adultery has never had a 1st or even 2nd century extant manuscript of the Word of God in their hands —ever. . . . .What I have found is that we claim certainty where we have NONE and just like on so many other topics, we just don’t know for sure. The reason that we don’t know involves lots of dissertations on textual variants/ interpolations/ redactions/ textual alterations/ additions, et. al. That’s where the Bible’s manuscript evidence has been demonstrated. The last 275 years of textual research has taught us that the recovery of original sayings of Jesus is. . . . . well, —well, it is just too much to summarize (you can start here at no cost to yourself) The living text of the gospels (Dr. David Parker) see CHAPTER 5 The SAYINGS on MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE. . . every textual variant is explained in those chapters https://archive.org/details/D.c.Parker-TheTextOfTheLivingGospels —That’s almost 2,000 years’ worth but we have even more variants on those verses because of manuscript finds in the last ten years. . . . The Bible is a complex book, it’s full of serious puzzles and mysteries (–Oh how I wish it wasn’t.) Everyone (including me) craves certainty.

      RE: “. . . .This escalated over the years to being told I had s#\+ for brains and many other demeaning comments.” . . . . .If you are truly the Lords, then you are a champion eternal. –A daughter of the Living Light. —A person of the highest caliber. . . . There’s a voice in the wind that calls YOUR name, if YOU listen, you’ll never be the same, John 3:8, Matthew 7:7-8, Psalms 86:7. . . . Think on the things that will bring you peace: Proverbs 23:7, 1 Peter 1:13, Philippians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 10:5.

      • Jeff on January 11, 2015 at 6:18 pm

        “after five counseling sessions and seven weeks he filed for divorce.”

        Lynn,
        . . . . I apologize. I just realized your husband already filed for divorce. On a mobile tablet it’s hard to know what is starting and what is ending. The site isn’t optimized for frame-relay mobile (–no fault of the site). . . . . It reminds me of our extant Bible manuscripts: no word separations, no paragraph separations, no titles, no dates, no signatures, et. al.

        . . . .I believe the key to improvement lies in the entire faith community doing a better job of holding men accountable for violent behavior. . . ALL of us. It helps to remember God hates abuse and abusers (Palms 11:5; Proverbs 6:16-19; Ezek 9:9-10) and has overwhelming serious judgment on abusers (Is 10:1-2; Ezek 22:11, 21; Joel 3:19; Amos 4:1-3; Micah 2:1-2; 3:9-12; Matt 18:5-6). —Everybody wins if we can somehow get it right. . . . . Real accountability and seriously painful consequences change abusive behavior which is so much better than God getting ahold of them in the afterlife punishing them in an excessive way (infinite punishment for finite sins –see verses above.)

        • Leslie Vernick on January 11, 2015 at 6:32 pm

          I just wrote a blog this week for http://www.christiancounseling.com on Five Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart. This site is for Christian counselors and pastors to be educated on counseling issues. Hopefully it will be posted by tomorrow noon. The church has a terrible time holding people accountable, especially those who will not submit to authority (even if they pretend like they are).

          • Jeff on January 11, 2015 at 8:36 pm

            Excellent. Thank you so, so much. I will be sure to study/ read it. So many of your blogs/ articles have really blessed me. . . . Hopefully, I will not have all five to work on/ repent of. I know of that site and always read your articles there.

            . . . .Churches are weak on discipline but maybe, maybe if independent people got involved we could achieve a lower tolerance for such behavior coupled with various forms of monitoring control and costs for perpetrators. —I know not submitting to authority (but merely pretending) is a staple at many churches. It is definitely evil and wicked –but is it the human heart or Satan or a combination?

            . . . On the Focus on the Family program (last year) you said (correctly) that Satan is our real enemy and is obviously wrecking lives and marriages (—And I believe Satan is a real, living spirit being and that one of his greatest “achievements” is that he has gotten so many thinking he is not even there.) . . . . .But in the Bible, there are all kinds of these satanic/demonic entities: demiurges, archons, Satan, lesser demons, aeons. . . .But I don’t see a clear model for who is doing what, when, where, how? A well known pastor at a conference in October told me that in spite of their power and wicked agendas, these entities must ask permission when it comes to the life of the child of God, because God has placed a divine hedge of protection around His own. . . . . I have to tell you what you already know, if I said this kind of thing in a peer-review academic setting, I would be laughed off the stage. —That would be okay. It would allow me to practice humility but does a way exist that we can we talk about this without being seen as totally ridiculous? . . .And I get that the world is so messed up that if Jesus were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, hear what he had to say, and then make fun of it. . . But can we be specific enough about when it is Satan versus when it is human that it doesn’t sound like bad magic? . . . . I’m not ashamed to say to anyone that I need Jesus but the Bible gives us so little specifics about these satanic/demonic entities. I can’t tell an archon from a lesser demon or demiurge, or Satan vs. an aeon. . . . . Now, the wisdom of the cross, WOW, that’s easy to receive 1 Corinthians 1:21-25, Revelation 21:18. Without Him we can do nothing.



        • Lynn on January 11, 2015 at 11:08 pm

          Thank you for your encouragement! The night that my boys & I fled from him we went to our community group leader’s house. Two of the men went to him and confronted him about his behavior. They met with him & tried to counsel him but he cut them off when he wasn’t hearing what he wanted to hear. They were very supportive. His father who is an a Elder told me that counseling doesn’t help & that I should just go back to him. I was supposed to “accept” that we have different methods of disciplining. He chose to listen to him even though he was abused by his father as a child. Even though my close church friends have been supportive, I get frustrated that I have never heard a sermon/teaching from the preacher about abuse. Our church has a drama team & I wish they would act it out & bring it to life! It would make it real and then maybe they would better sympathize with those of us who have been through it. I sit in church, look around and wonder who is keeping it a secret and peace faking as Leslie puts it. I remember a Sunday when the teaching pastor asked what your passion is and what is a God calling you to do? My passion is to save other families from living the lie/life that we did. I’m just not sure where to start. I need the courage to approach the teaching pastors. I don’t want to be seen as seeking revenge so I hesitate. My motive is to help others not to hurt him. I know he has a personality disorder, he has a lot of BPD traits. Another reason I stayed……in sickness and in health. I don’t know if I ever would have left if he hadn’t told me to. I needed encouragement to go, I know there are others who need it too.

          • Michelle on June 7, 2021 at 12:44 am

            I found this thread and your words are meaningful to me. Would I would so like to talk to you more.



  48. Robin on January 10, 2015 at 3:24 pm

    Lynn, I think your last 2 sentences are critical that you believe them. You didn’t want to be a broken family– by divorcing- but the reality is everyone was broken . And then facing your dreams didn’t come true, and having to face the true reality . These are such hard things to work thru but as we do, we come to a true understanding we were in a destructive relationship/marriage and we needed to stop cooperating with it. Your story sounds so close to mine, almost exactly word for word. I’ve been out for a year this month and sometimes I think I should miss him, but I think it’s my dreams of how I wantef us to be, not the true reality of how we lived when we were together . How could we help you??

    • Lynn on January 10, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      Thanks Robin, I am healing, I know I have to be patient. I don’t know anyone else in my situation so it’s good to hear ftom others that understand. My goal is to educate teenage girls about abuse in hopes that they will stand against these behaviors and not make the mistakes that I did in living in it for so long. I am tired of the silence in the church about destructive behavior. It has to change.

      • Valerie on January 10, 2015 at 9:10 pm

        I, too, am tired and frustrated with the silence in the church. Just today I ran into some people from my old church (that I went to with stbx) and it appeared to me they were trying to ignore me. The man was on consistory with my husband. Our divorce is not final, my husband is living with another woman and even had the gall to take her to our church! A biblical response to me would be someone stopping him at the door. Yet he felt comfortable enough to flaunt his adultery to the church. So when these people seemed to want to ignore me it left me sickened on so many levels.

        I can already hear the excuses I know some (not here) will make…”I’m sure they just didn’t know what to say”. Well, to not side with the target of abuse is to side with the abuser. To not take a stand is to take the side of the abuser. I don’t see Jesus putting his hand on their shoulders saying it must be so hard for THEM. Instead I hear a rooster crowing. To not stand for the oppressed is to not stand for Christ. Rev 21:8 even lumps the cowardly in with the unbelievers with those who will inherit the lake of fire. This whole experience has taught me a lot about how I want…need…to be more bold myself in standing up for others.

  49. Robin on January 10, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Well said Valerie. It is s crime– the church’s silence. My counselor asked me many times how come the Pastor hasn’t confronted your abusive husband yet?? Good question. And Lynn, it does take patience, I agree. I hope for all of us, as we heal, God will send us back into the church to speak for the pppressed and the wounded. May it be so. And in the meantime – aren’t we grateful for this blog for support, encouragement and education . Thank you Jesus!!! Hope to heR from you ladies again!!!

    • Lynn on January 11, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      Yes! That is what I want to do, I Judy have to find the strength & courage.

      • Lynn on January 11, 2015 at 11:12 pm

        Just, not Judy! 🙂

  50. Robin on January 10, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    My spelling looks awful. I can spell– my fingers just type too fast!!!! Sorry!!

  51. Brenda on January 11, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Valerie,
    I have a friend who this very thing has happened to. They are not divorced but are legally separated. Folks from her former church have gone the other direction while she full well knows that they saw her. He is still teaching and a respected member while she is shunned. He is seeing other women while technically they are still married and that seems to be ok, but leaving abuse is not. These people are cowards. They do not stand up for what is noble in any of these situations. My friend left her church of her own accord so she wouldn’t see this man, but he is now in adultery and is fully accepted. I don’t get it.

    • Valerie on January 11, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      To acknowledge injustice or sin means one must respond to it. Thus even within the church there is the bystander effect. “Its not my business…who am I to judge” and other such statements are often said to avoid having to respond. This is exactly the response I got recently from an acquaintance when I told her about my stbx bringing this woman to church. She said, “We all sin so I could never say anything if I saw that kind of thing going on.” I tried to explain there is a difference between the kind of sin we are remorseful for and desire to change and those who couldn’t care less. Responding to sin is messy…uncomfortable. So its easier to justify and deny and look the other way. As I type this I realize this is even more true when the sin against someone else is actually blatant. It demands a response so the desire is even greater to not look the abused person in the face.
      “Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
      And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back. If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” Proverbs 24:11-12

      • Leslie Vernick on January 11, 2015 at 6:35 pm

        So true Valerie.

        • Leslie Vernick on January 11, 2015 at 6:47 pm

          Hey everyone. Heading to CUBA in the morning – 5:30 am. Would appreciate your prayers and I will be out of e-mail touch until Friday – no internet where I’m going.

          • Elizabeth on January 11, 2015 at 7:30 pm

            Praying for you, Leslie. Great ministry



      • Robin on January 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm

        I don’t understand why male leaders in the church quite often refuse to respond to abuse. I went thru about 5 churches with male Senior pastors who assumed I was making too big a deal of my husbands anger, and blowing things up. Even my last Pastor whom I loved and trusted, and who came to my house to pray with me the night before my husband was going to be served a protection order to get him out of the house…. Even that pastor knowing the truth, never felt a need to respond to my husbands destructive behaviors. He worked in the sound booth at church, and should have been asked to step down from his position, until he received and accepted the help and accountability he so needed. The pastors that would not give me any credibility, never visited my home and even asked me to leave their offices and talk to a woman. I wish I would have been healthier to know where to get help. This blog has been a lifeline for me, helping me to feel supported and believed– so I could heal……..Thank you all very much!!!

        • Valerie on January 11, 2015 at 7:52 pm

          I have wrestled with the question of this many, many times. How could my “Christian” friends remain silent? How could members of consistory not only look the other way but support him? How could leadership not hold another person in leadership accountable for filing for divorce for no biblical reason? How could it be that no one on consistory…or anyone else from my church for that matter…not contact me through this whole ordeal to support me or at least attempt to get information? One could say they just didn’t realize what was going on or how bad it was but that isn’t sufficient. Leadership was well aware that he filed and then didn’t even hold him accountable when he stopped coming to leadership meetings and even to church. The only logical conclusion can be that they either don’t care enough about God’s Word. They don’t desire sanctification or holiness, they are the lukewarm (at best) that are described in Revelation that will be spit out.

          John 14:21 “Whoever has my commands AND obeys them is the one who loves me.” This verse recently caught my attention in that it specifies both requirements to be one who loves God. Those who don’t love God don’t care enough to know what His commands even are. The love that the church commands us to give our abusive husbands is ironically the same love they refuse to extend to us as shown in their indifference.

          • Amy on January 12, 2015 at 12:03 am

            I too wondered how so many in the church I attended with ex years ago would mostly remained silent. Or the one thing they would say to me, “I don’t know what happened with you two and I don’t want to know…but God hates divorce and you should try to reconcile.” Telling someone who is struggling in their marriage that you don’t want to know anything is basically the same as saying I want to remain ignorant and not get involved.
            We have this thing among Christians where it’s a no-no to say anything negative about our spouse, and I do believe we should not be airing our dirty laundry for all to see, BUT when there is destruction and harm in a marriage and we turn to the very place which should help us we need to be able to share the harm our spouse may be causing his family. That is not the same thing as gossiping or badmouthing about our spouse.



  52. Elizabeth on January 11, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Hi Robin, Valerie and Brenda. I too am burdened that the church begin to address this tragic issue. I just read that the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) is now offering a new course in their counseling training. It is called Counseling Abusive Marriages taught by Darby Strickland. If you go on their website under “courses” you will read that Darby has 15 years experience and will be addressing the issue of emotional abuse as well as the physical issues. He also states that normal marriage counseling is not appropriate where there is abuse. To that I shout a huge HALLELUJAH!!! I am so encouraged to see this. I took my counseling training there and so wish I could take this course this spring but maybe next year. Things are happening and we have all been a part of it. Thank you again, Leslie for your clear loud voice for us all.

    • Leslie Vernick on January 11, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      Let’s pray for Darby that she is able to impact those who take her course. Its’ a step forward, even if an imperfect step forward.

  53. Brenda on January 11, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Elizabeth,
    I have been reading about this course by Ms Strickland as well on A Cry for Justice blog. I do believe that part of the reading material for the course is good, but am not convinced as to the motivation other than the fee and attempting to reconcile marriages that may not be reconcilable.. There is no input from those who have actually lived through abuse either currently or survivors.

    Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why does he do that” is on the reading list, but the others I am not familiar with. There were in my opinion better choices. They could direct interested parties to Leslie’s blog or ACFJ for free.

    This morning I was in a class facilitated by the Associate Pastor of the church. I made the comment that many pastors that write large amount of books eventually will step over the line in their teaching and pointed out John Piper and his permanence view of marriage no matter what the circumstances. I told him that JP has said in his own words that a woman should endure abuse for a season, whatever that means and that I had read testimonies from woman from JP’s former church that tell of him telling them that they need to go back to their abusive husbands or face excommunication for not being forgiving or submissive. His response, “I don’t know anything about that.” He turned away and appeared to have no thought of finding out if what I said was correct.

    Time will tell how Ms Darby’s course turns out or has impact, but I am not getting too excited about it at this point.

    Brenda

  54. Elizabeth on January 11, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Brenda, I am sorry to hear that. I had not checked out the reading but was hoping that Leslie’s book would have been on the list. She gave a class lecture in the Marriage and Family Course I took at CCEF so I was hoping they would include her in this one. I will make some more inquiries as I have opportunity. I had heard John Piper’s comments as well and was concerned too. I am thankful that we live before God and not people.

  55. Brenda on January 11, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Praying for you Leslie. I’ll be up when your flight leaves. I will pray then as well for a safe journey and productive time in Cuba

  56. Elizabeth on March 5, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Hi Sissy,
    If you drag the lower right corner of the box it will open up for you to write. Sissy, I am praying for you as you feel stuck in a very hard relationship. God will show you the way and open up doors for you as you build your CORE which Leslie describes in chapter 7 of her book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. What does God’s love for our husband’s look like? I learned that the natural consequences of his abusive words and actions were ways to love him. One of those consequences was to ask for a healthy emotional relationship before I could be sexually intimate. He chose not to do that. You are not wrong to set this boundary. Keep listening and sharing on this blog. It will help you.

  57. jacquelyn pidgeon on July 14, 2020 at 10:18 am

    I’ve been married to a misogynist for 36 years and his temper tantrums have pushed me out of love with him. Before we got married he was a sweet fun loving good man. He’s so different now and my situation is made even worse because I’ve had a stroke and and really do rely on him. But I find if I don’t let him know how much he’s annoying me it’s better there’s no talking to him there’s nobody more stubborn than him but I can still see the good in him although he completely different from the man I fell in love with it makes me feel better reading other women struggling with this he grew up with an abusive alchoholic

  58. R on September 18, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    I think I am married to her husband’s twin. I have been wondering the same thing. My husband is a tyrant when it comes to us but amazing to people outside our family. I don’t have a religious background, though I am very spiritual. My kids are agnostic. Luckily my kids are grown and I only have one teen left at home. Sometimes I feel like we are all alone in the universe with no foreseeable way out. 23 years ago the man I married was NOT the tyrant I wake up to these days. What is double hard is he doesn’t even seem to realize how mean his behavior is. When we point it out it is our fault. We made him…

  59. Kim on January 23, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    I literally put the phrase “how to live with a tyrant” in my searchbar and this post came up. I cried the whole time I read it because it mirrors my marriage and life. Thank you for sharing this! It has given me courage that was desperately needed. Please remember that you are not alone.

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