Morning friend,

Today (Wednesday, September 23), I am speaking at the American Association of Christian Counselors Conference. I appreciate your prayers. This afternoon I teach for three hours on Effective Counseling Strategies for the Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Tomorrow morning Chris Moles and I are doing a workshop together on Counseling The Destructive Person. Pray that our materials are well received and that Christian counselors, pastors, and church leaders who attend are open to learning how important it is to be wise in working with these individuals and couples.

For those of you who remember my live webinar with Chris Moles on “Can an Abuser Change?” I want give a shout out that Chris’ new book The Heart of Domestic Abuse is hot off the press. I just got my copy today and it’s a great help to the Biblically conservative pastor who needs to know how to work with an abusive man. To get a copy go to www.christianbooks.com

Today’s Question: “I'm not sure how to pose this as a question, exactly. I've come to the realization that I've bought an awful lot of relationship books – even Christian relationship books – that are basically about how to do what you need to do to make your relationship look like you want it to look.

And I've realized that ultimately, the focus is always about establishing my kingdom and not God's. Many of the things I want are good things and things the Bible says should be a part of marriage. But what if my spouse, for reasons I may never know or he may never overcome, is just broken in ways that most hit me at my own brokenness? How do I know when to grieve and accept that part of suffering in marriage may be God's will for me and when I'm asking too much or too little of my husband?

What does it mean, in a practical sense, to be comforted by God? How do I become satisfied in Him so that I can be more gracious (even, or especially, when I need to set a boundary) toward my husband?

Answer: Your question is one every married person needs to ask themselves because in every marriage, there are seasons of dryness, unhappiness, and discontent. It might be that our spouse isn’t hearing us well, doesn’t meet our needs in the way we’d like him/her to, or is deceitful, abusive, controlling, or unfaithful.

The hurt, disappointment and anger we feel can either motivate us to try harder to get what we want from our marriage, turn to another human being to satisfy us, become despairing and depressed, or that pain can turn us toward God to cling to him in a deeper way.

Interestingly, studies at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicate that the highest rates for depression for both men and women are among those who are separated and divorced as well as those with high conflict marriages, https://nygoodhealth.com.

So what is the answer?

The Bible clearly affirms the importance of fellowship and relationship (Romans 12:10). The two greatest commandments God gives us have to do with loving connection (Mark 12:29-31). We are to love him first and to love others deeply from the heart (1 Thessalonians 4:9, 10; 1 Peter 1:22).

Wanting good relationships and a loving marriage are godly desires. The challenge begins when we try to do just that but we don’t get the results we hoped for. How do we respond when we don’t get what we want?

Depression, anger, and anxiety result not only from relational distress (as the research has shown), but also from trying to make our human relationships give us something only God gives us. Having a good marriage can become an idolatrous desire when it becomes the centering desire of our heart and rules our life, not to mention our emotions.

The Bible tells us that it’s not only what we think that’s important, but what we love and what we love the most. The Scriptures often refer to these things as the desires of our heart. When these other desires rule us, then even good and godly desires like a great marriage become our functional gods, or our idols.

Many people say they love God the most, yet evidence shows lesser loves rule our life (2 Kings 17:40-41). We say God is enough but feel we need God plus more.

So, with that backdrop, let me answer your first question. How do I know when to grieve and accept that part of suffering in marriage may be God's will for me and when I'm asking too much or too little of my husband?

We will always grieve some things we don’t get in our marriage. No husband (or wife) has all 52 cards in a deck as I often tell my coaching clients.

If you want to succeed in marriage, you will need to learn to live with and love a real person, not your idealized version of him/her. (Tweet that)

So what is asking too much of a spouse? Is it asking too much of your husband to love you like you’d like? To be honest with you? To never watch pornography? To support you in the manner you’d like to live? To treat you with kindness and respect? To clean up after himself? To be able to fix the toilet and the sink when they have a leak?

Is it too much for a husband to ask his wife never to nag or criticize him? To keep her weight close to what she weighed on her wedding day? To want to have sex every time he desires? To make dinner regularly? To work outside the home to help with finances? To put him first before the children? To respect him, especially in front of others? To not read steamy romance novels or visit Internet chat rooms?

One can desire any and all of these things in marriage. The testing begins when you don’t get everything you want. What happens in you and to you? Do you demand what you want more forcefully? Try harder to get what you want? Become depressed? Have an affair? Watch pornography? Eat too much? Drink too much? File for divorce?

Or, do you run to God for wisdom, comfort, and practical help in how to handle these very real hurts and disappointments?

You asked in your question, “What does it mean, in a practical sense, to be comforted by God? How do I become satisfied in Him so that I can be more gracious (even, or especially, when I need to set a boundary) toward my husband?”

This is an excellent question, way too broad to adequately cover in this short blog. I talk about it in my books, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, but let me close with just a few thoughts.

The comfort of God comes when we believe what he tells us. He told the Israelites that the reason they failed to enter his Sabbath rest was due to unbelief (Hebrews 3:19, 4:1). Jesus reminds us that the hard work of faith is believing (John 6:28,29). Clinging to God in faith, trusting in his promises, his provisions, his presence, his protection, and his purposes gives us his peace. When we go our own way we forfeit that peace.

As we center ourselves in the love of God, we are no longer tossed about when our spouse fails us or disappoints us. Yes we hurt, but we have received from God the strength and courage to both forgive our spouse for his/her failings as well as set appropriate boundaries when he or she continues to be unrepentant and destructive to the marriage and to us.

With God as our center, we are equipped to love and be compassionate without being foolish and enabling because God shows us how to love in a way that is in the best interests of the other.

If you’re in that kind of situation right now, ask God, “what is in the best interests of my spouse?” Is it to keep quiet, pretend, and allow sin to continue? Or, Is it best give the gift of consequences so that by experiencing the pain of one’s own sinful choices, one is more likely to wake up to the destructiveness of his or her own sin?

Friend, how have you learned to put your marriage or even your desire for a good marriage in it’s proper place?

149 Comments

  1. Betsy on September 23, 2015 at 7:10 am

    Leslie

    Keeping you in prayer as you bless other professionals with your knowledge, insight, and grace. Sounds like an awesome two days of teaching. Wish I was there.

    Betsy

  2. Maria on September 23, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Leslie thank you putting the time and effort to write this post even when you are very busy. I am praying for you

  3. Grace on September 23, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Praying for you Leslie and Chris, and for all those who will hear your teaching. Thank you so much for your faithfulness to Gods call and all you do for so many.

  4. Greta on September 23, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Thank you for this post. Great insight! Praying for you and Chris today and tomorrow.

  5. Carol on September 23, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Leslie

    Thank you for all the work you do and for being such a blessing to so many of us. I love the wisdom the Lord has given you and I am always uplifted and inspired as I read your posts. I’ll be praying for you and Chris today and tomorrow.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 24, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks so much. Our presentation went very today. Lots of positive feedback.

      • Pamela Brooks on September 25, 2015 at 7:13 am

        Praise God!

  6. Dawn on September 23, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for this “fit ” word today — timely!
    There is a victorious warrior God in your midst as you speak these next few days. He has gone before you and prepared the hearts that need to hear this, His VERY important message! March in, deliver, and let His Spirit unleash!
    Blessings!

    • Leslie Vernick on September 24, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      Thanks for your prayers Dawn

  7. Maria on September 23, 2015 at 11:50 am

    Leslie, in my opinion, lowering expectations can be good and bad. When it comes to every day conflicts between two people living together, whether they are married or just roommates, it’s important to evaluate our unmet desires and focus on not responding sinfully. But when one is being abused, high expectations are better. Some of my friend have told me that because my father treated my mother very well, my expectations are very high. But I think because of that I was able to recognize the abuse sooner and no stay stuck. With an abuser it is usually his unrealistic demands that are the problem.

    • Robin on September 24, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      Amen Maria. I think you called it right on expectations. It’s important to know your expectations- your standard- so when someone keeps coming under that- you make a move to promote Holiness to gather in your home and family. And I agree if your parents got it right – it’s very likely you will not succumb to an abusers ways easily.

    • Janice on September 28, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      I am pondering the expectations discussion. I wonder if sometimes the expectations can dabble in fantasy. I wonder what role women’s magazines and the media have led us to conjure up distorted images of marriage. I wonder what role the church has played in distorting the biblical teaching to possibly promote male headship and female submission at any cost. I lean to thinking that some abused women in destructive relationships have expectations that their husbands will change if only XYZ. I read some saying that their husband is not changing. Why do they think he will change. I am reminded of the old adage, Women marry thinking they will change a man and Men marry hoping she will stay the same.

      • Maria on September 30, 2015 at 4:12 pm

        Janice, some people enter into marriage ignoring red flags or thinking that the they will be able to change their spouse. But there are some spouses who have played the part of a great partner only to reveal their ugly true selves after marriage and kids. I don’t think that problems in the marriage in such situations are due to unrealistic expectations, but rather due to abuse. When the abused stands up for themselves and refuses to be abused, there is conflict.

        • Robin on September 30, 2015 at 5:43 pm

          Maria, love what you said. It is so much more than low expectations when you’re in ABUSE. It’s a must to see that TRUE REALITY!!!

        • Rose J on November 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm

          I too resonate to what Maria is saying about a man who presents as someone before marriage he most definitely is not. Shortly after our marriage, my “Christian man” looked at me coldly and said, “I’m not who you think I am”. I spent the last 20 years trying to figure out why he was so selfish and indifferent to my needs, why he so consistently lied and blocked communication; all along, I should just have taken his disclaimer seriously. I just never could believe he was saying what he was saying!! How calculating! How could I have gotten it so wrong?? I totally get it now – I couldn’t or didn’t want to believe it back then.

  8. Aleea on September 23, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    “Friend, how have you learned to put your marriage or even your desire for a good marriage in it’s proper place?”
     
    . . . .by implementing exactly what you say in your book Acting Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong (—I absolutely love that book!)  “. . . Rather than seeking to vindicate ourselves, we need to fight for the glory of God, . . . .It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”  —As you say above: “. . . As we center ourselves in the love of God, we are no longer tossed about when our spouse fails us or disappoints us.  Yes we hurt, but we have received from God the strength and courage to both forgive our spouse for his/her failings as well as set appropriate boundaries when he or she continues to be unrepentant and destructive to the marriage and to us.”
     
    So I say: . . . . Lord, I’m done.  I don’t need anything more out of life.  I have You, and that’s more than enough.  In Second Timothy Four, Paul says: “At my first defense no one supported or stood by me, but all deserted me; . . . Nevertheless, the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.” . . .Women leave their marriages when they can’t take any more.  Men leave when they find someone new and more w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r.  —But God’s love, it is always there and always available, unlimited, endless, it is mind-boggling.  The first priority of my life is that love (Him) and I believe you get it through holiness. . . and the second goal of my life. . . . —no second goal, that is more than enough to work on. . . . God is waiting to be found everywhere, in the darkest corners of our lives, all the dead ends and all the bad neighborhoods. . . . Holiness is the only path to happiness. True holiness isn’t cold and deadening —it’s warm and inviting.  It’s irresistible. . . . . And I really believe that prayer puts God’s work in His hands and keeps it there. 
     
    . . . . . So. . . . . as I pray down through these blog threads every morning for everyone, I often think to myself that nothing is more often misdiagnosed than our homesickness for Heaven.  We think that what we want is another human’s “love” or we want money, or a new job, or a new spouse/ better spouse, et.al.  I think what we really want is the Person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven.  Nothing less can satisfy us.  I know how naïve that makes me sounds . . . .  —And, yes I know exactly how silent and mysterious God is and, yes, I understand that maybe it is better to place a question mark upon a problem while seeking for an answer than to put the label God there and consider the matter closed . . . . and, yes, I understand that the Christian idea of God has constantly changed to suit our cultural and historical circumstances. . . . I soooo get all that. . . . Still, I think what we really want is the Person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven.  Nothing less can satisfy us.  “Your name Lord and renown are the desire of our hearts” (Isaiah Twenty-Six).  The Bible tells us we are pilgrims, strangers, aliens and ambassadors working really far from home.  Our citizenship is in Heaven.  But we’ve become so attached to this world that we live for the wrong kingdom.  We forget our true home, built for us by our Lord Jesus. . . . And what makes it worse —and it should have never been this way— what makes it worse is that Christianity can easily breed abusive authoritarianism and it is so often anti-intellectual and anti-scientific and it very often has had a major morbid, unhealthy preoccupation with sex and Christianity has often preyed on fear and has been massively misogynistic. . . . Doesn’t change anything. . . . What we really want is the Person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven.  Nothing less can satisfy us.  Our citizenship is in Heaven.

  9. Grace on September 23, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing Aleea. You are so correct that Jesus is the only One Who can ever fully satisfy us and we will never be fully content here or with any orher relationship because we were made for Jesus and Heaven.
    We need to live with eternal perspective in mind at all times. Live with God as our center and operate from the center of Gods will and truth. I so often get distracted and need this reminder!
    Also thank you so very much for your faithfulness in praying for those on this blog. I deeply appreciate it. God Bless your heart!

    • Aleea on September 23, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      Oh Grace,
      I so need the reminder myself, that is why I do it.  . . . My heart is as black as a coal-pit and twice as foul (—and my counselor would be all over me for shaming but you know what I mean: God wants me to stop living for what others think.)  —I just find that even my repentance needs to be repented of at times.  . . . But, I also know I am hopelessly in love with Jesus Christ and I just love to pray for people. . . Prayer, for me, takes it so above all the systematic text issues, all the demythologizing, all the battles over hermeneutics, just above everything. . .I so love in counseling how we will pray before we even start and pray when we are stuck (when I am stuck) —which is a lot!!! . . . .What is it about prayer?  It is totally, completely other. . . . —Anyway, we are all wonderful creations of God.  May we affectionately love one another. . . . .Men need to understand that women HAVE a history that has been systematically suppressed.  The church’s collective spirituality has largely been tainted to fit the needs of men and those in power.  This has a profound effect on the self-esteem of girls and the women they become.  Everyone so deserves better —women & men too!!!

  10. Jordan on September 23, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    Well said.

  11. Robin on September 24, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    Being divorced only a short while, I can look back and see where my expectations were very low for way too long. I grew up in an alcoholic family where there were no expectations allowed. I think I could thrive in a abusive marriage if I was called to it- because I have a strong self identity now and to live underneath that- does not allow the beauty of Christ to be revealed. Expectations are what keep us moving toward more if Christ- they are not about me – but what brings Glory to God. When we don’t have expectations and our children are raised in a home where fathers verbally abuse and batter them so their self worth is low, does not reveal Jesus. We walk towards high expectations, so our families and homes can be a beacon of Light. So yes, definitely have high expectations.

    • Mary on September 24, 2015 at 8:49 pm

      I like that you frame you answer giving acknowledgement to the past. I wonder, when we talk about expectations if any of us might have thought that the marriage would complete us. We may have come into the relationship with a bowl 1/2 full and unknowingly been attracted to another 1/2 full bowl. Fill me, fill me, they both thought. When either party could not fulfill they used other coping strategies to comfort their hurt. So, I would suggest it is possible that those is destructive relationships started their life journey with distorted expectations before the marriage ever started. Two dysfunctional people just create a new dysfunction. If only there was a test to take that would teach us all to be healthy and wise before we join ourselves to another individual.

    • Mary on September 28, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      Have you read Girl on a Train? I just finished the novel. It touches on expectations and speaks to women in our situations.

    • Lilly on October 13, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Robin and Aleea I so agree with all you have expressed. Robin, your perspective that staying in abuse does not reveal Jesus is very true. I can identify with your statement that being a Christian you thought you could thrive in an abusive relationship if you were called to it…..that is often such a source of confusion I believe for women. For so long I thought I was called to stay and prove how strong God was to stay in this situation and He was glorified by giving me the strength to endure. I don’t see it that way any longer (my spouse was abusive and addicted to porn….and always lying and deceiving which comes with addiction). We are instructed in God’s Word to love our enemies, pray for those who despitefully use us, turn the other check, and for slaves to obey their masters…even harsh ones. YET…..all of those need to be read in context and with clear biblical understanding. These are not all scriptures that give license for abuse and the command to endure it. Paul dissociated himself with Alexander the metal worker and another for their deceit and the way he treated Paul, though details were not given. The church was instructed in NT to judge those in the church as professing believers….not the world who do not have the truth. Judge actions and life against profession. We have to make certain judgments in order to discern how to interact with others. Paul said in 2 Thes if anyone does not obey what they have written to take special note of them and not associate with them. One of the greatest harms inside the church that has happened, IMHO, is those who profess to be followers and yet do not bear fruit in keeping with repentance…..refuse to live as instructed in God’s Word, refuse to humble themselves when lovingly approached by others who try to restore them…..and are allowed to continue to participate in the body of Christ as a believer. That is not taught in the NT. I am not advocating anyone that fails or stumbles should be legalistically managed….no. But if you read the counsel of the whole NT and the instruction it gives you see a picture of a church that seeks to confront sin not ignore (Matt 18 and others), restore gently (Galatians), remove plank out or our eye before we judge so we can do it clearly and without hypocrisy (Matthew and others), discipline those who refuse to heed admonishment (Matt 18, ! Cor 5, 2 Cor 7, 2 Thes 3), not associate with those who call themselves brothers yet walk in unrepentant sin (2 Tim and 2 Thes) and the elders are to shepherd the flock and be an active part of doing this in the church. Not only to protect the body but to help bring those in error to repentance by removing fellowship. Sin has been allowed to run rampant in the church when known about b/c no one was to be guilty of “judging”. We are called to judge…but to judge rightly and judge what is given us to judge…not the heart and motives but the actions and fruit…..or lack of. How did we stray so far? The church has lived in fear of man in my opinion by tolerating such ongoing sins in the church when members know right from wrong and have been approached but won’t change. Much harm has resulted to women, children, families and in some cases to men when they are the victims. It breaks my heart and I knot it must break the Lord’s too. Allowing someone to continue to walk in sin without anyone intervening is not loving. It may not feel loving to administer consequences, but it is. God Almighty did to Israel all through out scripture in order to bring them to repentance…for their good. And we are grafted in and Israel now so all those things that were written down are for our instruction are just as beneficial today.
      So…..staying for a while until one can discern that a spouse is unrepentant, unresponsive to intervention and there is not change evidencing repentance is I think what we are called to do (unless physical abuse then out the door immed for safety). But that can be discerned in a relatively short time….it may take months but not years. stayed way too long thinking my longsuffering and prayer would win him over. I love what Leslie says…..If you stay, stay well. If you leave, leave well. It is almost impossible to function clearly in abuse….much less thrive. Depending on the freq and severity of verbal and emotional abuse and presence of kids and impact on them all determine how long a person can wait and watch for evidence of genuine repentance. But in Matt 18 when someone does not repent after three interventions, all escalating, they are to be treated as a pagan. Why? Because they are acting as one. A believer would repent so they are treated as an unbeliever since they are acting as one in response to their sin.
      I am all about loving, forgiving, bearing up under, etc in marriage as it is a commitment and two sinners are married. But there is not a one size fits all solution to every situation. We must pray for wisdom, refuse to give into fear (even overwhelming fear of making a mistake if we leave too soon, God is bigger than even that and sees our desire to do what is right), and determine what is best in our situation given the intensity of abuse, support we have to stay (the less support the sooner to get out of situation), and our own ability to function. Separation even for one to seek wisdom if confused, get help, begin healing and be in environment where decisions are made not clouded by emotions is wise.
      Remember, we are the only ones who know the full situation, the day to day impact and what it is like to try and bear up under another’s destructive sin. Though we are not perfect, abuse is never called for or justified. When others think we are wrong (family, children, church) but we are seeking to do what is right, seeking God and acting with a heart that is in the best interest of our own health, health of our kids and even the abuser) we have to let that go and not fear man’s opinion or judgment. Go back to the Word and see how the apostles handled those who professed and yet lived differently….not normal sanctification that each of us are living out till we die.

      Well, I have been very wordy…but when you have learned a lot from mistakes you want to share so others do not have to.

      I am separated again b/c I reconciled too soon before not waiting long enough to see that fruits of repentance were lasting and present for a significant time. His change was maintained long enough to move back in (after 18 months separated) and immediately the abuse and neglect returned. After dating and him being wonderful and attentive and saying all the right things. I gave it another 9 months with trying even in Christian counselling and it only got worse. So he is in God’s hands. I wait, pray for him and our marriage with all my heart and trust God’s ability. I work on my own healing and staying in a state to reconcile if there is clear and lasting fruits of repentance. I cannot emphasize enough…do not compromise on seeing genuine repentance. If you have a gut feeling it is not genuine or excuses are being made….listen to it.

      Much love to you all. God is glorified when marriage reflects His beautiful plan. Not when it is perfect…but when it reflects His design and how to forgive, repent, and be made more holy as a result. When our only witness is how long we can bear up under abuse we must go to the Lord and ask if He is being glorified in this or is our trusting Him enough to separate from our spouse and leave the outcome to Him as we prayerfully wait, intercede in prayer and obey Him what He is calling us to do. The greater trust in Him is sometimes in the leaving…not the staying.

      Blessings to you all my sisters. God sees your heart to do what is right in His eyes. Remember, His grace is abundant when we make a mistake….especially when we are genuinely trying to do what is right. He loves you.

      • April on October 14, 2015 at 7:49 am

        Thank you Lilly. I really appreciate your comments here. I am living an “in-house separation” right now while I try to use wisdom to determine whether my husband has “worldly sorrow” or “Godly sorrow”. I am so scared about reconciling too quickly, and am watching for red flags. One of my greatest battles is living with regret and guilt over the things my children (age 20 and 16 now) have endured and the effects of it all on their lives. I keep trying to give this over to God, but it really haunts me that I feel I’ve failed at the most important job I’ll ever have. My kids are everything to me and it hurts so bad to see them hurting.

        • Lilly on October 14, 2015 at 9:16 pm

          April,

          I understand that battle too April, I have a 15 yo son. I want to encourage you to resist the condemnation of the enemy. God is the one who has the power to make all things new, to heal our hearts, to pursue our children and reveal himself to them. And He will. Our job is to pray and seek God.

          I was warned by several close friends not to reconcile too soon (my church lay counselors were pushing us to). At first I stood my ground and as a result our counselors refused to counsel me any longer claiming my husband had changed. After almost a year my husband tried to reconcile without any help and since we had no one in our life to help I ended up getting deceived….again. I have learned so much as a result and I cling to 2 Cor 1:3-5. God is using what I learned in my life and with others. It is not wasted….b/c of who our wonderful God is. A repentant man is willing to wait….and he won’t rush you. He will desire to be a part of your healing. As Leslie said, true repentance always involves making amends to those their sin has injured. If you are not sure, wait. I have learned that reconciling too soon only results in delaying a true reconciliation even longer.

          Stay in the Word my sister….the Word has power and you will hear the Lord there. He loves you. I do thank God for all that has happened b/c I have learned how to seek God for who He is and not for His hand to act. He has changed me and I know it would not have the relationship and faith I have now if this had not happened. I remember when even hearing another woman say that years ago would make me frustrated for reasons I could not even understand at the time….probably b/c at the time I did not want to find a reason to be thankful for such awful pain. My sense of justice was in overdrive. But God….He is faithful and has brought me so far. He will you too.
          My love and blessings to you sister. We can rejoice together in eternity when we meet and rejoice that finished the face and are with our real bridegroom forever.

          Hugs.

      • natasha on October 14, 2015 at 9:24 am

        Lilly,

        Thank you so much for sharing this! Gods wisdom is definitely heard in your comment! This is exactly what I needed to hear today! I will read this over and over again! I to have left before, more than once and ALWAYS come back to soon! This time Iwwill stay away as long as it takes even if that means forever. God bless you Lilly……

        • Lilly on October 14, 2015 at 9:27 pm

          Praise God for that Natasha. I cannot claim any wisdom and gladly give the glory to Jesus! He uses us to minister to one another….mutual ministry. He never wastes suffering….He can bring beauty out of this. We have to give it to Him and let go so He can fashion what He desires as the potter. So hard….such a journey.

          I admire your courage to take that stand….it is a difficult one. But God will be your husband Natasha….He is faithful. Isaiah 54:5 “For your Maker is your husband–the Lord Almighty is His name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the God of all the earth.” I have learned He is the best husband and I have found it takes more faith to remain separated until there is fruit in keeping with repentance than to reconcile. Cling to God….seek His face, trust in Him for provision and don’t give into fear. You can do it in His strength, I know you can.

          Love and blessings.

  12. Mary on September 24, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I am not sure what you mean by “women have a history that is systematically suppressed.” I think it is important to remember that some women may or some churches have, but most of us have not been in the abusive congregation that you were trapped in.

    • Aleea on September 29, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Hello Mary,
      Thank you for commenting, I appreciate that. . . . I didn’t see your comment until now. . . .Okay, so remember I am saying historically.  My primary source for this is Dr. Todd Penner: Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the New Testament and Early Christianity. . . . Women were abused, molested, trafficked and prostituted because the desires of men (AKA God) were prioritized over the emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual needs of women and girls.  The misrepresentation of God and male power ensured that women and girls were considered less/ last.  From church history, it is clear that the church set up marriage as a sexual contract. . . . Sex should never, ever be a “duty.”  It shouldn’t be an act we feel obligated to perform for other people.  It should never be manipulated or coerced.  I know it is so hard to operate inside this church system where we’re beaten down into thinking things like I have to have sex with him or he’ll leave me.  Consent is only the absolute minimum baseline, not the goal.  It should be so commonplace for women to be comfortable, and happy, and trusting, and respected during sex that anything else would be as incomprehensible to us.  Enthusiastic consent vs. “grudging consent.”  I believe it is important for every woman to examine the reasons why she has sex, and if “because I’ll ruin my marriage if I don’t” or “he’ll leave me” or “he’ll make me miserable” or “it’s my duty” or “I owe it to him” are among those reasons, than that is something we should actively fight– in our own relationships and more broadly in our church culture.  Convincing someone to have sex is the same as manipulation and does not actually count as getting consent. . . . Of course, I strongly believe that God’s love is the answer and that it can mend even the deepest unseen wounds.  Love can heal, love can console, love can strengthen, and yes, love can make change.  . . . .And further, my problems are my own.  They are not my husbands, not my mothers, not the Governments, not the churches.  I can’t wait for them to change.  I have to be the change.  It is just that the images of God as “Father” and “Savior” are the foundations that patriarchy and misogyny are built upon.  Can you imagine how much Christianity would change if we heard it through the mouths of women, instead of almost exclusively men?. . . Anyways, I am so, so glad this was/ is not your experience or the experience of those that you know.  God Bless you Mary!

  13. Pamela Brooks on September 25, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Oh this is just SO well said Aleea! Thanks so much for writing it out!

  14. Vivienne on September 26, 2015 at 6:43 am

    HELP!!! The above article is confusing me. For many years, too many, I was always the one to forgive, to work hard at keeping the marriage and ralationship going , feeling better about the relationship for a while until my H let me down again. We have been on the same merry-go-round for so long that my teenage children believe it’s normal to be in an abusive relationship.

    Now, having come to the realisation that my H is not willing to either own or apologise for specific abusive behaviour, but rather point his finger at me, I separated myself in the home but only after my H told me HE couldn’t continue and he was not willing to try to change things. Later, I was told by my H to return to England (we are ex-pats in France – his choice which added to my pain) to take up occupancy of our house in Devon and he would pay for removal of any furniture I wanted from our family home. In short he wanted me gone. I however took my time to make a decisive move, I do have my children to consider, one of whom is still studying at school and is fast becoming a carbon-copy of his Father; I didn’t want that for him but he wants to remain in France and knowing that has kept me here even when it hurt. My other son is currently being assessed for training in the Royal Marines (UK).

    Initially, I had hoped that by separating myself my H would want to talk about reconciliation, but he didn’t make any moves towards that end, only to banish me as quickly as possible, occasionally threatening me. In the meantime I discover he is paying to talk to women on-line via a dating website and now takes his laptop to bed with him each evening. I also know, from checking his viewing history ( he left his laptop open once) that he has visited porn sites too. Funny how he criticises my youngest son for watching porn, for which I have no evidence, yet my H is doing that very thing himself.

    My H has been verbally abusive to us all, he has cheated in his heart before , although no evidence of actual physical cheating, but I discovered he was planning to meet women 3 yearsbut didn’t go through with it never went through with it; I confronted him and thought we had gotten over it. My life with H has been filled with drama, 14 house moves (due to him always running short of money), much turmoil where I have at times been so depressed I could not get out of bed, and then my H would castigate me for that. My H causes the pain and then chastises the reaction to said pain; it is no way to live or demonstrate the love of Christ; yet he claims to be a Christian and says I am the very worst example of one..

    So, in finding this group, feeling at last I am understood, and to know I am not alone, to understand it is OK to leave such circumstances, I am now being guilt-tripped by my youngest son who says I am being selfish to return to the UK to occupy the house “we” need to sell so that “we” can have money to spend. My son is angry that I am seen as obstructing My H. Yet my H has been the orchjestrator in all we are currently suffering yet remains strangely quiet while I am being held responsible by my son. My H has made it known that by my taking the house in the UK, he would sell the family home and downsize to free up cash to invest in his “project”. My son is angry, he wants to stay in the family home and now says I am the one at fault, that I am being selfish. So, because my H needs a project to feel good about himself, and to become involved he has to organise events that break up our family, I am the selfish one? My H is 71, is in receipt of a pension plus what we obtain in benefit for our children because we are on a low income and are that way because my H, in his wisdom, decided we should move to France when I was enrolling in higher education in England, something I had foreseen as a way to finance this very period in our lives – during my H’s retirement. Now the H is suffering the consequences of his choices yet is telling my sons I am the bad parent because I will not allow the sale of the UK house to support his next project. This house is my only means of escape from an abuser, so I am not willing to sell it and trap myself further in staying where I never wanted to go in the first place.

    Please help me. Am I being selfish? Should I continue to bear this cross, if that is what it is? The above article has confused me. Trust and my heart have been broken and confusion abounds..

    • Maria on September 26, 2015 at 7:40 am

      Vivienne, is your family home in France? Your husband is planning to sell that because you’ve decided to go back to England?

    • Grace on September 26, 2015 at 8:31 am

      Dear Vivienne,
      i am sorry for your pain and what you are going thru right now. have you sought any legal counsel for yourself? My situation is different but similar. I think before you make any moves you should know what your rights and responsibilities are so you can make an informed decision. By reading your story I don’t think you are being selfish at all but I do understand your confusion about what to do next and your concern for your children. I am praying for you!

    • Rose J on November 9, 2015 at 2:05 pm

      Vivienne, it sounds as though you are still easily hooked by guilt and still able to buy into the blame that belongs to your husband. It also sounds, unfortunately, like your sons are starting to believe your husband is entitled to his abusive, deceitful, soul-murdering actions. I think the best way for you to counter that sort of rubbish is to KNOW that you are not the unworthy personage that you husband and sons say. They undervalue you for their own reasons, none of them Godly. On the other hand, be certain that your sons owe you nothing for hanging onto a marriage such as this “for their sakes”. It was your choice to stay for whatever reasons and you can’t make them responsible for that choice. Sounds like your concessions, passivity, guilt and lack of adequate entitlement has not helped anyone, least of all your self. Keep educating yourself via this blog, Leslie’s books and video’s etc, and any other way you can. This blanket of abuse you are covered with is really a net that entraps you into stagnation, emotional dis-ease, and self-defeat. Cut your losses and show your sons that you are a person in your own right, they don’t get to define you (unless that’s what you want).

      • Vivienne on November 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm

        Hi Rose, thank you for your comments, I agree with much of what you say. I am currently in England, spending three weeks away from home, enjoying the space but am emotionally exhausted, not least that I am receiving reports from home that all is not well. My youngest son punched my H, causing a cut to the side of his head and I find that the H slapped my son twice and pushed him…he says to prevent our son from damaging the house! If my H had not modelled this behaviour in the past perhaps he would not be on the end of it now! All this drama exhausts me emotionally, even though I am hundreds of miles away. And yes, I feel guilt for not making a stand much earlier but my misunderstanding of God’s word, and perhaps perceived expectations, prevented that until now. I am also learning my H had been this way years before I met him…so am beginning to understand and KNOW this is not my fault.

        • Vivienne on November 10, 2015 at 12:38 pm

          I want to add that for many years I fully expected God to answer my prayers i.e. that my husband would see his abusive behaviour and change. Sadly, my prayers have not been answered; at least not yet. But I hung on, continuing to believe that God would do a work in my H’s heart. To place my faith in God yet not see fruit is akin to hope deferred makes the heart sick. My heart is now sick. Sick and tired of the cycle of abuse.

  15. Maria on September 26, 2015 at 7:42 am

    Vivienne, sorry you’ve already explained that.

  16. Maria on September 26, 2015 at 7:54 am

    Vivienne, it looks like your husband is playing both sides, telling you to go back, in which case it looks like you’ll need the home, and blaming you for not allowing the sale of the house. Can you sit down with your son and have a candid conversation about this? You probably have, but your husband may be cleverly twisting the facts and manipulating him. It’s a difficult situation when kids are involved. My counselor gave me very good advice years ago- let the kids see my husband for who he is. That way they make up their own minds on what kind of person he is.

  17. Leonie on September 26, 2015 at 8:58 am

    If you separate from your husband you should be entitled to 1/2 of everything. I think you need to step forward – I know it is super scary but I don’t think you can listen to his words or ask his opinion at all. Please get legal counsel and maybe go stay in the UK house for 6 months to show him your seriousness. (If it is legally safe & sane to do so.) I would no longer open myself to any message from him because every time he speaks he will strike terror in your heart. You need to find out your legal position in France and if you can have 1/2 of the matrimonial home or 1/2 of everything – then wish him luck with his project – it sounds like he’s set up social security for himself already while leaving you in the lurch.

    • Vivienne on September 26, 2015 at 9:16 am

      Hi Leonie,

      Co=patenting with someone like my H is very difficult. I know my H has Narcissistic / Borderline personality traits, he is not your average guy, not always rational, deceptive, and controlling.

      I think the hardest thing will be for me to leave my sons behind. On good days, I imagine them following me at a later date but their love of France, their friends and lives here make it hard to believe it will become reality. However, there are very good reasons why the world and it’s dog want to live and work and England, one is that employment opportunities abound there, not so much in France, and I know if my boys could see that, they might choose England for themselves too. I would however allow them to make their own choice. I also worry about the affect of my leaving my younger son (the scapegoat) in the care of my husband, although my son knows how difficult his Dad can be and says he is able to deal with him, I know the emotional trauma involved. I could, perhaps tell my husband to leave but then I would be stranded in France as any attempt to move myself with the children back to England would be blocked by my children and they need a roof over their heads for the foreseeable future. I think I have said before, the Devil himself could not have stuffed my life up more, or caused more pain, than this present set of circumstances. But am I brave enough to leave them behind me? No matter what my family think about it? What I don’t want is, to live like I have been living, enduring a toxic situation for the sake of two children who do not appreciate what I have done or why.

  18. Vivienne on September 26, 2015 at 8:59 am

    Hi Maria, thank you for responding. I think my son is angry because of how my departure is perceived to affect him. He is seeing that if I don’t sell our English home, we will have no money to pay for his driving lessons, something he is keen to start, and something his elder brother has recently successfully passed. My husband played the golden child vs scapegoat game as well, which doesn’t help.

    My husband did say, during this heated discussion, that he can manage, but I think my sons also knows of my husband’s plan to sell the family home asap after my departure; I have seen an email where he tells his developer friend that he has someone interested already!

    I did ask a legal advisor if I could transfer my share of the family home to my eldest son, to protect the house, and it seems I could but then my husband would not agree to transfer his share in our English home. I have done what I could to protect my children but sad to say they do not see this, only the picture my husband paints for them. It is heart-breaking but they are still young and don’t know everything.

    I know that legally I am entitled to 50% of our assets, something I made clear to my son. He was suggesting we sell the English house, I take 50% of the cash and live here until he finishes school. That sounds OK until one understands that I am 57 years old, I have to get back into the workplace as soon as possible if I am eventually to support myself and I have no private pension to rely on, only that paid by the government when I reach the grand old age of 66…and that’;s if they don’t move the goal post again before then. The property market in France is not like that of England, so our home may take years to sell, further trapping me longer than necessary. No, if I am to separate, leading to divorce, I must make the break to England now. I ache for my son, I want to remain for his sake but I just cannot see how I can without so much more sacrifice on my part, which if I were younger I would not hesitate. Such awful circumstances, so not easy to navigate. Some friends say I must think of myself now, while articles like the above, and a sacrificial life say otherwise. But surely common sense and individual circumstances have some bearing? I also see my H is wavering now because things are not as simple as he thought they would be and I think he is going to try and rescue what he saw as being better than what may lie ahead. These consequences are biting him now.

    • Vivienne on September 26, 2015 at 9:02 am

      And I would like to add that yesterday, as he was leaving for a break in England, he came to kiss me, something he has not done for many months. I did not appreciate that, and am no way ready for it, especially as he has yet to own his abuse.

      I just see this scenario taking a long time to unravel.

      • Mary on September 28, 2015 at 8:51 pm

        If I remember correctly, H also likes to gamble. His foolish financial decisions are why there is not extra money for driving lessons. Please do not let your son coerce you into forfeiting your safe home in the UK. Please don’t consider being suckered into another scheme which takes away your personhood. The truth is the truth. In time your boys will see it. I like your plan to leave. The sooner the better.

  19. Leonie on September 26, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Vivienne you also need to tell your legal counsel that he has forged your signature and sold family property without your consent in the past. God, the creator of the universe & the power that raised Jesus from the dead is powerful and he is for you – find your strength in him – he gives us light & life!

    • Vivienne on September 26, 2015 at 9:27 am

      Thank you Maria. I know God is real, I have tasted his love but my faith was almost lost, requires some recovery, to believe that God is for me and not against me. In order to get me to live in France, something I tried to prevent, my H said we should lay a fleece before God. I agreed, thinking God would protect me. Looking back, the fleece itself was easy to manipulate by my husband too, probably was, so that he could obtain the desired result but this too damaged me in so many ways. I am now of a mind that God allowed all of that pain, to teach me a very valuable lesson, i.e. freewill is a god given gift and I must not allow anyone, even my husband, to override it….not even God does that! I have to believe God will create a way, where currently there seems to be no way, and especially now I am exhausted.

      • Vivienne on September 26, 2015 at 9:29 am

        Sorry, thanks Leonie.

        • Vivienne on September 26, 2015 at 9:30 am

          And for remembering that my H forged my signature.

          • Leonie on September 26, 2015 at 7:07 pm

            That was a big red flag that made me think you are unsafe. I am praying for you and I know you can do what you need to!
            I am praying for Robin too, it is hard when they keep coming after you but we know you are grounded!



          • Leonie on September 26, 2015 at 10:36 pm

            Wow, Vivienne, you are in an interesting and difficult situation. Are you able to work in France? I know it would be almost impossible for me to leave my children. Almost 2 years ago my husband was trying to force me to sell my home and leave my 15 year old (his step-daughter) & move 2 hours away. I irefused to leave her behind to live with her dad and I stood up to him (telling him how important it was that her mom be there for her at this age and that he could not decide for me that I am done parenting her) & the evil he was planning. Now I understand the bigger picture of what he was trying to do but at the time I know God protected me from him and the harm he was trying to cause. Trust God and he will direct you. Now I keep looking at how miraculous it was that I was able to get away from my husband and how tangible God’s hand of protection was over us. I know that he will continue to guide me even though I am scared, forget to trust him and feel so much uncertainty about the future.



  20. Elizabeth on September 26, 2015 at 6:41 pm

    Hi Ladies, it is so good to hear from you all again and know how to pray for you. You are a blessing as you face and make these very hard choices. God is guiding us in His great love for us always.
    In the last few weeks I have given up the false hope that my marriage will ever change and have been able to say it to my H. I am working on accepting that each day and living at a distance from him so that I can heal and see clearly what God wants. He seems to think I will get over it and go back to overlooking and tolerating his verbal and emotional abuse. The emotional abuse where he tries to use his emotions to manipulate me, is becoming more clear to me each day. Vivienne’s story has helped me to be kindly bold in setting boundaries that protect me from the abuse and give him the opportunity to see himself. He is not doing that but I am keeping firm. It is hard because I do not want to live like this but know God desires that I live honestly more than to “protect” a empty marriage.
    Please pray for me as I want to glorify God and do what is best for my h. when I respond to him and tell him what I am doing and why. I need to guard my heart from self-protection and self-righteousness and control. I know God will guide me.
    In the midst of all this we have just moved and I am looking for a new church home. Thank you all for listening and I love you…

    • Robin on September 26, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      Elizabeth, it’s comforting to hear someone’s testimony to how God is leading and guiding their life. Separating from a spouse who isn’t learning from consequences for poor choices is disheartening and their are so many phases one must travel thru —– to get to other side. But we always Praise Him when Zhe begins to reveal more truth for us to see and escape the dishonesty and protective places we have hidden from. Go forward Eluzabeth knowing He already has the answers for your individual issue- and will continue to pour wisdom into your life as you seek for it!! We’re proud of your advancement and are rooting you on in and by prayer!!!!

      • Leonie on September 26, 2015 at 7:11 pm

        Also, I don’t know your husband Elizabeth but I learned not to tell my abuser my every move or motive because it was always twisted and used against me. I would speak truth to myself inside and to my husband (now ex). But that usually was not received well.

        • Monica on September 28, 2015 at 8:57 pm

          I was thinking the same thing. It is best not to give them much information. It only increases their power to manipulate you. We so much want to trust our H, but they are untrustworthy. The sooner we accept their falseness the easier it is to move forward.

    • Mary on September 28, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      I am excited to think that you may find the most delightful, new church home. Great fellowship and good preaching/teaching can be such a sweet balm to the soul.

  21. Vivienne on September 26, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Elizabeth I am humbled that my story is helping you to set boundaries of your own. I do hope you will, given some space and time, begin to see your unique circumstances with more clarity; I know that was true for me. I love that you want to live more honestly: I want that too, I am so tired of keeping up appearances.

    Bless you Elizabeth.

    • Monica on September 28, 2015 at 8:58 pm

      There is no need to keep up appearances any more. I hope you are growing stronger in England. Must you go back to France at all?

      • Monica on September 28, 2015 at 11:16 pm

        I think I got the details confused. Sorry.

  22. Robin on September 26, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Leonie it’s nice to hear from you. My battle is closing down soon. I have been in a depression because too many things have traumatized me in a short while. It’s times like these that I need my friends to remind me what I’ve forgotten. Gid does have a plan for each one of us. Abusive spouses and especially sociopaths surely make the way much more difficult. My counselor has a saying every time she see’s me holding on for dear life – she says, Gid must have big things in mind for your future!!!! Great words of encouragement!!!

  23. Vivienne on September 26, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Hi Leoni, yes I am able to work a little but only for English people who have property they let for holidays; I get to do the changeovers and clean and maintain the swimming pool. The job came up just when I needed it – God’s provision 🙂 I get paid more my H now but it is only seasonal so I wouldn’t be fully supported all year.,

    It’s good that you were provided for too, in being able to stay for your daughter while she studied. I was hoping to do that too, for my son, but he is a problem in that he is really acting out his frustration and distress and gets into all sorts of trouble, not so much recently but in the past…my he took all our energy! He is actually quite a lot like his father so I have two difficult people to deal with, both seem to have low esteem but handle it differently. My H tells grandiose stories, exaggerates the truth, wears a mask and sometimes leads people to believe my H is more than he actually is. I have had to confront him about that so he stopped doing it so much. My son copes by erecting a tough, sometimes impenetrable wall around himself, shows aggression to keep us at bay and can be explosive when he does not get his own way. I know I have not helped him much by not allowing his Dad to discipline him enough but usually when I have seen his dad provoke him to anger and then try to discipline for getting angry – it’;s similar to what he does to me and it is so unfair.

    The anger that is all pervasive in my family unit is sometimes too much for me to bear and stems from an inability of my H to curb his emotions. God gave men the task of leading their families and should do it by example but mine is getting it so, so wrong!! I have tried so many times to talk to him about his need to manage his emotions and sometimes he has tried but it seems to me that he needs either a great deal of inner healing or a mighty dose of Holy Spirit enabled self-control but my H is not interested in pursuing either. He would far rather send me away to alleviate what he sees as a thorn in his side.

    Whatever happens next I am sure God will have already made provision for; he has done so much to keep me this far for which I give him all the praise and glory.

  24. Robin on September 26, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    Leonie, in re: to Vivienne do u think it’s time she stand up for what’s right for her — FIRST? Sometimes when abuse has been strong in a family even thru teenage years, is it too late for her to think staying in house with kids that are emulating the evil of their dads poor choices is a good idea?? I know for me I learned late that all those years I thought I was protecting them from him – I WAS NOT!! Older children do side with an abusive spouse and my vote might be for her to get out and get healthy ASAP and then make contact with children. Right now it sounds the 15 year old boy is going to ‘listen’ only to the abuser. Not a good choice to stay in, I’m afraid she will be best down further .

    • Leonie on September 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      You are right too, Robin. Her safety is paramount so that she can cope again. I totally understand! It is so hard – how do you move to another country away from your children? Especially, the kids do need the involvement of the non-abusive patent. Vivienne, I will keep you in my prayers as you figure out what you need to do & where to go & how to separate. It is so hard to get healthy and do what you need to when the opposition is so strong and from within your own house. You really need God’s truth to get free!
      I had a lot of drama the past few weeks – I called police for a Wednesday night exchange when I feared for my child’s safety & have had follow ups with police, cps, the shelter … but the real truth of the situation and my child’s safety is coming out with all of these incidents. I get very overwhelmed at times when I look at the future!

  25. Maria on September 28, 2015 at 6:25 am

    Vivienne, I prayed for you a few minutes ago that God may give you strength and wisdom.

    • Vivienne on September 28, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      Hi Maria,

      Many thanks for your prayers: I sure do need them! I appreciate you doing that for me. xx

      • Roxanne on September 28, 2015 at 9:07 pm

        I think military service will return your son’s heart back to the UK. Your second son worries me because he seems stuck with Dad. I would still leave and invite him to live with you after the dust settles. I don’t think you staying is helping him. He seems to be brainwashed by Dad at the moment. I believe you said this is your H’s third marriage. Is that correct? Biblically, doesn’t that make you free from him, as he is really still married to the 1st person he married?

        • Vivienne on September 29, 2015 at 5:40 pm

          Hi Roxanne

          Actually I believe I am free from him because he has betrayed me by being unfaithful, if not actually carrying out at least in his heart.
          I hope you are correct about my eldest son, I too thought that if he spent time in England he would make a return, although that is not what he is saying right now, quite the opposite. Like you, I am also very concerned for my youngest son, he is the one that gets picked on a lot and my son does see through my H more than his brother. I also think I need to get out of the family home as soon as I can but just hope my H doesn’t change the goal posts by changing his mind on transferring the house to my name.

  26. Shelley on September 28, 2015 at 9:22 am

    I wonder about Vivienne’ son pushing his mom to sell the home( her long term source of finiancial security) because he wants to spend it on something he wants (driving lessons). Vivienne could he do something on his own to pay for lessons? Do you need to set boundaries to protect your financial security? I know you said you were selling also to have money to live on.

  27. Vivienne on September 28, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Hi Shelley

    No, my son is not able to earn his own money just yet; there are very few jobs in our part of France and he is still at school. Part of the problem with both my children is that their father has always given them “things” rather than his time, so this is what they feel they are entitled to….it just drives me crazy.

    Regarding the house in England, the one I hope to have for myself, is currently let to tenants so achieves a reasonable income, one that could help to establish me elsewhere like my home town which is not far from London so the wages are higher than where my house is. I also have contacts in my home town, with the possibility of a house share….funnily enough, with someone who I met while living in France but has returned to the UK in recent years. God has been good to make those connections for me ahead of this moment in time. However, once my H understood that might be my plan he began threatening me, to take me to court and fight me all the way for what I am entitled to. I believe he did not think I could have worked a plan out like that. That said, I also think about capital gains tax should I decide to sell the house after April next year…it all gets complicated and I still have lots to think about before I know for sure what I will do and I am going to take as long as it takes to work it out. I may yet decide to occupy the house, or just sell it within the period allowed before having to pay heavy tax duties; in this way, I could find a property that suits me and in the location I feel I would like to settle.

    • Shelley on September 29, 2015 at 10:48 am

      I am praying for you

  28. Vivienne on September 28, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Hi Mary. Yes he likes to gamble and he likes to be generous to others. Recently I saw he donated 2 x 100 Euro’s to a local woman who lost her small catering van in a fire. Nice gesture…and of course he will be much appreciated….but at the same time as he pleads poverty to me and my boys?

    He is away in England at the moment, staying with his sister and already he is buying my boys things for their car (eldest son) or for their motorbike (youngest son); I now these tactics are for him to remain in a good light and to keep my sons reeled into him and yet when he is home all he does is moan about how much the boys spend “his” money and I always tell him…well, you can control that, you can always say no. He just drives me crazy.

    Don’t worry Mary, I am not going to allow myself to be talked out of what I am entitled to. Thank you for your concern, Bless you. x.

    • Robin on September 28, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Vivienne it’s excellent advice to go and take care of yourself. When you are present – you are the target for his abuse. When you leave it will be the children and will enable him to abusers those that need to see the truth. I couldn’t believe how true this was. While we were living together each day he was plotting and manipulating the children. I left and my healthy was worked for me in spades. Of course it’s hard to leave children behind and I understand why some wouldn’t -/ but you’ll never win this battle. The children will see the truth — when you no longer are the main target!!!

      • Robin on September 28, 2015 at 9:52 pm

        I will be in court for what I hope will be the last time tomorrow at 11:15 Pacific time. I’m not fearful, I believe we have everything in order and God will say enough is enough and may justice prevail. Appreciate prayers!!!

      • Mary on September 28, 2015 at 11:14 pm

        Robin, My girlfriend said the same thing. When she left the children began to see Dad’s behavior in a new light. They said things like Mom, “I can’t believe you put up with Dad. How did you do it? He treats me like that now. Its’ terrible.” I hope your time in court goes well. Closure. I hope.

        • Robin on September 29, 2015 at 12:45 am

          Thank you Mary. It’s been a terrible war like devastation. I am confident God is saying, back away, remove yourself. Thank you for thinking of me.

      • Vivienne on September 29, 2015 at 6:08 pm

        Hi Robin

        I know I have to leave the family home, it will be hard and there are no guarantees that things will turn around for the good of my children but I sure hope they do, dear God I pray they will learn the truth.

        Glad things went OK for you in court Robin, you were much on my mind today.

        Thank you for being so supportive. xx

    • Mary on September 28, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      Whew, I feel better. I was afraid that H’s manipulation may be taking its’ toll on you.

  29. Robin on September 29, 2015 at 12:42 am

    My heart is so torn for the women who have had to fight so hard for their children not to be totally manipulated away from their mom. Whoever you are- please understand the abusers whole goal in life is to destroy you. A very sad thought indeed- but what could possibly work better than to use her own children to meet his goal. In earlier years I didn’t understand how deep this evil intent was. Now it breaks my heart for each one of you who are fighting so hard to gain good health and determination to survive. I pray God will continue to pour Hos Grace, Love, and Truth upon you.

    • Leonie on September 29, 2015 at 6:05 am

      “Whoever you are- please understand the abusers whole goal in life is to destroy you. ”
      That is a shocking truth but one that helps us when we realize it!
      I will be in prayer for you about court – it is devastating to have to keep going through it over & over. For me, I could never figure out what my 1st husband’s vendetta was about and why he wanted to keep punishing me even after he found a girlfriend, left me & remarried … But now I know it is classical narcissist mentality. I have so been there Robin. May God strengthen you and know that he surrounds you with his protection. He is on your side, you are his.

      I was being punished for not wanting to be with him anymore (not take him back after his affair, for going to court for support and because I didn’t want to stay in South America to facilitate his mining career -anymore as far as I can tell.)

  30. Robin on September 29, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Leonie what I learned was it wouldn’t matter if it wasn’t one thing there would be something. He would invent something if needed. This is such an important part of abuse. It’s not about me – he will always keep doing what he does and I have to know that and quit thinking it will ever be different. I just need to quit playing his games.

    • Lynn M on September 29, 2015 at 8:26 am

      I am experiencing this too. I have left and am rebuilding my life and my career with loving, supportive people around me. While we have a 50/50 shared parenting plan, the kids 12 and 15 are not wanted to be with him anymore because he has turned his abusive tactics on them. I just stay focused on creating a loving stable environment for them in my home as much as I can. They will see, and are seeing the truth. My heart aches with compassion for him that he cannot see the effects of his destructive behaviors. But I have removed his poison from my veins and I will not live it any longer. He could harm me if he came after me physically, but emotionally I am too strong now and he cannot get to me. I am using my strength to show my kids what real love looks like.

      • Leonie on September 29, 2015 at 9:17 am

        That’s amazing Lynn, I am so glad to hear that. Sometimes it takes a while to extricate yourself from it if they are particularly vengeful.

    • Leonie on September 29, 2015 at 9:15 am

      You are so right – I remember that too. Sometimes the reasons for my husband’s explosive outbursts or the silent treatment were so crazy, like giving our child a chocolate that came from someone he didn’t like – he always did invent a reason and usually it was something stupid or false. You are right it is not about you at all, not can you control it, eventually he will direct the negativity to someone else closer to him. I will pray that the judge will be able to see the nonsense for what it is (you could even ask the judge – am I not allowed to get his stuff out and move on with my life – or my only intention is to move on with my life & let him move on with his – I remember a good judge upholding that right for me in the courts) His taking you to court is only revenge for perceived offenses – it is all part of the process of getting out of the abusive relationship, as annoying or painful it scary as it is. It sounds like you have your head on straight about this! I will be praying.

  31. Robin on September 29, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Very well said and done Lynn. May we all keep reminding each other of this truth, as it’s easy to forget. Thank you for sharing!!

    • Lynn M on September 29, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      Good luck with your court date. I will be praying for you. Let us know how it goes.

  32. Robin on September 29, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you all for your love and support. It went well I n court. Didn’t get everything but fees dropped for damages $1000.00 and I was not held in contempt of court the judge was angry at the pettiness that our situation has been in and said this is s enough, we are finished!!!!

    • Remedy on September 29, 2015 at 6:16 pm

      Continuing to think of you Robin and all you have experienced and share with us. The thought and realization of abusers’ goal to destroy the one they promised to love and cherish is truly stunning. May God continue to guide and protect you. My situation is heading for change, as well but can’t yet share details.

      Thank you as always Leslie for the work you do trying to enlighten the Christian world of this evil amongst us.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 29, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Good. I hope it indeed is finished.

      • Robin on September 29, 2015 at 10:08 pm

        Leslie it was 3 years ago exactly my counselor returned from AACC Conference excited about Leslie Vernick books!!! Thank you for how you are educating so many!!!!!

    • Mary on September 29, 2015 at 8:18 pm

      Robin, Is it ok that this brings tears to my eyes. I am so hopeful for you.

      • Robin on September 29, 2015 at 10:05 pm

        I’m almost there and I cherish your tears . I know they come because you can relate to a woman in pain from abusers. I should have explained better my abuser was trying to fight to get me to pay $3000.00 in damages and attorney fees. Instead of $1000.00 in damages it was reduced to $250.00. That is amazing because the judge made it clear he did not like me. I asked for permission to speak in court this morning, and he refused me. My prayer was that God would turn the heart of the judge and we did witness that this morning. Thank you for expressing care towards me. It’s truly a gift to be able to love and encourage one another!!!!

        • Leonie on September 29, 2015 at 10:53 pm

          That’s so amazing! I think the judge saw the truth of the situation! Good thing you bravely faced him down in court! I am so proud of you, that was important! Praise God for his protection over you!

          • Robin on September 29, 2015 at 11:35 pm

            Thanks Leonie I can’t tell you how glad I am it’s over! He wasn’t even in court. Which surprised us. He was sitting in his lawyers office on the phone talking to the judge. I yhink he thought he had this one in the bag- hehe.



  33. Vivienne on September 29, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Thank you, dear Shelley, for your prayers. Bless you. xx

  34. Robin on September 29, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    What I have learned, is I must make brave and bold choices if I want a healthy life and home for my children someday. Not easy- but worth staying in abuse and watching the continual devastation.

  35. Robin on September 29, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    It’s amazing how much we learn as we on the path of abuse. I wish I could start all over and do a better job. First thing I’d do is learn to love myself . My life isn’t amazing but it’s pretty miraculous when you see all I’ve climbed thru. Abuse is so much more evil than we can ever imagine. Walking out of the courtroom today my heart was waving goodbye to all the abuse and pain I have known. If I was to die tomorrow, it would have been worth all the sacrifice- to perhaps change Just a little ‘Our Legacy’ and it began with changes in me first!!!

    • susen on October 13, 2015 at 8:41 am

      Dear Robin

      GOOD FOR YOU!

      I can relate so well to that euphoria of leaving the courthouse and all it represents behind. Dancing in sunlight is the best way to describe the feeling, to me. And one day of dancing is enough for refilling possibilities of hope and love and all things good. I no longer look at what time I wasted. I just live the glory of today and rejoice–not occupying myself with thoughts of how many tomorrows I will have. Thanks be to God.

      I send prayers and blessings. You have provided the blessing of much wise counsel to others. I hope that you continue to write that book. Peace to you, Sister. susen

      • Robin on October 13, 2015 at 10:37 am

        Thanks for your kind words Susen. This week I have thought many times how painful it has been to get out of abuse. I would never want to portray it’s a piece of cake. I have had to fight everyday of the 30 months I’ve been in divorce proceedings. Part of me feels sad my marriage didn’t make it. That my family is splintered. And that my dreams were all broken. But the other part of me says yes Jesus thank you for setting me free from anymore destructive living and that as hard as some days have been living in safety and a true reality is so much better . I am thankful for every friend on here who knows what I’m talking about. Freedom from abuse is costly but well worth it once you cross over that finish line .

  36. Robin on September 29, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    For those interested Ina good read to motivate you learning to have compassion and grace as God does towards us- check out GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK Kim Fredickson available on Amazon.
    Learn to be as kind to yourself as you feel when others need it!!

  37. Robin on September 29, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Thank you dear Leslue. For the last 2 years I have been supported and grown much to your ministry and resources. And while there has been a lot of pain to endure / my story is not finished. I am so grateful for the support on this blog and the continual education I’ve been able to receive here!!!

  38. Vivienne on September 29, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Bravo! Robin. You are an overcomer, it’s official. xx

  39. Vivienne on September 29, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree.

  40. Vivienne on September 30, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    If I am honest, I felt uneasy when I first met my husband, he did seem very egocentric but then seemed to show a much more caring side, and I liked that. However, he changed measurably when my children came along, the abuse began and it is that I am not prepared to take. You are right Maria, when we make a stand conflict happens and if no change is made we only have two options: put up and shut up or leave.

    • Robin on October 1, 2015 at 12:49 am

      Just remember to focus on what u need Vivienne. Sometimes we can place too much focus on not breaking up the family- and the truth is the family is already broken. Why do we need to take a stand?? Because we are allowing the head of the household to wound and destroy a part of every family member in one way or another’. As mothers we are nurturers and protectors and part of our role is to keep the good in and the bad out. We must fight this fight the future of our family depends on it/ and we are setting up now the cycle our children will carry on yo next generation. What a huge responsibility. !!!!!

      • Vivienne on October 1, 2015 at 7:36 am

        Yes Robin, a HUGE responsibility!!!!! I am so mindful of that and yet due to the years of abuse it has been so difficult to truly read my situation for what is was until recent months; now that I know I am standing up and I refuse to be knocked down again. I must take a stand to show my children that what has happened to us is wrong.

        Last night, I decided to locate my H’s bank and credit card statements and stupidly he left them in an open file (in the attic) so it was easy to see what he has been doing with our money.

        I did not sleep until 6.30 am this morning, so gob-smacked to see that he drawers hundreds of euro’s on his bank card, almost every day and his credit card is amassing debt. I saw that from April this year, he has been paying a subscription to a dating agency, the same one he used 3 years ago (although I didn’t know that until I went through his statements), there were other dating agencies too, some lottery gambling, and he was taking 250.00 each month for a car fund…..my H still, at aged 71, deceives himself into thinking he will race again. He pleads poverty all the time, he denies our family outings, holidays, his time, and spends it all on others to bolster his poor self esteem.

        I used to believe that he acted out of his own inner pain, and to some degree that is true, but now I can see the deliberate choices to do wrong!

        I will be copying as many statements as I can, along with annual statements showing his spending habits which I will keep to show my children later if he continues to poison them after I am gone; and I could provide them if we have to go to court. I still would prefer to come away from this relationship without having to go to court if possible, because if it goes to court he will thrive on the drama – I see now more clearly how he feeds off of negativity like that, a showcase for him to act the victim – he would revel in it.

        So…more damning evidence that my H is a heel.

        • Mary on October 2, 2015 at 11:51 pm

          I can’t help thinking that it is a blessing that he is in England so that you can look at (and copy) his financial records. If you had even the slightest doubt that you should not remove yourself from this toxic situation, I hope now, your decision is clarified. I am just starting to wonder what he is really doing in England. Is he meeting someone? Is he talking to a solicitor? A property manager? I don’t trust this man at all.

          • Robin on October 2, 2015 at 11:57 pm

            While my husband was gone a month, I used that time to copy all financial documents/ and then my lawyer asked me to bring his locked file cabinet to his office to empty so he had knowledge of all his hidden records. SCORE boy was he surprised when he returned that I would be wise enough to pull that off. I never would have done it alone, I had wise people exhorting me to get it done. It really made a huge difference. He would have kicked me to the curb had I not disclosed his ‘secrets’. Amazing how deceptive they can be!!!



      • Remedy on October 1, 2015 at 9:21 pm

        Robin……so well said. I agree 100% with your comment here.

        • Roxanne on October 3, 2015 at 9:27 am

          Ditto.

  41. Robin on October 1, 2015 at 10:32 am

    When I started the process Vievienne of copying statements and reading any paperwork I could get my hands on– I was afraid of what more I might find. What I did find left me with proof that he was wealthy and could easily be able to provide for me well. But oh how awful that time was feeling sneaky. As I look back now I realize all I was doing was looking for truth and honesty and bringing it out into the open. He had done such a terrible thing telling my kids I was the bad one it was a relief to me to find evidence of his poor choices and all he hid from me. But my children were brainwashed for years and it will take slot of time for them to see truth. I wouldn’t defend myself, nor would I show them any papers . I would just work on me looking for a better life for myself. The kids don’t need to be in the middle of the mess. Just let them see their beautiful mom and how hard she has worked to start a new life. God Bless you!!! I know it’s a rough road, but one worth traveling!!!

    • Vivienne on October 1, 2015 at 11:34 am

      Yes, I too feel sneaky and almost as soon as I had written about telling the boys I felt that maybe that would not be appropriate, al least not now.

      The relief knowing that what I had suspected was true, to know I am not the crazy one and the deep sorrow to discover the level of deceit, especially not providing us, his own wife and children, with holidays, outings, things that would have made life more bearable but it is true, their agenda is to destroy and their power (that they perceive) over us is what makes them feel good? That is truly sick. I also realise that my husband knows how precious my boys are to me and that is why he is doing his best to destroy my relationship with them. Well Robin, I will block that by being the best Mum I can be under the circumstances.

      In the last hour, I received an alert from the land registry in England, notifying me that someone had lodged something against the property. I enquired and discovered my H has now served a notice to sever our joint ownership and relegated me to a tenant in common. This means that if anything happens to him while we negotiate our divorce, his share would not automatically come to me, as it would have under the old regime. He cannot sell the property but he can deny whoever out of that inheritance. So…..another reminder to concentrate on me and my needs now; I am waiting for an appointment with a French lawyer so I can find out how I would fare if I issue divorce proceedings in France.

      • Leonie on October 1, 2015 at 1:12 pm

        That is an evil man, why am I not surprised he is doing that – does he have to forge your signature to do that too? Make copies of the notice or transaction for court too. Notify the company so that you get to make your claim or deny his claim against the property too. When I started looking and discovering what my husband was into I remember shaking because he had terrorized me so badly – he had so clearly establish that I was not allowed to”snoop” or to know what he has been doing but like Robin said you have a right to know the truth and you are entitled to 1/2 of any property you jointly own – can you launch an equal and opposite claim against him? Wow, the magnitude of evil he uscaia le of is astounding – you’re his wife & the mother if his children!!

  42. Robin on October 1, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I so relate to all you’re going thru. Why do they have to make everything so difficult. You’re doing a great job!! In praying and in sure many more are. My best piece of advice- keep your eyes on you and not him, he wants to destroy you and u kniw that so don’t think on that as those thoughts will weaken u. Keep your thoughts on what YOU will do I spite of his poor choices!!!

    • Vivienne on October 1, 2015 at 12:14 pm

      Thank you Robin, great advice, I will follow it 🙂

      • Mary on October 2, 2015 at 11:59 pm

        Vivienne, Thank you for sharing your situation with us. Although you might be miles away, you are close to us in our hearts. We the bloggers, pray for you. Dear Lord, hear our prayer.

  43. Robin on October 1, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    In addition to what Leonie said, isn’t it so hard for us to believe the men who took us to the marriage altar and promised to take care of us, have all this hidden evil intent??
    We just have to be proactive and plan for the worst/ while we hope for the best. But I sure didn’t expect to find the level of dishonesty that I have uncovered in the last 3 years. So thankful for those who have encouraged me to keep on.

  44. janet on October 13, 2015 at 8:21 am

    this is a short life we live. eternity will not have any of this nonsense and that is the only true hope that I have and long for. the rest is fleeting and a trap. that is how I protect myself down here on earth along with speaking the truth in the right timing. also… I am a woman and I like sex and it seems the religious view is often focused on the man wanting it more. I do not appreciate that sex dominated thinking. I do not have anything to be ashamed of and that is how those statements about fulfilling mens sexual need makes me feel. I am a woman and I have just as must sexual needs as man and I am tired of religion saying otherwise. stop it.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 13, 2015 at 6:12 pm

      Janet I don’t think anyone here is saying women don’t have sexual needs or that a man’s sexual needs are wrong. I think what I’ve said is that the sexual relationship from God’s perspective isn’t just a physical act, but an emotional and spiritual one as well. It is to embody the very idea of safety (that’s why sex outside of marriage is forbidden) and selflessness. WHen someone in the marriage feels unable to meet a spouse’s needs (whether it be the husband or the wife’s sexual needs) because of the safety or emotional climate in the marriage, that’s a huge warning bell that the marriage needs help and I think God would be most honored by both parties in the marriage humbling themselves and getting the help they need to restore their marriage. Sadly when that does not happen, it often leaves the woman with the choice – be a sex object or refuse and be labeled unloving and ungodly.

  45. Vivienne on October 13, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    This is something I have constantly struggled with. My husband seemed to have a high sex drive and expected lots of sex and if I tried to say no I was made to feel guilty and that something was wrong with me. If for example I would say I didn’t want to, my husband would sulk and tell me I didn’t care about him and he would say I didn’t understand that men had needs, urges that they couldn’t control. This went on for years until I broke down and with the help of my H’s daughter we confronted the situation. However, while he was somewhat less demanding, he would still expect sex even when he was mean to me, when emotionally I couldn’t engage and again I was made to feel bad about it. I do think my husband has a sex addiction, I even caught him once photographing me when he thought I was asleep and he saw nothing wrong in that, still doesn’t. Our union has been less than godly and emotionally I feel very damaged by it. My husband still refuses to accept he has behaved badly. Tonight, after three months separation from the bedroom, we discussed, or rather debated, why we were heading for a divorce. I tell my husband it is because I have struggled with his abusive behaviour and he tells me it is because I am critical of him and I am cold towards him. I then say I would not be cold towards him if he would stop the abuse but fear he can’t because he refuses to see he has been abusive and that has affected me and how I am guarding myself. There are lots of consequences being realised because of my husband’s inability to be accountable. Being in receipt of Tax Credits while I have a child in education, I am obliged to inform the issuing authority of any change to our circumstances and I advised that we were separated, but not legally, only from the bedroom. Because of that, the Tax Credits were stopped with immediate effect; and that is the only money I have to buy food and clothing with. I advised my husband of this loss of income. So now, if we continue to live in the same house, he will have to provide out of his pension and care taking income. My husband had tried to persuade me to leave the home, return to England and still continue to claim the Tax Credits in order to help establish me….but I was not prepared to be deceitful or risk being penalised for a fraudulent claim. I am finding the consequences of confronting the toxic behaviour very costly, both financially and emotionally. This is a huge risk for me and while I have appreciated the space these last few months I am feeling very wobbly about continuing a life all by myself if it comes to that. My worst fear is that I often feel like compromising yet know that would not be honest and I want to live truthfully but also fear the ultimate cost. Does anyone relate?

    • Robin on October 13, 2015 at 10:10 pm

      Yes Viviene I can relate to what you shared. About the sex addiction I used to believe his lies that he had all these urges and sexual needs I wouldn’t take care of. It makes me mad every time I hear about another woman going thru this. It’s all lies- lies- lies to make you feel guilty. I was rescued from those lies as I worked with my counselor. About compromising – all I can say is not wise. It will lead you down wrong path. I read Leslies books, and her videos online – I got educated in abusive behaviors and started standing up to each lie and deceit. He made it very clear he wasn’t going to acknowledge his abuse- that he needed help- or feel counseling might help. When the day came I realized he would not change- I built a plan to move on. Yes I was afraid to go out on my own but the Lord has been nothing but GENEROUS!!! Walk in faith and BELIEVE God has a plan for your future!!!!

  46. Vivienne on October 13, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Thank you Robin. I spent hours discussing stuff with my H tonight and he still refuses to own his behaviour but keeps pointing back to the last counselling we had, last year, sessions I requested when I was at my wits end! The counsellor chose the 5 Love languages to focus us toward reconciliation. However, while I read the book in one, maybe two days, my H took weeks and I never saw his bookmark move at all beyond a certain chapter and yet he tells me he has read the book three times! So, after digesting the book I recognise my love languages are firstly Quality Time and then Acts of Service. His are different and to do with physical touch, words of affirmation. After our first meeting, the H straight away buys me a new laptop….and I immediately tell him how nice that was but what I want is his attention, not a gift. Then he buys me flowers……he’s still not listening. Round and round we go until he says that I must first do what he needs before I will get what I need. Back to him being in control and not working together. Honestly Robin, I am plain exhausted but I know I had to try and confront a lot of major issues today. I confronted his gambling, his forgery of my signature, his deceit, being irresponsible with family finances, watching porn, signing up to a dating agency….and he tried to wriggle out of them all. He then attacked my faith, said that he has to compete with God, that I made a mutual friend (who struggles with Alcohol addiction) feel uncomfortable because I offered to pray for them and says this in a way that makes me feel I ought to be ashamed of that? I asked the person if I could pray for them and they agreed…. the way my H tells it is that the person felt awkward – well they could have said no couldn’t they? I had asked prior if they held a belief in God and they said they had, and in that context I offered to pray to which I was told “that would be nice”. I do sometimes wonder if my H says stuff to make me feel bad about caring for people enough to offer to pray for them….it is also the one area of my life, that is my faith, that really seems to upset him and yet he claims to be a Christian too….so why does he have a problem? It’s this and other stuff that confuses me so much about him.

    My eldest son was in the room, not engaging in the discussion (he was plugged in to his laptop) but he could hear and I am glad of that because now at least he has heard both sides and not just my H’s. My son is 18, therefore an adult and had every opportunity to leave the room but chose not to.

    I guess I am just feeling less confident after such a discussion and back to wondering if it is me who is the problem after all.

  47. Leonie on October 14, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Vivienne, you do have a problem. You husband is playing mind games with you – it’s him, he is your problem, good for you for standing up and confronting him, although all he probably got from it was ammunition. He should feel guilty for all the real, true evil he is doing to you and your family which you named, labelled and addressed but he is grasping at straws to find something against you – is trying to shame you into false guilt for being a Christian and reaching out someone and demonstrating your faith???? Because he has nothing on you, you have been faithful in your marriage and in your walk with Christ. He also successfully deflected onto you by not addressing his own issues and making you the bad person – the one to be shamed and feel guilty! Your husband brought confusion to the table – he had you confused and confounded again and is trying to get you to believe the lie that you did something wrong by asking to pray for someone (you did not, that was love and kindness) and that you made them feel awkward, how on earth can be decide how someone else feels?? They probably appreciated your offer to pray for them and are thankful that you are!!
    That is the crazy making.
    In reality, he is a criminal (forging your signature and selling something that you co-owned) but I am sure he doesn’t want to face that fact. He is unfaithful, using or pornography and signing up on dating websites, maybe even meeting people in secret – otherwise why is he on those sites?)
    He is probably congratulating himself for “winning” but he is about to lose it all because of this evil he keeps intentionally doing to you. You are not wrong, you are not crazy, he knows what he is doing and thinks he is smart. The next move is yours, don’t be scared God is with you and hates what this man is doing to you and your children. And he better pay the bills from his pension now that you no longer get that amount of money that you used to. Vivienne, you are brave, and doing the right and the hard thing and I am so glad you are here. I am praying for you – surround yourself with God’s truth, you can do it! God’s power us infinite and his Holy Spirit guides us! Your husband is no match for that! Don’t listen to your husband, he is lying to you to keep you scared, trapped and helpless. When we start praying for truth and strength, God hears and helps us!

  48. Vivienne on October 14, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Thank you Leonie. I will check back with the mutual friend and ask if I made him uncomfortable and if so apologise but again it is now difficult for me to know if the friend is just being polite if he says “no, of course not”. These mind games are so annoying.

    This morning, my H gives me 100 Euros and tells me he will arrange to transfer half the house rental money into my bank each month. Progress! I also got bought a hot drink while still in bed – but I am wary because he does that when he wants to reel me back in. At least he knows I am absolutely no pushover and I will speak truth whether he likes it or not! If I ultimately lose this spiritual battle for a marriage worth having – so be it. Scared but keep telling myself God is for me and not against me.

    Thank you for your prayers, and thank you to all who pray for the ladies on this blog. Without you I would not be so brave as I often find it hard to pray in these high conflict times but understand even my inward sighing and wrangling is used by the Holy Spirit to communicate my heartfelt needs to God. Wow…how amazing is that!

    • Vivienne on October 14, 2015 at 6:31 am

      I think I ought to Praise God just for that!

    • Leonie on October 14, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Don’t listen to any blaming or shaming from your husband – tune it out because he is picking out of thin air/ bluffing & fabricating to find something to have against you to distract you from the main issues which are what you confronted him with. God will show you the truth and the fog will lift as you depend on him. It is hard to pray when you are going through this. The battle is the Lord’s and he will give you the strength and clarity for each day.

  49. Vivienne on October 14, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Thank you Lilly for writing and exposing the difficulty many of us face and how you have chosen to deal with such issues. It helps me to know I am trying to do the right things even if at this current time I am not seeing true repentance, I am no longer in that place where the “marriage” is the all in all but rather I am doing what I can to turn a brother around for his own good. I am distancing myself, placing boundaries, being authentic and upholding truth – even when it hurts. I have to trust God with the outcome because staying in bondage is no longer an option for me. Bless you for all you have shared.

  50. Meg on October 14, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Dear Vivienne, my heart is breaking for you. I am in the same situation. I just turned 58, have teenage children (crazily had two more babies in my forties) and two grown children – and we all have Lyme Disease. The Lyme affects me neurologically so I have trouble thinking and we are in terrible debt due to medical bills, my inability to work and economy. I have seen the destructiveness of my marriage but seen no way out. Tried to stay well but H blames my neuro symptoms for all our difficulties. Received Christian counseling for over four years but the counselors pushed or us all meeting together resulting in my H convincing the male counselor that I was the horrible problem because off the Lyme and attention deficit. My H is probably borderline narcissist (undiagnosed). I finally refused to continue counseling so the counselor asked why. That’s when I confronted my counselors. The truth poured out of me to this male counselor who told me he was “proud” of me for speaking up. (I felt belittled by that somehow). Now the counselors want to do an intervention for my husband, (I wonder if it is to save face). I gathered some very convincing and heartbreaking letters from wiling former coworkers and family members. However, when I look at the possible outcomes of an intervention I realize there is no money for diagnosis or treatment for my husband and no money for us to live on, not to mention finding another living situation for H while he goes thru intervention (if he even could embrace the intervention). Five years ago I attempted to leave – go to a homeless shelter with my 9 and 12 year-olds but realized judges would give kids to H after talking to four lawyers (since H is careful not to be physically abusive) and I’d be stuck in homeless shelter alone. I could go on and on but want you to know if you can get more education, Vivienne, and get into work force again, you can get your life back. I know this had been very wordy – but I feel very alone.

    • Vivienne on October 14, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      Meg I can so hear the pain of your situation; I hope you are able to find a way through your circumstances soon. Dear God, all these women, and so many more, are suffering in hard places, wanting to find a way out or a way through but Lord I know you are with us and somehow you will help us.

      I am sorry you are having trouble with the Lyme Disease and medical bills – such a worry for you and the children. Lord I pray for your provision.

      Meg you are not alone. We are here, to listen, to encourage you and God knows your heart and circumstances. I know there were times in my marriage when I wanted to speak out but couldn’t fearing the reprisals, but I am way past that stage now and thank God for his strengthening, found through prayer and liaising with other women just like you. I also know for myself, the economy isn’t great, so it’s not the best time to be launching out into the deep on my own but that’s where trusting God come in and believing he has my needs covered.

      Bless you Meg, keep in touch. xx

  51. Robin on October 14, 2015 at 11:44 am

    To those living in a in house separation- I cannot advise you what to do for your family’s sake but I can tell you what I did and what I learned from it. We lived in separate bedrooms for a decade thinking it would help. WORST MISTAKE.
    My ex used this time to deceive and lie to my children, putting them against me. I did not realize the extent of this until I filed for divorce. Please really consider the implications of living separately in the house. My thought is if you have to live separately this is a definite RED FLAG. It means honesty and real beds must be addressed or I’m leaving and I will seek these things for myself so my children can see what healthy people do. They need to see authenticity and honest communications. I cannot save my children when I pretend by living in a separate bedroom.

  52. Vivienne on October 14, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    April, I always used to worry about how all the dysfunction affected my children too. But maybe, just maybe, we help them best by demonstrating a healthy alternative rather than display constant anxiety; this is something I am having to learn and I don’t want to keep reinforcing the message that my children have been abused but more about what they themselves can achieve if they focus themselves.

    Its a hard battle for sure, so I empathise with you…

    • Vivienne on October 14, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      I also have to trust God for their lives, to allow them to make their choices, and provide good counsel when they ask advice.

    • Robin on October 14, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Amen Vivienne. To focus on the abuse wins nothing for anyone. There comes a time when we choose to focus on getting well and healthy- and our children notice and receive good from it.

  53. Honesty never fails | I am staying on October 20, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    […] likely to wake up to the destructiveness of his or her own sin?” Leslie Vernick – https://leslievernick.com/am-i-expecting-too-much/ It’s why I thought and prayed and agonized over sharing anything on the internet. […]

  54. Elizabeth on October 29, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Thank you, Aleea for praying for all of us and caring so much. It touches my heart every time I read that. You are a great blessing.
    For too long I fought alone for what I thought was a godly marriage. 52 years later I have finally realized I was fighting for something that was not mutual or even wanted. Now my heart wants God’s glory and letting go of all the mess.
    You said it right Aleea, “What we really want is the Person we were made for, Jesus, and the place we were made for, Heaven. Nothing less can satisfy us. Our citizenship is in Heaven.” This is my desire and the rest is in His hands. I am content with Him alone.
    I am praying for you as well, my friend.

    • Elizabeth on October 29, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      Thank you, Leslie, for this great blog. Your list of “evidences” of true repentance are right on. That is a high expectation list and well it should be.

      “Able to identify brokenness in detail such as abusive tactics, attitudes of entitlement, and/or areas of chronic deceit.” This is very important in order to know that they “get it.” These 8 must all be done without expectation of reconciliation but solely for themselves before God.

      Blessings, Leslie as you speak, travel and counsel so many of us…

  55. janet on March 29, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I loved your questions. what I found helpful in sorting out complications in my relationship with my husband is listening to leslie video where she describes the difference between a difficult marriage, disappointing marriage and destructive marriage. What I found is that I had labeled some of my husbands behaviors as destructive when they were actually disappointing and difficult. There are also destructive behaviors but being able to sort that out helped narrow things down a bit for me and that alone is helping me make decisions and behaving proactively. Sorting those things out has also given me peace and comfort from god by default because identifying truth does bring us peace and comfort even if we have discomfort. maybe watch that video of leslie, its free. here is the link https://video.search.yahoo.com/video/play?p=leslie+vernick+youtube+difficult+marriage&vid=06fda350ead771a3ea44e951fc307305&turl=http%3A%2F%2Ftse4.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOVP.V348d70d79f8385b7fe426b1ceaf1e9ec%26pid%3D15.1%26h%3D168%26w%3D300%26c%3D7%26rs%3D1&rurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Do3IYGT8rM_0&tit=The+Difference+Between+a+Difficult%2C+Dissappointing%2C+%26+Destructive+Marriage&c=6&h=168&w=300&l=291&sigr=11bc7rdke&sigt=12ajib3rf&sigi=1319e9gv6&back=https%3A%2F%2Fsearch.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%3Fp%3Dleslie%2520vernick%2520yout%2520tube%2520difficult%2520marriage%26fr%3Dyfp-t-562%26fp%3D1%26_dangerouslyStopThrowingReuseError%3D1%26hspart%3Dyahoo%26hsimp%3Dyhs-default&sigb=15d9d9jp6&ct=p&age=1373920789&fr2=p%3As%2Cv%3Av&&tt=b

  56. Debby on March 29, 2016 at 11:38 am

    “So what is asking too much of a spouse? Is it asking too much of your husband to love you like you’d like? To be honest with you? To never watch pornography? To support you in the manner you’d like to live? To treat you with kindness and respect? To clean up after himself? To be able to fix the toilet and the sink when they have a leak?

    Is it too much for a husband to ask his wife never to nag or criticize him? To keep her weight close to what she weighed on her wedding day? To want to have sex every time he desires? To make dinner regularly? To work outside the home to help with finances? To put him first before the children? To respect him, especially in front of others? To not read steamy romance novels or visit Internet chat rooms?”

    I think these listings are very problematic. To lump all of these together seems to indicate that they are equal in their destructiveness, their moral degeneracy, their seriousness which is the last thing those who frequent your blog need. You are lumping the “man who watches porn” and “dishonesty” with “guy who won’t fix the toilet.” You are lumping woman who “won’t fix dinner every night” with “reading steamy novels and chatrooms.” The response to these would be VERY different. This could serve to further confuse a woman who is just now even ASKING the right questions as she comes out of the fog of abuse. I have read your Destructive Marriage book and it does go into a lot of detail that sorts these behaviors and the responses out, but for those who are reading this blog, it seems that it would cause more unnecessary guilt to a person who has already lived with abuse and tried everything. This sounds very much like, “No matter WHAT your spouse is doing, God can comfort you, therefore, let them continue while you pray and forgive.” God CAN comfort me in the midst of abuse. But that doesn’t mean He wants me to stay or continue being subjected to it.

    • Leslie Vernick on March 29, 2016 at 11:47 am

      Debbie, thanks for your feedback but I do distinguish often between a disappointing marriage and a destructive marriage. I think this blog at times addresses both, it is not only for destructive behaviors. I believe that in every marriage we need to learn to love the person we are married to, not the person we WISH we were married to. That means that we will be disappointed when someone doesn’t measure up to our ideal of what we wanted. However when the person engages in patterns of behaviors like dishonesty, pornography, adultery, disrespect, abuse, controlling behavior, it is destructive and I have made that very clear that these actions break apart trust, warmth, and intimacy. People can stay legally married but it is not a good marriage. But I also get a lot of e-mails from women and men who aren’t really talking about those kinds of things, but they are wanting MORE from their marriage and I believe that continuously “wanting more” can become destructive if we start to criticize and shame our spouse’s flaws and weaknesses. There is a difference between human flaws and weaknesses and destructive behaviors and from time to time I think it’s important that I address both.

    • Robin on March 29, 2016 at 11:53 am

      Debby, I’m not sure what you are reading on the blog, but I have felt it does a great job in helping women diagnose their situation and start the process of standing up to abuse and stopping it. While it is true God can comfort us IN the abuse, that is not saying, stay in the abuse. Much of what is taught here is to not be a victim of abuse and accept some support and help in learning how to stop it. I hope you are receiving that message. On a blog as large as this one has become, there is a myriad of things spouses tolerate in their marriages- but I don’t believe anyone here would clump these together and consider them equal to the woman living in a very destructive relationship. I hope you are able to see the fight many of us are fighting, to live free lives from abuse.

      • Shellie on March 30, 2016 at 12:53 am

        Hi Debby. I understand what you are saying and see where you are coming from. You are right about the questions Leslie poses, in that they do vary in their destructiveness. Like you said, she does sort out these behaviors and responses in her books. Did you mean to say,”…but for those who are reading this [particular post]…” instead of blog? That’s how I understood it. Were you singling out just this post as being “problematic” and as to “further confuse a woman” coming out of the “fog of abuse?” If so, I respect your concern for new readers to Leslie’s blog.

        I’d like to offer how I interpreted that section of Leslie’s post that you quoted in your comment. Like you said, the response of the offended spouse (victim) to the offending spouse (the one who won’t fix the toilet or stop watching porn) would be different. I think Leslie’s focus was more on how the offended spouse responds to herself when the offender won’t change. What choices does the offended spouse have when the offender won’t change? How does she guard her heart and mind – without falling into sin herself – especially when she doesn’t get what she wants from her spouse, and especially, when what she wants is good and godly? How does she set a boundary with the right motives? How does she take care of herself – receive God’s comfort – after deciding on a boundary? I think all of those questions I pose can apply to any of the questions Leslie posed in that section of her post. Perhaps that is why they are lumped together…? Leslie goes on to answer these questions in the rest of her post and by referring the reader to her books.

        • Shellie on March 30, 2016 at 12:56 am

          Sorry Robin. I hope the above doesn’t confuse you. I meant to reply to Debby.

    • Shellie on March 30, 2016 at 12:55 am

      Hi Debby. I understand what you are saying and see where you are coming from. You are right about the questions Leslie poses, in that they do vary in their destructiveness. Like you said, she does sort out these behaviors and responses in her books. Did you mean to say,”…but for those who are reading this [particular post]…” instead of blog? That’s how I understood it. Were you singling out just this post as being “problematic” and as to “further confuse a woman” coming out of the “fog of abuse?” If so, I respect your concern for new readers to Leslie’s blog.

      I’d like to offer how I interpreted that section of Leslie’s post that you quoted in your comment. Like you said, the response of the offended spouse (victim) to the offending spouse (the one who won’t fix the toilet or stop watching porn) would be different. I think Leslie’s focus was more on how the offended spouse responds to herself when the offender won’t change. What choices does the offended spouse have when the offender won’t change? How does she guard her heart and mind – without falling into sin herself – especially when she doesn’t get what she wants from her spouse, and especially, when what she wants is good and godly? How does she set a boundary with the right motives? How does she take care of herself – receive God’s comfort – after deciding on a boundary? I think all of those questions I pose can apply to any of the questions Leslie posed in that section of her post. Perhaps that is why they are lumped together…? Leslie goes on to answer these questions in the rest of her post and by referring the reader to her books.

  57. Charity on March 29, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    Wow Ladies, I am not alone! I am SO thankful to Jesus that I am free of my abuser. When my husband filed for divorce 1 1/2 yrs ago, I felt sad and deserted, but in reality it brought me physical and emotional safety. I had lived with a man who had extreme paranoia, depression, and a brain tumor AND carried a gun everywhere he went. My fear was that he would shoot me and or himself in a fit of rage. I felt that what he sued me for was better than living with that constant fear that he might pull the trigger. I was reluctant to divorce him because of my vow “In sickness and in health” but He has moved back to his hometown and I have never invited him back. In the years leading up to this, I had learned I needed to put my hope and trust in Jesus because he loves me as a widow. I have grieved long and hard but now I’m ready to check out the next chapter! Through Leslie’s books and seminars I have learned to live from my core. With God’s help I will make right decisions and also release those unhealthy feelings of bitterness and resentment.

  58. Pat on March 29, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I started my marriage at a young age. Both of us were from dysfunctional homes. I now know that I was looking for secure provider and had no idea at 18 what marriage was all about. I ended up having emotional affairs and kept finding ways to justify my sins. My husband was unfaithful as well. He sought attention from females by getting massages and then porn came into our lives. He never wanted to work for anyone and had to have his own business, thus he had freedom to come and go as he pleased while I held down jobs to provide the health insurance. our two children suffered immensely. My husband was abusive to the point that I spent time at safe homes and even filed for divorce. He became sweet and said all the right words to get me back. Now the worst is coming out. He is bipolar and paranoid. He does not trust anyone. We have been married 44 years and few positive memories. I have seen and went with to therapists to no avail. About 2.5 years ago I moved out of the house to the town where my granddaughter lives to help her and her parents and get away and be safe. With his obsessive compulsive disorder he has gambled all of our retirement money away which was considerable! Now he tells me he wants to be together. I don’t want to be with him but am scared of his bipolar and violent side.
    How do you break it off and not get hurt.
    He trusts no one and only goes to church to please me if I am with him.
    My pastor helped me to see Gods love and forgiveness was for me and that God has forgiven me. If not for Gods gift I would not be able to exist with my past.
    I have high hopes but they never come true. Trying to build my core up to be strong and ask for a divorce but not have him so angry that he harms me or himself. He has told me numerous times of where and how he has planned suicide. And he has also threatened me numerous times to kill me.
    When I moved out I told him I wanted to help our daughter. I have not been completely honest with him and have justified it by thinking that if I tell him it’s over he will kill me. fear is from the devil and I do fear him so much.
    His anger and controlling scares me. Please pray that God will help me confront him without him wanting to kill himself or me. Any ideas or suggestions appreciated. I have not sought legal advice yet.
    He believes in God but doesn’t show it by reading or studying the Bible or attending church.
    He has no friends to talk to
    I don’t want anything to happen to him and have that guilt to live with .

    Thanks for your help!

    • Charity on April 6, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Pat,
      You can’t control your husband, but you can put some tight boundries in place to protect yourself and your children. I would not delay one more day going to the police and obtaining a restraining order. YOU are not safe! You have a right to live in your home in safety. The police will arrest him if he comes near and put him in jail. The next step is to make an apt. with a divorce lawyer and file suite.
      You need to put his life and future in God’s hands and let God take care of him. Your worry will do nothing for him whatsoever, just make you feel guilty.
      God be with you as you begin this painful process. Read leslie’s book , “The Em. Distructive Marriage” like a Bible for the next month or so. It will help you see yourself and label the behaviors that you are struggling with from your abusive “Christian” husband.
      Honey, you’ll make it because YOU are depending on God to weather this hurricane with you. Write and let us know how you are doing. OK?

  59. G on April 4, 2016 at 6:35 am

    .

    Just wondering if a man who claims to be a bornagain Christian be involved in all these. Just dated a guy who said his a bornagain Christian but he told me subtle lies, from there it progressed to overt ones but usually laughed it of as ‘grey areas’. Then I discovered he visits erotic sites with poorly clad lady as his profile picture. But he said things like he just stumbled into it, only for me to discover he went back there. Then when I tried discussing it with him, he made a statement that infact I’m not a beautiful as he always imagined his wife to be that the first day he saw me, he would have thrown away his phone and not call me again. That its just that he wants to do God’s will. Then I decided we had to postpone the wedding indefinitely only for him to scream and shout and give me 24hrs to make up my mind on it. Well, he didn’t seem to like the idea that I was going to tell people what caused the postponement so he came back crying and telling lies and saying he really wants to marry me and loves me. It’s all so confusing. On the surface he looks so humane and calm when discussing with people at the church/fellowship. And my heart was already invested in the relationship before all these happened. I’m just confused. He’s supposed to be a good christian. I just don’t know what to do.

    • Leonie on April 4, 2016 at 8:59 am

      I hope you have not married this man, it will only get worse. I kept believing my husband’s lies – not knowing he was lying to me. When his sister & her family moved near to us from their country overseas then I started witnessing him lying to her and her husband all the time about everything and it opened my eyes to his true nature and realized the extent to which he had lied to me also, about everything.
      He always said they had evil motives and didn’t want them knowing his business or living close to him. He was really good and really convincing and I was floored when I realize how much of a con man he is! He was really smooth, I never knew how deceptive he was but once I figured it out a lot more things about him made sense too, like his constant defensiveness and the ‘propaganda’ he was always spewing. He truly showed me what evil was in his heart but he is really deceptive and convincing. Now I am going through the court system and I find that even though he has criminal charges over his head people still believe him and his lies. Please run away while you still can. This guy is bad news and will only bring trouble and chaos to your life like he is already starting to show you and that you are already experiencing by the sounds of it.
      My ex presented himself as a marriageable man and he really wasn’t. His wife is his addiction – I was just being used.

      • Vivienne on April 4, 2016 at 9:15 am

        So sorry you had to learn those things, just as I did too. Yes, smooth, utterly convincing, charming until challenged about the truth. I also say run for the hills, run as fast as you can, your life, like mine has been, will be full of chaos if you don’t. How you describe his comment to you about not being as beautiful, you pronouncing a postponement, his yelling and demanding that you make a decision in 24 hours (controlling manipulative behaviour) and how when that didn’t sway you he changed tack. This is what I have had to put up with for many years and it is destructive behaviour that will emotionally drain you. His behaviour is immature and not understanding of your need to be reassured he is worthy of you or your trust. You have done well to postpone plans as that was a brave decision and shows you are listening to your gut – don’t ever stop that.

        • Vivienne on April 4, 2016 at 9:20 am

          reply was intended for G but positioned under Leonie’s post.

  60. Charity on April 4, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    DON’T DO IT!!!! He needs YEARS of agreed upon accountability and a willingness to submit to counselling with the goal of CHANGE. And then there is often regression into the old sin once again. I made the mistake of giving the guy a second chance and total trust. After marriage, he continued to break my trust and my heart and his vows along with professing his faith???

    My secret to survival is this: Develop such a close relationship with God the Father and with Jesus through the Holy Spirit that you deepest needs will be satisfied through the Godhead. Rest your dependency on God, not on man.

  61. G on April 6, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks so much dears. Vivienne, you’re so right about him being immature. When I suggested accountability, he said he didn’t need it. That he’s never been tempted by internet porn. Lied straight into my face. Couldn’t really believe all that was happening. Sometimes I still ask myself how I got into this mess.

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