Morning friends,

I’m in sunny California FINALLY, after about 10 days of traveling by car with Grace (the dog). Our bike rack broke when we forgot they were mounted on top of the car and went under a canopy of a hotel lobby and we were stuck in Texas trying to get that fixed.

Thankfully there was a wonderful car repair shop that graciously clamped our rack together so we could make the rest of the trip with our bikes still attached to our car roof. I also drove through my first sand storm in Arizona. It was like a whiteout with snow, except it was sand. It was scary but fascinating. I’m so glad I was inside and not outside. Sand would have been everywhere.

The sunny weather, blue skies, a view the ocean from the corner of our tiny balcony, plus the grandchildren. I’m tasting a bit of heaven.

 

Today’s Question: I am struggling with how to approach my husband with a request that he address the deeply rooted patterns that are distorting his life and affecting those around him. How do I pinpoint my request? How do I avoid bringing up too much yet make it clear and be calm, not emotional. How do I avoid passivity and fear in putting it off; when am I ready?

I spoke with a friend and said, it is hard to know what to say, the whole thing seems so big. She said she started with her marriage. I think I am clear that I am asking for action. Awareness or agreement, do not go far enough. I am aware of the likely words I will hear “it's never good enough” and “you aren't perfect, you have stuff too.” I know the answers to those: “I am seeking counsel and reading to gain strength and growth, I would like you to do that too.” Not “I need you to”, something seems weak in those words.

Thank you for your help and balanced, simple words.

Answer: Planning a confrontation is never easy and it takes preparation, prayer, and practice for you to do it in the way you want. I have three chapters on how to do this wisely in my book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage but let me give you some main points.

Preparation: There are several ways you must prepare for this important conversation. It sounds like you’ve given it a lot of thought in terms of what you will say when he objects or counters with your own stuff and what you’re asking for – action, not acknowledgment. That’s a good start.

Let me give you a few more ways you can prepare. First pray that God will give you the wisdom and strength you will need. Confronting someone is never easy.

You must prepare your own heart. Jesus reminds us to take the log out of our own eye before attempting to remove the speck in someone else’s (Matthew 7:5). When we confront and do so with humility and gentleness (Galatians 6:1) we’re more likely to be heard. Don’t confuse gentleness with weakness. But the goal is for someone to take action to change sinful and destructive behaviors and that’s more likely when they don’t feel shamed or attacked.

When possible, prepare documentation or proof of his destructive behaviors. Jesus tells us that when someone sins against us and we go and talk with him and they do not listen, we’re to bring witnesses to help us make our point (Matthew 18:15). In destructive marriages there may be people witnesses, but if not, you may find other types of witnesses that help your husband see just how destructive his behaviors are.

For example are there financial records of his mismanagement? Is there a video recording of him stumbling, falling down or being abusive when he’s been drinking too much? Documentation of injuries he’s caused to you or your home when enraged, such as photos of broken furniture, holes in walls or doctors reports. These witnesses are not to shame him, but to verify that this is serious and we’re not just talking about “normal” sins that happen in every marriage.

In preparation for your conversation with your husband you must also be prepared with what consequences, if any, you will implement if he refuses to take the action you desire. For example, if he’s vulnerable to road rage and refuses to take action to get help you might say, “Okay then for my safety and the children’s safety, we can no longer drive together as a family unless I drive the car. If you won’t let me drive, then I’ll have to drive us separately.” He won’t like that but you are stating clearly and firmly that if he chooses not to take action on these destructive behaviors, then you will need to do something else to protect yourself and the children.

Lastly, you must prepare what you want to say and how you want to say it.

Words are an imperfect medium for communicating deep feelings and problems and therefore choose your words wisely (tweet that).

You’re right to not overwhelm him with too much at once. But here’s what I tell my coaching and counseling clients to do. List all the incidents of destructive behaviors you are upset about. I’m talking about the one’s you feel threaten the safety and stability of your marriage or your emotional, spiritual, mental, financial, physical or spiritual health.

Once you get that list, try to group them into “themes” or “patterns.” For example you might see you have lots of incidents of destructive behaviors when he’s enraged or drinking too much. Or  numerous examples of deceitful behaviors, etc. It’s the larger issue you want to speak to not the specific incidents. Use the specific incidents to illustrate that you fear his anger, or his drinking has gotten out of control, or you can’t continue to trust him when he continually lies to you.

As you prepare what you want to say, begin your confrontation with this sentence. “There is something important I need to talk with you about, are you willing to listen?” If he says yes start. If he starts interrupting you or diverting you, stop and say, “I thought you said you were willing to listen.” You want to stay in charge of this conversation.

If he’s willing to listen, begin by telling him the good things about him, what you fell in love with and how important your relationship with him is to you. He’ll likely listen to that without objection. Then move on to, “but there are some things happening that are destroying our marriage” (or your health or whatever to your particular situation).

Start with the biggest thing first. If he is willing to hear more, then you can go on to the other things. If he refuses to listen to the first one, don’t bother with the rest because you’ll be wasting your breath. Just move on to the consequences stage because your words are not making an impact.

Before you confront him, practice, and practice. That will help you feel calmer and stronger when you actually say it. Since you’ve disclosed this to your friend, role-play with her. Let her be your husband and have her object or divert, or change the subject (however he does it) and you practice what you’re going to say when he does that.

For example, if he starts to say “I’m never good enough for you.” You can say, “that’s not the issue we’re talking about. We’re talking about your lying and I can’t continue to ignore that because it’s destroying my trust.” Keep your answers short, don’t let him distract you into these rabbit trails or you will lose momentum and it will get exhausting.

Finally, it’s better if it isn’t too long. Therefore make sure you know how to stay on course and say what you want to say and then stop and wait for his response. If you have any fear for your physical safety, make sure you seek advice from an expert in domestic violence before you do this because it may not be safe for you to confront him or have any kind of conversation regarding his behavior. In those cases it’s best to make an exit plan for your safety as soon as possible. Again consult with an expert in this field as sometimes when a woman leaves an abuser, she is in more danger than ever. The DV hotline for help is  800 799-SAFE (7233).

Friend, if you had a successful conversation (confrontation) with your spouse, what did you do/say?

173 Comments

  1. Kelly on February 3, 2016 at 7:28 am

    I have been out of the house for six months now dues to his inability to see his words and actions hurt to much. I had tried for years for him to see and finally thought that I’d I left that would help him see I was serious. Now I’m only in limbo, I don’t want this marriage to be over but I am not going back to be in the same boat. He has not changed at all his heart is still hard even though he is going to counseling, I feel he is only saying what makes him look like our problems are “normal” marriage problems but they aren’t! I wish I could step out in faith to do what Ineed to do, but that is where I am struggling at knowing what that is! 🙁

    • Kir on February 4, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Prayers for you. For peace and confidence in the Lords great love for you.

  2. Ruth on February 3, 2016 at 10:21 am

    I have been married for 19 years. I’ve never had a successful ‘request for change’ conversation. Really, I’ve barely ever even tried to have type of conversation. His mind is proudful and selfish. Not only would he not receive what I had to say, but he would turn in into an attack on me.
    In the first year of our marriage, I wrote him a letter telling him that I wanted more affirmation, compliments, etc. H’s response- he totally ignored it.
    That hurt badly. I wasn’t just going over a minor pet peeve. I was saying ‘You don’t make me feel loved.’ In this instance, he didn’t attack me back, but his silence was my punishment.

    • LA on February 3, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Hello Ruth,
      Same here… Why am I so drawn to read this blog and theses posts? Why? Because it’s like looking in the mirror and seeing the truth of all that’s happened in my own marriage! How is it that these behaviors are so prevalent in men? It boggles my mind and breaks my heart that I’ve not been seen or heard in my marriage. I sometimes feel that I lived on hope… Someday… But someday never came… The grief is overwhelming at times!
      Just breathing and trusting

    • Autumn on February 4, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      It is interesting to me that your ask for more affection and affirmation. That is the request my husband asks of me. I am so sick of hearing it because it just seems like a needy, codependent, parasitical request to me. I think, don’t you have enough self esteem to feel loved on your own? There is never enough affirmation for him. He is a bottomless pit of need. He has childhood neglect issues. I understand this, but now as a grown adult, I don’t want a needy man. I want him to be secure in the Lord, feel his love and let me add too it. I don’t want to be his self esteem. A little role reversal here. I wonder if your husbands think like me?

      • Ruth on February 5, 2016 at 12:42 pm

        That was almost 20 years ago and yes, I was needy. At the time, I hoping for occasional compliments like “your hair looks nice” or “you look pretty in that dress”. Also, I wanted non-sexual affection. we had no emotional bond but he still expected frequent sex. I learned to lean hard on God bc my marriage was such a lonely place.
        At this point in our marriage, I don’t lament the lack of romance or affection. What I would like is a break from his critical, harsh, proudful ways.

        • Adrienne on February 7, 2016 at 11:21 am

          Wow… that sounds like a nightmare. I can’t imagine that God wants you to be abused… I definitely will not have sex with somebody that was putting me down.. You need to have an honest talk with him and tell him that as long as he denigrates you you can’t be with him.. And if that’s not good then he needs to think about leaving or changing… And of course praying around the clock.. Did you ever think of asking him to do a Bible study with you and praying right away together

        • Robin on February 9, 2016 at 3:29 am

          Ruth have you considered your options, what decisions you could make to own your own life more, and quit accepting things as they have been?? I know it’s hard to go there but it’s harder to stay in misery.

  3. Aleea on February 3, 2016 at 11:09 am

    “Friend, if you had a successful conversation (confrontation) with your spouse, what did you do/say?”

    . . . . So I call that type of conversational confrontation a “fierce conversation”. They are really, really hard for me and if they don’t go right, they drain the life out of me. If it goes well, like last weekend my husband, I had the best conversation we’ve had in ten years. If it goes well, it feels like falling in love all over again. The more I pray, practice and anticipate before I speak, the better it usually goes. . . . . I can only assume that if I had more practice with robust conversations, they would became increasingly compelling to me, because authenticity, candor, etc. obviously leads to freedom and effectiveness. A fierce conversation, to me, is like the first parachute jump from an airplane. . . . . you perspire and your mouth goes dry. . . . . But there can be no progress without head-on confrontation. . . . But a price is to be paid, sometimes a really serious one. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as many of you may know, was a German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, who actually gave his life for Christ after the discovery of Bonhoeffer’s candid conversations to other Christians concerning Hitler’s concentration camps. Bonhoeffer was court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defense and executed by hanging from piano wire. He stated that “. . . nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin (not saying anything). Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin (Hitler claimed to be a Christian.) ―Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters from Prison. Bonhoeffer always insisted that confrontation in the Christian life was about reconciliation and awareness, not judgement or anger (―Oh, I love that thought, but it can cost you your life).

    . . . . .Oh my, I am so glad none of you were with me in Sunday School last week. We had a guest speaker on relationships. . . . . After ten minutes of this, I had to go “help” in the nursery:
    1) Distance yourself from Women who speak negatively and disrespectfully about their husbands.
    2) Don’t let anyone speak poorly of your husband to you, if he is not there. (If he is there, he may prefer to defend himself rather than have you defend him.)
    3) Cultivate godly friendships with Women who seek to honor God, to honor their husbands, and to honor your husband.
    4) Don’t seek advice from Women who don’t treat their husbands well, or those who cherish any kind of sin in their hearts. If your husband doesn’t like a particular group or friend of yours, gently ask about his concerns and then limit contact with the group or friend, if necessary.
    5) Many times, a husband’s concern in a situation like this is another Woman’s disrespect for her own husband or for himself, if he feels these relationships are disrespectful.

    . . . . I just kept still. I am in enough trouble and have to use my “free-speech” allowance wisely. . . . . Obviously, there are benefits in confrontation even though we don’t like it most of the time but when we do confront, it may be that we live in peace better than others that do not. . . . . Anyways, obviously, change comes from confrontation. You have to be confronted or confront yourself. If someone in my life could grow with confrontation and feedback, why would I choose to refrain? . . . .Only because I want people to like me, which means I don’t love them enough. ―I know, that is sad. As Bonhoeffer also said “. . . . through the act of getting married, we have taken on the task of mutual confrontation until death.”

  4. Rose on February 3, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    Oh boy! Approaching the destructive partner diplomatically is NEVER easy. No matter how I ran the conversation over and over in my mind, chose my words, checked on my delivery of those words, prayed so much, it had the same outcome. Disastrous! I felt so guilty that i was not doing this right. As long as he is in utter denial, nothing will work. Numerous Christian counsellors, marriage weekends away, “improving” myself, crying in private, praying…. I tried for 14 years to save our marriage. It was one sided. “I had the problem.” That was 30 months ago I had the prayerful courage to end our marriage and a huge dark oppressive cloud has lifted and I am FREE (thank you Lord!!) from his destructive, dis-unifying nature towards me and my now adult children.. I know that God hates divorce but more so He hates the sin that causes the divorce. I cried for 14 years, asked my husband for his forgiveness and God’s forgiveness for my part…..still everything stayed the same. It is so sad what he has lost. I am fully functional, have peace “beyond all understanding”, God has restored my soul! THANK YOU ABBA FATHER.

    • Sandy on February 4, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Thanking God with you, Rose!!

    • Autumn on February 4, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      I think it is essential to have a 3rd party present for confrontational discussions. Many women are just not safe to create conflict. Lundy Bancroft says that, He is not against anger, he is just against YOUR anger. In other words, his anger is fine, the slightest whimper from you is unacceptable.

    • Sharon on February 4, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      Dear Rose,
      I had the same experience 25 years ago! I married a narcissistic very abusive man. I was young, not supported, also abandoned by family…non- educated, his choice and a mom of two children under 11. It took 4 times to leave him…I finally did! I had to relocate and I lived, very scared and nervous with no confidence, I got into two worse relationships after! They felt comfortable, ment to be, and so hopefully! then I dated one guy after another. Breaking up wore me out!.. Plus I dragged my kids with me. I began to think it was me..a bad women…

      Today I’m happily single, training in ministry for abusive marriages and relationships for my church..I’m a changed women, an educated women. I live by myself and respect myself.

      My message here is give yourself TIME! You must heal and recognize the signs and love yourself..have joy, peace, and sanity before you date again! Yes, it’s VERY painful at first. With time and faith you become comfortable and know yourself. You will know when your ready to date when you don’t dread going home by yourself and be in joy with your own company, you will actually desire being by yourself!

      I hope this will help someone out there!

      Peace and Joy with Gods Blessing Rose, your not alone!

  5. Ruth on February 3, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Wow, Alea. You are spot on! That was inspiring. It had been so long since I’d heard of that German pastor that I’d forgotten about him. Sad, that we could apply his life’s story and sacrifice to MARRIAGE – but it is true.
    FWIW, my blood would have been boiling in your Sunday School also. Sure, there are women who whine about their husbands over mundane things – Ladies who can’t be happy without a fairytale prince. Those ladies do need a wake up call. But I’m tired of that kind of teaching given out to EVERYONE like a nationwide immunization. C’mon those in authority- get your wisdom on! That advice will crush a wounded lady dying to tell someone that she lives in a private hell.

    • Aleea on February 3, 2016 at 5:55 pm

      Ruth,
      You are so, so right but I guess it is extremely hard to see issues if you have never had the problem. I know I have been so, so blind about so, so many things. No one should tolerate abuse and lots of current teaching fosters it. . .This is as you say “that kind of teaching given out to EVERYONE like a nationwide immunization.” . . . .But with generally healthy people they often never think to bracket off neuropsychological measures outside of the norm: —interpersonally exploitative, psychotic, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc. . . . . . You know what? It is so sad that we can’t just love each other. . . . . I really believe that sinful behaviors are derivative of relational longings. . . .All these nasty pathologies are relationally transmitted diseases and this is what is responsible for the iniquity of the mothers/fathers being visited on the children. . . .internalized parental behaviors ensuring a relational “dis-connection.” Somehow, when we really relate in trauma, we achieve transcendence (―we become a relational vehicle of redemption for others in God’s Kingdom.) We access our own pain, brokenness and grief in a way that heals. . . .As I say, NOT so that we will despair, but so that we will be free of the despair that already is within us. The despair that we all have had or now have. . . . . . . I was thinking about it today and I realize that “research” and “data” and cognitive learning do little to free people of repetitive relationship difficulties. I am learning that, possibly, -maybe- healing comes from the intersection of Psychoanalysis and Theology because repressed issues from childhood and other traumas are really hard to get at but cause nearly all those repetitive relationship difficulties. Attachment to a caring human is the deepest need most husbands have, even above respect —which this woman presenting to my Sunday School class was really emphasizing. Respect will NOT cure many of these pathologies. I know what she is referring to but I think there is a much higher place to go, see: Christianity and Psychoanalysis: A New Conversation edited by Dr. Earl D. Bland and Dr. Brad D. Strawn. There is so much power in incarnation, enacting and healing our spouse’s relationship traumas!!! There can be no real resurrection without death of those underlying issues! That requires getting to causes and not just dealing with symptoms. Psychoanalytic theory is one of the best ways of getting at the buried issues and explaining them at the relationship level of understanding to promote Christ-honoring healthy living and the ability to engage in a full expression of the Christian life. I just wish somehow we could rescue everyone: women and men but yet I can’t even rescue myself at times. I’m praying for you Ruth and would so ask for your prayers too!

  6. Natalie on February 3, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    My husband and I both grew up as pastor’s kids. We were married really young as Christians, so I thought. He has struggled with sexual and substance addiction since he was a teenager and hid it effectively. One year after we were married he started staying out at bars and ended up sleeping with other women in. Our own bed. We separated for 9 months and then attempted to reconcile and started fresh under the direction of a pastor. Seven years into our marriage I discovered drugs and cheating again. This time our families counsel was involved and we have been trying to recover. The problem is, he still uses pot daily and thinks it’s perfectly acceptable and even made by God for his stomach issues. He is a very successful business man, we have 3 kids and I feel so trapped. I feel like I am violating my own conscience as a Christian by staying but then the damage from leaving seems just as costly in the end. I stay at home and I am currently trying to figure out what job I can get to actually support myself and our 3 kids. We have been married 9 years now and although he has shown progress he has no accountability in his life, I’m not even sure if he really wants to serve God at all and I feel hopeless that this is the enviroment my kids are being raised in.

    • Autumn on February 4, 2016 at 8:23 pm

      How do you know that your future would be negatively affected? None of us knows the future. Save your children before you have to hear about how painful it was for them later and they ask you, “Mom why didn’t you protect us?”

      • Jackie on March 31, 2016 at 9:58 am

        Autumn
        I stayed and now am haunted with-why didn’t I leave and protect my children. I know God will use all things for his glory but WHY didn’t I leave sooner??
        I tried to”be a better wife, obey, submit, pray, bible study, forgive ect…”
        I did not protect my children from his rages and destructive words.
        I now realize I was manipulated and so deceived for 27 years. It finally took him hitting my 23 year old daughter the night before her sisters wedding.She was a brides maid(with scratches across her face and bruises on neck and chest) My daughter that was getting married saw sister and first thing she said was “dad did that didnt he” She got married that day- Dad hurt both daughters in one shot! I got a restraining order for myself and so did the 23 year old. That was last June. He has been in court ordered abuser treatment and meetings 3 times a week and he also goes to a Christian counselor once a week. I do not know if he has any recognition of his abuse. I just know his fear of abandonment (from me) will keep him saying the right things to counselor-He has one goal-get me back. I have not been able to spend any time with him to see if he has changed(do to restraining order) but I know he knows what to say and how to act to look like he has changed.
        Sad-I dont miss him at all! and now I spend more time with my children and It is peaceful.

        • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 12:06 pm

          Jackie, I hope you do not reconcile from him until a good time past when the restraining order has passed and you see how he handles his anger and hurt and fear.

          • Jackie on April 2, 2016 at 1:57 pm

            Leslie, to be perfectly honest, at the beginning of our separation I told H if he went to counseling and got well I would wait for him. After 7 months passing and christian counseling I realize when I said that I was still trying to say the things I thought would appease him.
            Now I am seeking to be truthful to myself and I realize I do NOT want to get back together with him ever. I know this sounds unforgiving but I can not go back and take the chance of being nothing more than a toxic waste dump. I do realize people can and do change and God is able to able to do the impossible. H really has some great qualities but they do not make up for the destructive ones.
            I feel like a liar since I told him I would wait, but for the first time in 27 years I feel free.



          • Leslie Vernick on April 3, 2016 at 9:47 pm

            Jackie, sometimes relationships are just broken and not fixable. Trust is shattered and even if the person does make significant changes, you aren’t able to trust that those changes will stick. Then it feels bad for him because you don’t trust him and bad for you because you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Be kind to yourself and him and understand the limits of our own humanity.



  7. Leonie on February 3, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I needed to have that conversation with my ex last spring and was too scared to. I was going to do it in a public place while our little child was in the daycare. The weeks passed and I kept looking for opportunities and then realized I was too scared because he had hurt me physically in the past. After getting some advice from various professionals- the shelter, a friend…. and a few other people, I made a plan and packed a bag without disclosing anything to him. I went to police and then did not return home but stayed with friends for a week and without ever having the dreaded discussion. We separated for good. I did not feel safe. I am so glad my church didn’t decide that was wrong and pull him in to begin counselling and keep me hanging on and trying harder. I did have a neighbour who advised me to stay with my ex in spite of all of his addictions and destructive behaviours and she told me to start praying through “the power of a praying wife”. I did get another book – “lead me holy spirit ” and I believe he did!

    • Robin on February 4, 2016 at 12:19 am

      Leonie, you did it right. You needed to be safe and to protect your children. By this time, conversation about destructive behavior would serve no purpose. You can’t go wrong, when you’re listening to the Spirit, over all the other voices. Well done girlfriend!!!

      • Robin on February 4, 2016 at 12:28 am

        And FYI– I pretty much did the same Leonie. Over a period of 30 years I confronted his destructive behaviors daily and weekly and he never listened. When I watched Leslies videos on her website I was so moved by new knowledge I could apply, I asked him to listen to them with me. I felt she could speak about these things better than I. He said he heard things he hadn’t heard before and sounded interested- but it went no where. I filed for divorce within a few weeks. What I would say to other women is how long will you stay in a neutral position and do nothing?? How long are you willing to waste your life on misery?? I’m not a supporter of divorce- but I am a supporter of healthy families and children being rescued from living where they are demeaned and disrespected. I’m a supporter of more women learning how to ask the right questions and when they don’t get the answer they needed- make a definite consequence that will force him to either have a change of heart and work on the things that matter to his wife, or understand the relationship is dying and will terminate soon.

  8. Melanie on February 3, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    If your husband doesn’t like a particular group or friend of yours, gently ask about his concerns and then limit contact with the group or friend, if necessary.

    This could be very dangerous advice. Abusive men seek to isolate their wives from their friends and “I don’t like them” or “they’re disrespectful to me” can be pretty vague complaints when the motive behind them could be: Those friends are helping you become stronger, know your own worth and value, empowering you to stand up to my sin…

    One of the things I thought over 20 years was why does it feel impossible to have a real conversation about something that matters to me? And the answer I realized after our divorce was that he wasn’t interested in changing his destructive behaviors. He was interested in making sure that he manipulated me into laying off the confrontation, and that could be by fighting me until I gave up or agreeing with me that he needed to change. No change ever came…

    I realized that I don’t have these kind of difficulties in any relationships in my life– not even my teenagers at their worst. Because everyone was trying to move toward one another, not get their own way at all costs. But all of my ex-husband’s relationships were like this.

    Women who are “disrespectful” or “speaking negatively” may just be like Ruth said: wounded women who are dying to tell someone that she lives in a private hell… Those are the last people we need to distance ourselves from.

    • Aleea on February 3, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      Melanie,
      You are exactly right and I just could not believe that someone would list all those “to dos” without explaining context and exceptions. But, it is just so hard to know when that has not been your experience. I am blind to so many things. . . . . Again, I really believe that sinful behaviors are derivative of relational longings. . . .All these nasty pathologies are relationally transmitted diseases and this is what is responsible for the iniquity of the mothers/fathers being visited on the children. The quality of our relationships really does determine the quality of our lives. . . . You say: “. . . . by fighting me until I gave up or agreeing with me that he needed to change. No change ever came…” I am so, so sorry Melanie and I am praying for you that God will do exceeding, abundantly above all that you could ever ask, or even think in the rest of your life! Only God knows why He takes us along these paths. All we can do is keep seeking God and let Him lead. He loves you, you have the greatest value. He gave His life for all you’re worth! . . . . . . I think our marriages dry up and miss the path to individuation when we try to ease the situations through excluding confrontation. And I have such a hard time with confrontation but the more one confronts the hard stuff, the more fruitful becomes our paths because Christ came for the broken hearted, the difficult, the hurt, the misunderstood, the totally repulsive, the really wicked and the liars too, —everyone. . . .And often, God doesn’t send us into a battle to win it; He sends us to end it.

    • Autumn on February 4, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      I have taken to watching the minute hand on my watch. On average I get about 1-2 minutes to 20 minutes of his reply. The favorite response to anything I say is “In my case”, Or just “I” “I” “I”. I have to wrangle the conversation back to me and my topic and each time, my one minute of speaking is replied to by 20 minutes of his lecture. I have thought that I have been talked AT rather than talked TO. As I said, I watch the clock or start counting in my head, waiting for the monologue to end.

      • Aleea on February 5, 2016 at 5:45 pm

        Autumn,
        . . .I am so, so sorry. Could it be that the lecture is a defense against something??? Like our beliefs. Think about our beliefs, what are they keeping us from confronting? I am always interested in how beliefs function.*** What are they keeping us from fully facing? . . . Maybe you could switch to straight targeted questions? Lots and lots of specific questions? —Autumn, I lecture people too and beyond the words just flying out of my head in huge full-page bursts, I think it is a way to avoid closeness and I don’t even know why. . . . But there is absolutely no easy answers. We cannot force husbands to walk with God. We cannot force them to repent or meaningfully interact. All we can do is live with integrity and invite them to do so as well. Take things a step at a time. Give him consequences when he refuses to deal with serious issues, and pray. Pray like it all depends on those prayers and then pray every step of the way. . . .I’m praying for you too.

        ***the function that belief plays for that person. Do they act as a security blanket preventing them from encountering the world, or do they function as a means of more fully entering into the world they inhabit? Someone might believe very different things to me (—in terms of mental assertions) yet not use them as a crutch (—here we are at the level of mere disagreement), and another might totally agree with me, yet the beliefs operate as a Big Other (—something that can be seen if a person cannot engage in genuine critical dialogue.)

      • LA on February 5, 2016 at 11:42 pm

        Oh gosh, same here! Monologues, lectures, bloviating… H gets so much pleasure going on and on that I forget where we even started! I’ve asked him to please pause once in awhile, as conversations are made of two people actually participating. I called it the being on the hamster wheel. Round and round and round… Very tiring… As I began to observe and not absorb, his bloviating became more tolerable and I could easily move on with my day. Sometimes h would fire off 5-6 questions in a row, never pausing for me to answer and when he finally would say, “what, you have nothing to say?” I would respond, “what was the 1st question, because I can’t remember?” At this point he couldn’t either so game over! It got to be pretty ridiculous and wearisome… I’m so glad I’m out of that circus! How refreshing to have adult conversations with friends more often! No more “control” by over use of words… It was his way of dominating and staying center stage, no room for anyone but him…
        Still breathing and trusting

        • Aleea on February 6, 2016 at 6:50 am

          LA,
          It is some type of fear, of closeness??? . . . .look up this page. . . . I do the exact same thing. It is a defense mechanism??? But shaming people for their defense mechanisms is also a defense mechanism. It is like my counselor says: “you climb out of one box and Wow, guess what?”, you find you are in another box. . . . .There is a void in our center which we continually try to fill with ever-more sophisticated objects of desire (idols), and even most peoples God is an idol they use to try to get stuff they could not get from the other idols. The void is Original Sin, and the object of our obsessions are Idols. The Good News of Christianity???: You can’t be fulfilled; you can’t be made whole; you can’t find satisfaction. . . . not here, not the way most of us try to. Christ exposes the gap for what it is, obliterates it, and invites us to participate in an utterly different form of life, one that brings us beyond slavery to any/ all idols. What do you think LA???

        • Aleea on February 7, 2016 at 6:17 am

          Robin,
          From your post re: “. . . .we’re sharing our beliefs and what we know to be true without making it look like we’re pointing a finger”

          . . . . . I like that but men don’t usually speak “hint”. . . . direct confrontation, direct conversation is real respect??? Example: “I’m aware that you reply to my requests for information with silence. Please tell me what this means.”. . . . Anyways, I never saw a positive life-giving confrontation growing up. . . . . not one done gently in a positive manner in order to induce the abandonment of his sin. . . . .where the goal was to reduce sin, not to evoke it . . . . and it is so easy to evoke it even when we are committed to NOT evoking it. Even where we self-test whether a given confrontation is hostile or correctional by assessing our willingness to forgive. . . . .So, I am ready to forgive, when there is repentance, then presumably I am making a confrontation with the right desire. . . . Doing it. . . . well. . . . The problem is the TRUST level and SPEED at which the interaction takes place, even when I try to slow it down. . . . .Like with my mother, I have never even seen a positive life-giving confrontation. To my mother, confrontation means condemnation and just thinking about it, all I can see is her raging at me. With my husband, I invite him to change but try not to demand it. I don’t make the continuation of our friendship hang on a change of behavior. . . .a sort of a confront others as you would have them confront you. Speak to others as you would want them to speak to you. That usually works well. . . . .With my mother it is a nightmare, any feedback immediately kicks in discrediting me by pointing out some of my negative behaviors; the rationalizing; just flat-out making light of what I have said; my mother seeking support from others (—even strangers) in order to show I am wrong.

      • Marie on February 10, 2016 at 3:48 am

        Yes to monologues! Good way to describe it. I remember after a long looonngg monologue one night my husband said the next day ” what a great conversation we had last night!” And I said “I didn’t say anything..” He disagreed but I remember the little I did say got shushed or ended up in a fight. Oh and apparently when I’m silent that means “you must agree with me, bc you had nothing to say. So I made a good point.” To which I reply “my listening doesn’t mean I agree. Most of the time I’m processing and the other night you were so angry I didn’t want to talk to you in that state bc it had now value– you didn’t want to/where not willing to hear me”…fight proceeded after that.

  9. Jeanne on February 3, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    I’ve tried communicating to him for the entirety of our 6 year relationship how damaging his deceitful behavior is. I’ve even issued ultimatums. It’s to the point now that we can’t communicate without my hurt and his anger getting in the way. Nothing has changed, except I’m now beaten down emotionally and feel worthless. Do I stay or do I go? That is the question I ask myself daily.

    • Autumn on February 4, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Lundy Bancroft has a book by that title, “Should I stay or should I go?” Have you read it? It is worthy reading.

      • Robin on February 6, 2016 at 4:09 pm

        Autumn, what a great book. It certainly gave me the push I needed. I’m glad you mentioned it- so many would benefit from hearing from this man who has worked with abusive men in men’s therapy groups- he really knows the destructive man well and how few of them will go towards repentance and transformation!!!!

  10. Natalie on February 3, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    I have never been able to have a good conversation when I have had to confront my husband. Even the most gentle confrontation goes bad because he is so sensitive. When I decided to separate from him a year and a half ago I had to write everything out on paper and read it to him in the presence of witnesses because he changes history and puts words in my mouth that I never said. Even after this experience in which he did not acknowledge anything that I shared, he still tried to tell a different story about what went down that night, saying that I was vindictive and nasty. However I have the letter and the four witnesses who said that it was a beautiful, gentle, and kind confrontation. I cried and was full of anguish. So it doesn’t really matter how sincerely or wonderfully or prayed up you make your presentation or your case. They will see it the way they want to see it and then make you out to be a bad person. That has my experience of 24 years anyway.

    • Lonelywife07 on February 4, 2016 at 12:24 am

      Yes! Totally agree! I’ve secretly recorded our conversations, and a few days later after he denies saying what I KNOW he said, I’ll go back and listen, just so I know I heard him correctly!
      Passive aggressives are called “Crazymakers” for a reason!

    • Robin on February 4, 2016 at 12:33 am

      Natalie, I believe you just described a narcissist. You could stand on your head, dye your hair green or whatever. They would not care. They do only what works for them.
      I’m glad to hear you made a plan that would meet your need, and followed it thru. Congratulations!!!

    • Paula on February 4, 2016 at 7:57 am

      Exactly, Natalie!

  11. Tina on February 3, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Well I did this once! Wrote a letter, found some verses and a beautiful song about “He Loves You” (this was before I got Leslie’s book too). I psyched myself up and gently proceeded. The song first, then the verses outlining how Jesus and the Holy Spirit were working in us and we were supposed to be moving forward etc. Then came the letter outlining how unsetting it was to see him hurting himself and me. I outlined the drugs, alcohol and cheating, lies and deceit plus terrible mismanagement of our money, giving examples and asking him to change.
    He turned to me after reading it and said, “So, what am I supposed to say?” At this point I was stumped and started stuttering as I hadn’t planned for him to be so unmoved by all my efforts. I even asked what would he like me to change and his answer was more sex! I told him when I could trust him we could discuss more intimacy.
    So his response to all this was to join a health club and buy a bunch of equipment and clothes, to continue with the drinking, lies etc (nothing changed) and to be as cold as ice to me for about a month. He did arrange some calculated trips to the mall for me to buy clothing (which was calculated) I discovered later in one of his texts to his cybersex friend. He also moved to sleep permanently on the sofa after I told him I needed to trust him before opening up my heart to intimacy.
    I had planned and poured my heart and soul into this attempt to bring change into our lives and to be dismissed without ever receiving any king of apology or discussion meant that I closed down my heart completely, it was too painful to do anything else. Now we are two strangers sharing a house out of financial necessity who lead separate lives. It’s so sad and we are beyond repair at this point.
    You have to be prepared for the consequences when you put it all out there and challenge the bad behavior or abuse.

    • autumn on February 6, 2016 at 7:02 am

      I wrote such a letter. He read it, laughed in my face and tore it to pieces. That was the last letter I wrote.

      • Leslie Vernick on February 8, 2016 at 8:23 pm

        Autumn, I’m sorry but at least your conscience is clear that you gave your husband the opportunity to “see” or “know” your heart and feelings. The fact that he tore it up says he’s not willing to hear and not willing to change. What does that mean to you? That’s information for you now to have to made some crucial choices.

  12. Alene on February 3, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    I sought some counsel today and…this went right along with what you said Leslie; about the beginning of the conversation:

    “The (conversation) balloon will never rise higher than where you start.” So start with something you appreciate, something gentle.

    I liked the word picture to go along with Leslie’s words.

  13. Alene on February 3, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    I have found Leslie’s advice to be very helpful.

    I used to be SOOO nervous about these type of conversations. I remember the first one of these I did, I had little notes written on a tiny piece of paper that I held in my hand so I would stay on track and follow the plan.

    Since I had prepared well, as Leslie shared, I was able to follow through afterwards, steady in the Lord.

    I have found that when I attempt these conversations that I need to be prepared to hold my ground.
    I have learned to let the words be seeds; they may or may not grow. Even if I don’t see fruit right away, they may still grow later.

    I’ve learned I can remain unemotional, gentle yet firm, and to the point. I have to know what I want.

    I have seen progress from these but not perfection.

    Today I heard two other points. One “what do you want in ten years?” which can provide some great direction.

    Two: Do you want the relationship to revolve around these conversations? I thought that was a good one to throw in the mix; there is a time to speak these type conversations, and a time to speak other things if a great relationship is the goal.

    A third thought was to live as though Jesus is taking care of it all.

    • Marie on February 10, 2016 at 4:00 am

      Very helpful! Thank you!

  14. Survivor on February 4, 2016 at 7:55 am

    This is so very timely for me!!!! I have just been realizing this week a conversation that needs to be had. Thanks, Leslie, for addressing this for us!!!!!

  15. Ruth on February 4, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Yes, Aleea I will pray for you.
    This is a bit off-topic but I’m familiar with a ministry for people with narcissistic parents. You probably already know of several such ministries but I wanted to mention this one to you. It’s called Luke 17:3 Ministries. My background doesn’t include narcissistic parents but when I ran across their website out of curiosity and amazement, I read through every article on their site. The information is presented in a simple, down-to-earth way. It looks as though the woman who runs this ministry actively posted for 3-4 years but doesn’t any longer. She might operate mainly out of Facebook now.
    At any rate, I thought you might be interested in reading thru her site. My heart really goes out to anyone who grew up with a Narcissistic parent.

    • Aleea on February 4, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Ruth,

      Thank you ever so much for your prayers. —Oh, how I covet people’s prayers. —Thank you!!! . . . . . —Yes, Luke Seventeen-Three Ministries, I really like a lot of their materials and I also love how simple and down-to-earth they are. . . .However, what I have learned (—the hard way) is that all of us have to be committed to evidence-based practices, providing only information and therapies that have been demonstrated by research to be effective. —And Ruth this is absolutely NO reflection on you in ANY way. I am thinking of the women who did our Sunday School presentation I mentioned above. . . .

      re: her main point was: “SUBMISSION & RESPECT…always transform a marriage into something beautiful.”
      Imagine telling someone who is being abused to submit more, but if you don’t know/ don’t have that awareness, you simply don’t know.

      My internal questions (—before I just left and went to the nursery):
      1) Explain the mechanism that causes that to work. i.e. How do you KNOW that? What are the moderating influences? Percent of times it does not work and Why?
      2) The data showing this works? Reference population, sample sizes?
      3) Any documentation from the first 250 years of Christianity that reaches that conclusion? Contrast: Junia: The First Woman Apostle by Dr. Eldon Jay Epp.
      4) Relapse rates? Longevity Data? Out-of-sample results? Confidence intervals? Cross-validated by whom?
      We all need to be committed to evidence-based helps, providing only information and therapies that have been demonstrated by research to be effective. For example, studies have supported the effectiveness of psychoanalytic therapies for certain issues out-of-sample, with high confidence intervals and cross-validated in peer review with low standard errors, until someone shows that was all wrong but that at least has a process.

      . . . . Anyways, the question is how to do this in love, care, and kindness. People are so, so fragile, even if you make it ever so clear that they are wonderful and so, so important even if their ideas re:“SUBMISSION & RESPECT…always transform a marriage into something beautiful, etc.” may need some study and peer review —just like all of our ideas, always. . . . . .I always pray: “Lord God, I am so, so confused myself, please, please help me to be kind to everyone, everywhere, all of the time. Lord please give me a warm heart, a kind soul, and an attentive ear. Life is never easy for any body help me please be kind, tolerant and compassionate.” Again, imagine telling someone who is being abused to submit more, but if you don’t know/ don’t have that awareness, you simply don’t know.

      Thank you so much for the prayers and the website, Ruth!!!

  16. LA on February 4, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    I’ve never had a successful conversation with my soon to be X spouse. No matter how much I prayed, how gently I approached, how long I rehearsed, how much counsel I sought to help formulate the thoughts and words, it was Never, I repeat Never successful! I remember years ago, a pastor confronting him about an intimate encounter that was very destructive, the pastor reprimanded him and led h in a prayer of apology and to ask my forgiveness for his behavior toward me! My h was beet red in the face, choked on the words and was obviously very ashamed that I had spoken up about it. The apology didn’t come from his heart, he simply repeated the Pastors words. He didn’t speak to me for days after and his passive aggressive behavior was so childish. About a month before I made my Exit, during
    one of his morning tirades, he said,… “and you even accused me once of raping you!” WHAT!? WHAT!? I stood there stunned… H never owned it, years later, he called it
    an “accusation” and so, he was never ever repentant! So please ladies, if it doesn’t feel safe to confront, don’t do it! You will be wasting untold energy and possibly placing a big target on your heart for h to shoot at! Be absolutely sure That you are being led by God to do so! When I did, I did it with the Pastor present. H would want to “talk”, ie. “Lecture” and I would firmly say, “I would be happy to hear you but not without a third party present” he would start in and I would have to repeat myself several times before he would hear me, and on occasion I would have to walk away. At those times I would hear mockingly, ” there you go, walking away again! See, I can’t ever talk to you!” It didn’t matter that I told him that I would walk away if I began to feel unsafe or anxiety ridden, because he did not see me or hear me… All he could hear were the thoughts going round and round in his own head! There was no room for me in the relationship, I just didn’t matter to him!
    ABOVE ALL ELSE, guard your heart, for out of it flow the
    Wellsprings of life!” The word “guard” is a military term, how appropriate because I found this “marriage” to be a battle for my Sanity and Safety at every turn… I had to hang on tight to what I knew was true in my heart! The things my Jesus taught me… How often I would weep at His feet, cry out for His help, hang onto the hem of His garment and he would love me through it, every time! So, my answer is that it was never really safe to approach h with any concern, let alone a big thing! H was not faithful in the little things, how could I ever trust h with the big things? The truth be told, there was no “relationship” not in the sense of caring and sharing and understanding and reciprocity… It was all smoke and mirrors… Illusions and denial… h’s heart was never really in it… Hard truth? Yes, does it cause grief? A well full of grief! My own denial had to be dealt with before I could see clearly to step out of the line of fire… Painful? Yes! FREEING? ABSOLUTELY!!! Thank you Jesus for loving me more than enough and healing my broken heart!
    Just breathing and trusting

    • Robin on February 4, 2016 at 3:01 pm

      I think I’ve heard a few responses this week, that said be prepared to pay the cost of confronting your destructive relationship. I agree we need to be prayed up and waiting on the Lords timing . But I also believe God calls us to confront and be bold. To not stand up to their destructive behavior, is allowing sin to crouch at your door and continue destruction. Perhaps you’re not ready to confront, and need some private individual counseling. Personally speaking from personal experience, I never backed away from confrontation because his actions were so unacceptable I couldn’t believe my husband was doing these things. And the things he continued to do to our children were so unacceptable I did stand up and fight for them. What I didn’t do well was give a consequence and take an action when he still had deaf ears. I recommend confronting sin that is destroying a part of you before you are so wounded, something worse happens. As a generation we are not very good at calling sin- sin. As wives we tolerate, hope in, stand in what we think Scriptures call us too – to find out 30 years later — if we had only confronted in the early days perhaps things wouldn’t be such a mess now. Don’t misunderstand my words- it’s never your fault he is abusive. But we do have a responsibility to stand up to sin and protect the precious children God gave us . After all our children are a gift from the Lord, and He expects us to nourish and provide— not throw them out to the wolf.

      • Paula on February 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm

        islandgirl,

        I sincerely feel for you and your children. I don’t have much time to comment right now, but I wanted to share the following link:

        https://graceformyheart.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/what-to-do-when-you-cant-do-anything/#comments

        I found his post today very timely and encouraging.

      • Sunshine. on February 5, 2016 at 9:03 pm

        Here’s a piece of news I learned recently, Proverbs 31 is not about a woman, it’s about the Christian walk. It applies to a Christ followers life, not “how to be the perfect wife”…that was eye opening.

      • Sunshine. on February 5, 2016 at 9:09 pm

        That’s true what you say. We are called to stand up for truth and righteousness. Sadly, being a strong person and standing up for what is right gets set aside if this happens to be within the boundaries in marriage. It seems to me that the traditional pastor when confronted with a spousal abuse situation tends to tell the wife to pray harder, submit more to her husband(not God) and don’t push the husbands buttons. BUT, stand up for truth and right living.

        • Robin on February 9, 2016 at 3:54 am

          Sunshine perhaps it’s a wiser choice not to depend on the church and the Pastor where there has not been proper training on how to counsel abused couples. I made the same mistake and learned the best thing I can do for myself is be my own advocate, get educated in abuse and get personal counseling to help guide important decisions and next steps to take!!!!

          • Leslie Vernick on February 9, 2016 at 10:50 pm

            I agree, most pastors surveyed have little to no training in dealing with these situations and usually give the standard answers that are not helpful in abusive marriages.



      • Robin on February 9, 2016 at 3:50 am

        Island girl , have you tried individual counseling to strengthen your core and help you make healthy decisions?? You sound like you’re exhausted- and even if he never wants help or change- you can decide today you want to change. That’s what I did, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made, to find help for me. Which also is doing something for your children. A healthy happy mom will be a treasure for your children. I will pray for you !!!!

        • Maria on February 14, 2016 at 2:48 pm

          Islandgirl, I too have chosen to stay and I made that decision after a lot of thought, counseling, prayer etc. Just last week, something happened that confirmed that this is the right decision for me and my kids. If things change, I will reevaluate and decide accordingly. Even if a woman decides to leave, there may be a period of time during which she has to stay before she can leave. The important thing as Leslie has said is that whatever we do, we do it well- stay well or leave well.
          I did joint counseling for a while, and also was encouraged to take responsibility for my husband’s actions. Pastors were not bold enough to tell my husband he was sinning, I’m not sure why. My husband used what I shared in these sessions as new ammunition to hurt me, so I stopped decided to put an end to it.
          In order to help our kids, we need to be healthy ourselves. If it is not possible to get healthy while you’re with him, then you probably need to look into separation. Can you sign up for any of Leslie’s classes? This is a good option since you mentioned that you live in a small place without many resources.

    • Paula on February 4, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      I must submit Proverbs 9:8. “Do not reprove a scoffer or he will hate you; reprove a wise man and he will love you.” My attempts at confrontation resulted in increased contempt from my anti-husband towards me. Every situation is different. If a woman can sense the tone of the situation in which she and her children live and that her husband is indeed an evil man, I do not believe she is under obligation to confront him. Most of these men seem to have had ample opportunity already at reformation and many of them have had access to gospel teaching. She must be shrewd. I am all for getting out when the timing is safe and right. There are, however, times when bold confrontation would be disastrous. These men can be very dangerous. There is nothing AT ALL to be ashamed of at patiently waiting for God to provide a window or door of opportunity in a precarious situation. Practicing discernment, shrewdness, and patience are certainly what my children need from me right now and the best way that I can protect them.

      • Robin on February 4, 2016 at 5:07 pm

        Paula, I don’t think you see anything in my response saying don’t wait on Gods timing or don’t be discerning. I definitely believe we wait for Gods nudge. But I also believe too many victims of abuse stay in destructive situations. And don’t confront. And don’t take action. And then ten years later are still staying quiet when it would have been appropriate to leave the home if they feel so unsafe still they can’t speak honestly with their husbands. Please reread my response.

        • Paula on February 4, 2016 at 11:05 pm

          Robin,

          I have not intended to begin any kind of negative discourse. I am concerned that we are missing each other somehow. Perhaps it is that we agree in some ways and disagree in others, and I believe that is okay. I am simply expressing an opinion that isn’t quite the same as yours in the hope of supporting those women who aren’t in a position right now to take a confrontational approach. (The approach you recommend may be just what some women need to hear today. The approach I am defending may be what other women need to hear today). You directed me to reread your response. I am sorry that my comment sounded as though I had not adequately read yours in the first place. I have re-read yours since you requested it, (before I post, I read everything I am commenting on multiple times for understanding anyway), but I don’t find that there is anything there I did not see before. I did not actually intend my comment to be a rebuttal to yours as much as agreement with and support for LA.

          The fact is that I do not agree that God always wants bold confrontation (whatever the timing). What I really struggle with is any intimation that a lack of bold confrontation of sin is in any way synonymous with failing to protect our children or with throwing our children out to the wolf. I stand by Proverbs 9:8. If a woman’s husband is a fool or a scoffer (and if he wields any control or power over her on any level), the last thing she needs to do is increase his level of hatred for her – ESPECIALLY if she is protecting her children. If the man is evil enough, spiritually hardened enough, a reprobate, or one of those mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, she may very well be in the right scripturally to avoid this man to the best of her ability and quietly and shrewdly plan for her escape when the timing is right. In fact the less he knows about what is going on in her mind and heart until the day she acts, the safer her children are.

          By the way, my natural tendency and pattern is confrontation. (My anti-husband has called me “so confrontational” – not intended as a compliment when he said it).

    • Paula on February 4, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      LA, I should have directly addressed your comment first before I added my “warning.” My thoughts were in no way a rebuttal to yours, but rather an agreement. Much of what you said feels so familiar.
      It sounds like you have a firm grasp on the caution required in these situations. I am so glad that you are FREE!

      • LA on February 5, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        Paula, for clarity’s sake, there were times that I did confront h with his behaviors and beliefs and I even had a two different counsellors tell me that h was being emotionally and spiritually abusive. He was present in these sessions and went ballistic at their advice to separate for a season in order to stop the destructive behaviors on his part. He was told that he was tearing his “house” down with his own hands! I have three very wise and discerning adult children, two, who are very accepting of my decision to leave. I had to use much patience and discernment myself to navigate their protection and I affirmed their concerns as often as I saw necessary. My youngest son, soon to be 22, still lives with his dad. He is struggling because h continues in his blaming me for “my deceit”, that I don’t see that God hates divorce. My son recently said this to me and of course wants me back home and sometimes sounds like he’s parroting his dad. My son has a relationship with God, and has been driven to “seek” for and grow in his understanding and as I’ve been able to point to
        my continuing trust in God. I have had opportunity to witness to him about some of the things God has shown me in His word, trying to point son to scriptures that seem to be contrary to each other. Both you and Robin are correct, in that the discernment comes from knowing when and if confrontation is wise. There are times when it is, and times when it is not! I take may example from Jesus. There were times when He confronted the Pharisees and times when He quietly exited through the crowd. He only did what he saw His Father doing, prompted by the Holy Spirit. Ecc 3:1-8 says there is a season, A time, for every purpose under heaven… Each phrase lists opposites, such as “A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing”, I guess my question is, how are we to know what season we are in? I believe the answer comes when we are seeking God with our whole heart, He will give us discernment! I shared this scripture with my son recently, letting him know that God has His reasons and seasons for everything and if we are listening He will surely guide our steps! This passage was a bit disconcerting to him in that it caused him to pause and reflect! I’m pretty sure that he is hearing from his dad, there is only one way, his dad’s way, what his dad believes, what his dad thinks, etc … My prayer is that God will
        continue to show my son that he has to keep his face set like a flint and look to and trust God for his answers, there is only God’s way… We must trust what our heart is telling us because that is where God speaks to us! God is not insulted if we question what we hear in our hearts, He does not grow weary with our asking, in fact I think He delights in the fact that we are seeking because He knows we will find our way! I’m still learning, I’m still seeking and asking and resting in knowing my answers will come in due time! I’m
        Just breathing and trusting

        • Paula on February 5, 2016 at 1:40 pm

          Thank you for the clarification, LA. Excellent wisdom in your comment, especially Ecclesiastes and the right time for things, as well as Christ’s example. Thank you.

  17. Kir on February 4, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    I think you have made a grave assumption that all our husbands are making requests from us based out Christian character. “Limit exposure to friends” your limited “free speech” examples. Beware this advice has been the hands of the church holding women down as their husbands beat them with words or fists.

    I beg you to seek understanding that many of us don’t exist in your marriage.

  18. Alene on February 4, 2016 at 6:04 pm

    I am in a spot where I am strong enough and can confront. My husband has also taken some steps to become calmer while still having the some of the same patterns.

    What I find with these conversations or even statements is that they make a difference in me and to me. I find I am holding onto truth and compassion and integrity more with the Lord and myself. What Leslie laid out helps me to stand stronger and wiser.

    I am thankful that I have learned to make statements and continue to learn and that I can address things better and continue to learn. I am thankful it is possible though tricky to do this in my situation. I find I need to keep seeking the Lord for timing, words, and motivations.

    I hear the hearts of some of you as well, that it isn’t always wise to confront if there is more extreme destructiveness.

    I know I couldn’t do it well when I lacked strength and know how and wasn’t strong enough to hold my ground.

    The greatest benefit is … for me. I can just stand and just be me.

    • Robin on February 5, 2016 at 12:05 am

      Alene, I love what you said, ‘ it’s for me . I can stand and just be me’. I remember after reading Leslies book on learning to speak up and stand up —- and I did it and was so dissapointed and told my counselor, ‘it didn’t work’. I’ll never forget her words to me. She said it wasn’t for him. It was for you- to stand up for yourself and quit giving in to his bullying you. You stood up to say stop- that is enough. I walked away so empowered knowing I was gaining strength and I was finding my true self.

    • LA on February 7, 2016 at 2:47 am

      Alene and Robin,
      I like the idea that doing some confronting or offering our thoughts are done for us, not the other, expressing our thoughts and beliefs can certainly raise our confidence and self esteem and getting strong enough is half the battle. I remember when I wasn’t strong enough to confront. When I began to confront, I was seeking validation outside of self and as soon as I realized I was being rejected or ridiculed or dismissed by h, I had to deal with that pain as well. I have found that adversity brings growth if you look within and keep seeking truth. The truth is that the only validation that I need comes from within from my own God aware conscience. I try not to reject, ridicule or dismiss others and
      I try to treat them the way I’d like to be treated. For the times I have failed, I seek forgiveness from God, the other
      person and forgiveness for myself, knowing there will always be another opportunity to practice grace. There will always be opportunities to speak up practice what we know in our hearts! Wisdom comes sometimes in knowing when and with whom it is safe to do so.
      Just breathing and trusting

  19. k on February 5, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Paula and Island Girl, I hear what you are saying. It’s hard to know what to do in situations where any action will only serve to increase the anger towards the innocent ones – yourself and the children. I am divorced from my abuser, yet the children have visitation with him. There is much going on that is wrong, (unhealthy interactions and his lack of paying me monies he owes me) and when I attempt to address these wrongs, the toxicity grows, and my children are exposed to more of it without me there to shield them. I feel like options are limited as going back to court is a severe emotional, physical and financial drain and the outcome is so uncertain when you are up against a shrewd narcissist. I struggle with the guilt of not protecting my children but tend to come down on the side of prayer, sovereignty of our Big God, and the fact they are with me most of the time, and the Light that is provided in my home will overshadow the darkness. It’s a daily internal battle…..

    • Paula on February 5, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      k,
      That must be so hard. Thank you for understanding. I have heard the stories wherein the battle does not end with the divorce, especially when there are minor children involved. There is no easy way in these situations. May God bless you and your children.

      • k on February 6, 2016 at 8:38 pm

        Thank you so much.

    • LA on February 6, 2016 at 12:17 am

      K, just a word of encouragement for you, children are so very smart and I trust and believe that as they get older they will begin to realize the difference between dad’s home and mom’s home. Just love them the best that you can, and God will fill in any gaps with His love and his wisdom in their hearts and minds. Keep that Light on and let let God do the rest! I pray for them to have wisdom and discernment as they walk out the visitation schedule… And I pray for wisdom and comfort for your mom heart too! Sounds like you trust in a Big God, now if you can practice resting in this trust your “internal battle” will be won as well! Keep the Light on!!!
      Just breathing and trusting

    • LA on February 6, 2016 at 1:14 am

      Hi k, Your job is to love those children and to keep the Light on! Light always consumes darkness! God is more that capable of meeting your every need, regardless of how the storm may look. Trust in Him and think about learning how to Rest in that trust! You don’t have to fight in this battle, the battle belongs to the Lord! The sovereignty of the Big God is always more that enough! I heard this once: one believing heart and God are always a majority! Sounds like you are already there! Also, narcs have a way of nailing their own coffins shut if we just let them! Peace and Grace to you and your children! God is always mighty to save! I’ll be praying…
      Just breathing and trusting

      • LA on February 6, 2016 at 1:18 am

        Well that’s odd, I rewrote that post k, because of “a duplicate comment” and it rerouted me to somewhere in cyber space! I came back and checked and it hadn’t posted! So now I gues you get it three times! Lol
        Just breathing and trusting

        • k on February 6, 2016 at 8:39 pm

          Thank you, LA for the kind and encouraging words ads well as the prayers. What a strong sense of peace I feel after reading such Truth!

  20. Edmund on February 5, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    How do you confront your spouse with his or her unacceptable behaviors?

    • Edmund on February 5, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      I have a controversial post awaiting moderation. I just want to make a note in case it is censored on grounds that is is not consistent with the convictions of the site. THX

  21. Edmund on February 5, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    I still receive the occasional email from Leslie’s mailing list and could not stop singing a song when i read the latest edition. I’ve cut an paste the article below, as well as a link to the song from my childhood. Funny how you can still see the sights and smell the air from when you first heard things like this!

    Just a friendly reminder that there are an extremely wide range of experiences and circumstances represented on this site. Abuse is not a topic that is conducive to mass marketing, blog posts, and the selective answering of questions that happen to fit the points the author hopes to promote.

    There are spouses here who have been terribly abused both physically and emotionally. They are to be embraced, nurtured, loved, and encouraged. While divorce is never a command and can always be avoided, it is acceptable in these situations.

    There are spouses here that are in very difficult marriages. They have a high level of conflict in their marriages and it is a struggle to get on the same page with their spouse and stay there. Unfortunately, there are those in the church who are beginning to issue an abuse label for these conditions while encouraging spouses, under the banner of God’s love, that their personal feelings and happiness are more important than marriage. The narrative creates and promotes a biblical entitlement to divorce while casting great suspicion on pastors and church leaders that do not agree with this liberal theology of divorce.

    And then there are spouses here that are the actual abusers. No doubt, they are usually assumed to be the men that do not agree with the theology espoused here.

    To summarize, their are sheep at this site, there are wolves at this site, and there are spouses who cry wolf when their marriages don’t their expectations or desires.

    Everyone here would be advised to seek a multitude of counselors encompassing a multitude of perspectives before making life changing decisions that effect your families. If you are truly abused, it will hold up to scrutiny across theological and ideological lines. If you are simply looking for a diagnosis to serve your desire to get out of a marriage, there are plenty of voices out there that will tell you what you need to hear.

    Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart. I don’t know any of you, but I trust that if you are walking with Christ and considering the full counsel of Scripture along with a multitude of counselors and a heart that is sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, God will lead you to a sound decision. When in doubt, it would seem that God’s glory would be most reflected by our demonstration of a love that mirrors the love that Christ has for His Bride. Under what conditions is God willing to divorce His Church?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRYFKcMa_Ek

    3 Ways To Spot A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
    By Leslie Vernick

    One of the ways bank tellers and merchants learn to distinguish real money from counterfeit is by examining genuine $100 bills over and over again so that they are more likely to spot the counterfeit bills when they see them. In the same way we can learn to recognize destructive people by knowing what to look for.

    Some may object to any attempt to identify wolves among us because it sounds uncharitable and judgmental to call someone a wolf. Only Jesus knows a person’s heart so who are we to judge? Yet, Jesus himself warns us that there are those who claim to be believers, they may even be leaders in the church, but they are vicious or ravenous wolves dressed up in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15).

    The apostle Paul warns Timothy that there will be people who act religious, but are puffed up with pride, who are unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, and cruel (2 Timothy 3:2-9). Part of spiritual maturity is gaining the ability to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). Why is this necessary? Because Paul reminds us that even Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Evil pretends to be good.

    Sometimes we make a naive assumption and it gets us into terrible trouble. We assume that if someone claims to be a Christian and talks like a Christian, that means he or she is a Christian. That’s not true.

    Just like there are counterfeit $100 bills that attempt to pass for the real thing, there are those among us who attempt to pass for Christians but underneath they are ravenous wolves. How do we tell the difference?

    Jesus said by their fruit you will know them. A wolf can be an expert at talking like a Christian but when you observe his or her behaviors over time, they look more wolfish (aggressive). As the saying goes, the sweetest tongue often has the sharpest tooth. Here are three things to watch out for.

    1. Wolves live for the love of power rather than the power of love. Wolves refuse accountability and resist submission to authority. You’ve heard the phrase lone wolf? Wolves in sheep’s clothing have themselves as their highest point of reference.

    They often use charisma and charm to “win” people over but they do not have mutual or reciprocal relationships. People are to be used, possessed, exploited or controlled rather than loved.

    2. Wolves look like sheep and talk like sheep but they bite like wolves, especially when the sheep are disagreeing or dissenting. Winning and being right are their highest values and they do whatever they need to in order to stay “on top”.

    When operating in church or religious settings their methods are often underhanded and cunning to seem less obvious or aggressive. They don’t want to look like wolves, that’s why they pretend to be sheep.

    3. Wolves are experts at deceit. That’s why they are so successful at making us think they are true sheep. Jesus tells us that Satan, too, is an expert at deceit. That’s why he doesn’t go around with horns and a tail but as an angel of light.

    Wolves pretend to be good and to care about the sheep but those closest to them (especially their family) know the truth. They’ve been bitten again and again and again.

    But the wolf’s ability to maintain his cover is one reason why it’s so difficult for church people to believe the person who has been wounded by the wolf. They fail to see him as a wolf and assume that the problem is two sheep biting one another. That’s not true.

    Wolves have much sharper teeth and stronger jaws than sheep do. A sheep cannot harm a wolf. A wolf kills sheep.

    It’s interesting that God chose a wolf as a word picture to portray this type of problem person. A wolf is a predator. It has a strong jaw and 42 sharp teeth designed to stab its prey to death.

    As Christian counselors and leaders, let’s not naively close our eyes and think that there are no wolves among us. They are everywhere and we must learn to recognize and stop them from wounding and killing the sheep.

    • Remedy on February 6, 2016 at 3:21 am

      Edmund…..it appears that you have your definition of abuse in marriage and a definition of a very difficult marriage. Leslie has written her definitions/descriptions in her books & blogs…..but you perhaps disagree? How about you explain here your definition of what constitutes an abusive marriage and what constitutes very difficult marriage. Then we will have some foundational base for which to interact with you more definitively.

      This would be most helpful.

      • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        Good question. Thank you for your approach. Due to time, I need to have a good plan as I am simply not capable of carrying on multiple conversations – either logistically or mentally. I am a dude after all. So I am going stick with talking to Maria after responding to anyone that has asked me a question since my last visit. I think yours is one that Maria asks (i get email’s with post updates but can’t always follow them or they get buried).

        I will say that I remember you from the first couple times I was here because of your handle. I am very musical and the songs just roll on in my head with the most simple and random triggers. I sent you a link to a song called Remedy….love it.

        Both my choice to refer to music and my choice of screen name reflect personality. I need to get it through my thick head that 99% of personality doesn’t come through on blog. It’s just black and white word that everyone else reads through the lens of their experience and personality. It’s unfortunate since so much of what defines success in communicating is more than words, and yet we tackle such important topics outside the intimacy of ongoing face-to-face community. Can’t change the reality of it, but I suppose we can try to learn and adapt and try to redeem it.

        THX!

        • Roxanne on February 8, 2016 at 6:35 pm

          Maria, Are you familiar with the term catfish. Beware.

  22. Nannyof5andMommyof2 on February 5, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    Aleea,
    I have been praying so much about my situation because, quite frankly, I really have no way of leaving. I feel strongly that God has been telling me I need to stand up for myself and speak the truth in love, to stop being afraid of my husband and cowing in his presence. However, as my husband is not a believer, perhaps it is not right for me? Judging from what I have told you about my situation, what do you think I should still try? Thank you.

    • Aleea on February 6, 2016 at 6:16 am

      Nannyof5andMommyof2,
      I cannot know what the Holy Spirit would have you do but I am praying for you each day and will continue to do so. I will help you any way I can but I just, simply do not know. . . . . Jesus doesn’t want ANYONE to have a Life wasted by collecting clues and piecing together a puzzle about how someone feels. Love is straightforward and it is clearly seen on the cloudiest days of our lives. Nannyof5andMommyof2,
      if someone loves you it will be obvious. You can be bit in the leg by a rattlesnake and seek help to heal your wound, or you can run after it and let the poison take your leg. The same is true with love. . . . .You will know if you are on the right path when God directs your choices, not your husband. . . . .I am saying stop excusing behavior. You were never meant to teach someone to love you. You were meant to be loved. When someone you love makes compassion, kindness, forgiveness, respect and God Himself an option, you can be sure they have made you an option, as well. . . . . One of the most powerful lessons Jesus taught is to recognize that no one but God through the Holy Spirit can give you power, and many people don’t want you to have it. You have to find the courage to seize it, own it and hold on! . . . . . .Nobody except the Holy Spirit knows what God’s plan is for your life, especially confused me***, but a whole lot of people will guess for you if you let them. Humbly yours, Aleea

      ***the first hundreds of years of Christianity was not like my church, Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide that enshrined the right of the individual believer to interpret and practice the Faith according to her conscience. This was a hierarchical, sacramental, united church which believed in the necessity of works in addition to faith and believed that its gold standard of truth and teaching authority resided in the Apostolic succession of its bishops. Church Fathers who had actually known the Apostles or who had been taught by the Apostles, view of Christianity can easily be seen in documents like the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians (circa 96 AD) in which Clement talks about the affairs of the Corinthian church and adjudicates their dispute. Wonderfully informative glimpse into what most people only know about through the filter of their church pastors.

  23. LA on February 6, 2016 at 1:49 am

    Edmund, you state “that divorce can Always be avoided”? I beg to differ, divorce CANNOT ALWAYS be avoided. Also in the same sentence, you say, ” it is acceptable in these situations”? So tell me, Edmund, who gets to make the decision where to draw the line of acceptable and unacceptable? Also, some questions are rhetorical and not meant to be answered, but meant to cause the reader to think and reflect and “to take their pulse” or check what their heart might be telling them.
    Just breathing and trusting

    • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      I am simply reflecting the fact that any spouse, male or female, is always has the option to separate – even if it ends up being permanent. Do you believe there are situations where God commands a spouse to divorce, or do you think He would always find it acceptable if a spouse chose to say “I entered into an eternal covenant before God, I take sole responsibility for my free choice to enter that covenant, and I refuse to break that covenant even if it makes me feel unhappy and unsatisfied?” If, like Mrs. Vernick promotes, we are all truly responsible for ourselves and truly complete in Christ alone – it seems that divorce is never a requirement. That’s my perspective. Thanks for asking.

  24. Brenda on February 6, 2016 at 4:55 am

    God bless you ladies that responded to Edmund’s theology and perhaps unChristlike views on marriage. I believe with my whole heart that Jesus loves the people in the marriage far more than he does the idolatry of marriage with the “you made your bed lie in it” mentality. Vows that are taken should not be held against the person who took them in genuine heart while the other took them without any consideration of what they were intended to be: a loving, caring, commitment between 2 people who are BOTH going to recommit to that relationship and do the best they can to uplift and honor the other.

    I do agree with Remedy here, Edmund it is time that you give us your definition of an abusive and difficult marriage so that we all can interact with those views.

    As far as definition I adhere to Leslie’s counsel, but my definition comes from ACFJ: The definition of abuse: A pattern of coercive control (ongoing actions or inactions) that proceeds from a mentality of entitlement to power, whereby, through intimidation, manipulation and isolation, the abuser keeps his* target subordinated and under his control. This pattern can be emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, financial, social and physical. Not all these elements need be present, e.g., physical abuse may not be part of it.

    The definition of domestic abuser: a family member or dating partner (current or ex) who has a profound mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over the one s/he* chooses to mistreat. This mentality of entitlement defines the very essence of the abuser. The abuser believes he is justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.

    Brenda

    • Roxanne on February 6, 2016 at 7:13 am

      Great definitions. Thanks!

    • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      I appreciate that you would take the time to interact with my thoughts. Your approach is very reminiscent of my ex-wife’s when I would not agree with her or if she did not get her way. I don’t know you and have nothing against you personally, but I simply do not see any benefit in attempting to interact with your perspectives. It could bring out the worst in both of us.

      The whole point of all of creation is God’s self-giving love. The whole point of love is the freedom of the beloved to choose to respond to the lovers invitation or reject it. And the whole point of Jesus was to physically demonstrate and embody the Father’s love on behalf of those who abused Him, while they were actually abusing Him with no evidence or promise of repentance. It’s radical, beyond comprehension, non-sensical, antithetical to positive “feelings” and self-fulfillment, etc. But the whole point is redemption and reconciliation. God is going to fix everything that’s broken – including me and you, Brenda.

      I don’t believe I have a part to play in addressing your brokenness or redemption directly, but perhaps something I say or don’t say as you watch me interact with Maria will contribute positively to your walk with Christ – whether its because my words show you more about who He is or more about who He is not. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with me. All that matters is that Christ is revealed. Sometimes is roses and chocolate, other times its iron on iron. I’m completely comfortable with both and not afraid of either.

      Many Blessings!

  25. Brenda on February 6, 2016 at 5:15 am

    Edmund,
    If you were to go to ACFJ, your comments would not be tolerated as you are not a safe person. Your views are what keep women captive in marriages that are also unsafe. It only takes one time for verbal and all other forms of abuse to become physical to the point of death. Leslie is a safe person, but lets the wolves in from time to time. Women need a safe place to go to learn to use their voice and build their CORE.

    We have all heard the rhetoric of Malachi 2:16 “God hates divorce”. I stand with many others who go to the true original version of the text that states “God hates the man that putteth away his wife” which is not the same as him taking the initiative of divorcing his wife……he is refusing to take care of and/or love her as he had vowed to do. He is speaking of Treacherous divorce…..one without cause and is caused by mans violence and mistreatment of his wife. Jesus would not tolerate a man who mistreats his wife and children in anyway. Jesus was a true gentleman while in human form which is why he told the Pharisees that their hearts were hard and were treating their wives treacherously and like property.

    Brenda

    • Roxanne on February 6, 2016 at 7:16 am

      Thank you for this beautiful clarification or Malachi 2:16. My pastor spoke this to me in counsel with a similar expansion of the text as you mention. Of course our precious savior would never want the cruelty we endure to be part of any human interaction, let alone those who profess to know and love our Lord.

      • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 12:29 pm

        Roxanne – I don’t know you and I haven’t gone back to try and piece together your story. I am very sorry if you have been exposed to cruelty, and I’m sorry that you have been betrayed by those who claim to follow Christ.

        Since you are a victim of cruelty and abuse, how would you feel if another man or woman dressed themselves up to look like you and flew the flag of a victim when in reality they were just unhappy about not getting their way? Does that help your cause, or detract from it?

        I pray the best for you and your family. Thank you for commenting.

        • Roxanne on February 8, 2016 at 6:39 pm

          It would be great if you stuck to the topic that Leslie has determined for this blog after all it is her blog, not yours.

      • Leslie Vernick on February 8, 2016 at 8:21 pm

        Amen, we hear that passage misused way too often.

    • LA on February 8, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Brenda,
      Would you kindly provide the passages where Jesus addressed the Pharisees in regards to their treating their wives treacherously and as property? Thanks!
      Just breathing and trusting

  26. Brenda on February 6, 2016 at 8:05 am

    Roxanne,
    I am glad that you could find comfort in this. It is too bad that more pastors and counselors can’t see past their own teaching to see what God had to say. Blessings, Brenda.

  27. Edmund on February 6, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Promoting honest dialogue while compelling more site visits is a win-win for all. I invested considerable time here in October/November. While I disagree with many voices and opinions, I have greatly appreciated and respected many others….sometimes from the same individuals with whom I have disagreed.

    For those willing to give sincere and honest thought to different perspectives, thanks. To those who immediately assume that competing perspectives are wrong or dangerous, the beauty of the forum is that you can ignore anything you want.

    Thanks for allowing the post, moderator. Spiritual warfare is messy. No one here is the enemy.

    • Survivor on February 6, 2016 at 8:48 am

      Covert aggression…….. Edmund, you mask what you are doing with a bunch of ‘right-sounding lingo’, but underneath, the same theme is there: you believe that you have been mistreated and you are looking for people to collude with you…….you sound very similar to my abuser in this way and it makes it extremely difficult for me to me to trust/believe anything you say…..

      • Roxanne on February 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm

        I agree with Survivor. Remember the tales Edmund told and his fantasy of using a name from the Chronicles of Narnia. Yet, it is good for some of us to practice speaking up to an abuser. Entitlement is very hard to recognize in one’s self. Humility is even harder. Gentle words and kind comments only mask the aggression. Sly as a fox.

      • Paula on February 7, 2016 at 9:45 am

        Amen, Survivor!

      • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 12:41 pm

        Survivor – it looks like you are making a very important admission. Are you saying that you are reading my words through the lens of your personal experience with your spouse?

        This is the very reason that I am not a fan of mass counseling on the internet. We all have tendencies toward the same dynamic, by nature.

        The other tragedy is that anyone who talks to you in Christian lingo is going to be declared a wolf in your mind – not necessarily because they are a wolf, but because you have had a bad experience. What would a legitimate, bible-loving, God-loving individual need to do or avoid doing in order for you to consider their input? How are you going to go about letting them know that so that the two of you can determine if they are fit to encourage you or not?

        I’m obviously not that person, but I applaud your transparency and would encourage you to take all perspectives, whether marked by Christian lingo or not, and expose them to a multitude of counselors while pursuing the Lord with your whole heart.

        My favorite definition of complete surrender: when we submit all that we understand about ourselves to all that we understand about God.

        It’s a tragedy that we’ve reached a point in the modern church where sheep are warning other sheep about wolves by telling them not to trust the shepherds.

        The #1 sign of emotional abuse for some Christian Women in 2016? Men who quote the bible. Wow.

        • Survivor on February 8, 2016 at 1:17 pm

          Edmund, I am reading your comments through a lens, yes, but not one of pain–it is one of wisdom gained through experience and insight. My husband is not the only one of his kind with whom I have experience. I have definitely observed patterns across many narcissistic, controlling guys. They often use very similar methods to control and manipulate those around them. The ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ description is very apt since, as I said in my earlier comment, ‘right-sounding lingo’ is used to mask a lot of evil…..

          Please do not hear me say that EVERYONE who uses ‘right-sounding lingo’ is using it to mask something! There are those who just simply don’t know how else to express themselves, so they end up using cliches. There are indicators when someone is sincere…….. I am not quick to jump to conclusions about people. However, in all of the comments I have seen from you on here, I have not seen indications that cause me to feel justified in trusting what you say. Therefore, at this point, I remain skeptical……. I am however, happy to continue to interact. I generally approach people with an open mind, and further dialog shapes my impression of the person. Further dialog from you has not, to date, been favorable……

  28. Brenda on February 6, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Edmund,
    “Invested time here”???? If you want to invest your time I might suggest a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. There ARE thoughts and perspectives that ARE wrong and dangerous. If you had been abused at any time in your life, you would know that. I have lived in fear as a child and as an adult. It is NOT fun or something to be mocked or questioned. Fear is very difficult to overcome. It is hard to escape and once you do you really don’t want someone coming along and starting the crazy making all over again.

    There may be different human perspectives, but God only has one way of seeing things……HIS.

    You still have yet to give your definition of difficult vs destructive marriage. I am quite interested to give a listen to that.

    • Edmund on February 6, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      Thank you for all the feedback, ladies. I truly appreciate both the content and what it reflects.

      I would be glad to remain somewhat active in this discussion. I am a single dad with a new job, a wrongfully slandered reputation, a new job, and a new condo. So it’s not something I can dedicate time to daily.

      I believe I posed a very good question in my post: Under what conditions would Christ choose to divorce His bride, the church? I would be glad to answer one question at a time from anyone that wants to offer an answer to this question first.

      A couple of my favorite books involve two respectable minds that hold conflicting views but who agree to write letters to each other for publication in the spirit of christian love. I am willing to do this with Mrs. Vernick (who has nothing to gain and everything to lose) or Maria (who interacted with me in Oct/Nov) if either are interested.

      Otherwise, I will check back here occasionally and attempt to respectfully engage those who are willing to reciprocate respectfully.

      Have a great weekend!

      • Roxanne on February 6, 2016 at 6:04 pm

        Edmund you would have to ask Christ this question. The topic for this blog is about how to speak difficult truth to an abusive spouse. Can you define destructive relationship vs. a difficult relationship as Brenda asked?

        You must have had a lot of change now that you are divorced and living with a new job and a new home. I hope this change is a good thing. Have you read any of Lundy Bancrofts books? Are you in a court ordered men’s group? Are you under a restraining order at this time?

        • Robin on February 6, 2016 at 8:05 pm

          Great questions Roxanne, I was going to recommend Lundy Bancrofts books for Edmund also. Lundy also has excellent information on utube videos.!He specializes in working with men and leads men’s therapy groups!!!!

        • Maria on February 6, 2016 at 8:55 pm

          Roxanne,
          However much we disagree with a person’s views, it does not give us the right to be unkind. Something Leslie has said has stuck with me- our response or words reflect who we are not the person we are aiming them at (in my words).

          • Brenda on February 7, 2016 at 6:59 am

            Roxanne,
            I am trying to figure out who was unkind. The questions asked and remarks made have been genuine. Jesus himself turned over tables and called the religious realm vipers. Calling a spade a spade, an apple an apple or an abuser what he is, is speaking truth.



        • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 12:50 pm

          Wow, Roxanne. If I weren’t used to this type of rhetoric (some would call it abuse) from my ex-wife, I might be emotional and defensive right now. But the honest truth is that I don’t think my wife was abusive, despite the fact that she fits Mrs. Vernick’s defintions far better than I do. I think she is afraid and hurt by the effects of our fallen world.

          Since you asked, my wife petitioned the court for a Guardian Ad Litem on the grounds of some very dubious accusations. You’re in the neighborhood of what she was hoping for. Thank God, the Guardian Ad Litem said that we were both good and loving parents, that our kids were extraordinary, and that ours is not the type of case he is used to seeing. His report informed the judge that he could not choose one of us as more deserving than the other for custody considerations.

          So in answer to your question, I am thoroughly enjoying my time with my children. I am thankful that the secular court was far more honest and did far more to protect my relationship with my children than my ex-wife and her family (church leaders) were willing to do.

          • Roxanne on February 8, 2016 at 6:44 pm

            Edmund, Has your wife asked for a restraining order against you? Are you in a men’s group for battering?



        • Leslie Vernick on February 8, 2016 at 8:27 pm

          If these are the questions that people are in an uproar about i think they are good questions to ask Edmund because we don’t know where he is coming from. He’s been accused of being an abuser (by his wife) , but actually claims he’s been a victim (of injustice, of deceit, of a church that didn’t handle things correctly). Sadly there are many abusers who claim to be victims – which make us mistrust him, but friends, there are also some real victims here – victims of injustice, victims of lies, victims of abusive behaviors and of churches mishandling situations as all of you know.

          Edmund if you’re reading this – you sometimes do have a bite to your writing that smacks of abuser language. I think that is why these women don’t see you as a true victim.

      • Maria on February 6, 2016 at 8:51 pm

        Edmund, Unfortunately, my job is more demanding so I’m not able to post regularly. How are your kids adjusting to the divorce? You had mentioned you wanted to win your ex back. How is that going?
        Instead of answering your question, let me say that people may claim to be the bride of Christ, when really they are not. That is the case in many marriages. Then their true colors come out later. I don’t think Christ honors that.

        • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 1:14 pm

          Maria – You have confirmed for me why you are the perfect conversation partner if you are willing. I’m not sure about the best way to organize it on a blog forum, but I’ll try. Can we work on some mutually agreeable ground rules for everyone’s benefit? Here are a couple I would propose:
          1. It will be normal if either of us take a week to ten days to respond to a post.
          2. The goal of the discussion is not agreement or to change each others mind, its simply to demonstrate how two Christ-followers can pursue one mind and one heart while disagreeing on important issues within the church.
          3. Don’t have a specific idea yet, but I think we would be wise to define an exit strategy. When or what should determine that we mutually agree to suspend the discussion? I’m open as long as its consistent both ways. Life happens, and we are obviously not going to talk forever.

          If you are willing to dialogue with me, I am not going to respond to anyone’s else posts or questions. If you feel something is important for me to address, I’ll work on it with you.

          To answer your questions – each of the 3 kids is doing amazingly well in many ways. And they each have their unique soft spots and challenges as well. As a child of divorce, I understand (generally) how the process evolves over time and, while I hate the situation, I am thankful that I have experience that might help the kids process as they mature. The thing I hated most about my parents divorce was the lack of communication. I am trying to establish a safe, open, trusting environment for questions and discussion without compelling it.

          You are correct about my ex-wife, I was always willing to reconcile. I don’t know if I would call it “winning her back.” You could say that I offered to ignore my strong concerns and focus only on her concerns for 10 months before the divorce went final. I suggested multiple counseling programs and offered multiple paths for reconciliation, despite being lied about, defamed, and slandered. I am still willing to reconcile, but only in the context of an intensive counseling retreat at the National Institute of Marriage.

          God’s love never forces us or makes us stay in fellowship with Him. He will never leave us, but He always gives us the freedom to leave Him. Unfortunately, I know this to be true of my ex-wife as well. I am no longer actively pursuing her. At some point, you have to let yourself move on and focus on the future.

          • Maria on February 8, 2016 at 5:39 pm

            Edmund, I am not sure what you’re asking. Do you have objections to Leslie’s format? i.e. She responds to a question and asks for comments. Then we respond to each other. In this format, you can specifically address a question or comment to Leslie or myself if you so choose.



          • Leslie Vernick on February 8, 2016 at 6:17 pm

            Maria’s right I do allow you all to respond to one another a great bit. Sadly over the past 3 weeks while driving and relocating to California I have not been able to check in as much as I usually try to and it sounds like things have gotten a bit tense. Let’s remember to be respectful, honest about our own feelings and thoughts, without being accusing or attacking towards others. We can disagree. Jesus called other’s names like vipers and snakes but he could see a heart perfectly. He knew the motives and thoughts and so he’s the only righteous judge of character. All we can do is give our own thoughts and opinions on what we see, hear, or feel.



    • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Brenda: Thanks for acknowledging that your personal history is what is driving your fear and emotions, not my words. I completely agree with the unchangeable fact that God is Truth, and nothing we say or do changes what is really true. So if you have an idea of what HIS truth is, and I have an idea of what HIS truth is – we both would need to find something outside of ourselves that we agree is reliable against which we can both compare our truth and attempt to determine what is right. We both know that’s the Bible. And we both know that, like you just described, we all bring our experiences and perspectives to our understanding of Scripture. So it’s sometimes hard and messy, and its so much easier and more comfortable to just hang with the people that see it the way we do and live in a perpetual mutual affirmation party.

      But, the way I see it, God designed our pursuit of truth (Him) to look like this for a reason and there is redemption and reconciliation to be discovered even in the process of hashing out truth in the Body of Christ. So I hope to be obedient in playing my role in that process and you are obviously willing to lend your voice to the process as well.

      Take care.

  29. Robin on February 6, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Ladies- getting back to our blog title- how do we confront our husbands- one thing a friend pointed out to me was confronting is different than speaking truth to them. Confronting refers to addressing their sins and destructive behaviors which at times wouldn’t be wise. Speaking Truth is something we can do daily, as its in us and it will just come out in a natural way – as the Holy Spirit leads. We’re not confronting then, we’re sharing our beliefs and what we know to be true without making it look like we’re pointing a finger. I think confronting is a step when we’re addressing something we will not tolerate anymore and a consequence is given.

    • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Great thoughts, Robin. Please don’t take my response as being my assumption that we are on the same page (that’s a very dangerous proposition for you, here), but I would add that confronting should move us into a very specific course of action as described by Jesus himself in the book of Matthew. It’s a very clear description of how we can approach each other in the body of Christ with the goal of reconciliation while maintaining the appropriate level of protection and confidentiality for all parties along the way. I love how it demonstrates a perfect balance of personal responsibility and group accountability for BOTH the confrontee and the confrontor. This idea that we can diagnose, accuse, declare a verdict, issue a sentence, and carry out the consequences alone or by reading books and blogs is simply wrong and extremely dangerous.

  30. Brenda on February 6, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Robin,
    That was explained well and we can use this in all of our relationships that may be abusive. I am past the divorce and husband issues, but have gotten my feet wet in the dating world. Speaking truth is the very first step to developing friendships that may or may not evolve into something more. I want to be completely honest about what I am and am not willing to tolerate from the very beginning. If a person doesn’t like my stand, it is better to know right away before emotional ties become hard to break.

    Thank you Robin,
    Brenda

  31. Brenda on February 7, 2016 at 7:22 am

    I am sorry Roxanne. I meant to write my response to Maria.

    So to Maria you wrote to Roxanne these words.

    Roxanne,
    However much we disagree with a person’s views, it does not give us the right to be unkind. Something Leslie has said has stuck with me- our response or words reflect who we are not the person we are aiming them at (in my words).

    My response was:

    I am trying to figure out who was unkind. The questions asked and remarks made have been genuine. Jesus himself turned over tables and called the religious realm vipers. Calling a spade a spade, an apple an apple or an abuser what he is, is speaking truth.

    • Maria on February 7, 2016 at 7:48 am

      Brenda,

      This is what I was referring to:
      ” Are you in a court ordered men’s group? Are you under a restraining order at this time?”

      • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 1:25 pm

        Thank you, Maria. I addressed it earlier – bu it honestly did not hurt or sting even though those words brought me to my knees 9 months ago when I started getting attacked as a Father. It’s only be God’s grace that this can be true.

      • Roxanne on February 8, 2016 at 6:48 pm

        Maria, these are very important questions for all of our safety, especially yours!!! I do not regret them. Talking about his custody issues does not address a restraining order. His wife has fears about him for a reason.

  32. Brenda on February 7, 2016 at 8:40 am

    Maria,
    Did you catch the part of Edmund’s response to Leslie’s point of “Three ways to spot a wolf in sheep’s clothing” by a link to the song “Maneater”. He has found those that enable his minimizing women who have been abused and categorizes them by what he reads into their posts.

    If we are not righteously angry about abuse, I have to wonder “Why not”. It is not unChristlike or unchristian any ways to respond to or ask questions.

    Edmund has chosen not to respond to questions until we answer a question that is only meant for God to answer. That is as one said “covert aggressive”. It is meant to cause confusion and crazy making. There are people here that need to get away from that fog.

    Brenda

    • Maria on February 7, 2016 at 8:54 am

      Brenda,

      I did not catch that. Edmund, please respond to Brenda’s comments and deny/confirm what Brenda is saying to clear up the confusion.

      But regardless of how he behaves, we’re responsible for our responses. Don’t you think Roxanne’s comments are offensive? I would be offended if someone said that to me. A lot of the comments have been very constructive.

      • Brenda on February 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm

        Maria,
        Considering these are questions and not accusations, I don’t. I would be asking why I was being asked such things, but I have nothing to hide and would answer honestly. I would go on to ask why the person asking thought that way, but initially offended, no. Stunned yes.

        I recently met someone online and after a couple of days I asked if he were an axe murderer. I really needed to know that before meeting him. He laughed and gave a crazy answer but no offense was taken.

        In this case, Edmund has repeatedly minimized and judged who he feels has been abused and who hasn’t. He is covert aggressive in his responses. There are men out there that have been through the abuse cycle. I don’t believe this is the case here. He is trying to set up his own rules by insisting on only communicating with either YOU or Leslie. The last I heard this is still Leslie’s blog.

        • Maria on February 7, 2016 at 1:24 pm

          Brenda,
          I disagree with you with regards to the questions. I think one can use questions to verbally abuse another eg. “Are you crazy, an idiot, stupid?” Etc. When we’re sincerely trying to get information, I think it’s ok. But when we’re trying to accuse, indirectly insult, in my opinion, that’s abusive.

        • Paula on February 7, 2016 at 8:10 pm

          I agree with Brenda regarding Roxanne’s questions.

      • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm

        Brenda/Maria:

        OK, brenda, I didn’t realize you had directed so many comments my way when I indicated we weren’t good conversation partners. I at least want to address what is on the table before I narrow my focus to Maria.

        There is an awful lot of motive assigned to my attempts to be light hearted and playful. I think it would be more productive if you asked me what I meant by posting that link. As one of my wise friends would say: Questions prick the conscience. Accusations harden the will. Since I can choose my response, however, I will simply refuse to allow my will to be hardened and I’ll pretend that you asked me a respectful question. As that same friend has reminded me: Thinking the best of someone, instead of assuming something less, always gives the relationship a better chance to succeed.

        If I would have plopped down in my very diverse small group, started singing Maneater, and posed the question about our ongoing discussion on abuse in the church – the response would have been much more predictable and controllable. It would have actually worked to break down barriers in that setting, not put them up. The limitations of the written word in this context are obvious and I really need to play it straight 100% of the time if I am going to do the least amount of harm. So I am sorry if I offended you, Brenda. Please forgive me.

        As for everything you said following your concern about the link, I completely disagree. If Maria chooses to engage, i would be happy to address any concerns that she finds legitimate.

        • Leslie Vernick on February 8, 2016 at 8:14 pm

          Edmund, this is not the site to be lighthearted or playful with anyone. Most women here are in great pain and reckless words can pierce like a sword or singing songs to a troubled heart can only cause more pain. I’m also uncomfortable with you singling out Maria to engage with. She is a wise woman and I understand why you appreciate her, but it’s inappropriate considering your marital status and hers.

  33. Maria on February 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Edmund,

    I believe in open, honest communication. I really don’t have the time or patience to dissect lyrics of songs and figure out how they relate to your posts. I tend to look at things at face value and not look for hidden meanIngs in the posts here. I hope that this true for you too- that you are an open and honest communicator and if someone is assuming wrong, you’re willing to clarify that. If so, then you should be more than willing to clear up any confusion that us ladies have. I am going to list a few things below. Please clarify the following:
    1. You posted Leslie’s ” 3 Ways to spot a wolf in sheeps clothing”.
    Are you implying that someone on this site is a wolf? If so, who?
    2. Then you posted lyrics to “man eater”. is it your intention to minimize women by this? If not, please explain what your intention was.
    3. You have been asked a few times for your definition of a “difficult marriage” vs. “destructive marriage”. Why don’t you explain this?
    4. Survivor mentioned in one of her posts that you feel you have been mistreated and you have come here to get us to collude with you. Is this true? If not, what is your purpose?

    The reason I visit this site and read and respond to posts, is because I can learn from others who have faced similar situations. Also, I hope I can help others through my experiences. Leslie’s articles are very objective and when I apply her teachings, I grow as a person. I hope these are some of your reasons too. Maybe you feel that you have be wronged and you are looking for ways to move past that hurt. I am sure that the people on this site will be more than willing to interact with you in a positive manner if you clarify the above and show that you are sincere. All you have to do to clear the confusion is be honest and address the above. If you don’t, then it is natural that people will make negative assumptions regarding your posts.

    • Remedy on February 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      Thank you Maria. I thought my question/request to Edmund was fair, honest and polite based on the seeming accusations he was leveling at people on this site.. or at least insinuating things about many who comment here.

      I also am firm in my convictions about open & honest communications. Often there needs to be a baseline of understanding on an issue to have productive conversations. It also needs to have the element of getting to ‘what is right’ vs ‘who is right’ which often winds up in personal attacking rather than informative exchanges.

      Edmund….. we ask again, respectfully, for you to put your definitions of abusive relationships and just normal difficult relationships out there so that we may have, as you say, open honest dialog with you. We presume you are trying to understand the heart of your wife, as a woman even as we struggle to understand the hearts of our husbands, as men.

      Thank you all for so much for your insight, wisdom, counsel and shared experiences as we all walk the path the Lord has laid before us. You have helped me in ways too numerous to describe just knowing I am not alone and I am not crazy. It has kept me many a day from despairing of life and I am grateful to you all!

    • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

      Maria: Sweet….thank you. Yes, I would be glad to answer your questions. Looks like I’ve hit on various things as I scrolled through the activity from the last couple of days but I will try to distill it all here.

      1. No. Satan is the wolf. I believe Mrs. Vernick is implying that men are usually the wolves and that God’s shepherds, local church leaders, might be wolves. This causes me great concern, but I believe we are all sheep.

      2. No. I believe men and women are both abused. I have a teenage daughter. I do not degrade women. The strength of the reaction is all the indication I need that this is not a good place for personality or light-heartedness, even though these are the very traits that the Lord has used in me and my circle of support, to deal with painful times. My kids would tell you, while rolling their eyes and taking a deep sigh, that Dad turns everything into a song.

      3. Due to the complexity of it, I would like to take some time to work through this. Are you OK with that, or do you feel that’s a copout? I read Leslies definition many months ago. I have set forth my own description in various things I have written over the years, but I have not taken the time to distill it into a statement. I will say, with 100% certainty, that I believe it is rooted in the description of a heart and not in the prescription of a set of actions. I can also say with 100% certainty that it’s subjective, similar to the definition of counseling. I might be fully convinced that Mrs. Vernick is counseling on this site and she is clearly convinced that she is not. What is the definition of counseling? It’s subjective and often in the eye of the beholder.

      4. I do believe I have been mistreated. I did not come here to collude. I don’t believe me ex-wife reads the blog or follows Leslie now that she has accomplished her desired goal. In fact, i suspect if Leslie called my wife and said “I think you have not used or represented my position or my material in the way I intended for it to be used,” my ex-wife would ignore her. I may add to this later as my response is completely off the cuff, but I came here for 2 main reasons:
      a. I needed to find out the truth about Leslie. If she kicked me off her site, refused to let me post, altered my posts, etc. – then I would have confronted her directly outside of this forum. Since my ex-wife leaned on her to justify our divorce, I sure as hell wasn’t going to pay Leslie to be coached or for counseling so that I could find out that way! When Leslie appeared on FOF radio, my heart towards her softened as a result of her description of selflessness. While i still have strong disagreements with her philosophy and some of her content, I knew there was common ground underneath. And, if i remember right, Leslie also defended my right to participate in the forum. So, when all these things were exposed over time, I was personally satisfied to know that Leslie was not as responsible for my wife’s choice as I was led to believe. I felt i had determined for myself that my ex-wife used Leslie to justify what she already wanted to do. I’m sure my screen name would not hide my identity if my wife or her family were on the site. But I have not said a word and they have not said a thing. This is the only forum where I could be 100% truthful without giving away my wife’s identity or mine.
      b. I believe in marriage and God has asked me to use my voice to fight for it. The church is fighting against gay marriage on the one hand, while fighting for the right of heterosexual christian couples to divorce on the other. It’s crazy.

      Maria – my hope is that anyone with an objective and honest mind would look to my desire to interact with you, specifically, as evidence of my motives. Going into a forum of strangers and picking the strongest, most mature participate as a conversation partner is either crazy or wise. My convictions, happiness, and self-esteem are not contingent upon which answer anyone picks. Thank you for your approach.

      To the others, especially you Aleea, I mean no harm or offense. I’m a guy, I know my weaknesses, I cannot multi-task. Aleea – your brilliant, but my perception of you leads me to believe that we are too much alike. Volume + Depth + Frequency of written communication has driven my closest relationship partners crazy over time. I have to keep learning how to get to the bottom line without shortcutting context and keeping it all in its proper bucket so I can move my mind to other productive things in life – like work, kids, service (give me an address, Brenda!), etc.

      Until next time…
      Many Blessings!

      • Maria on February 8, 2016 at 5:45 pm

        Whenever you’re satisfied with your answer to #3 feel free to respond.

      • Roxanne on February 8, 2016 at 6:51 pm

        Sweet?!!! Does her husband know your called her that!

  34. Brenda on February 7, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    Maria,
    I am fine with agreeing to disagree. See my definition of abuse on February 6 @4:55 am. I don’t believe Roxanne or her questions falls into this category.
    Brenda

  35. Maria on February 7, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Yes Brenda. This is probably verbal bombs, as Leslie puts it.

    • Aleea on February 7, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      . . . .But could it be that both are bad, the one just operates below the surface? . . . .page 63, How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong “At this point some of you might be thinking, so far, so good. I didn’t lash out. I will just ignore her/him and walk away.” These more passive reactions may look better than blowing up, but when used as a regular way of dealing with problems, they can be just as injurious as exploding with reckless words. One kills like a bomb, the other like a slow cancer. Both are equally deadly; one just takes a little longer than the other. “One kills like a bomb, the other like a slow cancer”. . . . . The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim…“. . . . Even as an adult and a Christian counselor, I found it impossible to have a constructive conversation with her. When she verbally assaulted me, I didn’t know how to protect my heart, and I would easily get infected with her poison. I began lobbing my own verbal bombs right back. I also struggled with depression, self-hatred, and self-pity. I needed time away from the relationship and space to heal. I had to work on letting go and grieving my loss of not having the kind of mother, or grandmother for my children, that I wanted. I needed to learn how to forgive her and heal from the hurts she inflicted. . . . ” . . . . Now, switching to the beginning, Margaret A. Schatkin “’Divorce In Early Christianity”, 2nd ed., edited by Everett Ferguson, New York: Garland, we see that Divorce and Remarriage is one of the ways in which God delivers His people from their past mistakes. The attitude of Christian authors of the first Christian centuries toward divorce is of great importance, for they were the closest heirs of the thought of the apostles and they had access to all kinds of manuscripts that are gone forever (—And I mean completely gone, hundreds of years of gaps!) —Also, they lived in a period like our own when the civil law accepted divorce and divorce was very, very commonplace. Tertullian, states that women “. . . . long for divorce as though it were the natural consequence of marriage. . . ” Anyways, the early church believed that Satan arranges marriages too and honestly after reading so many e-mails from people that come here it would not surprise me if it were true! Could it be that some unsaved people have been assigned by Satan to marry believers??? I don’t know that but the purpose would be to drive them totally crazy, provoke them to commit abuse themselves, and in some really sad causes women have told me about have lead others to early graves. See: Voices of Early Christianity: Documents from the Origins of Christianity by Kevin W. Kaatz and if you look at the early church (re: Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Dr. Stephanie Coontz).

      . . . .Now, this floored me because I would have never come to this conclusion. . . .Dr. Meier was saying to me last week that she has worked with so many women who had issues with sleeping around and yet these women were “happy” that they at least felt guilty about it because they felt that the guilt actually reduced the frequency. Here is the absolutely amazing thing from her 25 years of dealing with this issue: the guilt increases the frequency. And as she works to remove their guilt, their desire to sleep around disappears. While they thought their guilt held her sexual encounters in check and that, if removed, would lead to more one-night stands, the truth was the dialectic opposite. The guilt sustained the actions. The guilt, the shaming, the blaming, the condemning, the damning, the you will or else, just fueled the actions. Wow, the research shows clearly that the removal of the obstacle (the guilt) removed the thing that the obstacle appeared to hold at bay (the sleeping around). The “issue” is the solution to a problem, not the problem. Maybe, if you are not way back up stream dealing with the source, the shaming, the “shoulding”, the blaming, the condemning, the damning just fuels more evil. In other words, the one-night stands are not “the problem”, they are the “solution” to the real problem (—I am sure lots of you know this, I am a slower learner.) The “law” appears to be the opposite of transgression; as that which keeps it in check. But it is really that which gives it its libidinal support. . . . . In my case, while unbelief (—taught extremely well to me from my mother) seems to be the obstacle that prevents me from fully believing, it actually acts in the same way as law to transgression. . . . . Isn’t that just like God would set it up as: the way to find your life is to lose it.

      Father God, you know when and how my/our hearts have been broken. Like no one else, You know the pain We felt and stlll feel. You know how I lost the ability to trust in childhood—the abandonment, the inconsistent attachment, the attacks—and my fear of learning to trust again. And, God, I’m trying to know you as One who heals the brokenhearted and binds up our wounds and I so need Your help to fully believe.

    • autumn on February 8, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      Verbal Bombs? Hmm…I thought Roxanne had some excellent questions. I think she was living in her CORE to discuss such topics with Edmund. When you think about it, why would a man be on this site asking for a specific woman and making rules about interaction with him? Why would his wife and his church leaders recommend that keeping him out of the home was a good thing? He says his wife just wanted her own way. This is all very confusing to me.

  36. Maria on February 8, 2016 at 6:06 am

    Aleea, you bring up a number of good points. Both types of reactions do not please God. And just because our verbal bombs don’t have the intent to control doesn’t make them ok. Words have the power of life and death. One reason I am drawn to Leslie’s teaching is that she doesn’t give me a pass to behave in a bad way beacause of the illtreatment I’ve suffered. She encourages us to do good and not repay evil with evil without condemning us.
    Your comment on Satan arranging marriages is scary. We don’t know what’s going on “behind the scenes”. But it’s a good reminder- Satan is out there to steal, kill and destroy.

    • Aleea on February 8, 2016 at 11:16 am

      Hello Maria,
      I want you to know I am praying so much for you, your precious family and your husband too, every single day. I never forget and I want everyone here to know I do the same for them daily too.

      Some things to think about for everyone, —especially me:

      1) Let’s pray for each other, I need your prayers so very much too. I am a total mess most of the time.
      2) One of the biggest victories Satan ever pulled off was making people think he was/is not there. People will say to me, “. . . yes, he is there” but then act like he is not. They act like some other human is “The Satan” or at least some lessor demon. —We have to trust God on this and believe what Scripture says: the entire world lies inside the evil one and the god of this world (Satan) blinds people into thinking he is not even there. Satan will rip your soul out —and— the soul of your family/marriage/et.al. if we don’t understand this. It’s no game. Satan has false apostles teaching lies, principalities just waiting to obey, hate and greed, ungodly lusts, all on offer. So, we need to stand in the gap for our spouses and we need to fight together with our spouses and other believers in prayer. Why would we ever demonize people when there are actually real demons?
      3) In terms of other people, it may be very important to realize that scapegoating: ________ is the reason for my ________ could do nothing more than just set us back. We need each other. . . . In all the Bible’s texts I see that a scapegoat is that which we blame for not being able to get what we most desire. It is that which takes on the burden of our failure to get what we cannot reach. It may be that the only one we should be scapegoating is the Devil himself. The “Thing” which we imagine will bring us fulfillment (good relationships, money, fame, health, etc.) is, of course, that which we can’t seem to ever get our hands on it. If we do reach out and grasp, we open our hands and find out that it isn’t actually the “Thing” after all (because it has not satisfied us). This is not to say that a form of satisfaction is beyond us, just that the imagined fulfillment of desire is an impossible dream (—that would turn out to be a nightmare were it ever possible.) The belief in something that can fulfill us (—in theological terms “the idol”) is then oppressive because it always seems out of reach, robbing our current situation of meaning and keeping us from realizing just how beautiful and special the very broken people we are and that are around us actually, really are.

  37. Brenda on February 8, 2016 at 7:21 am

    While again agreeing to disagree and put this at rest in my own heart and not HAVE to be right, I will again say that calling out Roxanne on her questions is crying foul. Her questions are neither abusive, a verbal bomb or even disrespectful under the circumstances. The abuse came from another person who should be called out.

    A verbal bomb or vomit would have to be explosive enough to cause mental or emotional anguish to the other or perhaps have that ability if the person had a heart of love whatsoever. Roxanne’s questions were not even retaliation. They were honest and sincere considering the circumstances.

    Speaking truth in love is always best when you can. BUT not referencing any writer, but Jesus himself he called the Pharisees what was truth in a way that might not be considered loving in the standards of many. He said they had hard hearts; a brood of vipers. If I am truly going to follow Jesus, I am going to accept all of His ways and not just the ones that I think are the right ones. We are not to be doormats.

    Again I ask: If we are not righteously angry about true abuse, WHY NOT?? Why is a Sister in Christ being singled out????

    • Maria on February 8, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      Brenda,
      I was not trying to send a message to you or Roxanne in my response to Aleea. I was referring to myself. I have responded with verbal jabs to people the have verbally bullied me. I have tried over the past few years to intentionally stop that, because although it usually makes me feel good initially, I end up feeling awful later. I am usually very direct in my communication, I don’t send messages through others.
      I don’t agree with your viewpoint with regards to the questions. Let’s agree to disagree. My reasoning is from what I’ve read of Edmunds posts (I may have missed some). I don’t see how he would be under a restraining order or court ordered anything. But then I don’t have experience with the legal system. Assuming worst case scenario- that he’s passive aggressive- that doesn’t warrant a restraining order, in my opinion.
      As far as not standing up for abuse, how did you reach that conclusion? I don’t have the time to post on all topics or post when I agree with someone. I have not disagreed with people that have stood up. I am hoping Edmund responds to my post, then we’ll not be drawing conclusions based on assumptions.

  38. Brenda on February 8, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Roxanne,
    I am so sorry this happened to you.
    Brenda

    • Roxanne on February 8, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks Brenda. I am trying to protect Maria.

      • Maria on February 8, 2016 at 9:49 pm

        Roxanne, Thank you for looking out for my best interests, I really appreciate it.

  39. Robin on February 8, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Ladies, there is someone among us stirring up strife. Their words sound like Christ but they come from someone not to be trusted or entangled with. Every time this person participates in this blog- great strife invades our place of peacefulness, support for one another, and a safe haven. Please support and love one another and ignore this one who is causing great division and harm. Please do not allow this to continue. This blog is meant for safety and educating us to stand up for ourselves in re: to abuse. Ignore this distraction and let’s move on to why this blog exists- to encourage – to love- and to help each other.

    • Edmund on February 8, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      Robin: I’m disappointed that you are taking this route. Given the time stamp, I can’t help but think that you have seen my attempts to interact with everyone today. You are welcome to your opinions and your suspicions. If Leslie or Maria ask me not to visit the site and contribute, I will gladly submit to their request.

    • Autumn on February 8, 2016 at 7:07 pm

      I get the sense the Edmund is deceptive also. He seems to hijack the blog for his own interests. Does anyone see any repentance in him?

  40. Brenda on February 8, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Ladies,
    Over the past several years with help from sites like this one, an awesome counselor and a few special friends I have been able to come out of the fog and find peace in Christ and my decision to divorce. I have moved on and started a new life.

    I do have issues with the deflection that has been allowed to happen here. Let’s remember those that have gone through the corrupt court system and children have been ordered to visitation with an unsafe parent and treated worse than animals.

    I took a short term hiatus from the site to reflect on the future, the friends that I was choosing and even things that you pointed out might not be in my best interest. Even though I didn’t appear to be listening, I was. I haven’t always agreed with everyone…..No one agrees all of the time. We are after all human.

    Because of the peace that I feel without the TV crazy style this blog is becoming and no longer feels safe, I am now choosing a new boundary and unsubscribing. I will continue to pray for all that are in or attempting to leave abusive situations, but I no longer wish to battle those who can fit into the sheep suit, but are exposed through the zipper.

    Yours in Christ,
    Brenda

    • Robin on February 8, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      Love you Brenda– I admire your strength, courage, and convictions !
      You have allowed us to learn from your experiences and wisdom. We’ll miss you but I know I we will not stop encouraging one another!!!!!!

      • Leslie Vernick on February 8, 2016 at 6:14 pm

        Thank you Robin. I appreciate your comment. You are such an encouragement to all here. You’ve been through the fire and come out refined.

    • Leslie Vernick on February 8, 2016 at 6:13 pm

      Brenda, I’m sorry you find this site safe. You will be missed. You are a great contributor and have added a lot of value to the discussions here. Perhaps at some point you will check in from time to time. Other women (and men) need to benefit from your wisdom and experience.

      • Edmund on February 11, 2016 at 2:27 pm

        Mrs. Vernick – Thank you for interacting with me. I will keep this as brief as possible, and I am committed to following your lead. As the creator of this site, you have the exclusive right to design how the site should work, who should be allowed to exist here, how the participants at the site are expected to behave, how much freedom they have to accept or reject your terms, and the consequences – good or bad – of those choices. My goal is to yield to your complete design for this site, whether I agree with it or not, whether I think it’s fair or not, whether it makes me feel happy or not, whether it allows me to be myself or not, and whether I think you are good or bad, right or wrong. I offer that commitment to you now with no strings attached. Please indicate what you would like for me to do going forward, and I will completely yield to this expression of your character through this digital world in which you’ve created for us to interact.

        After feeling a bit skeptical and defensive at your measured responses to my posts, I was able to sift through my own baggage, evaluate my lens, and find the best interpretation of what I think you were trying to convey. Thank you for any measure of trust and/or benefit of the doubt that you are willing to extend.

        The only comment in which I was not able to gain any satisfaction and, therefore, want to mention directly is the concern you expressed about my desire to interact with Maria. This statement, though not overtly accusatory, clearly has strong implications in this forum…especially given the activity, presence, and posture of some of your most vocal supporters.

        Are there ground rules about interactions on the site that I need to be aware of before I consider participating here? Has there been concern expressed in the past about the specifics of the people behind the screen names…is it their real name, what is their gender, what is their marital status, whose posts do they interact with? If I would have simply kept my intentions to myself, ignored everyone else’s posts and questions, and only interacted with Maria – do you believe you would have expressed concern?

        I come to this site honestly and transparently. I am true to the facts. I am true to myself and my personality. As far as I know, there are no restrictions or guidelines for who can be here or what their background must be. If I missed that, I am sorry. If I did not, I would suggest that the challenges that come from an open forum are a result of the nature of open forums, not the voices that contribute.

        Because I care about people and want to be respectful, I can willingly suspend my own personality and desires for the benefit of others. I am willing to do that here. I have posted links to songs in the past with a lighthearted tone and nobody objected. I have seen no indication that everyone here always speaks seriously all the time. But I do understand clearly why someone with my profile and my sense of comfort with myself and my own convictions would be a threat in this specific forum. I am happy to do it if it means my voice can be heard and my positions considered. I am good with words, but I am not an expert on the unintended consequences of the written word exposed to a wide spectrum of unfiltered readers. This is why the local church and day-in-day-out hands on community is the foundation for relationship therapy and discipleship. Again, I apologize if I have offended anyone.

        To me, Maria represents the best of you and your position. If you know something I don’t know that makes talking openly with another adult in an open forum a bad idea, would you please consider clarifying in some way? To me, I may as well have invited Maria onto a lighted platform in a church to tape an interview or discussion for educational purposes. I’m a bit perplexed.

        To answer the repeated question – I believe all sin is abuse, and I believe all marriages are difficult. I think we must draw a heavy, distinct line between people who are cooperating with evil and people who are simply wrestling with the effects of evil on their lives. We are all sheep. The devil is the wolf. Every human being is wrestling with the effects of sin on their life. Every marriage is difficult. Where I would make the distinction between “difficult” and truly “abusive” is when one (or both) spouses are given over to evil or cooperating with evil showing no signs of remorse or repentance. In this case, I think separation should be strongly considered in some cases, and absolutely required in others. Remember, I have a teenage daughter. In the case of the latter, I think God allows for divorce but does not require it.

        In my humble opinion, spouses are best served when the line I describe is made more clearly and distinctly. I think spouses, families, and the church are injured terribly when that line is blurred.

        The general consensus about me from a majority of your followers here is obvious. I accept that. My boundaries allow me to interact here and stay here, regardless of what’s said to me or about me, and try to contribute to the conversation. But I certainly don’t need to be here and I can find other things to do with my voice if you would like for me to leave. All I would say is this…everything I have posted on this site is genuine and true – even on the occasion that I did not choose words wisely. Whether you or anyone else believes me or chooses to think the best of me as your brother in Christ is beyond my area of responsibility.

        Two questions in closing if you are willing to consider responding: 1. Am I an abuser? 2. What would you recommend to a man that comes to you and says “My wife is lying and manipulating the truth to make the case that I am an abuser. Whenever I try to defend myself, she uses it as more evidence that I am abusive. If I don’t say anything, she uses it as evidence that I am guilty. And when I attempt to communicate our faith tradition to the kids of our divorce, she uses it as evidence in the court system that I am a bad father – punishing me emotionally and financially by requiring me to defend myself on legal terms. What should I do?”

        Thank you.

        • Leslie Vernick on February 11, 2016 at 10:42 pm

          Edmund I will try to answer concerns as clearly as I can. This blog is a forum for women and men in destructive and abusive marriages to find godly help and support. It is not a place to argue, criticize, or question someone’s character or story. We can disagree, give our own opinions or perspectives as long as it is done in a respectful way that has to do with the topic. There are times we interact or respond to a person’s question or comment to a particular person, but this blog is not an appropriate space for you to say you are only going to interact with one person (Maria) or me. This is especially true because everyone on this blog is hurting in some way and vulnerable and raw and the interaction on this blog has to be open for all to comment on.

          Edmund, you are using a fictitious name as others may due to confidentiality reasons. That’s fine. This is to be a safe place for people in destructive marriages to find help without their spouses tracing their conversations. You have talked about everyone having a difficult marriage and sin is in all relationships and you are right. As I say in my book it’s not sin that makes a marriage destructive. If that were true, all marriages would be destructive because all marriages have sin and hurt and brokenness at times. What slides the marriage into the destructive realm is the repetitive pattern of serious sin with an accompanying lack of remorse, lack of responsibility taken and lack of change that makes the relationship impossible to repair. Forgiveness can be one sided, but reconciliation, if it is to be true reconciliation must involve both parties and when one – either a husband or wife, refuses to acknowledge or change sinful behaviors, biblical reconciliation is impossible. One may stay legally married but there still is no biblical relationship.

          I can’t answer the question whether or not you are an abuser. I have no idea what your wife has said you’ve done that caused her pain. You claim it was normal marital stuff – nothing abusive, nothing that warranted her drastic response. I have no way of checking out your story and I am not aware of her story. But the women on this blog have challenged you to look within because believe it or not, that’s what all abusive men say. That say that they are not that bad. They say that they didn’t do anything that wrong and in fact they are the victim of their wife’s unforgiveness, or bitterness, or her new found boundaries. That’s why many women react to your words with mistrust because they have heard the same words from their own spouses and they know what’s going in their own marriage even if they don’t know what has gone on in yours. If indeed you are a victim, then I would hope you would show more empathy and compassion on those who have also been victimized by cruel and unjust spouse’s, courts, and churches who have not protected the victim but instead persecuted her and validated the abuser.

          Jesus himself said that not all people in the church are sheep and indeed there are wolves among us. Yes wolves are used by Satan to bite and wound and confuse the sheep, nonetheless, we are to recognize them and call them what they are. I’m not saying you’re a wolf, I don’t know your heart, but if you’d like to contribute to the blog as someone who has been hurt, perhaps sharing more of your heart would be helpful.

          • Edmund on February 14, 2016 at 11:10 pm

            Leslie: Thank you for taking the time to respond. I truly appreciate it. I was finished participating at the site last December. But I am on a mailing list and I occasionally notice articles that you publish. When I saw the article about wolves, I had to return and include my voice. There is no blog post about this article, but the most current topic was “how to confront your spouse with HIS unacceptable behaviors.” Since my perception is that you have made a conscious decision to target your message to women, and since this naturally leaves husbands and men in Christian leadership as the likely wolf candidates that you warn against with your target audience, it seemed like a relevant place to contribute to the conversation.
            I have posted many things on the site. You probably don’t want to do this anymore than I would, but I would encourage you to search your entire blog history with my handle as the keyword and determine whether you believe I have shared my heart. I would also encourage you to observe the comments and reactions of the other participants to my comments. I know that the people here are hurting, but I don’t think that should be used as an excuse for them to be sinful (my definition), or abusive (your definition) in their responses to anyone.
            My ultimate goal is not to be welcome or liked on this site. The reactions here can pick at some scabs on occasion, but my involvement here has truly served to help facilitate my healing…even though it is not in the way you may have designed. My ultimate goal is to fight for marriage and the stated mission of Jesus Christ himself – to redeem and reconcile all things unto Himself and to unify all things under His Lordship. My involvement here, with Focus on the Family, with the AAMFT, with the legal system, and with any other individual or organization that God puts in my path with be for the purpose of promoting God’s promised redemption of all Creation. My aim is reconciliation, not revenge or vindication. And to be clear, that is not a threat…this journey has simply brought me into contact and conversation with these various parties for various reasons.

            One thing that you’ve mentioned, and one thing that Maria has faithfully modeled, is your commitment to assuming that everyone who contacts you is being truthful. Are you willing to grant me this privilege? And since you have the rightful privilege of picking the questions you would like to address on your blog and email blasts, would you consider publishing and responding to the last question in my previous post?
            I appreciate your consideration and your personal interaction. If I may offer one lighthearted statement in closing on this unique American holiday…the singles blizzard from DQ was truly a delight today, but #JesusIsMyValentine just wasn’t working for me as a single dude. I am somewhat surprised and thankful to say that I spent time today both alone and with married friends – and I am at peace. I still love marriage and the picture is it intended to create and promote. This is not of my doing. The Lord is good. Blessings to you and yours!



          • Edmund on February 14, 2016 at 11:15 pm

            The question: “My wife is lying and manipulating the truth to make the case that I am an abuser. Whenever I try to defend myself, she uses it as more evidence that I am abusive. If I don’t say anything, she uses it as evidence that I am guilty. And when I attempt to communicate our faith tradition to the kids of our divorce, she uses it as evidence in the court system that I am a bad father – punishing me emotionally and financially by requiring me to defend myself on legal terms. What should I do?”



          • Edmund on February 16, 2016 at 3:47 pm

            Leslie (or Mrs. Vernick), I appreciated your article today on the email blast “Did I Marry The Wrong Person?” Thank you.



          • Leslie Vernick on February 16, 2016 at 7:00 pm

            Thanks.



  41. Maria on February 8, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Aleea, I so appreciate your prayers, thanks. I am not as disciplined as you are when it comes to prayer, but I do pray for you.

  42. Robin on February 9, 2016 at 3:34 am

    Aleena doesn’t getting up from S.S. after ten minutes point to perhaps a confrontation needing to take place? People cannot change without us being honest with them. Yes there is a cost. But I believe the cost is higher when we stay silent.

    • Marie on February 10, 2016 at 3:41 am

      I wonder what’s the point in talking when they don’t hear you anyways? Just curious– I leave feel like I’m defending or proving and have to pay for every word I say- or it gets used against me.

  43. Aleea on February 9, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Brenda,
    Oh, no. . . . . . Brenda, it is amazing the way you can set boundaries. I wish I could set boundaries like that. At some point, maybe you can come back and show me how to light my path with the candle I have, not burn my arm with it? I know I can never be free until I no longer am seeking praise. Why do I so care so, so much what others think??? Look how you can just walk away. . . Just say “no more”. . .I say I know God but am obessed with people-pleasing idols. You seem to have that under control: borders, boundaries, hedges, etc. I don’t know what else to say. . . .

  44. Brenda on February 9, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    As a matter of full disclosure: I was informed that I had responses from yesterday and just to let you all know, I came back long enough to read them, but do not plan to participate in the conversation any longer.

    Thanks for your support,
    Brenda

  45. Trueheart on February 9, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    My husband also hijacks the conversation, deflects from the actual topic, directs the conversation to be all about his issues and how he has been wronged, divides the people participating in the convervsation and pits them against each other, creates division and strife, alienates family members, goes on long and circular diatribes ad nauseam, dictates the rules of engagement, and stands blinking in wide eyed fake innocence when called out. I still need to hear more strategies for confronting this bad behavior, because my attempts don’t work. Please, please help, and return to the issue.

    I appreciate the strength and wisdom of the women here.

    • Robin on February 9, 2016 at 11:51 pm

      True heart did you see Leslies post where she said she lists the steps in her book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage??? Have you read t??

    • LA on February 10, 2016 at 10:28 am

      Trueheart,
      I would encourage you to stop engaging and to pray pray for God’s answer to your question. The bottom line is, that he will only change when he’s willing to change. So far he is in control and his objective it appears is to keep you off balance. You can’t reason with someone who doesn’t care to hear. You can continue to try and exhaust yourself, or learn to walk away for a season every time he starts in, be it 10 min or three hours! Do your best to keep YOUR PEACE OF MIND, I would sometimes get my purse, and if I had children, get the children and I would go see a friend or take them to a park where I could center myself again
      and clear my head. The point is, how best for you to take care of yourself and children if you have children? Also read Leslie’s book again about creating and setting consequences for his destructive behaviors? I’m trusting that God will lead and guide you…
      Just Breathing and Trusting

    • Robin on February 14, 2016 at 1:22 am

      True heart, do you feel you got the info you were looking for?? Is there something more we can help you with? The process of confronting the destructive issues, and looking for a change that may never come, is a long and grueling process. We’re here to support you, just let us know how things are going!!!!

    • Robin on February 14, 2016 at 1:26 am

      Where you say Trueheart your attempts don’t work and you are looking for answers — in a destructive relationship our attempts to speak the truth and clarify what we need seldom do work. There are no magic answers- we have to go into a process of discovery about abuse and realize the answer isn’t in us. It’s up to them to be willing to listen to the Truth or the relationship withers and dies.

  46. Robin on February 9, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    True heart, I have been divorced for 6 months, but your words could have been mine while I was married. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I found there were no words that he would hear- I confronted time after time but nothing changed. I hope you find the answers that will change your circumstances and thanks for bringing back the subject of this blog!!!! What a week!!!

  47. Trueheart on February 10, 2016 at 12:35 am

    I’m on the second reading of Leslie’s book, appreciate her guidance. I get punished for standing up for myself and the kids. I’m always wrong and confrontation brings long lectures. I now just walk away..doesn’t lead to anything constructive. No joy, no peace. I just want it to stop and be out of this hell. My friends and family don’t understand why I stay, and I don’t either.

    • Roxanne on February 10, 2016 at 5:16 am

      It is for concerns like these that many of us continue to read and participate on this chat board. We hear you sister and understand. Have you read Lundy Bancroft’s books, “Why does he do that?” and “Should I stay or should I go?”

      Regarding your question, often nothing you and do or say will change his behavior. The author Patricia Evans writes in her book of a woman who kept hoping, cajoling, praying, submitting and trying to reason with an unreasonable spouse for 63 years, nothing ever changed. She thought she must be explaining things incorrectly, because he just did’t seem to understand her. He understood her, he just used the information she revealed as tools to further control her. Can you imagine how many lectures she had to listen to in 63 years?

      The best practical answer I have for you is to not engage. Focus on an object in the room, like a ballerina does to stay grounded for spins or a yogi does to maintain balance, and ignore the talker. He will try to hook you into his dysfunction and you will need to be strong to resist his jabs. Reasoning with him is a utter waste of time. Build your own life within the life you lead and find strong support people. If he changes his behavior you can reengage. Yet, without intervention and his willingness to address his issues, nothing is likely to improve on his end. You can improve your life though.

      Your life has value. Your thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs are precious, profound and full of love and purpose. Don’t let his filibuster distract your thinking with his crazy making. You have some choices to make about the future that no one want to imagine might be necessary. He probably uses other forms of control to belittle you too. If you resist, his behavior will likely deteriorate further to tighten his grip on your mind and actions. You need to be smart and have a plan in place.

      A good source for more information is your local domestic violence shelter or the national hotline. Christian counselors, sadly are often ill prepared to help in situations of emotional abuse. Read everything you can, tell a few trusted friends what is REALLY happening in your marriage and set a course for your future. He will need to wallow in his own issues, they are not and never have been your responsibility. Sadly, he has perverted was God intended for good, not you.

    • LA on February 10, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Trueheart,
      can you seek counsel from the people who understand? Ask for help, suggestions as to what a next step might be for you to get out of this hell? You may be surprised and find some support as you navigate your way out. Have you spoken with a lawyer yet, gathered necessary paperwork? Perhaps a few smal steps in preparation to eventually separate will gain you strength as it did for me? Knowing I was going to just take the next step Be it a baby step or a leap, brought me courage and strength to take the next step.
      Just breathing and trusting

  48. Edmund on February 16, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    …Not that I in any way think it was for me or because of me, just to be clear.

  49. Jackie on April 3, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    Leslie,
    Thank you so much for your responses and your ministry. My counselor is the one who recommended your book and I have also passed it on to my friend. I will continue to work on my CORE and pray that I leave well.

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