Morning friends,

Please pray for me. I have been a bit overwhelmed with all that is on my plate and I’m working hard to juggle it well, but sometimes things fall off. There isn’t one thing that I’m doing that I want to let go of but there just aren’t enough hours in each day to do it all. Please pray that I will have wisdom and discernment on what God has for me to do. Ask him to enlarge my plate and my energy levels.

I also believe God is at work in some very powerful ways to wake the church up to the issue of abuse. Pray for this. Pray that the Church wakes up and responds in the right way. So many women are being diminished and devalued, not to mention dismissed when they come forth with their stories. Pray that God does something to open the Church’s eyes to the truth.

I’m going to be starting a new Walking in Core Strength Group in April – I only do these twice a year. If you need some extra support building your CORE and learning how to walk in Core strength without wobbling, this is the class for you. We have very limited openings and if you are interested click here.

 

This week’s Question: I have been married for 22 years to a man who was abused by a family friend for most of his formative years. My husband was unfaithful in our second year of marriage, and that lasted for 2 years. Our relationship never healed. We sought counseling and I was basically told to endure. There were incidents of aggressive behavior and physical aggression. He was extremely angry for many years, but has since entered counseling and is now despondent.

He has apologized for many things, but he blames me for the condition of our marriage, and while I admit I had difficulty standing up to him and speaking up for myself, I am taking steps to change that.

He has become suicidal at times, and I am not sure what to do. We have 5 children and 2 of them have disabilities. I have not worked in about 18 years. I do not know how to feel.

I understand that he is in pain from his past and not having dealt with any of it (though he told me he had), but I am angry that I am being blamed for things I have never done.

Am I doing the right thing by staying? He continues to ask me whether I love him, will I stay, how do I feel about him. I feel trapped and have difficulty being honest in my answers.

Answer: Dear one, you are in quite a dilemma. Your husband is leaning hard on you for his sense of well-being and security. He wants to know that you are there for him regardless of how he behaves, what he does, or what he’s been through. You have been there – at least physically for 22 years but I hear you when you say you are hurting and are tired. It is not always all about him and his needs and feelings. You also are a human in pain and in need of care.

Although he is going for help now, sometimes the help phase feels very painful for a season and right now he’s stuck in his own pain and doesn’t have much to give you. As long as he threatens suicide or is suicidal, it’s very tough for you to be honest with him about how you feel.

You said you don’t know how to feel. Instead of thinking about what you should or should not feel, why don’t you get curious about how you do feel? Are you tired? Resentful? Afraid? Insecure? Angry? Defensive? Ashamed?

Once you can allow yourself to feel whatever you feel, then you can begin to ask yourself some critical questions. (Tweet that)

The psalmist asked himself “Why are you downcast oh my soul?” (Psalm 42:5) Why questions and what questions – such as what triggers these feelings? What do they mean? What are they trying to teach you or tell you, are very important. They help you start to listen to your own voice instead of being pressured to only listen to everyone else’s voice.

Listening to your own feelings and needs doesn’t negate your responsibility to care about your husband’s feelings and needs, however right now it seems like the only one whose feelings matter around your house are his. Isn’t that how it’s always been from day one? His feelings trumped – so he had an affair. His feelings trumped so it justified or excused him from acting out angrily and aggressively. His feelings trumped so now he’s despondent and suicidal so you’re walking on eggshells, not able to be honest with him about your own feelings.

You haven’t mentioned what specifically he blames you for but you allude to not being able to speak up earlier. Yet you’re once again in that same position. If you tell him the truth and he acts out aggressively towards himself or you – it’s a bad situation. I don’t blame you – you don’t want to go there.

So what can you do? First, work on your own negative feelings. Listen to them, name them, get curious about them, ask them questions so you learn from them. That is your best shot at not getting caught unaware by them or acting out on them in ways that you dishonor yourself or say something you later regret. Journal, talk with a friend, process these emotions until you squeeze every bit of wisdom you can from them so that you are able to let them go.

Second, get plenty of support for yourself. You cannot walk this journey all alone and your husband is incapable of thinking of anyone besides himself right now. Perhaps later when he’s more healed he’ll be less self-centered, but for now, he’s stuck.

Third, if he wants you to be more honest, tell him you are uncomfortable with that because you’re not sure he can handle your feelings. Tell him you are willing to discuss your feelings in a session with his counselor so that if he gets upset or can’t handle it, he has someone to talk with about it afterward. That way you are not the “blame” for him acting out or imploding. I would start small – such as “I am tired. This has been a hard time for me. I need you to care that I am tired.”

See how he handles your self-disclosure. Is he caring or mocking? s he supportive or critical? If he’s the latter, more self-disclosure will only result in more abuse, but now you know that his healing is not translating into him being more loving and caring for you, at least not now.

That brings us to your question of whether you should stay? I can’t answer that for you. It’s a question you must wrestle with before God. But from what you say you are not prepared to go even if you wanted to. So at this time why don’t you start preparing yourself financially, educationally, job training, etc, so that if you ever sense God telling you it’s time, you would have more options than you currently have right now.

You have a lot of compassion for the terrible things that happened to your husband in his childhood. Childhood abuse has long lasting effects but it does not necessarily turn someone into an abuser. Your husband must also take responsibility for his own actions and ways he has treated you if your marriage is going to turn around. I’m sure you have some things he can blame you for. None of us are perfect. But if he’s not looking at his own part in where the two of you are now, he’s still a very long way from getting healthy.

Friends, how have you learned to listen to your own feelings and make sense of what they were trying to tell you?

35 Comments

  1. Trish on February 17, 2016 at 8:27 am

    This was very good in answering this tough situation. It makes sense in many ways. Human love does not conquer all things except Christ’s love and grace to handle what we have in front of us to get through. I’m struggling as well. Narcissist thinking and behaviors in my 14 year marriage and it is just very difficult. Be well and may God give you wisdom to know the answers and grace and strength to deal with what you do. Blessings and peace.

  2. Laura Di on February 17, 2016 at 8:57 am

    I, Wisdom [from God], make prudence my dwelling, and I find out knowledge and discretion.
    —Proverbs 8:12

    I too was stuck in a limbo as a similar situation confounded me, as I struggled in a 29 year emotionally abusive situation. Fear and doubt arose yet I was able to put much prayer and meditation into my dilemma and finally awaken my feelings to charge into action. I found that by asking God to take the lead miraculous sources of help manifested. You need to keep asking and diligently looking. Open yourself up to available resources just like the resource this web-site provides. Realize there are many more outlets for assisting in this type of journey if you open your eyes to seing them. Talking to trusted friends, clergy, recovery group members, support groups are among a few of the places to look. Keep your eyes opened! I found so much by looking and seeing pamphlets, books, flyers, and other avenues that lead to investigation and the needed help. I too was once afraid and stuck, it’s comforting to know you are not alone. One of the first things i stumbled upon was a domestic abuse counseling group which I called about and joined. That group pointed me to a Displaced Homemaker Program at a local college. That program lead me to explore education. That search brought me to enroll in school, which was incentive to earn a associates degree. Earning the associates degree raise my self esteem and so, on and on I go. You can do it all too! I hope you can soon get in touch with your feelings. God has a wonderful plan if we do the leg work!. God Bless! It isn’t easy but with prayer, meditation and journeying it works.

    With love,
    Laurie

  3. Ruth on February 17, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Leslie’s advice is wise. She says to find support for yourself and that is good. Just be careful who you reach out to. If you go to the patriarchal-based, ultra-conservative type Christian counselor or ministry, you’re sure to hear “don’t leave; just keep loving him; just keep praying for him, etc”.
    As a young Christian, I had a works mentality. In my case, I can’t fault my church with this. I’m naturally a fearful person. In those early years, I thought I want to NEVER commit an unforgivable sin. Here was my mental list to avoid:
    1. Do not blaspheme the Holy Ghost.
    2. Do not commit suicide (my reasoning was that suicide was equal to murder and if I killed myself then I wouldn’t get a chance to repent after my sin) I’m still not sure how I feel about this one but my understanding of salvation and grace is so much better now. at least I don’t live with the worry that I’ll sin and die before I have a chance to repent!
    3. The last unpardonable sin (as I saw it in the scriptures) pursuing divorce for any reason other than adultery.

    I read a book about a woman who escaped from an abusive marriage within the fundamentalist LDS church. She knew her husband would never divorce her, so she set out to have an affair for the sole purpose of making her husband pursue a divorce. How desperate is that?!

  4. Ruth on February 17, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Anyway, I’m just trying to say that Gods grace is so much BIGGER than most Christian’s legalistic view of Him. He loves you. He loves your shattered husband. He wants to heal and deliver Both of you, but I don’t believe God would want to see you crushed for 20+ years to in order to restore and heal your husband. You are not God’s sole means of grace to that man.

  5. Ruth on February 17, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Sorry to post 3 times. I am slow at putting my thoughts together. Plus, I reread her question.
    It sounds like the husband in the original post is making his wife responsible for his emotional well-being. This is an unfair burden. That’s God’s role to fulfill.
    She doesn’t explain specifically what her husband blames her for. But I’m guessing his complaints are “she’s not affectionate enough” and “she’s not ever happy with me” and “she doesn’t understand me”. He probably wants a cheerleader and a security blanket. But his wife is running on empty and doesn’t have much left to give. He’s too wounded (and possibly also too selfish) to give much emotionally to her. He’s the taker; she’s the giver.
    Now, she’s left with the overwhelming dilemma of wanting to leave but not having a financial resources. Plus, she has a feeling of responsibility towards her husband.

    • Donna on February 29, 2016 at 7:38 pm

      See when I was first married to a man our church said I should marry…I was so naieve. I always and often still to this day…married 39 years. Get use my husband feelings for my emotional well being. I don’t know if it was meant to be that way but it is. I had no idea what I was getting into. We are still married… My husband is not well and hasn’t worked since 2001. In 2004, he exhibited paranoid schizophrenia and did not take medication until 2012. He loves me and says he loves me so much…I don’t love…I don’t know what human love is…it’s dead… I know God’s love.

  6. Survivor on February 17, 2016 at 10:32 am

    My husband wasn’t physically or sexually abused as a child, but I do believe there was verbal/emotional abuse present in the home he grew up in….. He also had some physical difficulties/limitations to overcome that made for a rough time with his peers–and nobody helped him handle those things in a healthy way….. I have a lot of compassion for the child that experienced these hurts. However, I am very angry with the 40-year-old man who still wants to be pitied for his ‘difficult childhood’ and expects people to bail him out of his ‘pain’ in the same way his mother did!!! I beat myself up for not seeing through his ‘pity cries’ when we were dating…..for believing that I could ‘make it better’ for him……etc, etc…. I have stood up for him when he was dead wrong, and lost friendships and a job over it. Still, he and many members of his family believe that I am ‘mean’ to him, now that I have found my voice and have stood up to him and told him that this behavior is not acceptable. (And followed through with consequences such as calling the police when he threatened my life, and separating from him for 6 months a few years later when he continued the emotional abuse.) I believe that the way I treat him now is more loving than when I did whatever he wanted, and he is starting to say the words that agree with that belief, but his life/actions do not demonstrate that he truly believes it yet…..his family does not believe it. They are full of criticism–even down to criticizing my clothes, hair, makeup, etc!!!!! These situations are definitely sticky, and short of a miraculous act of God, I don’t see much hope of change in someone who is so narcissistic……and yet, since we do serve a God of miracles, I am not quite ready to give up!! But, I. Am. So. TIRED. So confusing…….

  7. Aleea on February 17, 2016 at 11:46 am

    “Friends, how have you learned to listen to your own feelings and make sense of what they were trying to tell you?”

    . . . . Thank you Leslie for another excellent Q&A article and question writer, I am so praying for you and everyone in your family situation. I don’t understand your pain and chaos but I understand pain and chaos. . . . .For me, the first task is to try not to numb off all those feelings because then they tell me absolutely nothing and it is so easy to numb them. Thousands of ways exist to do it, including posting things here, Christian concerts, etc. I know I am right over top of my own feelings when I am shocked, surprised and disturbed both good or bad. When I start feeling that way, I try to stay in it, not fight or flee from it, —very hard. It usually takes going back and unlearning. Just what are my REAL beliefs and what are my beliefs actually keeping me from confronting??? For example: I don’t have peace. . . not like what is advertised: “. . . . which passeth all understanding, keeping our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” That is just not true for me no matter what I say. This indicates it could not be true or something WILD and UN-healed exists inside of me probably from my childhood, or something is going on that I am not even aware of. —I do practice tuning in and listening to my heart. When I do, I notice all the “noise” of confusing feelings and thoughts that arise —I write these down to address in psychotherapy. —We always pick the one that is the most disturbing because apparently that is where the greatest motivation for change can be found. I also notice that what my heart tells me often corresponds with what I already know. For example: I might repeatedly notice in my thoughts the perception or fear that others are judging me, which triggers a predictable feeling such as anxiety (—or feeling offended or victimized) which then, in turn, triggers thoughts of wanting to either withdraw and hide, or of wanting to react and defend myself (—fight or flight reactions). The more I notice this as a repetitive pattern, the more I become aware that this perception of being judged, and all the reactions I have associated with it, are not so much reliable information about the actual situation, as they are information about my own patterns. . . . By doing this, I often find my feelings are just automatic reactions that only reflect my “programming” from the past, and not even the present reality. So, I have learned to feel guilty, for example, if I take time for myself, or if I attend to my own needs and set boundaries with others (I really, unfortunately, don’t set boundaries for myself.) Feeling guilty, for me, reflects an expectation (based on my experience) that someone important to me will react negatively. The guilty feeling has a purpose of bringing me “into line” with the pattern I have learned, in order to avoid a beating (—From my mother in the past; —From God in the present.) . . . . . Anyway, that is me, for our questioner, it may be helpful to think about what is consistent with real love, with Christ’s love: Jesus, Luke Twelve: “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Think for yourself and maybe remember that: She who has learned to seek nothing but the will of God, will always find what she seeks. The chains that keep you bound to the past are not the actions of another person. They are your own actions/ non-actions, fear, stubbornness, abuse (past, current, spiritual, et.al.) It is not other people that keep you trapped; it may be the entitled role of victim that you enjoy wearing. Often, with me, there is a familiarness to pain that I enjoy because I get a payoff from it. When I figure out what that payoff is, then, at least for that issue, I am sometimes finally on the road to freedom (—for that issue, at least; I don’t have peace like the Bible says we are supposed to have: “perfect peace” et.al.) . . .Anyways, —Lord God, I desire to see all of us made whole because I believe if we can relate to You, and to ourselves in love and care, we all can be healed and help heal. Guard me against thinking my way through life rather than really living, like a rainbow with my emotions and feelings as the color of life set against the grey facts of logic that so seem to deconstruct You so quickly.

  8. Emily on February 17, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I found that by not tolerating my husband’s suicidal threats (or any other threat) was the best cure to his manipulation. When he made such remarks, I would respond, “should I call the hospital now?” and he would stop. I always took it seriously, but his threats didn’t stop me from leaving, either. When I did finally separate for good, the threats stopped. If anything, I think leaving gave me boundaries on him sinning against myself and children. It has been almost a year now. I don’t hold onto false hopes that my marriage will change, but just the hope that Christ can change me! (Romans 5:5) <3

  9. Emily on February 17, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Sorry, I wanted to add I’m praying for you, Leslie! <3 I strongly hope for the church to wake up as well! Thank you for writing about this topic – I often wonder that abusive family values may be more "caught than taught"..and how to teach my children so that they will be aware of abuse happening to them. We have worked a lot on identifying emotions so far…

    • Leslie Vernick on February 17, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Helping children put words to their feelings is an important start in emotional maturity and intelligence which is crucial if someone is going to treat others with respect and care.

  10. Stacy on February 17, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    I was in an emotionally and destructive mental and physical relationship for 13 years with my husband. After two years on these post I started and gained ability to leave God lead me all the doors opened. After 6 months of being separated my husband wants back together telling me he will do anything to make this happen. We started going to counseling together and he is going to start seeing a psychologist for he Was verbally and physically abused as a child. My kids and myself have heard all this before. How do u truly know if someone has changed? He wants me to move back in but I am so afraid that once I do all of the stressors in our life such as kids cleaning eat his abuse to me will be back. I really need advice on what to do? Do I go back or continue on moving forward? It’s very hard because I think to myself I put up with him for all these years and now he will be fixed for the next person, any advice

    • Survivor on February 17, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Stacy, I too was separated from my husband for 6 months. Unfortunately in my case, that was only long enough for me to start to feel a little better and for him to talk a little nicer. I believed that things would be better, and so I moved back in with him. If I had it to do again, I would take more time about it. I think it is ok to affirm his statement that he will do better, but is also ok to ask him to SHOW you how is doing that–and have him demonstrate consistency–before you put yourself back in that situation. My husband really just learned how to be more sly about his games/control/getting his way……I thought he was really different, but after I had been back with him for almost a year, I knew the same thing was still going on deep down inside him……

      • Leslie Vernick on February 17, 2016 at 5:43 pm

        Actions over time. Actions over time….that shows change, not words.

        • Survivor on February 18, 2016 at 7:57 am

          Yes!!! TIME is key!! LOTS of time!!!!!!

    • Maria on February 17, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Stacy,
      Here’s a link to an article Leslie wrote about how to know when someone is truly sorry.

      https://un184.infusionsoft.com/app/hostedEmail/1915618/222266259e9451a0/

      If you move back with him before you see signs of true repentance, you may most likely end up in the situation you were in before or worse. Do his actions match his words? True change takes time. If your husband has truly changed, I don’t think he would pressure you into moving back with him. I would think he’d be trying very hard to rebuild your trust, instead.

      • Leslie Vernick on February 17, 2016 at 5:42 pm

        Thanks Maria, you’re better at tracking these past blogs than I am. That’s why I need Martha and others to help with the techie part of this.

    • Leslie Vernick on February 17, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Don’t go back until you see changed behaviors over time. Do trial weekends and see how it goes with the “stressors”. If that goes well after a few times then perhaps a 4 day weekend or a family trip (stressors). That’s how you know someone has changed.

      • Survivor on February 18, 2016 at 7:56 am

        Great advice!!! In addition, I think it is important to remember that they can even fake the actions for awhile……in my case, my husband was able to ‘hold it together’ for those weekends/trips…..I should have done a LOT more of them before I moved back in….and probably some longer periods, as well……they are master manipulators!! At that point, he knew it would take a lot to convince me–and he worked it!!! Learning to see through the fake good actions but still recognizing the sincere ones is proving tricky for me……

      • Debby on February 29, 2016 at 8:56 pm

        After 22 years of verbal/emotional abuse, I began learning enough about it to start taking some action. For the next 7 yrs I did “mini separations” in the same house. He was so NICE and cried and did everything for me, and made promises, etc. I started out with 3 days, then a couple years later I did a week, then a year later, I did 2 weeks, then a year later, (do you see the pattern?!) I did a MONTH and then, finally, even I could see the “pattern.” So I separated for as long as it took to see real, consistent, change in his behaviors. I had NO end time in mind, no limit, even though I was asked all the time “how long?” as if I could determine when HE would seek help and be healed! I realized that when I was asked by him and by others, “how long” they were essentially saying that I was doing it to punish or spite, etc. which if true, WOULD make it possible for me to decide “just how long” until I reconciled. But that wasnt why I separated. It was for MY healing and I could only heal if the abuse stopped for good, which he had not chosen to do up to that point, so I stepped away, out of fellowship, out of relationship, out of the toxic dance. I explained that since my actions had no malicious or vengeful motive, I had no idea how long it would take, IF EVER. It took more than a YEAR. For some, it doesnt matter how long, they will not change because they have an entitlement mentality. As long as they think they deserve to treat you bad and think that you deserve to BE treated bad, and you agree with it, it will continue. Just sharing my experience to give you some idea of what is meant by TIME. It is different for every situation, but MONTHS I would say would be the minimum. You are talking behaviors that are VERY ingrained, have been for YEARS. It will take a long time for real change and you are under no obligation to endure bad treatment in the interim. An abuser has every opportunity to get help. When they don’t and years of bad behavior have resulted in a need for separation, it is not on YOU to bring healing to HIM or to your marriage. I have listened to church leaders, counselors, marriage books, seminars all talk about how you can “heal your marriage.” But a marriage is an institution. Institutions are organizational STRUCTURES that people can use to bring a semblance of order and symbiosis to relationships. An institution cannot be “healed.” Only people can. If only ONE is healed, the marriage will not survive. If only the OTHER is healed, the marriage will not survive. Only when BOTH are healed can a marriage do its job. And you can only control YOUR healing. God bless you as you learn and travel on this journey toward wholeness. (See the link to Leslie’s article below about how to tell real repentance, very helpful!)

        • Shelly on March 1, 2016 at 8:46 pm

          This sounds just like my situation
          Separating myself from him. I could no longer endure the verbal/ emotional abuse. Now on the verge of divorce.

  11. Refocus-Reclaim on February 17, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Oh my… It’s as if I was the one who asked the question! Are you sure you’re not my twin sister? The only difference is I don’t have any children in the equation. Leslie’s advice is spot on… and I know how hard it can be to find a trusted friend. I knew I couldn’t trust just anyone, and I carefully “tested the waters” on a few friends until I found ones that would not judge nor tell me what to do. Those were invaluable people, and still are as it allowed me to process the events and figure out those “whys” – but it wasn’t a fast or easy process. God bless all of them for their patience and understanding – all 3 of them!

    Leslie: Prayers for you as you continue to use your special talents to move this ministry forward! You are a light in the darkness to many.

    • Leslie Vernick on February 17, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks so much for your prayers.

  12. Amy on February 17, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Leslie,
    Thanks for putting your thoughts on Psalm 42 in this post. I read those verses many times while I was in my abusive marriage, but never from the perspective you suggested. I was thinking more along the lines of “You shouldn’t be sad just because your marriage is hard; you have God; He is all you need.” I thought that way for way too many years. Once God opened my eyes to the fact that I was being abused, I began trying to break all the thought patterns that kept me in a destructive situation. Now I try to help others with the lessons I have learned. I’ll add this new perspective on Psalm 42 to my list of new ways of thinking. Thanks!

    hose

    • Amy on February 17, 2016 at 6:39 pm

      (“hose” shouldn’t be in my post. I forgot to delete part of a word that got typed in the wrong place :/ )

  13. Maria on February 17, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    I remember reading somewhere that it’s important to be able to identify how we feel at any given time. Leslie, your question about what that feeling is telling us is important too. There are times when I’ve felt really angry. When I’ve searched myself and looked inward, I’ve found out it was really hurt or fear. Looking deeper, I’ve found out that I was hurt because my pride was wounded.
    I’ve been teaching my kids to listen and pay attention to their gut. If they feel something is off or unsafe, to pay heed and remove themselves from that situation.
    Then there are other times I’ve relied on feelings that have been false. After choosing to allow negative people to speak into my life, I started believing what they were saying. Then I started to feel worthless etc. At those times, I chose to rely on the truths of scripture- what does God say about me- that I’m wonderfully and fearfully made. Also choosing to take captive every thought- intentionally replacing negative thoughts with truths helped.
    There are times I’m not ready to deal with a feeling. I end up avoiding or denying it and that is never good because it comes out at the most inoppertune time.
    I am so grateful that He accepts me despite my flaws and he allows me to grow at the rate I am. I am a work in progress.

  14. Amy on February 17, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    Leslie I am praying for prioritizing and God would give you strength. Also I agree we allneed to be committed to prayer about the Church waking up to this grievous issue. Will be praying.

  15. Betty on February 17, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Amen, Lord. “Guard me against thinking my way through life rather than really living. . . .”

    • Aleea on February 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      Betty,

      Exactly!!! . . . . . overthinking is not good. . . .but, not the same as “deep thinking.” Overthinking is ruminating, not your friend. Deep thinking involves the facts and evidence. Deep thinking can give you deep insights. With overthinking, we might try something as corny as saying, “Overthinking, you are not my friend! You are hurting me! Go away!” If you have small children, think about how you’ve taught them to be assertive when other children are bothering them, and maybe say the same things to your overthinking: “I don’t like that! I want you to stop!” . . . .Not engaging in deep thinking is the opposite. That is just being willfully blind. The biggest catastrophes rarely come from information that is secret or hidden. They come from information that is freely available and out there, but that we are willfully blind to.

  16. LA on February 18, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    I learned to listen to my feelings and understand where they were coming from when I began seeing a counselor in my early 30’s. I began having flash backs at the time my daughter was 4 years old, the age I was when the abuse occurred. I thought I was going crazy! Panic attacks, nightmares, waking up screaming… Afraid to let my daughter out of my sight! Our church had a guest speaker on childhood sexual abuse one Sunday morning. I had No Idea! After the talk I left and when I reached the stairs I ran down and into the ladies bathroom, into a stall and began sobbing uncontrollably! I was having a panic attack, felt like vomiting and wanted to jump out of my skin, all at the same time! The speaker had seen me rush down the stairs and came in to the ladies room to talk to me. She was so very kind and helped me to calm down after she asked me a question that I’ll never forget, ” Where you the abuser or the victim?” I choked out, “the victim”. When I gained my composure, she and I met with my Pastor who was a very kind man and within a few days he got me the #s to two different counsellors. That’s how my journey of healing began. I had suppressed so many memories for so many years… But my Jesus knew and He lead and guided me every step of the way! I couldn’t imagine going through life this without Him! He brought so much healing through so many people and He’s always spoken to me in visions and dreams. I was able to go to a Spiritual Growth and Inner Healing Shcool, it was a two year commitment and much was healed. I’ve learned that where there is smoke, there’s a fire… I’ve learned about “triggers” and I can always follow the feelings back to a memory or how did I learn this reaction, which is often leads to a “Lie” from the enemy… I thank God for how far He’s brought me! I married my 2nd husband and after a few years I began more and deeper healing, he began to feel threatened and that’s when the verbal and spiritual abuse began or maybe when I began to see it for what it was? Anyway, I’ve learned to honor my feelings and check in with myself regularly as things come to the surface. I’ve learned to set boundaries and say no when I need to and apologize when needed as well. It’s been very freeing to realize that I’ve always held the key to the cage I was in. Jesus showed me that It was in the lock,
    on the inside…
    Just Breathing and Trusting

  17. Sandy on February 25, 2016 at 3:23 am

    I have a big problem with my h who is very similar. He was disciplined very sternly, love starved, and felt abandoned as a child. He was such a romantic before we married but shortly afterwards he turned into a total control freak. That lead to many arguments which over the years turned into physical violence.

    After we both retired we moved in with his parents to care for them. His parents and my parents all died two years ago and I was totally exhausted mentally and physically. My h had been fairly nice to me as I cared for his parents, but as soon as his mom died he began the demeaning, disrespect, and yelling once again. I left the state to visit my son for a few weeks to grieve the loss of my mom. While there my son, who is an elder at his church, asked me to stay for an extended visit. He called my h and told him because I was afraid to tell him. I stayed for six months and I found Leslie’s book “The Destructive Relationship. I went to counseling and told my h that I would not come home unless he started counseling, read the book, and was able to admit that he had been abusive. He did it all so I went home.

    He had started going into a depression while I was gone and it has continued getting worse for the two years that I have been home. He goes to counseling every week but he refuses to go to a psychiatrist since our family doctor says that he has given him some antidepressants and antianxiety meds but he needs more or something else. My h is a narcissist, hypochondriac, and has BPD.

    Since our parents died he is always thinking about dying, He is not a believer and he is very afraid of dying although he frequently threatens to commit suicide. He complains that we never go out socially but if I try to make plans he most often backs out and tells me that now he has agoraphobia and wants me to sit home with him.

    This week he feels like he is having a heart attack. He keeps complaining to me about his tight chest, but he won’t go to a doctor because he is afraid of what the doctor might tell him. I just don’t know what to do with him. He is so depressed that he is experiencing many problems just like I have done through the years.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? Because he doesn’t want me to go out to visit our grandkids or my friends. And he never wants anyone to come here either..

    • Survivor on February 25, 2016 at 7:11 am

      Sandy, my instinctive response is that his physical complaints are just another way to control you. At this point, he is probably afraid of you leaving him, but he doesn’t want to go the distance to give you a reason to want to stay……so he is finding ways to manipulate and control you into staying. Reading the book ‘Boundaries’ by Cloud and Townsend was helpful for me in learning how to frame statements/questions to my h when I needed to set boundaries. It also helped me to be able to read his responses and know when it was time to give myself a break……it doesn’t fix them–that is still up to their choices–but it did help me with my responses to things….. For example: you could say to him—“I don’t choose to sit in the house and do nothing for the rest of my life. If you would like to go to the doctor and get help so you can feel better, I will be happy to take you and then we can do things together. If you choose to stay here and be the same, that is your choice, but I don’t choose to be here.” And then, if he goes to the doctor, well and good, but if not, you have the option to leave again. You are not responsible for his happiness and well-being if he is not ready and willing to do his part……..

      Hugs, prayers, and blessings!!!! Tough love is SUCH a hard thing to do!!!!!

  18. Little Sheep on March 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    My marriage is heading in the direction of separation. I have woken up after 18 yrs of emotional desertion, angry & controlling abuse.
    With my husband’s ability to smooth over & put on a convincing show I don’t believe anymore in his profession of faith to be a Christian.
    Until I see the evidence in both word & deed that true brokenness & repentance has taken place, I cannot see reuniting as a viable option. I can no longer live as an enabler to a life of falsehood & complete lack of any kind of authentic faith in Christ.

  19. Elaina on May 30, 2016 at 10:59 am

    Wow. Totally beside myself. I am right there with this woman. I met my husband when I was 20 and am almost 38 yrs old. We have 4 children together. We were married, divorced and remarried. There was infidelity in the first marriage and just a few months ago I learned that the second marriage of 8 years has had fidelity throughout the entire thing.
    I have nearly fallen apart emotionally. He is seeing a shrink and we are both seeing a therapist, but it seems like his nature is to dismiss his actions, and even justify them based on blaming me for being “damaged”, whatever that means. He is getting in my head so bad, I feel like I am about to lose my mind.
    He is mentally unstable and is a liability financially and in every other way.
    He may have a mood disorder or personality disorder, he is being evaluated. The closer time draws near to his next shrink appt, it seems like he is staging arguments and blaming them on me. He says he is going to put me “under the microscope” with the shrink next.
    I fell apart emotionally when I learned of 8 affairs! I just learned this information a little at a time over the past few months, with him lying and being difficult the entire time.
    I was unemployed during those months of turmoil and have just accepted a job position that I am to start this week.
    I am watching him get increasingly more difficult to communicate with and am fretting entrusting our children to him when I start this job. I have to leave town for a week and have only him to tend to the children. I think, subconciously he may be scared that I am going to cheat while I am out of town, to get revenge. I wouldn’t consider that except he mentioned something about it recently.
    I love him and wish him well, but don’t want to be destroyed or entrapped for rest of my life.
    I actually think that I am having a hard time accepting the possibility of ending this marriage for a number of reasons:
    1. He is completely unstable. He will likely not hold down a job, have a stable place to live (besides his truck, as if that is stable), he will also likely end up in jail for failure to pay child support and all the while he will loudly place all the blame for his life on me. He may also abandon our children and go completely MIA. He has done it in the past.
    2. As long as he is alive, he will be a source of pain and chaos for the children, even if I do leave. Chances are, if he does not continue with psychiatric care and find a diagnosis and treatment plan now, with the possible outcome of having his wife and family restored, it is likely he never will again seek help. It has taken 17 yrs for him to actually accept the slight possibility that he needs mental health support. His pattern has been to beg the family back, make a bunch of promises and then start the same old cycle of abuse as soon as he has us all back again. When I move out and distance myself, he either falls apart, ends up homeless or suicidal and shows up on our doorstep a broken, washed up mess…crying and claiming he can’t go on without his wife. Initially, I don’t pay any mind to the threats, so he goes further and further to see what will finally get attention. I don’t want this to happen to the kids when they are adults. I hope to help be supportive long enough to obtain a clear diagnosis and treatment plan, meds, answers, etc…but I feel like I am becoming more and more of an emotional punching bag (there has also been physical abuse) the more time goes by. Ugh! Do I draw the line now…or keep hanging on a little while longer. Jesus help me.
    3. I have relocated the family 4 times since 2010 in order to reorganize life everytime in such a way that I can juggle more on my own, without his help. He either can’t financially contribute consistently or period, or he takes some job hours away with some grandiose plan of success that is never even close to being achieved, etc. I have had to accept help from his dad and move the children to one of his investment homes to get on my feet, etc, etc. Basically, I am struggling to support 4 children alone, while being married to someone who is holding us all emotionally hostage. I keep getting myself in over my head and need whatever tiny contribution he can give in order to squeak by. Right now, I am uncomfortable to leave the kids with him but I have no one else, and I am out of options. If I ask my grandmother to help, she may drop everything to come help…but only if I completely get rid of my husband, because she believes him to be nothing but toxic…and rightfully so. However, the last time I called on her help, he struck up an affair with a woman 20 yrs his senior. God help me. Of course, I did not know that then, but now that I do know…I know the tendency is there. If I kick him out and ask my grandmother to care for the kids while I train for my new job, it is untelling what kind of fury my husband will act out of. I literally fear what he will do.
    And #4.
    Along that same point…I think I have been so crushed emotionally and mentally that I fear if I don’t have some time to just stop the bleeding, so to speak, I feel as if I will not recover if I break it off with him. The last time we separated (under the guise that he was going to address the abuse and get help and prove that to the family) he went on a whoring rampage, slandering my name all over, abandoned his obligations to support the children, all the while leading me to believe he was financially broke so I would feel sorry for him and pay his cell phone bill, etc. When he came back here to live with us, I did not have all of that information. I am scared of what he will do to hurt me, to punish me for not doinf what he wants. If the last time did me in that bad, I fear what he will do if I make it clear it is over. I feel paralyzed to move in any direction. The path to least resistance is the one where he is “restored” to the family and having no repercussions for his actions. I literally wish I could change my name and go to another country and start all over. I know it sounds crazy, but I just see no escape. I feel like this is a death sentence of anguish and pain.

    What to do?
    What to do?

    Play nice, play “house” long enough to get a diagnosis so at least we know what we are dealing with and potentially get him on meds to stabilize mood…communicate clearly everything with counseling in the meantime…and maintain status quo, allow him to watch the kids so I can get this job going…keep breathing, and hold out as long as I can…

    Or…pull the plug now, convince family to come help with the kids and have everyone on pins and needles watching their back for him to possibly do something stupid…and prepare for the inevitable backlash of knowing he will whore his way through another list of women again right away.

    By the way, to boot, I am also waiting on him to get a referral for a vasectomy. He told at least 6 women I know of that he had a vasectomy, which he had NOT, and had unprotected sex with all of them. No children that I know of, as of right now. Sighhh. He has also exposed me to High risk HPV, knowingly.

    Dear Jesus, help me. This is a living nightmare.

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