Morning friends,

This is my last full week in California and then I head back home (long drive) to Pennsylvania. I am ready to get home. I love California and sunshine, ocean, and grandchildren, but I miss my house and my stand up desk where I can do most of my work standing rather than sitting for 6-8 hours a day. Did you know that sitting long periods of time is just as unhealthy for you as smoking cigarettes?

For my East coast blog friends I want to let you know that I will be speaking on Friday night, April 8th at Faith Church in Trexlertown, PA (near Allentown), at a family conference that is open to the public. I will be keynoting on, Three Common Mistakes People Helpers Make in Working with Couples in Destructive Marriages as well as doing a breakout a workshop on How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong. I would love to meet some of you. To register or learn more about the conference click here. 

This week pastor and batterer intervention specialist, Chris Moles, will again be our guest blogger.

Put Thursday, April 14th, on your calendar. I will be doing a free webinar that will give you the exact roadmap you need in order to know whether your marriage can be healed. You won’t want to miss it. Also, let interested friends and church leaders know to save the date. Click here to register.

CONQUER, my on-line support and education group for women will also be opening up its doors to new members directly after this webinar. This only happens twice a year so if you’ve been waiting to join, this is your chance.

Thank you Chris,

Last week we looked at a few behavioral changes we can call destructive people to engage in, but that is only part of the process. If you have interacted with me at all you know that I focus a great deal of attention on the heart.

Behavioral change without heart change is a kin to paying a tremendous amount of money for a new paint job on a car without an engine (tweet that).

Changing the outer appearance doesn’t solve the real problem. I hope to continue our conversation today by suggesting that character development is essential to the process of transformation, but not just becoming nicer, or more compliant but becoming more like Christ. Ephesians 5 is a common passage used to describe a husband’s role in marriage and many pastors will use this passage to encourage certain behaviors. I too use this passage but suggest we begin in verse one which calls us all to …be imitators of God, as dearly loved children.”

While there are many aspects of God’s character we can encourage men to adopt, allow me to suggest one passage which I highlight in my book The Heart of Domestic Abuse. Here God describes himself using six (6) attributes, which Jesus readily demonstrated during his life on earth and of which we are called to imitate. In addition, to an obedient Christian these six attributes have a direct impact on the Christian marriage. In Exodus 34 , Moses has returned to construct new tablets after smashing the originals following the discovery of idol worship in the camp. After completing the tablets God approaches Moses and makes this declaration about himself.

“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…” Exodus 34:6-7

While God shares additional information about his character in the remaining portion of the passage these six characteristics stand out as adoptable attributes consistent with the call to conformity.

1.Compassionate: God describes himself as compassionate and Jesus models compassion numerous times in the Gospels. In particular, Matthew 8, tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion as he looked out over the people. For the Christian, compassion is a necessary characteristic to embrace in response to being wronged or even perceptions of harm. Consider Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 4, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” In response to the temptation to become sinfully angry that can express itself through bitterness, rage, name-calling, gossip, and even violence, Paul calls the believer, among other responses, to act with compassion.

2.Gracious: In many ways the opposition from the religious leaders of Jesus’ day stemmed from their inability or unwillingness embrace his words of grace. The Christ-follower is compelled throughout the Scripture to imitate this characteristic. In particular, Colossians 4, instructs the believer to, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Imagine for a moment the husband who repents of the damaging effects of his words, recognizes the selfish posture of his heart and determines to conform the image of Christ in part by speaking to his wife with grace.

3.Slow to Anger. Jesus did not come to us with condemnation but hope and salvation. He patiently calls us to redemption and then calls us to love each other with that same longsuffering conviction. In the James 1, the pastor leaves little room for doubt in our conformity to this principle when he says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” The excuse, “I have a short fuse,” falls silent under the weight of our conformity to Christ who has time and again suffered long on our behalf.

4.Abounding in Love. Scripture resounds with truth regarding God’s love. We sing songs to His great love. We are recipients of His wonderful love. From an early age many of us recited that, “God loved us so much that he gave us his son.” God’s love is among the central themes of the Bible, and we are commanded to imitate him by loving others, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Love is our go to in the process of becoming like Jesus, and the characteristic most directly related to the husband’s interactions with his wife, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

5.Faithfulness. The faithfulness of God resonates in the stories of saints throughout the scripture, as well as, those we encounter in our lifetime. We rely upon His promise to be faithful in our temptation. Our faithful God has united us with Christ and called us into fellowship with him. Our families should be able to trust us as we consistently trust in God. We are faithful in part because He has taught us faithfulness. His Spirit reminds us of His faithfulness and in turn empowers us to be faithful.

6.Forgiving.  Our God is a forgiving God and Jesus models this characteristic beautifully as he forgives sinners and unmistakably when he cries, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Even while on the cross Jesus promotes the power of forgiveness. Why are we so hesitant in our circumstances to embrace this life of forgiveness? Where once an abusive man held his family hostage with selfish expectations, the mind of Christ calls him to surrender his past desires for a new Christ-like conformity which includes forgiveness. In light of God’s forgiveness through Christ, this man has little alternative than to follow the instructions given by Paul when he says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” The most influential realization obtained by a forgiving person is the fact that he is himself forgiven. If the abusive man can experience forgiveness for the grievous sin he has perpetrated against his family ,than certainly forgiveness can be anticipated and even expected from him.

Let us strive to teach that change comes when we replace negative actions and patterns with better ones. Let us use these 6 attributes to help replace our negative behaviors.

85 Comments

  1. Stacy on March 23, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Thank you so much for this insight. I am still struggling with do I go back I know in past blogs everyone said time equals change. How do u know? I left end of October and it’s only been 4 months since we are separated. I see outward change we both have cried. But I want to test if when stressors come up that he will be different however he won’t allow that instead he is putting stipulations on our relationship. It seems like more control to me. I want my marriage to work out I do love him but am scared I want change and how do u know that is guaranteed there was years of emotional and physical abuse also kids are involved if it was just me I would leap back in but I am scared because kids are happy right now. But I never wAnted divorce I thought I would be married to this person forever. I can’t understand why he will not give me time am I being unrealistic asking for time. I do believe time equals change he has said it should be enough time move back home our home is for sale and it seems with these rules he has laid out to move home that it is just not to sell the home. I am very confused and my heart does break. Everyone tells me he will not change but I just don’t accept that and pray daily for a miracle. Please advise.

    • susen on March 23, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Stacy, I pray that you will feel the comfort of God’s arms surrounding you, His Daughter.

      As mothers, we are given “mama bear instincts.” I think those instincts save not only our children, but ourselves. You said your children are happy now.

      I found that my own peace of mind was necessary for my children to get to a state of well-being. We sold our house and the girls and I moved to a tiny old Victorian rental–and we filled it with laughter and joy and friends.

      You said you would risk going back if not for your children.

      I, too, felt compelled to self-sacrifice. But I know now that I was not enduring longsuffering for a godly purpose–God’s Plan for us is to become more Christ-like–our sacrifices to Him are to be for His Glory. There was nothing that glorified God in my years of abusive servitude–servitude to a man–not to God.

      Leslie speaks of building up core strength to be able to make good decisions from the source of that strength. When I look back 46 years, to that child of 18 who vowed before God to stay married, I know that had I had core strength to stand for what is right and just before God, that marriage would have had a chance. It would have been rocky, but I would have not enabled and crippled him with my compliance.

      I pray that you see that God’s Light shines on your path–that you walk in faith–that you grow in His Strength. susen

      • Samella on March 23, 2016 at 12:57 pm

        “…I crippled him with my compliance…” We’re taught to be compliant but NOT taught that it can be devastating to our husbands. To always get their way. To think they’re the center of the universe (not Christ). To think they don’t have a responsibility to love their wives the way Jesus loved the church. Thank goodness Leslie is teaching us to put Christ in the center. Husbands at the center is just idolatry.

        • Leslie Vernick on March 23, 2016 at 9:38 pm

          Well said Samella. We are not to worship our husband’s or put them at our center.

      • Mudgirl on March 24, 2016 at 11:51 pm

        Thank you! I did enable him and cripple him with my compliance… I have searched for a role I may he played in the destruction of our marriage and all I could see are the horrible things he did what can I do to not repeat this mistake in future relationships and I see now how that may have been unintentionally destructive.

        • Honey on March 26, 2016 at 1:50 pm

          What are our thoughts on male privilege? My husband is working on this concept in counseling. I find it difficult because as Christian women we are taught male headship. It is a fine line to determine when we are being exploited by a man and when he is a loving leader whom we gladly submit to. Thoughts??? I tend to lean on my gut to discern between exploitation and loving leadership. Has Chris worked with the male privilege concept?

          • Leslie Vernick on March 27, 2016 at 11:26 pm

            Male privilege is a secular and sinful concept. Headship is a biblical concept that involves servanthood – as modeled by Jesus Christ who said that his leaders would NOT model the secular form of leadership where one “lords over another” but rather it would be a sacrificial servant-hood form of leadership that would surprise the world. Sadly our church’s do not teach that form of male leadership or headship.



    • Ruth on March 23, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      Stacy,
      It sounds like your H is trying to change the most obvious abusive behaviors (yelling, hitting, harshness, criticism). But the deeper issues of CONTROL and SELFISHNESS, still look like deep rooted based on what you describe. The desire to control and dominate someone is so ingrained in abusive men that most of them believe it’s NORMAL. They have a very difficult time recognizing controlling behaviors. He’s rushing you towards reconciliation before you feel safe and at peace about it. He should say “take whatever time is necessary. I will wait until you can trust me again. I understand that I terrorized you and the kids, so I understand why you’re hurt and scared. I miss you, but I will wait patiently bc you’re worth it.”
      If your situation was severe enough to warrant a separation, please be very, very cautious when considering reconciliation. I’m sorry for your situation especially bc you say you love him. I believe most abusers will not change bc at their deepest level, pride blinds them to their sin. Maybe that doesn’t apply to your H, but it is the case in my marriage. I rarely waste my time confronting my H over his sin. He’s too arrogant to receive what I say- it just enrages him.
      I’m praying God gives you discernment and peace towards His will for you and your children.

      • honey on March 23, 2016 at 9:09 pm

        i understand the love is patient. So, if H isn’t patient it isn’t love. It can only be selfishness and control. He is not safe yet. Keep you counseling appointments and enjoy your time of growth. The kids don’t need to be subjected to his dysfunction ever, ever again.

        • honey on March 23, 2016 at 9:10 pm

          oh, my the grammar was pretty poor in my last post. Send, sent too fast. 🙂

          • Leslie Vernick on March 23, 2016 at 9:35 pm

            But we heard what you meant. But “just forgive” doesn’t mean enable and ignore but that’s what we are often forced to do because if we don’t then we’re labeled hard hearted and unloving. But forgiveness – even when granted, doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation. I can forgive a tiger for biting my hand but I’m not going to trust it and put it in the cage again.



      • Leslie Vernick on March 23, 2016 at 9:38 pm

        I agree. He is still being controlling and selfish thinking about what he wants and what he needs (his family reconciled) rather than what you need or want. Be very cautious.

  2. L. Young on March 23, 2016 at 9:29 am

    I am struggling with forgiveness. I usually am quick to forgive, but this time I struggle with what it really looks like. Am I thinking that quick forgiveness, leads to enabling? Over the years I have forgiven, moved on as though nothing was wrong. Now that I know something is wrong and that it will most likely occur again, I struggle with am I really forgiving him. He for the most part hasn’t repented or asked my forgiveness. Yet forgiveness treats the other person as though they haven’t sinned. Forgiveness isn’t conditional. Does forgiveness ever hold back? I have heard three things about forgiveness that I am really struggling with…1. I will never accuse you of this again, 2. I will not bring it up to others, 3 I will not chose to dwell on it. I know that there isn’t forgiveness if you want to retaliate, or punish. I know I am obligated to forgive because I have been forgiven much, but I am not really sure what that looks like when it comes down to my situation. I want to honor God in this, but somehow I just feel stuck! How do I forgive without enabling?

    • Robin on March 23, 2016 at 5:03 pm

      L. Young – how about choose to forgive him, but don’t forget what destructive behaviors cost you; and set stronger boundaries and consequences?? Forgiveness seems easier when we come in touch with what we will not tolerate anymore.

      • Leslie Vernick on March 23, 2016 at 9:37 pm

        After we forgive someone, we must decide whether to reconcile the relationship or release the relationship. When someone repetitively sins against us, we may forgive but also release since there has been no repentance and therefore the relationship cannot be repaired.

        • Ann L on March 25, 2016 at 8:24 am

          Amen to Leslie’s comment.

          In my journey, I follow the counselor’s advice to focus on the “facts” rather than what I “know” (because the “knowing” leads me to doubting the facts).

          So I look at my spouse and his superficial attempts to rebuild a relationship and I remember a few significant facts: He continues to say that I caused his behaviors. He is not willing to engage in meaningful conversations that would lead us as a couple toward mutual understanding. He did [the things] that he did.

          I can forgive him all day long. But that does not have to include ignoring the aspects of his behaviors and our relationship that are not being addressed.

          It’s hard and it is sad. It is also very freeing to separate the issue of forgiveness from the issue of allowing the same situation to continue.

          • Leslie Vernick on March 26, 2016 at 2:20 am

            I think that separation is very important. Glad you are keeping that in perspective.



          • Leslie Vernick on March 27, 2016 at 11:24 pm

            Ann – exactly. That separation is essential.



          • casey marie prevost on December 10, 2019 at 9:50 pm

            i can really relate to that and i am now and am experiencing the same thing with my husband and WOW that hit home your last sentence because i fell the same way sometimes am i allowing it to continue cause he’d rather loose his soul than admit his errors even when no one is there



        • Sara on April 8, 2016 at 12:04 pm

          Where is this principle in scripture? Below you say separation is essential, where does thar exist in scripture? I see a lot of comments about feelings and intuition, but the heart is treacherous and feelings are usual worldly, especially with the “what you deserve” and happiness lies of the enemy and spirit of the air. I think the gospel is a better guide than our sinful and selfish hearts.

    • Maria on March 23, 2016 at 6:18 pm

      L. Young, There are times when I have been quick to excuse a wrong/bad behavior that someone did to me. At the time I thought it was the Christian thing to do. I have realized it wasn’t forgiveness. In fact, I was removing the natural consequence of that action. Another thing I realized is, in order to truly forgive, we need to feel the full impact/pain of that action. Sometimes I have “forgiven” to run away from th pain.
      Forgiveness doesn’t mean that there will be no consequences. For example, if I confide in some one and they keep breaking my trust, I would be foolish to continue trusting that person. Forgiveness doesn’t mean I act like she/he is trustworthy.
      I have also learned that forgiveness is usually a process, we may have to forgive many times for the same offense. In an abusive marriage, where one spouse keeps sinning against the other, it is definitely a process.

      • honey on March 23, 2016 at 9:16 pm

        I agree Maria! Sometimes my forgiveness was really a way to lean on avoidance. It I had to address the issue, which I should have, I didn’t have the skills to confront. It was much easier and natural to just forgive (ignore, enable) and go on living life. I buried the memory and added religious smugness to validate my inaction. It was avoidance and denial, smothered with years of teaching to be submissive and slow to speak, merged into one big giant mess.

      • Mudgirl on March 25, 2016 at 12:06 am

        Thank you! I am guilty of using forgiveness as a form of avoidance. Thankfully I now have a restraining order which is the ultimate form of avoidance but now I am free to truly forgive him with with my heart. Not just forgiving him to escape the pain. And it certainly is a process<3

        • Leslie Vernick on March 27, 2016 at 11:13 pm

          What a difference to truly forgive but not feel compelled to reengage and to forgive because you’re afraid and want to sweep things under the rug.

    • Content on March 28, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      These comments on forgiveness are helpful to read and help me to realize that I am not alone in the internal struggle I’m currently in. I feel like in the last three to four years, my eyes have been opened to the ways that my unbelieving husband has minimized his sin – at times lied to me, definitely manipulated and put blame back on me, etc. I truly feel like God has just opened my eyes to see things that I could not see years ago and now that my eyes are opened, everything has changed. I feel like God has removed my husband as an idol in my life (painful, but necessary) and now the neediness I had for him at one time is gone and I’m adjusting to this new reality of 1). knowing that my husband will never be able to meet all of my needs but Christ can and will (that’s a good thing to realize!), 2). knowing that my husband has integrity issues and I cannot trust him fully at this time, 3). not really caring if he does anything to show his true colors…..

      For the first time – or maybe for the first time in a very, very long time in my marriage – I don’t feel some kind of unrealistic weight to hold this marriage together by looking a certain way, acting a certain way, etc., etc. I’ve been doing that for years and years. But, I feel like I’m going too far the other way in that I kind of have a “whatever” feeling. I definitely have some walls up after years of being unheard.

      On the other hand, since I’ve come into this new place, I have also been pretty honest about things I’m seeing in my husband and I am not apologizing for those a few days later (like I used to do when I took on all the blame and was manipulated into guilt). I think my husband senses a change in me – I’m pulled way back and I can’t find the grace right now to put a ton of effort into our marriage. By that I mean, I’m not sending him sweet texts like I used to and I am not initiating much between us that is meaningful. I am smiling, being respectful to him, doing things he asks me to do, submitting, being kind, and as affectionate as I can be in response to his affection, etc. I’ve given up on having a marriage with any kind of depth about anything other than very surface stuff as I feel like God has said “It ain’t happenin'” and the more I tried to fight for that, it just wasn’t working.

      So, in this strange new space I’m in, I’ve been wondering if I’m being unforgiving since I can’t seem to be the woman I used to be in our marriage. I believe my husband definitely senses something has changed – and he has been responding in positive ways, but I can’t bring myself to be vulnerable to him like I was before. And, I just seem to be past the point of even wanting to bring my feelings up to him. I have no desire. I feel like I have pursued our relationship and worked on it for so many years that I’m just done and that if he wants to know where his old wife went, then he can muster up the courage and ask me what’s wrong and be willing to hear some hard stuff. The problem is, though, that the old wife isn’t ever going to come fully back because he’s not my everything anymore (again, a good thing!)

      I guess I’m wondering if these things I’m feeling are normal and good or not.

      My husband is a good man in many ways. He is affectionate, he helps out around the house, he has finally stepped up in his parenting role in the last year or so (even though we have strong differences in how we parent since he is not a believer) and so I sometimes wonder if I’m being too nitpicky and just need to forgive and move on, knowing that I have issues and weaknesses, too.

      Anyway, thanks for listening. I just needed to process a little for myself here and would welcome any thoughts.

      • Elizabeth on March 28, 2016 at 7:18 pm

        Content, I think I’m living some of the stuff you’re describing. My husband and I, after a year and a half of leaving, coming back, fighting, not speaking, etc., have settled into this weird surreal pattern of “polite strangers living in the same house.” We have been to marriage counseling (which he broke off) and a christian marriage retreat weekend (whose advice he dismissed), both of which were of his choosing, so I’ve experienced a certain amount of despair as to what else I can do.
        I really don’t know whether the calm is a good thing; we have three children, so I know it isn’t good for them to think “indifference” is the primary quality of marriage. I’m just kind of hangin’ in there right now. It’s my responsibility to tell him when he has done something hurtful, not to cover for him with others, to disregard his attempts at excessive control,etc, and I try to do so as calmly as I can. You said: “the old wife isn’t ever going to come fully back because he’s not my everything anymore (again, a good thing!)” In my case, I restrained myself so much in the early part of our marriage (always letting him have his way, never mentioning how he upset me, always picking up his slack, etc) that I don’t think he even knew the old wife! I told him recently “Now that you’re getting to know me, I’m afraid you won’t like me very much.”
        One thing which has maintained a relative amount of quiet in our relationship currently is that we only have serious discussions via email. I don’t know if this would be helpful in your case, or if your husband would agree to it, but here’s some of the benefits I’ve discovered:
        1) It won’t easily escalate to yelling or physical intimidation. As a bonus, the kids won’t have to undergo the related stress.
        2) It does keep open a line of communication beyond the superficial.
        3) If you have a gas-lighting type husband who tries to re-write prior conversations, it gives you a back-up for your own peace of mind.
        4) If it comes to this, you may have an ongoing record of emotional abuse, threats, or whatever happens to be the issue in your relationship, which may be of use to you in future counseling or in the courts. (I’ve been very surprised indeed to find what my husband has been willing to put in writing!)
        I don’t know whether this is really good advice or not, as I haven’t run it by anyone else, but it has cut down the stress level in our household.

        • Content on March 29, 2016 at 12:00 pm

          Thanks, Elizabeth. I’m sorry for your situation. These things are painful.

          Thanks for the recommendation of communicating by email. I’ve definitely noticed that we are much more productive in communication when we put things in writing. And, actually, a texting conversation we had last month is a snapshot reflection of the ongoing manipulation I’ve heard most of our marriage. To be fair, he has at times apologized, but it’s always a fight to get there, it seems. He even uses that against me — that I need apologies that show he cares. I’m labeled unforgiving and bitter if I don’t jump over something the minute he says a general “I’m sorry” with no details of what he’s actually sorry for. Most of the time, I don’t even believe that he knows what he’s apologizing for. It just seems like he’d prefer to dole out a general apology in the hopes to get over the messiness of conflict.

          I hate being where I am. I am struggling with feeling like a bad Christian for not being able to continue on as I have in the past. I’m especially feeling bad because he has shown some changes lately – really stepping up with handling the kids which has been a major issue in our marriage in the past. But, I don’t feel safe with him at all, I don’t feel my heart is safe with him and because of the numerous “white” lies I’ve heard in the past, I just don’t trust him anymore. He still can’t accept responsibility for something that I saw with my own eyes that he did. And, that honestly scares me. To think that he can convince himself that he didn’t do something because either he is too scared of “failing” or he’s too scared of having to humble himself or too scared of the consequences. I don’t know what it is. I’ve confessed worse things to him in our marriage; I’ve been vulnerable because I want an open and honest marriage. Maybe I was living in a fantasy world thinking these things can and should exist in a marriage.

          He has repeatedly said that he would look into marriage counseling or something for months now. And still hasn’t done it as far as I know. I’ve begged him to read a book about the female mind as many of the things that he gets frustrated with me about are just the fact that I am a woman who gets sensitive to certain things. He started to read a very popular book written to men and could not get through one chapter. He basically said it was annoying because it was putting all the responsibility on men. I tried to tell him that I’d read numerous books written to women and that they are written the same way. It’s addressing the things that the reader can change, it’s not written to both the man and the woman.

          I know my feelings are valid, but it has been an all-out war in the past to get him to listen to me and be heard. I do not nag him; I have worked hard on respecting him and submitting to him. Thanking him and praising him. Somehow, I feel this praise fed something bad in him, though. I sure never got much back in the way of it. My conscience is clean in this area. I know that when I get hurt by something, not always do I need to bring it up. Some things can be covered over, yes. But sometimes, things just stay with me and I believe it’s healthy to talk those things through. But, he sees it as an attack against his whole person somehow. I’ve basically warned him for years that I was going to shut down if he kept dismissing me and putting blame back on me when I would bring up things that concerned me, but I have always been so scared of that that I fought it with everything I had. But, now I’m afraid, I have shut down.

          This is a scary place to be. But, I’m going to just “be” where I am. I have to trust that God has this in His hands. I don’t believe that I set about trying to fake my way through this, that it will lead to anywhere good. I pray that God will give me the wisdom to be loving and kind and respectful while still remaining true to what I’m feeling and going through myself. I have no idea how my husband will react. I guess time will tell.

          • Elizabeth on April 1, 2016 at 2:11 pm

            Scary, but good-scary! Yes, my h also has skepticism about the female mind. He refuses to believe that pregnancy hormones make women sensitive. Then he wonders why I refuse to have any more children with him. You’d think a smart guy could put two and two together.
            Shutting down is all we can do to protect ourselves, sometimes. Doesn’t feel good, though. My prayers are with you, Content.



  3. Aleea on March 23, 2016 at 9:36 am

    —Thank you Chris!
    I love that: Compassionate; Gracious; Slow to Anger; Abounding in Love; Faithfulness; Forgiving. . . . . —That is beautiful. . . . .Honestly . . . . honestly, what happens to us that we lose our way? . . . .Toxic Shame; Spiritual Bankruptcy via Religiosity -God as a numbing device/ drug; Self-contempt; Judgmental; Cynical about life. . . . . Ultimately, I see those behaviors you expand on as more important than our beliefs. To me, the beliefs are the defense mechanisms, the behaviors are our operating system. . . . .God’s almost total hiddenness is necessary on this account, since His presence would have people behaving as if good out of fear of Him or selfish interests, not out of courage, compassion, kindness, love and a sense of personal integrity. . . . .How about this?. . . . What we are most interested in is if our husbands are defensive, bitter, angry and emotionally destructive to themselves and the family around them. —That is more important than beliefs. Do they (do we) engage in strong defenses that are destructive? —I would add to your list an openness, a willingness to be totally wrong and objective in examining beliefs —often, as everyone knows, defense mechanisms themselves. —But when we can drop the defense mechanisms. . . . that is where we find Jesus (I have had some glimpses.) Out there in the desert of the real. That holy desolation where only the Truth survives, out past all the epistemology of church propaganda. That place where everything not really, really, real is washed away by the solar storm of Truth.

    Leslie, re: “Did you know that sitting long periods of time is just as unhealthy for you as smoking cigarettes?” —Yes I did. Very good reminder. —Thank you. I worry about it on lots of long flights. . . . I saw an article recently “Is Your Desk Killing You.” I now do some of my prayer time walking (—not as effective as kneeling) but I bet it is healthier.

  4. Stacy on March 23, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks Ruth for your comments I have not heard any of that what I hear is I am not going to wait for you. I say to myself it’s only been 4 months since our separation

    • Lonelywife07 on March 24, 2016 at 1:16 am

      Stacy…IF your husband was a truly repentant man…truly sorry for all the hurt he’s caused, he’d give you all the time in the world!
      But the fact that he’s threatening you, “I’m not going to wait for you!” is a sure sign of a man who hasn’t changed at all, he’d just trying to control you.
      Don’t fall for it. Do what is best for you AND your kids…if they’re happy now that you’re separated, that should tell you all you need to know, right?
      Work on your CORE strength…take all the time YOU need…don’t let your husband bully you into any decision.

      • Leslie Vernick on March 26, 2016 at 2:22 am

        Agreed. When A spouse pressures you or bullies you to make a quick reconciliation, he truly has not understood the pain he has caused.

      • Leslie Vernick on March 27, 2016 at 11:11 pm

        I agree. If he’s changed, then he is more patient, more loving, less demanding his own way. If you don’t see these things, then nothing has changed. Words don’t mean a thing.

  5. Leonie on March 24, 2016 at 5:42 am

    So many good points on forgiveness – what it is and is not. Leslie, thanks for the point that forgiveness is not to enable and ignore! We do need to distance ourselves from the tiger in the cage! Forgiveness of the tiger looks different than forgiveness within a mutual and reciprocal relationship!
    I love this post – these characteristics are held out as a model for our abusers – of what to replace evil behaviours with if they want to stop abusing – what a dream that they would behave in this way to their spouses! The character of God shown to us in these verses is so amazing! The safety and security that every wife would desire in a relationship we already have in our Heavenly Father!! Thanks for this post!

    • Leslie Vernick on March 26, 2016 at 2:21 am

      Agreed. I appreciate Chris’ contribution to helping us all look at change from a biblical perspective.

      • Robin on March 26, 2016 at 3:09 pm

        For me looking back, it could have been very helpful to operate out of my core, had I understood forgiveness from the place this blog this week has been discussing. I cried so many tears learning and hearing in church- to keep forgiving him, and loving him MORE. I think things would have been much different, had I understood I am able to forgive and then spell out what that means. Today I know it’s fairly easy to forgive my abuser or others- when I am free to set boundaries and consequences. In fact forgiveness with me still taking charge of me and not feeling like a doormat definitely FREES ME to do so in love and not anger.
        Praise the Lord that He is getting this message out!!!

        • Maria on March 26, 2016 at 7:52 pm

          Robin, isn’t it sad that certain teachings in the church like forgiveness, submission etc. are the reason individuals get stuck in unhealthy patterns? I have often thought that unbelievers are able to heal quicker because they aren’t exposed to such teachings. When I realized I was in an abusive relationship, I read and studied everything I could about forgiveness.

          • Robin on March 26, 2016 at 11:23 pm

            Yes, I remember the first time a mentor/counselor said to me, she’d prefer a unbeliever any day over someone in the church who has been raised in wrong Bibical beliefs. On A Cry For Justice blog yesterday, Mr Crippen said, the number 1 complaint he hears from victims of abuse- is church error.
            Such a shame ! But also proof we must study for ourselves and not take anyone’s words above Scripture. But it’s still a shame so many are wounded due to incorrect doctrine.



          • Leslie Vernick on March 27, 2016 at 11:34 pm

            Thanks Robin for always being a steady voice here. It is a shame there is so much misinformation in the churches. Pray for me, Jeff Crippen, Chris Moles and others who are having opportunities to speak to churches about their policies on abuse, that we would be gracious, loving, wise and very clear – abuse is never God’s plan.



  6. Anthony on March 27, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Chris and Leslie:

    What are your thoughts on Confirmation Bias 9see link below)? If a spouse is unhappy because they are not getting what they want and they are actively looking for ways to leverage the weaknesses and tendencies of their mate into a case for abuse, do you feel that the diagnosis you regularly provide could be abused and misapplied? Do you feel that this forum is a healthy resource for objective, independent analysis of all the various positions on marriage, leadership, headship, authority, and submission that are held among sincere Christ-followers?

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-choice/201504/what-is-confirmation-bias

    Thanks for your feedback,

    • Leslie Vernick on March 27, 2016 at 11:48 pm

      Anthony, From my perspective I think most wives will try to disconfirm their “idea” of abuse or deceit or NPD by asking their husband for an explanation or apology for what they “think” he did. This is his chance to gently explain or to repent or to do things differently. However, when she is repeatedly lied to, controlled, mocked, demeaned, dismissed and ignored, it’s hard to come to any different conclusions – especially if she is unable or afraid to talk to her spouse to get an alternative explanation for his behavior.

      • Anthony on March 29, 2016 at 7:43 pm

        And if they don’t approach the other spouse directly but covertly judge, grade, and test with their parents in accordance with someone else’s list of symptoms while lying, manipulating. blame-shifting, name calling, and secretly recording the spouse in an attempt to provoke/build a case while that spouse believes it’s just the same old normal arguments?

        • Roxanne on April 2, 2016 at 11:57 pm

          Anthony, Do you have a personal circumstance to share? This question seems very specific. Are you with an abusive woman?

  7. Helend on March 27, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    I too am struggling with discerning what is real change and I am contemplating separating again. My husband has been verbally and emotionally abusive since day 1 of our marriage – married about 11 yrs now. I moved out with the kids for 6 weeks – I KNOW I moved back way too soon but that was all I had the courage for at the time- he kept pressuring me to come home threatening that the longer I stay away ” you don’t even want to know how mad I will get and what I will do” but I moved back since he at least agreed to get some outside help for our marriage… We met our assistant pastor for s few counseling sessions… I felt at least now someone knows what is going on .., but I was not completely honest in our sessions.. In fact I was often just a crying wreck.., and my husband was acting calm and receptive. I moved back thinking I had the strength to stay well .. And some of his more overt rages got better. I noticed that sometimes he would hold back..

    But things still feel very wrong and when I tried to talk to him about it he was condescending, rolling his eyes and justifying all his behaviors..

    But since some of his rages have been tamed should I feel good? I remember the last session we had with our assistant pastor my husband mentioned how he tried to tame his anger. So instead of screaming and swearing and throwing things around he said he swore a little less and this time did not throw things. Yet he still screamed at me , slammed the door and then ordered me around – then gave me the silent treatment till the next day. Yet my pastor only focused on commending and praising him for holding back… Is that right? And now my church leadership keeps telling me to take those small signs as a sign of good progress and hang in there… And get more marriage counseling.

    But something just feels very very wrong!? But am I crazy? Should I be looking at all the minor behavior changes and praising the Lord?

    • Leslie Vernick on March 28, 2016 at 12:01 am

      I think you can do both/and. I think you can be encouraging to your husband that you appreciate he is working on containing his anger in more appropriate ways AND you can be more truthful with him and your pastor with what’s really going on. If YOU are not honest, your pastor cannot help you. However if you feel being honest makes you more unsafe, be sure to have a safety plan and a way to tell him apart from your spouse being there. My guess is your husband’s changes are more superficial, but if is encouraged by them, perhaps that will help him recognize how important it is to control his temper if your marriage is going to survive.

      • Helend on March 28, 2016 at 7:01 am

        Thanks Leslie. Your advice makes a lot of sense.. But I have to admit at this point for me I don’t just want better control of his temper.. I want a better man. And I realize I no longer just want to survive in this marriage.. A part of me wants to leave again until he has worked through some of HIS ISSUES..,or give him the chance to do so. And not sure if I want to go back to my assistant pastor to help me through this process… He is friends with my husband and Although he acknowledged my husbands behavior as wrong not sure if he thinks it really crosses the line to abuse…. But then again I have trouble being fully honest …

        • susen on March 28, 2016 at 8:26 am

          Helend~

          It sounds to me like your husband is looking for a check list of acceptable raging behaviors–what can he get away with–instead of humbly accepting that he has abused his family and continues to do so with his lack of self-control.

          Raging or the threat of raging is a horribly effective tool for controlling others.

          I so agree with Leslie that controlling is not leading.

          That being said, I urge you to find a separate counselor. I have experienced the “crying wreck” you spoke of. It was impossible for me to speak up or even think during couples’ counseling. He, so self-possessed and in control, and me, exhausted to the point of giving up–living in fear and seeing no way out–and knowing I would be returning home with him and at the mercy of his temper once again.

          I now live life abundantly–but only because God didn’t give up on me. I pray for healing for your family. And God’s Peace. susen

        • Elizabeth on March 28, 2016 at 7:37 pm

          Helend, I grew up with a man just like this. My dad was perfectly capable of being calm, patient, cheerful, and compassionate … in front of people who are not his wife and children. It has taken me many years to logically work through the following:
          If he can avoid rages sometimes, he is capable of avoiding rages all the time.
          If he can avoid raging in front of or at some people, he can avoid raging at everyone (he’s the same person all the time, right?).
          If he can avoid rages, he knows he should.
          If he does not avoid rages, at certain times and at certain people, then he is CHOOSING NOT TO AVOID RAGING, probably because he has found it beneficial.
          Shame on anyone who praises this.

          • Robin on March 28, 2016 at 7:53 pm

            I also had a husband who only raged when he was with family. Everyone else in the world believe what a nice guy he must be. What a sad statement.



        • Roxanne on April 3, 2016 at 12:01 am

          Great comment! “I want a better man” Keep the energy going sister, you are on the right track!!

  8. Helend on March 28, 2016 at 10:54 am

    Thanks Susen….How did you eventually deal? I have been seeing my own counselor on and off anxiety and depression that I have experienced since the start of my marriage…”so I am the one with the problem.”

    but recently he started being scary and abusive to my kids again…and I don’t think I can continue to be on guard to protect myself and the children. The other night my daughter had the flu so I was staying in her room…my 4 yr old son comes into our bed at night…but I specifically told him that if he wakes up he needs to stay with Daddy since mommy has to be in the sick room. I woke up in the middle of the night because he was crying and my I heard my husband saying something to him. He wouldn’t stop crying so I went into the room… I saw my husband waving hist fist in my sons’s face telling him to “shut the f- up!”

    turns out my son was crying for me because he had a nightmare….the thing is I was not surprised by this…because he loses it with my children often…and often threatens physical harm like” I am going to smash your head so hard against the floor”

    • Leonie on March 28, 2016 at 11:36 am

      That is horrible – you need to leave and take the children with you. Words like that from a parent will deeply affect him!
      My daughter is having nightmares too – she came back from her dad’s after an overnight visit and all afternoon was about to burst into tears and wanted me to hug and hold her. She said she is having nightmares at daddy’s place and said that she dreamt that she had to put holes all over her body and she missed a place so the policeman came to take her away. She says she is scared someone will take her away from mommy. She was saying that she doesn’t know why she is feeling so sad all the time. We went out to the park (it was a sunny day) with the dog, to play at the playground and then she seemed to be feeling happier and not on the verge of tears anymore. I don’t know what went on through the visit but she was definitely affected!

      • Robin on March 28, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        Leonie, I agree . Helens circumstances need to be dealt with immediately. No one should live in that kind of danger. Leonie I’m so sorry about your daughter and her nightmares. I’m praying!!!!!

        • Leonie on March 28, 2016 at 3:18 pm

          Thanks Robin!

    • susen on March 28, 2016 at 12:30 pm

      Helend~

      The way I dealt is no pattern to follow! I did give up–anorexia had me dangerously close to 100 lbs. I simply could not eat in that environment–could hardly breathe. Everything was my fault to hear him tell it. All I needed was some hormone cream and it would all be fine. Yikes!

      The counselor had “given” me my own bedroom. I was the sole breadwinner and school was starting and I had to have sleep to function. One morning a miracle just happened: I told him what I weighed and that he would be responsible for my death if he didn’t leave. And he agreed and just walked out the door.

      It was a God thing.

      He made many overtures to reconcile–from roses and long letters, to tears, to getting on his knees in the lawyer’s office, and many ridiculous promises–the last meeting was at a restaurant–he arrived carrying a ledger sheet proving that we couldn’t afford a divorce.

      “No, you can’t afford a divorce. I can’t afford not to.”

      The strength came as soon as he walked out that door. There was oxygen. My appetite returned. I got a lawyer and stayed in counseling but no more anti-depressants! I was free to attend church without a knock down drag out fight every Sunday morning. I thrived.

      I put the kids in counseling. They struggled, but they were much happier when we moved to a little Victorian rental that was filled with friends and love. It took them a while to trust the new normal–their dad’s ego-centeredness (which consisted of about all of the “-isms”) had colored too much of our world.

      I told him that if he was a gentleman during the divorce, that I would consider remarriage after a year. He wasn’t and I didn’t.

      I learned (read “I made many mistakes”), found a counselor that would not accept my excuses, and became an independent grown-up. After fifteen years of standing on my own, I became one of a team with my new husband of ten years. We respect and love one another–in that order. We never hurl angry words at each other. We talk–but never fight. Why try to wound the one person who would have your back in any situation? It doesn’t make sense. If either of us gets angry (which happens very, very seldom), we tell the other to just calm down. Since we both agreed to do this, it works. Then we talk it out after the anger recedes.

      I didn’t intend for this post to be so long. I hope that you can winnow out the chaff and keep a seed or two of my sharings. God bless. susen

    • Ruth on March 28, 2016 at 1:13 pm

      Helend, I am so sorry for the terrible situation you’re in. Sadly, I know how painful and exhausting it is to live with verbal abuse. People who’ve never been verbally abused don’t understand how living in fear of the next tirade sucks the life out of you. Being constantly criticized makes you question who’s the crazy one? It doesn’t leave you much strength to be the emotional buffer for your children but you have to do that and it weighs so heavy on your heart. Leslie is right about building up your core.
      Is your H physically abusive too?
      I can understand being scared of revealing how ugly things are really are in your marriage during your counselling. It sounds like your pastoral staff is glossing over the destructive way your H treats you and your children. Leslie says this is like treating cancer with a bandaid. Sometimes, church leadership doesn’t really want to see the evil in a man’s heart once they’ve classified him as a ‘decent Christian man who’s just struggling with anger’. They cannot or will not see the way he’s systematically weakening you. It’s great that counselors like Chris will look face abuse head-on. I’m encouraged that men are getting real transformative help from his wise approach, but I don’t think that’s the norm in local church counselling. The church will to some degree address obvious issues like anger. Anger is a problem but when you mix in verbal abuse, control, pride, all with NO SORROW, I think it’s a deadly cocktail. YOU NEED OUT.
      I don’t think you should wait for your church’s support. But Maybe, you could make one last ditch effort to help your church understand (if their support is very important to you). Write down the reasons you’re leaving. Maybe you could set it up like this:
      MAJOR INCIDENTS:
      January 2005- H broke a door.
      June 2005- H called me a b**ch.
      Fall 2005- H slapped me.
      Weekly Incidents-
      Summarize his pyscho behavior – both in words with direct quotes and mannerisms (rolling eyes, sighs of disgust, clenching fists, slamming doors, etc)
      Final Summary-
      How this has affected your children- explain what’s this has done to your children emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Use direct quotes of what he’s said to them.
      Then explain the anxiety, fear, and weakness you live with. Explain how you’ve tried counselling but he has only reigned himself in a bit. His heart is still as hateful as ever.

      I will be praying for you.

    • Robin on March 29, 2016 at 11:22 am

      Helen, what keeps you from leaving your destructive marriage??? It seems violent and unsafe. Do you have the support you need to leave??

      • Helend on March 29, 2016 at 2:24 pm

        I am considering leaving this time the right way…last summer I left to my parents(which is less than 5 minutes from my home) and still dropped off dinner to him..spoke to him via email and phone…and did all kids stuff together. I even took him out for Father’s Day….

        I never really felt I had a real separation/break…he would constantly email and text me –asking me about when I am coming back. ordering me about getting the kids to bed early..etc…and then the times he saw me once the children were not in our presence would corner me, give me a stony glare and ask/tell me in a very intimidating manner-“when are you coming back? the longer you stay away the angrier i will get.”

        I know I was bullied/pressured to come back too soon…

        I think this time if I left it would look very different and wouldn’t try as hard …”not to upset him too much.” I would probably need to figure out boundaries for our level of communication when we are apart. I am just still praying and asking for wisdom and courage. I am heart broken but i also think this time I am going to have to move ahead without “permission” from my church leadership. I do think at this point the only hope for real change is with some very potent intervention..

        luckily I have found a few “very few” in my life who truly get it and are supportive–and this online community…

    • Roxanne on April 3, 2016 at 12:05 am

      Helen, Please, please, please get your children away from this man. Call protective services now, before your neighbor or the children’s teachers do. You are an accomplice to your children’s torture session. Please, tell, tell, tell every person you meet until someone can help you. Maybe the children need to live with a relative or go to foster care for protection. The damage is already so great that the poor child is having nightmares. Go! Run!!!

  9. Ann L on March 28, 2016 at 11:03 am

    This comment is off-topic, but stimulated by the discussion.

    Last night at Al Anon a member admitted that during his marriage (he’s been divorced for six years), his behaviors were in the wrong — as were his wife’s. He said that he’s grown a lot in the intervening years. Yet his ex-wife still condemns him for what he did. The man said “I am a decent person who behaved poorly. but she sees me still as only the mistakes I made.”

    My husband says the same thing. In fact, it is true. He is a very decent man. But he is still the man who lied, cheated, stole from me, and who still minimized, blames me, or holds onto some of the lies.

    This is SO confusing and sucks me right back into chasing my own tail of doubt. It is true that as a matter of focus for myself, I never let myself forget that he is both the good man and the other man. He wants to be seen as the good man. And I get that.

    How do you do that? Honor the good man and divorce the other one? How is it possible to have a whole relationship in that dynamic? That’s all…thanks for the space to ask.

    • Robin on March 28, 2016 at 11:20 am

      Ann, I can relate. My husband believes he is a good man, not perfect but good. And definitely not abusive. I divorced him because the abuse continued and he refused to see it. I don’t think it’s important to label them good or not good. We don’t divorce them because of an error. But because of many errors he refused to acknowledge and deal with. Sometimes I can remember the good in him. But more often I remember all the behaviors that were destructive that he never faced. There is good and bad in all of us- I think the question is will we face the bad, repent, and make appropriate changes??

      • Ann L on March 28, 2016 at 12:34 pm

        That’s an awesome answer. Thank you, Robin. I’m still grieving for the marriage and sometimes still lose focus of the why-I-am-making-this-choice.

        • Robin on March 28, 2016 at 12:50 pm

          Ann, I’ve been divorced 7 months, God has blessed me over and over, and yet I grieve for the failure of a marriage. I don’t want it back. But I grieve. In the same breath tho I Praise the Lord for His hearing my cry, and rescuing me!!!!!!!

    • Ruth on March 28, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Ann L,
      Oh I can SO relate to your post. I’m not separated/divorced. I’m trying to ‘stay well’ for now.
      My H is an absolute paradox! If he were just an evil sinner man, then I’d have a much easier time wrapping my mind around my situation.
      He has great faith. He has good understanding of Scripture. He tries hard to do right by everyone. When people come into our business, he encourages them to serve the Lord. If they’re sick or discouraged, he prays for them right there. He is helpful to the elderly. He is generous to our church and to lend money to the poor. He works hard. He doesn’t look at other women. I trust him. Probably 50-75% of the time, he’s pleasant to live with. He’s intelligent, clever, and very funny. He’s good to my parents.
      He would risk his life on the mission field for the gospel. He worships the Lord with enthusiasm; I’m sure it’s not just as act.
      For the most part, he has good discernment except towards reading his OWN heart.
      All those great things and yet he can be nasty, arrogant, negative, condescending, and just plain TOXIC. He thinks he has the hardest life ever to hear him talk. Once, he was raging on and on over some minor issue and my stepson said “Dad, you’ve got no coping skills.” I chuckled over that – it was spot-on! He has a double standard whereby he can be touchy but my daughters cannot be sensitive. He can rage, but my son cannot show disrespect.
      The extreme contrasts in his personality are just so disturbing to me. If he could be so good to everyone else, why couldn’t he be CONSISTENTLY good to me and his children?

      • Maria on March 28, 2016 at 8:18 pm

        Ruth, Lundy Bancroft writes about how some abusers have an entitlement attitude towards their wives (and family), and not others. So they may abuse their wives, but have no problem working under a woman.

  10. susen on March 28, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I’ve been thinking about pastors as marriage counselors.

    First, they probably do not have the training that a certified counselor has. Second, they already have a relationship with the congregants–very different from the requisite boundaries in a good counselor-client relationship. And third, when a pastor uses God’s Word for correction (can’t think of a better word), it is putting the pastor in a position of authority that for many only served to condemn us to many more years of abuse.

    Just some thoughts. susen

  11. carol on March 28, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    I would like to ask you all to pray for me and my husband today at 5:30pm. We are meeting jointly with our pastor who has been working with us for almost a year. He has met with my husband by themselves for 2 months for individual counselling after 6 months of joint counselling. Both the pastor and his wife feel that my husband has been vague, has been deceptive in his answers and has stated the only reason he has done the counselling is ” because she told me to”.

    He has been verbally, emotionally and financially abusive. He is still twisting communication, but making a big deal when he does chores and acts very condescendingly towards me when he wants his way. He still believes he is more intelligent than others but tells a 18 who has rolled his car that he does not have to call the police. (18 yo and passenger was shaken up but fine) He acts so carelessly with others safety.

    I am asking for prayer for wisdom, clarity of mind and my hearing of what God wants me to speak tonight. I get confused under pressure, my mind just shuts down and I can’t think or recall much of anything. Please pray for my children, they have all been affected in different ways. I have seen God taking care of my children and my basic needs (clothes and food) I know that God is great enough to continue to do so.

    Thank Leslie for your work and may God bless you for your efforts in helping others.

    • Robin on March 28, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      Praying for you Carol!!!!!
      It helped me to write things down, incase I lost my thoughts…….

      • Maria on March 28, 2016 at 3:16 pm

        Carol, I’m praying.

    • Elizabeth on March 28, 2016 at 7:47 pm

      Carol, blessings on you and the kids.

      • carol on March 29, 2016 at 8:47 am

        Thank you all for praying. I greatly appreciate the prayers.

        • Honey on April 1, 2016 at 11:42 pm

          Content, his reluctance to do any and everything you have referred to comes from one root, PRIDE. Stay the course, don’t doubt your instinct. He knows exactly what he is doing. He weighs and calculate s his every action to fool you (and the rest of the world), to control you. It’s tricky, and even his affection is sly. His goal is to puff up his own love of self above all else. I know this seems hard to hear, yet you husband is no different than other abusers. He has had you right wear he wanted you. Be strong. You are not crazy!

  12. Leonie on March 28, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Somehow the rages are like an adult temper tantrum. My ex felt entitled to use this to keep us all in line and make sure everything went his way all the time. If he did this at his work he would not have a job for long. He doesn’t dare use this tactic to manipulate people out in public. His image was very important to him but also he felt entitled to do this at home to control those closest to him. It is not working so well with the lawyers and child protection agencies so it is tricky for him now that we are working through our legal and custody issues, to get his own way without behaving badly!!

  13. Helend on March 29, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Thank you ladies for your encouragement and support. It is so hard to find the right support when your husband is ever so great at impression management. Most people tell me what a nice guy he is and how he seems so laid back! As if nothing would set him off! If they only knew… I have been raged at for not putting my keys back in the exact same place all the time!

    I will continue to pray for all of you as well as Leslie and Chris- those who are trying to get the word out about situations like this…

    I am so thankful the Lord provides other who can act as the hands and feet of Jesus during our desperate moments.

  14. Robin on March 29, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    Helend, as one who didn’t separate well the first time, I want to encourage you not to bring him dinner or do anything that still demonstrates, you are together when you are not. A relationship as seriously destructive as yours has sounded, needs very firm boundaries. If you do a good job saying I will not participate with this anymore, it gives him more opportunity to face his abuse. I am praying for safety and sanity for you and your children.

    • Helend on March 31, 2016 at 8:13 am

      My husband just sent me a TED talk video yesterday about the sex-starved marriage..telling me this is how he feels…that because he is not getting enough sex he has been lonely, feels unloved and thats why he gets angry.

      The thing is I know I have struggled with desiring physical intimacy early on in our marriage…especially after children but I really tried my best not to withold and tried to stick to committment of once a week to my husband. I know he wanted far more but that was all I could do since sex just often didn’t feel right to me…

      After our brief separation last summer and a half apology for some verbal abuse I felt I should resume having sex with him to show him I acknowledged the small change…so we resumed for a few months..even though I still felt something was wrong and never enjoyed it..then last week after I realized that really nothing in his heart really changed I set a consequence..and told him I can’t have sex with him in a loving way because of all the past hurt….

      then he sent me this video of about a sex starved marriag- basically the speaker is saying that a sex is an important part and no partner should “withold” sex..she even says that one with less sex drive(me!) is the one who is controlling….

      is he trying to gain some sympathy from me but making himself look like the victim??

      • Robin on March 31, 2016 at 1:35 pm

        Helen, go to Leslies website, she has several videos and one specifically addresses why a woman does not respond to a fulfilling sexual life with her abuser. He is manipulating you, with what he wants- as if a good sex experience will fix all the damage his abuse has done. Sick-sick-sick.! Helen are you in individual counseling????

      • Honey on April 1, 2016 at 11:47 pm

        How is he doing what you have asked of him? If he can find a video to get what he wants, sex.he can seek help and utilize resources. The truth is he DOESN’T WANT To!! All he wants you for is sex. That is the only thing he showed any interest worth fighting for. You are not a hooker. You are a wife, it is incredibly low of him to be so selfish. Yuck.

        • Honey on April 1, 2016 at 11:52 pm

          Also, his anger has nothing to do with sex. It is about his ability to control you for his own selfish desires. Believe me, when he was having sex with you, he was thinking all about himself. A narcissist knows no other love but himself.

      • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 12:05 pm

        Let me ask you a question. Has your husband’s anger grown over the years or was it strong from the beginning? And you say “sex” just didn’t feel right from the beginning. Have you explored why not? Are you carrying some baggage into the marriage that has impacted your feelings about your own sexuality?

        • Helend on April 2, 2016 at 1:30 pm

          His anger was very strong from the beginning..
          actually we we engaged for about 1.5 yrs.. After our engagement our relationship started going downhill. All the red flags came out but I ignored it..

          And I think the baggage that I am talking about is guilt over having sex before we were married..
          I have tried talking to him about multiple times.. Also saying how growing up Catholic I felt sex was never a good thing.. He says I need to just get over it…

          • Helend on April 2, 2016 at 2:19 pm

            During our engagement I saw red flags that I glossed over thinking nobody is perfect.. He seems to get really annoyed at little things and seems a bit suffocating( he would constantly call/ email to see what I was doing and where I was)but it’s not a big deal….,

            Right after we got married is when he started getting scary… He cut up my credit card because I missed a payment – ( this was my own account I had before marriage. Right after we married and created a joint account) . Would order me to do things and if I asked why or questions he would say in a intimidating tone- “don’t ask – do”. We fought about this for awhile but he sounded so “right” I gave in.
            He would destroy objects that frustrated him with a hammer .. Bashing it to pieces screaming .. You f-in piece of sh–.
            He Was about to beat up a dog to a “bloody pulp” according to him because it was barking loud at night and keeping him awake. If I did not stand in front and tell him to stop and that he is acting crazy – I think he would’ve.

            Those were just a few things that happened the first 6 months of our marriage…
            After I started to fear him sex was never really good for me.



          • Leslie Vernick on April 3, 2016 at 9:48 pm

            How terrible for you. This is not a marriage, this is a someone who is a captive. Of course you dont’ “want” to have sex with someone you fear. It doesn’t go together to be so totally vulnerable and open to someone you fear.



          • Leslie Vernick on April 3, 2016 at 9:45 pm

            Helend, it’s so sad. But it’s important that you not ignore things now. He doesn’t want to hear it. So where does that leave you?



  15. Helend on April 2, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    Robin,

    I am seeing a counselor for my own issues- I have been for about 1.5 yrs…I shared with her what happened and she says she thinks this is his way of trying to divert the real issue and yet make it my fault again. If this was even 1 yr ago I would have been crippled by this and ridden with guilt for being a bad wife and not giving him more sex…..not anymore..I know I am not perfect and have my own issues..but I see now how he is trying to turn things around.

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